September 28, 2015

The Un-Designer Girl - RockStud Tote

Hey all. I've recently become obsessed with following fashion bloggers. Silly me buying into their every whim and affiliated product post. Not that all of those things are bad. I understand that they generate revenue for all the hard work that goes into producing a quality blog! But over the weekend I saw something that just made my stomach turn. As a stay at home mom and full time college student, every penny counts. So, when I see the vast majority of fashion bloggers posting links to their outfit breakdown why do I get excited when I see "UNDER $100"?! At that rate purchasing two shirts a month is pretty close to reality. So when I see bloggers not paying the proper respect to certain items from their closet (that a lot of us can never dream of being able to afford) I get a little bit miffed.
 In terms of handbags my budget is Target and my taste is Chloe, so my splurge is the likes of Kate Spade or Rebecca Minkoff. I saw a notable fashion blogger over the weekend post a picture of a certain designer's $2,000 handbag on a dirty street in a pile of dirty leaves next to her $1,000 Valentino flats. My eyes seriously rolled out of my head. If that handbag were mine I'd probably put it in bubble wrap to carry it; therefore, no one would ever see the designer label!
Then I started to think a little harder. There are a lot of fashion bloggers (or really the entire fashion industry) that have lost touch with what the middle class can afford. We all like to look nice don't we? So I've decided that since I spend enough time seeking these things out and trying to relieve my blood pressure over price tags, that maybe I can help a few out that face the same dilemma. And so the Un-Designer Girl series is born.
This week's picks begins with the few that I uncovered this past weekend. The first is a tote bag. Totes are almost a must with four kids. I like to keep a smaller bag for the times I leave the house without children, but for all other times I need something that can hold a few diapers, wipes, snacks, a medicine cabinet, etc. And I despise diaper bags. I really don't know why there is still a market for those?! Let's face it, I don't want to can't spend thousands of dollars on something that is going to end up a mobile trash can for cookie crumbs, candy wrappers, and coffee spills. Here I'm providing you with the beautiful instafamous Valentino Rockstud Tote. Yes, I'm drooling too. It's gorgeous.

It gives a little bit of an edge to a casual outfit but isn't overly structured to where it'll look ridiculous with the daily standard of athletic wear. Here are two more affordable options. One here at a mid-range price point, is still made with real leather, but isn't an exact dupe. And one here at a much more affordable option (and on sale!), closer to the same design, but is made from polyurethane...but that can also be great for our vegan sisters. I'm thinking about grabbing it in the red option although it's not on as deep of a discount.

I hope you liked this post and want to continue seeing more like it. Affordable options with the ability to also look on trend for the season is something I haven't seen. Reality check, advertising a pair of jeans under $100 as an affordable option isn't reality. Yes, I can understand the buying quality is always the better option argument, but when trend is the reason for a purchase sometimes those big splurges are the poor choice. I look forward to posting more affordable options through the Un-Designer Girl series!

March 10, 2015

Too Faced Natural Eyes Vs. Hard Candy Natural Eyes

too faced natural eyes dupe
I'll start this off by saying I haven't shopped at Wal-Mart in ages. We live across town from the only one we have, Target is just down the street, and frankly I just love Target more. But when I heard that Hard Candy had a possible dupe for Too Faced Natural Eyes Palette, I decided to break my streak and  make the drive. (Why is Hard Candy only at Wal-Mart anyway?!)

Let's just get right on with the comparisons!

Too Faced Natural Eyes retails for $36 USD at Sephora and Ulta, among other places.
Hard Candy Natural Eyes retails for $8 USA at Wal-Mart.

As far as the packaging is concerned they are both made of metal. The Hard Candy palette has a strong magnetization. I'm not sure if my Too Faced palette has lost some since I have owned it for close to a year now, but the Hard Candy palette was attaching itself to my Too Faced palette when I stacked them. This obviously isn't important, but it could be a slight annoyance if it's attacking all your palettes where it lives. No one likes a bully.

 Upon opening the case up, Too Faced definitely holds the edge with the packaging design. It's made of nice hard, durable plastic where the shadow pans are anchored. The Hard Candy pans are anchored by flimsy cheap plastic that could bend and crack if too much pressure is applied in the wrong spot. Both come with look books, but the Hard Candy Natural Eyes is accompanied by eye shadow primer, a double ended sponge applicator and a black pencil eye liner.

One more thing that the Too Faced Naturals palette has going for it that Hard Candy doesn't, is that the shadows have names.  Luckily, Hard Candy lined up the colors symmetrically to make it easy for me, so the Hard Candy swatches below do not have names on them as the Too Faced swatches do. Let's get to the swatches.

Let me first forgive my paleness. Heaven is there, it's just the same color as my skin, sooooo....

Heaven vs. Hard Candy

Heaven is a cream matte. It is definitely cream while the Hard Candy has peach tones. Hard Candy is a more buttery consistency, while Heaven took a little more finger power to get a good swatch.

Silk Teddy vs. Hard Candy

Silk Teddy is a beautiful champagne pink shimmer. Hard Candy definitely came close in color, but the texture and pigment is off. Silk Teddy applies effortlessly, while Hard Candy just gives a wash of color.

Nudie vs. Hard Candy

Nudie is a great warm buff matte, but it is definitely darker than the Hard Candy shadow. Funny enough, they have a similar consistency. Both have great pigment and texture.

Cashmere Bunny vs. Hard Candy

Cashmere Bunny is a medium taupe matte. Here we see the opposite of the above swatches, where the Hard Candy is darker than the Too Faced. Again, similar consistency, both with great pigment and texture.

Push-Up vs. Hard Candy

Push-Up is gorgeous mauvey brown with pearl shimmer. The Hard Candy is also a mauvey brown shimmer, but has gold sparkles instead. Without that tiny detail this would be pretty much a dead on dupe, but a cool versus a warm undertone turns these colors into two different colors once applied.

Honey Pot vs. Hard Candy

This is where I knew from sight these were two completely different colors. Honey Pot maybe be my most beloved shadow of all that I own. It's buttery and metallic and just the perfect neutral gold, shimmery without being sparkly. The Hard Candy has obvious chunks of reddish toned shimmer. The Hard Candy shadow is much warmer in nature.

Sexpresso vs. Hard Candy

Sexpresso is a matte dark chocolate. Hard Candy is also a matte dark chocolate. I say dupe.

Erotica vs. Hard Candy

Erotica is a deep chocolate brown with gold shimmer. Hard Candy is a deep chocolate brown with gold shimmer. The base color is slightly cooler than Erotica.

Chocolate Martini vs. Hard Candy

Chocolate Martini is a cool toned medium brown with green and gold reflective shimmer. The Hard Candy is a medium reddish brown, almost sepia with bigger chunks of green and gold reflective glitter.
Overall, this is close to a dupe at first look. If you really want to get down into the nitty gritty details, I'd say the Too Faced Natural Eyes palette is more cool toned and the Hard Candy Natural Eyes palette leans warmer. Honestly, with the difference in price though, if you are loving the Too Faced palettte but can't justify the price tag, the Hard Candy palette is close enough.

March 6, 2015

MAC Bao Bao Wan Collection Review

My makeup hoarding and collecting has officially reached new levels. Yes, now I'm one of THOSE who stays up at all hours waiting for these collections to release so I can get my grubby paws on things that may or may not be available an hour later. The most recent collection that MAC released was Bao Bao Wan. If you aren't familiar with Bao Bao Wan, she's a Chinese socialite and jewelry designer. Her background in jewelry design is apparent in her color selections for this collection.
I didn't get the most highly coveted lipstick colors, Lavender Jade or Forbidden Sunrise. Maybe if I take another jump and grab these things for pure collective purposes, I'll start purchasing the more far out there colors I'd never dream of wearing on my pasty skin. For now I'll forgo the lavender and bright orange lipsticks.
What I did grab out of the collection was the profusion eyeshadow palette Bao's Jewels, the beauty powder Summer Opal, and two of the four lipsticks Burmese Kiss and Romantic Breakdown.
The standout from this collection that I've seen a lot of people wanting was the beauty powder, Summer Opal. On most of the blogs and swatches I've looked out it appeared much more like a bronzer than it is in actuality. It's a very nice highlighter, that could easily be compared to some of Becca's shade range. It swatched nicely, and had a great texture. I have yet to actually apply it, but I will update you all when I do.
I also purchased the deluxe pearl fusion eyeshadow palette in Bao's Jewels. Bao's Jewels are all considered a frost. I honestly don't know why there hasn't been more hype over this palette! It swatched gorgeously with the exception of the lightest color. The lightest color isn't awful, just sort of powdery. It's more for a great accent highlight for the inner eye or brow bone, and I think would be a great dupe for the shade Dust in Urban Decay's Naked 3.
The swatches are below. From left to right it's the lightest to the darkest shade in the palette, and then on the very far right is Summer Opal. Summer Opal doesn't show up all that well, but as I stated it just gives a great highlight and doesn't have a heavy bronze pigmentation.

I chose the two colors of lipsticks that I thought I could actually wear Romantic Breakdown and Burmese Kiss. Romantic Breakdown is a sheer nude luster and Burmese Kiss is a great bright coral pink matte. It doesn't look so much coral in the photographs, but in person it definitely is coral.

I'm extremely pleased with what I purchased out of this collection. The packaging is a beautiful matte duo chrome of chocolate brown and teal that just gives a hint of shimmer. The formulas are all great. As of this moment right now Bao's Jewels and Romantic Breakdown are still available for purchase on Mac's website. If you just click on the names it'll take you to the page for purchase.

**All products shown here were purchased with my own money. All images are my own. No affiliate links. Please link back if you choose to use any of my images.

May 15, 2014

I managed to squeeze in a post, and squeezed in buying a house too!

Just because I haven't been around doesn't mean I don't think about writing. I actually think about posting something practically every day. The time to be able to sit down and do it on the other hand is non-existent. Richard got back at the beginning of October. We geared up to move for the remainder of the year (while in school full time and taking care of four kids full time), and trekked cross country in January to Arizona. We've basically just been suffering through our few months of living here in less than desirable circumstances. All the while still in school full time, taking care of four kids, and Richard being inaccessible.
We recently added another giant stressor on to our plates, but this one is kind of exciting. We are under contract on a house for our upcoming move! Here's a picture of the front. I think it's super adorable.
It's move in ready although to me it still looks like a blank canvas ready for me to make it mine. It's actually the second house we've been under contract on in the past few weeks, but I'll leave that nightmare of a story for another moment in time.
The sellers offered to paint the master bedroom and bathroom prior to closing. I found out that they want to paint it this weekend, so I've been scouring the ends of the 'net for paint colors that can be found in that small town. What a nightmare! Okay fabulous decorators of the online world, we get it, Benjamin Moore paint colors are fabulous. Not all of use can just up and find a Ben Moore reseller! So, I settled with the decision on either Glidden or Sherwin Williams since I know both can be found easily.
I quickly settled that I wanted a dark gray for the bathroom. Gray is kinda my favorite color. I didn't realize until looking for the perfect gray that it's everyone's favorite color too. Ugh. So much for sticking to my guns about being original! But I love it, so I'm going with it. I finalized that Sherwin Williams Peppercorn was going to be the color in the bathroom.

Traditional Bedroom by Columbus Home Builders M/I Homes
I know it's on the dark side, but I'm going to refinish the cabinetry in white and eventually do white subway tile with dark grout. At least that's the plan. I know how quickly that can change!
After knowing *this* was my color I then spent way too much time trying to find a coordinate to go with it for the bedroom. I decided this morning that I was just going to go with my gut, and if I don't like it when we get there the worst thing is that I'll have to repaint. So the bedroom color I chose is Sherwin Williams Sea Salt. It can either go gray or green depending on the light. I guess we will see what color it decides to be when we get there!

Traditional Bathroom by Rehoboth Beach Home Builders Echelon Custom Homes
And here is looks a little greener.
Now I just have to break it to Richard that I want all new furniture....

November 20, 2013

In recovery

Tap Tap....  Is this thing on???

Okay, don't throw things at me.  I've had a really good excuse.  My husband came home.  I'm in school full time.  AND I have a baby that turned into an evil mess the minute my husband stepped off the airplane.  It's been a full, very stressful two months.  I was under the false pretense that the minute he got home relief would set in.  But it didn't.  I had to learn how to live with him again all the while he was doing his best to help me with the older three kids to keep my sanity.  Life doesn't just fall into place sometimes the way you want it to unforunately.  I'm still in "recovery".  But if you can't learn from it, you don't grow from it.
While I've been gone I've been learning, and learning a lot.  Hopefully in the next few months to a year you won't recognize it around here anymore.  I've already vastly improved my photography skills, and I'm currently learning how to build a website and Adobe Illustrator.  I'm super excited about my future career.  I can't even begin to explain it.  I've been a stay at home mom for so long, and before that I had a super boring job.
Other than sharpening my technical skills I've learned I haven't been taking very good care of myself.  I've focused all my energy into raising kids and making good grades.  Things I would have been disgusted with two years ago have become commonplace lately.  So here it goes, another goal list:
Number 1.  I know a lot about nutrition, and I've been ignoring my knowledge lately.  Consuming wayyyy too many grams of sugar daily.  Enemy number one?  My morning, afternoon, evening, any time of the day coffee.  I've thought about it long and hard and it's come to my attention that I don't really like coffee.  If I liked coffee, I'd drink it black, right?  But I don't.  I drink it full of sugary syrups and fatty cream.  I drink it with artificially flavored, chemical loaded, bottled non-dairy creamer.  What I do like is the effect of caffeine.  I'm sort of dependent on it with an infant and a full time load.
Do you know what I like that has zero calories and caffeine?  Tea.  Plain old tea, hot or cold.  Nothing else needed.  So, one of my goals for a healthy change is to drink more tea and less coffee.
The adjustment to less coffee should help with eating less pastries and donuts haha.  That's a whole lot of extra calories!  If I don't go to Dunkin for a coffee, then I won't end up with a Dunkin donut in my belly.  Tea is tea.  Tea at home is no different than tea out of the house.  That gives less of an urgency for a Starbucks crafted coffee.  What the difference is there are no blueberry scones, raspberry swirl bread, cranberry bliss bars, or pink cake pops.  I'm revealing a lot here aren't I?  I like pastries more than most food, and unfortunately I know it's crap.
This brings me to point number 2.  Even when I was taking really good care of myself...even when I was going to the gym 5 days a week,  eating clean and wearing the same size I wore the day we got married, I was neglecting something.  My skin.  The largest organ on our bodies, and it gets abused more than any other.  Sun, chemically laden liquid soaps, shampoos, creams, lotions, make up, nail polish, etc.  I honestly can't tell you what things I've done to myself.  I did it all ignorantly.  All I can say is that I smelled good and looked pretty while I did it.  Now I feel like I'm paying the price.  I keep covering up the problem instead of fixing it.  I can't keep patching problem areas and expect them to eventually miraculously disappear.  I've started reading and researching how to love make up and hair products, to still be and do the things I enjoy,  naturally.  I want to learn more.  Learn from it, grow from it.
My first caveat (yes I'm adding a caveat to a goal list!) is everything in moderation just as anything else in life.  I'm not so stupid to think that I can manage to go completely without a delicious, sugary coffee for the rest of my life.  I also know that I probably won't go totally natural with my skin care.  Sure, it's ideal, but that's like trying to eat all organic.  I'd love to, but it's not realistic.  I'll be better off in the end even with little changes.
I guess with all this rambling what I'm try to say is that I plan on doing a lot of growing and learning with these changes and I would like to review and document it here.  Maybe I can help someone besides myself learn something.
If you see me at the mall buying the Naked 3 palette when it releases, don't point the finger about what is in and not in the ingredient list.  I will do that research on my own and then still probably decide that I NEED it because by gawd it's the Naked 3 palette.  What I do need you to do is point and laugh at my sweaty pits, tell me that I smell, and my natural deodorant isn't working.  Deal?  Deal.