Weekly Spotlight: White House | Black Market

I'm a White House | Black Market newbie, so I haven't been able to fully investigate all the awesomeness that this chic retailer sells. However, I've had time to pick out more than a handful of cute styles that made it to the top spots on my virtual wish list.

For those who follow fashion, WHBM isn't necessarily a new place to shop. It's actually been around for a while, though it really burst onto the scene when First Lady Michelle Obama was photographed in a number of different WHBM dresses that were absolutely stunning on her. Obama was already a style icon in her own way, dressing with sophistication and contemporary chicness that appealed to women all over the world. WHBM took her already lovely look and did something even more amazing: made it attainable. How many First Ladies of the past do you recall dressing in clothing that even working-class women could reasonably afford to buy? In fact, I don't recall a First Lady of the past who was as much of a fashion icon as Obama currently is, with the exception, of course, of Jackie O.

Now, for my current favorites.

Tulip Wrap Dress {Photo from whitehouseblackmarket.com}

Ruffled Shirt Dress {Photo from whitehouseblackmarket.com}

Ruffle-Collar Shirt Dress {Photo from whitehouseblackmarket.com}

Obviously you can tell from their selection online and two of the pictures above that White House | Black Market has pretty much perfected the little black dress. The favorites I showed aren't really "little," but they're classy and versatile, which is the point of a LBD. I plan to make the third one {or a similar style} a staple in my wardrobe.

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Stay Fabulous!


Item of the Week: Philosophy Cleanser!

I'm a newbie when it comes to Philosophy products, but I can say this much: almost every comparable non-Philosophy product that I've tried since I began using the Philosophy line has been a disappointment. I have a handful of favorites already, but I just got done washing my face with the swoon-worthy fabulousness that is the Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser, so it's fresh on my mind {and my face}. I received a deluxe sample of this {4.5 oz} with an Ulta purchase I made a few weeks ago {I bought Philosophy's Amazing Grace perfume} and I've been using it every day since. It's even gentle enough to use both in the morning and at night, yet it's tough enough to get my face squeaky clean {but leaves it very soft and make-up free}.

Image from www.philosophy.com
According to the Philosophy website, the Purity Made Simple cleanser is "formulated to gently cleanse, tone and melt away all face and eye makeup in one simple step, while lightly hydrating skin." And that it sure does. The message on the bottle {something that's different on every product, and I love this unique touch for the brand's overall identity} explains more about Philosophy and the meaning behind the product:

"philosophy: purity is natural. we come into this world with all the right instincts. we are innocent, and therefore perceive things as they should be, rather than how they are. our conscience is clear, our hands are clean, and the world at large is truly beautiful. it is at this time we feel most blessed. to begin feeling young again, we must begin with the most basic step of all: the daily ritual of cleansing."

I'm very happy with how effective this cleanser is — it gets rid of all the makeup that's been sitting on my skin for 10+ hours without leaving a trace of it behind. I don't even have to use a moisturizer at night after I use this cleanser, as it leaves my skin very soft and doesn't dry it out at all. I'll probably add one of Philosophy's moisturizers in the winter though.
Purity Made Simple is most definitely one of my favorite new products. I'm anxious to try even more products from this brand, and I highly recommend it to anyone, with any skin type!

Stay Fabulous!


July Birchbox!

I received my July Birchbox on Monday {July 11th} and anxiously tore into it at the first available opportunity. I wasn't disappointed! Keep reading to see what I found inside...

For those who don't know what Birchbox is, it's a sweet company/website where, according to the company, you pay $10/month to receive "a selection of 4-5 samples that [they've] tried (and retried) [themselves]. You'll receive anything from skincare to makeup to cult beauty tools, from well-known brands as well as emerging gems."
They also have been known to throw in a full-size product among the samples, which is awesome. For ten bucks, it's a genius idea and well worth it. Yes, you take a chance that you won't like all of the products, but even if you just look at the price of the full-size product alone, $10 is more than a bargain. And the purpose is even better: try out new products that you may not have purchased otherwise, and find some new favorites! To sweeten the deal even more, they include a coupon with your box that allows you to take 15% off the purchase price of any samples you decide to buy in full sizes {from their website}.

Onto the July box. This month, Birchbox partnered with fashion designer Cynthia Rowley to create their first-ever "curated" Birchbox. Some of the products in this box were chosen by Rowley, representing some of her favorite summer beauty picks. This partnership certainly sets the bar higher for future Birchboxes, so I can't wait to see what they come up with next. I wouldn't mind a Christian Louboutin-curated box...hehe. *smile*

:::  THE BIRCHBOX  :::

I received the following:

(1) KIND Fruit and Nut Almond and Apricot Bar
(1) AHAVA Mineral Hand Cream
(1) Zoya Nail Polish in Shay
(1) Philosophy Purity Made Simple One-Step Facial Cleanser (1 oz.)
(1) Redken #02 Shine Flash Glistening Mist

:::  THE OPINIONS  :::

I had no intention of trying the almond and apricot bar — just not my kind of thing. So I can't offer any feedback on that one. I did try everything else, and my favorite is the Redken shine spray. I already use Philosophy's facial cleanser, and love it, so the little travel-size bottle will be used for exactly that: traveling. I'm not much of a hand cream person, as my hands have never been dry or in need of hand cream before {the same goes for my feet — I just lucked out with that I guess}. I tried some of the AHAVA cream anyway, but since I don't use that kind of stuff on a regular basis, I couldn't give you an informed opinion. Felt nice I guess. The Zoya nail polish was a nice little surprise. It's not a color I would have picked out for myself, but I gave it a chance and painted my nails that night, and I have to say, I really like it. I already knew Zoya created quality nail polish, and this color made a great neutral addition to my overwhelmingly pink/fuchsia collection. I'm glad it took me out of my pink comfort zone. Here's a really poor picture taken on my phone of the Zoya polish, with a Sally Hansen shine topcoat {which I love}. No, my hands aren't really red/purple in real life. Just a bad pic.

And of course, the Redken shine spray is fantastic. It gives my hair a nice glossy look without making it oily. It also smells decent, as opposed having an alcohol-based scent. I also use Bed Head's Headrush shine spray, and if I compare the two, I'd say Redken works better, but Bed Head smells better. I'll probably switch off between the two for a while until I pick a favorite. Especially after getting my hair chopped off last night, I'm on the lookout for new products to use on my new style.
Looking at all five products as a whole, and taking into consideration which ones I'll actually use, I think the $10 more than paid for itself. Plus, getting a "surprise" package in the mail every month is exciting in itself!

Overall I'd say the July Birchbox was a success.

Stay Fabulous!


Shop of the Week: Chipmunk Hollow Jewelry

Chipmunk Hollow is a shop on Etsy that I've been following for a short while. One of the shop's necklaces appeared on one of Etsy's "Etsy Finds" emails, which led me directly to their shop and onto the browsing fun.

:::  THE DETAILS  :::

Chipmunk Hollow is run by Jan, who is based out of Spooner, Wisconsin {finally, a shop based out of my own state!}. It specializes in personalized, hand-stamped jewelry for just about any occasion. In my opinion {and what would this post be without it...haha}, these necklaces would make great gifts for new moms, your own mom, sisters, etc. I find personalized/hand-stamped jewelry to be very special, when the right amount of thought is put into creating it, and there's meaning behind it.
The shop states that they will send gifts directly to the recipient for you, if requested, along with a handmade card at no charge. Even better, they offer FREE USPS shipping on all orders! It's nice to see an offer like that without a minimum purchase requirement.
Digging in a bit more, I found that they have received 529 positive feedback ratings, only 1 neutral rating and zero negative. I like to use those numbers to gauge how happy previous/existing customers are with their purchases, and I read some of the feedback so I know what I'm getting into before buying anything. From what I see on Etsy, I think it's safe to recommend this cute little shop for your personalized jewelry needs.

:::  THE PICTURES  :::

Here are some of my favorite items, just to give you an idea of what they have to offer. All of the pictures are directly from the Chipmunk Hollow web shop.

Birthstone Pendant with Swarovski Birthstone Crystal
To Shop:

Personalized Sand Dollar Pendant
To Shop:

Music is My Life - 8th Note Pendant
To Shop:

Hand-Stamped INSPIRE Pendant
To Shop:

:::  THE OPINIONS  :::

I really like that Chipmunk Hollow offers some unique options for their personalized jewelry. There's a plethora of personalized jewelry shops on Etsy, so it takes something special to really stand out. Some shops stick to the basics, like initial charms or mother's pendants. But Chipmunk Hollow thought outside of the box a bit, adding items like their graduation and school colors pendants, the musical note pendant and many more. Also, it looks like they use quality materials, which is important. I can usually tell from the pictures if the metal used for hand-stamping is either thick or flimsy, which does make a big difference when it comes to pendants like these. They have a nice selection of gemstones to choose from, and seem very flexible in creating custom pieces that aren't displayed in their shop. Overall, I think Chipmunk Hollow is a great little indie jewelry shop that represents Wisconsin jewelrymakers/artists/talent in a very positive way.

Stay Fabulous!


Concrete Minerals: A Review

I had been eying up Concrete Minerals' eyeshadows since I first discovered all of the mineral makeup sellers on Etsy. Finally, I saw that Concrete Minerals started their own website, and they offered a generous 20% discount for their Grand Opening special. I decided to take advantage of the offer and place an order.

:::  The Specs  :::

The full-size shadows come with 1.5 grams of product for $7.00 a piece. This sounded expensive to me, because I'm used to paying $3-$4 a piece for shadows. However, I didn't notice until after I ordered that these jars are much bigger than most of the other brands that I have, with about twice the amount of product, packed to the top. So Concrete Minerals actually offers a great deal on their shadows considering how much product you get for $7.00. I couldn't find the amount of product in the deluxe samples, as the "sample" sticker was covering the net weight. But I would say it's comparable to some other companies' full-size shadows — about .75 grams of product.
The shadows came in baggies, wrapped in pink tissue paper and packaged in a bubble mailer. The jars all had sifter seals, which kept everything clean and sterile. Overall, decent packaging that I would expect.

:::  The Pictures  :::

Packaged with directions and a special discount for a future order

Each jar was labeled with ingredients on the bottom and cute, customized lids

Swatches showing the colors in natural light and photographed with a flash

:::  The Products  :::

(1) Mineral Eyeshadow in Lolita — A shimmering grayish taupe, the perfect neutral shade.

(1) Mineral Eyeshadow in Brat —A bright pink hue with a great shimmer, without being too out-there.
(1) Mineral Eyeshadow in Rocked — Looks light orange in the jar, but applies with a champagne/coral mix that's pretty and unexpected.
(1) Mineral Eyeshadow in LithiumShimmering silver with a metallic sheen.

Along with the 20% off discount, I also got to choose two free deluxe samples, for which I picked Swamped and Wicked. Swamped is almost like an evergreen shade, but with some different undertones. Wicked is a gorgeous blue-violet color that shifts under different lights {this will be my next full-size purchase}.

::: The Opinions  :::

Wouldn't be an Opinionista post without some opinions! Mine are pretty straightforward for Concrete Minerals. The colors are exactly as they're advertised on the website, so there were no surprises when I swatched them. The pigments have lots of staying power and go on smoothly without much fallout. I thought my favorite of the bunch would be Lolita, but I was surprised by Rocked and Wicked, and I think they're my favorites of the bunch. The packaging is very professional, and all email correspondences with Concrete Minerals were friendly and helpful.

:::  The Rating  :::

Stay Fabulous!


Opinionista Cravings: July 2011

A new monthly post for The Everyday Opinionista: the Opinionista Cravings! Basically a collection of must-have products/items that coincide with the month/season/mood. They're all things I own and have used enough to be able to highly recommend them.

July's focus is obviously summer. To me, summer means three things: bright colors, spending time outside and staying hydrated. I'm obsessed with getting the proper amount of water every day — I can tell a distinct difference in my skin tone and overall health when I'm able to drink plenty of water. In the summer, I try to increase my water intake to an extra 12 oz. each day to level out the heat outside and the dry air inside. As for the bright colors and spending time outside, I think that speaks for itself.

:::  JULY PICKS  :::

:::  What They Are  :::

:::  1. Hawaiian Tropics Shimmer Effect Coconut Papaya After-Sun Lotion — A new line of lotions by Hawaiian Tropics that are packed with the perfect amount of shimmer. The after-sun lotion has a subtle tropical scent and applies smoothly with mica minerals that glow on the skin {and continue to glow all day long}. It's not a disco-ball sparkle either — it's a soft golden shimmer that looks fabulous in the sunlight. Works well on my lighter skin tone!

:::  2. TIGI Bed Head Dumb Blonde Shampoo — This is my go-to summer shampoo, after Bed Head's Moisture Maniac shampoo. Dumb Blonde whips up some of the best lather that I've ever seen from a shampoo, and it treats my highlighted hair with some gentle cleansing. It's made specifically for "After Highlights, Damaged or Chemically Treated Hair," so it's perfect for my crazy mop of blonde waves. I make it my summer staple because it can be a little too much in the winter.

:::  3. KOR ONE Hydration VesselBecause of my obsession with staying hydrated, I've built up quite a collection of water bottles. This one is by far my favorite. When you pop open the top, it reveals an interchangeable message/quote inside the cap, which is just the finishing touch on an already-great design {click the link to see the pictures of the KOR Stones and how they work}. To top it off with some extra points, a portion of the proceeds are given to non-profit water-related causes through their Thirst for Giving™ program.

:::  4. Zoya Nail Polish in Rica — My new favorite nail polish brand and color. The most amazing blend of coral and pink and gold shimmer, perfect for the summer. Another color called "Reva" is almost as stunning as Rica, and Zoya's line of nudes and neutral shades is quite lovely as well.

:::  5. Daily's Frozen Lemonade — Well, I can't drink water all the time. *smile* After strawberry daiquiris, this is my favorite frozen alcohol drink. You can't get much more summery than frozen lemonade, and this stuff is quite refreshing!

:::  6. Lulu's Get Gorgeous Pink One-Shoulder Dress — A cute little number that's ready for picnics, parks and parties galore. It's available in additional colors, but I liked the pastel pink option for myself. One-shoulder dresses seem to be extra comfortable and easy to wear, especially in the summer. They also tend to work well on a variety of different body types, making it a universally flattering style.

:::  7. Hook and Line's Spring Rain Drops Necklace — I went to Etsy to browse for summer jewelry, and the Spring Rain Drops necklace immediately caught my eye, both in the colors and the affordable price. A super-cute accessory for any occasion!

:::  8. Physician's Formula Happy Booster Glow and Mood-Boosting Blush — I read a review on this blush when it was first introduced a few months ago, and the gorgeous pink/coral glow it produces is amazing. The swatch I saw was on pale skin, so I was anxious to try it out on my own light skin. I certainly wasn't disappointed! I use this every day now, sometimes mixed with some of Physician's Formula bronzer, and it always gives me the perfect flush that doesn't look like blush. The best part: it smells really nice!

:::  9. Glamour Doll Eyes' Eye Shadow in Apple Martini — It was hard to pick just one eye shadow out of my now-extensive collection that best symbolizes summer. It was a close race between this and GDE's Summer Skies, but Apple Martini seems to give off more of a warm-weather appeal. But, I'll confess, I love all of the colors I have from GDE, and I find an occasion to wear each and every one of them. *smile*

So, what's on your list of favorite summer products? Is there anything new you're looking to try out while the weather is still warm? Hope everyone is enjoying the summer!

Stay Fabulous!

*Side Note: All product images are taken directly from the respective companies' websites.*


Happy 4th of July!

I hope everyone is enjoying the three-day weekend, and takes some time to appreciate what Independence Day is all about.

My family does the same thing every year over the 4th of July: we congregate at my grandmother's house out in the country, set off fireworks, camp out in the fields around the house, eat lots of fantastic food, play volleyball and enjoy the time we have with one another. I'm lucky that my family is so close; my cousins are like sisters, my aunts and uncles are like extra sets of parents {7 extra sets on my mother's side, to be exact}. The 4th of July is one of the holidays when everyone is finally in one place at the same time, and we sure do make the most of it.

This year we changed things up a bit. Instead of staying at my grandma's house all weekend and doing all of our activities there {the house is on 40 acres of land - fields and lots of woods in the country, so we're able to do just about anything there}, we decided to take Saturday afternoon to swim at a pond that's owned by my cousin's in-laws. It was a gorgeous afternoon that was perfect for swimming, and everyone had a fantastic time.

Swimming in the pond, with the island in the background

The rest of the weekend was spent back at my grandma's house doing all of the usual things mentioned above. When I stay at the house, I usually sleep on the couch in the living room, because the temperature is controlled the best in there, and more importantly, I can't hear bats scratching in the walls like they do upstairs. Haha. But I also get to wake up to the sunrise through the big picture window, which is one of my favorite things. It's peaceful, and it perfectly sums up my time there.

The view through the living room window

It takes me about an hour to get from my house in the city out to my grandma's house in the country {it's also where 90% of my mom's side of the family lives, so I drive there a lot}. But the drive is always worth it.

Every time I get back from a holiday gathering with the family, I tend to reflect on how lucky I am to have such a large, happy, healthy family to spend time with. Not everyone is as fortunate, and I count my blessings daily. I grew up living about 4 hours away from the family until I was 18, when I moved closer to the extended family to go to college. So now that I live closer, I try to take advantage of every opportunity to see the family that I always missed so much in between visits when I was growing up. My parents and brother still live down south, but hopefully not much longer, and then we'll all be together, with the extended family, like we've always wanted to be. Every time I've had friends travel with me to visit my extended family at my grandma's house for a holiday, each one of the friends mentioned how awesome it is that the family is so close, and we have so much fun together. Outside of the holidays, the extended family gathers at my grandma's house every Friday night — it's been a tradition since before I was born. Just a time for everyone to see each other at the end of the week, to catch up and enjoy each others' company. Yet another things that makes my family unique. *smile*

So I'll stop bragging about my awesome family, and tie up the rest of this post with one more picture. We have bonfires and cook over the fire every night, and then last night {July 3rd} we set off fireworks. It never disappoints. :}

I hope everyone has many things to be grateful for as well, and had a great holiday weekend with your friends and family!

Stay Fabulous!