Friday, December 19, 2014

Pier 1 Holiday Haul

Recently I decided to do a little Christmas shopping.  There is so much awesome stuff out there to shop for/at that it isn't always easy to settle on a purchase.  However, a favorite go to place for me is Pier 1 - especially at Christmas.  Keep in mind, this is not a sponsored post.  Pier 1 has no idea that I'm writing this post, nor did they provide any of the items I'm going to show you.  These purchases are mine.  I used my money and made the decisions on what to buy (with a little help from the Fam).

First off, did I mention how cool the store is decorated? I love all the festive, colorful bits and bobs that are strategically placed throughout the store.  I want to just wrap myself in a soft, fuzzy blanket, nestle into my sofa, and watching faery lights blink on and off for hours.

And, of course, what Christmas tree would be complete without ornaments?  Many folks theme-up their trees, but we just throw all our ornaments on that we've collected through the years.  It is now getting to the point where we're going to have to put up 2 Christmas trees every year.

I just love their displays, though.  Santas, snow folks, and  many, many others galore.  So, let's start with the purchases...

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: TRESemme Dry Shampoo

I admit it.  I don't shampoo my hair every day.  I don't because my hair it just isn't good for your hair.  However, because I have baby-fine hair - when I don't shampoo my hair on a daily basis, my hair can look on the greasy side on Day 2 or Day 3.  So, I've been on the hunt for a dry shampoo that will soak up those oils and refresh my hair.  I don't want my hair to be gunked down with product, plus I want to still have the flexibility to put my hair up, put it in braids, or pull it back into a ponytail.  When I saw this TRESemme product, I thought I would give it a try.

I have used this product several times since I purchased it.  This dry shampoo product doesn't do the trick.  While it is easy to use, the heavily fragranced product will give you a headache within minutes.  In fact, every time I've used this product - I had to leave the house for meetings, errands, or other reasons.  Not even going outside eased the heavy chemical smell.

While affordable (I purchased my canister from a local Target for $4.99), it is nothing more than glorified hair spray.  Once on, don't bother to try to manipulate your hair into different styles.  At first I thought I put too much on my hair, but even with the most mild application - my hair turned into a helmet head.  I tried styling my hair and then spraying it on, but my hair looked like greasy hair with hairspray on because I wasn't able to apply the product to the roots of my hair - as I would do if my hair hadn't been styled yet.

That said, if you can manage that over-whelming stench (and don't mind other people pointing out the strong fragrance) and don't plan on styling your hair beyond the basics, this could be the product for you.  For me, though, the hunt continues.

I give this product 2 (for price and ease of use) out of 5 stars.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Review: EcoTools' Kabuki Brush

I don't wear make up.  I used to wear make-up.  From the ages of 13 to 18, I wore make up.  Well... What I wore was mascara, a little eye shadow, and even less eye liner.  That was the extent of my make up.  However, when I left high school and moved across the state to attend University - I stopped wearing make up.  It wasn't that I didn't need it.  It was more that I was incredibly lazy.

This practice of going make up free continued through to today (unless you count Burt's Bees Lip Balm).  What started off as lazy, quickly became a skin care choice.  Unlike many women of my age who do wear make up, I don't have those fine lines that start to surface at my age.  I rarely get pimples, zits, or spots.  I have, what many have described as, a "peaches and cream" complexion.  However, I'm not quite sure what that means.  I just know I have good skin, but I cannot take credit for it.  I credit the genetics I received from Mum... good skin runs in the family.

That said, I have a few major projects happening in 2015 that have already started, and a few of those projects require me to wear make up.  They require a lot of make up.  Without the make up, I look incredibly pale and sickly.  But more about those projects in 2015.

So, I've taken a crash course in learning about make up.  I've tackled the topic like the academic I am, and I've become a little more comfortable with something that used to take me less than 5 minutes to do.  And one of the major lessons learned is the importance of using the right brushes during the application phase.  The Kabuki brush by EcoTools is a dream.

The bristles are soft and do not shed like many brushes.  This Kabuki holds powder well and spreads liquid consistently.  It is one of those great all-around brushes you need in your toolbox, and it is offered at a very affordable price.  I paid $7.95 for it.

EcoTools did not sponsor this review, nor did they provide me with the Kabuki brush to review.  I went to the store and purchased it - just like anyone else.  However, I was so pleased with my experience with this brush, I wanted to share it with all of you, and will most likely expand my EcoTools' brush collection based on this Kabuki.

What about you? What tools do you find especially helpful when applying make up? Do share, and I'll check them out.  I need all the tips I can get!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Top 15 Favorite Holiday Movies

There is a lot of debate out there on which are the best holiday movies.  Some find the choices as sacred as their political affiliations, coffee choices, or football teams.  But, I thought I would share, with all of you folks, my top holiday movie choices.  These choices are not in any particular order.  That would make this post far too difficult for my brain at this time of the year.

Of course, the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol is fabulous.  This version is not the original, but it far surpasses any prior or after (and that includes the creepy Jim Carey version).  I remember watching this movie when I was a kid, and I still watch it (it doesn't count that I consider myself to still be a kid).  Alastair Sim will forever be Scrooge.

An American classic! To not have this movie on a top holiday movie list is a criminal action, and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law (not matter what country you are in).   Anyone who cannot relate to this simple fact is not human.

Christmas in Connecticut... Okay, I first saw this in my early 20s when I was an aggressive feminist and the very thought of the 1940s reality of a woman's role made my physically ill.  As I got older, I have found the humor in this little ditty and a deep understanding of Barbara Stanwyck's attempts of trying to be a successful single woman in a world where a woman's success was measured by her husband.  Sure, there is a mushy love story in there, but I'm certain you'll appreciate it like I do.

Uh? What planet are you from?!?! Elf is a bowl full of spaghetti topped with maple syrup.  This movie actually deserves rock star status amongst the holiday movies.

And then there is Fred Claus... Right up there with Elf.  Vince Vaughn pretty much plays the same character in every movie, but in this one - it is the other character s who make this movie a bright star and holds a solid place on my holiday movie list.

A classic.  'Nuff said.

I do love this movie.  A precocious child, bumbling robbers, and plenty of hi jinx.  The movies that followed pushed the formula too far and became ingratiating.  However, the original still is a must watch during the holidays (and after the holidays too).

Mum's all time favorite.  We end up watching this movie several times during the holiday season.  It typically starts around Halloween, and it doesn't end until Valentine's Day.  At least I can say Mum knows what she likes.

I like this one.  It is a bit of a ketchy storyline, but Queen Latifah is fabulous in it. And, quite frankly, is sends a great message... Life is too short, so life it!

A childhood favorite that turned into an adulthood favorite.  Dawn and I grew up on these puppet and clay-mation movies.  When I watch them as an adult, it reminds me of what a great childhood I had.

This movie is, in a word, poetry.

Hammered by the critics, but I believe this little ditty is severally under-rated.  

I LOVE this movie.  I love all the supporting characters, how Sandra's Lucy talks to herself, and how the story just slowly falls into place like snow.  I love they used Chicago as the backdrop of this sweet story, and I love how Peter Gallagher's character is so profoundly shallow - even when he's in a coma.

Danny Kaye? Check! Rosemary Clooney? Check!  The song "Sisters"? Check! A total classic that epitomizes the holiday season.
How can you go wrong with the Miser Brothers? You can't!  Mickey Rooney's Santa Claus is totally upstaged by the bad guys... I'm convinced this is what set the foundation for Alan Rickman's work.

Now many of my friends will have an issue with me not including the British classic, Love Actually.  And I will tell you why I didn't include this movie...
Liam Neeson becomes the wing man to a 10-year-old; Hugh Grant has an inappropriate relationship with his employee; the husband and wife of Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman have a dissolving marriage thanks to Rickman's behavior toward an employee; and Kiera Knightly's character is being wooed by the best friend of her husband.  Not to mention the weird dynamic between two body doubles on a movie set, where the majority of their interactions are in the nude (the guy being played by Bilbo Baggins... Martin Freeman).  This movie is creepy, weird, and an HR Manager's nightmare.

So, what are your favorite movies? Is there anything I missed? Share, and if I haven't seen them before - I'll definitely check them out.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Craft Store Haul

The Fam and I recently headed to the craft store to purchase a couple of things.  However, our "couple of things" quickly multiplied.  Do you experience this interesting problem? Step into a craft store intending to spend a few dollars, but you walk out spending at least $50.  So, I thought I would share a few purchases we made.

The first thing I bought was some of these wooden signs.  They were $1.50 each, and my plan is to put them in the corners of the bulletin boards of my office to make my office a bit more festive.

These gift boxes were also $1.50 (for a package of two).  I thought they were decorative enough to use throughout the year for little gifts.

I bought this night light for $8.99.  My sister picked out a Santa Claus one last month, but I wanted the snowman.  Of course, Dawn got her way.  This time, I got my way.

I bought a roll of wrapping paper.  I bought this because it was decorative enough to use any time of the year, and generic enough to use for both guys and gals. This cost a total of $1.50.

Calendars! Yes! I needed calendars.  And at 90 cents each, how can I go wrong? One is for Dawn and the other is for Mum, but I plan to use one of them for a blogging calendar.

 I LOVE these babies.  They're compact mirrors - one size magnified.  When I do photo shoots, I like to give little compacts to those I'm photographing.  I needed to rejuvenate my supplies, so I bought a few more.  At only $1.50 each, how can I not?

We use an artificial tree.  While an artificial tree has its perks, it doesn't have that great pine scent that contributes to the Christmas mood.  So, we bought these pine scented Scentsicles.  They hang from the branches (we hang them deep in the branch by the trunk, so they're invisible) and the tree smells like the real thing.  It cost us $3.99 but I believe we got them on sale.

I bought a couple of these big, metal plates for Mum.  She loves baking to begin with, but at Christmas time... She goes crazy.  So, I bought her these plates for $2.99 so she can use them for the neighbor's goody plates.

Of course, we head to purchase a couple of holiday decorations.  This one has a prized place in the living room and cost $12.99.

This one we bought for $12.99 also, and it sits on the dresser in Mum's bedroom.  It adds a little flash of festiveness to her otherwise dull bedroom (yes, Mum knows her bedroom decor is dull).

The craft store we did our haul from was Michael's.  The haul post is not sponsored by Michaels.  It just happens to be our go-to craft store.