Monday, June 2, 2014

My Geeky, Creepy, Accidentally Shining-Inspired Hallway

A few weeks ago, I posted this picture with the explanation that it was my newly renovated hallway (still in progress), and that it kinda, sorta, unintentionally started to resemble The Shining. Granted, I was a little high on paint fumes when I came to this realization, but looking back on it, I don't think I was too far gone.
My hallway in progress.
 See? Here's a screenshot from the movie.
Photo Credit
Granted, the colors aren't in exactly the same places and patterns, but the color scheme is eerily similar. If I could have found the accent pieces in red, I would have nailed it. Of course, as I said, any resemblance is coincidental and purely unintentional. That said...if you can't beat 'em... 

"Come play with us, Ronnie. Forever and ever..."
This is my geek-ified, accidentally Shining-inspired, vaguely Haunted Mansion-y new hallway™! And yes, those are my puppy's dinosaur toys standing in for the creepy twins. I should probably seek help.

Of course, you can't have a Shining-inspired *anything* without 237, and what self-respecting hotel leaves numbers off the doors? This door leads to the office, which can, on occasion, double for a gateway to Hell. Seemed appropriate. These numbers are rusted brass, and were clearanced out for 68-cents apiece at the local craft store.

While we were at it, we stuck 42--the meaning of life--on our room...

...and 1138 (George Lucas' directorial debut) on the guest room. 

You could also argue that 42 might be for 42nd Street and the Broadway theatre district in New York, but that would be silly...right? *whistles innocently*
Here we have the distressed mirror and sconces I showed you in the previous post. They haven't changed. They're still slightly disturbing and remind me of The Haunted Mansion ride for some inexplicable reason. I think it's the pattern in the sconces and the filigree around the mirror. I don't know, but Thomas gets that vibe, too. Maybe we've just got our crazy in sync. 


Originally, I'd planned on getting a minimalist Shining poster to frame and hang here (across from the mirror/sconces), but then we found this little gem, also on clearance at the local craft shop. The inside of the frame is clear, so don't go nuts wondering how we matched the orange paint that perfectly. I loved how distressed and worn it was, and the typewriter went perfectly with our accidental theming. Most importantly, though: there's glitter in it. Kid you not. I have no idea why there is glitter in this frame, but there is, and it's gold, and it got all over Thomas when he toted it out to the car for me. If I hadn't already fallen in love with it, that last bit would have sold me on it. (I love you, honey!)

Lastly, I figured as long as we were putting numbers on the doors, I might as well label the bathroom, too. There's nothing geeky or creepy about this. It's just practical and kind of pretty. 

Again, the letters were on clearance at the craft store, and lightweight enough to be attached using bits of Command strips. This picture shows the letters a little more clearly, and also gives the best shot of my favorite part of the hall: the door paint. 

If you look very closely, you can see little bits of sparkle. You can also see, from the light hitting the paint, that there's quite a bit of depth to the color. This is Oil-Rubbed Bronze paint from Rustoleum. Now, not going to lie, it's a b*tch to use. This stuff is oil-based (I had no idea) and goes on like molasses in December, but it looks amazing in person. From one angle, it looks black. From another, it looks brown. From another, there's a field of shimmer. I. Freaking. Love. It.
Word of warning: if you use this, do not use anything that contains a heat source until after the paint has dried. By that, I mean, don't paint and then make yourself a piece of toast. Don't paint and then run the washer or dryer. Definitely do not paint and then cook on the stovetop. This will--and I am not making this up--cause a chemical reaction with the already considerable fumes, and your entire house and everything in it will reek of kerosene. You will think you're going to die. I would also suggest using *only* disposable rollers and brushes, and not even attempting to clean them off after using. Just toss them. Trust me, it's easier that way. On a completely unrelated note, lemon juice, salt, steel wool, hand scrub, and pure acetone make a fantastic hand exfoliant that you will never want to use again.

Friday, May 16, 2014

While I Was Out: Where the *Bleep* Have I Been, Anyway?

Hi guys. I know, it's been forever since I posted, but I can explain: life is weird.

Here's the deal. Over the past couple of months, things have gone from the ridiculous to the sublime at my house. To start with, Thomas and I have written a script, and stuff is kind of starting to sort of,  maybe, not completely but could-at-any-moment happen with it. I can't really go into it ('cause there's nothing to go into), but we optioned it (it's Facebook official, and everything), and now we're just pacing the delivery room, waiting and hoping to pass out cigars, eventually.

Now, as those of you who have been around here already know, we've also been steadily trying to renovate our sunroom. Well, the good news is: we finished it! And it's gorgeous! The bad news is: it immediately flooded, along with a good chunk of the rest of the house. No joke. Our area experienced "historical" rainfalls, and pretty much half the city ended up with at least some water in their houses. Before anyone tries to organize a fundraiser, or anything, though, let me assure you that we are perfectly okay. Thomas and I were extremely lucky that the water that came in was minimal, did absolutely no damage to any of our furniture or belongings, and was quickly cleaned up. We only lost the carpet in our room and the hallway, and for about a day, we honestly thought we'd saved it. It was really not a big deal. We also have a very elaborate system of drains that normally works perfectly. There was just so. much. rain. Like, half a foot in an hour, or some such nonsense like that. In any case, here's a shot of part of the sunroom. Thomas took a really nice panoramic video of the whole thing, but it hates me and won't embed.

You'd never guess it used to be teal with white trim and white-ish carpet. There's still junk in there that needs to be cleaned up, and an extra air hockey table (any takers?), but I'm calling it done.
And, since the carpet was up in the hallway, we took the opportunity to paint in there, as well. Since we already had orange and brown, that seemed a nice, warm and cozy color scheme to stick with.

Look, Ma! New carpet! looks like The Shining. Ronnie has two identical stuffed dinosaurs (his baby and a backup), and I really (like, you have no idea how badly) want to put them side by side at the end of the hall. We were about three-quarters of the way through painting when we realized the similarity, so we decided it was easiest to just go with it. We got the creepiest mirror and sconces we could find, and I'm planning to put a framed minimalist poster for the movie on the opposite wall.

It's hard to tell, but those are all distressed, and the candles are black. I'm planning to have a virgin light them on Halloween night to see if the Sanderson Sisters show up.

Anyway, while all this was going on, Thomas and I learned that Night of the Krampus was nominated for a Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Award. Holy crap. People like Joss Whedon and Greg Nicotero win those things. Plus, the other shorts nominated were all amazing. It really and truly was an honor to be in their company, and associated with this award in any way. The winners were announced Monday night, and I am happily shocked to report that we walked away with First Runner-Up. The winning film was a shot-for-shot remake of the 1931 Dracula trailer, made by the folks over at Cinefix. It's absolutely hilarious, and I highly encourage all of you to check it out. I subbed to the channel after watching it. Congrats to them on a well deserved win!

Finally, I'm finishing up rehearsals for an Andrews Sisters tribute act, and we have our first gig next week. I've had a Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy earworm alternating with Do You Want To Build a Snowman for weeks (freaking memes). Blood may be shed soon.

Anyhoo, that's what's been going on around the Smith house--oh! We're filming tomorrow, too. I knew I'd forgotten something. Basically, it's a circus, but at least most of the acts are really cool.

In conclusion, I leave you with a chihuahua assembling a bed frame:


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Lessons In Humility From a Six Dollar BB Cream: Wet 'n' Wild Fergie BB Cream Review

I am a snob.

I don't mean to be. It's certainly not intentional, and I absolutely don't think I'm better than anybody else. That's not it, at all. I just have a real problem believing that a six dollar BB Cream from the drugstore is going to be anywhere near as good as an exponentially more expensive one from, say, Sephora or Ulta. Somewhere along the way, I got it into my head that cheap equaled, well, cheap.

I am a snob.

The thing is, I'm only like that with certain products. I will happily skip off to the drugstore for skincare. My lipliners are almost exclusively Rimmel. Cream shadows? Maybelline Color Tattoos ftw. Powder shadows, on the other hand? Pretty much going to be Urban Decay or Stila. Eyeliners? Urban Decay, period. BB Cream? Too Faced or Urban Decay, and the Urban Decay isn't even that good. Occasionally, I'll be in a pinch and have to use a Garnier that I've had for probably too long for it to still be sanitary, and I will marvel at how much I like it, and wonder why I don't use it more often. Then I'll put it back in the cabinet and forget about it--just like my CoverGirl Outlast foundation that is freaking amazing, but gets passed over for Urban Decay or MAC. Why? Because, apparently, I am a snob.

This needs to stop.

So, about a week ago, I had to go for a physical (ain't that fun?), which led to a trip to Walgreen's, where I decided I deserved a treat, goshdarnit. While perusing ye olde wall o' cosmetics, I saw this little darling by Wet 'n' Wild, and curiosity got the better of me: Fergie BB Cream 8-in-1 Beauty Balm. Everything about this screamed, "BAD IDEA!", but I just had to know.

You know what? I like it. I mean, I really like it. I've used it several times since purchasing, and have been impressed. Let's break it down:

Packaging: The packaging looks fantastic. I have it on my counter alongside NARS, Urban Decay, Tarte, and a few other high-end beauties, and it fits in surprisingly well. The product comes in a black squeeze tube with silver accents. A clear strip near the bottom shows the cream, so you can check the color, as well as see when you're running low. The cap is flat, and allows the product to stand up on its own. I do have a problem with the absence of any sort of safety seal, but there are advantages (more on that later). 9 out of 10.

Scent: Here's where things get tricky. The tube I own has a very distinct maple syrup fragrance. It smells exactly like you just smeared pancakes all over your face. I have absolutely no problem with this, as I happen to enjoy pancakes, and the smell disappears once the cream is applied. However, other people have purchased tubes with a drastically different, far more unpleasant scent. I believe I heard someone use the words "toxic" and "waste". That sounds dreadful. My advice: take advantage of the no safety seal issue. Buy a tube, keep the receipt, and before you leave the store take a good whiff. If it stinks, swap it out. I DO NOT advocate opening a tube you have not paid for. It really sucks when you buy, for example, a lipstick and get it home, only to find a fingerprint or worse waiting under the cap. Don't be that person. Plus, if the tube is defective, it's better the store know so that they can prevent someone else from buying and using it. 8 out of 10.

Texture: The cream has a very light, gel-like consistency, and is slightly tacky. It feels like nothing on the skin. 10 out of 10.

Range: Five shades are available, as of this writing, ranging from Light to Deep (a vast improvement to most brands' one- to two-shade ranges). I am a MAC NW15 and have been using Light/Medium, which is, perhaps, a skosh too dark. It looks fine in my bathroom lighting, but in natural (as you'll see in a moment), it's iffy. I think it'll be great during the Summer, though. Right now, I'm two shades lighter than Casper. 9 out of 10.

Application: I've been using my fingers, and the product has absorbed quickly and blended easily. I do recommend finger application, as opposed to brush. I find BB creams and tinted moisturizers (which, face it, Western BBs tend to be repackaged tinted moisturizers) apply better with fingers, because they warm up the product, which aids in blending. 10 out of 10.

Coverage: This is very light coverage. I wouldn't go so far as to say light to medium. This is strictly for evening out skin tone, and not for covering blemishes or extreme redness. It's definitely recommended for folks who don't need the coverage of an honest-to-God foundation, but just want a little something to keep from being completely bare-faced. It covers a little better than the Urban Decay Naked Beauty Balm, but that's not saying a whole lot. Here's a shot of my cheek after applying the cream. You can still see freckles and a slight amount of redness. The skin's texture, however, is nice. You don't see a whole lot of pores, and there's a slight glow. 4 out of 10.

See if you can find a constellation among the freckles! I have the Big Dipper on my right arm. I don't tan; my freckles just connect...

Finish: I've found this to leave a very natural, glowy, but not shiny or oily finish. I think it's quite lovely, and much nicer than expected. It looks much more expensive than any other drugstore BB I've tried. There's no shimmer, either, which also sets it apart from others I've looked at. Everything about this reminds me of the Stila tinted moisturizer I used to swear by around the time I graduated from college. This is just slightly less sticky and a heckuvalot cheaper. 10 out of 10.

Wear: On my normal-combo skin, in 64% humidity (I checked), with slightly above-average exertion (I had a voice lesson and took a whirlwind trip to the mall before heading on to work), no touch-ups were required by the time this godawful selfie was snapped. That was about three and a half hours. I don't look shiny, and there doesn't appear to be any wear or rubbing off. I did touch up with a little bit of powder about half an hour later, but it wasn't absolutely necessary. I was checking my lipstick and figured I might as well. 8 out of 10.

Pay no attention to the catterpillars over my eyes. It's pollen season, and I don't want to sneeze while holding tweezers near my eyes. I'm uncoordinated. It would end poorly. I'm making an appointment at the Benefit Brow Bar soon, I promise.

Other: This BB cream is cruelty-free and contains SPF 15. That's kind of low for a BB, but better than nothing. No score.

All in all, I think this is a winner. I especially like it for traveling, when you might not want to bring your expensive makeup for fear of it being lost or damaged. Plus...six bucks. Really? I mean, really?

Final Verdict: 8.5 out of 10. It's super cheap and works like a champ. Kind of a no-brainer.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Aren't You Supposed To NOT Sniff Paint?: Revlon Parfumerie Review

Last night, after putting together all of my music and altering most of my costume (that's another post, entirely), I had just enough time to do a quick and dirty manicure before bed. I had a producer's run on a show today, and needed vintage nails. Originally, I was going to use red, but it turns out, I don't own a red creme nail polish. Not one. I have red satin and red glitter, but no creme in all the gazillion bottles cluttering up my bathroom. Go figure.
Anyhoo, yellow was on the list of historically-accurate colors for the time period, and I'd just gotten my hands on one of the new Revlon Parfumerie scented polishes that I've seen advertised for so long, so I decided to take this opportunity to test it out. The color is Sunlit Grass, and the (freaking adorable) bottle was about six bucks at Walgreen's.

I told you it was quick and dirty. This ain't no pro job, that's for darn sure. In fact, there's still a little glitter left over from the last polish on my pinkie. Nice.

It is, indeed, scented. Whoo, boy, is it scented. I had actually used this before, but on my toes. I don't know about you, but I don't recall the last time I sniffed my own toes, so that wasn't exactly the most useful experience for review purposes. Now that I have the stuff on my hands...I kind of wish I didn't. It doesn't smell bad, but the scent is very strong, and my sinuses are very not happy with me right now. The fragrance is sort of a mix of floral and grass, and would probably be lovely as a spray or rollerball, where you develop a tolerance after wearing for a few minutes. In this case, every time I push my hair out of my face, the scent hits anew. Pretty as the color may be, it's coming off as soon as I can get to some polish remover.

As far as formula goes, I'm not crazy about it. It's streaky, patchy, and took forever to dry, even with a quick-dry topcoat. There are bubbles throughout. That said, the color is gorgeous, vibrant, and very true to what it looks like in the bottle.

Final Verdict: 4.44 out of 10. It's not the worst I've ever used, but it's not the best, and the gimmick is certainly not worth the price. Cute bottle, though.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Vintage Vixens: Historically Accurate WWII Era Makeup (1940s How-To)

Recently, I've had the extreme pleasure of working in an Andrews Sisters tribute trio with two lovely and talented ladies. We're still in the rehearsal stage, and only just ordered costumes yesterday, but I thought it would be fun to do a post on historically accurate makeup from the WWII era. Even if you're not Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy-ing, this might come in handy for Disney Dapper Day, Halloween, theatre, or if you just feel particularly glam one day and want to rock your inner Rosie the Riveter. At the end, I'll give recommendations for modern day product options. Now, come along with me on a Sentimental Journey. Who knows, maybe Grandma was cooler than you thought.

Let's start with the basics (and a good giggle): Face shapes. In the 1940s, the oval face shape was most desired. Great care was taken with hair, lipstick, and clothing choices to create the illusion of an oval shape if the natural bone structure could be considered round, square, or anything else other than oval. Here is a fantastic (and hilarious) vintage film tutorial on creating an oval shape. I'd embed, but it's been disabled. I'll just wait here while you go watch.

Go on.

Did you watch it?

Seriously, that made my day.

Next comes the actual makeup. Here is a simplified tutorial, hosted, again, by our friend in the red dress. The gist is that makeup was to be minimal, and only used to emphasize natural beauty. The entire routine shown in the film consists of moisturizer or light foundation, rouge that is blended out to near invisibility, lipstick (in a coordinating shade to rouge and nail polish), and powder. And that's it. No eyeshadow. No liner. No mascara. No freaking nothing. I can embed this one, so here you go:

The lipstick application process was surprisingly specific. They didn't mess around back then.

Now, these videos have been, well, adorable, but if you'd like to watch something a little more in-depth, here's a fantastic modern tutorial that retains the integrity of the era:

Glamour Daze is a fantastic site for figuring out a vintage look for everything from a Downton Abbey viewing party to a Woodstock reenactment, and Return2Style has a great guide with color samples. According to these sites, foundation should be slightly darker than your actual skintone, with powder just a bit lighter. The powder should also have a rosier cast to it if your natural skintone is on the yellow side, and, universally, blush should stay on the pink side, as well. Eye makeup is kept minimal, with only a light contour of gray, taupe, or brown to define the socket. Liner should be thin, if not altogether non-existent. The winged-out cat eye didn't gain popularity until the 1950s, so skip that. No eye makeup should be used on the lower lashline, but loads of clump-free black mascara should coat the top lashes. You can go the false lash route, but keep 'em natural.

Besides the lashes, the emphasized parts of the face are the brows and lips. Brows should be neat, but not overly plucked, and the definitively arched shape defined by pencil or powder in a shade that matches their color. A little vaseline or clear gel will hold the brows in place, as well as add glossiness. Lips should be well-defined, and the shape should yield the most attractive, full look possible. This might mean drawing slightly outside of the lines if your lips are thin. The upper lip was commonly exaggerated at that time. When choosing a lip color, any shade of red or pink, and even red-based orange would be appropriate, depending on how natural or bold you want to go. A dot of clear gloss or vaseline in the center of the lower lip will help achieve the shiny "Hollywood" look that was popular at the time, but is not necessary.

Okay, folks, here's where things get interesting: Nail Polish! For years, I've thought 40s polish had to be red or pink. Boy, oh boy, did I have that wrong! The popular style was a half-moon mani, with just a sliver of unpainted nail at the top, and the color matched your outfit and accessories. That's right. It matched the outfit. Revlon did release a line of coordinating lippies and polishes around that time, and that look became popular, too, but--believe it or not--there was some serious color experimentation going on with greens, blues, yellows, and even black.

(Think about that for a sec: Gra'ma could've rocked some b*tchin' goth nails.)

So, that's a lot of info on 40s makeup, but what should you use to recreate that style nowadays? Well, let's see what we can come up with:

40s makeup calls for a flawless base, so you'll want something medium to full-coverage with a matte finish. I like CoverGirl Outlast 3-in-1 as a drugstore option. High end (well, higher end), MAC has something for darn near every skin type and shade, and an artist can help you color match.

Rimmel Stay Matte powder is a clear winner, with CoverGirl Oil-Control Pressed Powder meriting an honorable mention. I'm also a fan of E.L.F. HD Powder, but as a finishing powder over something else that actually sets the makeup. High End, I like Laura Geller Balance and Brighten Baked Color-Correcting Foundation (it's a powder foundation, but sets makeup beautifully when applied with a fluffy brush).

NYX does a great powder blush, and Dusty Rose, Rose Garden, or Bourgeois Pig (love that name) would all work quite well. E.L.F. Studio Blush in Pink Passion looks downright frightening in the pan (matte hot pink?! The heck?!), but gives a very natural pink flush to the cheeks. It's in my film kit now, actually. High end, I'm digging the new Julep blushes, so I'd recommend Petal Pink. (If you have the NARS One Night Stand palette, go for the hot pink one. I'm just not putting it here because it was limited edition.)

I only have one rec for this one, and that's the Urban Decay Naked Basics palette. Either W.O.S. or Foxy all over, with Naked 2 in the crease. Done. You can also use Naked 2 or Faint in the brows, and the $27 price point for six shadows keeps this in the "affordable" realm. That's $4.50 per shadow, which is squarely in the middle of the price range for drugstore single shadows.

I'm going rogue and recommending Urban Decay 24/7 pencil in Perversion. It's so dark that it looks like liquid, but you get the control of a pencil. MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack is another good option. Drugstore, you can't beat Essence gel liner. It's fantastic, and super cheap.

Drugstore, Maybelline The Rocket. High end, Buxom Buxom Lash. Waterproof, in both cases. Benefit They're Real would be here if you could remove the stuff without ripping out your lashes. That stuff does look gorgeous on, so if you're feeling adventurous, go for it.

NYX Soft Matte Lip Creams are beautiful, inexpensive, smell delicious, feel good on, and last forever. Pick a color, any color. Revlon Kissable Balm Stains are another viable option. High end, MAC Russian Red. It's classic and doesn't budge. It does dry, though, so keep that in mind.

Nail Polish
Apparently, the sky's the limit. Pick a cream finish in a vampy navy or army green for a fun twist on a classic half-moon manicure. I'm considering Julep Kendra or Sally Hansen Complete Salon Manicure in Thinking of Blue.

Have fun getting all dolled up!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Attack Of the Pint Glass!: Quirky B-Movie Themed Coaster DIY

Hi, all! I'm back (sort of)! Things have been nuts, but I'm happy to report that my sunroom renovation is about 90% done. There's still some light clean-up to do, and a couple of small decorative pieces to buy...and, of course, an air hockey table to pawn off find a good home for, but the room is functional again. That's huge, y'all. I was starting to wonder if we had a house elf sabotaging us--sort of a "Harry Potter must not finish the sunroom!" kind of deal.
Anyhoo, while I'm not quite ready to inundate you with pictures just yet, I did want to share a DIY project that worked out. I'm not even going to say "worked out well". It did, but the mere fact that it worked out, period, makes it one of the most successful projects I've tried, to date. Basically, the idea of spending upwards of twenty bucks for a set of coasters made me ill. We needed them, but even the cheapest, ugliest ones at, oh, pick a store, were hella 'spensive. I don't want to spend more on something to set a glass on than I did for the glass. Maybe I'm cheap, but it irritated me.
Somewhere along the way--can't remember where, but if I can find it, I'll link it--I heard about using decoupaged ceramic tiles, and thought, "Well, duh. Why didn't I think of that?" I already had the perfect decorative pieces ready to go. Thomas bought some B-movie poster postcards a few years ago, but we repurposed their frame, so they've been collecting dust. How cool would they look sitting around the bar? Thomas loved the idea, so I set to work.


This is a very simple project, so very few supplies are needed, and you probably have most of them if you're even slightly crafty. I wanted to make six coasters, so I needed:
  • 6 movie poster postcards. I already had mine, but you can find them for pretty cheap on ebay. The linked ones are $5.99 for a lot of six.
  • 6 ceramic tiles. These cost a whopping $.16 each at Lowe's.
  • Mod Podge. This was the priciest component at $7.99, but I barely used any. This bottle will last for ages, and pay for itself in future crafts.
  • Clear spray paint. You need this to seal the coaster, and take away any of the tackiness from the Mod Podge. (side note: Thomas wanted to know if we could use clear spray paint to take the tackiness out of other stuff, like reality shows or leisure suits. I said I didn't think so.) Again, I already had this, but it runs about $3 at Walmart.
  • Plastic bumpers. I got two packs for $5 at Walmart.
  • A brush of some sort. I had a sponge applicator left over from another project, so I used that. Honestly, a makeup wedge would probably work. You shouldn't have to spend more than a few cents on this, if that.
If you have to buy everything, this project could run about $23, which is more than the store-bought ones I refused to buy on principle. That said, I had some stuff, already, bringing the total down to slightly less than $14. The next time I do this, I won't need to buy the Mod Podge, which will bring the total down to about $6, plus whatever decoration I put on the tiles.
I apologize for not taking in-progress shots, but this is pretty self-explanatory, anyway.
  • Measure the tile, then cut your decorative piece to fit. You'll want to leave a little room on the outer edges, so, if your tile is 4"x4" (for example), you might want to cut your decoration to 3.5"x3.5".
  • Using your sponge applicator, spread a thin layer of Mod Podge over the tile.
  • Center your decorative piece, and allow to dry.
  • Using your sponge applicator, spread another thin layer of Mod Podge over the tile, covering the decoration, and allow to dry. Multiple coats may be needed, depending upon the thickness of your decoration. I used four thin coats, with a little extra built up over the corners. The finish will be textured, so keep that in mind.
  • Seal with 1-2 coats of clear spray paint.
  • Attach bumpers to the underneath corners, to prevent the tile from scraping up your furniture. You could also use felt or cork--anything that can act as a safeguard for your tabletops.
This may seem like a lot of applying and waiting for tiles to dry, but each coat only takes about 15 minutes to set. If you do these in an assembly-line fashion, by the time you finish the last tile, it's time to start in on the first again. Here's the finished coaster:

Top View

Side View. You can see some of the texture, and where the bumpers lift the tile off of the table.

Here are a few on display in the wine bar. I think they work well with the orange, gold and brown color scheme.

And here's a final look at a couple on our pub table. The shot glass centerpiece is going to hold candles...eventually. Until then, tequila, anyone?
I hope you've enjoyed this project and sneak peek at the finished room. Have a great week, everyone!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I am so tired.

I mean, I am flat-out, fall-on-your-face, dear-God-I-should-not-be-driving exhausted. Poor Thomas is, too. I'd like to blame it all on the time change, but we've been burning the candle at both ends for so long now, this was bound to happen. At this point, I'm sitting upright. Please don't ask any more of me...and pass the coffee. Thank you.

Now, for your viewing entertainment, I give you: Random Instagram Photos! InstagRandomness, if you will. If you enjoy these, you can follow me @adorablenapalm. I don't have a hashtag (I'm not hip with all this newfangled social media hullaballoo. In my day, I had to dial-up to get to the world wide web. I had to wait for a connection and listen to a whole lotta screeching, just so I could reach America Online. Also, I'm apparently 106 years old now.) but I am always open to suggestions.

And now, the InstagRandomness!

Considering the March ipsy bags have already started arriving, I should probably show you a picture of the February bag. I actually took about two-dozen photos, with close-ups, swatches...the whole nine yards...and they all turned out orange. All of them. This was the best one of the bunch.

My bag contained Zoya nail polish in Odette, City Color Be Matte blush in Fresh Melon, Tini Beauty Eyetini in Spiced Rum, POP Beauty lip gloss in Peony Petal, and a Nume hair mask. The bag was a very cute hot pink with pink leopard lining.

Briefly, the Zoya is a lovely plum cream. For me, the name Odette conjurs up visions of soft white feathers, but this is beautiful, just the same. The blush is ginormous, crazy pigmented, and the perfect Spring-y coral. It's sitting in my current rotation. The Eyetini is fabulous. It's a rich bronze cream that applies easily, blends well, and reminds me a lot of my favorite MAC eyeshadow, Woodwinked. I lucked out with the POP Beauty lip gloss. It seems that several subscribers had issues with a gasoline-like smell, but mine is fine, so far. The rubber cap does have a distinct rubber odor, but that's to be expected. The gloss itself is more like a liquid lipstick. It's opaque, a pretty orange-leaning pink, and stays on fairly well. It's not my favorite thing, but I've worn it quite a bit. Lastly, the Nume hair mask conditions nicely and smells of Patchouli (to me, anyway). All in all, February was a very good bag month.

Now, if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, then you probably have noticed my complaining about the renovations we're doing to our sunroom. Well, folks, here's a sneak peek:

The walls are Orange Spice (or Spiced Orange? I can't remember) from the Better Homes and Gardens collection at Walmart. The door is Tierra Brown from the same line. The blue is painter's tape, and I'd better get used to it, because it has embedded itself into the walls and glass. Yay.

The floor is mostly done, now (just a few more planks. Thank God), but here's a shot of the new floor going over the old laminate tile.

I am in love with this floor. The wooden planks are actually stick-down vinyl tile! You can cut it with scissors (and I have...oh boy, have I ever). The brand is Style Selections in Antique Woodland Oak, and Thomas and I found it at Lowe's. If I hadn't put it down myself, I'd never believe it was stick-down tile. It even feels like real wood. Ah-maze-ing!

This little "weekend project" has been going on for a solid month and a half. Of course, we did take one weekend off to go to the brand-new Pensacon convention in Pensacola. Remember, this was the first year EVER of this con. First. Year. Now, look at the vendor floor:

Holy hordes of people, Batman! There were eleven thousand attendees on Saturday. Not over the course of the weekend. Saturday. That's nuts. And awesome. We were there Saturday and Sunday, and had an absolute blast. I got to see Axel from The Walking Dead, and nearly bumped into Nicholas Brendon in a hallway. It was magical. If you get a chance, read the article I linked to and join me in being highly impressed with this fledgling con.

In addition to celeb-spotting and souvenier shopping, Thomas got to participate in a panel on Indie Filmmaking. I sat in the front row and grinned like an idiot while snapping pictures. I'm so proud of him. There were six other highly accomplished speakers, and we were so honored to have Fighting Owl counted among their work.

So, this happened...

I kind of love him. He sits in our office/studio, next to a shadow box filled with zombie faces. That seems fitting. My voice students haven't had a chance to meet him, yet, so I'll have to let you know how that goes. The dog likes him. He also likes the Krampus. However, Batman is not allowed anywhere near him. The chihuahua may not be the best judge of character...

Speaking of Ronnie, I leave you with a visual representation of the word "spoiled":

I love that little face. Both those faces, actually. :)

Friday, February 28, 2014

Glam Gams: Jergens BB Body Skin Perfecting Cream Review

If you've been following along lately, then you know that I'm currently living in squalor renovating my sunroom, and that it hasn't been going exactly according to plan. This has, unfortunately, cut into my blogging time, and for that, I offer my sincerest apologies to all four of you.

In all honesty, I have more pictures than I care to count, ready and waiting to be pasted into a post. I would really like to get them off of my phone at some point in the near future.

That day is not today.

Anyhoo, in the .7 seconds I have to write this, I wanted to pop in and tell you about a new(-ish) product that I am really excited about: Jergens BB Body Skin Perfecting Cream. (Oh--incidentally, after months of not being able to click inside the "compose" box on Blogger, I can finally link, highlight, and basically function again. Miraculously. Things should be a lot different from here on. Thank God.)

Believe it or not, sundress season is around the corner. Heck, I wore one Tuesday. I also wore a heavy sweatshirt on Wednesday. Mother Nature is having hot flashes, but I digress. Sundress season is around the corner, and that means bare legs and arms and whatnot, and I'm not ready for that. In the past, I made up for my pale, patchy legs by slathering on this stuff from Super by Perricone, Supermodel Legs, which is, basically, tinted body lotion that's infused with capsacin to temporarily tighten up the calves. It's magic, and I love it, and it has been woefully discontinued. Of course, it has.

When I heard about the Jergens and its claims, I had to test it out, so I picked up a travel size for about three bucks at Walgreens. They only had the light skin tone version, so that's what I went with. In case you're wondering, here's what it's supposed to do (from the Walgreen's website):
  • Hydrates & Smoothes
  • Illuminates & Brightens
In 5 Days:
  • Evens Skin Tone
  • Visibly Firms Skin
  • Helps Reduce the Appearance of Imperfections
I started using the cream last Saturday, so six days have passed. Did it work? Yeah, I kind of think so. Let's break it down:

The Good
The first thing I noticed (okay, second, but I'll get to that in a bit) was that this stuff is thick. It's not an opaque leg makeup, but it does make me think a lot of Too Faced Primed and Poreless face primer, as far as color and texture go. The product blurs, but does not cover imperfections, and isn't sparkly or shimmery. You won't look like a Cullen. The most impressive result of using this, however, was that I was legitimately taken aback this morning when I looked in the mirror and noticed that my cottage cheese thighs appeared smoother. Don't get me wrong, there's still some serious cellulite going on, but there's definitely been some improvement. I would say that it's just wishful thinking on my part, except that I didn't realize that was one of the claims until I started writing this review. I'd misread the package, and only expected temporary results, like I saw with the Perricone. Surprise!

The Bad
The price. It's up there. A full-sized tube runs anywhere from $10-$13 (or $23, if you're nuts. Thanks, ebay!), depending on where you buy it. That's a bit much for a drugstore lotion, especially considering how often you're going to have to repurchase. See, since this is such a thick lotion, you have to use a pretty generous amount each time you apply. My travel-size tube will have lasted a week, if I can eke out enough for tomorrow, and I only use it on my legs, arms, and occasionally my chest. Full-body, this might have lasted three days, at best. To put this into perspective, in my entire adult life (no exaggeration), I think I've finished one full-sized and two travel-sized lotions, and it took months each time. Heck, I think the full-sized might have taken a year. Normally, my lotion expires before I finish the bottle.

And the More You Know
Here's the real first thing I noticed, and depending on how you feel about scents, this could go either way: bottom line, it smells exactly like Bath and Body Works' Twilight Woods. When I say "exact", I mean, I used the Jergens and then used the BBW hand sanitizer and could not tell a difference. It is spot. on. Now, Twilight Woods is a favorite of mine, so I'm absolutely OK with the fragrance, but take heed if you're not a fan of the BBW version, or of scents in general. I will say that I don't find it to be overpowering, and it doesn't seem to linger. Okay, now here's the part where I say, "and if you do like Twilight Woods, you might be able to save some cash by buying this at the drugstore!" No, wait--nope. You can't. The BBW version is $12.50. It's entirely possible that you might spend more on the drugstore "dupe". It won't have the same skin-enhancement properties, but if you're only after moisture and a nice fragrance, you can save money by going to the specialty store in the mall. For once. Wow...

Final Verdict: 8.3 out of 10. Absolutely does what it claims. I just wish it were more affordable.

Friday, February 21, 2014

The More You Know *Cue Shooting Rainbow Star*

The longer this room renovation goes on, the more I've come to view it as a learning process. For example: I now know that I will hire professionals in the future.

Recently, I posted an If You Give a Mouse a Cookie-esque recap of the construction side of the project. We're still nowhere near done with that, but I decided to go ahead and work on getting the decor part going, so that when the room is finished, it might actually *be* finished. I mean, how hard could it be to pick up some pillows and a throw rug? Right?


If you paint a room orange, you will realize that the most common color for whatever it is you're looking for is orange, but never the right shade--not even close?

Once you buy a curtain with an accent color of, say, yellow, you are stuck with that color, and have to find a way to tie it into the rest of the room, no matter what?

The color yellow is downright impossible to find? Closetmaid doesn't even make a yellow fabric bin for their ever-popular cube system. No one does.

Stein Mart has gorgeous stuff? I had no idea. Unfortunately, their website doesn't specify colors. They do have a wonderful return policy, though. They also only carried one (1) yellow pillow in the shade I needed. I got it. Of course, I need two...

For every three cans of spray paint you buy, at least one will have a faulty, broken, or missing spray nozzle?

Furniture can reject spray paint? The color can, literally, slide right off. (And yes, I used "literally" correctly. I watched this happen.)

The price difference between DIY-ing a questionably attractive drink cart out hardware store and amazon finds, and buying a beautiful, ready-made, actual-piece-of-furniture wine bar is surprisingly negligible?

Oil-rubbed bronze is all the rage until you actually need it?

Circleware Moonlight wine glasses are ginormous, and only $6.99 for four at Ross? Who wants to help me put together the wine bar? There may still be painter's tape on the walls, and the subfloor may be completely visible, but I'm sure it'll all look much better once the furniture's in place. Right? Now, be a dear and pass me that Moscato.

Monday, February 10, 2014

If You Decide To Paint the Sunroom: A Cautionary Tale

If you decide to paint the sunroom, you're going to have to take down the curtains and blinds.

When you take down the curtains and blinds, you're going to find that not all of the window trim is intact, and some of it doesn't even exist. You'll also see that none of the windows are completely straight, so blinds don't fit well. For a while, you won't have any window treatments, and your neighbors will get to know you quite well.

That's when you'll decide to frost the windows.

When you decide to frost the windows, you're going to need a dust mask, and white powder is going to blanket everything in the room. You'll have to keep a designated pair of shoes out there, so you don't track toxic dust into the house, and the dog will be afraid to walk through the room to get outside, so you'll have to carry him. The windows will look great, though, and you can finally get around to painting.

When you finally start to paint the sunroom, you'll notice what looks like water damage near the floor. You'll have to pull the carpet back to inspect. There won't be water damage (thank God!), but you will notice cracks and breakage in the subfloor. You'll need to rip up the carpet to fix it. Luckily, you were already planning to take up the carpet, so you go ahead and throw the carpet outside until the next trash day.

That's when it'll snow. In lower Alabama. For the first time in God knows how long.

When it snows (okay, ices) in lower Alabama for the first time in God knows how long, the trash schedule will be thrown completely out of whack, and you'll end up with wet, mildewing carpet on your courtyard for three weeks. It's okay, though, because the neighbor's cat will love to use it as a scratching post. At least now you can lay down the new floor.

When you go to lay down the new floor, you're going to find that it doesn't completely fill in the gap that the carpet left between the subfloor and the wall. When that happens, you're probably going to curse a bit, and then go to Lowe's to get transition pieces. While you're there, you can pick up that window trim you're going to need, some drywall tape and mud, and pick out a new light fixture and ceiling fan for the sunroom. You'll probably waste the remainder of the time you could have been working in the sunroom, but at least you'll have escaped the fumes from the window frost for a bit.

Once you have the transition pieces and window trim, you're going to realize that you can't use any of it until you've painted the walls. That's when you'll finally slap on the first coat of paint.

When you slap on the first coat of paint, it will become apparant that you'll need at least two more coats. That's when you'll have to go to Walmart to get another gallon.

When you get to Walmart, you'll find that everyone in the paint department is on lunch. While you're waiting, you'll notice that pool tables are on sale. You'll spend the next fifteen minutes on your phone, trying to see if you can get one delivered. You won't be able to, but the diversion will keep you from snapping. Eventually, a very nice, albeit disgruntled, manager will come and mix up your paint, and you can go home.

When you get home, you'll start painting again. Somewhere between the second and third coats, you'll discuss the possibilty of re-enacting The Shining with the chihuahua and his toys. That's when you'll realize that the fumes have gotten to you, and you'll open the outside door to let in some fresh air.

When you open the outside door to let in some fresh air, you're going to look out onto your patio and notice that it's uneven.

And when you notice the patio's uneven, you're going to want to level it.

And when you want to level it...'re going to admit that you need help and call a licensed professional to come out to your home and do it properly.

The End.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Systematic, Hydromatic, Ultramatic Walgreen's Whitening!: Walgreen's Extra Strength One-Hour Whitening Trays

I'm a coffee drinker. Well, actually, that's kind of like calling Jurassic Park a petting zoo. I have a Starbucks Gold card, for crying out loud. I worked my way through both college and my time as a theatre gypsy tending coffee bars. I mostly drink decaf, but I drink a lot of it.

Oh, and tea. I like tea. I'm Southern, so of course I like sweet tea (and it's all sweet tea. If you want unsweetened, you need to specify), and it better be syrupy enough to pour over pancakes. I'm also a vocalist in the land of pollen, so chamomile is my friend.

And my teeth show it.

I adore my Crest Optic White toothpaste. Without it, I'd probably look like I smoked a carton a day. That stuff is magic, but great as it is, there's only so much it can do. Sometimes, you have to pull out the big guns and go for a whitening kit, which sucks because they're so gosh-darn expensive. Normally, I'd just scrub harder and hope that the Tooth Fairy would show up to grant wishes, but I've got an event coming up in a couple of weeks. I bit the bullet, grabbed my purse, and headed to Walgreen's.

Name brand whiteners tend to run anywhere from twenty bucks to over fifty, and that's before you get into the fancy-schmancy kits with lights. I didn't need all the bells and whistles; just a basic kit that might whiten my teeth. It didn't need to sing or dance or do my taxes. Then, my eyes fell on a generic, Walgreen's branded box that said "Extra Strength Whitening Trays...Whitens teeth up to 3 shades in 1 hour". Beneath the box was a sale sticker for $9.99. SOLD! When I got up to the register, I found out I had three dollars in Balance Rewards, bringing the total down to $6.99. Seriously, you can't beat that.

The instructions were pretty straightforward: rinse with the accelerator for 30 seconds, wear the first set of trays for 25 minutes, rinse with the accelerator for 30 seconds, wear the second set of trays for 25 minutes, rinse with the whitening rinse. The end. Everything was included, and the trays were pre-filled, so there was no mess and no guesswork. It normally takes me about an hour to get showered, dressed, and ready in the mornings, so I decided to try to multi-task and use the kit during that time.

This morning, I rinsed with the accelerator, popped in the trays, and jumped in the shower. By the time I got out, applied some body lotion and did my morning skincare routine, it was time to rinse again and use the second set of trays. While those trays were doing their thing, I put on my makeup, fixed my hair, and got dressed. I was ready to walk out the door when I removed the trays and did the final rinse. Basically, what I'm saying is that this didn't take up any extra time or require much additional effort.

So, did it work? Did a ten dollar whitening kit actually do anything? Yeah. It did. Did it make a shocking difference? Can I star in a toothpaste commercial? Oh, gawd, no. The box only claims to whiten three shades. I feel like it did that, but this is, by no means, a professional job. I'm making a dental appointment next month, and plan to check into whitening while I'm there, but this is a definite improvement. I took before and after photos to compare. These are cropped really closely because, really, who wants to see two sets of my teeth bared? Not me, that's for sure. These are the same three teeth, and the pictures were taken with the same camera, with the same settings, in the same room, with the same lighting.


As I said, it's not a drastic difference, but it's enough that I can tell. The staining is significantly lighter in the bottom photo. I think a touch-up pen may help even more, or at least sustain these results until my event.

Okay, so it worked, but how was the experience? Oddly enough, not completely unpleasant. The two accelerator rinses tasted just like regular mouthwash. They did bubble up more than my usual mouthwash, and that caught me a little off-guard the first time around, but it wasn't horrible, by any stretch. The final whitening rinse was less fun, unfortunately. It had a very heavy peroxide taste, and I'm not entirely sure I made it the full 30 seconds before I sort of involuntarily spit it out. The trays were the part I was most concerned about, and they turned out to be the best part, believe it or not. I don't normally do well with trays. They're typically plastic, uncomfortable, and restrictive. These trays, on the other hand, were foam. They were soft, flexible, and I was even able to stick out my tongue at the dog when he looked at me like I was from another planet. I won't say that I forgot I was wearing them, but I wasn't chomping at the bit (sorry!) to get them out of my mouth. The gel tasted like peroxide, too, but wasn't as difficult to deal with as the final whitening rinse.

Oh, in case you're wondering, tooth sensitivity and temporary bleaching of the lips and gums are possible side effects, but I didn't experience either. In fact, I'm drinking an ice cold drink right now. I can't promise that you won't have any problems, but this is the first kit I've used that didn't leave me with touchy teeth and white gums. Just sayin'.  

Final Verdict: 8 out of 10. It works, and it's not a pain in, mouth.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Buyer's Guide To the Urban Decay Naked Palette Collection

Not long ago, a friend of mine posted on her Facebook page that she couldn't understand all the hype over the Urban Decay Naked palettes. After all, it's just eye shadow, right?

Personally, I get it. I'm a neutral girl to begin with, and I also don't have a whole heckuva lot of time to spend getting ready in the mornings. It's nice--nay, essential--to have something I can grab, knowing that I'll be able to pick a color, slap it on my eyes, and not have to deal with pigmentation or blending issues. Urban Decay (who is not paying me to write this, and has no idea I even exist) makes some of the best shadows around, so a palette filled with twelve coordinating shades is kind of a god-send for me. Key words: "for me". Everyone's tastes and needs are unique. Some people crave zillions of bright colors; others may be good with a flesh-toned single. Me? I prefer these 40 neutrals.

If you're reading this, you're probably considering picking up a Naked palette. Here, I hope to share with you everything you need to know to decide which one(s) will be right for you. Please note: I'm not going into detail over every single shade in each palette. They will be touched on, but odds are, the inclusion or exclusion of one shade isn't going to make or break your decision. You know, generally speaking. All descriptions and recommendations are my own, and may or may not differ from those found elsewhere.

Alrighty, then. Let's start with the Basics.

Packaging: Hard plastic with a rubberized finish and raised logo. Slightly larger than a credit card. Very secure closure. Full-length, usable mirror on the inside lid.

Extras: None.

Shades: Six full-sized shadows. Five matte, one satin. Pigmentation ranges from fair to excellent, with the darker shades being best. Easily blendable. Could be considered slightly powdery.

Versatility: Blending, highlighting, liner, brows. Can create a limited number of looks. Works best in conjunction with other palettes.

Swatches: For reference, I'm an NW15 in MAC, and around a 2.0 in Urban Decay. And yes, that is my leg, and yes, my lighting does kind of suck. I have work with what I've got, sometimes. Believe it or not, colors are actually very close to true to life.

Top Row, L-R: Venus, Foxy, W.O.S. Bottom Row, L-R: Naked 2, Faint, Crave 
Repeats: Four shades are exclusive to this palette. Foxy is also found in Naked 2 and the permanent range. W.O.S. was also available in some build-your-own palettes, but is not in the permanent collection.

Recommended For: All skin tones. Fair to medium may benefit most.


Packaging: Sturdy cardboard with velveteen covering. Embossed logo. Magnetic closure. Small, high quality mirror on the inside lid.

Extras: Eyeshadow brush and mini Primer Potion (at time of purchase).

Shades: Twelve full-sized shadows. Two matte, one satin, six shimmer, three glitter. Pigmentation generally excellent, with the exception of Naked, which has good pigmentation. Easily blendable. Generally creamy. Moderate fall-out on glitter shades. Overall warm tone.

Versatility:  Blending, highlighting, liner. Possibly brow fill. Evening and heavier daytime looks, with limited lighter looks possible.


Top Row, L-R: Virgin, Sin, Naked, Sidecar, Buck, Half Baked. Bottom Row, L-R: Smog, Darkhorse, Toasted, Hustle, Creep, Gunmetal.
 Repeats: Smog and Sin are in the Ammo palette. Half Baked is in Naked 2. Only Sidecar, Hustle, and Creep are not part of the permanent line.

Recommended For: Warmer and neutral medium to deep skin tones. Fair skin tones may find the majority of the colors require a very light hand.

Naked 2

Packaging: Metal with raised logo. Secure closure. Usable mirror fills the inner lid.

Extras: Double-ended eye shadow brush and mini Lip Junkie lip gloss in Naked (at time of purchase).

Shades: Twelve full-sized eye shadows. Three matte, one satin, two glitter, six shimmer. Pigmentation ranging from very good to excellent, with the exceptions of Foxy, which has good pigmentation. Easily blendable, though Tease can apply somewhat patchy. Generally creamy texture. Moderate fallout on glitter shades. Overall cool tone.

Versatility: Blending, highlighting, liner. Best for lighter to medium daytime looks, with some evening looks possible.  


Top Row, L-R: Foxy, Half Baked, Bootycall, Chopper, Tease, Snakebite. Bottom Row, L-R: Suspect, Pistol, Verve, YDK, Busted, Blackout.
Repeats: Foxy is in the Basics pallete. Chopper is in the Ammo palette. All but Busted, Snakebite, and Bootycall are in the permanent line.

Recommended For: Cooler and neutral skin tones. Fair to medium skin tones may benefit most, but could work for deeper tones.

Naked 3

Packaging: Metal with raised logo. Secure closure. Usable mirror fills the inside lid.

Extras: Double-ended eye shadow brush and sample blister packs for the Primer Potion line.

Shades: Twelve full-sized shadows. Three matte, three glitter, one satin, five shimmer. Pigmentation generally very good to excellent, with Strange ranking as fair, and Dust acting more as a glitter topcoat. Easily blendable, generally creamy. Moderate to heavy fallout on glitter shades (particularly Dust). Overall rosy tone.

Versatility: Blending, liner. Best for glowy, natural daytime looks, with some evening looks possible.

Top Row, L-R: Strange, Dust, Burnout, Limit, Buzz, Trick. Bottom Row, L-R: Nooner, Liar, Factory, Mugshot, Darkside, Blackheart.

Repeats: None. All are new shades, exclusive to this palette.

Recommended For: Warm, Cool, or Neutral. Fair skin tones may benefit most, but also recommended for medium. Deeper tones may be able to make it work.

Good luck getting Naked!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Is That...? Oh, God! *Gasp* NOOO!!! Part III: L'Oreal Youth Code Power Trio

Well, it's been three weeks with the L'Oreal Youth Code Power Trio, and I have what I think are some interesting results. Let's have a look, shall we?

First off, let me mention that I quit using the cleanser, as it didn't work worth a flip, and I also used a pore clearing mask and an exfoliating mask to try to undo the damage. The cleansers that I have used instead have been the Olay makeup removing wipes and the Olay Regenerist exfoliating cream cleanser (which is what I used prior to the L'Oreal). The end.

So, here are week 2 (right) and week 3 (left):

It's very subtle, but there is some change. The skin's texture is smoother, and pores are less pronounced. The crease is still there, and while it's more noticeable in the week 3 picture, it does appear to be shallower. As with last week, these photos were taken in the same room, with the same camera, and the same settings.

For a more dramatic difference, let's compare week 1 (left) with week 3 (right):

Wow. The skin's texture is significantly smoother and brighter, pores are noticeably minimized, and everything seems firmer and lifted. The area around the nose also appears a lot drier, however.

As I've stated, the cleanser didn't actually clean, but it does look like the serum and moisturizer are doing something for me. My thoughts on those products have not changed, and you can read a full run-down on them here. All in all, I've got to call this a win, and I intend to repurchase the serum and moisturizer when I run out of the travel sizes.

Have you guys tried anything like this? Did it work? Please share in the comments.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Is That...? Oh, God! *Gasp* NOOO!!! Part II: L'Oreal Youth Code Power Trio

Okay folks, it's been a week. Let's check in and see if the L'Oreal Youth Code Power Trio has made any progress on my wrinkle-ette. You can find my first impressions from last week here.

On the left, we have a photo taken last Monday. On the right, we have a photo taken today. The crease in question is the faint marionette line. Personally, I think it may have lightened some. It doesn't appear to be quite as pronounced in the second photo as it is in the first. It's not gone, but it appears to be better. My skin's tone and texture also seems to have improved, with increased brightness and a firmer appearance. Pore size looks about the same. Lastly, my skin feels noticeably softer. Photographs were taken in the same room, with the same lighting, by the same camera, with the same settings. Positioning is as close to the same as I could manage, and no makeup or products were on the skin at the time. I'm trying to be scientific, y'all.

For the past week, I've solely used the L'Oreal. I've washed my face with the cleanser, applied the serum, and followed with the moisturizer twice a day, religiously. No other skincare products were used, save for a few makeup remover wipes of various brands, but more on that in a minute. Based on the results above, I can definitely see where its claims have merit.

Now, for the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good: The products are seemingly effective, thus far. All three of the products have pleasant fragrances and textures. The price point is affordable and the product is readily available at Walgreen's and Ulta. The trial sizes are large enough to get a good idea of its effectiveness. I've used this for a week, and have at least another week's worth left.

The Bad: The cleanser just flat-out doesn't work. To prove this, I give you Exhibit A, a Yes To Grapefruit facial wipe used after cleansing with the L'Oreal:

That's not clean, y'all. In addition to the eye makeup (which I kind of expected), there's also face makeup. I don't wear much face makeup (mostly BB creams or powder foundation), so there wasn't much there to remove in the first place.

I also don't feel like the moisturizer hydrates very well. I've experienced some dryness around the nose, and noticed a dull cast once my makeup was applied. My makeup hasn't changed, so I feel the need to attribute that to the product.

The Ugly: I broke out. Not much, and nothing a little spot treatment couldn't fix, but I did break out. Normally, my skin stays pretty clear unless it's that lovely time when we'd all like to sing a rousing chorus of "I Enjoy Being a Girl". This wasn't that time. I shouldn't have broken out.

Overall, I really do like this set. I think that it did what it said it would, and I have every intention of purchasing the full sizes of the serum and moisturizer. I will not, however, use the cleanser anymore. I need something that deep cleans and exfoliates, though I do wonder if the L'Oreal would work better with a Clarisonic. I will also, most likely, mix a little argan oil into the moisturizer to boost the hydration level. For now, I'm chalking up the breakouts to the lack of actual cleansing from the cleanser.

Tune in next week for the dramatic conclusion!
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