A Few Of My Favorite Things {in May}

Disclosure: I was not paid to endorse any of these products or services. However, this post does contain some affiliate links. This means that if you purchase any of these items through my links, I may receive a small percentage of the sale. I’ll never share a product or link to a product that I don’t have personal experience with, though.

It’s a new series! Sometimes I just have a few random things I’m really digging … not enough to wax poetic about for an entire post, but too fun/cool/amazing to keep to myself. I hope you like it!

stamped Indiana necklace

I bought this stamped Indiana necklace at a craft fair back in December. I hadn’t been wearing it much, but something about tank top/tee shirt weather just begs for me to show off my Hoosier pride! Of course, I can’t remember who made it for the life of me, but you can find similar ones on Etsy.

beach waves hairstyle

I had my hair cut and colored last week, and on a whim I asked the stylist to show me how to style it wavy. My hair has some wave to it, but whenever I try to style it that way I end up looking like I just gave up. Not cute. So she used this product
in my hair and showed me how to use a diffuser (turns out I’ve been doing it wrong all these years – too handsy). She basically changed my life – it looks like how I’ve wanted it to look for years and it lasts for 3 days!

Stitch Fix Outfits May

I got my second Stitch Fix this month and it was awesome (You can see what my first Fix was like here). Everything fit beautifully and I wanted to buy it all. Sadly, cooler heads and realistic budgets prevailed (we have this little trip coming up, you see), and so I only purchased 3 of the 5 things. I bought the sailboat dress, which I would’ve never tried on in a million years, but absolutely love. I wore it to a wedding last weekend. I also bought the embroidered sleeveless shirt and the maxi skirt. I’ve worn them several times already, both together and with other things. I told the stylists when I scheduled this Fix that I had a wedding and some travel coming up. Not only did they listen, but they hit it out of the ball park with their selections for me. I scheduled my next box for September – can’t wait to see what it brings!

Have you read The Giver by Lois Lowry? I had to laugh, as we talked about choosing it for our next book club book. The girls all remembered it as being required reading in middle school. I’m (ahem) a little older than they are … the book wasn’t even out when I was in school! It was required reading for Elena, though, so I read it, too.  I loved it, and it was a perfect book for our Mother-Daughter Book Club. The movie (with Meryl Streep, Jeff Bridges, Katie Holmes, and Taylor Swift) is coming out in August. Read it before you see the movie!

pour-over coffee

I’ll completely understand if you don’t believe me when I tell you I’ve found my favorite way to brew coffee at home. I kind of have a coffee-making appliance/tool buying obsession. BUT GUYS! THIS ONE IS THE BEST! It’s pour-over coffee. You’ll need a digital scale (which I already  had – every kitchen could use one), a gooseneck kettle (I have this electric one and love it), some sort of receptacle to hold the brewed coffee (hence the beaker), and a ceramic coffee dripper. I think it’s a trifecta of things that make me love this set-up the best: it’s not expensive, it makes damn fine coffee, and it takes me back to my laboratory days because I get to whip out a beaker.

What are a few of your favorite things?

 

 

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Best Birchbox Finds

Best Birchbox products

You wouldn’t expect someone who considers herself “makeup-challenged” to love her monthly Birchbox subscription so much, but I do. I wrote before about why I’ve been a loyal Birchbox subscriber for nearly two years now, but this time around I wanted to share with you some of my favorite Birchbox finds.

Most of these finds started out as samples that arrived in my monthly Birchbox, and turned into full-size products I purchased on my own. The beauty of Birchbox, other than the fun of opening a new box and discovering all kinds of fun goodies, is in the Birchbox Shop and the point system. Beyond the monthly subscriptions, Birchbox offers a wide range of full-size hair, beauty and skincare products, along with tools and other fun lifestyle products. So whether you sample something in your Birchbox that you love and want more of, or you want to buy other products you already know and love, you can purchase them directly through Birchbox. The prices are highly competitive (often better than Amazon) and you can often score free shipping.

If I I was smitten with the monthly subscription and Birchbox Shop, it was the Birchbox Points that knocked me head-over-hells in love with the brand. You earn points by referring friends (that’s you!), completing a short, on-line review of your box samples and other products, or by purchasing full-size products. For every 100 points you earn, you get $10 off a full-size product. Unlike other reward programs, it’s ridiculously easy to rack up Birchbox points.

Alright, time to stop yapping and show you the pretty!

Best Birchbox Hair Products

Hair Products

Klorane Gentle Dry Shampoo with Nettle: I’ve purchased the full-size version of this twice now, that’s how much I love it! Have you ever tried dry shampoo? I first tried a cheap brand I found at Ulta and didn’t understand what all the fuss was about … until this sample arrived in my Birchbox. You spray it on the roots of your hair to absorb grease and give your hair some lift for that second (and maybe even third) day post-shampoo. The more I use this product and the less I wash my hair (I am for every third day), the healthier my hair seems to get. Elena’s been having issues with oily hair thanks to her ever-changing hormones, and this has been an awesome product for her, too.

Oscar Blandi Pronto Texture & Volume Spray: This is also fabulous for second day hair! I use it to give volume to my hair on day two or three after I’ve blown it out. It’s also awesome for keeping those great beachy waves or curls looking great. It gives hair a sexy, tousled bed-head look without feeling sticky or crunchy.

12 Benefits Instant Healthy Hair Treatment: A lightweight leave-in spray that supposedly does 12 great things for your hair. I rarely use conditioner, but I love using this post-shampoo. For Elena it’s an awesome detangler/smoother. For me, it reduces frizz, protects my hair from the heat of the blow-dryer and straightener, and it smells ahh-mazing.

Best Birchbox Skincare Products

Skincare Products

Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser: I am soooo bad about washing my face at night. I know – it’s terrible! Then this little number appeared in my Birchbox and it’s completely reversed my shameful habit! It’s a creamy cleanser that you apply to your face while it’s dry. Then you soak the muslin cloth in hot water and wipe it off. It gets off all my makeup and daily grime effortlessly, and my skin feels so smooth and clean when I’m done. I used to use those disposable makeup remover cloths all the time, and I’d feel so wasteful throwing them away. This feels just as low-maintenance as those, but without the guilt!

Clarisonic Mia: Sadly, no one’s getting Clarisonic samples in their boxes! But this is an example of how rewarding the Birchbox Points system is. I’ve had my eye on a Clarisonic for a couple of years now, but just couldn’t bring myself to splurge on it (see horrible face washing habit above). I saved up Birchbox points, combined my purchase with free shipping and a Birchbox anniversary coupon for 25% off, and scored my very own Mia for $33! I love it, and have noticed a huge improvement in my complexion. I used to have tons of breakouts around my chin and forehead … now I can’t remember the last time I had a single zit.

Whish Coconut Milk Correcting Gel (Not Pictured): They had me at coconut. I used up my sample and I’m waiting on my full-size product to arrive. I use this after washing my face at night. I’ve never used a gel moisturizer before and I’m sold. It’s light, not at all greasy, and it’s helped to diminish the appearance of my blemishes from the good ol’ acne days.

Best Birchbox Foundations and Primers

Foundation/Primers

Marcelle BB Cream: I’ve used this one so much the lettering is wearing off the tube! I don’t wear makeup every single day, but if I’m wearing any kind of makeup it’s this. It’s a handful of product in one, which is my favorite kind of beauty product! It’s a foundation, a moisturizer, and it has just enough tint to even everything out. I got this sample a year ago, and I use it several times a week, and I still haven’t run out of it yet (love the generous sample size on the majority of the Birchbox items). But when I do, I’ll definitely purchase the full-size version.

CoTZ Face Natural Skin Tone: If I want to look pretty out in the sun, I’ll choose this over the Marcelle BB cream. It’s SPF 40, but it goes on smooth and leaves your face with a nice matte finish.

Smashbox Cosmetics Photo Finish Primer: When I’m feeling extra fancy, I’ll start with a layer of primer under my foundation. I don’t know what they put in this stuff, but it goes on super smooth and makes my skin look practically flawless.

Best Birchbox Makeup Products

Makeup

Sumita Color Contrast Eyeliner: I’m not the world’s best applier of eyeliner, but this one goes on smoothly and easily and stays put. Looks great as a simple line, looks super sexy when you smudge it for a smoky eye look.

theBalm Cosmetics Hot Mama Shadow and Blush All-In-One: Another fabulous multi-tasker! This shade looks great on just about anyone, and it does double-duty as blush and eye shadow. My go-to simple face is the Marcelle BB cream, this on my eyes and cheeks, a smidge of mascara, and one of the following lip colors. So easy, but I look pulled together.

ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick: This is out of stock right now, and for good reason. I kind of hate lipstick, and prefer lip balm or gloss, but I love this product (although I can’t seem to stop calling it Party Poof). It feels like your favorite balm, but it has the punch of lipstick and it stays on all day.

LAQA & Co. Sheer Lip Lube Pencil: My new favorite, and a perfect example of why makeup samples rock. I took one look at it and thought, “Gah! That is a horrible color!” (Bees Knees Coral, BTW) Then I put it on and it looks gorgeous and so different from anything I ever wear. It moisturizers like a lip balm and it’s nice and minty, too.

While I would LOVE to be on Birchbox’s payroll, they haven’t paid me a dime to promote the brand. I just love it and think (most) of my female readers would love it, too. (Mike tried Birchbox man, but it was a little too pricey and metro for him!) You don’t have to be a Birchbox subscriber to purchase any of these full-size items, but it’s way more fun to be a subscriber. If you are interested, I’d be oh-so appreciative if you would use my referral link (https://www.birchbox.com/invite/angiesix). You’re happy, I earn more of those coveted points … everyone’s happy!

 

 

 

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Stitch Fix: What Is It and Why Might You Want It?

Stitch Fix Review - Just Like The Number

I like cute clothes. I like keeping up with fashion trends and putting together pieces that suit my current lifestyle. I love it when I get it just right – something that’s stylish, comfortable, and within my budget. Bonus points if it feels like I’m wearing pajamas. You know what I don’t love? The actual act of shopping for said clothing.

Every once in a while I’m in the mood to shop, but it’s very brief. Brief as in won’t-even-last-through-a-major-department-store brief. I can handle your small-ish department stores (think Von Maur or Nordstrom), but even those can be overwhelming. I do better in small stores, like Gap or Athleta. I’ve been known to just grab something that looks kind of cute in Target, because Lord knows nothing goes together like high fashion, paper towels, and Go-gurt tubes.

What this means for me is that I end up with a pretty limited wardrobe. Not wanting to invest the time into searching for clothing and accessories that will expand my closet choices means that one day I’m looking for a cute outfit only to realize all I have is jeans, yoga pants, and plain or striped t-shirts (of which I apparently have an obsession). I buy what I know, what takes the least amount of time to shop for, and what’s “safe.” It works, but it’s boring.

I heard about Stitch Fix a few months ago, and since then various people I know and like have become fans. Stitch Fix is a personal styling service for women, all done online. You fill out a very thorough questionnaire that guides the stylists into curating clothing and accessories just for you. The stylists take into consideration your lifestyle, your budget, as well as the styles you identify with, and put together 5 clothing and accessory items for you. Your personal Stitch Fix is mailed to you, and you have 3 days to decide what you’ll keep.

Each Stitch Fix will cost you a $20 Styling Fee initially. If you choose to purchase anything, that $20 is deducted from the price of the items you keep. If you purchase everything in your Stitch Fix, you get 25% off. If you send everything back, they keep the Styling Fee. Unlike a monthly subscription such as Birchbox, you can choose when to schedule a Stitch Fix. You can certainly opt for a monthly Fix, but you can also do it at your convenience.

Now that I’ve done all this talking, would you like to see what an actual Stitch Fix looks like? My first Fix came last month, and here’s what was in it:

Stitch Fix April 2014

My Stitch Fix contained a pair of jeans, two tops, a dress and a scarf. Each Fix also comes with Style Cards showing items from your Fix with ideas and inspiration on how to wear them. I tried each item on with Elena as my trusty photographer and official thumbs-up-or-down-er.

Stitch Fix Blouse and Jeans

This is the Daniel Rainn Kieraly Heart Print short-sleeve blouse ($68) in navy paired with Kut From The Cloth Guiliana Bootcut Jeans ($88). I really liked the blouse, and it’s clothing like this that is exactly why I love the idea of Stitch Fix in the first place. This isn’t something I would ever pick up and try on in a store for myself, but I liked it on me. I thought long and hard about keeping it, but in the end it didn’t make the cut. The back hem of the shirt hit me right around the widest part of my rear, making it a little snug. I also couldn’t quite justify the price for a shirt I’d probably save for date nights and evenings out with girlfriends. The jeans were a boost of confidence in my stylist and in Stitch Fix’s inventory, as Kut From The Cloth is my absolute favorite brand of jeans. I own several pairs in different cuts and I love them all. I didn’t, however, care for this particular cut. I’m kind of over the bootcut. I don’t really need any jeans right now, and I’ve been able to score several pairs of this brand at Nordstrom Rack for $60 or less, so the jeans went back as well.

Stitch Fix Striped Dolman Top

Next up is the Pomelo Corinna Striped Dolman Top in Light Green ($48). I’m wearing it with my own jeans. (They’re Levi’s Skinny Legging Jeans that I discovered thanks to Emily of DesignHER Momma. You need yourself a pair of these jeans! They’re like pajama jeans you can proudly wear in public.) Okay, so I SWORE myself to a ban on any more stripes, but I just couldn’t resist this shirt. In my defense, I don’t own any stripes in this particular shade. It’s a heavier knit, which is nice for late winter/early spring, and it feels like you’re wearing a sweatshirt. That’s what I aim for, folks … as close to fancy as I can get without feeling like I’ve left my pajamas. I kept this shirt and have worn it several times already.

Stitch Fix Dress

I so wanted to love this pink Under Skies Leona Tonal Chevron Print dress ($68). We have a wedding coming up this May and momma needs a new dress. It just didn’t fit quite right. The lining kept wanting to bunch up on my rear, which is probably more of my butt’s fault that the dress’ fault, but the butt always wins that battle. Again, I never would’ve picked something like this off the rack, but you can bet I’ll be scoping out this color when I do shop for myself.

Stitch Fix Scarf

This little number is the Betty Chevron Infinity Scarf from Rikka ($32). Accessories are one of the main reasons I wanted to try Stitch Fix. I love the idea of them, but I hate shopping for them. Even if I find something I think I like, I always feel guilty about spending money on them. This is why I’ve been wearing the same necklaces and earrings since Elena was in diapers. I waffled on this one, too, as I’ve gone all crazy and actually purchased more than one scarf in the last decade. It goes with several things I already own, and I felt 110% more put together whenever I threw it on over something, so it stayed. Would I have ever purchased it off the rack? Probably not. Have I worn it several times every week for the last month? Yes.

Returning the items you don’t want to keep is a cinch. You simply put them in the pre-paid mailing bag that comes with your Fix and pop it in the mail box. Once you’ve decided what you’ll keep and/or send back, you log into your Stitch Fix account and pay for anything you’ve kept. At the same time you can provide feedback on your Fix. It gives you the option to be very detailed, and the more information you provide, the better the stylists are prepared to send you successful Fixes in the future.

I scheduled another Fix for mid-May. I like how you have the option to add notes to your upcoming Fix. I let them know that I was looking for casual yet stylish summer pieces, especially skirts and dresses. I also made note that we’d be traveling to Europe this summer, so clothes that packed well and were suited to travel would be especially appreciated. Once that Stitch Fix arrives I’ll happily share the contents with you.

I haven’t been paid or asked by Stitch Fix to share anything about them with you. It’s an interesting concept, and something I thought some of you might want to try out as well. If you are interested, Stitch Fix does offer a referral service. This means that if you sign up and order a Fix using my referral link, I will get a credit to use towards my own Fixes.

What do you think? Would something like this be a fun and helpful service for you? Or are you happy to do your own shopping? I can see myself using Stitch Fix a few times a year, simply to have a fun package in the mail with a few cute things to add some oompf to my sad, grey, striped pajama-like wardrobe!

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