Wednesday, May 28, 2014

boxycharm may 2014

i didn't review last month's boxycharm subscription box because it came during the time when my laptop died, and by the time i got my laptop back, it had been a few weeks and the appropriate posting period had passed, or so it seemed.  but let's just say i wasn't impressed.  it was my first boxycharm box and i had high hopes because it seemed like it was a good box to get, but i just wasn't too fond of it.  it had a lip liner that was just okay, a lip gloss that was meh, a nail polish that was a color i will never wear and was already starting to separate by the time i got my box, and overall i was just not pleased.  everyone seems to rave about their boxycharm, so i was pretty disappointed about what i had gotten, but i figured it wouldn't be fair to base my opinion on just one month because all boxes seem to have an off month.

so i decided that this month would be my deciding factor whether i cancelled my subscription or not. now i'm torn i loved my box this month!  it was full of wonderful products, and i have already used and enjoyed all of them.  i am hoping they keep this trend up, because if this is how most boxes are, i definitely understand why people rave about this subscription box.

Friday, May 23, 2014

fashion friday - hats

today's fashion friday is on an accessory that i enjoy all year round -- hats.  as i'm sure many of you also struggle with, there are lots of days when i just don't have the energy to take a shower or deal with my hair.  when you're healthy, you take for granted being able to hop in and out of the shower, brush your hair, or the twenty minutes it takes to style a cute updo!  so many days my limbs just will not cooperate (or feel like they weight 50 pounds -- each) and taking a shower seems like a gruesome task, one that will leave my joints screaming in pain for hours afterwards.  so instead, i just throw on a cute hat and out the door i go!

especially handy in winter weather when they do double duty to keep us warm, hats are equally trendy in the summer.  great for the beach as an extra layer of sun protection, they also look adorable with a sundress or maxi dress, can look dressy when paired with khaki shorts and a chiffon shirt for a nice dinner, and are a great pairing for an outdoor summer wedding.  they are also an easy outfit topper for just running errands or a quick lunch with friends, and a must have for any summer concert or night out on the town!  they're so versatile and easy to match with just about any outfit, whether it's colorful and vibrant, classy black with an edgy vibe, or preppy and nautical, there's a hat for every chronic illness fighter to be able to perk up your wardrobe, look great, and save yourself the pain and struggle that comes with getting ready.  i also included a few head wraps because they are a great alternative to hats in the super hot summer months when the temperatures are soaring but your hair is dirty and a hat just isn't appealing -- these great wraps will still cover the front of your hair without making a sweaty mess out of your whole head and will keep you cute while doing it.

now... check out these awesome finds!

Friday, May 16, 2014

fashion friday.

one of the things that i find most frustrating is finding clothes that are both comfortable and fashionable.  i love clothes -- just ask my boyfriend and our overflowing closet! -- and i used to love shopping for them.... until i got sick.  now shopping for them is hours upon hours of frustration.  nothing seems to fit right anymore, and because of the pain and bloating in my body, it's so hard to tell from day to day what size i am going to be, what body part is going to hurt and can't be pushed against that day, and i never know what size i should buy.  there are days that i can wear my skinny jeans in the morning, and by the evening my stomach is so distended from the inflammation in my bladder and belly that nothing else fits but drawstring sweatpants!  UGH!!  i know i am not the only one who has this problem (and who is so frustrated and upset by it), so i thought that i would start something new on my blog.

every friday, i am going to have fashion friday, where i showcase a type of clothing that i have found is especially friendly for those of us with chronic illnesses.  i have tried so many different styles of clothing over the years (with many hits and misses) that i want to be able to share the information with you all so that you don't have to waste the time that i did, too!  this way you can find the information right here, all compiled for you so you don't have to go searching on your own.  i will include many different price points and a variety of stores so that hopefully i cover all ends of the spectrum.  and hey, even if you don't have a chronic illness, i hope you enjoy the fashion finds as well!

for this first fashion friday, i am going to be covering a new trend for the spring and summer that i was very happy to see come back: shorts with elastic waistbands!  some stores are calling them "soft shorts" this year, but either way i am thrilled they are back! they are super comfy for us without looking like we are wearing sweatpants (which they kind of are, but who is gonna tell?! not me!).  combining them with a loose tank or tee, a sandal and a chunky necklace, and we can fly out the door looking great (even if we don't feel like it inside).  it's important to feel somewhat put together on the outside, even if we aren't feeling too great inside, because it boosts our spirits a bit and gives us just enough of an attitude change that we feel like we can face more than we could if we were in our sweats.  that's why i think it's important to try to put on "real" clothes when we leave the house, and that's where fashion friday comes in.  this way, we can wear regular clothes without stuffing ourselves into something that is uncomfortable and makes us feel worse.  so without further blabbing from me, checking out these awesome shorts.  :)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

international CFS/ME & fibro awareness day

today, may 12th, is a very important day in our little (but growing!) chronic illness community.  it is international chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis & fibromyalgia awareness day.  although i have not been officially diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome, i do have fibromyalgia, and there are so many similarities between the two that it is often very difficult to tell the difference.  either way, both illnesses are extremely debilitating and have a profound effect on my life and daily functioning.

a few bloggers came up with the idea for a "blog bomb", or a mass of postings by those of us in the blog world that have these illnesses, to share our stories today so that we can bring awareness to these illnesses and how they affect our lives.  so little is known about how these illnesses are contracted and how they truly affect the body, why they affect certain parts of the body and not others, and we are still so far from finding effective medications and other treatments that allow us to overcome the symptoms and live a more normal life.  not only that, but these illnesses are very misunderstood and there is such a stigma attached to them, that we are just lazy and don't want to work, or that if we just exercised and ate a little better, we would be fine -- both of which are not true!  hopefully, through this blog bomb, we can raise awareness and hopefully some progress can be made regarding stereotypes and what having these diseases is really like.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

julep may 2014 box review

hi everyone.  i hope you all had an excellent weekend!  mine was a little rainy and gloomy -- pretty typical around here for this time of the year -- but it was still a nice one.

today i have the julep may box to share with you all!  i was looking forward to this box because it is the one where they introduced their plie wand, a new nail brush technology they have been talking about for a few months now with us mavens, and this is the month they are introducing it to everyone!  i always love to try out new products and improve the way i do things, so i was looking forward to giving this sucker a try.

for those of you that don't know, julep is a monthly nail polish subscription box for $19.99 that ships to both the US and canada.  you get to pick your polishes every month, in addition to having access to special sales and discounted prices all month long.  you can learn more about it here and can use coupon code FREEBOX to get your first box for free (plus $2.99 shipping).  on to the review!

this month i chose to go with the boho glam option, which included two polishes and the plie wand.  i also added on a color from one of the other profiles, and i added two sets of plie brushes/tops.  i wanted to add the striping brush and dotting tool set, but they were sold out by the time i made my polish choice, which i was pretty disappointed about.  i made my selections on the very first day of the maven selection window and they were already all sold out by the time i picked my collection.  i do a lot of nail art so i was really looking forward to getting the dotting tool & striping brush, so i am hoping they include them as add-ons for the next few boxes so i can get them that way.

the colors this month were pretty, but a lot of them seemed similar to ones in other collections recently, and there were a lot of pinks (over half the collection).

the first boho glam polish i got is jeanne, a "jet-set blue creme".  this is an absolutely gorgeous color!  i love all of the pastels this season.  i recently got a bright robin's egg blue from julep, but this is a more muted version of it, more of a baby blue.  it is very creamy and the formula is wonderful.  it's opaque in one coat.

the next boho glam polish i got is paulette, a "golden lilac tulle shimmer".  the golden shimmer in this is what really convinced me to get this set of polishes this month, because as soon as i saw it, i knew i had to have it!  i'm a sucker for purples in general -- i probably have 20 different shades -- but nothing quite like this.  the gold is absolutely stellar in person, and it really translates well onto the nail, unlike some of the other shimmers recently that looked beautiful in the bottle and not as well on the nail.  application was a dream, very smooth and even.  it was pretty opaque in one coat, but i added another just to really bring out the gold shimmer.  i think this will be a great color to last through until fall as well, a great transitional color to go with the golds and browns of the season.  really loving this one!

from the bombshell options, i also added on laree, a stunning "golden pink taffeta shimmer".  i just had to add this color on -- doesn't this just scream summer!?  i put it on as soon as i got my box, and it makes me happy just having it on my nails!  it's so bright and fun, and the gold really shines on the nails with this polish, too, especially in the sunlight.  i had a little bit of a problem with application -- i had to use three coats to get it completely opaque and if i wasn't very careful, the precision brush would pull up the coat beneath it.  i don't know if that is the formula or if the new brush has a different type of bristles than the typical ones.  either way, it's totally gorgeous and worth all three coats!

here is how the wand came in the julep box this month.  it's nice to have it in a little storage-type box with the foam protection to keep it in when you're not using it.  i wouldn't say it's fragile -- it's made of durable plastic for polishing your nails, after all -- but it is small and has moving parts, and if you have devious dogs like i do or other small creatures that like to pretend like they're starving, it's a good idea to keep the box around to store it in while you're not using it.

i was skeptical about using the plie wand because i don't usually have that many problems polishing my nails anyway, since i do it so often.  the box came with a little direction pamphlet this month showing how to attach the plie caps to other julep polishes, so you can use the wand with any julep polish.  it also says in the instruction packet to make sure to wipe off the precision brush with nail polish remover before you use it to remove the protective coating on it.  it mentions this twice in the little packet, so i figured it was pretty important.  i don't use regular nail polish remover because i hate the smell, so i wasn't positive if it would be an issue or not (i use la fresh eco-beauty acetone free remover pads), but i just rubbed the brush with one of my pads and i could feel the bristles of the brush softening and becoming less plastic feeling, so i knew it was working.  i rinsed it with some hot water, dried it on a towel, and that was that!  it didn't affect color application at all.

i wanted to use the coral color first, so i took the regular cap off like the instructions said and put the plie cap on.  i pressed down firmly but not too hard, and i painted my nails.  i didn't notice much difference when i used the wand and shorter precision brush with my dominant hand, but i did notice quite a bit of difference when i bent the wand and polished using my non-dominant hand (my left hand).  it was easier to use, and the wand fit nicely in the crook of my hand.  the bend in the wand gave it a slight weight that tilted it back just enough to keep it in place in my hand and balance it so that the polish was easier to apply and went on more smoothly.  the shorter, precision brush was much more helpful when applying the polish as well -- i had a lot less clean up to do around my nails, and i like how the brush was the same width and length as the normal julep brush, not fatter like some shorter stemmed brushes end up being.

this is how it looks when you bend the plie wand in the reverse position, which is for when you are polishing your non-dominant hand.  i also found it useful when polishing my toenails.

i also used the wand to polish my toe nails, and it was quite helpful then as well, with the movement of the wand syncing with my hand movements so that application was cleaner and and less of a struggle.  this is where the shorter brush really shined in my opinion, because it allowed more precise brush strokes, less pooling of color on small toe nails, and less polish ending up on the skin around the nails.  even if i don't always use the wands for my fingernails, i will definitely always be using it for my toes!

i did have a problem when i tried to remove the cap from the bottle of polish, however.  even though i did not press it on very hard when i put the cap on, it would not come off.  at all.  i pulled and pulled and nothing.  so i guess it's a good thing i ordered extra brushes and tops, because my coral polish is now permanently stuck with a plie top.  it's not really a big deal since the shorter brush is good even without the wand, but i didn't want to waste all of my extra brushes on my first day.  this happened when i used another cap with the purple polish as well, so just be really careful with how firmly you press the top onto the bottom.  it doesn't click or anything to let you know it's in place and i was worried it might come off, but just one quick press down seems to be enough to keep the cap on while not being too tight later so that you can't get it off.

i am interested to know how easy it would be to use the dotting tool and striping brush with the wand, since it was so much easier to apply polish with it.  i'm still disappointed i couldn't get a set, but i hope that i will be able to next month.  were any of you able to get the extra tools?

three coats of laree with one coat of seche vite as a topcoat.  this is in artificial light.

same swatch, but this is laree in natural light.  the gold shimmer really comes out and it's beautiful!  it's even more gorgeous in person -- none of the photos really do it justice.

base coat of paulette (two coats), with jeanne used for polka dots.  i used my own dotting tools for the dots.  no topcoat.

which polishes did you pick this month?  do you like your plie wand and were you able to get the extra dotting tool & striping brush?  what do you think?  i would love to hear from you!  leave a comment down below  :)

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