Pretty Little Beauty Swap with Mandy Jean Chic

I’m am really getting hooked on blogger swaps! I love getting mail and I have had some wonderful partners thus far.

For the Pretty Little Beauty Swap I was paired with Mandy from Mandy Jean Chic!

I was excited to get to know her blog (which very recently got such a pretty make-over to reflect Mandy’s home in the southwest)! She writes about everything: fashion, blogging, saving money, her life in New Mexico, her adorable dogs, etc. etc. etc.!

She sent me so much fun beauty stuff that I cannot wait to start playing with!

Upper Left: I can’t say no to glitter nail polish OR elf products! I love the nail files that get at those ridges on your nails – I think these are the key to a smooth beautiful pedicure! I was also excited to get a base/top coat. Beauty Confession: I don’t use a base coat and my nails do get stained… Now I have no excuse!

Upper Right: Inside this most adorable doggy bag was FIVE tiny Wet n Wild lip colors. The selection of colors is just about all anyone would need and I love that they are very similar to lip crayons – and surprisingly the color is a really lovely matte shade, which I am so excited about. If I’m going to choose a bright color, I lean towards mattes. (color and shine is too mcuh for me, I guess!) Plus there was a Jordana lip crayon in Tropical Frenzy! This is not a company I’ve used before, but it compares will to Revlon and Elf lip crayons – and is a pretty pink shade that is perfect for spring.

Lower Left: Eos Shaving cream; a hairbrush with an argon oil treatment strip (so clever!); and Clean Freak Dry Shampoo. Beauty Confession II: I’ve never tried dry shampoo! I’m excited to give it a shot!

Lower Right: I actually love using sharpies for nail art (like this pin), so I will love these! Plus, how fun are these blue sunglasses?

But, wait! There’s more! (I told you – my swap partners are the best!)

Revlon Grow Mascara: This is a very nice natural looking mascara. I tend to buy the mascaras that give you big ol’ doll eyelashes, but it’s really nice to have a more natural looking option. I know many people are starting to skip mascara in order to look more modern (more runway), but I just can’t bring myself to leave it out entirely! This makes a great compromise – a nice dark color without unnatural lengthening.

Elf Beauty Book (similar): I do love the tiny elf eyeliner that comes with – this is going directly into my travel kit! Plus, these colors are really lovely and vibrant. It’s a really nice mix of warms and cools, neutrals and colors.

Kiss Eyelashes: I think fake eyelashes make a huge difference (and I think I have pretty nice eyelashes to begin with. Is that arrogant of me? Well, at least I’m happy with my natural lashes!). Anywho, I am excited to have a new pair of falsies to play with – now I just have to convince my husband to take me out sometime :)

Maybelline Color Tattoo Eyeshadow in Sunwashed Sky: I swatched this in the lower right corner of the photo. IT IS AMAZING. It manages to be delicate with hints of pastel blue and pink, shiny, futuristic, and super colorful all at the same time. I’m impressed enough with the formula that I plan to check out the other colors (I like potted eyeshadow like this as opposed to dry or powdery ones).


Someone helped me unbox everything…


What new make-up or beauty products have you discovered this month?

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Kiva, or what to do with a tax refund

Did you did get a tax refund? And maybe you don’t have anything in particular, like braces or car payments, that need immediate payment. Perhaps – since you once lent that money to the government (and now it has been returned) – you might consider loaning that money to someone else!

kiva loans that change lives

Kiva has been my “charity” of choice since 2009. I put charity in quotes because Kiva is actually a micofinance company that makes small loans to people who might not have access to banking. You can lend $25 or more to whomever you choose – and you can read about their business venture and then often get updates while the loan is being repaid.

Here’s a short video that explains more about how microfinance works!

To be sure, Kiva (and other companies) have a slightly more complicated behind-the-scene mechanism in order to efficiently connect people to the loans, but the money you put in creates the support needed for these loans!

Kiva has also been great for me because I wanted to make a difference, but as a grad student I did not have a lot of income to donate to a charity. But because Kiva makes loans, my money is repaid and I can lend over and over. Since 2009, I have used only $82 to make 12 loans totaling $300! I have lent to men and women in a number of different countries including Mongolia, Benin, and the USA.

For example, I have made two loans to Bathuu’s family in Mongolia. First he started an auto repair business to augment his work as a welder and then his wife began making shoes to sell and needed to buy supplies. I have a special interest in the culture of Mongolia

Because there are many women who can borrow from Kiva lenders, often the loans are beauty related (perfect for us style bloggers!)! For example, you can support Afi from Togo in her quest to expand her beauty salon by helping her purchase hair extensions and other beauty products.

Interested in loaning through Kiva? Use my referral link. Just like the referral to a beauty box or whatnot, Kiva has a promotion that will credit my account with $25 – so you will make a loan and I will be able to make another loan – a two for one special!

So if the government returned your tax overpayment – or even if you have an extra $25 from skipping lattes for a week – consider setting up a Kiva account and make your first loan!

Do you have a charity that you love to support?



After Bri suggested a Pin-inspired post this month for the Work Clothes, I Suppose Third Thursday Link-up, I went scrolling through my style board and came to a few conclusions.

  1. I am going to have to spend time to separate this into warm and cold weather outfits! Drives me nuts having it all in one…
  2. I like a lot of blue, gray, and tan.
  3. I like a lot of slouch in my clothes. Even the blazers were relaxed!
  4. I like layers and elbow patches – maybe I am well suited to living in New England after all!
  5. I like to pin the polyvore collages or detail pictures. I find that I can picture myself in those outfits easier than when I see clothes on someone else. (This is also to a large extent why I like the collages for my blog as well!)

So today I have analyzed what I like about two pins in order to create an outfit for myself. I chose one for work and one for casual wear.

pinspiration work outfit

  • Baublebar Necklace ($38)
  • JCPenny Sweater ($44, on sale for $22)
  • Essie Sand Tropez
  • Limited Ankle Pant ($60, on sale for $35)
  • Coldwater Creek Blazer ($130, on sale for $44) – They are closing up so sale prices are crazy! It’s a weird store, but if you find something that works…

Finding a work outfit in my pins was harder than I was expecting! I don’t pin a lot of outfits that are dressy enough for work – most of the dressy outfits are wedding or award show bound! But I love this look and actually often wear a similar look with a black blazer and gray sequin top. (Blazer+sequins = Work appropriate, right?) This many not be the most springlike pin either, but it did snow yesterday, so I think long sleeves is appropriate for at least another week! The ankle pants and pumps are a small nod to spring – if this were fall, I would almost definitely choose boots.


pinspired casual outfit

This is one of many “detail” pictures that I have pinned. Obviously I cannot copy much of the outfit exactly, as it is not in the picture! So I tried to narrow down what I liked about this. The combination of floral and leather made a nice juxtaposition of hard and soft. Also, the majority of the outfit appears to be neutral colors. The bracelets add a nice touch of something new. So I was so excited to find the floral top, which is just perfect. The leather, although not on the cardigan, is in the bag and the shoes. I chose a watch (more my style) that would add some leather as well and choose a dark green (like the top bangle) for the nail color. This outfit is perfect for my love of slouchy and neutral, while still adding in something seasonal like the floral!


I really enjoyed writing this post: I found it to be a good reflection of my own style and what I like about each pin, beyond “Oh, pretty!” I have already earmarked a few more pins for future posts of this kind! (See all my pins here!)

Have you been pin-spired recently?

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p.s If you know the origin of these two pins, please let me know! So many pins these days are dead ends…
MIX MATCH Perfectly Coutured

Lush Solid Shampoo Review

One of my birthday presents to myself was a solid shampoo and conditioner from Lush. I’ve been using them for a few weeks now and have opinions!

Solid Shampoo: A+ (will buy again!)

Because I have color treated hair, the salesgirl recommended the “Stimulating and reviving minty shampoo bar” (“NEW! “$12 – the red one on the right!) The directions say to swipe it about three times over your hair (on the left side, top, and right) and lather like normal. I can tell you: it really works. There’s no need to work the bar under the water because the three swipes are enough to make a thick lather. (If you have long hair, you might need a little more?)

Because it seems to dissolve easily, I am trying to keep it as dry as possible. I keep it on a shelf near (but not in) the shower in the little tin that Lush recommends. I have not noticed my hair being dryer or more coarse than normal, so no adverse side affects of over-cleansing (something I might worry about with bar soap for my skin). Even though it does melt easily into a lather, it does not seem to be disappearing quickly. I bet I can easily get three months, if not more, from this bar! [I will definitely keep you updated on this!]

Lush has versions that seem more hydrating, but I would pick this one again and again because it smells so good! I’m not sure if it’s the Rosemary oil or the savory cinnamon smell that I like, but it’s a faint spicy smell that I just love.

Solid Conditioner: C (I’m using it, but I’m not sure I’d buy it again…)

I am a conditioner addict, so I was really hopeful about this for travel. (I feel like I always try to bring so much conditioner and this would be so easy on airplanes!) “Jungle” ($8 - pictured above left) does not dissolve as easily as the shampoo, so I’ve started scratching it with my nails to get little pieces to smear in my hair. It does smell nice, a very subtle fruit scent.

It does not coat my hair in the same way, however, as regular conditioner. Do you know that feeling of slippery hair when it is coated with conditioner? I’m not getting that with this. Then when I rinse it out, my hair does not feels as silky as after regular conditioner. That said, once I dry my hair, I don’t notice a difference between days with the solid conditioner and days with my normal conditioner (got to use up the rest of the bottle, right?) So, while it may not be amazing, it certainly is not hurting my hair.

If I were to travel with this, I might also bring one of those tiny conditioner tubes that you get with hair color. Specifically, the Clairol Shine treatment has a super generous conditioner that I can make last for 4-6 times! To be sure, those conditioners are made with tons of silicone, which some people avoid and if nothing else they can build up in your hair, so I have convinced myself not to use these kinds of conditioners everyday even if they make my hair super soft!)

I am not sure that I would buy this exact conditioner again, but I haven’t given up on the concept! There is a coconut oil conditioner ($10) that seems like it might be better – and perhaps melt more smoothly under the warm water. (It was actually the recommendation of the salesgirl, but I wanted the round one that fit in the tin nicely….)


I am very happy with my Lush purchases – one I love and the other is ok (but certainly it’s not bad!). There are a number of other products that I want to try: the shampoo/conditioner bar that smells like jasmine ($12) and one of the solid lotions ($14)! Lush charges $6 for the cheapest shipping, which seems like a lot, so I think I will wait until I am back in NYC again next month and can go to their store!

(For airplane travel, they also make a dry toothpaste! I’m less excited to try that one…)

Have you tried Lush products or other solid hair care? What do you recommend?

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Treasure Tromp