new york city

Life Lately: Photo Dump

Surgery and milkshakes and flowers, oh my!

The good news is Winnie is fully recovered from her surgery, spring is springing, and we’re all starting to feel a little more settled in New York and our new jobs. I, personally, am feeling ready to make up for lost time and cannot wait to explore more of the city now that the weather no longer makes me yearn for my couch.smiley

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all natural, beauty, makeup, skincare

February Empties

Huge slacker, as we’re already a full week into March, but you’ll have to forgive me! Life’s been busy – Winnie had surgery to remove a benign tumor on her paw, my sister and her best friend are here for their spring break, and my husband and I have been planning next steps (likely a move to the Financial District this summer!)

Anyways, short and sweet, here we go –

feb empties.jpg

Acure Day Cream – natural, organic, ‘cone-free, lightly moisturizing, and a fresh scent? Really like this. It’s not quite holy grail level, so I think I’ll try a few more products first… but I have a strong feeling I’ll be back to this

Shiseido Ultimune Eye Power Infusing Eye Concentrate – kinda love this, despite the goopy feeling… but for $65 ($120/oz) I can do better. Will not repurchase.

Paula’s Choice Resist Moisture Renewal Oil Booster– just ok. I prefer other facial oils and will not repurchase.

Eco Modern Essentials Organic Argan Oil Face Serum – I blew through this little guy (0.5oz) and have replaced it with acure organics argan oil. can’t tell a difference and I’m saving $16/oz.

Tarte Lights Camera Lashes Mascara – love, love, love. Will continue to repurchase (however, I’m sticking to travel size – this guy dried out before it was emptied). I’ve been rotating between this and Benefit’s RollerLash with no plans to change!

eSalon Perfect Ending – Received this in a sample bag but didn’t want to use it on my hair because of the silicones. It made for an excellent shave cream. 🙂 Obviously won’t repurchase

Befine Exfoliating Cleanser with Brown Sugar and Derma E Microdermabrasion Exfoliant Scrub are getting combined into one blurb, because they were both entirely too rough on my skin. I’m all for physical (and chemical!) exfoliation, but anything this rough leads to irritation, redness, and angry blemishes. After sampling on my face, I ended up using both of these as overpriced body exfoliants.

L’Occitane hand creme – heeeeaven. But I’m too cheap and seem to *always* end up with samples of hand cream to purchase this on my own. Enjoyed using this while it lasted though!

Fresh Soy Face Cleanser – nice gentle cleanser with a fresh/light scent. This was good but not great (and my handy pH testing kit tells me it’s slightly too alkaline for my skin), so I won’t be repurchasing. I’ve swapped this out for derma e Hydrating Cleanser with Hyaluronic Acid; both my skin and wallet have been happier!


That’s that for February. Thanks for reading!

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all natural, beauty, makeup, skincare

Natural Makeup Review: DeVita

Finding natural, silicone free skincare? No big deal. Finding natural, silicone free makeup? Ugggghh.

In what seems like a never ending journey, I decided to try some products from DeVita, a skincare and makeup brand that’s new to me but has been around for 10 years. They are certified by PETA and boast a line of all natural, paraben-free, vegan products.

After browsing their site, I settled on the absolutely WHIPPED foundation (liquid minerals) and Moisture Tints with the hopes of finding my everyday makeup base.



Absolutely WHIPPED “great, healthy coverage you can count on”

  • Cost: $29.95 50ml bottle ($17.72/oz)devitafoundation

  • Ingredients: Aqua (purified water), Cocos nucifera (certified organic coconut) oil, Buxus chinensis (jojoba) oil, Aloe barbadensis (certified organic aloe vera) gel, Rosa damascena (rose) water, Emulsifying wax NF, stearic acid NF, Kosher vegetable glycerin, Persea gratissima (avocado) oil, Punica granatum (organic pomegranate) fruit extract, Lecithin phospholipid, Polysaccharide (xanthan) gum, Palmitoyl tripeptide-5, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Ascorbyl palmitate, Octanediol, Ethylhexyl glycerine, Citrus Grandis (grapefruit) seed extract, Artemisia princeps (Japanese mugwort) extract. May contain Titanium dioxide, Iron oxides.

  • Immediate impression: WHY does this feel so dry on my face? Mid-day check-in: Why am I peeling? What’s happening?? I can’t explain why my face didn’t like this foundation. It’s made with a ton of skin-friendly oils, so I thought it would be a homerun. Unfortunately, this guy is not going to work — it made me peel for two days! No redness or burning, just super embarrassing peeling. Perhaps someone with oily skin would do better?

  • Pros: Hygienic squeeze bottle, reasonable price, no offensive odors, natural ingredients
  • Cons: Somewhat difficult to blend out, made my dry skin peel, light coverage (advertised as medium)
  • Rating: 1/5

Moisture Tints Light “multi-beneficial Beauty Balm”

  • devitaCost: $31.95 for 2.5oz ($12.78/oz)
  • Ingredients: Micronized Zinc Oxide 9%, aloe barbadensis* (certified organic aloe vera) gel, Purified water (aqua), Capric/caprylic triglycerides (derived from coconut oil), Glycerin (vegetable), Iron oxides, Pomegranate extract, Japanese green tea, Hyaluronic acid (vegan source), Glyceryl stearate SE (derived from vegetable oil), Stearic acid, Lecithin phospholipid, Tocopherol (vitamin E), Allantoin*, Vitis vinifera* (grape) seed extract.
  • Immediate impression: Why does this feel so slippery? Blend, blend, buff, blend. This took a while to dry down on my face so it requires a little more work than other BB creams I’ve dried, but once it dried it seemed to stay in place. Mid-day check in: looks pretty good and feels good too! I probably should have gone lighter with my pre-makeup moisturizer because I’m looking a little more dewy than I prefer, but overall seems like a nice product!
  • Pros: Hygienic squeeze bottle, good value, no offensive odor, natural ingredients
  • Cons: Blending takes some effort, low SPF
  • Rating: 4/5

I’m not rushing to repurchase either product, but I think I’ll definitely enjoy using the moisture tints. Hopefully my sister gets lots of use out of the whipped foundation, because it’s in her box-o-goodies for the next time she visits. smiley

Thanks for reading!

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beauty, makeup, skincare, subscriptions

Birchbox Review: February 2016

It’s subscription time!

This month’s birchbox was more skincare/product-y and less makeup, but that’s quite all right with me. I got a few goodies from brands I already love, and I don’t think anything will go to waste.


The goodies: birchbox2


The breakdown:

JUARA Candlenut Body Creme

  • Value: $1.72 ($38 full size)
  • Impression: I love this creme – the nutty smell, the thick texture, how easily it absorbs into my dry skin. In fact, I currently own the full size. Regardless, this travel now has a home in my purse and is a welcome addition to my collection. If you haven’t tried this creme, I’d highly recommend giving it a whirl! It’s pricey but so lovely.

Hey Honey Take it Off Exfoliating Honey Peel Off Mask

  • Value: $5.80 ($29 full size)
  • Impression: LOVE! Peeling masks are so very satisfying, but so many of them are drying or irritating. This mask was neither — plus, I love the smell of honey. There are still so many masks I want to try, so I’m not sure if I’ll repurchase this one but I’m definitely looking forward to using it again!

Whish Revitalizing Cleaning Oil

  • Value: $10.70 ($30 full size)
  • Impression: I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m so excited to have received this. I love to use oil cleansers as step one in my nightly routine and I’m happy to see this guy is free of mineral oils!

Parlor Detangling Leave in Conditioner 

  • Value: $4.90 ($24 full size)
  • Impression: Have yet to try this guy as well. As silicones tend to mess up my hair, I’ll probably give this to my sister when she visits next month.

ModelCo Lip Enhancer Illusion Lip Liner

  • Value: ~$10 ($20 full size)
  • Impression: I have yet to try this on my lips, but it watched nicely on my hand. A smooth nude lip liner will definitely get used!

Total value: $33.12

Cost: $10 + tax

Rating: B+

Favorite product: Hey Honey Exfoliating Mask

Another solid month, Birchbox!

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family, holidays

Happy Valentine’s Day (& a thoughtful gift idea!)

Normally I am the underachiever in the relationship. A card and some heart-shaped skittles packaging does the trick. But I felt inspired this year (maybe because it’s our first V-day as a married couple?) and got a little creative and made this


This gift was pretty easy to create and would make a wonderful anniversary gift — it could also be adapted for children (how cool would it be to not have to imagine yourself as the protagonist in your favorite book??).

To add a little whimsy and make all of the photos look cohesive, I edited the images on using the “cartoon” effect. I then designed the book and selected binding options on The total project came to $26 (including $5 shipping) and came out beautifully.

Here are just a few sample pages:








Hope your day is everything you want it to be!

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Fashion: The Third Piece Rule

I am fashionably challenged. Mostly because I just want to wear leggings and tunics with my hair in a messy bun every. single. day. but also because outfit planning stresses me out and I like to sleep.

But I’m not in college  grad school  my fellowship anymore (I have clung to my excuses with the desperation of a drowning woman) and could stand to look like I’ve put in slightly more effort. And I just might have an easy solution!

Recently I came across the “Third Piece Rule” (which I’m sure is old news by now). The idea is simple – if you want to look a little more polished, throw in a third piece. This can be a jacket, vest, scarf, sweater, hat, or even a bold necklace. Just add something.

The information isn’t exactly brand new, but the explicit formula is helpful for rule followers like myself. And if it’s a good enough rule for Madewell and Banana Republic to encourage in their employees (source), it seems good enough for me! After looking through some of my old photos, I do tend to like outfits where I’d followed this “rule” without thinking of it.

So what’s a gal to do with this information? Go shopping!

I picked up a few items from Zara and LOFT to mix in with my current basics. I opted for less structured pieces since my work environment, and my taste, tends to be more casual.

Zara Faux Suede Overshirt in Camel

Zara Long Blazer in Dark Red

Loft Dotted Line Poncho

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beauty, skincare

Acure Organics

I recently discovered Acure Organics and wanted to share the love. After receiving their day cream in a subscription box (I cannot remember which one; this is bad, huh?), I’ve added a few more pieces to my skincare collection in an effort to move towards more natural products.

And the best part? They’re affordably priced and available on Birchbox so I can take advantage of their killer rewards program.

Recently I picked up the rose and red tea facial toner and the morocco argan oil. They both retail for $12.99 each (!) but I got them for free with points.


As for what’s inside? It’s pretty simple.

The argan oil has 100% Certified Organic Argania spinosa.

The toner has: Fair Trade Rooibos, Calendula, Chamomile, Witch Hazel, Bulgarian Rose Water (Hydrasol), and Glycerin. Nothing else!

free acure

And look at all of these descriptors. Don’t you feel good just reading it? smiley


And the products come in these pretty frosted bottles.

I’ve already incorporated both products into my daily skincare routine and am very happy.  For $6.50-$12.99/oz I cannot believe the quality you get here. I’d definitely recommend the brand to anyone looking for new skincare products.

If you want to order through birchbox, don’t forget to use a coupon code! (Try TAKEALEAP20 TAKEOFF20 COMEBACK20 MOBILE20 WELCOMEOFFER20).

Happy shopping!

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