February 2014 Favorites

Better late than never!

True Blue Spa – Yogurt Shower Smoothie in Pineapple Papaya

I have actually been using this stuff for about a year now, but I took a break over the fall & the first part of the winter in favor of more seasonally-appropriate scents (because I’m a nerd like that), but now I am back to using and loving it.  When I first picked it up, I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be a cleanser or a scrub or an in-shower lotion or what…  Turns out it’s a bit of all three.  It’s a hydrating, gently exfoliating cleanser, however I don’t use it in place of shower gel or soap as was suggested to me by the ladies at Bath & Body Works.  I mostly use it on my arms and legs (concentrating it on my elbows & knees) after I have already washed with something else.  It’s not too scrubby like a true scrub would be, but there’s something about the creamy texture and the level of exfoliation that seems JUST right for my skin.  Also, the scent is incredible, especially if you love tropical scents.

Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Pink Truffle

I know this is kind of old news in the beauty blog world, but I got this lip butter earlier this year and have been wearing the crap out of it lately.  Pretty much anytime I wore lip color in February, it was this.  I love that it’s sheer, but still looks like I’m wearing something and the color just really suits my skin tone.  I feel like it’s a lot more pink in real life than is showing up in this picture.  The swatch above is a lot closer to what I see than the picture of the tube itself.  It’s just a really pretty brownish pink.  I have the same product in the shade Juicy Papaya, which is a bright coral color, and it’s just all wrong for me.  So sad because I SO want to like brighter lip colors, but I feel like most just make me look clownish.  So I’ll stick with the more neutral-to-dark shades like Pink Truffle.

Nine West Show Stopper Medium Tote

As I mentioned previously, I spent a few days in early February in Boston visiting family & friends.  Unfortunately the one and only handbag I brought with me broke (the strap came off) while I was exiting the plane at the very beginning of the trip!  So, part of my first day was spent hunting down a replacement.  I was in the market for a new purse anyways, and stumbled across this one at Macy’s.  It was love at first sight…the shape, the colors, the pattern, the “freebie” wristlet that came with it.  I HAD to have it.  So far so good.  It’s the perfect size, I love all the organizational elements, and I have gotten a ton of compliments.

Manicure of the Month

I have a surprising favorite manicure this month.  I had read somewhere that suggested traveling with neutral nail polish, and the conventional wisdom in that is fairly obvious when you think about it; neutral colors go with everything, small chips and imperfections are usually less apparent, etc.  However, I tend to find neutral nail polish (for me personally) kind of boring.  For my trip to Boston, I decided to give it a try but do it with a twist, and I was shocked how much I loved it!  I used Sonia Kashuk’s Mauving On Up and topped it with OPI’s Pirouette My Whistle, which is a glitter topcoat with silver microglitter and large round silver glitter pieces.  Since Valentine’s Day was coming up, I added a stamping accent nail with silver hearts using Sally Hansen Insta-Dri’s Silver Sweep.  The super sparkly topcoat really brought so much life to the neutral pink polish, and in the end I totally fell in love with this combo.   See what other fun manicures I have been trying over on my nail blog, Sunshine And Some Polish.

Candles of the Month

No candle favorites this month, as we kept on burning the same two candles we burned last month, Yankee Candle’s Boston Strong and Bath & Body Works’ Gelato.  I placed a large candle order a couple weeks ago, and we are already burning some new scents in March, so expect something new to share in this category at the end of this month.

Products to Help You Perfect Your Manicure

Since I have been so into nail polish, nail stamping, etc lately, I thought I would share the items that I use to help achieve a better manicure.  I am NOT the best at getting or keeping a perfect manicure, but these items have helped a lot.

BASECOAT: Orly Bonder Rubberized Basecoat – The rubber component of this basecoat helps the polish really stick to your nails.  It’s easy to apply and dries in a flash.  By the time you finish painting Bonder on your 10th finger, you are ready to start your first coat of color on your first finger.

TOPCOAT: Seche Vite – I know this is a love-it-or-hate-it product (and is NOT 3-free), but the truth is, it has a lot of fans and has reached legendary status among nail aficionados because it WORKS.  It’s super thick and dries very shiny/glossy and HARD.  If you use this and let it dry thoroughly, you won’t have those dents, dings, or fabric marks in your manicure.

DRY DROPS: Qtica Half Time Accelerator – I will never again paint my nails without dry drops.  These from Qtica are the only ones I have tried, but they were highly recommended and I love them.  When I put on my Seche Vite topcoat, I wait 3 minutes, then put a drop or 2 on each nail, then wait about 5 minutes, then wash my hands and I’m 100% good to go and I don’t have to worry about being careful.

All 3 products are readily available at Ulta, Sally’s Beauty Supply, Amazon.com, and even drug stores (don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure I have seen all 3 at CVS).  So you don’t have to make a special trip or hunt them down.

If you want to see more of my nail stamping adventures, check out my nail blog, Sunshine And Some Polish.

DISCLAIMER: Post above contains affiliate links, however I purchased all products mentioned above with my own money.  All opinions are my own.

Samuel Adams Brewery Tour

I was able to make a quick trip to Boston a couple weeks ago to visit some very dear family and friends.  While I was there, I made a smidgen of time to do some touristy things.  Even though I was born in the Boston area and have been there countless times in my life, there are still many things I have never done that I have always wanted to do.  One of those things was visiting the brewery of one of my all-time favorite beers; Sam Adams.

The brewery is in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, close to the Stony Brook Station T Stop (on the Orange Line).  Tours are free, however a $2 donation is suggested.  These donations go towards local charities, including Youth Enrichment Services, preservation of the historic Granary Burying Grounds in Boston (where the REAL Sam Adams is interred), and Brewing The American Dream, which offers assistance to small business owners and startups, mostly in the beverage industry.

While you are waiting for your tour to start, you can wander around the lobby and adjacent small exhibit space.  You will find fun facts about the brewing process, information on the catalog of beer that Sam Adams has produced, and some fun photo ops.  There is also a place where you can mail a free postcard to a friend or family member.  You fill out your postcard, drop it in a mailbox, and they will post it for you free of charge.  However, I mailed one here to Tadd and it has been 2 weeks and we have yet to receive it…

Most of the tour was your standard brewery tour.  Once you have seen one tour, you quickly realize, large or small, they all pretty much cover the same stuff, and use very similar-looking machinery (just different sizes, depending on the brewery).  But it’s still neat to see.  And, we got to see the bearded guy from the Sam Adams commercials!

From that point is everyone’s favorite part, the tasting room.  We got to try 3 different beers; Boston Lager (of course), Cold Snap (the current seasonal for late winter/early spring), and Noble Pils (our tour guide’s favorite).  Cold Snap was my favorite of the three, which is an unfiltered white ale.  If you enjoy light/bright, but still very flavorful beers, you should check it out before it stops production for the season in late March.   They let us keep our sample glasses, which I thought was a really nice touch for a free tour.

After the tasting session, we stopped by the giftshop (where I went a little souvenir-crazy…good thing the prices were all rather shockingly reasonable), then took a free trolley from the brewery to Doyle’s Cafe, which was the very first bar to serve Sam Adams beer.  If you show them your tour ticket and buy a Boston Lager (or any other Sam Adams beer), they will present it to you in a complimentary souvenir glass.  More free glassware!  This glass is special though.  The shape, size, and style was specifically engineered to enhance the flavor of Boston Lager.

If beer is your thing and you find yourself with some free time in Boston, I highly recommend taking the tour and ending it with the excursion to Doyle’s Cafe.  It was a really enjoyable afternoon, and while I was already a big fan of Samuel Adams and The Boston Beer Company, I now feel even better about my allegiance to this company.  They are good people, creating a really good product, and doing great things for the Boston community as well.

January 2014 Favorites

Love & Toast Hand Creme in Honey Coconut

Was shopping at Ulta after work one day and got sucked in by this brand’s completely adorable packaging.  Who doesn’t want cute little birdies on their tube of hand cream?  Luckily, and more importantly, the product is awesome.  The honey coconut scent is not overly sweet or heavy.  I really want to try more from this brand, particularly their sugar grapefruit scent.

Dior Crème Abricot Fortifying Cream For Nails

Confession: This cuticle cream is my first ever Dior product.  But it has been around since 1963 and women everywhere have sworn by it for decades, so I think I picked a good product to start with.  I have been using it every night as I go to bed.  I use the tiniest bit and massage into the cuticle/nail area.  It’s very goopy and takes awhile to sink in, but it works wonders on my nails.  I actually forgot to use it a few nights in a row last week, and I could definitely tell the difference when I stopped.  Peely, dry hangnail city!  Ugh.  A couple nights later, after remembering to use the product faithfully, everything was back on track again.  Oh, and it smells great!  So as long as you can get past the goopy, sticky texture (which is why it is recommended to use it right before bed), then you will love it as much as I do.

Downton Abbey

I love everything about this show.  Acting, writing, story, sets, costumes, characters, everything.  Similar to Mad Men, this show does an amazing job with weaving tidbits of real, factual history throughout the story; from the sinking of the Titanic, to WW1, to the fads and fashions of the Roaring Twenties, to the introduction of various inventions and conveniences to the house (electric lights, sewing machines, refrigeration, the telephone, etc).  My favorite character in the whole show, hands down, is Carson, the overly stuffy but loveable head butler.  His utter disgust at anything being out of order, or any kind of change at Downton, just cracks me up.  Second would be Violet, the Dowager Countess, who is the perfect mix of “prim and proper elderly noblewoman stuck in her Victorian ways” and “feisty, witty, and wise grandmother who tells it like it is”.  It helps that Violet is played by the incredible Maggie Smith.

New episodes of Downton Abbey air on PBS on Sunday nights, but you can stream prior episodes via Amazon Prime Instant Video.  And if you haven’t, I suggest that you do.  Even Tadd loves this show!

Manicure of the Month

My favorite manicure combo of January was this navy & gold striped look achieved with Butter London’s Big Smoke (navy) and Orly’s Luxe (gold).  Love both of these polishes, and together they are gorgeous!  Lately I have been loving all things nautical, and I felt like this was a good representation of that look without being too in your face about it.  I had intended to have small gold anchors stamped on my thumbs, but the image plate I have just wasn’t working well.  I have more nautical-themed image plates on the way from MoYou London!  If you want to keep up with my nail stamping adventures, follow me over at Sunshine And Some Polish!

Candles of the Month

This month we have been burning Yankee Candle’s limited edition Boston Strong candle (which is no longer available, but I believe is the same or similar scent as their Home Sweet Home candles) and a Bath & Body Works’ 3-wick in the scent Gelato.  We usually have 2 candles to choose from at any given time, and after finishing our post-holiday candles (Vanilla Snowflake and Champagne Toast), I wanted to switch to some fragrances that kind of bridged the gap between winter and spring.  Winter doesn’t last very long here in Florida, and I tend to like my scents to follow the weather and/or season.  Boston Strong is spicy with a bit of a tea backnote, which I think is a perfect cozy scent for cooler weather.  Gelato smells like berries & cream, which is perfect when we are in the mood for something a little lighter and more spring-like.

What have you been into this month?

Introducing…Sunshine And Some Polish

I have decided to start a new mini-blog documenting my adventures in nail stamping, nail art, and polish collecting.  This way I will be able to keep most of my nail-specific posts separate from my usual posts (which I know have been lacking lately).

If you are so inclined, please join me over at sunshineteapolish.tumblr.com!

Don’t worry, I will still be posting on Sunshine And Some Tea.  Coming up shortly: my January favorites post!

Julep Maven – Welcome Box

I mentioned recently on Facebook that I decided to cancel my Birchbox subscription.  Not because I was at all dissatisfied with my Birchboxes, but I think I was just craving something different.

Since I have been playing around a lot with nail stamping lately, I decided to become a Julep Maven*.  This is a monthly subscription program that mainly focuses on nail polish.  You take a style quiz, and are assigned one of five different “Style Profiles”: Modern Beauty, Boho Glam, Bombshell, Classic With A Twist, and It Girl.  The monthly boxes are curated based on these profiles, so if your profile is set to “Bombshell”, then when it’s time to ship your box, you will get the “Bombshell” box for that month.  But you are allowed to preview each box before it’s shipped out, and you can easily switch Style Profiles at any time.  The “dangerous” part is that you can upgrade and add items on to your box at a discounted price, which is great, but also bad (for the wallet!) at the same time.  You can get more info on how the Maven boxes work at the link above.

For my “Style Profile”, I got Classic With A Twist, so for my welcome box, I got two polishes, a cuticle serum, and a sample of makeup primer.  I also chose 3 extra polishes to add to my welcome box.  I used the discount code FREEBOX when I signed up, so my first box was free, but after adding on the 3 extra polishes, it was just under $15 shipped.

Here are the polishes I received, still in their packaging:

On the left are the three polishes I picked out as add-ons.  On the right are the two polishes I received based on my “Style Profile”.  Left to right:

  • Tracy (It Girl) – Sparkly ocean blue sea salt (textured polish).
  • Max (It Girl) – Black and white graffiti top coat.
  • Cassie (Classic With A Twist) – Soft coral sheer.
  • Myrtle (Classic With A Twist) – Flapper red crème.
  • Zora (Classic With A Twist) – Frosted pink pearl.

So far I have tried 3 of the 5 polishes.  I thought Cassie was going to be more of a peachy pink, but it ended up being much more peachy than I thought and clashed terribly with my skin tone.  It was just BAD.  So bad, I immediately removed it and did not snap a pic.  It’s a beautiful color, just not for me or my nails.  So sad!

Funny story: Once I painted Cassie on my nails, I was INSTANTLY reminded of one of my favorite Barbie dolls from my youth.  Did anyone else who was a child of the 80s have the Peaches N Cream Barbie???

Once I got that image in my head, that was all I could see on my nails…80s Barbie doll.  Again, it’s a very pretty color, but just not for me.

Tracy was actually the first color I tried.  I wore this for my husband’s birthday weekend.  This is my first ever textured polish and I have to say I loved it.  It’s a bit weird to not be aiming for that perfect smooth shiny finish, but on the flipside, it’s so forgiving if you are not great at painting your nails.  Also, if you accidentally smudge it a bit before it dries, it’s so easy to just pat it back down gently, or to just dab a bit more polish to touch it up.

I loved this shade of shimmery blue with a silvery sheen to it.  Since I seem to be on a flashback kick with these nail polishes, I can also share that this one made me think of one of my favorite music videos of all time, Tonight Tonight by the Smashing Pumpkins.

So when I was trying to decide on what to stamp on it, my thoughts instantly went to something silvery and starry.  I decided to keep it simple with silver stars on my ring fingers and thumbs.

My latest manicure involves trying out Myrtle, which is a beautiful, vibrant red.  I decided to stamp an abstract floral pattern using my new Konad white “special stamping polish”.  I have actually gotten quite a few compliments on this one.  People really like the red & white together.  I think it will be a good color combo to use again for Valentine’s Day.  Myrtle is definitely a winner for me.

At some point, when I decide to have a non-stamped manicure, I am going to try 2 coats of Myrtle topped with a coat of Max, the black & white graffiti top coat.  To keep with the flashback theme…Tadd said the idea of that combo makes him think of 101 Dalmations.  Ha!

One other thing I want to mention about the Julep polishes, is that the tall, narrow bottles, while very pretty and easy to store, make me nervous.  I am always worried that the slightest movement will tip them over and make polish go everywhere.  Hasn’t happened yet, but I’m waiting for it.

So far so good with my Julep Maven* subscription.  I am excited to try the rest of my polishes from this box, and interested to see what they put together for the next box.  I will keep you posted!

By the way, please forgive the state of my nails, cuticles, and polish jobs.  I was not blessed with naturally pretty nails, but I have been working on them.  I know I also have a long way to go in perfecting my polish techniques, but I have been practicing!  Hopefully as I keep up this new hobby, they will gradually look better and better.

*In the interest of full disclosure, if you sign up for a Julep Maven box through the links posted above, I will get a small referral credit.  Please feel no obligation to sign up through my link, just thought I would use it since it was provided to me!

December 2013 Favorites

Trying something new here… I have been thinking that at the end of each month I am going to share some things that I have been loving.  Here’s my list for December:

Lush Snowcake Soap

This is one of Lush‘s seasonal items (and it is currently BOGO!).  It’s definitely a favorite of mine this time of year.  It’s a super creamy soap, so it tends to melt really fast, but the smell is ahhhhhmazing!  It smells like sweet almond fabulousness.  It’s super moisturizing and the scent lingers on your skin.  My bar is sadly already gone, which is why I was so glad I got this for Christmas:

Lush Snowcake Perfume

Every once in awhile Lush will release limited edition perfumes based on some of their most popular products, and this time one of the perfumes they released is Snowcake Perfume!  I was so excited to have been able to get one of these before they sold out.  Now I can smell like my favorite soap anytime I want.

EOS Lip Balm in Lemon Drop

I know I am late to the party and these things have been trendy for awhile now, but I picked one up at Ulta the other day and have kept it at my desk at work and with this drier air, my lips have quickly become addicted.  I also love the fun spherical shape and the lemon flavor.  I think I need a few more to leave around…One for the car and one for the house would be nice.

Nail stamping

For awhile now, I have been fascinated with nail stamping.  It started with YouTube videos like this one:

So, inspired by this, I asked for some nail stamping supplies for Christmas.  I ended up with a stamping tool, scraper, and 76 different image plates!  I also got a ton of new nail polishes.  After some trial and error, I discovered that it’s really important, especially when you are first learning, to have the correct type of nail polish for stamping.  The consistency needs to be slightly thicker than standard nail polish so that it is easily visible with one thin coat, and it can’t dry too quickly on the image plate so that the image transfers to the stamping tool properly.  I have ordered some stamping polishes in white and black and I am currently waiting for them to arrive.  In the meantime, some metallics can work well, so that is what I have been experimenting with.  Below was my first try.  Base color is Germanicure by OPI and I stamped the fish scale pattern with Luxe by Orly.

Definitely far from perfect, but I need to practice more.  Not too awful for a first try though.

Bath & Body Works 3-Wick Candles for December

I am always burning Bath & Body Works 3-wick candles.  I tend to rotate between two different scents at any given time.  In December I cycled through one set before Christmas and one set after Christmas.

Before Christmas, it was Fresh Balsam (Tadd’s favorite) and Twisted Peppermint:

“With the first big snowfall of the season comes the delightful scent of balsam and fir trees, layered with notes of fresh eucalyptus”

“Merry and bright peppermint celebrates the season with notes of vanilla and sugary musk in this cheer-filled scent”

After Christmas, it was Champagne Toast and Vanilla Snowflake:

“Pop, clink and sparkle with an effervescent blend of Champagne, juicy nectarine and blackcurrant”

“A delectable blend of creamy vanilla, winter mint, and a touch of coconut.”

2013 Retrospective

Just like last year, I have created a Videogram via Shutterfly, documenting my adventures throughout the year.  I really love making these.  The craziness of the holiday season tends to force you to live in the moment.  But in making this retrospective video, it encourages me to reflect on all that has happened this year.  This has been a mostly happy year for me, and I am really looking forward to what’s in store for 2014.

Best wishes to you for a very happy 2014!

Catching Up – October 2013

Continued from the last post


This was the start of my favorite time of year to visit the WDW theme parks.  We attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Epcot’s Food & Wine Festival with friends.

For Halloween, Tadd and I dressed up as a wild west saloon girl and bartender.  Tadd had an awesome handlebar mustache to go with this getup, but it just wouldn’t stay on.  So sad!  I honestly didn’t care much for my costume, but wanted to wear it to go with his costume because I loved Tadd in the saloon bartender costume.  He even had a beer holster belt…and of course, the arm garters!