Yearly Archives: 2015


Cute Bookworm Style by Cindy Mangomini.  (Ignore the numbers.)

Cute Bookworm Style by Cindy Mangomini. (Ignore the numbers.)

I was toodling around the interwebs yesterday looking for Kanako pictures when I stumbled across the work of another great illustrator: Cindy Mangomini.  She draws themed collages of adorable clothes, accessories, and other objects.  Everything is so detailed and cute and it’s right up my alley.  Check out all of her work here!

How to be Parisian by Cindy Mangomini.  Oui oui!

How to be Parisian by Cindy Mangomini. Oui!

How to Prepare for a Job Interview by Cindy Mangomini.  Get it, gurls!

How to Prepare for a Job Interview by Cindy Mangomini. Get it, girl!

Remembering The Baby-Sitters Club

Hmm. Not her best outfit.

Hmm. Not her best outfit.

I recently took this BuzzFeed quiz and it rekindled my long-dormant memories of The Baby-Sitters Club book series!

I LOVED The Baby-Sitters Club (BSC!) books when I was a kid, and just seeing the characters’ handwriting reproduced in the quiz made me so nostalgic. I earned a perfect score, but my correct answers were less about remembering the plot lines (which must be from books released after I outgrew the series) and more about remembering which handwriting belonged to which character (the books always included snippets of handwritten text from each girl).

We all know the premise of the BSC books, right? A group of middle school friends joins together to form a babysitting collective. They advertise (with flyers!) and meet at the same time and place each week to receive (landline!) phone calls from neighborhood parents looking to schedule responsible, affordable babysitters. The girls live in fictional Stoneybrook, Connecticut—a super-safe, super-idyllic, and super-WASP-y suburb. The BSC books are all about the girls’ adolescent adventures in this sweet, perfect bubble of a world. Each character was unique so readers could quickly identify with or aspire to one or more of the babysitters—Kristy was the sporty firecracker, Claudia was the artsy free spirit, Mary Anne was the shy Victorian bookworm, Dawn was the hippie chick, etc.

My favorite babysitter was Stacey McGill. The word used to describe Stacey in every book was “sophisticated,” and she had a certain kind of pre-teen glamour. She had grown up in New York City, where she was allowed to take cabs and trains without an adult (and this was before Mayor Giuliani cleaned up the place). Stacey had fluffy blond hair (probably feathered, now that I think about it) and she wore makeup and had the most stylish clothes. Maybe she even had her ears pierced twice? (Like I said—GLAMOUR.) Stacey moved to Stoneybrook when her parents divorced, I think.

Stacey had diabetes, too, which added another layer of exoticism and maturity to her character. She kept a strict diet, managed her own medicine regimen, and went to fancy city doctors. I loved going to the doctor as a kid, so I think this aspect of Stacey’s identity made her even more attractive to me. I only had asthma and allergies, but I loved the special, important feeling that a doctor’s visit gave me—conferring with this respected, educated man, being out alone with my mom, and maybe going out for lunch together after my appointment.

I read the BSC books in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, so I can only imagine how far diabetes treatment has come in the last two decades. I remember an especially poignant scene in the books when Stacey is babysitting her favorite charge—a quiet, sweet little girl named Charlotte—and they visit a candy shop. The store is beautiful and bursting with colorful candy, including fancy individual chocolates set out on silver trays. Charlotte begs for a treat—”Just one? One each?”—and Stacey feels in her pocket and realizes that she has “more than enough money for two pieces of candy.” Stacey’s sorely tempted, and she goes so far as to pull out her money and place it on the glass case, but then she makes the right decision. She can’t afford the extra sugar, and Charlotte can’t ruin her dinner, so they leave the store empty-handed and disappointed.

Ugh. I can’t even. Just imagine not being able to eat a single piece of candy for fear of derailing an entire delicate balance of glucose and insulin! The unfairness! The grave responsibility! The perfectly coiffed exterior belying deprivation and severe illness!

So I especially loved tragic, beautiful Stacey, but I loved everything about the BSC. The girls were so organized and they had a surprisingly strong grasp of parliamentary procedure for their age. They had formal titles (president, vice president, etc.), fulfilled clearly defined roles and responsibilities, kept attendance and meeting minutes, called for discussion of new and old business, kept a master schedule, etc. They also collected monthly dues from each member, and the money was used for advertising (flyers), communications (Claudia’s personal landline—the height of privilege in that time), and inventory—that is, outfitting their “Kid Kits,” the boxes of craft supplies, small toys, and other goodies that they would take to babysitting jobs to entertain the kids.

GAH. All of that order and independence and responsibility just SPEAKS TO ME, then and now. These girls were making and managing their own money, organizing their own time, and handling their own affairs. What could they have accomplished with business degrees? Syncing calendar apps? Or even driver’s licenses?! It boggles the mind.

All of that organization and wholesomeness may sound boring, but it wasn’t—at least not to me. The girls had their interpersonal issues, family dramas (divorce, remarriage, death, sibling rivalry), babysitting challenges, and some limited romantic experiences. And when things got too calm and predictable in Stoneybrook, you could always read one of the BSC Super Specials. These books were extra-long and usually followed the girls on some kind of vacation or adventure. They worked as camp counselors in one Super Special, went on a cruise in another, and visited Disney World in another.  My family couldn’t afford to go on any fancy trips like these, so I loved taking in every detail about the amenities and attractions.

I kinda want to re-read the BSC books after writing about all of this, but I’m afraid that re-reading them might ruin my good memories. I don’t want the books to seem flat and trite, and I don’t want pesky facts to mar whatever impressions or memories I have. (In a similar way, I don’t plan to read Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. I love Atticus and Scout just as they are in my head.)

So—did YOU ever read the BSC books? Which babysitter was YOUR favorite?

P.S. Stacey’s handwriting was cute and bubbly and she dotted her lowercase i’s with hearts. Totes adorbs, of course.

P.P.S. So I took this quiz, too, and got Logan Bruno. Weird.

Birchbox Review – June 2015

I think this illustration is so cute and I wanted to save it for something special but I got impatient/lazy and decided to use it today instead. Image from Birchbox app.

I think this illustration is so cute and I wanted to save it for something special but I got impatient/lazy and decided to use it today instead. Image from the Birchbox app.

My June box was my 16th Birchbox!  Here’s what I got:

Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels. This was my sample choice. These are made with Icelandic glacial water. (So bouge!) I appreciated that these are made with clean ingredients, but I didn’t see or feel any difference in my skin after using them. They did feel nice and cool, but so would a wet cloth. (So not bouge!)

COOLA SPF 50 Sport Sunscreen in Fresh Mango scent. This is a thin, lightweight lotion with a strong fruity scent. I am using and enjoying the sample but I don’t plan to buy the full size because it contains chemical (rather than mineral) sunscreen agents.

Temple Spa Good Hair Day Shampoo and Good Condition Conditioner. I was originally annoyed to receive more Temple Spa products from Birchbox but…I really like these. They smell like a fancy spa or an Aveda shop–that is, like rosemary, mint, eucalyptus, etc. Very nice! My hair feels clean and light. I would buy these.

Marcelle Mini Waterproof Eyeliner in shade Blue Lagoon. I just gave away a bright teal eyeliner during my Makeup Bag Makeover. I would have liked to try an olive green or burgundy or plum or navy liner instead. Teal looks little kid-dish on me.

Erickson Narrow Grab and Go Pony hairtie. This is a good hair tie–strong, thick, and grippy.

This isn’t the most exciting box I’ve gotten, but it’s not terrible. I will recoup $6 in review points, too, so that’s a bonus!

– Angela

My Favorite Things – A Personal Icon Set

Oh, the fascinating life I do lead!

Oh, the fascinating life I do lead!

So, I was inspired by Gloria of the blog Little White Whale to create my own icon set–and it was really fun to make. 🙂

Click on the image above for a better view!

 Target / Naps / Baths / Coffee Frappuccinos / My iPhone 6+ / Coca-Cola / Tuxedo cats / To do lists! / Tabby cats

I used Microsoft Visio to make these, but I bet Word could be used, too (just with more strife). I only resized, layered, and colored the stock shapes and symbols offered by Visio because I have absolutely no drawing or illustration skills. I think my icons turned out pretty cute, though–I like the thick lines and bright colors and simple shapes. They remind me of Hello Kitty and the PowerPuff Girls!

What would YOUR personal icon set include?

– Angela

Birthday Freebies!

Woot!  (Image from

Woot! (Image from

It’s finally June—my birthday month!

You know I love fun freebies, and MANY companies give away great birthday freebies and discounts! Just run a Google search for “birthday freebies” to find lists of the oodles of offers available from restaurants, retail stores, etc. You can get free appetizers/desserts/entrees, exclusive coupon codes, little gifts, etc. Most companies require that you join their rewards program well before your birthday to get the goodies, though, so start researching and signing up early.

A few tips on getting birthday freebies:

1. Sign up for the customer reward programs at least 60 days (2 months) in advance of your birthday.

2. Immediately log into your rewards account and confirm that your birthday is listed under your account details. If it’s not, find where to add it.

3. Confirm that the company has your correct email and home addresses.

4. Confirm that you are “opted in” to receive email and postal mailings.

5. Look for your goodies! Most come by email, but a few may arrive by postal mail.

I focus on getting the high-value, no-strings-attached birthday freebies. I don’t get jazzed about coupon codes that require a purchase, which appears to be the way many rewards programs are heading. Boo.

Anyway, off the top of my head (and according to some internet research), these are the best freebies I’m looking forward to this month:

SephoraNARS Mini Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in shade Cruella (a bright, matte red) and Mini Satin Lip Pencil in shade Rikugien (a shimmery mauve-y pink). Sephora has the best birthday freebie every year. It’s always a high-quality makeup item of some kind. To get this freebie, join Sephora’s free Beauty Insider rewards program and visit the store during the month of your birthday, or make an online purchase. (Sephora offers a men’s birthday freebie each year, too.)

Ulta – According to the interwebs, the Ulta birthday freebie will vary this year depending on the month in which you were born. Ladies who celebrated their birthdays in January through March received an Ulta-brand eyeshadow palette in neutral shades. I saw on that April through June birthday girls (that’s me!!!) will receive a travel-sized Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in the shade Voodoo, a purple. Cool! To get this freebie, join Ulta’s ULTAmate Rewards program and visit the store after you get an email alert that your freebie is available.

BareMinerals – Last year I got a pot of loose eyeshadow in a taupe-y shade. I can’t find any details online about this year’s freebie, though. Hmm. To get the freebie, join the BareMinerals FAB rewards program and look for an email.

Sports Authority – I signed up for the company’s The League rewards program recently and automatically got a $5 reward to spend in the next couple of months, plus I’m expecting a $10 reward for my birthday! I’m not sporty but I’m sure I can find a way to spend $15 in the store–maybe a fancy water bottle, headband, pair of socks, etc. Yeah!

StarbucksFree drink or food item of your choice! To get this freebie, buy a gift card (online or in store) of at least $5.00 and register it in the Starbucks reward program. Spend the money but keep the registered card for a free drink!

Dunkin Donuts – Free drink! To get this freebie, buy a gift card (online or in store) of at least $2.00 and register it with the DD Perks rewards program. You’ll earn a free drink for joining *plus* a free birthday drink! Not bad for two bucks!

I hope there are a few other good surprises this month, too! Whoo-hoo!

– Angela

P.S. – I don’t carry all these loyalty cards and account numbers around with me. I use the CardStar app on my iPhone, along with the Starbucks app and the Dunkin Donuts app.

P.P.S. – In the good ol’ days, Vera Bradley would send a $20 reward, and World Market’s Explorer Program would send a $10 reward.  They both sent lame coupon codes this year, though (only 15% off, I think).  Aveda used to send vouchers for nice treats, so I’m curious to see if they still do that.

Going Green(er)

Bouge alert!  (Image from

Bouge alert! (Image from

I find myself frequently re-reading the blogs Zero Waste Home and Trash Is For Tossers, and I think the message is finally starting to sink in.

I’m not ready to make any big lifestyle changes right now, but I’m definitely interested in making some easy-but-effective modifications to my trashy life.

Here are the painless ways I’m going green(er):

– I’m trying to remember to refuse plastic bags whenever I can. It helps that I carry a big purse and can usually stow my purchases in there.

– I bought a set of reusable (and washable) cloth grocery bags and actually remembered to bring them to the store this past weekend! Woot!

– I brought my collected plastic bags to the store, too, and recycled them.

– I bought 100% recycled (60% post-consumer waste) toilet paper, and I’m on the lookout for a good paper towel option.

– I did the math and realized that I will use about 300 plastic toothbrushes in my lifetime (whoa). As recommended by multiple zero-wasters, I just ordered a set of biodegradable/compostable toothbrushes from the Brush With Bamboo company. The wooden handles and white bristles look so nice, too–very design-y and modern and Instagram-worthy.

– I plan to ask a seamstress to repair/tweak a couple of shirts that I already own (rather than replace them).

– And, as you know and are probably tired of hearing about, I launched my Junk Mail War (update 1 and update 2).

Huzzah! It feels good to make these small changes, especially because I create tons (literally) of other waste elsewhere in my life. I know these actions are only a drop in the bucket, but maybe one day I will be able to take things further.

– Angela

P.S. I’m also contemplating the purchase of a reusable silicone menstrual cup…TMI?

Week Eight Update: Junk Mail War!

Vroom, vroom!  Image from

Vroom, vroom! Image from

It’s been TWO months now since I started my Junk Mail War, and I’m actually seeing a decrease now in the volume in my mail!

In particular, I know that I no longer receive a certain weekly sales flyer that really used to irk me. This was an especially obnoxious piece of mail. It was a mini magazine, really–i.e., many colored pages stapled together–and it always came sealed in a plastic sleeve holding other loose bits like coupons and perfume samples. But now I haven’t seen it in weeks! Yes!

To be honest, though, I still receive plenty of mail. I love getting mail. I always have several magazines, online orders, sample requests, bills, etc. coming down the pipeline. I hope, though, that opting out of my unwanted mail will help to offset the resources I use for my wanted mail.

I’m still learning as I go, but here are three new lessons I’ve picked up this month:

1. Keep a log of your removal requests. After a few weeks, it’s hard for me to remember which companies I’ve already contacted. If I were to do this project again, I’d keep a running list of the companies I’ve contacted, the date I contacted each, and the method by which I contacted each (i.e., phone, email, website form, returned mail, etc.).

2. Be wary of guest checkout options when shopping online. I recently made a guest purchase online with a store I’ve never shopped before…and then began receiving their mailer! How frustrating. In trying to avoid creating an electronic profile with a company, or in an attempt to not have to find or reset your password for an existing account (#hassle), you somehow authorize them to send you oodles of physical mail. Sigh. Moving forward, I plan to include a no–mail request whenever I see an “order notes” field.

3. Stifle the urge to attack the obvious junk mail that’s addressed to other (adult) members of your household. It’s not your mail, even if it drives you crazy. Just be a good example–maybe one day they will ask you for help with their own junk mail war!

I’m realizing that this war on junk mail will always be an ongoing battle, but I also know that my initial volume will continue to drop in the next few weeks–then I can just attack the odd piece as it arrives! I also plan to try to keep new junk away by including no-mail requests whenever I can when shopping online, opening new accounts, etc.

– Angela

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!