Orly Color Pass: Desert Muse

Life & Style

After many, many years of having my nails done in a salon, I have switched to doing my own nails at home. I can’t say that I am afraid of going to the salon, I would have loved to have been there the first day that my salon was allowed to open but the owners made the decision to close permanently about halfway through the Stay at Home Order. They sent cards in the mail to all of the regulars and it was really sad, I will miss my nail tech and the gals who worked there. They were all so nice & I just don’t have the desire to find a new salon. I’m not picky about my nails but also never had a bad manicure from my gal so I don’t know how easy it would be for me to find another salon.

Anyway, after 10 or more years of acrylics, my nails were wrecked. I had some photos but must have deleted them πŸ˜€ They were so thin & brittle, they had these folds in them from what I am guessing was the acrylic basically shrink wrapping them for so long. It took almost 10 weeks to just get the bumps and lumps to grow out, they kept breaking & snagging – it was a ride. Finally, we made it to a point where I could paint them and not have them look terrifying.

I wish that I had the before picture because these little nubs would look a lot more impressive πŸ˜› Anyway, so of course I have been purchasing & ended up with about 6 bottles of different toned beige & like, 3 browns. Finger nail polish is not cheap so I pick colors that I know will be used so I end up having a lot of the same color. Well, then I discovered Orly Color Pass – for $36 each quarter you are sent the season’s collection. I signed up just in time to receive their Desert Muse box and it’s a wonderful variety of fall tones with a good mix of nudes and colors.

L to R: Midnight Oasis, Sage Brush, Roam With Me, Canyon Clay, Red Rock, Wild Abandon

In the box I also received a cuticle pusher and matte top coat, plus these cute little stickers. I’m pleased with every shade in the box but the ones that really caught my were Canyon Clay (a dark burnt sienna), Red Rock (brown red) and Roam With Me (pinky nude). So far I have only used Red Rock and Sage Brush & they are both very lovely:

First, I am not the best at painting my own nails πŸ˜› Orly has quickly become my go to brand though because they have these big, rubber caps that are much easier to grip than what other brands offer. The brushes are also wide enough that I can get the nail totally covered with just two passes. I love this shade, it reminds me of the red clay that can be found in Colorado and of course, Red Rock Amphitheater where I saw many a good show. This is just one coat and one clear coat because I don’t have the patience to let numerous coats dry.

This is Sage Brush, it looks much more green in this lighting than it actually is. This is two coats two coats of color, no top coat. I just tried this on a whim, it’s pretty but not one that I would reach for on the regular. I think that’s the fun thing about this box though, I will use all of the shades now that I have them but wouldn’t have necessarily picked them on my own.

I really like this box so far! I miss the salon experience but definitely don’t miss the price tag and in comparison, 6 polishes for $6 each is a total deal when these retail for $10-10.50 each. All of these shades are perfect for fall, I am looking forward to using all of them! The next box is the holiday box & I will try to do swatches of each, I will post pics of the other shades in future blogs as I use them. Are you going back to the salon or are there things that you are skipping in this new normal? Let me know what you’re fave polishes are – I swear there are a million different ones now πŸ–€

At Summer’s End

Life & Style

Last weekend we were in the throes of a sticky, stagnant, intense mid-west heat wave. You could have not convinced me that this week we would be seeing lows in the 50’s. Summer is tricky like that, when you are in the middle of it, there is no end in sight but then all at once, the wind shifts and it’s over. I’ve never been a summer person, not having a great home life meant spending a lot more time in a chaotic atmosphere. Fall was always a fresh new beginning for me, an opportunity to throw myself back into sports and academics and finding peace away from home. As an adult, I find things to appreciate about summer but I am definitely more in my element in the fall and winter – thus my attempt to jump back into blogging. My last post was some time in May, here is what’s been happening since then…

Has been absolutely bananas, and yes I am tremendously thankful that I still have a job. I work in Parks & Recreation, we had a lot of programs cancelled but the parks, trails and lakes have never been busier. I was also assisting another department for the majority of the summer and felt like I never had a breather. Working in the public sector, you get to hear everyone’s opinion on how the government mandates are pissing people off. People are either shocked that there are restrictions or shocked that there aren’t more – you can’t win. Thankfully, we are back in the office fifty percent of the time and it feels more normal. I don’t know what the cooler weather will bring but we are adapting every day.

Cup of tea at the office…

I have been so homesick lately that I could cry & often do. I want to move back to Colorado now more than ever but can’t make that happen without finding a job there first. Since I am stuck in Minnesota for now, I decided to make my place feel a little homier. I live in an apartment so nothing crazy – finally purchased a new couch! It only took me ten years and a sale to do it. It’s pink velvet, long enough to lay stretched out on with room to spare. I also discovered Casaluna bedding from Target which is absolutely to die for and invested in some funky wall art. My apartment feels delightfully eclectic & I’m really into it. I won’t talk in length about all of the factors that are making me want to leave Minnesota but the destruction of Minneapolis is definitely one of them. I used to live right near the 3rd Precinct and seeing the colorful, vibrant, diverse community reduced to rubble is heartbreaking and makes me angry.

Was a complete and total failure! No sooner had I arranged everything on my patio, we found out that numerous improvements to the outside of the building were being made this summer. We had a new roof put on, new siding, the patios were all power washed, reslatted and repainted. I moved my garden inside but since I only have windows on the one side of my apartment, most everything died within a couple of weeks & everything smelled like manure. The building looks great and now that everything is done, the patio will be used a lot this fall but what a bummer! Good thing I can still visit the farmers markets for my fresh veggie fix.

Pluto enjoying the new bedding…

After almost 6 months of not being on my MS medication due to COVID, some of my every day activities like driving and walking have gotten a bit tricky. My MS has the most impact to balance and fine motor skills & it’s certainly been disappointing to see things deteriorate. I will be resuming my treatment in the next few weeks because at this point, COVID is the lesser threat. I’m excited to get back into it since I was seeing such good results this past winter with the more severe symptoms. I hope that everyone has been able to stay healthy! If there’s been any silver lining to being at home more, I finally feel like I caught up on sleep πŸ˜› Did anyone else find it hard to sleep at the start of all of this? I don’t think I got to bed before 2 AM since early June so am glad to have found a normal sleep pattern.

I hope that you are happy & healthy & just doing the best that you can wherever you are. I am excited to get back into blogging and posting lots of fall content. This year being almost at an end is hard to believe but I am hopeful for the future. Let me know what you’ve been up to and how this summer has been treating you πŸ–€

Trash Talk & Some Products I’m Getting Rid Of

Clean Beauty, Random

Another beautiful spring day, we’ve really been treated to fantastic weather lately. I’ve been enjoying the deck a lot, getting my urban garden off the ground – update to come. I don’t know if nature is just thriving with humans being in lockdown but has anyone else noticed some monster bees where they are? I appreciate the bees but I’m also allergic to them & they just seem massive this year. I’m excited that they are interested in my plants though, I hope this means that my garden will be a success. I’m still cleaning, organizing & reorganizing because what else is there to do?! I’ve got just a handful of empties & a few things I’m tossing because I don’t like them.

Sol de Janeiro Bum Bum Cream – There’s still a good blob to use up but almost there. I hate that I love this stuff but there are few creams this rich that don’t feel greasy. It smells like summer but in a refined, sultry way. I’m not repurchasing as it does seem overpriced & I have a LUSH body cream that I need to use up.

Pyunkang Yul Acne Patches – these were pretty good, I like how thin they were. Not terribly expensive & very effective at helping treat red spots.

CeraVe Eye Repair Cream – I like this stuff a lot & almost always have some on hand. It’s a simple cream that just hydrates but I think that ensuring the undereye area is properly hydrated can help with the appearance of fine lines and dark circles. It’s not very expensive but is decently effective.

Tula Eye Renewal Serum – I wasn’t crazy about this product. I like the consistency but I didn’t notice any change to the puffiness of my undereyes. I also think that it irritated my skin a bit. It’s overpriced at $52 for .5 ounces, especially as it did nothing for me.

Peach & Lily Glass Skin Refining Serum – I felt like there was a good reason that I never bought into the hype around this product. This is a deluxe sample & there’s nothing special about this serum. I’m about halfway done with it, I haven’t noticed any changes in my skin texture. It feels nice but so does plain hyaluronic acid.

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Foundation – I’ve fallen out of love with this brand almost completely. I’ve used a lot of her products & while they’re good, I just don’t think that they’re magic or worth the price tag. I think you need to have really good skin & attractive features already to use her products successfully. Which makes sense as she is a celebrity makeup artist. This foundation is just a caky, clumpy, pore accentuating mess. I do enjoy the Magic Cream but the makeup just isn’t for me.

Good Molecules Priming Moisturizer – Actually a nice, lightweight moisturizer that does prep the skin for makeup but it broke me out! It’s almost 3/4 full & I’d love to pass it on but think those days are over in light of Corona.

Some keepers, some duds but they all can’t be winners. I hope you’re having a beautiful day & just doing the best you can πŸ’›

 

Spring To-Do: Starting an Urban Garden

Sustainable Living

Food, food, food – it seems like I’ve been doing nothing but food shopping, cooking, thinking about food shopping, more cooking & worrying about a food shortage for the past three weeks. I can’t get a grocery order to save my life & then when I do, many of the items that I want aren’t available & I end up having to take a trip to the store. At least I have access to food, I know that others don’t but it has started me wondering how much food I could grow for myself if things continue to get worse. As a kid, we always had access to fresh veggies because we grew them & I honestly don’t recall it taking that much effort. Obviously, my parents probably started the beds ages before I existed & I didn’t see all of the heavy lifting that went into the operation but I’m itching to try my hand at urban gardening. I have a very small deck that gets sun for probably 80% of the day time hours & I’ve been checking out some small garden set ups. Apparently, everyone else has too because the pickings are a bit slim. I think that hanging bags & grow bags are going to fit the space that I have to work with best. Grow bags are good for; tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, potatoes, root veggies & even some salad greens. Here’s what I ordered to get started, it will take a few weeks for everything to arrive & I will share my set up as soon as I can!

Root Pouch 3-Gallon BagsI chose these because they are reusable, breathable and small enough for what I have in mind. Also, I don’t know anything about gardening but the price seemed right for 10 bags!

Root Pouch

Bloem Bagz Hanging Deck Planter: I am using these for small herbs like mint, rosemary and basil I’ve had luck with growing these right on my counter top & think they will do well.

Bloem

Miracle-Gro Vegetable & Herbs: I don’t know if I believe that you need different dirt for different plants but this was on sale.

Miracle Gro

For potted plants, I ordered two tomatoes because I think that those should have already been in the ground & I’m not sure that mine will even take since I have heard that they are difficult to grow. For seeds, I chose basil, yellow squash, jalapeno, rosemary, spinach, green beans, green onion, and radishes. I am excited to get started, I still have some research to do but think that my deck is a great environment for these veggies.

Here are a few inspiration posts that I am working from:

What’s on your spring to do list? I think getting outside to do anything is keeping me healthy and feeling mostly happy. Thanks for reading πŸ’š

It’s Been a Journey, Creating a Sustainable Life

Sustainable Living

Happy Earth Day, earthlings. Mother Nature celebrated the big 5-0 by cancelling the human race, apparently. Unfortunately, this means that many trash collecting, education events and other celebrations have been put on hold. So to the morons throwing their trash out car windows, please refrain until further notice. I think this pandemic has sparked an interesting discussion around how much our impact on the planet could be mitigated if we really only traveled when absolutely necessary. What if all the jobs that could be done from home just stayed at home? If the entire human race made cuts where possible, how would that be to our advantage in the fight against climate change? I dunno, it’s just been something on my mind lately. Anyway, nearing a year ago I made the decision to move to a more sustainable/minimalist lifestyle & to celebrate Earth Day will share a bit on how that’s been going.

ED1

Buttey Honey Regular

This has taken hold in some areas and other areas, not so much. I find myself still purchasing quite a lot of skincare/cosmetics but not clothing, housewares, things I just don’t need. For the clothing and housewares that I have purchased, they are more investment pieces that will last a long time. I’ve been couch shopping for months and just can’t seem to find one that I feel as though I will still love in 10 years or even last that long. I did recently overhaul my kitchen with bamboo dishes, green pots & pans and some new appliances. Most of my old stuff was still in good enough condition to donate but quite a bit went into the trash as well. When I cut my possessions by more than half, it was a struggle to just throw stuff away because it was so wasteful but I feel good about owning less overall.

Earth Day Calligraphy And Watercolor Flyer

Buttey Honey Regular

Thankfully, I didn’t grow up using a lot of single use plastic like baggies, food containers and straws. We reused a lot of prepackaged food containers, our milk was in glass jugs, etc. However, lots of beauty products and household goods come packaged in plastic. I’ve sought out more brands that offer refillable options or compostable packaging like Sapadilla, Humankind, Seed Phytonutrients and Dropps. There are loads of companies out there who are offering unique solutions to the human waste issue, it’s just a matter of seeking them out and finding products that work for you. I would love to see more mainstream brands that offer reusable packaging like Aveda does for their cosmetics.

ED2

Buttey Honey Regular

Again, not hard as I was raised eating a low meat/no meat diet. Veganism can be as exciting or as boring as you make it. Some weeks it’s just sheet pan veggies on repeat and others, I’m deconstructing gourmet recipes to make them vegan. I still hate nutritional yeast and many meat replacements weird me out. I have found a really tasty sausage and an OK cheese but I think it’s easier to focus on all of the things that I can eat rather than what I’m missing. Like, a really frothy coffee creamer and perfect grilled cheese πŸ˜€

2020-3-Feature-Earth-Day-At-50-Headline-Opener-WB

Buttey Honey Regular

Am I a sustainable goddess who somehow managed to replace all of my beauty products with a jar of coconut oil? Absolutely not and while it felt daunting and discouraging getting started I find that it’s best to not compare my lifestyle with the Instagrammable experts. I love scrolling through beautiful photos of perfectly sustainable homes but realize that some lifestyles are not accessible to me. Maybe today I am simply choosing to use a reusable water bottle but ten years from now I could be installing a backyard compost.

I hope that you are safe & healthy & just doing the best that you can wherever you are. Be sure to let me know if you’ve found some sustainable products that you love or what tips you have for living a more earth friendly life πŸ’š

Blogmas Day 6: Sustainable Gift List

Blogmas - 2019

It seems like everyone is talking about sustainability, which is awesome and introducing someone to the movement through gifts is a great way to help others get started. Especially for the person who has everything, there are tons of unique sustainable gifts that anyone can find use for. I’ve rounded up a few products that I have found tremendously useful since having started my zero waste journey.

Amilya Regular

This set includes silicone baggies, stretchy storage lids and beeswax wraps to replace plastic baggies, tupperware containers and plastic wrap. All of the components can be washed with soap and water and reused.

Amilya Regular

These probably seem boring in comparison to all of the cute reusable bags available but these canvas totes are washable which I find very useful because stuff spills. They also don’t take up much room in my car, I just roll them up and throw them in the trunk.

Amilya Regular

Super useful, these are really well-made drawstring bags for fresh produce, I’ve owned a set for a little over a year and they are great quality.

Amilya Regular

I love the weight and feel of bamboo dishes, the fun prints on these will add an eclectic pop to anyone’s kitchen. Now, some people think they are plastic and that I’m a 12 year old when they come over but I think they are cool.

Amilya Regular

I think that I’ve already talked about these, they are fabric rounds that can be used for makeup removal and then washed. A great alternative to cotton balls and a money saver over time.

Amilya Regular

I’m a big fan of the compostable coffee pods but if there’s that one flavor that you just gotta’ have and it only comes in a traditional pod, this little tool will help you dismantle the pod so that it can be recycled.

Amilya Regular

These glass spray bottles are pretty and practical alternatives to one-use bottles.

Some of these might seem a bit too practical for Christmas but I also think that Christmas is great time to give someone something that they might not otherwise purchase. Let me know what sustainable products you’d like to try or can’t live without and thanks for reading!

πŸ’™

March Happenings

Random

Everyone is seemingly of the opinion that January is a long schlep of an uneventful month but March is that month for me. It’s still kinda winter, nobody knows what to wear, produce is terrible. I’m glad to see the end of it, I’ve been gone for a bit so let’s have a catch-up!

My new car is still the main event of this past month. I definitely like it and am happy to report that I sold the Mazda to someone who seemed excited to fix it. I think it will ride again 😭

I think that I found the most amazing burger replacement ever. I picked up these Beyond Meat patties randomly even though I’m not big into meat replacements and I’m so glad I did! They have a grilled flavor to them and the texture is perfect, not at all like a mashed bean patty. I definitely recommend!

I didn’t read a single book in March and I blame Desperate Housewives and BuzzFeed Unsolved for my lack of reading time. I do plan to read more in April but if the weather gets really good, I might whiff again 😝

Lent has been trying and we’re not even half-way through, I’m not having trouble sticking to my penitence but I’m getting burnt out on going to mass. I think I’m the only person under 60 at my church, where are all of the hot Irish Catholic guys?! It doesn’t bother me when I’m only going once a week but when it’s three times a week, I want some eye candy! I don’t think that’s too much to ask.

Not much else to report, our busy season is ramping up at work but I have some fun excursions scheduled in the coming months. How was your month, what did you get up to?

πŸ–€

Vegan Things I Can’t Even

Sustainable Living

March 1 marks two months since I jumped on the vegan train and I’ve mostly been loving it. As with anything though, there are some aspects of the vegan lifestyle that I just can’t get into. There are things I wouldn’t eat prior to my lifestyle change like caviar, frog’s legs or quail eggs – there are odd delicacies in any diet, plant-based being no exception. I don’t care how nutritious these items are, I just can’t even.

Nutritional Yeast – This deactivated yeast was a staple of my childhood nightmares. My dad used it as a popcorn topping and I’d forgotten about it until I needed it for a recipe recently. Once I cracked the seal, all of those years of foot popcorn came flooding back. Yack. Apparently it’s a staple ingredient in cheese substitutes which probably explains my aversion to them 😭

Black Bean & Most Plant Based Burgers – Now, I’ve tried some good ones but the vast majority of these burger substitutes have total gag-worthy texture.

Tofu Hotdogs – Another delicacy from my youth, tofu pressed into any unnatural shape is off-putting. It tastes delicious without having to masquerade as something else.

Cheese’ – Vegan cheese is literally the worst, how does it smell 100 times more like cheese than actual cheese?!

Kombucha – I don’t think this a vegan thing as much as it is an everyone’s lost their fucking minds thing. My first kombucha experience, I ended up with all the globs of fungus coming in the first swallow 🀒 Just gagged a little thinking about it.

Eggs – I’ve tried one soy egg product that was amazing and one that was just what you’d think soy eggs would be like. I’m steering clear for now, the good ones are incredibly hard to find.

Toona – Mostly because this plant-based tuna tastes like an old folks’ home smells – don’t act like you don’t know what that means 😝

There are loads of delicious recipes and vegan treats available, I find that I just don’t like the ones that are trying to imitate something else. I much prefer hodge podges of veggies and legumes to any processed stuff but it’s all about personal taste. Let me know what food aversions you have.

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Death of a Paperback Romance

Minimalism

No, this post is not about my non-existent love life πŸ˜‚This weekend I went to a used bookstore that I frequent on the regular. I haven’t purchased anything in awhile and mostly just go to check out their enormous collection of unusual sci-fi novels with hopes of picking up my very own Fox Mulder 😝 It’s a very cool shop operated by some old hippies and just one of those peculiar places that are disappearing. There are literally thousands of books in this store and this weekend I got to thinking about all the stacks of unwanted books and if books are becoming too much of a good thing.

There used to be a time when printed books were incredibly hard to acquire and treated like precious commodities. In the era of the mass paperback though, every household tends to have a few dozen books laying about. As a former educator, I certainly understand the importance of reading and literature being accessible to everyone. However, clearly there’s a lot of waste when it comes to books. While it’s important to ensure equal access to books, does there really need to be 20 copies of one Danielle Steele novel in existence?! Books can be recycled but it feels a bit wrong to throw a book away no matter how trivial the subject matter might be or how well-worn it is. Unwanted books can be donated which seems like a great way to waste not but are they really being purchased or rather sitting on a shelf in triplicate?

Even if the rest of the world doesn’t recognize what I refer to as book-waste or, seemingly doesn’t since I can’t find a single statistic on it, it’s something I’m trying to be more cognizant of. I rarely purchase physical books but always buy used when I do or simply check the book out from the library. I still absorb a ton of literature though through other mediums as well like audiobooks and yes, even the sacrilegious e-reader 😝 I don’t love the e-reader, I only just recently started using one and it doesn’t feel like a real book to me. That aside, my library offers a service where I can check out most any book digitally and access it on my device. There are also loads of free books available through my Amazon Prime subscription. My favorite zero-waste book though has to be the audiobook which I never would have thought possible since I love reading so much. Listening to a book though somehow makes me feel more immersed in the story. Even though I’m sure it’s more beneficial to my brain to actually be reading I still love a good audiobook. I’m still a total book junkie, whenever I need my book fix, I’ll visit a bookstore, do some browsing and then download the titles I’m interested in. It’s not quite the same but having consumed so many book already in my lifetime, I feel better about not creating more waste.

What are your thoughts on book-waste, is it even a thing to be concerned about? Tell me if you prefer a physical book or are fine with digital media! Does it make you a bit melancholy to see stacks if unwanted books or am I just a bit odd πŸ˜‰

QuiteSimplyStella(1)

Current Shower Essentials

Clean Beauty

I say current because I often get bored with the products that I am using and only have 1 or 2 that I must have in my routine. Especially when it comes to body and hair products, I am not terribly fussy. I love Lush and trying new things from them, I’ve generally had really good experiences with their bath/body care. Lush has definitely received some bad press over the years, not all of the ingredients they use are natural, they use essential oils, many of their products are heavily fragranced – you might even call them a green-washed beauty brand. While all of their products are vegetarian, they aren’t vegan and you get into the grey area if that means they can be truly cruelty-free, and I certainly understand some of the skepticism. I choose to shop at Lush because they have a large variety of package free products and their pots are made in the US of 100% post-consumer recycled plastic. Also, I don’t believe that just because something is natural that it’s automatically good for you, I have used a couple of bath bombs that irritate my skin and tend to avoid those but most of their products work for me. They aren’t the most cutting edge products and they tend to be a bit costly, some are worth the money and some simply aren’t.

P1

Delicious Yellow Regular

This has been my go-to body cleanser, I have repurchased it twice now and it’s amazing for dry skin. It doesn’t get terribly sudsy but enough to feel like I’m cleansing my skin, it also leaves my skin feeling soft and soothed. It smells mostly like nothing but does have a bit of a tea tree scent to it, nothing luxurious but does what it’s supposed to. It is packed with skin-soothing ingredients like rose water, oats, cocoa butter and olive oil. The 8 ounce pot lasts me about a month, I actually wish it came in a larger pot but I feel it’s a pretty good value.

Delicious Yellow Regular

I haven’t tried a shampoo bar from Lush that I haven’t liked but this one has the most beautiful, long-lasting scent. I have normal hair, it isn’t dry and it isn’t oily – I can pretty much use anything on it and it’s fine. This bar cleans my hair without drying it out or leaving any residue behind and the lather is crazy amazing. Since these bars are concentrated shampoo, I think you get about 80 washes from them and there’s no plastic waste.

P2

Delicious Yellow Regular

This is a product that I have to have, I’ve used Karma Kream for years – I love the scent and it keeps my skin super moisturized. It’s is fragranced with just enough patchouli, subtle and smoky and so lovely. The texture isn’t too thick and goopy like other natural creams that I’ve used, it’s a very nice texture and a little goes a long way.

That’s my current shower routine, simple products that get the job done πŸ™‚ Let me know what your favorite Lush products are!

QuiteSimplyStella(1)