Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Twirl by Kate Spade

I originally received a small sample vial of Twirl by Kate Spade in my August 2011 Birchbox. I remember loving how fresh and sultry it was and lovely and sophisticated I felt while wearing it. I wouldn't even get rid of the vial because I didn't want to forget that it was on my perfume wishlist. And once I realized I had over $60 in birchbox points I decided to finally use up my points and buy the 1.7oz size from the Birchbox store.

I think the packaging very well emulates the attitude of Twirl. The box is bright pink and coral red, but the actual design is classic and not in your face. The box is simple, but you still notice it. My favorite part of opening the packaging is when you see the inner phrase "she had a cocktail in hand and confetti in her hair." It's as if Im opening the packaging to display my own gold confetti covered bottle of champagne. The flacon covered in gold dots, or confetti, still has the air of sophistication with the gorgeous coral/red stripe on its neck. But this is not a conservative gal, the dots and disco ball cap flirt with you at every angle. Even if you have never smelled Twirl, the exterior helps describe what the scent is like. A sophisticated gal who is a bit flirty, romantic, and always has a jump in her step. The Sephora website explains that the scene was created to 'evoke a flirty feeling of joe de vivre.' Need I say more? I feel like Twirl was meant for me. I tend to live my life trying find the beauty in the little things and I want to feel sophisticated while still girly and fresh. This does it all!

The notes in Twirl are sparkling, fruity-floral. The top notes are sparkling and fruity with pink watermelon, blackberry, and red currant. I can really smell the currant, it adds that bubbly twist that sophisticates the freshness of the other notes. The heart notes are the asian flowers: orange blossom, jasmin, and magnolia. Floral without smelling like your grandma and still fresh and light. The notes end with luminous musk, amber, and french macaroon. I don't know how they captured the scent of a macaroon... But the musk is sweet and soft. I do think the notes mellow out a bit too quickly, but after 12hours I do still have the sweet musk undertones.

It is definitely a day perfume, but it would be perfect for summer night soirees and casual gatherings. And the main reason why I love it as a day perfume is I do feel that I take on the persona of myself at a swanky party. I  have a little extra confidence, a lightness to my step, and an air of sophistication. I love having this perfume in my collection! It really does embody the joie de vivre. Absolutely lovely!

Twirl is available at any fine beauty store (Sephora, department stores) and also online at many perfume shops and Birchbox. The 1.7oz retails for $65 and the 3.4oz for $80. A 0.25 oz roller ball is also available for $18. For more information on Twirl by Kate Spade check out

Have you smelled Twirl before, own it? Let me know what you think of Twirl by Kate Spade in the comments below!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Amy's Kitchen Proof of Purchase Program

Sometimes it pays to be a hoarder! Amy's Kitchen, the beloved vegetarian quick-meal brand, gives you prizes for holding onto their proof of purchases. And I do mean prizes, I feel like a kid at an arcade turning in my tickets for candy. All you have to do is mail your proof of purchases and indicate what gift you would like.

The gifts range from 5 POP to 125 POP. Item's include stickers, bamboo gardening gloves, meal tote, stainless teel bottle, pedometer, tees, apron, and even a hooded sweatshirt. I actually saved up for the Handled Amy's Soup Bowl (pictured on the left)! I cannot wait to get it!

Plus, If you are feeling charitable Amy's will donate $100 worth of Amy's food to your local hunger coalition for 250 POP!

Not all proof of purchases are equal. Burritos, soups, beans, chili, and salsa need to 2 proof of purchases for the value of 1 POP. But that makes sense since they are cheaper products.

Take a look at the Amy's Kitchen Proof of Purchase website for all the gifts and how many POP are required.

If you haven't ever tried any Amy's product, you best go get on that! Amy's serves up natural, and mainly organic and fully vegetarian meals and products (plus, many vegan or gluten-free options). Some of my favorites are their burritos, roasted vegetable pizza, their pot pies, vegan mac and cheese, and their black bean enchiladas. num, num! They may be more expensive than the other frozen food companies. But the company cares about your health and what ingredients they put into the food. And if you try their products, don't forget to save the POP!!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Forever 21 Shoes

I'm a girl on a budget. No matter how much I love the current trends, I cannot fathom ever paying over $50 for a pair of shoes that are trendy and may not be en vogue next season.

That's why I turn to Forever 21 for trendy shoes. The quality is not the greatest but they last me an entire season. You'd be surprised by how cute the shoes are. And how comfortable they are. I don't ever find much I like in store, but online they've a plethora of options. These three are just a few of my current favorites:

I mean why spend over $100 on heels when I wear them less than a few times a month? And if you need a little more support heel inserts do the trick.

Every few months I go crazy on F21's website. I'm either really bored or stressed and love going page by page through their billion item inventory. This time I ended up getting a few tops, a jacket, and two pairs of shoes. I returned a few things but I am happy with most of it. And what I am most happy with is the shoes of course (and my new red/coral trench!)!

First up, Floral Wingtips
These shoes are still available at the Forever 21 website for $24.80
I absolutely adore oxfords. I wear them all the time since they are more comfortable than flats and more stylish than sneakers. I bought a pair of black floral wingtips that were covered in clear sequins from F21 last summer and they were my favorite shoe ever. The soles of the shoes have fallen apart I wore them so much, but I've held onto them since Im thinking about getting them resoled. I couldn't resist buying these white oxfords. They are the perfect way to add a little flirt and femininity to an otherwise plain outfit. I cannot wait to wear them with skirts and dresses this spring!

Second, Medium Heeled Leatherette Boots in Green
These shoes are still available at the Forever 21 website for $39.80
I about died when I saw these boots. The heel is the perfect height for me and the perfect width. They make my gigantic feet look dainty and add an edge to any outfit. I most like these with super tight skinny jeans and a flowy top. I also plan on wearing these with skirts and dresses this spring. I think they add confidence and sophistication to any outfit and any occasion. It is a great shoe for gals who want a little something special. I've seen many brands selling similar shoes, but who knows if the military style will last another season; but, I won't have to feel guilty when I stop wearing these! Btw, I think I look super awkward in this picture. I tried to be sexy and ended up with a lot of really funny photos. This awkward pose was the best of the bunch. Just shows no matter how many episodes (and marathons) of ANTM I watch it won't ever happen.

What do you think of Forever 21? Do you have a favorite find from there? Let me know in the comments below!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

BeautyFix: Season 13 (Dec 2011)

Oh brother, I know you are saying it. Another box, Sarah, really? Are you going to join Beauty AA?  Once you see the value on this sucker you too will be a believer. I decided to try out BeautyFix only because I was able to score a coupon for bloggers, which brought the total down to $19.99  vs their normal fee of $49.95. The fee seems insane, but once you look at the products you get for the money it makes sense.

Don't know what BeautyFix is?
BeautyFix, run by Dermstore, is a seasonal beauty subscription service that delivers a massive box of beauty products to your door. Based on a beauty profile filled on when you sign up, BeautyFix will recommend a large selection of products that they have already tested and loved. There were over 70 products available this season. From the selection you get to CHOOSE 8 of them (plus, a makeup case). Products vary from aging products, hair products, nails, make-up, brushes, and more. And what is amazing, almost all of the products are full-size or massively deluxe. BeautyFix costs $49.95 per season (4x a year), but you can skip a season if you like once it premiers (contact CS to skip). And your box will always be valued massively above!
Click here to join BeautyFix.

December 2011, Season #13
Because I signed up in-between season 13 and 14 (march), I received my season #13 products immediately after I ordered in February. So once you receive your first box of products you are back on schedule with the rest of BeautyFix members. My next box will be Season #14 and I will be able to make my next selection in March. You are able to skip a season if you want to but not until that season launches. I believe you have to call CS to skip and you will only be charged after your kit ships. I hope that helps clear up some confusion. 

I received a giant white box with the BeautyFix logo on it. The box was not really well packed. Everything was sitting in between those plastic air containers, but no packaging between the items. So my bottle of hair spray got dented, and one of the other packages got disheveled. Also, nothing other than a packing order form in the box. Feels kind of cold. I got the little blurbs off of the product website page. The product page also has reviews, application instructions, ingredients, and tips.

jane iredale: Mystikol Powdered Eyeliner/Highlighter in Citrine
A dual-ended powder eyeliner to illuminate and trasform your eyes.
Full Size: 0.04 oz ($20.00)
Size Received: Full Size! 0.04 oz ($20.00)
I have only just started highlighting and contouring in the last few months, so this highlighter got my attention. I didn't even realize at first that it was made from a powder. The formula is creamy and intensely pigmented and shimmery. The product guarantees that it won't fade, crease, or smear. I believe it! Once applied it doesn't smear when I run my hand across it, the swatch I made didn't fade for hours, and the shimmer and pigmentation lasts! I was so impressed!! I could not believe this was a powder. The application is simple. The bases of powder unscrew to reveal a sponge brush that's tip has been sitting in the powder and you just apply how you like. I was worried the caps would spill, but it seems to have some sort of nozzle that is keeping the powder safe and sound. The color combo that I received is Citrine. Citrine which has a metallic bronze and a champagne-y gold. They are gorgeous and I could see using these as all over eye color. So excited about this product!

Kinerase: PhotoFacials Step 2 Day Moisturizer with SPF 50
A one-stop-shop for improved skin tone and sun protection.
Full Size: 1.7 oz ($88.00)
Size Received: 1.0 oz ($51.76)
I've heard so many great reviews for this company that I really wanted to try them out.  But almost ninety dollars for a moisturizer!! Pardon my french, but holy crap! All 3 steps of the PhotoFacials collection were available for me to pick (a cleanser, day moisturizer, and night moisturizer). I don't have that dry skin to need a night moisturizer, by bedtime by body has all the oils it needs, and I've tried so many cleansers the past few months, so step 2 it is. The PhotoFacial system is designed to replicate an in-office dermalogist photofacial procedure at home. What is a photofacial? It is a treatment that uses lights boost collagen, reduce brown spots and redness, and broken capillaries. Kinerase promises the three steps will reduce signs of sun damage such as hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone and texture, and wrinkles in just 4 weeks. I will try out the moisturizer and see if it helps reduce my redness and maybe help diminish a few acne scars I have. It smells lovely, like an orange sweet. Plus, the company doesn't use harsh chemicals but pure, natural plant bases. 

SkinMedica: TNS Lip Plump System
Prep your pout with this anti-aging, volume-enhancing lip treatment.
Full Size: 2 steps at 0.06 oz ($55.00)
Size Received: 2 steps at 0.05 oz ($45.84)
I wasn't too sure about this one, but I figured why not mix it up. The TNS lip renewal is a cream that enhances the lips and smooths surface imperfections by the use of collagen-filling spheres and a growth factor. I haven't confirmed with the company yet if this product is vegan, they were having a computer problem when I called. But they had health agents that know all this information. Most products are vegan, but when I hear the word growth factor, I just want to be sure. The second step, the lip plumper, enhances the natural color of lips and increases lip volume while smoothing and softener lips. I will update once I figure out if they are vegan or not. And if they aren't, I'll be looking to trade ;)

Murad: Hybrids Absolute Bronzing Boost SPF 15
Find beauty in the bronze with this protective moisturizer that produces a sunny complexion.
Full Size: 1.0 oz ($38.00)
Size Received: Full Size! 1.0 oz ($38.00)
Murad says the Hybrid line does more than just minimize flaws, but improves the look of your skin over time. This oil-free bronzing hybrid not only has SPF, but it also firms and has added anti-oxidants that boost skin's resistant to UV damage. The formula is somewhat thick and feels like a thick liquid foundation. I squirted one pump onto my hand for the swatch, and I was a bit taken aback over how dark it was. But this is a blendable, buildable bronzer. Once I blended it well, it was just a nice, dark glow. My skin looked sun-kissed and healthy. It wasn't sticky or heavy, instead it felt light and cool. I loved that it smelled like sunscreen! I absolutely am excited to try this out. And I've now learned my lesson, a little goes a long way. In the swatch, the top has no bronzer and the bottom has the bronzer blended in.

Skindinavia: Makeup Finishing Spray in Original
Make your makeup last with this secret weapon from the pros - a makeup finishing spray that keeps makeup in place all day.
Full Size: 4.0 oz ($29.00)
Size Received: Full Size! 4.0 oz ($29.00)
I couldn't resist ordering this since I am a proud Dane and proud of my heritage. Skindinavia focuses on finishing sprays and have multiple types including: no more shine, moisture lock, 10 years younger, and bridal. Each spray has a target skin type with the original being targeted for normal to combination skin: me, me, me! The bottle should be shaken up before spraying a few spritz after make-up application. It will prevent makeup from melting, slipping or creasing. And it reduces that cakey makeup look. It holds everything in place and gives you a natural glow. I've been using MAC Fix+ for a year now and love it. I will compare the two to see which one I like better.

Jonathan Product: Finish Control High Shine Flexible Hairspray
Get strong, yet flexible hold from this vegan, botanical-infused hairspray.
Full Size: 10.0 oz ($30.00)
Size Received: Full Size! 10.0 oz ($30.00)
You had me at vegan. There were many other Jonathan Product's available, but none of the others really were geared towards my needs. I use hairspray like a fiend. I have the thinnest hair ever that never ever holds onto anything. If I don't use firm hold or maximum hold spray my hair will not survive wind. I swear, I sometimes feel like a 1mph wind will ruin my hair! I was not too sure how well this would hold since it is a flexible hold. But this is amazing! It held my hair in the exact position I sprayed for hours! But I didn't lose any bounce or softness of my hair. It is also a flake-free formula that also repairs and strengthens hair with nourishment and hydration. Im so excited about this product!! I have a feeling this will become part of my daily routine.

Raw Natural Beauty: Mineral Glow in Warm Glow
Obtain that natural warm sun-kissed glow from within with this weightless bronzed mineral powder.
Full Size: 0.07 oz ($25.00)
Size Received: Full Size! 0.07 oz ($25.00)
I never was really interested in mineral products, but I am almost out of my bronzer so I figured why not try a new one. The powder is a warm bronze tone that has a nice shimmer to it. The natural minerals impart a natural glow, won't clog pores or irritate sensitive skin, active botanicals reduce appearance of redness and wrinkles and enhance radiance, and improve skin over time. So much to live up to! Im not sure how I feel about this. I almost feel it stains when I apply with a bristled, bronzing brush. And it was really hard to blend in naturally. My cheeks do look lovely and warm and healthy. I may try to use a poof or just with my fingers. Although unlike many people who say it diminishes pores, I found it enhanced mine! You can even see in the swatch it seemed to catch onto my pores. On my cheeks I noticed a blackhead I had no idea I had, ugh! Again maybe applying differently will achieve the correct consistency.

Colorscience Pro: Sunforgetabble Mineral Powder SPF 30 Mini Orb in Almost Clear
Keep UVA and UVB rays at bay with this easy-to-use mineral sunscreen.
Full Size: 0.14 oz ($12.00)
Size Received: Full Size! 0.14 oz ($12.00)
This an orb of lightly, tinted mineral powdered sunscreen (SPF 30). Apply the powder with the poof before sunexposure and you'll be protected from the sun just as well as a normal liquid, cream sunscreen. Perfect for sensitive skin and times when you've got a whole face full of gorgeous make-up! I find I never wear face sunscreen since it makes my face feel greasy, more acne-prone, and I tend to forget until Im done applying my make-up. This orb is teeny enough for me to throw it in my purse and use while Im out and about. Perfect for days that turn out to be more sunny than expected. My foundation has SPF 20, but this will be great for reapplication. It is a very matte powder that looks like it won't interfere with my look. My one complaint is that the poof is a little too big for the container so it takes some adjusting to be able to close the orb completely.

Total Value of my Season #13 box: $251.60
Kind of amazing, huh? And I didn't even choose my products based on value, I just picked what I liked. But there were some products worth way more. I'm really satisfied and am tempted to hold onto the subscription to see what products are going to be offered for Season 14. Oh these subscription services are an addiction!

What do you think of my BeautyFix haul? Is it worth the $49.95 subscription fee? If you don't get BeautyFix, click here to join! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Review: Kat Von D True Romance Eye Palette in Truth

I have to admit, I am not a fan of Kat Von D. As in the person. What I've seen of her on tv she seems whiny and somewhat an attention and drama whore. Plus, Im a Sandra Bullock lover and anybody who associates with Jesse James these days is not high in my book.

I never thought of buying her make-up line due to my opinions of her. Why fatten her wallet? But my friend found this palette in the sale bins at our local Sephora for only $15. Hells yes! We both picked up the last palettes. My packaging was all ripped up, but the shadows were not touched, so I grabbed this baby right up.

Kat Von D True Romance Eye Palette in Truth

*I apologize the swatches or flipped from what the case shows. I'll make sure in the future that this doesn't happen. I would fix it but I already merged all the text layers to the only photos I have of the swatches. My bad.

Kat Von D is a Sephora Exclusive collection of deluxe beauty products created by the tattoo artist. From what I could find this palette collection was inspired by unlocking the forbidden, opening up the soul, and refining beauty. Which is why the packaging has key graphics. I really like the palette packaging. It feels solid, has a sold locking clasp, and it is a reasonable size. I could easily travel with this or slip it into my purse and not have to worry about shadow seeping out. The palette comes with two double-ended applicator brushes that really seem useless to me. I used one for one of the swatch colors just because I didn't want that cream all over my new eyeshadow brush. 

Truth includes 8 eyeshadow colors:
      -Sugar Skull: shimmer vanilla
      -Long Distance: shimmer citron
      -Snake Eyes: semi-shimmer lime
      -Finland: shimmer aqua gold cream
      -Prague: silky deep plum
      -Galeano: shimmer pale lilac
      -Rehab: shimmer golden tan
      -Sister: matte peach

The first set of swatches were taken with dry application over Sephora Collection Perfecting Primer. The second set of swatches were taken with wet application (using MAC Fix+ on brush) over Sephora Collection Perfecting Primer.

The colors themselves are all quite lovely. These colors allow you to have a sweet, natural day look or a dark, smokey sexy night look or a bright and vibrant, playful look. Lots of versatility. I've found a purpose for all of the purple shades. Sister makes a great all-over base for color, I love using rehab over my underbrow region, Galeano in my crease and outer lid, and Prague makes for a perfect liner. I've always stuck to purples, browns, and metallics so the additions of the green shades is difficult, but Im finding ways. I used Snake Eyes has a lower lash liner to add a nice contrast and brightness against my darker lids. And Long Distance looks great in the crease line with gold shades on the lids and Sugar Skull has a highlighter.  But I can tell you now my top three are: Prague, Galeano, and Snake Eyes.

The majority of the colors are highly pigmented (excluding: Sugar Skull, Finland, and Sister). It takes a single swipe of Prague to line both of my eyes. I couldn't believe how much color swiped onto my lids, even without primer the color payoff is incredible. Although Sugar Skull and Sister are not as pigmented, you sort of want to be able to build on your base and highlighter. It makes them more versatile. You would think that the shades would have a creamy, thick formula to have such great color payoff; but unfortunately, the shadows are really crumbly and not well-pressed. I feel like however long this palette should last will be cut in half since each brush sweep wastes so much shadow. It is best to apply the shades with a wet brush to help reduce the amount of flaking and to ensure they don't get all over your face while applying. Sister and Prague are the only colors that apply/change consistencies when applied wet. Prague becomes like a water-based paint, very silky smooth, exact lines. Sister becomes clumpy and cakey. I find the wear is pretty fantastic. I don't feel it fades, creases, or smudges! Even Snake Eyes, the light lime lasted all day.

One of the most gorgeous colors in the palette is the aqua/gold shade, Finland. Sadly, it is a complete piece of crap! The cream is dry, hard as a rock, feels waxy, and applies uneven and clumpy and is sheer. It took maybe 10-15 layers to get the swatches. And it never ended up looking even. It is sad since this is such a pretty color. I'll probably still try and use it because I love the color so much. But, I'd have to have time to apply this color. I wish it wasn't cream based and was the same formula as the others.

This exact palette is no longer available on the Sephora website, but you can find it available on ebay. The original price for this palette was $34, but I paid $15.

If you are interested in trying a Kat Von D True Romance eye palette they are available exclusively at Sephora. Take a look at the current Kat Von D collection at

The bottom line: Solid packaging, Pretty, versatile colors, Highly pigmented shades, Amazing wear. But flaky and crumbly, plus the cream shadow's formula is terrible.  3.5/5

Favorite Music Friday: Neon Hitch

Neon Hitch, where do I even start. This girl is too cool for words. Neon Hitch, her given name, is a British singer, songwriter. She grew up in a caravan with her parents in the English countryside where she and her parents traveled performing and making and selling clothing/jewelry. She was also a trapeze artist in a circus until her late teens (at the age of 4!). She traveled the world with the circus, but finally settled down in London to begin her music career.

Neon has been performing on her own for years writing her own songs and also doing covers of famous pop songs (for example Gucci Gucci and Cooler than Me). Currently she is writing her debut album Beg, Borrow, and Steal. I am dying to get my paws on this one! Her voice is so unique, her style is so eccentric, her entire aurora is nothing I've ever experienced before. She is absolutely amazing.

You may have heard her on the now widely popular 'Ass Back Home' by Gym Class Heroes. But today Im going to feature my favorite song of hers. The song sings loud and clear breaking free from a culture of abuse. If I understand correctly she is speaking about her gypsy/traveler community in the UK. The traveler culture is very patriarchal; women must stay pure until marriage where their men can do practically anything they like. The men engage in fights and much drinking, where the women stay home and clean and take care of their husbands. Violence, alcoholism, and abuse tend to go hand-in-hand with those circumstances.

I hope you find a new favorite. Here is Neon Hitch's 'Black and Blue.'

Tax Season

I officially am finished with my taxes!!! This year was quite confusing because I moved states and was technically still attached to my home state; therefore, I had to file federal, and THREE! states. Oh bother. Two of the states would not let me e-file for free because I was a part-time resident. I was worried sick I would have issues, but it looks like I can wipe my hands of tax worries and woes.

I did want to share with you my tax season tips:
-Don't spend money on preparing your taxes unless you need to.
You may say that your deductions are complicated or you have all sorts of special filing requirements. But most of those deductions and credits are available to you without hassle and without having to pay a cent! The government requires companies to offer individuals who have either:
Made less than $31,000, Were on active military duty, OR Qualified for the Earned Income Credit (EIC). 

If you answered yes to any one of the questions you are eligible to have your taxes prepared for you online for FREE, file online for FREE, and you may also qualify for free state filing (states included in the free e-filing are: AL, AR, AZ, GA, IA, ID, IN, KY, MI, MN, MO, MS, NC, NY, OK, OR, RI, SC, VA, VT, WV.
You can pick whichever preparer you like the best through the government's Free File website. My personal favorite is Turbotax. They are simple and really dumb down taxes for a dummy like me.

IMPORTANT: For any of the approved Free File company's, you must first access the IRS Free File website and link to the company through that page. If you directly go to the company's website, you will not be offered free filing (or the best deals possible, for example turbo tax may have a free e-file on main website, but state filing is $30 per state, whereas on Free file Turbotax website the 22 free states are free and other states are $15).

Even if your state is not listed on that free state listing, many states have free state websites specifically for free e-filing. IL has its own e-filing website that you can use to file your taxes for free, for example. These sites have restrictions that you will have to take a look at. This website has a link to each state's e-file website where you can see if you qualify for free filing (

-Plan ahead what you are using your refund on!
With direct deposit, I already received 3 out 4 of my refunds. It would have been very easy to spend it on clothes or make-up, but I had plans to pay off a clothing store credit card. The minute the funds were available from the refunds I went to the CC website and initiated payments.

-First time undergraduate students, do not forget your FREE MONEY!!
Okay, not technically free. But if you are in the first four years of your first undergraduate degree program and studying at least half-time at an accredited university you are eligible for a partially REFUNDABLE tax credit, the American Opportunity Credit. If your parents claim you as a dependent, it is your parents who must apply for this credit on their taxes.

The credit is  worth up to $2,500 on the first $4,000 of qualifying education expensives (tuition, course materials, books, etc). The credit is reduced is gradually reduced for incomes greater than $80,000-$90,000 (or $160,000-$180,000 for joint filers). The credit is not available if you are above this range.

Whereas most credits are non-refundable and can only be used for tax amounts owed, this credit refundable. Up to 40% of the credit is refundable, meaning that you will be getting 40% of the credit as an automatic refund.

You are eligible for this credit for ALL 4 years. So in total you can get up to $4,000 in refunds from this credit alone.

All you need to do is obtain your 1098-T form that is generated by your university. Normally this is either mailed to you, emailed, or accessed through your school's info website. Then while you are filling out your taxes using TurboTax they will ask you if you are enrolled as an undergraduate student, and you will use the form to fill in the questions they ask. And that's it!

My university never explained to us what the 1098-T form was for, and my parent's didn't file for it. I don't understand why, maybe we make more money than I think, but I was able to claim this credit for my last year of undergraduate as I was a dependent at this point in time.

-Don't get stressed out
Play your favorite music, have your W-2s spread out, and just relax. Tax season does not have to stressful! Using websites like Turbotax make all the numbers and jargon easy for all of us. No matter if you owe money, end up at $0, or get a refund pat yourself on the back for taking care of business.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Review: Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel

This is as good a time as any to review my new favorite pain reliever. And by a good time, I mean a bad time for running because I am sadly plagued by shin pain. Runners, don't ever mess around with shin pain!

I received multiple samples of Biofreeze from the front desk guy at my gym. As a runner it is extremely important to practice proper RICE:

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevation

Rest: If your body is screaming at you to stop what you are doing, listen and rest!! If you continue to work your tired muscles or your injured body it is possible you will cause your body more harm and it may lead you to chronic problems and longer recovery periods.

Ice: The area of pain/injury will create a lot of heat from the inflammatory response. Ice reduces inflammation, reduces pain temporarily, and just feels darn good on that hot skin. Limit icing to only 15 minute applications, too long can be detrimental because it will limit blood flow that helps recovery.

Compression: You want to reduce swelling because it can delay healing. Use an elastic bandage to compress the swollen areas. But if you feel it throb or it cuts off circulation, bad news bears.

Elevation: Swelling is also reduced by elevating the area of pain. You want the injured part of your body to be raised above the level of your heart. It increases the venous return of blood and therefore increases circulation.

I also massage the area of injury to prevent scar tissue from forming, as scar tissue can cause chronic pain in the future due to inadequate blood flow and movement. And also slowly stretch the area.

So why do I love Biofreeze?

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel

I find it extremely irritating to sit as still as possible while trying to keep the ice on the spot of my pain. Or if Im using an ice pack, the ice pack doesn't extend the length of my injury. And even if cover my skin somehow the ice still makes my skin red as can be. Biofreeze's active ingredient is menthol. Menthol is a natural compound found in mint plants. Menthol relieves pain by numbing your pain receptors in the area it is applied and causes a cooling sensation created by a signal sent to your brain by menthol that your body interprets as coldness. All this equates to a great pain reliever for aches and pains. Biofreeze is great for sore backs, strains and sprains, arthritis, and any other body soreness. 

All you have to do is slap on some of this gel, rub the gel until it is fully slathered on and wait for the cooling, pain relief to kick in. The amount shown in the photo was enough to slather up my sore shins. You can feel the effects of Biofreeze almost instantly and there have been studies proven that Biofreeze works quicker than ice. Plus it also has been shown to work deeper than ice since it promotes vasodilation in the area reducing skin barriers. 

You should limit yourself to only 4 applications a day, too much can be a bad thing because of the fact that the coldness reduces blood flow and therefore if you keep it too cold for too long, the body wont be able to promote healing. I suspect that the fact that the skin is cooled and then goes back to normal temperature in a time period that even though blood flow is initially slowed, that it will increase once the area has adjusted. But I'm not a doctor and only able to speculate. 

Either way, I like Biofreeze better than ice. I get to control the area of application, I can move around while Im cooling my muscles, and I dont get freezer burned skin. 

Biofreeze comes in a gel, like what I have purchased, but it also comes as a spray, wipes, roll-on, and a non-colored gel. My 4oz Biofreeze gel retails for ~$20. But I was able to snag a 2-pack on Amazon for $18. You can read more about Biofreeze at

The bottom line: all-natural product, easy to apply, quick pain relief, faster and deeper pain relief than ice, and amazing cooling sensation. 5/5

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Beauty Box 5: February 2012

I first heard about Beauty Box 5 from, a blog that I absolutely love reading. Eugenia had posted a code for buy one get one month free and I could not resist! I know, I know I have absolute no willpower.
This is Beauty Box 5's first month. They've kept their box pretty mysterious with very few photos or details on what brands they will host. What I do love is that they stated that there will always be one full-sized product in each box. I guess only time will tell.

Don't know what Beauty Box 5 is? 
Beauty Box 5 is a month beauty subscription service that delivers a cute Tiffany blue box of premium beauty samples to your doorstep. Each month you will receive  4-5 packet samples, deluxe samples, and a full-sized product. Brands are expected to vary from luxury high-end, department store brands, and anything in-between. The samples chosen are based off of a short profile, but it looks like the first few months all products will be the same. Beauty Box 5 costs $12 a month and your box will always be valued above!
Click here to join Beauty Box 5

February 2012, Inaugural Box
There was a cute little thank you note in the box, but no description of products or any note from the company. I never really realized how much I appreciate the information card. Beauty Army doesn't provide a product card either, but I hand selected my samples so I know what Im getting. They do have product blurbs listed online under the 'Brands' page.

Included Card:

Comodynes: Self-Tanning Towelette in natural and uniform color
Practice safe sun and get a natural healthy looking tan with Comodynes Self Tanning Towelettes. For best results, exfoliate the day before application to remove dead skin cells to ensure an even luxurious glow.
Full Size: 8 towelettes ($14.99)
Size Received: 1 towelette ($1.88)
I received this sample in my December GogoGirlfriend box. I didn't use it when I got it since there seemed to be no point since I was in cold Chicago and was covered head-to-toe. Once I can start wearing dresses this spring I'm going to try this one out. The company claims that the towel provides a natural and uniform tan in 3 hours. Plus it is non-streaking and is moisturizing. And the tan tone adapts to your skin tone (apparently). I've never used a self-tanner before. But this towelette seems foolproof that I may actually try it. Plus it has really good reviews online. 

PRITI NYC: Soy Nail Polish Remover Wipe
With on-the-go busy lifestyles, keeping up with beautiful nails can be challenging. This nail polish remover wipe saves time, space, and energy allowing you to keep up with the occasional nail polish chip. For emergency situations be sure to leave wipes handy in you car, purse, office and anywhere in between.
Full Size: 10 wipes ($10.00)
Size Received: 1 wipe ($1.00)
These nail polish remover wipes are 100% biodegradable, non-toxic, non-carcinogen, and contain no petroleum. I like the idea of these wipes, since acetone is so hard on my nails and cuticles. I'm going to save this for my purse as Beauty Box 5 suggests. It will be perfect to use when Im at work and realize my nails look like a chipmunk attached my nail polish. But I know I couldn't afford to buy these, I mean a bottle of acetone lasts for months and months.
eta: I used it on Zoya and theBalm painted nails. It took some rubbing, but my nails are clean and free of nail polish. The wipe is greasy, but it obviously was moisturizing my hands in the promise of removing the polish. My nails are nice and shiny!

Smith's: Rosebud Salve
Fix a hairy situation by applying a smidge of salve to unruly eyebrows or slater on lips to relieve chapped, irritated skin. Dry cuticles can also be remedied with a touch of Smith's Rosebud Salve. It's a must have multi-purpose gem!
Full Size: 0.8 oz ($7.00)
Size Received: Full-sized! 0.8 oz ($7.00)
The history of this company is really cute. And by cute, I mean heartwarming. The company, originally named The Rosebud Perfume Company, a small drug store has been around since 1895. The company is still in the family and is now owned by the great-grandchild of the original owner. Products are still made in the USA and are mixed and poured in Maryland. It is nice to see a business keep going and going! This salve aids in the relief chapped and dry lips/skin, blemishes, diaper rash, and rough cuticles. At first, the smell was quite strong to me, but once you rub it into your skin, it smells like fresh roses! My cuticles already look and feel softer since applying the salve and what I really love is that it isn't sticky. I can just rub in the extra into my hands and move on. It feels like heaven on my lips. With only need a little dab per application, this baby will last years. I love it already!

Weleda: Hydrating Day Cream in Iris
Quench dry to very dry skin after your A.M. cleanse with this antioxidant packed, natural face cream. Use along with the Weleda Iris Hydrating Night Cream for 24 hour hydration. Let this cream do it's thing and bring your inner beauty out to face the day
Full Size: 1.0 oz ($20.00)
Size Received: 0.17 oz ($3.40)
I've heard of Weleda since they are being featured in multiple box companies lately. They really are getting their name out! And now that I think about it I have seen their products when I go to health food stores. The company has been around since 1921 and has been practicing organic farming since day one. All Weleda products do not contain synthetics or chemicals and all ingredients are certified natural and cruelty-free. The product does have beeswax in it but that is the one thing I still do use it as a vegan (vegans are not all perfect! this article helps the back and forth debate on bee byproducts). Anyways, the lotion is runnier than I expected, but dries up almost instantly and isn't greasy at all. Plus, the iris smell is divine.

Weleda: Hydrating Night Cream in Iris
Use after your P.M. cleansing and sleep soundly, knowing that the Iris Hydrating Night Cream is soothing, repairing and hydrating your skin while you dream. Wake up to supple and strong skin thanks to nutrient rich ingredients
Full Size: 1.0 oz ($21.00)
Size Received: 0.17 oz ($3.57)
The night cream is a much thicker and creamy than the day cream. You can just feel that it is a heavy-duty version of the day. It also is not greasy and quickly absorbs into your skin. The smell is still the same distinct iris, but it seems a bit more subdued. These samples are the perfect size to have for vacation. And I cannot get over how good they smell!

Total Value of my February 2012 box$16.85
Im excited to try some of these products but was hoping for a better value. If I had paid full price ($12) for this box I would be a little disappointed, but I technically only spent $6 since next month's is free. But the more I use the products that I got, the more I actually LOVE my box. These are practical products and I absolutely enjoyed every single one of the picks. I'll be keeping this subscription if March has just as great products and brands.

What did you think of the first box? Any product featured in the box that you've tried before? If you don't get Beauty Box 5, click here to join! Let me know what you think in the comments below!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Review: e.l.f. Mineral Moisturizing Lip Tint SPF 8

All last month I had been waiting for the best e.l.f. coupon so that I could buy brushes galore. I got so excited when I got a coupon for 10 free mineral eyeshadows with a purchase of $25 or more. I got up to $20 worth and then couldn't figure out what else to pick. This lip tint was was one of those last items I decided to pick up.

e.l.f. Mineral Moisturizing Lip Tint SPF 8 (Blush)

e.l.f.'s Mineral Moisturizing Lip Tints have the consistency of a lip balm with a nice color pay off. I'm actually really surprised by how creamy and how packed it is with moisture! The hydration can be credited to the fact that these tints are made with Coconut, Jojoba oils, and Vitamin E. My lips feel amazing and soft when I wear this; to the point I have to remind myself I look ridiculous smacking my lips together feeling how smooth they are. The buttery softness wears off in maybe 1-2 hours, but my lips still feel smooth a good number of hours later. Although, you will need to reapply often to keep the color. I'm also thankful for the SPF protection, can't ever protect your skin enough from the sun! I have to say that the flavor/smell kind of seeps into my mouth. It isn't bad, but what I would expect an edible crayon to taste like...

The color is exactly what I was expecting. Blush is a nice sweet pink that really just brightens up your lips. I don't really see too much of a difference in my lip color but it adds a nice soft shine. (I have to add that I am sick so I am puffy and congested in the photo. So sexy.) I don't mind the little pigmentation because it makes for a great lip treatment to quickly apply and not have to worry about smudge or mirror application. Some reviews on the e.l.f. website do state that the other colors are not completely true-to-color, but just take a look at the reviews if you plan on ordering. 

I have to say I adore the container. It isn't too tall nor is it really fat, it is the perfect size to fit nicely in your skinniest legging jeans without making you look like you have a growth on your hip or butt. Plus, I like that twisting mechanism is like a lipstick container and inside the tube. I somehow always wind up my chapsticks while they are in my jean pockets, to the point they become giant blobs. 

e.l.f. states that these lip tints diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles around the mouth. I don't think I can testify to that yet. But really? That seems far fetched for a $3 lip tint. But I didn't order this looking for a miracle...just for a pretty tint to hydrate my lips. And it does exactly that. 

e.l.f. Mineral Moisturizing Lip Tints retail for $3.00 and are available in 8 colors. Take a look at the shades at:

The bottom line: Cheap, Silky smooth lips, Sheer color coverage, Sweet container, and Acceptable Wear. 4/5

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