Thursday, October 31, 2013

Habitat Strikes Again

I went into Habitat for Humanity at the beginning of this week to search for gift ideas. My siblings and I are giving each other $5 gifts for Christmas - the rule is handmade or used, not new. It is a lot of fun to get creative about how to make thrift store stuff work for so many different people (Each couple is buying 6 gifts!). I bought a $2 gift item, but also discovered a new piece of furniture I just had to have. But I resisted!

Until yesterday... I went back with J, hoping it would still be there. We had a minor moment of panic when we didn't immediately see it, but good news is that nobody had bought it yet. Let me introduce you to my $15 end table/nightstand:

Please excuse the poor lighting and ugly flooring. Habitat is not known for their lovely decor. The entire thing needs to be sanded down and restored, but the drawers are so unique and the hardware is awesome. And you can't beat $!5. I am so excited to get started! Of course, I still have to finish the chairs and this weird thing:

I am also working on a wreath with glitter and magnolia pods. J said I need to finish at least one of my current projects before I can buy any more Habitat furniture. He just doesn't get it :)

New Look

Melinda and I got busy last night and redesigned Posh Purpose with a lot of help from J. We had grown bored of our previous look and had found a few fun blogger designs available for purchase. However, we realized we could customize our own look for free after J kindly agreed to assist. We are thrilled to debut our new look - hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Macy's Kate Spade Jewelry - Gold Tone vs. Gold Plate

Briana would tell you that I'm a bit obsessed with all things Kate Spade.  I love the clean, but colorful looks for both fashion and home.  My everyday casual china is the Larabee Dot pattern. That's right, I'm using fine china as my everyday slap-it-on-the-table dishes...which I then hand wash to make sure the dots don't come off.  I'm fully aware that I will probably want to shoot myself when I have babies and I will be lucky to make sure my hair gets brushed let alone fine china gets hand washed...but until then I loooooooooooove it.  To make sure you know I'm not entirely insane, I actually mixed this pattern with Williams-Sonoma's Pillivuyt Ecletique line which is dishwasher safe and looks great mixed in, but I digress.
Larabee Dot
Kate Spade China
$139 per place setting
Image Source: Bloomingdale's

Since I'm partial to this particular brand, I like to search Macy's, Bloomingdale's, and Bed, Bath, and Beyond to see what's new in the Kate Spade home goods line up.  I recently looked through Macy's new selection and I was surprised to see that not only does Macy's carry Kate Spade home goods, but it looks like they are now stocking Kate Spade jewelry and watches

Initially, the Posh Purpose bargain hunter in me got really excited and started calculating..."if I have this coupon and shop on this day and then use Ebates I can get a really, really good deal!!!!"  Then I started looking a little bit more closely at what Macy's is actually selling.


I noticed that a good many of the items were all listed as "gold tone" which usually means that the jewelry has a gold finish or appearance, but there is no actual gold content that can be measured in karats.  For me, this makes a big difference.  I have a metal allergy that makes me break out in dry patches when I wear costume jewelry and the dermatologist usually has to prescribe something to make it go away (icky, I know!  TMI, I know!).  Gold tone jewelry doesn't work for me because of this issue.  I didn't develop this allergy until a few years ago, so when it came to replacing jewelry, I had very few choices to turn to without spending a ton of moo-lah.   Kate Spade is one of the few designers making affordable gold plated jewelry (I usually buy mine during their awesome online sales or from the Kate Spade outlets). Gold plated jewelry has a thicker, but still thin layer of gold attached to a base metal.  It will wear down over time, but until I can afford 14 carat jewelry for everyday wear, it will have to do.

At first I thought, ok, maybe they are just running a different line out of Macy's and it won't be as high of quality.  Then I spotted the same watch being sold for the same price, but the first one from Macy's is listed as "gold tone" while the other is from described as "gold plated."


Kate Spade

Based on this little bit of sleuthing (I channeled my inner Inspector Gadget...go-go gadget shopping!), I found a few other instances where the Macy's item and the prices were the same, but we still have the gold tone vs. gold plate issue.  One possibility is that Macy's definitions of what qualifies as gold plate is different from Kate Spade's.  Another possibility is that the descriptions are just off, but I'm a bit skeptical because Macy's has taken the time to specify certain items as "gold tone" and others as "gold plated."  This leads me to believe that there is indeed a difference in materials.  I've got two problems with this situation if there is indeed a difference: (1) Macy's is charging the same price for lesser quality goods and (2) people who are loyal to the Kate Spade brand because of metal allergies may unknowingly purchase goods that will cause a reaction.

Anyone know anything else about this or heard anything out there?  Please let us know! 

Monday, October 28, 2013

Little Upgrades: Bathroom Hooks

Mr. 3 and I needed some towel hooks for the main bathroom.  Our new apartment only came equipped with one towel rod hanging over the toilet and one hand towel ring hanging over the toilet paper holder.  It seems like an odd configuration to me...drippy wet hands using a hand towel over the toilet paper = soggy toilet paper.  The towel rod doesn't provide enough space to drape the towel without it touching the water tank on the toilet (ew) and there is only room for one.  I hate slinging wet towels over the shower curtain, so I decided to get some new, additional hooks.

I picked these up while I was on a mad dash around Target picking up toilet paper, paper towels, and moving supplies during the week of our move. Although I seriously did not need one more item that I was going to have to carry up the stairs, I snagged them anyways, Target always sells out of things.

Threshold Darby Hook
Source: Target
I bought two hooks, but I wasn't too crazy about the dark iron color.  I decided to spray paint the hook and the center of the flower in champagne gold to go better with my other bathroom colors.  I also thought the white flower went well with my new shower curtain!

Kate Spade Morningside Heights Shower Curtain
Source: Bed Bath and Beyond
I could have gone the silver route, but I've been on a gold kick lately and I can always repaint later if I change my mind.

I used Rust-Oleum spray paint in Champagne Mist from Home Depot.  I had previously used the silver kind for making my magnolia wreaths for my wedding, so I was familiar with the product.  Other blogs I've read like Young House Love seem to like this brand too.  The color is great and I like that the primer is built in. You can also use it to spray on almost any surface and it protects against rust (bonus for bathroom fixtures!).  The can is super easy to hold and easy on the hands.   I've done a bit of comparative shopping on spray paint and Home Depot usually has the best prices and selection.  At $6.76 a can, it may seem a bit pricey for such a small project, but since Rust-Oleum can be used for outdoor items too, I have some ideas for my patio project that will use up the rest of the can (and then some!).
Source: Home Depot
I also bought some green frog tape to protect the white bits on the hooks from getting sprayed.  According to Mr. 3, blue painters tape is out, green tape is in!  Basically, if you use blue, you don't get crisp lines, there's still room for the paint to creep under.  Although I wasn't painting lines or walls for this project, I feel like somewhere down the line this might come in handy.

Mr. 3 helped me out on this project by taping off one of the hooks while I worked on the other.  The man loves a can of spray paint, so I let him handle the painting part too.

Step 1: Tape off parts you don't want sprayed.  Because this was a round object and we didn't want the center painted, we used lots of little bits of tape to make sure it was all covered.

 Step 2: Lay down paper to protect floor and whatever else you decide you don't want painted gold.  

Step 3: Spray with light quick strokes.  We had to go back and forth quite a bit to get the dark iron color covered.  Do this in a well ventilated area.  We sprayed outside on the patio.

Step 4:  Wait until paint dries.  According to Rust-Oleum that can be as little as 30 mins.  We waited an hour or so.

Step 5: Flip the hooks over and spray the back of the hooks.  We didn't bother taping off the back of the hook since it's going to be hanging on the wall.

We waited a bit of time for the hooks to dry, but evidently not enough.  We brought them inside to look at them in the light and saw that some fibers had gotten trapped in the paint.  Sigh.  We sanded the fibers off and resprayed.  After waiting for them to dry for 24 hrs, Mr. 3 got to work and did some quick installation.  Yay towel hooks!

More on the bathroom later, I've got a few things left to do in here before I can show you the whole thing.

Little Upgrade Cost Breakdown
2 Hooks: $17.57
Spray Paint:  $7.17
Frog Tape: $7.39
Total Cost (with tax): $32.13

Although it seems a bit high for two hooks, I've got future uses for both the spray paint and the frog tape and these two hooks hardly used any of either.

What do you think?  Cute? Easy?  Are you doing any little upgrades to your home?

Friday, October 25, 2013


I love Bloglovin' - do any of you use it? I have a terrible habit of not being very thorough when I am checking my favorite blogs every day. Sometimes I even forget that a blog exists for weeks! But then I discovered Bloglovin'. It is so easy to use. All you do is create a quick profile and then add your favorite blogs. You can add absolutely any blog! Bloglovin' then populates your home page with all the new blog posts from each of your blogs and marks each one as read when you finish reading it. I love the streamlined format and how little work I have to do to read each new blog post - no more checking blogs that haven't been updated that day!

You can follow Posh Purpose here (and in the obnoxious links above), and see which blogs I love here. One particular blog to note is my sister in law's Trial and Error Creativity. She and her husband just bought a new house so now is a great time to start reading about her home decor projects.

Bad Dog

Meet Princess, the bad dog from my homemade laundry detergent test

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Making Laundry Detergent - Everything You Need to Know, and More!

My sister Kimberlee has taught me a lot of money managing strategies since I got married. I recently decided to try out her homemade laundry detergent recipe since it is so much cheaper than Tide and her family's clothes always look and smell so nice. Good news is that her recipe saves a significant amount of money and was super easy to do. It took me 30 minutes from start to finish, although that does include asking Kimberlee tons of questions and chatting with Melinda. I did take J up on the offer to finish grating the last 1/4 of the second bar of soap, too. And even better news: you will get a great upper body workout from making this soap - exercise while saving money!

76 oz box of Borax
64 oz box of Baking Soda
55 oz box of Super Washing Soda
2 bars of Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar and Stain Remover

Large storage container with lid (my 6 gallon one is way too big)
Large metal kitchen spoon

Grate both bars of soap into your container. I ended up using the smaller holes on my grater since the big holes gave huge curlies of soap. Mix together the grated soap and the contents of all the boxes. I put about half of each box into my container, grated one bar, mixed that together, and then grated the second bar and added the remaining powders. It was a bit difficult for me to reach all the way down to the bottom to mix when all the ingredients were in the container. The final product will look like white powder mixed with little curlies of yellow soap. Use one tablespoon per load of laundry.

Ok, let's talk about cost. I linked to the products on Amazon up in my ingredients list, but they are far more expensive online than they were in my local Walmart.

Here is my price breakdown:
Borax $3.38
Baking Soda $2.24
Super Washing Soda $3.24
Fels Naptha Bars $1.94 (97 cents each)
Total cost: $10.80

I paid $11.97 for my last 100 floz bottle of Tide which advertises as 64 loads, so $0.19 per load. I (under) estimated that my homemade laundry detergent will wash at least 270 loads of laundry, so $0.04 per load. Does 15 cents savings per load does not sound like much? On average, I do 7 loads of laundry a week (no kids, just a very messy husband). By switching from Tide to this homemade recipe, I save about $55 a year by putting in less than an hour of grating and stirring each year. I would much rather spend $55 extra on shoes/clothes/purses than on boring laundry. And the savings will be even better for families who do far more laundry than I do. For example, if you do 12 loads of laundry a week, you will save $93 per year by making your own laundry detergent.

Alright, while I was typing up this post I was also testing out the laundry detergent for myself(multitasking!). I gave it a really hard test, too. My mother's bad (but very sweet) dog just peed on my white bath mat. At least she had good timing with the blog schedule. Anyway, I am washing that bath mat along with a set of darker colored towels. Here is my report on the cleanliness factor of this laundry detergent:

Yay! The mat passed the look and smell test. I could not tell that Princess had taken revenge on it earlier. I am really not interested in testing if Princess can smell it or not, so I do not recommend this detergent as the way to deal with puppies, but it clearly can handle some soiled laundry.

Please don't think that I actually accomplished all this to post by 10 am. I actually did all the work yesterday. If you are reading this before 1 pm, I am probably still in my nightgown.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Publix Greenwise Milk

I am very particular about my milk - whole, organic, in a paper carton, and not Horizon brand. I used to buy Organic Valley whole milk at Publix, but decided to try Publix Greenwise Organic whole milk because it typically runs about 39 cents cheaper. Good news: I can't tell the difference. Both brands taste delicious so I buy whichever is cheaper that week.

***We are not sponsored by Publix and I am pretty sure the company has no idea that this blog even exists. If you want to check out our other posts on which store brands we like and which ones were failures, check out the label Store Brand Products***

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

We Love Ebates!

Melinda introduced me to Ebates about a year ago, but I didn't really get into it until it was time to order my fine china from Bloomingdales. For those of you who have not heard of Ebates, let me explain how wonderful it is. Ebates gives you cash back on things you are already planning on buying. Before I place an online order, I check to see if the store is listed on the Ebates website. If so, all I have to do is log into my Ebates account and click on the link to the store I want. You have to place your order through the window that pops up to get the cash back credit. My trick is to fill up my basket on the store website, and then visit ebates to click on the store link right before placing my order so I know that I will get the cash back. Cash back percentages vary between stores, but Sephora is usually 8% back and Macy's is 6% just to list a few.

Anna Weatherly Simply Anna

That is my china above. Love it! Now let me tell you about my amazing cash back story and Ebates review. Remember that I mentioned my fine china above? Well, normally Ebates offers 3% cash back on all Bloomingdales orders but they often schedule double cash back opportunities with coupon codes and sales. When I went to order my fine china (almost 12 whole place settings plus serving pieces), Ebates was offering 6% cash back and Bloomingdales had a 20% off coupon that I could apply to my china. I ended up saving a TON of money! Around $850 total! Ebates gave me $166 back just for clicking through their website before placing my order. Talk about an easy way to save money!

My Ebates payout history, Melinda's is far more impressive :)

Ebates sends out payments quarterly, so I got a check in August and will get another (much smaller) in November for cash back that I earned from purchases that I needed to make anyway. There are a ton of stores available through Ebates, although Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma are not on that list (get with it, Ebates!). Right now, there is a sign up bonus of a $10 gift card to Macy's, Walmart, Target, or Kohls, or you can select the $5 Ebates credit which means you already start out with $5 for your first check! Click here to start saving!

Ebates is not paying us to blog about them, however this article does contain affiliate links. If you sign up through our link and make a purchase, we will be compensated. But we want you to sign up for Ebates regardless of if you use our link or not - Melinda absolutely loves it when people save money!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Publix Cream Cheese

I love Publix. As their motto states, shopping is truly a pleasure. However, some products are just expensive. I have started buying Publix brand items instead of the name brand options and have found a few great buys. Let's talk about cream cheese.

Normally, I buy Philadelphia cream cheese blocks, which run about $2 each. Sometimes I find them on sale for $1.50 each. Publix brand cream cheese is normally priced at 89 cents for the same amount - very tempting! I tried both on a bagel (buy one, get one bagel package free deal!) the other day and was thrilled to learn that I couldn't tell the difference between the two. Both have a delicious flavor and smooth, creamy texture. I have had some off brand cream cheeses that had a grainy texture, but Publix is definitely not on that list.

Has anyone tried using Publix cream cheese in baking or for frosting? I have not tried it yet, but I would imagine that since the flavor and texture are the same as the more expensive option, it would not produce disappointing results.

***We are not sponsored by Publix. The only communication I have with the company is when I complain on their Facebook Page, which is a very effective way to get better service in your local store.***

Habitat Chairs Revamp

As Melinda mentioned earlier, I am in the process of redoing a set of dining chairs. We bought five of them for $80 (J talked them down, I have no bargaining skills) at our local Habitat for Humanity. Currently, they are veeeeery 70s. Prior to this purchase, I only had two dining chairs to my name, given to me by a very stylish aunt.

My plan is to take them from orange and brown to a rustic French country glam combo. Wish me luck!

groovy stripes
I will be recovering the seats in natural canvas painted with gold (shade yet to be determined). The chair body will be plum to go along with my dark dark dark navy table (another revamp project yet to be completed). Mom and I are experimenting with homemade chalk paint, as well :)

Costs and Supplies
Chairs $80
Canvas $20
Gold Paint $6, three bottles
Plum Paint (~$10)
Chalk grinds $0, already own
Furniture wax $0, already own
Staples and Gun $0, already own
Total = $116, or about $23 per chair

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The White Wall Blues

I've got lots and lots of white wall space to decorate.  Since I'm in an apartment painting isn't really an option.  I present you Exhibits A & B...blah and blah-er:

These pictures were taken before we moved our furniture in...but you can see the large amounts of white walls I have to work combination with the white carpet and vertical blinds (ick)'s a lot of white!

We have all of our old pictures and artwork that we can still use and I want to get a few pictures up from our honeymoon.  I've decided to do to a collage using shelves.  I looked around for different examples.

Holman Picture Ledge
Image Source: Pottery Barn
West Elm Deep Wood Picture Ledge
Image Source: West Elm
Image Source: Apartment Therapy
Image Source: Two Twenty One
The Apartment Therapy example is my favorite because of the large images and how each photo still stands on its own even though it's grouped with so many others.  I included a couple of options for the picture ledges...but at $29 for the cheapest and also shortest shelf it's a bit out of my price range for the amount of space I need to cover.  A quick google search turned up a really inexpensive option from IKEA:

IKEA Ribba Picture Ledge
Image Source: Ikea
Image Source: Ikea
Since I can't paint the walls, I'm thinking about painting the shelves instead.  I'm putting a mix of different frames and other small items so the paint would be very subtle maybe a grey or soft blue.  Anyone else ever put together a picture collage? 

Friday, October 11, 2013

Yummy Morning Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal

Mr. 3 usually handles breakfast duties in our house (the man makes a mean goat cheese omelette), but he hasn't been feeling well this week, so I decided to make him a nice, warm, filling breakfast.  Through my regular trolling on Pinterest, I found a recipe for Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal that required a bit of extra effort and time to make for a regular week day morning but sounded super yummy.

Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
Image Source: Mint Design Blog
The best part about the recipe is it is easily modified to adjust the serving size for 1-2 people or increase depending on how many people you need to feed.  I halved all the ingredients (except the spices, which I always tend to use a ton of) and used two ramekins.  I also omitted the walnuts (didn't have them and Mr. 3 isn't a fan anyways).  I didn't have any baking powder so I threw in 1/3 of the amount of baking soda in (I read online that if the recipe calls for baking soda you can use 3 times the amount of baking powder, so I figured the inverse might be true for this recipe, but I wouldn't recommend doing this for something like cookies).  Since I only made two servings, I used ramekins for baking instead of the baking dish.  I would highly recommend taking a cookie sheet, lining it with tin foil, and baking the ramekins on cookie sheet in case they overflow.
Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal
serves 4-5
2 c. uncooked oats (quick-cooking or old fashioned work)
1/2 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. craisins or raisins
1/4 c. chopped walnuts
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
dash of cloves
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. applesauce (jarred or homemade)
1/4 c. pumpkin puree (canned or roasted)
2 tbsp. salted butter, melted
1 large egg beaten
1. Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly spray 4 individual ramekins or an 8-inch square pan with olive oil. Set aside.
2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Combine wet ingredients in a medium bowl. Mix well.
4. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until combined.
5. Pour mixture into baking dish or ramekins and bake for 20-25 min.
6. Serve warm.
It took me about 35 minutes from start to finish.  After they were done baking, I picked up the ramekins (using mitts) and put them on our bread and butter plates to carry to the table (be careful not to hold the plates on the bottoms, they still heat up!). This recipe turned out delicious!  More like a souffle than an boring bowl of oatmeal.  It was warm, hearty, and filling.  Next time I will try reducing the amount of brown sugar...even 1/8 of a cup seems a bit much.  I think this would be a great recipe for serving a bunch of people.  The individual ramekins make a cute and unexpected presentation...perfect for visiting guests!
Emile Henry Ramekins
$36 for a set of four
Image Source: Emile Henry

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Box Wine...It Gets A Bad Rap

Mr. 3 and I went over to his best friend's house recently for dinner and were asked to bring wine.  Since it was Mr. 3's best friend and he has to love us anyways, we decided to do an experiment and pick up boxed wine to try.  After much perusing at Total Wine (and cashier who told us to buy based on what she sees scanned most across her lane...which may or may not be the best suggestion), we settled on Bota Box.

Bota Box
Image Source: Total Wine
We bought the Pinot Grigio and the Zinfandel to try...that's right 8 bottles of wine, and 2 spigots for a party of four.  Good thing about boxed wine is it will keep for a long time since the box is designed to keep air out so we didn't have to worry about it going bad.

Mr. 3 is a Zinfandel fan...he likes spicy wine full of tannins or pepper which is what this type of wine is all about, but I can't stand it.  He was overall pretty impressed and said he would purchase again.

I tried the Pinot Grigio and I loved it.  Usually, I think this type of wine can be extremely tart and acidic.  This was a nice change, very mellow.  I'm no wine snob (hah, as evidenced by this post), so I can't comment on all the notes, but I found it extremely drinkable.  All four of us said they would drink it at a party.

For $15.99 for 4 bottles, I would definitely recommend it for parties.  However, I would not serve it in it's original box.  Even though I like the contents, the presentation is a little off putting.  You could use it as a part of a sangria recipe and serve it in a beautiful pitcher.

Luigi  Bormioli Barrel Pitcher
Image Source: Bloomingdales could set out carafes if you want to serve the wine straight.

1 for $4.99 or 12 for $59.99
Bormioli Rocco Misura Carafe
Image source: Bed Bath & Beyond

Anyone else tried Bota Box or other boxed wine?  Would you serve it at a party?

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Recipe: Pumpkin Spice Creamer

I'm super obsessed with Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte and I remember getting my first one of the season (when it was still 90 degrees out and I was running around in shorts and flip flops).  However, at $5 each, it's an expensive habit even if you are only getting one once-ish a week ($25 = gas $) and let's face it, who just gets one a week?  People with epic restraint, which doesn't happen to be me.

Pinterest to the rescue!  I found this pin and accompanying recipe for Pumpkin Spice Latte Creamer.

Source: Shugary Sweets
I followed the simple instructions which basically involve making sure you don't burn your cream.  I switched out the full fat sweetened condensed milk for fat free.  Making this switch saved 3 g. of fat and 20 calories per serving.  I like that the recipe was so easy, it made a good sized batch, and it had way fewer chemicals than something like International Delight.

I'm storing mine in a glass bottle with an airtight seal.  I found mine at Home Goods for $4.99 and it fits in the door.  Although the bottle was cheap, the recipe was a bit pricey for coffee creamer.

Cream: $2.99
Canned Pumpkin: $2.79
Sweetened Condensed Milk: $3.19
Spices: already had cinnamon on hand and substituted allspice with nutmeg
Total: $8.97-ish

Luckily, I had enough leftover cream and pumpkin to make another pasta recipe, so it wound up being a shared cost.  I have been pouring a bit in my nespresso every morning and it's obviously not the same as a PSL, BUT it's enough to tide me over and keep my PSL habit down.

Are you as big a fan as I am of the pumpkin spice latte?  Would this recipe work for you?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Cute & Cheap: Mercury Glass Votives

I recently found some super cute mercury glass votives on the clearance rack at Sur la Table.  Not only were they cute, they were sooooo cheap.

I'm planning on using them on the patio until it gets too cold to sit outside and then I'll bring them in for Christmas decorations somewhere else in the apartment.  I only bought two because I plan to mix the votives with some I spotted at Pottery Barn that I'm patiently waiting to go on sale.

Always check the Sur la Table clearance rack, it's the oddest thing, but sometimes I find the same stuff that is full price on another shelf in the store and deeply discounted on the clearance shelves - no defects or anything.  I bought two espresso spoons that were being sold for $3.95 on one shelf and $1.99 on the clearance rack.

What do you think of Sur la Table?  Impressed or overated?

Monday, October 7, 2013

Product Review: Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment

The Issue: I wrote last week about my amazing experience with the Josie Maran Argan Oil.  I mentioned how chapped my lips were, but didn't get around to telling you what I did to fix 'em.  Let me tell you, Burt's Bees didn't cut it.

The Product: Fresh brand lip balm.  I had gotten two sample sized chapsticks as a part of my birthday gift from Sephora for being a VIP member.  These aren't ordinary chapsticks, made by Fresh, they call them "a sugar lip treatment."  One was a clear color and the other a pink tinted balm.  They are filled with all sorts of good for you vitamins, SPF 15, and leave out the icky stuff (parabens, sulfates, synthetic dyes, etc).
Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15
Source: Sephora
The Regimen: Exfoliate lips at night and in the morning using a dampened washcloth and gentle back and forth movements.  Apply Fresh balm morning, noon, and night.

The Verdict:  Hands down the best lip treatment ever.  This is a bit of a cheat.  I had known that this stuff would work because I loved it so much last winter; however, I had only seen it in action on last year's regular winter lips.  What I had on my hands was lost in the desert for 5 days cracked lips.  Seriously, seriously baaad.  At $22.50, I wasn't sure about spending that much on lip balm.  Mr. 3 asked me if it would really work and when I said yes, he said $22.50 sounded good to him to take care of the problem....that's how bad they were, a man felt like that was a small price to pay to get rid of the problem.  Luckily, my lips were back to normal in about 4 days.  I got the Rose color which looks great and smells yummy.

Have you tried this product or brand before?  What did you think?

Friday, October 4, 2013

80 Sq. Ft Patio Planning

One of the biggest perks of our new apartment is the 80 sq. ft of covered outdoor patio.  I'm not sure how this compares to the rest of the country, but by DC standards, that is a lot of room!  I wanted to take advantage of the year end patio furniture sales and our new entertaining space by really making it fun and comfortable.  Most people in our complex have sad, sad patios with one or two lonely folding chairs or have tried to repurpose the area as an outdoor gym.  I wanted something a bit more decorated and ahem, appropriate, for the space like these patios:

Source: Better Homes & Gardens
Source: Better Homes & Gardens
Source: Design Sponge
However, this is what I started with...blah:

Upsides? (1) We are up in the trees so all we see is beautiful green! (2) We overlook the playground so when we sit outside we can hear the sweet sound of a child's laughter...usually followed by a blood curdling scream and a nasty squabble among the neighbor children.  However, we are high enough up not to be bothered by it. (3) The archway and the brick are really nice features.  (4) I'm super into really glossy black paint right now, so the railings and the storage/utility closet doors are something I can work with!

Downsides? (1) The concrete is gross.  (2) The patio will need a good bit of color to not be so drab. (3) Vertical blinds...which is actually an inside issue I'm still trying to decide what to do about...they are over all the windows!

Thankfully, I'm not afraid of dressing up drab spaces especially when I have such great trees!  My color scheme is a little bit out there for some: green, black, pink, and champagne gold.  I'm hoping to add a bit of glam with the gold choice so it will be a fun place to relax and have people over.  I want enough space to seat four people comfortably and a place to put food/drink on.  I'd also like to grow some herbs.  I know it's a tall order for such a small space, but I think I can make it work.

I've already bought quite a few things for the patio including an outdoor daybed, a coffee table, two chairs, toss pillows, and some outdoor cups and plates, but it hasn't quite come together yet.  I'll talk more about my purchases in upcoming posts.  However, we have bought enough furniture for Mr. 3 and I to enjoy every morning eating breakfast outside and enjoying a nice glass of wine before dinner.

What do you think of the space?  Got any ideas for me?  Let me hear them!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Product Review: Josie Maran Argan Oil

The Issue: After moving into our new apartment, my face promptly lost all moisture.  My face was soooo dried out and my lips got really chapped.  My usual regimen consists of:

Face Wash: Philosophy's Purity Made Simple
Astringent: Neutrogena Clear Pore Oil Eliminating Astringent
Night Time Cream: Origins A Perfect World Skin Guardian Serum (I also slather my neck in this stuff which smells a-mah-zing!)
Day Time Cream: Philosophy Take A Deep Breath

After my face started feeling like Tales from the Crypt, I discontinued the astringent and became even more generous with my night time cream without luck.  As I usually wander around with a slight glisten to my face, dry skin issues are not something I'm familiar with at all.  I ran over to Sephora to see if I could find something that would do the trick without a $$$ price tag.

The Product: After much perusing, I came across Josie Maran's 100% Pure Argan Oil.  According to Sephora: this 100% Pure Argan Oil is a legendary oil that's rich in vitamin E and essential fatty acids, and grown organically in Morocco.  100% Pure Argan Oil is first cold pressed to ensure the best quality, highest-grade oil.  It is housed in a recyclable glass bottle and purchased from women's cooperatives in Morocco to support their social and economic welfare.  These cooperatives work within a UNESCO biosphere reserve that ensures the protection and reforestation of Argan trees. 

Sephora - Josie Maran Argan Oil

BUT, despite all the good-for-you and do-good benefits, it also came with a not so fun price tag of $48 for 1.7 oz.  I did not want to spend that much, nor did I think that I would actually use the entire bottle, nor was I positive that face oil was actually the route I wanted to go - in my head, face oil = vegetable oil, and I didn't want to look like I'd spent the summer over a deep fryer.

The girl at Sephora said she used it on as her everyday moisturizer without issue and I knew the reviews online were good, so I decided to bite the bullet and spend the $48.  When I headed over to the cash register, I started looking through all the small sized products they keep at the check out line for impulse buyers (hello!  that's me!  target audience!).  This time it paid off!  Josie Maran had a much smaller 0.5 oz bottle for $14!

The Regimen: Based on Sephora's sales girl's instructions, I began using 1-2 drops of oil mixed in with my regular creams for the next week (I told you I looked like the Crypt Keeper...face oil on top of regular creams = she must have agreed).  If I happened to go into the bathroom and see a dry spot, I would massage a drop directly into my skin.

The Review: Now for the verdict.  This stuff is amazing.  My face didn't feel greasy and the oil absorbed quickly.  It mixed right in with my other products.  My skin is usually quite sensitive, but I had no irritation.  The dryness went away in about a week, but it started feeling and looking better immediately.

Now that my skin is back to normal, I haven't had to use the product in a couple of weeks.  I'm really glad that they had the smaller bottle for less moo-lah, because I have probably 90% of the bottle left...which should see me through the cold DC winter.

Anyone else tried this product?  What did you think?  I'm adding it to my pin board as one of my products I love!