John and I have been playing an augmented reality game called Ingress for some time. The reason this is relevant to this post is twofold:
1. We spend a lot of time walking around outside in the cold using our smart phones
2. We’re on the blue team.
I have some lovely purple gloves I made myself ages ago that I use for being out and about, but John couldn’t find his “hobo gloves” (aka smoker’s gloves, aka convertible mitt-glove things) in the chaos of our move, so I set about making him some new ones. Of course, he totally found the hobo gloves before I finished (by *hours* I might add. I was so close!) but in the rainy northwest, I expect having more than one set of gloves is advised.
The pattern is Twisty Sister Cabled Handwarmers
by Kate Gondwana . I was drawn to the nice cable pattern on the back:
Since John has wide but not very long hands and likely would just be annoyed by longer gloves going well under his long coat sleeves, I used the “large” size guidelines but took out a repeat so that they’re a bit shorter, as recommended in the pattern as a way to adjust. Horray for well-written patterns! I particularly liked that this one had both charts *and* written instructions, as while I prefer charts sometimes I find it easier to understand the written if I’m not sure where something should start.
And finally, since someone complained that I didn’t have any pictures of people wearing the fox hat of my last post, here’s a few more pictures of John:
PS – In case you were also wondering about the dearth of baby photos in the last post (a) the hat was waaaaay too big so I don’t think she’ll be trying it on for a while yet unless daddy decides hilarious oversized hat would make for adorable photos (b) baby V’s parents have been sharing photos of her with select family and friends, not the entire internet, so there may not be photos of her available to the rest of you even when she grows into it, unless she grows up to want to share them herself much much later. Sorry!
Box 1 was October:
Unfortunately, Wantable doesn't give me a nice list on the website of what I got with product links and stuff. Missed opportunity, guys: I would probably be ordering more of those socks if you'd made it easy for me!
In the interest of just Writing The Darned Review, here's what I had, without product links:
Thing #1: Pink argyle socks, knee high.
I love these and wear them all the time. So cute!
Thing #2: Little plastic clips for converting your bra to a more racerback style.
I own a set of these, pretty much identical, that I got at the dollar store for a buck, so I can't say I was thrilled that this was part of a $36 subscription box. Also, since I already own them, I know they are useless to me: my shoulders are so broad that there's not enough give in my bra straps to use these without everything becoming too tight. I gave them to my sister to try out, though, and she says they were ok for her, so not a total loss.
Thing #3: Coobie bandeau top, pink and lace-y
I've never worn a bandeau, so I was glad to try this out. It's actually a nice addition to my wardrobe in that it can be layered with a low-cut shirt, and the colour works with a bunch of the things I own. It does feel a bit like I'm intentionally binding my breasts, though, and it doesn't always stay in place on me, so it's not like I'm a sudden bandeau top convert, but I like having the option!
Thing #4: Coobie camisole, beige
I had just been thinking that I could use some camisoles (again, to deal with the slightly-too-low-cut shirts that I got from threadless and a few other places) and this fits the bill nicely, although the beige colour is perhaps a little too close to skin-tone to get a nicer layering effect. It's also nicer than a bra under certain types of sheer shirts. I do wish the bra cups were a bit bigger (they're little triangles that don't quite fit the natural curve of my breasts), but they're removable so I can always fix that later. I actually liked this so much that I bought another one on Amazon, in bright pink (since it was the only colour they had).
Thing #5: Jockey panties, brown and beige lace
These are... really not my style. I actively dislike peekaboo lace on my butt, and if my boyfriend likes it, I don't want to know. They may get put in rotation simply because I'm low on underwear, but they don't fit well, they ride up, and I think they're ugly, so... anyone want a pair of panties I've only worn once? You should probably have a smaller butt than me, since these ran smaller than the label would have implied.
Anyhow, October's box:
I really wish Birchbox had a "box history" link of sorts in my profile page, as that's where I look for it first before I finally remember that history is hidden where I would have expected to go to order another box. Oh well; I don't quite care enough to write a script to add one myself, but hopefully the process of writing this comment will help me remember for next time.
Product #1: 12 Benefits™ Instant Healthy Hair Treatment - 6 oz
This is supposed to be some sort of magical hair treatment that protects you from styling and swimming and life. As I don't torture my hair and haven't had an excuse to go swimming since the box arrived in October, I can't really tell you how it works on that front. However, it *also* claims to be a detangler, which I could test.
Unfortunately, it is awful as a detangler. It's messy and sprays on a bit too thick so you have to rub it all in yourself. At this point, the spray is basically just an extra step that makes it harder for me to control how much product goes in my hair. Even worked in, though, it's a mediocre detangler. I have, in fact, gotten better results from taking a dab of hotel conditioner and working it into the ends of my hair as if it were a leave-in conditioner.
So... as far as I can tell, this product is basically a waste of my time right now. I'll keep it around to see if it helps with swimming, maybe in the summer when my hair is taking more serious abuse, but it's definitely not useful right now. Which makes me wonder if perhaps this was not a great thing to put in October's box if they really wanted this product to shine. Oh well.
End verdict: Will save to try again later for the main intended use.
Product #2: DDF® Wrinkle Resist Plus Pore Minimizer Moisturizing Serum
Frankly, every time I look at this product, I'm reminded of that scene in Cloud Atlas that is pretty much all "soylent green is people." So yeah, while this is a totally visually striking product package, it also creeps me out because I feel like it's a product made up of ground up people in some sci-fi world. It does not help that every pump of the product comes out as flesh-coloured slime.
My mental damage aside, the product itself is kind of weird. It's kind of like spreading silicone lube on your face, or at least what I imagine it might be like if I felt a need to use bike grease as a cosmetic. Perhaps all moisturizing serums are like this?
It's meant to be applied as the first layer in your cosmetics, and it behaves kind of like you might expect magical face lube to behave in such a situation: it makes it easier to blend things on your face. That's actually kind of awesome, and it seems keep makeup from clumping quite so much if you have acne or a scab or something on your face.
Interestingly, it seems like there's less colour on my face at the end of the day when I use magical face lube. I've been using a white-coloured wipe to remove makeup, so what I'm saying here is that the stains are less dark. I'm not sure if this results in more coming off on my hands during the day, or whether it's just diluting the tinted moisturizer I use such that it leaves less dark stains on the cloth. I can't really tell the difference visually on my face from day to day, though. I'm too lazy to check my makeup and take selfies multiple times a day to check if the progressing is different, but I guess I could try that if I really want to know exactly what's going on here.
End verdict: Despite my initial impressions, I actually like the product. Unfortunately, it's expensive and the appearance weirds me out. I might try to buy something similar when I run out, but it's a huge sample and I may get another product to try before I need to make a decision on replacing this.
Product #3: theBalm® cosmetics Stainiac
This is labelled as a "hint of tint" and it really is. I found it utterly underwhelming on my cheeks (which are already quite pink) but fun on my lips. It's very subtle, though:
My boyfriend claims he can tell the difference, but I'm never sure if he's buying into the horrible delusion that one must lie to one's significant other about such things lest she fly into a rage. Or possibly just deluding himself, since it's not like I did a double blind test with him or anything. ;)
You can tell I'm not a "real" beauty blogger 'cause I'm wearing no other makeup in those photos and not expecting you all to tell me how brave I am to show my face to the world. (This is one of many reasons I can't stand reading most beauty blogs.) Anyhow, my laziness for photos does let you see that my cheeks are naturally "hint of pink" though.
Incidentally, this is a lot more fuchsia/day glo hot pink than red when it comes out of the tube. I find this amusing, but it did make me nervous that it would be a lot more than a "hint" of colour.
Robyn from Brightest Bulb says, "Unfortunately, when I use it on my lips, I can find zero qualities that distinguishes this product from a tube of jello." And I agree, but I consider this a benefit because it makes me feel like I'm a kid.
Actually, it led me to mentally design an entire marketing campaign around my new cosmetic idea: the popsicle lip spa treatment.
Sit back and relax with our rejuvenating lip treatment. It's filled with natural fruit extracts, and is guaranteed to hydrate you as well as provide a little energy boost. This lip stain lasts for hours, and helps curb food cravings!
Yeah, I'm not quitting my day job. But I do want one of those fruity popsicles from our freezer now.
End Verdict: I like this product a lot. It's fun and nearly un-noticeable, so I'm not going to get any flack from my engineer colleagues who might be put off if I was wearing heavy lipstick. I do wish it was sold in the little sample sizes because it's perfect to have in my pocket at work, so I may keep an eye out to see if they do some sort of smaller holiday pack. I may also experiment with stronger tints to see if I can get a work-appropriate look that amuses me without making me too "girly" for my office.
Product #4: Karuna Clarifying Treatment Mask
I hated this product:
- it's very goopy so it's a huge mess to put on
- it actually hurt to use
It's weird, because I don't really think of myself as having sensitive skin, but applying this caused serious pain across my cheekbones and upper lip. I almost didn't leave it on for the full recommended time and just pitched the whole thing, but I wanted to know what it was like and figured I could tough it out. It didn't get better.
On the bright side, it didn't cause any breakouts or leave horrible red burn welts across my face (which I was actually concerned about given the amount of pain), and it did leave my skin feeling smooth and soft after. But yeah, I'll stick to moisturizer for that, thanks. Even magical face lube has the same effect with less awful.
I took a picture of me wearing the mask mostly to distract me from the act of actually wearing it, but my poor little mac is still copying pictures off the camera and I'm hesitant to leave so much open in a browser window without saving it. The mask looked like creepy whiteface anyhow, though, so maybe the review is better off without it.
End verdict: OW. NEVER AGAIN.
Bonus Product: ChapStick® Hydration Lock
According to the insert, this is an "extra" product and not part of my samples. I guess the insert is to prevent people from being underwhelmed by getting Chapstick, which is hardly glamourous. It works as expected and has a sort of vanilla-creme thing going that makes me think of the 90s.
What's interesting is that they included it to use as a lipstick primer. This whole concept of makeup primers is a new one to me, so I was interested to see that Robyn from birchbox thought this worked pretty well. (I'd have tested it myself but I do not actually own lipstick, just two tinted lip balms which I can't find right now, which probably tells you why I thought a beauty box subscription would be a good idea.)
I don't love the scent, but I'll enjoy experimenting with it as a primer, so I count it a win. Plus, they gave me a coupon for more chapstick, which if I don't use I'm sure my boyfriend will, as he goes through as much of it as I do.
End Verdict: It's chapstick. I am pleased to know I can use it as a lip primer, though.
In summary: I tried some new things and didn't hate all of them! Seriously, though, I like the lip products a lot, the magical face lube is a surprisingly effective product that I would never have tried on my own, the hair protector might be useful in the future even though it's an awful detangler, and I never have to use one of those awful face masks again. Win!
Princess of Glass (Twelve Dancing Princesses) by Jessica Day George
This is book 2 in the series, following princess Poppy, one of the twelve sisters from the previous book. Somewhat sideways to Poppy's own story, there's a highly unusual and modern retelling of Cinderella in there that throws a completely different light on the tale. Fairy godmothers, it seems, don't have to be quite so one-dimensionally benevolent. I think even those who aren't drawn to reworked fairy tales would find something to love in this story, which is an adventure tale of saving friends and defeating evil. It's both funny and clever, and I highly recommend it!
Ash by Malinda Lo
This is a subtle retelling of Cinderella, where author Malinda Lo has taken the backstory and bones of the traditional tale and woven them into an entirely different cautionary tale about fairies, and about a girl who loses her mother and then her father entirely too soon and who wants to retreat into the forest forever, but by the time she finds a way to do that, she has finally moved beyond her loss and is starting to want to live again. That makes it sound dark, and in many ways it is, but it's also a tale of finding love and moving into the light.
Incidentally, I picked this up because I heard it was a finalist for some LGBT award (and many other young adult awards besides ), so I was expecting there to be some social strife regarding relationships in there as well, but actually relationships just were relationships, regardless of gender, and the strife came from other sources. I found it kind of refreshing.
Of course, I got this song stuck in my head on the way there, and it's been stuck there for days. Here's a youtube embed:
Let me tell you, it is a terribly awkward song to have in your head while hanging out with your boyfriend's parents, his brother, and his brother's fiancee.
So you can all be proud of me for not breaking out into excellent lines like "What is love/Where did it get me?/Whoever thought of love is no friend of mine."
I did not, however, manage to conceal my outright disgust at the diamond commercials on TV.
"But I'm sure you wouldn't object if someone bought you a diamond."
"Well, actually, given the dubious human rights practices of the diamond industry..."
Anyhow, had a lovely time in Iowa, but I am glad to be back home where I can sing songs that aren't entirely hot on the subject of love and not accidentally cause an international incident. ;)
That makes it sound like I spent all weekend trying to not be me, but that's totally not true. There was also moments like an entirely hilariously awesome whole family dinnertime conversation about fecal transplants. They are fun people. :)