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?'s a demon-thingy that eats children...lovely. OH...just the kids on Santa's "Naughty List"? Well, that' 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.
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 ( 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 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 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)

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!
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