Love in a box swap with Allison of Because I Said So!

For my final swap this month, I was paired with Allison from Because I Said So! This was a new swap experience because I was already a reader/fan of Allison’s blog. She posts about just about everything, from her new apartment, her adult braces (poor thing!), and other fun life happenings! She is every so awesome – as evidenced by her post of Easter photo bloopers!

Allison sent me some of the sweetest spring items:

Upper left: Eos Sweet Mint lip balm and Essie’s Sugar Daddy. Sugar Daddy is a translucent jelly color – it would be perfect for professional settings or weddings, when I want something more than bare nails, but don’t want too much color. Allison has totally nailed my current love for blush!

Upper Right: Pretty cupcake wrappers so I can made sweet snacks! I love baking chocolate chip muffins, so these are perfect.

Lower Left: Cat toys! Allison knows who is the boss in our house (my baby cat)! These have a little raffia straw tails that Minnie just love.

Lower Right: How sweet are these little notecards?

The other thing in the box from Alison was the candle holder in the center of this picture. I, like many, am a candle-addict and this little white tin looks so cute with or without the lit candle. (And like all good decorators from Texas, I have a wooden star on my mantle…)

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Kimberly's Chronicle Treasure Tromp

Four (Unexpected) Spring Favorites

I am finding that I am drawn to some trends this spring that are not my typical style! Maybe I am paying closer attention to trends and my own reactions this spring because of the blog. Maybe it’s just one of those magical seasons when everything I love just happens to turn into a trend (ha!) Regardless of careful consideration or coincidental coordination, I am really loving a number of spring trends!

Pattern: Most of my clothes tend to be solid colors, so I was surprised to see so many patterns among my current favorites! True, black and white polka dots ($90, on sale for $62) is not the most adventurous of patterns, but it is a really unique top – it almost looks like a honeycomb pattern to me!

This tank, which I first saw on Carly’s blog here, is sadly sold out – but the match dress is not ($90, on sale for $45!)! You have to admit: this pattern is crazy, but there is something wonderfully summer-like about the greens and flowers.

Blush: I’ve never been a really girly girl, so pale pink has never really been in my repertoire. (Fact: My mum dressed me in football jerseys when I was a baby. Fact: People thought I was a boy until I grew hair.) Yet, there is something very lady-like and professional about these blush colored options. I actually wore my pink ASOS watch ($41) today with some navy sweater and dress slacker. I have also been loving pale pink for nail polishes, such as Essie Fiji. I know it’s a standard, but if you can’t love a pastel in the spring, when can you?

Bling: I know, statement necklaces have been around for a while… I’ve been slow to get on the wagon. But here I am, securely riding shotgun (you know, in the front of the wagon)! Anyway: I love this spiky floral necklace from baublebar ($44). It was actually the “buried bauble” of the day yesterday and severely discounted for a few hours, but I missed the rush and am now stalking it to come back in stock.

The purple necklace from Totally Better Society ($60) was actually something I won in a raffle on Jessica’s blog (whoot!)! In fact, that photo is from a pin of Jessica’s styling (which I loved). In contrast to Jessica’s laid back look, I wore my necklace for a business meeting last week with my favorite navy suit and it was perfect. You’ve probably heard of Total Betty Society through other blogger’s giveaways – they seem like a nice complement to the styles on Baublebar – a similar girl might wear both brands, but there is very little overlap between then in styles. (I love finding new companies to browse!)

Floral? For Spring? Groundbreaking. (Obligatory quote….Don’t hate me!) I include this because as a not-so-girly-girl, florals have never really been my favorite. But how great is this floral popover (on sale for $21)? I love the idea of pairing it with neutrals, leather, and denim! My love for ASOS watches should be pretty clear by now; this one ($38) is perfect for conservative offices. Lastly, I can’t believe I love these floral sneakers from H&M, but at $13 it’s a pretty great deal – and a price worthy of a trend that I might not love after this summer.

Are you on board with these trends? What things are you loving this week?

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pleated poppy Lovely Thursdays

Pretty Little Beauty Swap with Mandy Jean Chic

I 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?