Friday, December 20, 2013

No Shouting, Crying, or Pouting--Krampus Is Coming To Town!

You know, I've always considered myself a holly jolly Christmas kind of person. The weekend after Thanksgiving, my living room and tree are decorated within an inch of their lives. My gifts tend be ordered by Halloween and wrapped by Black Friday, and I spend most of the Fall googling cookie recipes. There have been years where Buddy the Elf would have looked at me and thought, "Dear sweet baby gumdrops! Dial it back a little!" So, imagine my surprise a couple of years ago when Thomas introduced me to the Krampus.

What? What was this Christmas thing I'd never heard of before? OH...it's a demon-thingy that eats children...lovely. OH...just the kids on Santa's "Naughty List"? Well, that's...so much better?

Actually, yeah. It kind of is.

I kind of dig the Krampus.

Last year, Thomas wrote and directed a sequel to our feature, The Night Shift, centered around the mythical figure. He thought it would be fun to do a holiday special with a talking skeleton. When he realized it could also have a moral that might scare bratty little urchins straight, the deal was sealed. Over Christmas and New Year's, we shot a made-for-TV (and Internet...and DVD...) movie about the Krampus. Last week, it finally aired on local television. It was between Johnny Carson and C.S.I. Miami. For reals.

I took a picture.

That's me!! I'm blue!! (Darn camera hates TV screens)
Thomas worked insanely hard to get this to happen, and I'm so proud of him. From the Facebook comments and posts we saw, I think a fair amount of people from Mobile and Pensacola tuned in, and they seemed to enjoy it. It was intended to be an all-ages fantasy/adventure, and I know of at least one kindergartener who watched it from behind the sofa--twice!

The Friday before (Friday the 13th, natch), we screened the film at the Downtown Art Walk, in the coolest industrial artist's space. It's an old building that has been completely gutted, and is used by local artists as both a work and gallery space. The walls are dotted with an ecclectic variety of styles and mediums, while jewelry, pottery, and even hand-crafted furniture fill the open floor area. Even the rafters are artistic, with hand-painted glass pendant lights, and an absolutely gorgeous twinkle-light encrusted rustic chandalier. I just...I wish I had a picture, but I was too stunned to take one. Our set-up was on a covered stage, surrounded by art and lights, and was just unbelievably funky and awesome.
It was really crowded (yay!), so this was the best I could do. Trust me, though; it was amazing.

By now, you might be wondering what the devil the movie's about. Well, it's about our lead characters from The Night Shift, as they investigate the disappearances of several of the area's "naughty" children in the days before Christmas. It is a sequel, but you don't have to have seen the first film to understand what's going on. It stands alone pretty well.

During the shoot, I Instagrammed a few pics (@buddybear1221) of "Kramps", other actors, props, etc., and thought I'd pull out the better ones for a little jaunt down memory lane. 'Cause, really, why not? What else are we doing? We're playing around on the interwebs, that's what.

Here's one of our principal Krampus, Brendon, in costume. Looking at the final film, you'd never know that this scene was shot around 9am. That's our lovely P.A., Amanda, photobombing.
"Naughty!"
If you look carefully, you might spy a prime example of my holiday over-achiever-iness (a real word, I swear) in the form of a chocolate gingerbread house. Ladies and gentlemen, I made this. It took either three or four bricks of almond bark, peppermint sticks, a cookie, M&Ms, vanilla icing, candy dots, gumdrop mushrooms, several hours, a string of curse words, and the threat of divorce.

This year, I'm making cookies.
And, of course, while I had leftover melted chocolate, I figured I'd make sugared marshmallows. These were actually suprisingly easy, and looked beautiful wrapped in cellophane and attached to gift bows. I swear, I think something inside me snapped last year, and I became a somewhat rabid combination of Martha Stewart and Clark Griswold. Family and friends, I apologize. I had no idea until just now.
It's like a tiny, shimmering, sugar coma-inducing forest.
This is completely off-topic, but what the hey? This year, I tried the marshmallows again, but with jumbo marshmallows and crushed graham cracker. They're heat-free s'mores! They're nowhere near as pretty as their sugar-coated brethren, but they sure did taste fantastic.
They look...fuzzy...but they're tasty!
This next picture is actually from a deleted scene (that is available on the DVD as a special feature), but is probably my favorite shot from filming. One of our awesome child actors had to jump off the bottom step of the staircase, and managed to get some impressive hangtime.
I love the hat. Insert your own "Elf On the Shelf" joke here.
In conclusion--because it's my blog, my rules--here's a sickeningly cute picture of my adorable puppy in last year's Christmas jammies. Nothing to do with Krampus, other than the fact that the dog likes Krampus. Thomas wasn't allowed in the house in his Batman Halloween costume, but Krampus was deemed okay. Let me say that again: Batman, the Dark Knight, is not allowed in the house, but Krampus, the eater of children, is.

I need professional help. And more jammies. He's so cute!!

If you'd like to see Night of the Krampus, here you go. It's gotten some wonderful reviews, for which we are entirely grateful (here's one from Ain't It Cool News), and we just broke 1,000 views on youtube. We're used to counting our views in the hundreds (if that), so I'm really excited. Thanks to everyone who's watched it and shared it! We really appreciate it!

So, here you go. Merry Christmas, and don't let the Krampus get you!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Sparkle, Baby!!: Easy DIY Holiday Decor Ideas

Seriously? Are there really only eleven more days until Christmas Eve? Two more Saturdays? The heck?

Given that we are at, basically, the last minute, here are a couple of last minute ideas for gussying up the old homestead. The first one should take, oh, maybe half an hour, tops. If the second one takes more than five minutes, I'll be gobsmacked.

First up, how about a fancy-schmancy candle-holder? Granted, I'm using mine to store makeup brushes and pencils, but a flameless candle would be equally at home and worlds prettier.


Stupid me forgot to take in progress shots, probably because it was such a quick and easy process. I started with a cleaned out candle jar from Bath and Body Works. Glassware from Dollar Tree would work just as well, though.

First, I spritzed the inside of the jar with spray adhesive. Then, I dumped in a ton of fine glitter, held a paper plate over the top, and shook (the lid would have been a much better idea, but I accidentally threw it away. Don't be like me; keep the lid). The excess glitter went back onto the paper plate, and that was that. You can stop right there.

Of course, I am an over-achiever, and never "stop right there", even when I probably should. Once I had the inside of the jar glitter-coated, I attached some black ribbon to the jar with a little hot glue. Before I did that, though, I tied on a rhinestone pendant that I got in a pack from Michael's. And, seriously, that's all there is to it. Between coupons and stuff I already had at home (jars, adhesive, hot glue), I spent less than ten bucks, and could still do several more. Come to think of it, I bought the pendants for another project, and these were leftovers, so you could say that I did these for the cost of the glitter. Wow.

The second project was a slap-dash effort, because I needed something to go on my mantle. These are some glass vases from Dollar Tree. I bought them for a candy buffet, and they were just collecting dust. A couple of packs of mini-ornaments from Walmart, and a few larger leftover tree ornaments later, I have an attractive mantle display. (Well, I think it's attractive. You might not. I wouldn't know. I'm not you. I'm me, so it's attractive.)

The hardest part was arranging the mini-ornaments so that I had enough for three vases. If you count the cost of the vases and the cost of the mini-ornaments, I have about ten bucks invested. Again, I already had the vases, so I don't count them--seven dollars, then. I separated the three with last year's Bath and Body Works candles (gee...do I like Bath and Body Works candles, or what?), and I really like the effect.

Here's my low-key, easy-peasy, holiday-decorated mantle. Yes, the puppy has his own stocking. Yes, it does hold more than either of his people's. Yes, he is incredibly spoiled.

I wish I had a picture of this at night. The stars light up (it's a card holder!!), and the candles give off a warm, cozy glow. Anyway, those are two super-cheap, super-simple DIY projects that might come in handy if you're throwing a party in the next couple of weeks and need some extra decor. Or, if you're a homebody like me and just enjoy glitter. On everything. Including the poor, spoiled puppy. That'll teach him to demand attention when there's crafting going on. Guess who's getting a bath! Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

'Ip, 'Ip, 'Ooray!: December Ipsy Unbagging

Surprise!!! My ipsy bag came in before the end of the month!! Heck, it made it even before the middle! This month was a little hit or miss, but all in all, I can't complain (too much). Let's dig in, shall we?


For those of you just joining us, ipsy (and yes, it's all lower-case) is a monthly subscription sample service. It's ten bucks a month, and you'll receive a makeup bag filled with four or five (or sometimes six, it seems) deluxe- to full-sized items with a central theme. This month, there were five products, and the theme was "Celebration!"

Two products tied for favorite this month, and both were from beloved brands that have previously appeared in bags. The first was the Be a...Bombshell (the elipses are theirs) One-Stick in Girl Crush. Now, for some reason, the white balance on my camera decided that everything should be yellow. Yay. This is actually a pretty, cool, baby pink, shot through with lots of gold shimmer, and can be used on eyes, cheeks, and lips. Considering I'm day-glo white, it's a little too pale and frosty for my lips. It does, however, look gorgeous on the cheeks. It's creamy, pigmented, and blends beautifully. I used it as a base for a pink blush, and it worked wonderfully. My only gripe would be all of the gold glitter that it left behind, but I own NARS Super Orgasm. That sucker's a glitterbomb. I'm not allowed to complain about glitter on cheeks anymore.  


The other stand-out product was a NYX round lipstick in Iced Honey. Again, it's not anywhere near as dark and warm as it appears here. This is a frosty, neutral rose. Definitely a "my lips but better" kind of color. When I paired it with the One-Stick, my skin got all glowy and ethereal and pretty and stuff. It's not super long-wearing, but you can re-apply without a mirror, so that cuts down on maintenance problems. I haven't found it drying, and there's no noticeable taste or scent.


These swatches are a little more true to color. The top is NYX Iced Honey, and the bottom is Be a...Bombshell in Girl Crush.


Next, we have a POP Beauty eyeshadow trio in Smokin' Hot. The colors are pretty, and they swatched well enough. Unfortunately, I already have all of these colors in other palettes, and really don't use them all the much. As I've mentioned, I'm practically transluscent, and this color combo washes me out even more. This will probably end up going to my Mom or a friend.


Here's the trio swatched. They're not powdery, have decent pigmentation, and look like they'd be nice together...just on someone else.


Okay. I don't want to go hatin' on false eyelashes, because I don't want to be a hypocrite. Between theatre, theatre, and, well, theatre, I have worn more than my fair share of spider-legs in my day. If I needed to look like a doll (and I normally did), then out came the lashes. Were I in a stage production right now, I'd probably need a pair, and these are certainly dramatic enough. But...I'm not, and I don't. Even if I wanted lashes for a party, these are entirely too long and fake looking. They are perfect for stage, though, so I'll just put them up until I need them. I don't know what non-theatre people are going to do with them...


This next product--Nicka K nail polish in Classic Taupe--can best be discussed through a conversation between myself and Thomas.


Me: This is pretty. It looks kind of like my China Glaze Foie Gras. I love the bottle.

Me: (a few minutes later, while painting my nails) Ew. This sucks. I keep messing it up. It's just really thick. I'm just going to take this off and start over.

Me: (later, still painting nails) Well, that went poorly. It's just SO thick...and kind of stringy...

Thomas: Ew. That's gross.

Me: I know. I'm just...I'm gonna try this again.

Me: (later, still painting...) Yeah, this just sucks. I'm gonna call it and put on a top coat. This looks terrible.

Thomas: (looking at nails) It looks like it melted.

Me: You know what?

Thomas: It sucks?

Me: Exactly.

The picture below is after three tries and a top coat. It's terrible. The polish is thick, stringy, and glue-like in consistency. The color is a dead ringer for China Glaze Foie Gras, by the way. They're identical, as far as my eyes can see, so just get that one, if you can. On the plus side, it's already chipping, so I can take it off tonight (I put it on last night).


And now...the bag! I actually really like this month's bag. It's a definite step up in quality from last month, and looks like something I would actually carry as a clutch. The bag is a black faux patent leather with quilting detail and a red lining. I think it looks edgy and sophisticated. Thomas thinks it looks like the Governor's eye patch from The Walking Dead. To each their own.


Well, that's this month's ipsy bag. Two definite hits, a really nice product that's just not for me, a really nice set of theatrical lashes to put up, a definite miss, and a bag that can also double as an eye patch, in case Michonne shows up with her katana. I can't wait for January!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Is Ipsy Worth It?: An Analytical Approach

A question I see pop up fairly often on forums is, "Is ipsy worth it?" Is ten bucks a month warranted for the subscription service? Obviously, this is a very subjective question. What's "worth it" to one person may not be "worth it" to another; one man's trash, and all that. Instead of trying to answer the question outright, I thought it might be helpful to go through the bags I've received since joining, and decide how many things I loved, liked, wasn't thrilled with, or thought just plain sucked. So, if you're interested in rummaging through my ipsy stash with me, grab your labcoat and goggles, and prepare to get scientific...ish...

Before we go any further, here's how ipsy describes the service:
ipsy is a beauty community in which ipsters can learn new beauty tricks and participate along with their favorite beauty Stylists in monthly looks. By subscribing to Glam Bags, you will receive 4 to 5 sample or full-sized beauty (makeup, skincare, haircare, and nailcare) goodies each month that are curated just for you.
The site also mentions community participation and social media communication as benefits, if you're into that sort of thing. As for how the bags are "curated":
We customize all Glam Bag products using a personalization tool called ipsyMatch! This sophisticated system pulls the results from your personal profile, your Beauty Quiz, and your activity on ipsy.com. We use this data to consistently create a Glam Bag filled with the best beauty picks just for you month after month!

Using ipsyMatch technology to get the products you want in your upcoming Glam Bag is easy! We start with having you take the Beauty Quiz when you sign up as a member on ipsy.com. You can re-take the Quiz at any time by heading here, or by visiting your Glam Room. Make sure you have marked the Skin Tone, Hair Color, and Eye Color that best suits you! These are always very important inputs for personalization.

Additionally, we love to use your product feedback to customize your Glam Bags! By clicking into your "Glam Room" you will see the option to review products for each of the goodies we send you. These reviews earn ipsyPoints (10 points apiece) and they also give us a better idea of the types of products and brands you would like to see in your Glam Bags!
This validity of the above statement is highly debatable. Personally, I don't buy it 100%. I feel like some of the quiz answers may be considered some of the time, but don't count on being able to customize your bag. Just because you mark that you don't like, say, mascara, don't expect to never receive a tube. If there's a brand you detest, you can hope for the best, but plan on getting something from it at some point. Skin tone doesn't really matter, either. You can be porcelain and still receive a gorgeous mahogany concealer (and vice-versa). You can either work with it, trade it on a forum, throw it away, or complain about it. The thing is, there are some items that everyone will receive, regardless. There are other items that are variable, and the quiz may (or may not) affect what goes into your bag. It's a mystery bag, so it's a gamble.

From my experience, I can vouch for the part about "4-5 sample or full-sized beauty...goodies". I've never received fewer than four items, and have actually received five products most months, with November bringing in six. I'd also have to say that most of the items have been full-sized, and the deluxe sizes have been very generous. The question is: have they all been useful? Also, the point of a sample sub is to try out new and different brands. Did I get to do that? Let's find out!

All of my ipsy bag reviews from April through October are posted, and you can find them here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. November never went up because, well...I accidentally deleted all of the photos. Yeah, I'm a genius. For the record, I received an em cosmetics lipstick in Nude, a Be a Bombshell lip crayon in Hot Damn, Nailtini nail polish in Champagne, Pixi bronzer in Subtly Sunkissed, a Starlooks Gem eye pencil in Topaz, BH Cosmetics baked shadow single in Aprodite, and a cheapie little gold wristlet (I'm not in this for the bags).

Now, for the rankings!
*D means Deluxe, F means Full-Sized

Use Regularly: 22, $218.70 
D MicaBeauty mineral eyeshadow ($14.95)
F Sation nail polish ($5)
F Be a Bombshell blush ($16)
D Sexy Hair Soy Renewal Nourishing Styling Treatment ($4.39)
D Juice Beauty Reflecting Gloss ($9)
F Cailyn gel liner ($21)
F Chella highlighting pencil ($18)
F NYX blush ($5)
D Sexy Hair Weather Proof humidity spray ($8.45)
F Demeter perfume ($10)
D Michael Todd charcoal scrub ($5.29)
F Noya lip balm ($3.99)
F NYX eyeshadow ($4.50)
D Cailyn Tinted Lip Balm ($16.63)
F Zoya Nail Polish in Giovanna ($8)
D Be Delectable hand cream ($5)
D Buxom Lip Polish ($9)
D Sexy Hair Blow Dry Volumizing Gel ($6)
F em cosmetics lipstick ($16.50)
F Nailtini Nail Lacquer ($13)
D Pixi Bronzer ($5)
F Starlooks Gem eye pencil ($14)

Like, But Use Less Often (Probably Wouldn't Repurchase): 11, $86.07
D St. Tropez One Night Only Instant Glow body lotion ($6.08)
F Yaby concealer ($4.85)
F Zoya nail polish in Blu ($8)
F Mirabella Colour Sheer lipstick ($22)
D BH Cosmetics eyeshadow palette ($1)
D Coola moisturizer ($5.15)
F City Color cheek stain ($2.99)
F Starlooks Kohl eye pencil ($12)
D Elizabeth Mott It's So Big mascara ($8)
D Be a Bombshell lip crayon ($14)
D BH Cosmetics Galaxy baked eyeshadow ($2)

Didn't Care For, But Not a Bad Product (Just Not For Me): 4, $21.48
F Starlooks lipliner ($12)
F POP Beauty lip crayon ($4.16)
F Freeman Beauty masks ($1.99)
D La Fresh Oil-Free face wipes ($3.33)

Failure of Epic Proportions: 3, $17.07
F J. Cat Sparkling Cream Palette ($4.49)
D Pacifica BB Cream ($5.44)
D Pixi Lash Booster mascara ($7.14)

Statistics
40: products
21: Full-Sized
19: Deluxe Samples
33: liked or loved
7: couldn't use or didn't like
30: brands received

9: months
90: dollars spent
10: dollars spent per bag
2.25: dollars per item
74.25: dollars spent on liked items
15.75: dollars spent on disliked items

343.32: approx. retail value
38.15: approx. average retail value per bag (in dollars)
304.77: approx. retail value of liked items (in dollars)
38.55: approx. retail value of disliked items (in dollars

4.44: approx. average number of items per bag
7.43: approx. equivalent of liked "bags" (based on average)
1.58: approx. equivalent of disliked "bags" (based on average)

Based on this data (and everyone receives different bags of differing values, so this is purely a personal account), I believe that ipsy is worth the money for me. It might not be for you, but were I trying to decide whether to keep or cancel my subscription, this would have tipped the scale over to "keep". For me. Everybody's situation is unique, so don't let me tell you what to do. I'm just putting the information out there, in case anyone was curious. I hope this can be of use to some of y'all.

Now, bring on the December bag!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

A Do and a Don't: E.L.F. Mini Haul and Review

A few weeks ago, E.L.F. had a 40% off sale online. There were a couple of items that I'd been eyeing, but hadn't quite built up the courage to try out, so this seemed high time to bite the bullet and order. I picked up, among other things, the Prism Eyeshadow Palette in Sunset and the new 22-Piece Mini On the Go Palette. Normally, the 22-piece palette goes for $15, but right now, you can get both palettes for $10 each.  

Top: Prism Eyeshadow Palette. Bottom: 22-Piece Mini On the Go Palette.

Now, because I like to end things on a good note, let's start out with the 22-piece palette and get that out of the way.

You see, for me, this was a fail. Through and through. It's really a shame, too, because the idea is fantastic. It's just the execution that falters.

Before I go any farther, let's start with the good: I very much enjoy the concept of carrying a purse-friendly, compact palette with shadows, blushes, glosses, applicators, and a mascara. Normally, you get some combination of a few of those elements, but rarely all of them. Also, kudos for putting the cream products in a section to themselves, thus preventing the powder shadows and blushes from contaminating the glosses. It really sucks when you apply a pretty pink gloss, only to find that particles of black eyeshadow have smeared across you lips, as well. There's also a really nice mirror, so you actually can apply your makeup "on the go".

And that's about it. And I hate that.

So, what's so terrible about this palette? Unfortunately, pretty much everything (oh, I HATE this review!! It's so negative, and I really adore E.L.F.!). To start with, the packaging is boring, shoddy, and just plain bulky. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of it from the side, but while it's only about the length and width of a credit card, the height is ridiculous. It's a brick. Think of two Altoids tins stacked one atop the other, and you've got a pretty accurate representation. It's supposed to be travel-friendly, but there's not a pocket in my purse large enough to hold it (and I travel heavy). Of course, even if I could fit it into my bag, I wouldn't because the clasp is flimsy, and I'm afraid it would open up and spill everywhere. It's just not workable as a travel palette.

Secondly, the products aren't very good. The eyeshadows are chalky and lacking in the pigment department. Below, I have a random sampling of some of the shadows, and I had to really work to build them up to this intensity. The fourth shadow from the left--see if you can spot it. It's supposed to be the cornflower blue in the top row of the palette. Now, if you look at the shadows in the pan, they appear to have a variety of finishes, ranging from matte to glitter. However, when you apply them, they all come off as matte, and unfortunately, muddy together. I tried wearing a few to work, and while I didn't have any fading or creasing, the overall look was so embarrassingly...the only word I have is muddy, y'all. I'm sorry...that I had to pull out my usual purse palette and re-do it before I left the office.

Of course, E.L.F. shadows tend to be hit or miss, but the lip products have, generally, been pretty good. I had higher hopes for the second tier.

See! The colors are lovely, and there's a nice range of shades. Another thing that bugged me about the shadows was the apparent randomness of color choices. When I think of a purse palette, I think of touch-up shades: a deep shade for adding drama, a shimmer to perk up a look or cover creasing...that sort of thing. The shadows didn't deliver on that, but the lip colors--more sticks than glosses, really--fared better. Sadly, they feel kind of gritty on the lips, look thick and chalky, and wear off quickly. The lip brush is splayed and unusable, and shed the first time I tried to dip it into the product. Below is another random sampling of colors. They are very pretty in the pan and in swatches. It's just a shame they wear so poorly.
Left to Right: the light pink, the last shade, the deep purple.

On to the blushes! I'll be perfectly honest with you; I did not try these. I couldn't. I don't have a brush small enough. The included brush wasn't usable, and each color is roughly the size of a postage stamp. Again, this is a shame because E.L.F. tends to do well with blushes, and these colors are just gorgeous. From what I can tell, they appear to be a subtle golden highlight, a raspberry blush, and a light, shimmery bronzer.

I did swatch these, and that made me even more unhappy. They swatch well and look just lovely. I just can't use them.

I didn't even bother with the mascara. It's their standard studio mascara, so if you like it, you'll like this. It's not enough to make or break this palette. So, in summation, it's a wonderful idea. It just didn't work.

Part of me wonders if, perhaps, this was rushed into production. Recently, Urban Decay released the Anarchy and Shattered Face Cases (shadows, blushes, and a lip pencil in a compact case), and I wonder if this was launched as a response to that. Granted, the case more resembles a Too Faced Glamour To Go, but I really do wonder. This is pure speculation, but I get the feeling this started out as a dupe of the Glamour To Go, and then went into production early because of the Urban Decay. Maybe not. It's just a theory, and the only way I can understand how something that was so clearly not thought through could be released. Hopefully, they'll keep with the idea, but tweak it so that it works better. Personall, I'd reduce the number of shadows to eight and up the quality of each, make the glosses "glosses" (creamier and easier to apply without a brush), and include only one blush and one bronzer/highlight (to increase the size of each). I'm not sure what to do about the bulk of the packaging, but even rounding the corners would help. Right now, it's a mess.

Okay, now that that unpleasantness is out of the way, let me show you my new friend:


Isn't it pretty?! These are well-done shadows, y'all. This is the Prism Palette in Sunset, and here's how E.L.F. describes it:
These ultra-silky and lustrous eyeshadows look like a powder but feel like a cream, allowing for a smooth and flawless application. Use to contour, line, and highlight for a radiant finish. The luminous, shimmery formula creates a gorgeous range of looks for both day and night.

They ain't lyin'. I have had very little luck with E.L.F. shadows in the past. The best I've ever had was half of the Maleficent palette from last year. When I opened this baby up, I let out an audible gasp. I could tell just by looking at the shadows that they were going to be special.


These swatches are crap. In person, they look much richer and sparkle like nobody's business. The formula is fantastic, too. They're creamy and silky, and not even slightly powdery. These swatches are in palette order, and those second, third, and fourth shades are standouts.

Is this a perfect palette? No. You will need to augment it with some matte or satin shadows, and probably with some deeper shades to put together a complete look. If you have Urban Decay's Naked Basics, you're set. I can completely forgive that, though, because of the formula. I would put it on par with Stila, honestly. It's that kind of soft, slightly flaky (not flaking off, but it's almost like it applies in a solid flake form...or maybe I'm insane...either way), shimmering texture. I didn't experience any creasing or fading in the hours that I wore these, and felt confident enough to use the palette for a holiday party look. These are just d@*n good shadows, and you get six of them for ten dollars. There are two other versions, Naked and Smoke (I tell you, they are seriously trying to get in on the Urban Decay audience), with neutral and jewel tones, respectively. I haven't tried them, yet, but after falling in love with Sunset, I may need to place another order.

Final Verdict

22-Piece On the Go Palette: 2 out of 10. Great idea, but executed poorly.
Prism Palette: 9 out of 10. Gorgeous, and tremendously good quality. On par with high end. 

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Monday, November 25, 2013

I'm Not Dead Yet!!!

I swear, I'm still here!! Things have been a little crazy with work, holidays, teaching, and...well, just life in general. I've been working on some fun reviews, though, and will keep you posted on anything nifty I find floating around the web. Thanks for bearing with me!

Much love,
Erin

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Gimme an R-A-N-T! Whaddaya Got? RANT!!!!!!

Ladies and Gentlemen, brace yourselves, for I am filled with righteous indignation! That's right! This is a RANT!!

This is an article that I came across today on Facebook, and it is absolutely infuriating. The tl;dr version is this:

A high school marching band took the field for their halftime program. At the beginning of the first song, the coaches brought the teams back onto the field. Over seven minutes remained on the clock. When four minutes (and some change) still remained on the clock, the coaches began yelling at the band to get off the field. The parents in the stands started screaming, "Get the [expletive] band off the field". Then one of the coaches went so far as to begin shaking the junior Assistant Drum Major's podium, in an attempt to drive the band off.

It was still halftime.

On Senior Night.

The administration claimed that the team would have received a 15-yard penalty if the band had not vacated right then, but that's not entirely true. Halftime lasts for twenty minutes, and then an additional three minutes are allotted for warm-up. At the time this occurred, the original twenty minutes were not up. In addition, the
principal had already discussed the possibility of an overage (due to it being Senior Night) with the referees and opposing team, and it had been approved. The team would have received a penalty if they'd missed their additional three minutes, but not until that time. I feel it's also worth mentioning that this team had only won one game over the entire season. The band recently received a national award.

In a lovely little bit of irony, the penalty would have, officially, been for "unsportsmanlike conduct". 'Cause, you know, trying to knock a teenager off of a podium because they didn't finish their halftime show five minutes before halftime ended is sportsmanlike.

For what it's worth, the football players had nothing to do with this, and many expressed that they felt badly about the incident. This rant is in no way concerning the football team. This is about the administration, coaches, parents, their lack of respect, and the fact that this is not an isolated event.

As a former band member and the sister of a current high school band member (non-marching at the moment, but that's probably going to change soon), I know what these kids go through for their art--and it is an art. Have you see Ohio State?

When I was in my school's color guard (I can't play an instrument to save my life), we started off with a week at sleep-away flag camp. There, we twirled for, roughly, eight hours a day. The food was so horrible that we ended up living off the camp's peanut butter and jelly bar (yes, that's a thing), and were so weak and starved that our chaperones kidnapped us and took us to a buffet, where no one could eat without getting sick. Did I mention this took place during a hurricane, and we had refugees staying at the camp, too? We twirled in the hurricane. No kidding.

Next came band camp. Again, we twirled from about seven or eight in the morning until five or six at night. We did get lunch, but that was the only break. A time or two, we were able to go home for dinner, but had to come right back and stay until eight or ten at night. This lasted for several weeks, and was grueling. This was over the Summer, which stays in the mid-90s to low-100s with 100% humidity. Kids passed out. It also rains like crazy throughout the season (read: year), but we kept practicing in the mud. We were told to stop twirling if your pole turned blue and the hair on your arms raised, and then to throw the pole away from you, because you were getting struck by lightning. Until then, keep twirling. (note: I don't know the science behind that, but that's what we were told.)

Then, there's marching season. For us, that meant bus trips on buses that broke down or caught fire (seriously), then waiting for the school to convince the nice "Spirit Bus" that the football players, cheerleaders, and alumni rode on to turn around and come get us. This meant stale fast food when the players got steak dinners before each game. This meant riding all the way to Podunk, AL, just to have the opposing team tell us we couldn't play because it irritated their team. This meant having parents and coaches yell at us because they were losing, we existed, and they needed a scapegoat.

During all of this, and for months after, there are classes, private lessons, after-school rehearsals, during-school performances, competency tests, and, Lord Almighty, competitions. Those are a-whole-nother rant, in and of themselves.

The thing is, no matter how badly we were treated, or how uncomfortable we were, or how jangled our nerves, we kept playing. We kept doing our best because it made us proud. We were also very proud of our team, and wanted to support them. They were darn good, and a win for them was a win for us.

Now, I wasn't at this game. I didn't see this happen, but not only do I not doubt it, I'm not surprised by it. What makes it truly sickening is that the offense was perpetrated not only by the band's own school, but by adult authority figures and parents, all of whom should know better. These are the people who are supposed to be teaching these children--yes, children--how to behave in public, and how to treat other people. These are the same disciplinary figures who issue detentions at school and groundings at home. How in the [expletive] are these kids supposed to take them seriously now? More importantly, if we can't count on either school or parents to set good examples for today's kids, who can we count on?

I just...I have no idea.

***Editor's note: It has come to my attention that 15 yards can make or break a game, and that an unapproved half-time overage can result in fines. This is very true, and I felt it necessary to add. I still feel that the entire situation was handled very poorly by the school's administration, coaching staff, and parents. *** 

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Autumn Tag!!

Yay! The weather has finally cooled off down here (it's a brisk 66 degrees, y'all. Break out the scarves and hot cocoa), so I feel like I can, officially, take part in this lovely tag that the hilarious and super sweet Leigh over at Whimsical Adventures of a Magical Mom tagged me to do. I hate that I've put it off this long, but it seemed just downright laughable to post an Autumn Tag while wearing a tank top and flip flops. Call me crazy. Anyway, thank you, Leigh! This has really been a lot of fun, and I loved reading yours. All kidding aside, I'm honored.

Favorite Thing About Autumn
Socks. Seriously. It's a billion and one degrees down here for about 98% of the year. For the, approximately, two weeks of Fall/Winter that we get each year, I can finally wear socks. The rest of the time, I'm stuck in flip flops and flats, because it's too darn hot even for tennis shoes. I can wear cashmere socks and cotton socks and silky socks and wooly socks and short socks and long socks and maybe even leg warmers (if I'm feeling flashdancy). It's an honest-to-God treat, y'all.

Favorite Drink
Oh wow. This is tough. I'm going to have to say a King Cake latte from Starbucks. No, they're not on the menu, and no, Mardi Gras isn't in the Fall. It's still the perfect cold weather drink. For the curious, it's a white chocolate mocha with cinnamon dolce syrup, and it's addictive. Be ye warned!

Favorite Scent or Candle
This is another tough one. I'm currently rotating through several candles from Bath and Body Works: Cider Donut, Sweater Weather, Caramel Pumpkin Latte, and Caramel Pecan Waffles. I guess the Caramel Pecan Waffles wins. It's the one that Thomas and my brother both went nuts over, and it makes me crave pancakes. That's probably not a good thing.

The rest of the bunch go, in order of favorite to least: Cider Donut, Caramel Pumpkin Latte, Sweater Weather. Cider Donut is light and crisp. Caramel Pumpkin Latte smells heavenly, but does have a slight chemical after...taste? I guess? Sweater Weather is freaking awesome, and smells like Christmas trees. It also messes with my sinuses after a few minutes, which is why it's on the bottom. I recommend it for those who don't have bad allergies, though.

Best Lipstick
I love a bold lip, but rarely wear them. I'm pale with an angular face and a widow's peak; if I go too vampy, I end up looking like a vampire, and not the sexy, sparkly kind. My favorite, of the moment, is Urban Decay's Revolution Lipstick in Lovelight. It's a semi-sheer, warm, golden peach that really does look lit from within. I swear, it glows. Gorgeous. I'm actually wearing it today, with a little UD Space Cowboy on the eyelids, and Flower Beauty blush/bronzer duo in Beachy Keen.

Runners up are: MAC Shygirl, Buxom Lip Tarnish in Scandal, Urban Decay Revolution in Catfight.

Go-To Moisturizer
Hands down, Josie Maran Infinity Cream. Flat-out. That stuff is amazeballs. It's her signature argan oil, but in a cream form. You can use it as a face moisturizer, eye cream, lip balm, cuticle oil, hand cream, foot cream, and to smooth flyaway hair. I'm sure there are other uses, but those are just off the top of my head. My skin loves it. It drinks the stuff in, and hasn't broken out at all. When I've traveled, recently, this one product replaced five others, and freed up a ton of real estate in my toiletry bag.

Favorite Go-To Color For the Eyes
This time of year, it's less color and more finish. Generally speaking, I like a satiny neutral eye. When Fall rolls around, though, I go for either extreme and choose an all matte look, or one that's a total glitter-bomb. Today, I pulled out the glitter. Earlier this week, I used Naked Basics exclusively. If I have to pick a color, though, I'll go with charcoal gray. It always makes me think of cozy sweaters, for some reason.

Favorite Music To Listen To
Same as it always is: musical theatre. I'm a theatre geek from way back, and my iPod is filled with Sherrie Renee Scott, Kristen Chenowith, and Michael Crawford. I'd like to say that this is the time of year that I pull out Halloween-appropriate shows, like Sweeney Todd, Evil Dead, or Young Frankenstein, but who am I kidding? I listen to them year-round. I also have zombie faces in a shadow box on my wall, and a literal skeleton in my closet. I'm not well

I also like Adele. And Scissor Sisters. And the other stuff Thomas put on my iPod that I don't know the names of. Good job, baby!

Favorite Outfit To Wear
I don't think I have one. I mean, I like the one I have on now--yellow, white, and navy plaid button down over a white and navy henley, with jeans and skechers--but I don't know if it's my favorite. Another I enjoy is a black fuzzy sweater over a red and silver pinstriped tank, with skinny jeans and boots, accessorized with a handmade red and purple headband with a cute felt zombie face attached. But again, not sure it's my all-time favorite. I'm also looking forward to wearing this stunning sheer white long-sleeved shirt with lace accents that I picked up at JC Penney's a month or so back...you know what? My favorite outfit is whatever I'm wearing at the time, as long as I feel comfortable and pretty. There.

Autumn Treat
Churros. It seems odd, and a little silly, but Thomas and I tend to take our vacations in October, and we normally end up at the Orlando theme parks...where there are churros. If I'm eating a churro, I'm probably on vacation...or at Taco Bell...which is somewhat less magical...Then again, I only eat the Taco Bell churros when Thomas is with me, so if I'm not on vacation, at least I'm with my sweetie. Yeah...definitely churros.

Favorite Place To Be
On my couch, in my jammies, snuggled up with the hubby and the puppy. No contest.

I hope you guys enjoyed this! I'm supposed to tag four bloggers, but I'm only going to tag one: Magnolia. I'm also tagging each and every one of you! I'd love to see what you guys come up with. Leave a link in the comments below.  

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Of Course...

...it's my favorite time of year, and I'm sick. I had really hoped to do some inspiration looks for you guys, but it was impossible when the eyeliner kept running down my face, and my nose was redder than Rudolph's. I am so sorry. Just for fun, I may do them anyway, after Halloween, in the event anyone wants them for next year, or needs to dress up between now and then. For now, I'm going to go back to blowing my nose.

See you on the flipside (good Lord, I must be sick),
Erin

Friday, October 25, 2013

In Case Of (Costume) Emergency: No-Muss, No-Fuss Halloween Ideas

Dear God, we are about to head into the very last weekend before Halloween! How did that happen? I haven't finished my Christmas shopping, yet!

Seriously, though, it may seem like it's too late to put together a fantastic costume for any last-minute parties you may be planning to attend. I assure you...

...yeah, it is. But there's still plenty of time to throw together a half-way decent ensemble. Below, I've come up with four low-to-no cost, practically zero-effort, toss together in no time costume ideas. They're not great, but hey, desperate times and all that. So, without further ado, here are my 2013 suggestions.

1. Melissa McCarthy Elle Cover

This cover has caused a bit of an uproar recently, concerning body issues in Hollywood and in the fashion industry. McCarthy, herself, has defended the photo, and even admitted that she's the one who picked the coat, so I'm all for letting the offense over this photo drop. That said, one thing about this photo is undeniable: she looks freaking hawt. I mean, wowzers! Honestly, between the gorgeous subject, stunning photography, and public drama, this shot could very well become iconic. Plus, it's the easiest Halloween costume since the t-shirt that says, "This IS My Halloween Costume". All you need is smokin' hot makeup, drop earrings, a black dress, heels, your winter coat (or one from the local thrift shop), and a metric ton of hairspray. This costume also gets bonus points for being wearable away from the party, as well.

 2. Daryl Dixon from The Walking Dead

I happened to run across this little gem at the Halloween store, and had a minor conniption fit at the $29.99 price tag. I'm sorry, but if you want to dress as Daryl Dixon, you don't need to buy a pre-made costume. Heck, I could put together a feminine version with stuff out of my closet. All you need (male or female) is a brown, green, or white tank top, some old jeans, boots (if you've got them. Dark sneakers would work in a pinch), and, well, a lot of dirt. If you want, you can always mix up a tiny batch of fake blood to smear on your face and body. Now, if you want an ear necklace, you're on your own. (Spirit Halloween does sell one...ew...)

3. Rejected Angel Vessel from Supernatural

This is, by far, the easiest costume. I can't find a decent photo online, but if you're a fan, you know what I'm talking about (and if you're not a fan...A) why not? and B) why would you want a costume from it?). Wear whatever clothing you want. Be comfy. Be cute. Be sexy. Be whatever. It's the makeup that makes this costume. Do your normal makeup, but skip the eyes. Then, use black greasepaint to black-out your eyes, like you would if you were going to put on a superhero mask. Lastly, using either fake blood or, as a last resort, lipstick, add blood dripping from the eyes. Done.

*BONUS: You could add the greasepaint and blood to nostril and mouth areas to go as a fresh walker from this season of The Walking Dead.

4. Ridiculously Photogenic Running Back

This is more for the guys, but ladies can feel free to give it a go. I don't know if you've heard about this viral photo, but it's adorable. A football player for Notre Dame lost his helmet during a recent game, and finished the play before stopping to put it back on. In the short time he was sans chapeau, a photographer snapped this pic that looks like an ad in a catalog. I think it's the little half smile that sends it over the top. Anyway, if you're in a bind and happen to have a football jersey lying around, dab a little greasepaint under the eyes, toussle your hair, and go be your ridiculously photogenic self.

Have a great weekend, guys!

Monday, October 21, 2013

'Ip, 'Ip, 'Ooray!: October Ipsy Unboxing

Dear Lord, this month is flying by. It's ten days until Halloween. That's insane, y'all.

Over the weekend, my October ipsy bag made it in, and I thought I'd share what was sent. For those just joining us, ipsy (formerly myglam) is a monthly beauty sample subscription service. For ten bucks a month (less, if you sign up for multiple months at a time), you'll receive a makeup bag filled with four or five deluxe- to full-sized beauty products to play with, as well as a list of discounts to the participating brands. There's always a theme, and this month's was "The Art of Beauty". I was hoping for a Halloween-y, or at least, Fall-ish theme, but I'm actually surprisingly pleased with this choice.

No, the stuff isn't floating. I have a glass-top table, and didn't realize how weird that looked until just now. Oops.
This month, I received a full-sized Zoya nail polish, a most-likely deluxe-sample size of Be Delectable by Cake Beauty hand cream, a travel-sized set of La Fresh face wipes, a deluxe-sample size of Buxom lip polish, a deluxe-sample size of Big Sexy Hair Blow Dry Volumizing Gel, and, of course, the makeup bag.

The bag contents vary from person to person, but each subscriber received a Zoya polish in either Mason (fuschia), Neve (navy), or Giovanna (emerald). I ended up with Giovanna, and did a slap-dash manicure so I could show you swatches. Please forgive the god-awful job I did on these nails. There's not even a topcoat.

The color is what I would call a classic Christmas green. Emerald is the color of the year, and supposedly a hot hue for Fall, but you could definitely wear this one well into the holiday season. The formula is a little messier than I usually find with Zoya. It's very opaque, but I did notice some streaking, and sort of felt like I had to glob it on. It does look fantastic on, though, and seems resistant to chipping. I'll have to let you know for sure after a few days. Here, I'm wearing it with Deborah Lippman's Happy Birthday glitter on the accent nail. Above is an indoor shot, and below is in natural light.


Terrible manicure; gorgeous color.


Since we're talking about hands, let's move on the hand cream. I'd never heard of this brand, but I simply adore the scent. I got Coconut & Cream, and it smells exactly like coconut custard pie. I mean, exactly. That was one of my grandmother's favorite desserts, and she and I were the only ones in the family who liked it. This lotion stirs up a ton of memories, so for that, I give it two thumbs up. On it's own merits, though, as a hand cream...it's okay. It's about on par with Bath and Body Works, but not anywhere near as hydrating as the Eucerin my husband uses. Then again, this smells a heckuvalot better, so I guess it's a trade-off.
My camera hates shiny.
I was so excited to get this!! Buxom, as those of you who have been following for a while may know, is one of my all-time favorite brands for both lip gloss and mascara. Buxom lip polish in Clair is one of the very few glosses I've ever used up! This gloss is in the shade Dolly, which is a dusty mauve with itty-bitty, eensy-weensy, teeny-tiny gold shimmers. On me, with my day-glo white skin, it shows up as a shade or two darker than the natural flush my lips make when they've pressed together for a bit. On medium-light skin and darker, this would make a gorgeous nude. Already, this has become one of my go-to Fall lip colors.

The color is stunning, but the formula can be a deal-breaker for a lot of folks. It's a slightly sticky (stickier than E.L.F. mineral gloss, but nowhere near as sticky as MAC lipglass), super shiny, plumping gloss. There is a definite sting to this gloss when you apply it. It feels kind of like Icy/Hot, where it's ice cold, but still sort of burns. It can be uncomfortable to some people. I don't mind it, but I would recommend trying a sample size before plunking down the cash for a full version. It does earn points with me for smelling like vanilla mint.


Big Sexy Hair has been almost omni-present in ipsy bags, here lately. I've gotten three or four items since I joined in April, and I think that's the most repetition I've had of a brand. I certainly don't mind, because everything I've tried has been wonderful, but I feel like I need to put that out there for those trying to decide on subscribing.

This is hair gel. It looks like hair gel. It smells like hair salon (you know what I'm talking about). You run it through damp hair and blow dry. On paper, this is nothing special. In practice, it's freaking awesome. I've blown my hair dry with all sorts of gels, but this one gave me more volume alone than my other gels and mousses combined. I actually had to figure out how to de-pouf it before I could leave the house. I'm not 100% sold on it, but I'm definitely keeping my eye on this.

And then we have the La Fresh wipes. I just...I just really don't like these. I do like that they're oil-free. I do like that they're mostly natural and good for the environment. I don't like that they burned and didn't remove my makeup. I'm sure there are people out there who love them, and I'd be happy to try something else from this brand. I'm just not digging these wipes in particular. Maybe I can use them for removing swatches, or something like that.

Finally, here's the monthly makeup bag. It's a plain white bag made from an almost-rubberized fabric that I could not identify if my life depended on it. The bag is trimmed with a dark pink zipper, and bears an uncredited quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. According to ipsy, the bag is mostly bare so that subscribers can add their own designs. It's a cute idea. I'm not going to do it, but I like the reasoning.

In conclusion, I thought this month's offerings hit a home run. Flat-out. For giggles, I'll leave you with a laughably horrible, low-res selfie I snapped a couple of hours after what I'm dubbing "The Volumizing Incident of 2013". By this point, I'd brushed and pinned it into submission, but the bangs were still standing out from my forehead, and the crown was a good inch higher than my scalp. I felt just like one of those poor kids on Toddlers & Tiaras, and I didn't even have to use my teasing comb. Where is my teasing comb, anyway? Huh...I probably need to find that...

Friday, October 18, 2013

Should It "Stick" Around?: Maybelline Fit Me Shine-Free Foundation Review

The other day, I ran across the new(ish) Maybelline Fit Me Shine-Free foundation stick that everyone's been talking about. I had a coupon that made the price around $6, so I decided to give it a try. After all, it is Fall, and I'm not sure how well bold lipstick goes with BB Cream. It seemed time to amp up the foundation.

Short version: I freaking love this stuff. It's awesome. It's not perfect, but I'm digging it.

Long version: (buckle up, buttercup)

I have tested this product out thoroughly. I've worn it with a silicone primer, with a serum-like primer, with no primer and a setting spray, and all by its little lonesome, and there is no difference in performance. It is what it is, just FYI.

The product comes in a stick form that twists up. It's larger than a concealer stick, but still very compact and travel-friendly. The product, itself, is a cylinder of foundation with a powder core, which is supposed to help keep your makeup looking matte. It's not matte. I'd classify it more as a natural finish, bordering on slightly dewy. It looks like skin, which I happen to love, but I could see where someone purchasing this for a completely matte look would be less than thrilled.

Now it's time for the brave no-makeup "before" shot:

Oh, lovely. I don't remember if I even had on moisturizer here. Hide the kiddies so this doesn't give them nightmares.
And here's the after, with (thank God) finished makeup:


I am really impressed with this. It's medium coverage, so it evens out my skin to the point that I don't have to use a ton of concealer, but doesn't look cakey or overdone. Basically, it's sort of like a step up from the BB Cream I normally use, and perfect for everyday. I just swiped it across my cheeks, nose, chin, and forehead, and blended in with a Real Techniques Expert Face Brush. Fingers would probably work well, too. I'm just partial to brushes.

As I stated earlier, this really isn't a matte finish. I find that, on its own, it has almost a glowy finish, and does need to be set with a powder to keep from sliding all over the place. Once it has set, the foundation has more of a natural finish. The staying power is pretty good. I do need to top off my powder a couple of times throughout the day, but I haven't noticed any bare spots or patchiness. There also doesn't appear to be any oxidation over the course of wear, and the shade matches my skin tone perfectly. I could only guess at the store, and 120 is dead on the money for my NW15 complexion. Honestly, I don't remember the last time a foundation matched me this well. My Urban Decay Naked Skin in 2.0 is super-duper close, but...I mean, this is spot-on, can't tell there's anything there, exact.


Folks, I'm going to level with you: this is my favorite foundation right now. I haven't even considered reaching my BB Cream, MAC, or UD since I started using this last week. In fact, I almost moved my other foundations from the countertop organizer to my train case, the other day. The case is in my closet, and filled with out-of-season and rarely used items--a dungeon for makeup. I'd give you a pro/con list on this, but I really can't complain about anything. It covers the perfect amount for everyday, wears well, doesn't smell bad (or at all), doesn't break me out, travels easily, matches my skin, applies nicely, and is ridiculously cheap. I guess, if I had to find something wrong, it could stand to have some SPF, but the absence just means that it won't flash back in photos. I would also have to deduct points for not holding up to the claim of staying shine-free, even though I personally adore the finish.

This is a definite winner, and has earned a place of honor in my organizer. If you're in the market for a new foundation and have six bucks to play with, I highly recommend giving this a shot.

Final Verdict: 9.5 out of 10. If you want matte-matte, keep looking. Aside from that, this is fabulous.  

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Brief Interlude: Rant and Random Observations

I'm actually working on a "real" post right now, but thought I'd stop in for a sec for a mini-rant and some random observations.

*Begin rant...now

Why, in the name of all that is holy, is Halloween already being clearanced out?!?! Today is the 17th. That's...one, two, three...14 days before the actual holiday, and it was already on clearance over the weekend, so really...19 days before the actual holiday. The pop-up Spirit store didn't open until September, and nothing made it to Target or Walmart's shelves until the very, very, very end of the month (and even then it was only a few items). Christmas trees, on the other hand, have been on the floors for two weeks.

In addition to Halloween items barely being in stores, the selection has been godawful. I had to go to three stores before I found glow-in-the-dark nail polish, and then it was overpriced. In the past, I've found throw pillows, baking supplies, nice table linens, welcome mats--you know, decent decorating items--but this year, the best I could find was a clearanced out centerpiece at Michael's, left over from last year. I know that I've already ranted and raved over the lack of costumes in stores, so I won't go into that again, except to say this: my little brother needed a Batman mask for Homecoming Week at his school, and I told my Mom I'd pick it up for her. I eventually ended up in the toy department at Target, because I couldn't find one anywhere else. Let me say that again: I ended up in the toy department. Not the Halloween aisle. The toy department. That's just sad, folks.

Normally, I try to do a Halloween post per day in October. It's something that I really look forward to, but this year, I really don't have anything to write about. According to the merchants, Halloween is over, and it wasn't really worth dealing with, anyway. There aren't any awesome new costumes out this year, unless you count Sexy Captain America. I'm going to be a Despicable Me minion, but that doesn't require special makeup or hair. There was a great Toy Story Halloween special on last night, but aside from that, there's been very little holiday-specific programming. I'm just...I'm just disappointed.

I'm still going to try to post some Halloween-related things around here, but it's not going to be everyday. The post I'm working on now is a product review. I am going to attempt a makeup tutorial, but really have no idea what it'll be. Maybe a sugar skull? Thomas wanted me to do that last year, but I chickened out. Anyway, I should probably wrap this up. After all, there are only 68 days till Christmas, and I haven't even started shopping.

*End of rant.

Recently, I've learned and/or noticed some things that I thought I'd share with you.

If you cross my puppy, he will b**ch-slap you. Pardon the language, but I really don't know how else to describe it.

College kids look like babies. When did that happen?

Phone chargers work really well when you remember to plug them into both the wall and your phone.

I don't care how uncool or inauthentic it may be, I really like Olive Garden, and I could go for some fettuccine alfredo right now.

Equate Weight Loss Shakes may taste like Slim-Fast, but they are nowhere near as effective at controlling hunger.

I think I figured out why I'm craving Olive Garden.

All day long, I've had both Time Warp and Seasons Of Love stuck in my head. They keep alternating, so now, apparently, there are 525,600 ways to jump to the left and take a step to the right.

That's it for the randomness. Have a great day, and I'll be back with an honest-to-God post soon. Thanks!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Wigging Out: How To Make Your Halloween Costume Wig Look Less Terrible

With Halloween rapidly approaching (and Christmas rapidly attacking, but don't get me started on that. We'll save that for another rant.), I'm sure at least a few of you are planning costumes, and that some of those costumes are going to need wigs...

...and that Halloween wigs suck.

I'm sorry, but they do. I'd imagine it has a lot to do with the fact that they're shoved in flat plastic bags (and that they tend to be poorly made to begin with...), but they never look anywhere remotely close to what's pictured on the model. Of course, when the price is low, I'm not going to expect too much, and I'm certainly not going to complain. The higher-priced ones irk me, but, again, that's another rant for another time.

Anyhoo, the point of this post is to give you some tips on styling your own cruddy party-store wig into something you'd actually be okay instagramming at a party. These are not "pro tips", but are some things you can do without having to buy (too much) special equipment. Heck, I'm not an expert. I wouldn't even know where to begin styling a high-quality wig. I have, on the other hand, had plenty of experience dealing with cheap synthetics.

So, a few weeks back, Thomas and I filmed a short about goofy supervillains. One of our actresses was supposed to be very glamorous in a retro-sixties way, and while she's gorgeous, I had no idea what I was going to do with her hair. It's absolutely lovely--don't get me wrong, this girl is stunning--but Thomas wanted a very specific look that would require extensions and pieces and about an hour longer than I had. I lost sleep over this, guys. Then, the heavens opened and the angels sang, and this appeared in the Halloween aisle at Target:


Yeah...it sucks. But it was eight bucks, and I could take as long as I needed to style it. You know, as long as "as long as I needed" was less than about 14 hours. I didn't find it until the day before the shoot.

To start, I pulled the wig out of the bag and surveyed the damage. It was...rough. I tried it on, and the bangs were completely uneven and reached my chin, with longer strands dangling lower. The waves and curls were practically non-existent, and what was there was scraggly. That said, the construction of the wig wasn't terrible. The layers were ugly, but they were even, and the color was beautiful. This was definitely a workable situation. I grabbed a hairbrush and started trying to unsnarl the knots.

Now, they do make wig combs for styling, but on a cheapie wig like this, I don't see the point in spending the extra money. I used a regular brush on my hair pieces for theatre, and those were worn and re-styled a lot. I never had any trouble with them, other than some shedding. As it was, this wig came out of the bag shedding. I worked in sections from the bottom up, brushed gently, and did not try to brush directly from root to end. Sure, I did end up with a tribble's worth of fake red hair in my brush in the end, but the hair didn't come out in clumps, or anything like that. In other words, use your own judgement. If you'd feel better using the pro brush, go for it. I just, personally, didn't see a need.

Once the knots were untangled, I set to work styling. First, I grabbed a wig head (mine was from Hobby Lobby, and I think around $10) and pinned the wig in place using big straight pins with colorful ball tips. I wanted to be able to find them easily when time came to put the wig on the actress. Then, I just started styling the hair as if on a real person.

The thing to remember is that this is not real hair. Synthetic hair is plastic and rather thick. It'll hold its shape pretty well without gel or mousse, or anything like that. Also curling irons and hot rollers (and heat implements, in general) will melt the strands. You can tease the hair to a certain extent, and you can roll it by misting sections with water, rolling on foam curlers, and allowing to dry. You can pin it, you can braid it, you can manipulate it into whatever style you choose, just don't use heat or products. Here's a picture of mine on the stand, rollers still in place: 


For this look, I kept the existing middle part and divided three sections off of it. These were clipped out of the way while I teased the crown into a bouffant. I wrapped the middle divided section over the teased portion and pinned the ends under to create the pouf. Then, I pinned the front sections around that, hiding all pins as I went. The ends were misted with water, then twisted and rolled on satin-covered foam rollers (from Sally Beauty Supply) to create waves, and then the bangs were trimmed to a more reasonable length, with the intention of finishing the trim once the wig was on the actress (and we all know about good intentions...). I added the headband the actress would wear to make sure the placement was about what I wanted.

As luck would have it, I wasn't even in the same building as the actress when the wig went on, and wasn't able to even see it in place until shooting had already started and it was too late to trim the bangs any further. Here is a really lousy, heavily cropped, way too dark shot of the actress wearing the wig:


Why yes, that is a clown on her left and a gorilla on her right. Why do you ask?

And here's the promo photo from the short. They're channeling The Breakfast Club. I think the wig looks particularly nice here:


Should anyone else need to wear this, I can wash it. I would have to be very careful with the pouf, since I really don't want to have to do that again, and it would definitely have to be re-curled, but washing these kinds of wigs is not a problem. Just use cool water and a very mild soap, like baby shampoo. Again, there are special wig shampoos out there, and you can use those if you want, of course, but the baby shampoo will work just as well, and it's a little more readily available.

So, in conclusion, here are the basic tips again:
  • If you use a regular hairbrush, start at the ends and work your way up. Avoid putting any stress on the roots. You can also use a professional wig comb, available at Sally Beauty and any number of online retailers for fairly cheap.
  • Do not use hair products. A little finishing hairspray is okay, but nothing else is necessary. It'll hold on its own.
  • DO NOT USE HEAT! EVER! THE HAIR WILL MELT!
  • Curl the wig by misting with water and rolling on foam curlers. Allow to air dry.
  • You can cut the wig, if necessary.
  • You can wash the wig with cool water and baby shampoo. Allow to air-dry, then re-style.
I hope this helped! Have a great Halloween, and be sure to share any cool wig pics in the comments.
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