Tag: blog

On 100 posts…and blogging in general

Yes, you read that correctly. 100 posts.

Holy shit, y’all.

If you would have told me back when I started this thing that I’d be celebrating this (okay, fine, modest) milestone (but still a milestone!), I would have given you my famous eyeroll and side eye. (You know that look.)

Not that I’ve been at it that long. I guess that’s what posting nearly every day does for you.

In that time, however, I’ve had some thoughts on the whole thing. So I apologize for monopolizing this post by airing them.

1. Blogging is hard. I mean, I knew it was. I’ve started and abandoned it so many times. But it’s even harder than I thought. Especially when you’re working full time. Everyone assumes it’s just a bunch of words and pictures on a page, but it’s extremely time-consuming. And potentially expensive. You know, buying things to review. And so forth. Amielle and I are constantly cheering each other on from across continents. Because motivation is necessary.

2. And thankless. So you’ve really got to want to do it. I started this blog for a variety of reasons. One of which was to have a portfolio of writing outside my main industry. (More cryptic half-snippets of personal information.) And, mission accomplished. But, I’ve since formed other goals. None of which have really been accomplished yet. And I sometimes wonder if they will. For every successful blogger, there are thousands of little blogs like mine. I may never get there. And yet.

3. But can be rewarding in surprising ways. I may not have very many readers, but I really value the relationships I’ve developed. Even if they’re just in the form of comments. I like my “blogging friends.” I look forward to you comments. And I look forward to reading your blogs. Trying to blog requires you to comment on as many blogs as you have time for, but there are the ones that I make sure I check and keep up on. (P.S. You’ll find them in te blogroll in my sidebar, which I updated recently.)

4. And is about you, not me. Though perhaps belied by this post, if you’re not finding something interesting to appeal to you, you’re not staying. I’ve seen some of the v/bloggers I used to love turn into ego monsters, where every single thing they post is now photos of themselves doing whatever it is they’re doing. Not what they’re doing. (Then again, they’re the ones with thousands of followers egging them on, so they must be doing something right.) I promise you, my blog and social media feeds (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest…if you’re inclined to follow me 😉 ) will never become showcases of photos of me. Good god, that would be awful. (I do necessarily have to post some photos of myself to show you how things look on an actual person. It’s harder for me than it is for you, trust me.)

And some changes are coming. I’ve joined Google AdSense, just being up front about it. And I’m gonna get all official and add a disclosure policy. (Rebecca, yours is amazing. I may have to rip it off. Oh, sorry, I mean “sample.”) In case I ever do get any PR samples. (Has not happened yet. Even my “semi-sponsored” posts were not actually beneficial.) I also updated my commenting system (a week or so ago) so you will actually see replies to your comments (—let me know if you like this format, because there’s another I can try.)

In general, if you have any feedback—comments, advice, suggestions—I am all ears.

So, in conclusion, thank you for reading this personal, non-topical post, if you’ve made it to the end. I look forward to hopefully entertaining, educating, and enlightening you for 100s of posts to come. (Well, at least another 100. I shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself.)

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Purple heart

Well, guys. I was finally able to take some photos and test out the object of my affections, Serge Lutens lipstick in Pourpre Maure.

My dedication to the cause went to extreme lengths that day. I woke up earlier than usual (and my new commute is a killer anyway) and brought my camera out back, making sure the door wasn’t locked. I wasn’t wearing a coat, and it was about 27ºF. I finished taking the photos…and, yup, the door was indeed locked.

Ten minutes later and shivering my ass off, I got someone to let me in. So you’d better really like these photos!

I just need to say, I think I’m in trouble. Like, serious trouble. I truly and deeply heart it.

To start with, here is my own photo of the sampler:

DSC_1502 The top three…swoon.

The three dark colors are all “me” colors. The bottom 3, not so much. (I am pale and I look dead in light, nude-y colors.) Although I think that Or Frele ( the one on the bottom left) is probably meant to be layered over another color, since it’s essentially clear with gold sparkles.

To be completely honest, when I went into Barneys to try on my color, the guy at the counter told me it was #2 (which is actually the top middle color). Even though I had requested the color by name to try on. (He also made me try on #10 Garde Rose, which is gorgeous as well. Of course.)

So part of me was wondering if perhaps I was now dreaming about the wrong color. Nope. He got it wrong. (I know for sure because I wore Roman Rouge yesterday…and halfway through the day switched back over to Pourpre Maure. :p Even though it’s a beautiful color on its own…it’s not MY color.)

I’ve already hit the bottom of the cardboard in one area of the sample, so I’m reluctant to use it for extraneous things, like swatching, so I’ll link you to someone who already did. I am curious to compare it to MAC Rebel, though (which I do own as well), especially since Lisa Eldridge mentioned it as an alternative. And, you know, it’s $75.

DSC_1504 Apparently I’m unable to apply lipstick straight with a lip brush from a cardboard sampler. Or I put it on in the dark? I also realized later I completely forgot to put on blush. Fail.

DSC_1506 My friends call this “Shani face.” It’s just cause I feel dumb in pictures.

DSC_1511

DSC_1514 It’s crooked, but it’s so pretty!

Now, you’re wondering, sure, it’s got a gorgeous face, but does it have anything going on upstairs?

Well, it’s not a member of Mensa, but it probably graduated with distinction. 😉

It goes on feeling very creamy, and then dries down to a satiny, velvet finish. You really don’t feel it on, but it’s not drying. It’s not hydrating, either, though. You should make sure your lips are exfoliated and hydrated before applying.

One of the things these lipsticks are known for are their intense pigmentation. And it did last through a meal, and didn’t transfer onto my spoon at all. I did have to reapply it in the afternoon.

The only negative thing (besides for the price!) is that when it fades, it tends to stain your lips the way wine does, catching on the most prominent areas. But while you’re wearing it, it’s glorious.

What do you think of the color? Have you ever had any mishaps in the course of performing your blogging duties? Do you want to see what the other colors look like? How do you get over something once it’s taken hold of your soul? 😉

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December 2013 Birchbox Unboxing

(In case you’re not familiar with it, Birchbox is a monthly subscription service where, for just $10 a month, you receive a box full of deluxe-sized and travel-sized samples. You receive Birchbox points for every purchase you make and every review your write, which can be redeemed in their store. It’s pretty much a cycle of awesome! Get your own here.)

I followed last month’s lead and again avoided all spoilers so that I would not be envious or upset about what I did or did not get. It’s been only mildly successful, because, while I now no longer am upset that I didn’t get something specific, I’ve been underwhelmed by what I did get. (And I had a slight spoiler by texting with Rose who let slip the nature of one of her items, and I wound up figuring it out. And being sad I didn’t get it.)

So, on to this month. I feel like I am nearing 2 decisions:

1. Cancel my Birchbox See, I LOVE getting a little box of goodies in the mail every month, but I’ve really been underwhelmed the past few months. Since I resubscribed back in July in order to get the Davines shampoo and conditioner samples, I’ve really only been thrilled about 3 products: Davines This Is A Sea Salt Spray, the Tocca hand cream, and the Stila Stay All Day in Beso. That’s 3 things in 6 months, and one of them came in a replacement box. It may just not be worth it anymore, or maybe I should try a different service.

2. Quit making videos
I know, I know, learning curve. But this is my 4th video and I’ve done yet another thing wrong. (I forgot that you can’t see what’s in my hands and I didn’t hold everything up for the camera.) I mean, at this point, I may have learned to a. shoot it with my point-and-shoot so that it focuses in on close-ups, b. how to add music, and c. how to add an intro, but my video skills are still severely lacking, it may just look worse for me to keep making them than it would for me to stop them. I mean, come on, admit it—you watch other unboxing videos and they’re way better.

Anyway, the review!

As always, If you have any questions about any of the products mentioned or anything else, please let me know. I’ve listed links to the products on Birchbox in the video information, so you should watch it on YouTube to access that. If you have any suggestions for future videos, let me know!

What did you get in your box? Have you tried any other services? (Beauty Bar? Glossybox?) Do you recommend them?

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Wishlist Wednesday #13

Not your 90's flannel

 

Not your 90’s flannel by shedreamsinperfectfrench featuring snap shirts
I’m sure it’s the weather, but when I woke up yesterday morning and saw that it was snowing, all I wanted in the world to wear was a nice, warm, brightly colored flannel shirt.

 

I had plenty of them back when I was a teenager in the 90s (yes, I just dated myself :p). They were oversized, unflattering, and super, super cozy. Luckily, none of them have made the leap to my adult wardrobe.

 

But I really wished they had. Which got me wishing desperately for one of the more contemporary, fitted versions. I’m adoring the top middle one for the colors, but also the bottom right two, especially because they’re on sale for $20 at Hollister.

 

And yet, I hesitate. Only because I’m attempting to save money. My guiding principle these days is, “But do I really NEED it?” Obviously there are the impulse buys, but for some reason, purchasing clothing seems more unnecessary. (And not the millionth lipstick. Go figure.) But I realllllllly want one. So it’s wishlisted.

 

I also REALLY wish I had bought this scarf while I had the chance.
It was only $30 on Zara, but again, it wasn’t something I NEEDED. I had bookmarked it and kept going back to look at it, and now it’s sold out and selling for ridiculous amounts on eBay. I know that I knit and don’t need to buy scarves, but every time I see someone wearing it, I just kick myself all over again.

 

Maybe all this means is that I miss Scotland? 😉

 

Do you like flannel shirts in every day wear? Which would you pick? Do you think I should buy the scarf on eBay? What are you lusting after this week?

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Samples Soliloquy #1

Soliloquy noun \sə-ˈli-lə-kwē\

: a long, usually serious speech that a character in a play makes to an audience and that reveals the character’s thoughts

I decided to start a series in which I (finally) review the (copious amounts of) samples I’ve procured from Sephora (among other places), so it seemed a fitting title. 🙂

DSC_1491 Finding a good use for my empty Birchbox boxes. 😉

(In order to keep track of all my samples, I’ve started to write the names on the top in Sharpie and then using Scotch tape on top to keep it from smearing. I figure if I ever buy the full size, I can refill the sample size and use it for traveling.)

I’m going to use my first entry to discuss the collection of skincare items that, along with the Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil, I credit for helping to clear up my face after the Liz Earle Incident. Which means, yes, I like them, and, yes, I would purchase the full-size items. (And intend to!)

I’ve read about Ren Skincare everywhere, so when I saw that Sephora had the whole line, I grabbed a few items to try. And, boy, am I glad I did.

DSC_1492 The heroes of the day.

My first pick was the Ren Hydra Calm Cleansing Milk. I specifically chose this because it’s for sensitive skin and I thought my skin was upset enough as it was. I chose this over the gel since, as I’ve said, everything I’m reading these days is saying that any kind of gel or foaming cleanser is bad for you. So I started using this after taking off my makeup with Bioderma Crealine H2O. It smells nice, it feels gentle on the skin—almost like you’re not even putting anything on your skin, which is good for upset skin—and then using the muslin cloth from the Liz Earle kit and hot water to remove it. I put the hot cloth over my face for a few seconds, and then I gently scrub wipe off.

Once things started to clear up after using the Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil, I introduced the Ren ClearCalm 3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser. I didn’t want to overstrip or overdry my skin with the clay, so I only used that at night, and continued with the Hydra Calm in the morning. But I have to say that this feels plenty milky as well. It does smell clay-like, and I also remove it with the muslin cloth and hot water.

After that, I used the Ren Resurfacing AHA Concentrate. This is to help brighten and clear your complexion, with acidic exfoliators. This is especially good for helping to get rid of the marks that zits leave on your face. Which I know firsthand.

Then I use the Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil. On top of that, I’ve been using the Ren ClearCalm 3 Replenishing Night Serum. This helps treat the pimples and also helps with the redness and marks. (You only use the Resurfacing AHA Concentrate for 7 days at a time, so this works in the interim.) It’s amazing to wake up in the morning and literally see that your skin looks better.

(I’ve had a deluxe-sized sample of the Ren Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask for a while, so I’ve thrown that in once a week as well to help fade the red marks and discoloration. [I did not receive this one from Sephora. I don’t even remember where it came from!] Especially since Lisa Eldridge mentioned her love of lactic acid treatments for exfoliation.)

Then, rounding out the sample saviors, is Origins Make A Difference Plus + Rejuvenating Treatment (the oil-free one). I mentioned I was liking the Ole Henriksen Vitamin Plus moisturizer sample I got, but the Origins pulled ahead in the end. I’m almost embarrassed to say that I’ve gotten samples of this about 7 times now, since I can’t be without it. It feels so nice on the skin, it feels perfectly hydrated, and it smells amazing. I don’t get over oily from using it, and my skin has really turned around over the last few weeks. (Although I do find that if I use the acid exfoliators during the day, it does overstimulate the oil production in my skin, and I get oilier, so I don’t use it during the day.)

These are just in place of those things I was previously using. I’m still using the same toners. You’re probably wondering why I didn’t just go back to my old cleansing routine after the Liz Earle didn’t work out. I am, too, but I am trying to take to heart the urging not to use foaming/gel cleansers, and both of the ones I was using fell under that category. Also, this stuff has really been working and I haven’t paid for it (yet). :p So…

And now my skin is looking so much better and I’m grateful.

Next time, I’ll discuss some of the makeup samples I’ve gotten.

Have you tried any of these products? Are you sampling anything from Sephora lately?

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Music Monday #12

I had a musical discovery (to me) this past week, actually from reading the Clarins blog. (Believe it or not.)

Could you have a better band name than Le Prince Miiaou?! (Yes, that’s french for “meow.” 🙂 ) Our songbird’s real name is Maud-Elisa Mandeau, and she started playing music at 16. No, she’s not another teenager, she’s been at it now since 2002. But I really adore this song, from her third album.

I have to listen to some more of her music, definitely. Although, sadly, it seems her first album is no longer available. But her second and third albums, Safety First and Fill the Blank With Your Own Loneliness, are available. Plus, she has a new album called Where Is the Queen? coming out at the end of January.

What do you think? Have you ever heard of her before? Do you have any more recommendations for me? What are you listening to today?

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The ball is rolling!

Review: Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish – Unluckiest of the lucky ones

I know that it’s been a while since I received the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish™ Hot Cloth Cleanser Starter Kit that I won through Birchbloggers. You may or may not have been wondering about my review. Well, it’s finally ready.

Excited? 😉

Before I go any further, I do need to say that I feel truly thankful (heh, get it?) for having won this to try. It’s very hard writing a blog when you can’t afford new products to review. That’s probably why I took it as far as I did to really be able to give you a fair assessment.

The Liz Earle cleansing system works in two parts. The first step is the cream cleanser. Free from mineral oil, it contains naturally active ingredients, including eucalyptus and cocoa butter. It’s supposed to be a gentle cleanser, suited to all skin types, that still removes even the most stubborn of makeup. The second step is polishing with the muslin cloth. A gentle way to exfoliate your skin, it makes for a really lovely regimen.

Everything I’ve been reading about skin care lately has said to use cream-based cleansers, even if you have oily skin. Any cleanser that foams is supposed to be the devil. So this system definitely fits the bill.

Reviewing a cult product like this, one that has won over 90 beauty awards, one that so many people consider a holy grail product, you feel a certain burden of responsibility.

DSC_1289It’s just such a lovely system. Look at it.

(more…)

Les Cinq Petites Choses #2

It’s time again for 5 things that I’m loving lately.

#1 – My hair is curly, but it’s also very fine, so achieving any volume is always a challenge. I’ve tried a million different volumizing products that usually just manage to make my hair oily within a day and nothing much more. Kate of gh0sparties is always recommending products for this purpose, but being unemployed, I’ve only been able to add them to my shopping list for when I’m working again.

Fortunately for me, I received a replacement September Birchbox because of a damaged item, and this time around, it contained a travel size of Davines This Is A Sea Salt Spray. I actually use Davines shampoo and conditioner (I switch between Love Smoothing and Love Curl Enhancing), and I’ve been waiting very impatiently for their fabled OI All In One Milk to become available for purchase (and now to have money). So I was really excited to try this.

I like my curls to look more styled, so I didn’t use it for the beach wave effect, but instead for the promised volumizing action. And, guess what? My hair looked AMAZING after. With plenty of body. And it lasted for a couple of days, with no oiliness.

DSC_0971You’ve gotta love the name of this thing as much as the packaging.

#2 – A brand new knitting project with winter in mind. There is nothing I like more than a long, chunky scarf when the weather makes it so that you want to bundle up with one. And I’m a super slow knitter, so bulky scarves that knit up quickly are right up my alley. Plus, finding the perfect pattern to pair with the perfect colorway of yarn is like finding balance in the universe.

That’s where the Panda Scarf pattern by Kelly McClure comes in, combined with Plucky Bulky in Vintage Icebox by the Plucky Knitter.

DSC_0977It’s going to look like icicles!!

DSC_0975It’s so fluffy!!

#3 – A little splurge I allowed myself was to purchase one of my coveted fall nail polishes, Peace, Love & OPI by OPI (as pictured here with Illamasqua Stance). I saw it in and ad, and I just had to have it. I love the duochrome colors. I love the color combination possibilities.

And another great find in my September Birchbox was my Ruffian nail polish in Delirium. As I mentioned in my video, I was delighted to receive that color, because it’s the one I wanted the most. It’s an absolutely gorgeous shade of purple (as seen here), and purple IS my favorite color.

DSC_0978Technically these are 2 things, but I’m just filing them under “nail polish.” 😉

#4 – One of the things I have been doing to try and improve my French is to read a lot of blogs written in French (salut à tous!), as well as to watch a lot of French-speaking YouTubers. It has definitely helped my listening comprehension, and I’m so glad at how much more I’m understanding (IF ANY FRENCH SPEAKERS ARE READING THIS—I had never heard of the verb “craquer” before and now EVERYONE is using it. Is this a new popular word or was it always used?). Sadly, my speaking still is pretty abysmal, as you might have heard if you watched my last video.

One particular tutorial I loved was this Autumn look by Julielovesmac07. The weather in New York hasn’t seemed to be able to settle on Autumn yet, weaving back and forth between Indiam summer and fall, but this makeup tutorial by Julie just SCREAMS apple cider and pumpkin picking. And luckily, I had all the eye shadow colors and similar blush. I’ve just got to work on the lip color! Even if you don’t speak a word of French, you’ll be able to follow along with her. And she has a ton of other great video tutorials.

Julie Look how pretty she looks!

#5 – My friend Amielle has done more by her age than I ever knew was possible to do at 21. Previously an au pair in the French Alps, she is now looking after the children for a family in Madrid (lucky bitch ;)), learning a new language, and documenting all of it, diligently, on her blog (since December 2010! THAT is dedication I, as a failed blogger, cannot conceive of!).

She studied as a photojournalist, so her posts are full of beautiful photography of her travels. But it’s the entries populated with her wry humor and thoughtful introspection (and, sometimes, amazing gifs) that blow me away. And if you don’t like any of that, her “Things I’m Loving” at the end of each entry has introduced me to so many cool, useful, entertaining, and educational things. It’s basically a post like this in every single one of her posts. You should go read them.

Amielle My fake little sister is adorable, no?

What things are you loving lately? I’d love to hear!

About a girl

Well, then. Here we are.

Since this is the beginning, there are 2 things that you should know about me.

1. La rêve! Only in my dreams do I dream in perfect French. Despite the fact that I’ve been learning for a couple of years now, I’m still even hopeless when I speak! But I like to pretend, and at least j’essaie (I try). And I’m persistent. And a bit obsessed with all things French. Have any of you learned a second language and have any tips? I am all ears, both asleep and awake! And if any of you speak French and I MISuse it, please correct me!

2. I am a failed blogger. I always begin with great intentions, and then somewhere along the way (sometimes after only the first entry), I lose all momentum. Under my belt, I have a music blog (my best attempt to date), a pseudo-knitting blog, a blog about my attempts at learning French, and a blog about what it’s like to be a fan of European football in America (so shameful, this one). It occurred to me that part of the problem might be dividing all my various interests up into different blogs. I fear alienating people who may begin to follow me for specific content with other content they have no interest in, but consider this your fair warning.

So, c’est moi! That’s me.

DSC_0158_2

…okay, I lied. There are more than 2 things.

3. I’m obsessed with makeup and beauty products. When I was a little girl and my friends would come over to visit, we would play with this eyeshadow palette that my mother had. We would always come out of it looking like little clowns, but that was our idea of fun. And it still is mine. I embarrassingly just earned my entry into Sephora’s VIB Rouge program. Which, basically, means that I spent way too much money on makeup this year. Whoops.

4. Ditto for being obsessed with fashion and style. Alas, that was not as easy to do with my mom’s stuff. Although I surely toddled around perilously in her heels well before I could actually fit into them.

5. Strangely, despite my Francophilia, I am also an Anglophile. Hey, the two of you may have a rivalry going on, but as an American, I can remain blissfully unaffected. This means my vocabulary is peppered with French words AND Britishisms. It’s a wonder anyone ever understands me. In particular, I adore Scotland, and it’s so bad, I’ve been 11 times. (I also have dear friends there now, so it’s not quite as bad as it seems!) It also explains how I fell into liking what the British call football (and what I will never call the “s” word), even if I do support a Spanish team. (Although, being American, I also like baseball. You resolve it. I’ve grown to live with it.)

6. I am never so happy as when I’m traveling. So I hope to share my future adventures with you all, as well as some of the things I’ve already learned and places I’ve already been.

7. I have never shot and uploaded a video to YouTube before, but I hope to attempt to for future entries. Please, go easy on me!

8. Oh! And I knit. Slowly, but pretty well.

So, basically, all these numbers add up to tell you that this blog is going to be a hodgepodge of all the varying and contrasting interests that make up me, and I hope you will stick around to see how it turns out! (I especially hope I do, ha.)

Merci, et, à la prochaine! Until next time!