Thursday, April 28, 2016

BirchBox April 2016 Review

Spring Awakening was this month's theme for Birchbox's April selections.  The samples came in a lovely Rifle Paper Co. box with an assortment of spring plants adorning the pattern.  

The first products I'll review are two that are from the same brand and related - Beaver Repair Rescue Shampoo and Conditioner.  First off, the brand name needs some overhauling.  Not the most appealing name for a beauty product.  The shampoo was surprisingly non-fragrant and light, which I liked.  Conversely, the conditioner was more thick in consistency and very fragrant.  I wasn't offended by the fragrance, just expected that to be from the shampoo and not the conditioner.  Neither left my hair feeling heavy and weighted, so that is a positive.  The sample sizes were really good for a hair care product when usually foil packages are sent.  I'll use the sample, but doubtful this will be a full-size purchase later.  I'd give these products a B. 

The next product was Acure Organics Pore Minimizing Facial Scrub.  I recently purchased a brightening scrub from the Acure Organics line that I like....very mud like in texture, but it did a good job.  This product is made with red clay, which is obvious in the look and smell.  The first time I used it, I liked it, but when I used it the second time, I could barely get it to squeeze out of the tube.  I poked through the hole to see if it was clogged, but it seemed clear.  I finally got some to come out after much lamenting.  If the next time I use it I get the same result, I may just have to toss it.  I give this product a B for effectiveness, but a C for packaging.

The next product was Penthaligon's Levantium Eau de Toilette.  Now that's a mouthful!  I love getting fragrance samples but of all the fragrance samples I've received from my various beauty subscriptions only one has been something I actually would have purchased (if the price point wasn't the cost of a small country.)  This fragrance was not my favorite and it was hard to discern what the exact problem was with the smell.  I found that if it lingered for a while on my clothing or body, I grew to like it more.  Translation: it needed time to settle and prime to make it ok.  It never became appealing, nor worth the exorbitant price to purchase.  I give this product a C.  

The final product in the box was Au Naturale Cosmetics Trio Set.  As you can see in the picture, it included a lipstick, blush and shadow.  Though the picture doesn't translate the size well, this sample is teeny.  The width of each of those pots is smaller than my pinky finger.  Application is near impossible and the colors aren't the best.  I love a fuchsia pink for lipstick, but this shade isn't great, and goes on very dry.  The blush is an odd peach hue and not really a shade I'd typically use.  The shadow might work better as a primer because once you apply it, you can't really see it.  Add to that the teeny tiny flip sample is tough to open.  This is my least favorite product in the box and I give it a D.

With BirchBox, you can pay for add-on items to come along with your editor-selected samples.  This month, I chose a Laura Geller set.  It included facial primer, concealer, blush and a makeup brush.  I have to say I enjoyed these four products more than anything I received in my actual Birchbox.  The primer consistency is thin and somewhat silicone, but very good on smoothing for foundation application.  The concealer takes very little (emphasis on VERY) to do the job which means this little tube may last me forever.  The blush is the absolute perfect color and the little compact it comes in includes a cute half mirror.  The brush isn't bad, but not the best brush I've ever used.  For travel purposes, though, this brush could be very multi-functional.  I give this bonus set an A. 

Overall, I'd grade this month's Birchbox a B.  The Laura Geller add on I purchased brought that grade up.  If you would like to start your own monthly subscription, click here to get started! 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Movie Review: Hello, My Name is Doris

Sally Field has been a favorite of mine since her role in Steel Magnolias, one of my all-time favorite films.  This movie, Hello, My Name is Doris, is a somewhat unknown film amidst the Batman vs Superman hoopla going on right now.  But, the movie is quite endearing.

The story begins at the funeral of Doris' Mom.  An elderly woman who had an affinity for her cat, and Doris is quite shaken at the loss of her Mom after what appears to be years of caring for her.  We discover early on that Doris lived with her Mom and cared for her in a home full of stuff.  Lots of stuff.  Her brother and his wife urge Doris to clean out the house, sell it, and move to the city.  She currently lives on Staten Island in the home where she was raised.  You could tell Doris was offended by this suggestion.

To say Doris was quirky would be an understatement.  The movie unveils a very unique character that worked in data entry at an apparel magazine.  One day after going with her friend, Roz (played by the iconic Tyne Daly), to hear a motivational speaker, she decides to set her sights on a younger (very much younger) man in her office, John.  They had initially bumped into each other in the elevator, and Doris, who filled her life with romance novels while riding the ferry to work, had dreams of she and John together forever.

So began Doris' quest for love.  Roz' granddaughter, Vivian, helps Doris get "hip" and teaches her how to navigate this new world of dating and put herself out there so John would see her.  As you can imagine, a 60-year-old woman listening to electric rock and dressing in neon was pretty hilarious.

Doris' efforts did grab the attention of John and a friendship ensued.  Through this friendship, Doris shares her story, giving us more light into how she got to where she is in life.  Doris' Dad up and left one day leaving her Mom to raise their children.  Though Doris had never been married, she had been in love.  She once was engaged to a man who eventually moved away and thus ended their engagement.  Doris felt compelled to care for her Mom, as is revealed in one of the most moving scenes in the movie.

Although this movie may not be Oscar worthy, Sally Field's portrayal of Doris was amazing.  I could identify with her (in some ways, not in the Level 10 crazy that comes out in the movie) as an older never married woman who still dreams about falling in love one day.  This is great story of moving on and living life to the fullest, and in some ways, taking chances.  I don't want to provide any'll need to watch the movie for yourself.  I would give this movie a 4 out of 5 stars.  

Friday, April 8, 2016

Book Review: Looking for Lovely

***This post originally appeared on my blog Ruminations and Reflections***

Early this year, I applied to be on a launch team for a new Lifeway Book releasing by Annie F. Downs - Looking for Lovely.  I'd never participated in a launch team before and figured I'd have little chance to make it...but I did!  And there began my journey of lovely. 

I'd followed Annie on the socials and knew she'd written other books (of which I haven't read...yet), and that she was single, which is always something that endears me to a godly woman.  Those of us never marrieds that follow Christ have a desire to marry.  But, we're not going to settle for Mr. Maybe.  Some choose singleness.  Others follow God's choice for a season, however long that season lasts. 

I anxiously awaited my advance copy and it came with all the pomp and circumstance of a glorious royal entry full of glittery confetti!  Party started!

I paced my reading of this book because it would be a little over two months before it hit the market on April 5 and I wanted to savor every word.  And it didn't disappoint.  

Annie shared (quite vulnerably, I might add) about a season of life when she dealt with her "broken crazy."  A time in her life when her resilience was non-existent and she struggled to focus on the good in things; lovely was not a word in her vocabulary.  

The journey through this book of Annie's search for lovely takes you so many places - to the Holy Land, the Ryman Auditorium, a beautiful sunrise, a farmer's market and Monet's House.  Each chapter unveils the lovely Annie found in the midst of the ordinary things of life and packaging it up like putting lightning bugs in a jar in hopes they would blink forever.  At the end of each chapter after Annie had visually walked us through her lovely experience, she challenged us with our own assignment.  Get up early and watch a sunrise.  Paint your nails.  Whatever that challenge was, Annie encouraged us to find lovely in our lives.  

When I ruminated over this blog post review of the book, I wanted to share a lovely in my life.  There are so many in my life that I often overlook.  Earlier this week I was at dinner with a longtime friend.  As we ate, a man who was in the restaurant making balloon animals in return for donations for a mission trip walked up and gave us each our own animal.  I got a turtle that is cute as a button.  He said they'd probably last about two weeks.  Now I have a "lovely" sitting in my home to remind me of that dinner with a cherished friend.

To pick a lovely I could really share in depth, I wanted something that, even to this day, I recall and smile.  It was last May, the first Saturday in May, which for us in Louisville, Kentucky, is Derby Day.  I have a standing date with a sweet lady from my church, Martha, the first Saturday of every month.  Martha has known me since before I was born.  She and my Mom were dear friends.  She is a pillar of our church and when you look up hospitality in the dictionary her picture is there.  Recently, her two best friends have slipped from her life - one has gone on to Heaven and the other one is trapped in a world of dementia.  We started this standing date when I realized how I would feel in her shoes.  And, selfishly, because she is a connection to my Mom and Dad, who are both now gone.  Even more than that, she is so wise and special to me.

On every other first Saturday we would head somewhere for brunch or lunch in town, with Cracker Barrel as one of our favorite places (talk about lovely!)  But on that first Saturday in May, Derby Day, I suggested someplace special.  I made reservations at the Science Hill Inn just outside of Louisville in Shelbyville, Kentucky.  This historic building was a preparatory school for girls from 1825 to 1939.  It still stands today and houses a quaint dining room serving Kentucky delicacies.  For Derby Day, there was a lovely brunch and we headed there for our special day.

As we entered the building, you could feel the historic presence of girls who had dreams of being anything they wanted to be.  We made our way to the dining room and it felt like I walked into the 1800s.  The tables were colonial style and draped with bright, white tablecloths.  The serving staff was all adorned with tuxes or black and white attire and you could tell all of them had worked there for years and knew the regulars by name.  We were seated by a lovely window overlooking the gardens.  It was perfect.  It was lovely.  

We talked and shared and didn't feel rushed to leave. (Unlike the time they threw us out of Cracker Barrel...but I digress)  While sitting there, a sweet teenager came to our table and asked if she could pray for us.  Simply lovely.  Our server shared her Dad was a pastor in the area and they were a great family.  If the day wasn't lovely enough, this made it lovelier.  The weather was picture perfect and the company even better.  

As I mentioned, Martha and I do this every month, never fail, save one month when it just didn't work out.  And I look forward to it every month.  But this Derby Day 2015 will be a lovely I'll never forget.

If you are expecting an exegetical thesis on the book of Ezekial, it's not this book.  But, if you've ever had a problem finding lovely in your this world....and tired of being the strong one or adulting, this is a must read.  All of the lovely points to the One who is the Loveliest of all.  

"This hope will not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." - Romans 5:5

"Hope is an expensive commodity, not easily fought for, and the result of a process that will take some time." - Annie F. Downs