Sunday, February 26, 2012

JBB 21 Recap: And we all went down the rabbit hole...

First off, a big thanks to Playhouse Square for choosing me as one of their Jump Back Ball bloggers this year. As you know from previous posts, I received 2 VIP tickets to the event in exchange for blogging about it. All opinions are 100% my own, but in short, I will say I had so much fun that I'm already planning for JBB 22 next year!!!

Now, before I start with the pictures, I have to say, there are many people whose pictures I didn't take, or if I did, they came out too blurry and/or not blog-worthy. So if you're a friend of mine, and your picture does not appear below, please please don't be offended. I loved all of your outfits! And with that, lets get into pictures, because let's face it, that's what you want to see.

The VIP hour (clockwise from top left): Gorgeous Shannon and her mister; the absolutely stunning Michelle (and to think she thought twice about getting that dress!) with @puckingoalie; N in his awesome top hat (he had a pocket watch and monocle) w. a very dapper Jason; and Shannon and I doing our very best prom poses. 

My most favorite dresses of the night (Clockwise from top left): Lisa in vintage (you can't see all the detail on Lisa's dress but the rhinestone detail was gorgeous!) with Michelle in Tadashi Shoji ; Jess (thank you for letting me pressure you into styling your look) in a gorgeous plum Michael Stars dress; Carli in gold BCBG, and Cort in Adrianna Papeli (I loved the color and asymmetrical hemline of this dress- it looked incredible in person, particularly when she moved). 

Other outfits I really liked: Alana with a friend (loved those colors); a group of 4 gorgeous ladies and I loved all their dresses; Cort, Allison, Seanski, and Danielle (sorry for mediocre lighting); and Reshae and Rich. 

One of the big trends of last night was the open back as you can see above.

N and I - I may be more than a little biased, but I think N was the best dressed guy there! The facial hair with the vest and accessories- perfect!!! 

Overall, I had an excellent night, and a not-too-terrible morning! You can be 100% certain that N and I will be back at JBB22- I can't wait to see what theme they come up with!!! I'm hoping to see more color next year ladies!!! 

Friday, February 24, 2012

Preparing for Jump Back Ball!

So I want to make some pre-Jump Back Ball comments following my turn as Tim Gunn this weekend:
1. Personally I prefer Michael Kors- I already have a natural perma-tan, and I can be a little snarky. That said, the words "pooping fabric" did not come out of my mouth in relation to either Allison or Alexa's dresses.
2. I will NOT be walking around JBB judging people for their outfits!! However, I will be taking lots of pictures in preparation for the "Best Looks of Jump Back Ball" post, so if I come up to you and ask you to let me take your picture, please please please let me do so!!
3. I've had my dress and shoes for a while, but I'm having a small crisis as far as my purse goes. I'm also completely undecided on jewelry, so that's going to be a game time decision. I'm leaving my hair in the capable hands of my stylist (I'm not giving her any direction), and I'm trying some new things with my makeup. Of course, I will share ALL of this with you on Monday!! Also, shockingly, I'm NOT wearing sequins!!!
4. If last year was any indication, Saturday is going to be an absolute blast. And no, I will NOT be drinking gin this year *shudder*
5.  For all those attending: I can't wait to hang out with you. Please don't drink and drive!!

Keep an eye out for my tweets from the event, and see you all on Monday!!!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Product Testing: Foundation Primers

So, a few months ago, I was shopping at Sephora, looking for some concealer, when I decided to do one of their mini-makeovers. The makeup artist started off by using a foundation primer- a product I was completely unfamiliar with. Turns out, if you're looking for your makeup to look flawless, and stay all day, then foundation primers are key! Essentially like a paint primer, the foundation primer smooths out your skin and creates a base for your makeup. Sounds pretty good, no? The makeover looked really nice, and I decided to pick up the Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer. Then a little while ago, I received the Benefit Porefessional in my Birchbox, and so I decided it might be interesting to compare the two.

Smell: Neither one really has a smell to it

Texture: The Smashbox primer is a clear liquid. It feels a little tacky on your fingers, but goes on your face very easily. I was told to wait a minute or two after I put it on my face before I put on my foundation, so I do that with both primers. The Benefit primer is lightly tinted, although I'm not sure the tint really does much, at least not for my skin tone. It feels powdery, and almost feels like you've brushed mineral powder or pressed powder on your face.

Results: Honestly, I can't tell the difference between the two.

Price: The Smashbox product comes in a to-go version (0.5 oz) that ranges from $16-$17 and a full size version (1 oz) that's between $36-$42. The Benefit product is $29 for 0.75oz. There really isn't much different in the price per oz. Please note that all these prices are from Sephora. 

Animal Testing Policy: Smashbox explicitly states on their packaging that they do not test on animals. On their website, they go on to further state that they do not ask other to test on their behalf, except where required by law. Benefit does not state that on their packaging, but provides more information on their animal testing on their website. And no, they don't test on animals either although they cannot make the same claim for the raw materials used in the products.

My preference: At the end of the day, I personally prefer the Smashbox primer for two reasons: (1) It comes in a small enough package that I can slip into my purse-makeup bag, and (2) I prefer the texture over the somewhat powdery feeling Benefit product. Either way you choose, you won't go wrong!

I will however, leave you with one warning about ALL primers: you HAVE to wash your face and remove your makeup before you go to bed if you're using a primer. By its nature, its supposed to block your pores, so lack of makeup removal will result in zits!!!

Do you use makeup primers? What's your favorite brand?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Cranky Shopper

I'm usually a very happy shopper, but not so much yesterday. Let me tell you why:

Late last year, I bought a gift certificate for an online handbag store via one of these daily deal sites. Now, I will say that I know that these daily deals are not always the best decisions for a small business- done incorrectly, these can cause severe financial hardships. Done correctly, its a great way to introduce a lot of people to your brand. Anyway, this was not a brand I was familiar with, but with the deal, I figured it was worth a shot.

I placed my order for 3 handbags on the 10th of this month. This past Friday (a week after I placed the order), I received a phone call from the company to let me know that Purse 1 was sold out. I initially asked for store credit, but it appeared to be a complicated if not impossible process and so I decided to swap out the handbag with another bag of same value (Replacement Purse 1).  I was a little disappointed, but not a huge deal. Then yesterday, I received another phone call. Purse 2 was now sold out. Apparently,  when they called me last week, they had Purse 2 and 3, but they didn't pick it at the time, because they we were trying to figure out Replacement Purse 1. When they went to finally pick all the purses, they had now run out of Purse 2 as well. SO, of the original 3 purses I ordered, I'm only getting ONE!! So far the company has made no gesture of goodwill to rectify this situation- no store credit, token discount, waiver of shipping fees, NOTHING! I'm really annoyed. I fully understand and appreciate that this is a small business, yet, I'm incredibly disappointed by their customer service- not only do they not have the inventory management to fulfill the order I placed with the products I actually ordered, but they're not owning up to this shortcoming at all. Its like they don't care if I ever shop there again!!!

Am I in the wrong in expecting something here? What would you do?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Listening Now: We Are Augustines

Before I get into what I'm listening to these days, may I please take a moment and do a VIRTUAL SQUEEEAAAALLLLL for Florence and the Machine who will be in CLEVELAND on July 30th!! Tickets go on sale this Friday, and you can be sure that I will be logging in at 10:00 am to get mine!!!

Now, to get back to our regularly scheduled programming, lately I've been spending a lot of time listening to the new album by We Are Augustines. If you want to learn more about the band and their origin, I suggest you go to their website- there's literally a 14 page paper that will tell you about their origins.  In the mean time, they're making their debut on Letterman on the 24th, and here's one of my favorite songs on their album!


Thursday, February 16, 2012

Rules for successful dress shopping

For those of you attending Jump Back Ball next weekend, I really hope you already have your dress! However, if you don't, and are planning to go dress shopping this weekend, I have some tips to help you have a greater shot at success! (And really. these rule apply to all dress and jean shopping occasions).

So here goes:
1. No salt, sugar, carbs or alcohol for 24 hours prior to your shopping excursion. If you're allergic to dairy, avoid this as well. This is crucial. Consuming these items will result in bloating, which in turn means your will likely feel like crap and consequently hate everything.
2. Drink green tea for a few hours before your excursion. This will help with any inadvertent bloat, and may help you go potty (something about the warm fluids and your digestive system. I'm not making this up- its ancient Indian wisdom. For real).
3.  Wear your Spanx. Look, let's be honest- we all have parts of our body that we feel could use some work, and for most women its their tummy/hips. Spanx help smooth the jiggle. Don't fight it. If it works on the Hollywood red carpet, it works on YOUR red carpet. Embrace your Spanx. And then take them off the minute you get home.
4.  Do your hair and makeup. You may be feeling lazy on a Saturday/Sunday morning, but DO NOT miss this step. 90% of dressing rooms have terrible lighting and result in shadows, particularly on your face. If you go make-up free, you will end up focussing on your dark circles and splotchy skin and hate everything you try on.
5. TRY STUFF ON!! If you're not comfortable trying stuff on in the aforementioned poorly lit changing room, check the stores return policy and take them home to try on. Make sure you leave all the tags in and keep your receipts so you can return things appropriately. AND, make sure you try at least one item you wouldn't normally try. Step outside your comfort zone. You never know what you may find.

My 6th tip is optional: Personally, I prefer to shop alone. However, if you're the kind of person who likes to shop with other people, make sure you take a friend who will be HONEST with you. Don't take Yes-men/women. You need honesty. And, if all else fails, just email me pics at I promise to respond.

Well, there you have it! Happy Shopping!!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A little sparkle for your wrist

Did you have a good Valentine's Day? N and I didn't exchange gifts or anything, but we spent a lovely low-key evening at home! I've been quite the whiz in the kitchen over the past few days: I've made homemade biscuits (from scratch) and gravy, a whole roast chicken, and last night's steak with peppercorn sauce with parmesan mashed potatoes and simply cooked asparagus! Its been a long time since I've actually ENJOYED cooking, so I'm going to make the most of this streak while it lasts!!

Lately I've been really into gold-tone jewelry and I will be sharing some of purchases and obsessions with you over the next few weeks. My latest purchase has been this gorgeous pair of bracelets that I ordered on   Etsy from The Altered Chain


Aren't they just adorable?? So simple and delicate and perfect for everyday wear. I will say that the gold coating on the bar has started to fade, but that's my fault for not taking them off AT ALL since I received them a few weeks ago.  The packaging is really adorable too, and if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter, then you know I'm a total sucker for packaging! Add sparkles to that equation, and I'm a goner! LOL.

Do you have an everyday piece of jewelry that you never take off? Besides my engagement and wedding rings, and now these bracelets, I also have Maya Brenner initial pendant that I never take off!! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Product Testing: Aveda Invati

To hear about more things I LUUUUURVE, follow me on Instagram!

I've waited almost three weeks to write this post- I had to make sure I gave the product enough time to live or not live up to its claims. The product in question is the Invati system by Aveda. The claim? To help reduce hair fall and to promote healthy hair growth using all natural ingredients. Now, I've been trying to grow my hair out since 2009, and while it has grown in length, it has lost a LOT of its volume. This seemed like the perfect product to help restore volume, and so I decided to try it out.

First off, I was advised that I need to use the whole system- the shampoo, conditioner AND scalp revitalizer, and the scalp revitalizer needs to be used twice a day.

The downside is the whole system together will cost you $108+ tax. I decided to bite the bullet in the name of science (and a good blog story).  So after three weeks of testing, here are my thoughts:

1. Smell: the whole system smells a little like an earthy eucalyptus. N did compliment me multiple times on how good my hair smelled. The bonus of the scalp revitalizer is that it does help mask food/smoke smells that may get in your hair.

2. Texture: You spray the scalp revitalizer straight onto your scalp, and it does leave a cool, tingly sensation. The shampoo is very liquid- its not like any shampoo I've tried before, so you have to be careful that you don't spill it everywhere. The conditioner is less thick that most others I've used, and doesn't leave your hair quite as slippery and slick as normal conditioner. That said, you have to be a little careful with tangles. Towel-dry GENTLY!

3. The claim: The most important part- does it live up to its claims? And I'm happy to say- YES!! My hair fall is much less, and my hair is definitely feeling a lot more full that in has in a long time. It does take about two weeks to really see results though, so don't get discouraged too soon.

Was it worth the $100+ price tag? I would say most definitely yes!! In addition to the fact that it works, its natural and isn't tested on animals!!

Have you tried this product or are you curious to try it?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Listening Now: Niki & The Dove

I first heard this song by Swedish duo Niki & The Dove last week, and I'm COMPLETELY OBSESSED, and it upsets me no end that I can't find it online yet (probably because its not released until Feb 27th), but you can be CERTAIN that I will have it as soon as its available.

Without further ado- DJ Ease My Mind

Monday, February 6, 2012

The weekend I didn't know I needed

I LURVE my weekends! I usually schedule my weekends to the max, only leaving open time for a few naps. This weekend was completely different. About half way through last week, I decided I needed a break and some alone time. N had a poker game scheduled for Friday night, so I made plans of my own. My evening started with some Hot Yoga, which included me getting into my first ever headstand, and then promptly falling over. It was an incredibly difficult and sweaty yet strangely rewarding class, and I followed it with some spicy Indian takeout,  and some movies, during which I promptly fell asleep.

Saturday started with a nail appointment, a lovely chocolate-mint massage, a nice walk in the sunshine with the dogs, more yoga, and finally, a really great dinner at Light Bistro. We tried to get to Velvet Tango Room, but I was not about to wait 45 minutes for a drink, despite the amazingness of their Moscow Mules!

Sunday began with an awesome ride, and a run-in with Alexa (I love living in the same neighborhood as my friends) as we Wu'd together. 

My in-store Jason Wu for Target haul

 A little lunch and nap followed, and the day ended with a Superbowl Party (for which N made these yummy buffalo chicken balls, and I won the prop bet contest). Overall, it was a weekend filled with "me-time", and I didn't even realize how much I needed it!!

Do you ever take a time-out from your busy social schedule? What are your favorite ways to restore and recharge (besides vacation)?