Creating a Smashbook (a scrapbook for wimps with commitment issues!)

August 16 marks my paper anniversary with Tom, so I thought what better way to celebrate than to create a scrapbook? I mean, that’s, like, ALL paper!

Unlike a traditional scrapbook, however, I want to make something a little less perfect. I have a fear of commitment when it comes to such artistic feats, so I tend to get discouraged in the planning process and never follow through. Or even start it…

Which is why I have not actually attached anything to our wedding scrapbook.

Oh, I figured out what I wanted on each page.

I even gathered special details like an extra save-the-date, invitation, a balloon from one of my bridal showers, etc.

And believe me, I got pictures developed.

But I got spooked because I didn’t have any other decorative scrapbook doodads and didn’t want to screw it up forever. Pinterest sets the bar way high.

I have a fear of commitment to attach things to paper, but I vowed my life to another human being. Go figure.

I also don’t want to spend a fortune on this. Scrapbooking gets freaking expensive with all the excess crap you buy into. You want the extra pizzazz of colored paper. And, oh, won’t that lace detailed paper make the pictures pop and give the page texture? And you just need those gold letters in every font. But you might as well buy the silver ones too because what if you get sick of gold? And all the stickers!!!!!

The memories are priceless but putting them in a book is nightmarishly pricey.

Anyways, my first inspiration for this came from (surprise, surprise) a YouTube video. A couple that I watch (Colleen Ballinger AKA Miranda Sings and Joshua Evans) recently got married and, throughout their honeymoon, worked on a scrapbook. So instead of waiting until after they came home, they brought the journal, pens/markers, and a polaroid camera to fill the scrapbook as they went.

Here’s a video about it, if you’re interested to see little bits of their scrapbook. I’ve set the video to start from where she’s talking about the scrapbook. You’re welcome.

Brilliant and adorable!!! Except, we’re almost a year out from our honeymoon and documenting it as we go is out of the question.

But why not start now, catch up to the present, and then we can document as we go through the rest of our marriage?! In a perfect world, I will stick to this and fill up multiple journals/scrapbooks. I’m getting ahead of myself. I need to just focus on getting this one started!

Okay, so I bought a journal from Walgreens for about $10; nothing super fancy, but I like the gold accent. Unlike a full-size scrapbook, this journal causes me less anxiety when I think about filling it and possibly messing up. Cool!

Smashbook

While doing research on how to go about starting something like this, I found some Pinterest pins about smashbooks. According to The Realistic Mama, a smashbook is “a delightfully simplified way to chronicle life’s special moments without the time commitment usually required by scrapbooking.” Here’s her step-by-step guide on creating a smashbook. She made a travel smashbook in the post and I like how she used maps for backgrounds!

Perfect! I don’t like all the pressure that comes with planning out, arranging, rearranging, and finally settling on what could potentially be a horrible looking scrapbook spread. I’ll do all that for this journal-thing, but the pages are smaller and I just feel like it’s less of a commitment. There’s that word again.

This book is going to chronicle Tom’s and my relationship, from when we first met until more recent events. I have been journaling since middle school, so luckily I had the last 3 journals I’ve filled to help me map out important dates and events. Facebook was super helpful in keeping track of certain events too, giving me ideas on what pictures I could use if I wanted to include a certain day. So I started the process of mapping out the chronology of the smashbook in my current journal.

list 2

Some events don’t have pictures attached to them (the day we first met, our first kiss, first official “I Love You”, etc), but those will just be written out with blurbs about how, when, and where it happened. I hope Tom will also take part in filling in blurbs. I know he’s self-conscious about his handwriting, but he is just a much a part of this relationship as I am. Although his memory quite frankly sucks, so I’m not so sure how that will work out.

First date

Once I mapped out the timeline portion, I then went to Social Print Studio (formerly Prinstagram) to order mini prints. I have a bunch of full-size photos of special events, but I don’t want to fill up every single page with only one photo each. So I ordered 48 squares by selecting straight from my Instagram feed. Not all 48 are going into this book; some are for friends or just to remember other moments in time. Then I uploaded 116 from my computer to order mini-prints; this doesn’t limit you to stick with a certain set of dimensions, so it just takes your picture and shrinks it. Nothing is cut off haphazardly. Sounds great!

As of right now, that’s where I’m at. I just ordered the prints today, so they probably won’t arrive until next week. I also want to pop into Michaels while I’m in Long Island this coming week to check out stickers and maybe some pretty paper to give the pages some extra oomph. I don’t plan on going all out and spending a ton of money – that’s half of what I wanted to avoid in pursuing this less-fancy option!

Okay, so that’s it! Let me know if you’re a scrap/smashbooker and if you have any tips! And fingers crossed I get this project off the ground before I get cold feet!

I did that thing: Ombre Nails!

I did it! I finally sat down and tried out the ombre nail thing. I know I’m about 5 years late on this band wagon, but there’s never a better time than the present, amirite?? Plus, it’s summer. As a teacher on break, I have time on my hands, so I used that time on my hands and am really impressed. Also, what better time than summer to try out a fun, colorful ombre nail?!

Hand with nail polish and sponge

I bought a bag of cosmetic wedge sponges from Walgreens with the intention to use them solely for trying ombre nails. When I got home, I picked out my colors – I chose a bright green, blue, and purple, all by L.A. Colors. I knew they weren’t the best quality nail polishes, but I wanted to use those colors anyways.

I figured I would just jump right into it, trying it out without a colored base. So I painted three stripes onto a full-sized makeup sponge and pressed them to my pinky nail. Buuuut the colors weren’t opaque enough, so it just looked silly. I got my nail polish remover and took off the goofy ombre and decided to turn to YouTube where I knew I had seen one or two tutorials before.

This one showed me that it was easier if I cut the sponge to a smaller size, closer to the size of my nails. So I did.

She also urged me to paint my nails white before proceeding with the ombre colors. So I did. I painted all nails except my thumbs with two coats of Alpine Snow by O.P.I.

Nail polish

Once they dried, I coated the sponge with the three colors again. Then it was time to apply it to my nails. I dabbed my pinky with the sponge and it looked cool! I think the white base coat is what really helped the colors stand out and stay on the nail instead of the sponge. I definitely needed two coats of the colors because, again, they were not very opaque.

Each time I painted a nail, I had to reapply the tri-colored stripes to the sponge for the next nail. As can be expected, this was kind of a messy process. I had excess nail polish on my cuticles as well as on the pads of my thumbs and forefingers, as those were what I was using to hold the sponge.

However, I did not find it much more difficult to apply using my left hand as it usually is when straight-up painting my nails. The right always comes out looking wonky because I am not a lefty. This process was equally difficult and equally easy on both sides. Does that make sense…?

right hand ombre nails

Once all 10 nails were ombred, I used a Q-tip with some polish remover to clean up the edges. There was still some stray color leftover, but it wears off after a day or so. Nobody’s perfect. You live and you learn it. And if I mess it up sometimes. Nobody’s perfect.

Hannah Montana. I just couldn’t resist.

When I cleaned up as much as I could, I then applied my new Revlon Liquid Quick Dry top coat.

And voila! Here’s the end product! Like I said, they aren’t perfect – my nails and nail beds are not long, so they aren’t hand model material. But they look pretty dang cool regardless!

I encourage you to try it out yourself. Once I got the hang of it, I was on a roll! From very start to very end, I think it might have taken me 15 minutes, with the original mess-up included. I was also watching Legally Blonde on Netflix, so I may have gotten distracted a few times.

If you do try this, send me a picture or a link to one. I would love to see what color combinations you come up with!

Review: Circa Absolute Lash Icon Mascara

I’ve tried plenty of mascaras since I started wearing makeup. And by “makeup”, I’m not counting the crap that is sold to really young, pre-pubescent girls. The kind that makes you break out just looking at it.

Nowadays it seems that every brand comes out with a “New and Improved!” or “Never Before Seen!” mascara every week, making it impossible to choose one brand or tube. I was in Walgreens two weeks ago and needed a new mascara. I had seen the new Circa (Eva Mendes’ makeup line) display a couple times, so I figured I would give their mascara a shot. The items in the collection are pretty pricey, so why not get something that I’m sure to use daily instead of a nail polish or eyeshadow that takes forever to use up?

Lash Icon box

I grabbed the Absolute Lash Icon because it claimed to volumize lashes without clumping. That’s usually what I’m looking for – a little bit of length, but a whole lot of volume. And by a whole lot, I mean a somewhat normal amount because I don’t want to look like I’m wearing crazy fake lashes here.

The claim: “Be iconic – this instantly volumizing and conditioning mascara magnifies the eyes and emphasizes the lashes, accentuating the eye with intensity and depth. The secret lies in its unique formula and oversized brush, molded to separate, coat and curl each lash for a false eye-lash effect. Flexible and fast drying, this all-in-one adds instantaneous volume while enriched with Pro-Vitamin b5 and Avocado oil, for lashes that won’t cake, clump or crumble.”

Yes please! And for the $11 price tag, I was hoping it would do all that it said it would. I got it in the color Black Brown; I don’t exactly remember why, but I want to say it was because it was either that or Blackest Black, and I wanted a more natural-looking color.

When I finally opened it up, I found the tube itself was very substantial and quite heavy. I’m surprised, though, that it is actually the same length as a “normal” drugstore mascara, but it is a lot bulkier. When I unscrewed the wand, I was greeted by said oversized (more like SUPERSIZED) brush. It’s like a regular mascara wand was blown up to twice its size and then glued to one of those mini torture ball mascara brushes. Scary. Here are two pictures of the Lash Icon brush (bottom) compared to Maybelline’s Lash Sensational.

mascara brushes

I must say that I actually didn’t mind the first application as the brush didn’t have a lot of product on it and the formula went smoothly onto my lashes without clumping. But after that initial application, I’ve hated it ever since. I have actually been scraping the brush on the side of the tube to get excess product off before applying with a very light hand to my lashes. And it’s clump city. So then I go in with a completely clean mascara brush that I took from Sephora to separate and take off the excess-excess product. And the clumping has only gotten worse over the 2-week period that I’ve had the mascara.

After all that extra time and effort (which is realistically only 2-3 minutes, but still – ain’t nobody got time for that in the morning!), my lashes look pretty decent. It dries at a normal speed, so that’s not really anything to brag about. Feeling my lashes right now, after I’ve had the mascara on for about 3 hours, they feel flexible and not hard, which is a plus. BUT I’ve noticed A LOT of fallout and flaking throughout the day. It’s like winter hit my eyeballs – flakes for days! Not a cute look. And I can’t say that I’ve noticed any conditioning that they claim because of the amount of product I’ve been wasting via necessary clump removal and flaking!

So overall, I really disliked this mascara. I just threw it out and will start using the Lash Sensational tomorrow morning (fingers crossed that goes better). I tried to push the $11 as far as I could, but in the end it was $11 disappointingly unwell spent.

So as a quick recap:

Pros:

  • Flexible lashes.
  • Good ingredients for possible conditioning – I’m grasping at straws here…

Cons:

  • Oversized brush is SUPERSIZED.
  • So much caking, clumping, and crumbling.
  • All the flakes.
  • Coating is not uniform and curling is not fantastic.
  • No visible conditioning here.
  • Expensive as heck!

“Permanent” False Lashes: Story + Pros & Cons

I’ve noticed the false lash craze has really picked up over the past couple of years; lash companies have been creating more and different types of false lashes, so “normal” girls have started to wear them on a more regular basis. YouTube beauty gurus have integrated them into all of their tutorials and everyday makeup routines.

The only times I’ve ever worn falsies were 2 consecutive days – the night of my rehearsal dinner and on my wedding day. And even then they weren’t full sets of lashes; I figured I would start small and bought a pair of Ardell Lash Accents #315 which are only half-strips to create a fuller look of the outer lashes. These paired with the Duo Clear Lash Adhesive (it dries clear instead of brown, black, or white which works great for thinner lash strips or makeup looks that don’t include thick lines of eyeliner) worked really well for the look I was going for. Even my hair & makeup stylist preferred to use the accent lashes instead of a full set on my wedding day. He said that the full sets looked much too perfect and wouldn’t look as natural as I wanted.

lashes

Even with these half-lashes, I felt like I had huge flaps on my eyes. I honestly pictured myself as the huge elephant thing from Sesame Street (Google it if you don’t know what I mean). I couldn’t wait to take them off so I couldn’t understand how women could wear full sets every single day without being driven nuts?

I knew that salons had started offering a more permanent (three to six weeks) set of false lashes because of the higher demand, but I also knew it was a pricey procedure. One of my co-workers has gotten them a couple times and they look AMAZING! She said she didn’t wear mascara when she got them, so it made mornings easy. At Christmas, one of my cousins-in-law had a set and, again, they looked FANTASTIC!

That was it; I was determined to try it out. Fast-forward a couple months and my mother-in-law found out that a local salon near her house in Long Island offered the service. So of course we made two appointments and were both super excited. She went first, so I got my nails done while she was in there. We were told that it takes about an hour because individual lashes are being glued onto the lash line. My MIL came out about 45 minutes later and they looked great! Her eyes were watering and looked a little red and irritated, but she was smiling and looked okay so I proceeded to the room to start the process.

My technician, Christine, first asked what size I wanted. I didn’t know what that meant, so I just told her I wanted a bit more fullness while still looking natural. I laid on the table and she started by applying gel patches under my eyes, putting them over my lower lashes. This ensured that my lower lashes wouldn’t get glued to the top lashes, plus the coolness also soothed my undereye area. She then brushed my lashes and told me that my natural lashes were really nice and were about a size 12, so she was going to use 11s on the inner lash line and 12s everywhere else.

I felt her stick something to my forehead and I quickly realized that they were small tracks of the individual lashes – I’m sure that was super attractive. I forgot my phone at home so I couldn’t even try to get a picture of it. I kept my eyes closed the entire time and I’m pretty sure I started to doze off a few times. They had a great music playlist and the process wasn’t painful, so I just zoned out and tried not to move my eyes too much. The gel patches were keeping my eyes from 100% closing, so they were feeling a bit irritated, especially if I were to move my eyeballs around or try to open my eyes.

I tried counting how many lashes she used on each eye, but because I kept dozing off, I lost track a few times. I asked her afterwards and she said she didn’t even know – she just puts them on for aesthetic purposes, so she doesn’t count them. I want to say she used around 80 individual lashes on each eye.

Finally, the process was done, so she brushed my lashes again and told me to open my eyes. This was uncomfortable but then she peeled off the gel patch and I was fine! I looked in the mirror and was so happy with the result – it looked like I had long lashes without looking so incredibly fake. My eyes were a bit irritated and watery, so I now understood why my MIL’s looked that way before.

Here’s a before-and-after collage; no makeup in any of the pictures!

IMG_3919

The ladies told us that they should last anywhere from 3 weeks to over a month, but they recommend a “refill” appointment after three weeks if we plan on keeping up with them regularly. Now that we’ve had a couple days with them, I wanted to give some pros and cons:

Pro: Unlike the strips of lashes, you forget you have them on until you touch them.

Con: It’s hard to wash your face, rub your eyes, and remove makeup without being a bit rough with them.

Pro: They could potentially last for up to 6 weeks.

Con: They are a bit expensive (mine were $90), especially depending on where you go, how many and what size lashes you get, etc.

Pro: They save time in the morning – no curling or mascara necessary!

Con: Sleeping on your side or stomach is uncomfortable when they poke and/or pull on your eyelid.

I’ve already had a few casualties at the edges of my eyes, but they still look great! I’ll update as the weeks go on and show the progress. What do you think? Have you tried these before? If so, what was your experience and do you have any tips? If not, would you consider it?

1 week update: It’s been a week now and I will be honest and say it’s been quite frustrating when washing my face this week. I am not one to take time and be super careful when washing my face. I usually just slather the face wash in my hands and massage it all over, including my eye area. Can’t do that, can’t rub water out of my eyes, and can’t dry off my eyes as easily.

There’s been a lot of fall-out and I feel like they’ve started clumping together. It’s just a pain but it kind of makes them look less “perfect” and more real. I’ve continued to get compliments from co-workers and students, so that’s a plus, but as of right now I don’t think I want to splurge on them again. At least not anytime soon. Here are a couple pictures after eight days of wear:

False lashes one week

2 week update: The majority of the false lashes have either fallen or been tugged out by yours truly. Honestly, they were so annoying by the end of the first week that I started purposefully (and gently!) pulling on them to promote their removal. The only bad thing with this is that when they come out, they usually bring one or two of your natural lashes with them. Not so good when they’re all out and your natural lashes are looking a bit wonky and sparse. They grew back within the first week, so I didn’t look lashless, but for those first 7 days without the fake lashes, the natural ones weren’t as long and thick as they were before the false lashes were applied. Here’s a picture after almost 2 weeks; you can see how sparse the middle of my eye is with the false lashes mostly on the inner and outer corners.

2 week lashes

Sally Beauty haul

I have mixed feelings about hauls. I’ve watched plenty of them on YouTube and sometimes I barely pay attention to them. Usually it seems like the girl on the other side of the camera just wants to show off how much money she can blow on yet another high-end eye shadow pallette, skincare regimen, or bagful of clothing.

And with that being said, I’m going to be showing you what I bought from Sally Beauty! Haha I only spent like $50, so I’m not bragging. I promise.

To give you some background, I have stepped foot in Sally Beauty Supply maybe once before. I’ve heard great things but usually stick to drugstores to buy my makeup, haircare, and skincare. When I go somewhere like Sephora or Sally, I get super overwhelmed because, being the YouTube fanatic that I am, I’ve heard about how great so many things are so it’s difficult to narrow down my decisions to save myself from spending tons of money.

There are no Sally stores near me in NYC, although there are plenty of Sephoras. However, my main goal was to find hair coloring supplies that are not the box-dyes sold at Walgreens. I have been dying my hair for years, and I realized just how much the box dyes from Walmart were ruining the state of my hair. For the past year I’ve consistently been going to a hair salon to get my hair colored, but man, oh man, that gets expensive!

I looked up the necessary tools to do it at-home, decided on a color, and found a developer that would work well with what I want to accomplish. So while I was throwing those in my online cart, I explored a little more and picked up a few more things. So without further ado, here’s what I purchased from our gal pal Sal(ly)!

1. Clairol Professional Soy4Plex 20 Volume Pure White Creme Developer – $3.49. I watched a bunch of YouTube videos and read a few blog posts about which volume would be best for my situation – I have never dyed my hair at-home without an all-in-one box dye, so I wanted to make sure I did my research first. I would be coloring my roots brown so there was no need to get a heavy duty developer (higher volumes = higher lifting = lighter hair), but I do have quite stubborn gray hairs so I did need a little bit more oomph (10 would probably not do the job). 20 seemed the way to go.

2. Clairol Professional Soy4Plex Permanent Liquicolor in the color Lightest Gold Neutral Brown (5GN/35G) – $5.99. It took awhile to decide on a color to cover my roots as there are 65 colors to choose from. Seriously, I counted. I originally was going to go for Lightest Red Neutral Brown (5RN/75R), but figured that since my hair already picks up reds when I color it, why not go more brown?Hair coloring Clairol Professional Ion Brilliance

>>I used this with the developer three weeks ago to color my gray roots (you can read more about my hair here) and I’m in love. It does look very warm and reddish in certain lights (especially the one above our medicine cabinet in our very yellow bathroom) but in most lights it looks light brown and blends really well with the rest of my hair. I plan on writing a whole post about this experience, so be on the lookout!<<

3. Ion Color Brilliance Haircolor Mixing Bowl & Tint Brush – $2.59 & $1.59 respectively. These were essential for my first time at-home dying with my own developer and color. I’ve always just used the bottle that the box-dyes come in to apply my color, but I wanted to try using a bowl and brush. After using these on Sunday to cover my roots, I’m so happy with the brush and bowl method. Plus, they’re reusable, so they don’t create waste each time I color my hair, and it’s also a much cleaner application; I did not get dye on the floor and I felt like I had an even application because I wasn’t simply squirting a bunch of dye on my scalp.

4. Colortrak Tools Croc Clips – $8.99. I really just needed some good, strong clips for when I dye and style my hair. They’re great quality and came in a set of 4 and did what I bought them for!

Croc Clips

5. Tanwise Dark Bronzing Sunless Mousse – $12.99. I have never heard of this sunless tanning mousse but I figured I’d give it a go for the upcoming warmer weather. It’s not super expensive in comparison to other brands and it had pretty decent ratings. Because I’m so fair, I’m curious to see how “dark” and “bronze” it actually will be; hopefully it won’t be orange. I’ve gotten spray tans before and loved the results, but I hated how streaky and gross it started to look as the week went on. We shall see!

6. The Velvotan Original Pink Tanning Mitt – $5.99. I’ve heard nothing but good things about using tanning mitts when using sunless tanning mousse, so I wanted to try this with my mousse to get (potentially) the best possible outcome.

Tanwise and Velvotan

I spent a total of about $50 with shipping and such on these products, and so far I’m super happy with more than half of them! Good sign! Let me know if you’ve tried any of these products (especially the tanning mousse!) because I’m really curious to hear your thoughts, experiences, and opinions!