Friday, November 29, 2013

Vera Bradley - Black Friday Deals - 50% off + free Holiday Tote

Here are some great Black Friday Deals at Vera Bradley: 

Click the links below to start shopping:

Holiday Sale! 50% off select colors and styles! Valid November 27-30th.  

Black Friday Deals! Up to 50% Special Priced Items. Valid November 29th-30th.  

Holiday Tote Gift With Purchase! Free Holiday Tote with purchase of $100 or more. Valid November 29th.

Free Holiday tote for all orders over $100

Happy shopping!

Sophia, NJ


  *This site and post contain affiliate advertising - I am affiliated with Vera Bradley and will receive a small commission on purchases made through my site - all opinions are my own.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

E.L.F - Haul and Review

Hi friends,

I am sure you have heard of E.L.F before, they are mostly sold at Target, though I think you can find their makeup line at Walmart too now. E.L.F promotes itself as a professional makeup company at bargain price. That's intriguing enough for me to give them a fair try.
I do have some E.L.F products I use once in a while, but never really made any significant purchases in the past, at least not enough to qualify as a haul, until today.

To begin, let me tell you that E.L.F I very affordable, so if you are limited on funds, they are a great alternative to drugstore brands and some their product lines like the Mineral or Studio lines are actually very good quality for the price. Even better, they are animal cruelty free!

I placed my order online on a day when they offered 50% site wide. In addition, I had a $20 off coupon and they always offer free shipping, so I got all of this for under $20 (can't tell me it's not a bargain!)

If you would rather watch the corresponding YouTube video, here it is:


Eye Transformer Palette

This eye palette offers 4 individual eye shadows you can either wear alone or blend with others. I purchased it for the purpose of toning down some of my darker shadows in particular cut down on some shimmer and glitter. With a blending brush, I go over the edges of my darker and defining shadows and blend it in towards the upper corner of my lid. This allows the shadow to have more of a gradual finish on the edges, it looks less sharp and really opens up my eyes. I use the two colors in the middle which are more of a cream and light pink color for that purpose. The light blue (right) is perfect for the corner of my eye to make it pop, the green (left) is a nice addition as a bright line over or right under my eye liner for another effect. Quality wise, these are okay (what do you expect for $3, right?) they are a bit powdery but when you use good quality brushes, the issue no longer exists.

Mineral Blush - Peachy

This is a fantastic color and a great quality mineral blush too! I apply my blushes with the Real Techniques Blush Brush , which I find to be the best out of all the brushes I have tried thus far. This blush is long staying and blends in very well. I am very fair skin and find this one to be the perfect shade for colder months. It has a hint of coral/brick but I still a pink blush, which is the color that suits me best.

Studio HD Blush - Diva
This tiny $3 bottle completely took my by surprise! It is so pigmented, the amount you see on my hand (bottom left) is all you need, and still, this might be a tad too much. This blush is difficult to blend if you do not have a good Stippling Brush , I would recommend you place the product on the back of your hand or a paper towel prior to applying the product to your face because it delivers some serious bang. The lasting power is also amazing. So between staying power and color payoff I would rate this product as an A+. I have grown obsessed with it and plan on purchasing other colors since this one is a bit too fuchsia.  It truly is a great product.
Essential Lip Stain - Nude Nectar
Lip stains are interesting products to me. They deliver good color coverage with amazing lasting power. Unfortunately, I always find them to be too dry and would recommend you use a clear balm over the stain. This one is very nice, the Nude Nectar color is more of a true to your lip sort of color that suits me well. Again, for $2, E.L.F delivered a good quality product.
Essential Bronzer - Sun Kissed
Essential Bronzer
This bronzer is just okay for me. The website does not mention that it has a gold patina to it and I usually avoid anything yellow on my skin as it just does not go well with my cool tones. For the price, I still think that it delivers good results, it is a bit powedery and the included brush is not something you want to use for it at all, I would just ignore the brush or trash it all together. Other than that, it's okay. I am not going to try it in other colors.

 Mineral Eye Shadow - Royal, Socialite, Flirty
Mineral Eye Shadows
I am in love with these shadows! The quality is very good and you do get quite a good amount of product for $3. From left to right: Flirty, Socialite, Royal. All three are in the purple range. They do have quite a bit of shimmer to them, Socialite and Royale are more of a gunpowder with glitter finish but are not your daughter's eye shadows, these are very wearable. I was really surprised by the quality of these shadows. With a good brush application, they do wonders on my brown eyes.
So I got all of these for under $20 and quite frankly I am impressed!
You can find me on FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE.

Thanks for reading and sharing my blog.

Sophia, NJ.

* This blog contains affiliate advertising. I am not affiliated with ELF or Real Techniques. I am affiliated with and all opinions are my own.


Birchbox - November 2013 - Full Review

Hi friends,

I am back with a new Birchbox review - November 2013, that is! And here is the YouTube review:

I always say that Birchbox is either a hit or a miss for me, this November box was a hit. A lot of products I really enjoyed trying as samples and a chocolate too!

This month's theme is "More Good" and with the holidays upon us, a lot of sample boxes are focusing on the gift of giving as well as charity donations. The November box provides a catalog of beauty products (most have been part of the sample boxes this year) for gift giving purposes, whether as stand alone or stocking stuffers.

I actually enjoyed looking at the catalog, it is very well designed, and even though I do not plan on purchasing much from it, it is a nice addition to the box. In addition, Birchbox is donating a proceed of all purchases from their website to NO KIDS HUNGRY. I think that is a great initiative.

And here is the box:

Tiossan - Body Cream - B
Full Size $38
I did not see the big deal about this body cream. It is a good emollient/moisturizer but nothing special. The cream itself has a nice texture, it is neither too fluid nor too thick, making it a good cream for nighttime application and to keep by your bedside table.
Creams can be very personal and some of you may prefer a lightly scented cream instead of an over the top fragrance. I prefer to apply body creams I can layer with perfume, creams that compliment or even enhance a perfume. This one is lightly scented but in a weird way. As I mentioned in the video, it smells like fresh paper, you know, when you go to the store and purchase a ream of paper, it has a specific scent, which is not unpleasant, that is the scent of that body lotion. So for that reason, and despite the actual good quality of the cream, I was not all that impressed. If you like unscented or lightly scented body creams, this one is for you and you can purchase it here. Tiossan offers three more fragrances (this one is called Femme).
Eyeko - Black Magic Mascara - A
Full Size - $24
Keeping it real here, it's  little pricey for a mascara. I never heard of the brand, let's just assume it's high end with a $24 price tag.
That being said, this mascara is easy to apply - one coat will do - provides good length and volume (not over the top) and it is waterproof!
I do not usually purchase waterproof mascaras as they tend to irritate my eyes, are too much trouble to wash off and tend to flake on me, leaving little sand-like bits inside my eyes. But this one simply stays put. If it were not for the price tag, I would give it an A+! As for the color, it is a jet black. I checked the website and found out that they have one more color: Midnight Blue.
DDF - Amplifying Elixir - B
Full Size - $70
This is actually a generous size as a sample and for once, subscribers can truly experience a serum and have time to determine whether it is worth the hype. Quite frankly, and aside from sounding like a broken record, I stopped being impressed with serums since I started using my Yves Rocher Elixir 7.9.
I found this DDF version to be too runny and to me, that is a waste of product when too much comes at once and the stuff starts running all over the place - I don't need serum on my hands.
It does not have much of a scent, which is expected from a dermatological product. It does absorb well but I felt that it left my skin tight and so despite its claim as a moisturizer. I did not feel that my skin was more supple as a result of using this product. In fact, and one of the things I like about my 7.9 Elixir, you cannot use this DDF Elixir alone, instead you have to apply a moisturizer afterwards. With my 7.9 Elixir, there have been plenty of times when I did not need a moisturizer after applying the serum, and to me, that is a plus.
So other than that, it's just okay for me and I just can't see myself spending $70 for an okay product. You can check out other reviews here.

Color Club - Nail Polish - B+
Full Size - $8
Generally, I tend to shy away from crazy nail polish colors, for various reasons, being age or place of work. Color Club is a familiar brand as I received a previous one in another Birchbox - that one was a neon purple I thought was actually okay for me to wear and I liked the formula as well.
This one is part of their Cocktail Hour Collection and is called Top Shelf. It has a strong mother of pearl type finish, very shimmery without glitter. The color itself is a rose beige, more like a champagne color which I find elegant. However, as opposed to the previous one I had sampled, this one does not provide the greatest application, Like most polishes in this sort of finish, it is very fluid and tends to run on the side of your nail bed - I don't have tome for that nonsense. That being said, it does not streak much and provides good coverage wit just one application.
Chuao - Chocopod - A-
8 pieces $9.95
This is way too expensive for chocolate (just my opinion) and I am only saying this because one single pod is not enough to curb my chocolate craving - I would need at least three of these to feel satisfied and that would amount to almost $5 - no way!
On to the review though - it's DELICIOUS! This little thing packs on some serious bang when it comes to chocolate flavor! In addition, it has a crispy texture and you can see the little bits of honey (they actually look like bits of bee pollen) inside. Really, really good. I would not mind these as a gift, if I say so myself. I am just not sure I would go ahead and purchase them on my own as I find the cost too prohibitive. Check them out here, they come in a whole bunch of different flavors, including PopCorn Pop or Salted Chocolate Crunch! How decadent is that!
And that will conclude the review for the November 2013 box. This was a good box, way above average, if you ask me, and yes, I am still keeping my subscription!
I hope you enjoyed this review, give me a thumb up if you did.
You can find me on FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE.
Thank you,

Sophia, NJ.
* This blog contains affiliate advertising for which I receive a small commission. I am not affiliated with Birchbox or any other brand mentioned in the Birchbox review above, all opinions are my own. I am however affiliated with Yves Rocher and


Monday, November 18, 2013

Closing a staircase (part II) + building a laundry folding counter

Hi friends,

This is part II from my basement staircase makeover series. If you missed part I, you can read about it here or watch the video.

This past week end, I continued working on the staircase, mostly painting. I finished all the walls with the same Behr Grape Vine color I used for the kitchen.
Because the stairs are used daily - to go to the laundry room etc. I could not paint in one shot, so I decided to paint every other steps first, let them dry and then paint the other steps.

This is the original color of the steps - it was some kind of maroon the previous owner had used throughout the house. While it is historically accurate for colonial homes in the US, I just hated it and this was the last of the maroon invasion at our home!


For paint, I used Behr Enamel in Bitter Chocolate.

And here is the final result (we are now officially maroon free!)

Last week end, if you recall, we closed off the staircase in order to keep drafts out of the basement, not to mention all the dirt that was falling through the bars onto my desk!

Here is a shot of the staircase before we closed it:

And after last week end's project:

Here it is, all finished!

Another project this week end was to create a counter to fold laundry. Our laundry, as mentioned before, is in the basement. Because there was no real flat surface large enough to fold clothes, we would end up bringing clothes upstairs and fold them on the dining room table.

I had previously placed two bookcases at an angle, near the laundry room, and thought it was the perfect spot to create a counter, using the bookcases as support.
I had one large piece of plywood left over from a previous project which allowed me to complete this one without spending a dime!

Here you can see one of the bookcases I am using as a support. I trimmed the wood so that it would overhang by 1.75 inch on all three sides.

To round the corners, I traced around the silver cap from one of my Bath and Body Works candles.

I also hand sanded the edges to ensure no one would get injured or clothes would not get snagged on the wood, etc..

Here it is ready to be mounted onto the wall and the bookcases.

In order to secure my counter, I used a 1x3 piece of wood and mounted that onto the resting wall. I then used deck screws to attached the top part of the counter directly into that strip of wood. For extra security, I used finishing nails directly into the bookcases underneath.

Here is it, painted and complete:

I am using the bookcases to store all my college books in one place and from the other side (where the sofa and family room is situated) it looks like a bookcase cube! Pretty neat!

Want to know and see more about these two projects? Here are two videos explaining it all.
Thanks for watching!

Part II: Finishing the Staircase Wall

Part III: Staircase and laundry counter

Sophia, NJ

You can find me on FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE


*This site and post contains affiliate advertising. I am not affiliated with Behr brand or Bath and Body Works. I am affiliated with Amazon and will receive a small commission on purchases made through their site. All opinions are my own.


Monday, November 11, 2013

Kitchen and entryway Makeover - Part I

Hi friends,

Another busy week end for me: I repainted the kitchen and entryway in a gorgeous shade of green! But we did not stop there, we also walled off a section of our stairs to the basement.

In this video, I take you through the entire process. It was an exhausting day (judging by my overall disheveled and Wicked Witch of the West general appearance and next week end will be just as busy with part II.

Here are some project shots:

Basement stairs - We took a large piece of plywood and nailed it to that part of the stairs that was hollow with just bars. I decided the close this section because my desk is right under the stairs on the other side of the see-through section and dust bunnies leaves etc., from the back deck door, kept on falling onto the desk. Closing this section off also cuts out some of the drafts from the door itself when we are in the basement watching TV.

The plywood was cut to fit right into the steps...

And this is what it looks like before it all gets painted again (this will be in part II):

Now for the entryway and kitchen, I picked a Behr latex eggshell paint in a gorgeous shade of moss green (it is called Grape Vine).
Both the kitchen and the entryway needed a fresh coat of paint and we had kept the one from the previous owner, needless to say it was time to make it our own!

Before color: light yellow.

 After color (still wet in the shot bellow): moss green.

You can see better shots in the video.

Before color for the kitchen was this very faint lime green:

This is after one coat of paint... It creates a very nice contrast with the honey/warm color of the cabinets.

You can see a portion of the hallway through the door.

I was so tired towards the end that I had to enroll a little helper!



Next week end, I m finishing the entryway and painting the staircase to the basement as well as the other side of the stairs. Let me tell you, these projects are exhausting but so well worth the effort. The kitchen has been transformed!

Thank you for reading my blog!

You can find me on FACEBOOK and YOUTUBE.

Sophia, NJ

*This site contains affiliate advertising, I am not affiliated with Behr. All opinions are my own.

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