Friday, January 30, 2015

When Good Products Go Bad: Nokia Lumia 1520

I've owned many different phones in my life, starting all the way back in high school with my very first. It was a small silver T-mobile flip phone that was practically indestructible. I dropped it countless times, I had it in the rain and snow, and spilled food on it more times that I care to admit, yet that phone refused to quit. Like the few older phones that came after it, it didn't die because of water or physical destruction - it died purely from old age. It kicked the bucket at the electronic equivalent of "old geezer".

My following phones weren't nice either. While everyone wanted the newest and shiniest, I was happy with the oldest and sturdiest - I didn't need anything big or fancy. I just needed something that worked for text and phone calls. Then the Iphone happened, and while I held out longer than most, I eventually caved and got the Iphone 3GS. It was my first smart phone, and it was amazing. I was instantly converted to a smartphone devotee.

Unfortunately, with my new-found love I learned very quickly; the newer and smarter the phone, the easier it damages. The Iphone 3GS fell and just didn't work well after that. To save money my replacement was an original Iphone 3G that my mother had retired because it was slowly creeping into "old geezer" territory. She gladly gifted it to me, but sadly it kicked the bucket not too long after my move to the deep south. I took over my husband's EXTREMELY old phone which was much sturdier than it's newer, smarter counterparts, however that phone was well into "old geezer" territory by the time it came to me. When one day it randomly deleted all of my phone numbers, addresses and email addresses for no reason, I knew it was time for a change. 

I began to hunt around for my best option. I wanted a new smartphone, one that could do the basics but I also wanted something unique. Around that time I saw a commercial for the Nokia Lumia 1520, and I was intrigued with the camera and Microsoft Office capabilities. However, I was a bit skeptical of switching from Iphone and Android to Windows. When it finally hit the stores (I knew when because I called every week like a creepy ex that won't give up) I ran in and started playing with it that same day. I was amazed at how easy it was to navigate a Windows 8 layout, and I purchased it on a Next plan, paying for the service each month, and then breaking up the $600 price tag over a period of 24 months on top of the monthly service bill.

When I purchased the 1520, they didn't have any protective cases like the Otterbox or Lifebox available for it yet. They only had one style of a bland, expensive leather case that really only helped with preventing surface scratches. I purchased it though out of necessity. After scouring around for a few months, I picked up a thick, plastic case to use instead. Both cases, while made of completely different materials, were no more like a Life/Otter box than a King Cake like a souffle. After speaking with more than one rep at the ATT store, they assured me that they would be coming out in the next few months with more apps and better cases than the one they had.  While many people prefer to bedazzle, bejewel, and bebling, I prefer my phone to survive a fall to the floor or an accidental water glass spill. Cute only goes so far.

I waited patiently only only to now have....nothing. It's been exactly 13 months since I purchased my Nokia Lumia 1520. No lifeboxes. No otterboxes. None of my favorite Android and Iphone apps available on Windows. Only a handful of decorative cases on the market and a sour taste in my mouth. Reason being: 

This phone is the most overly-sensitive, poorly--internally-constructed phone that I have come into contact with.

As of today I am now the proud (not really) owner of my 3rd, yes, 3rd Nokia Lumia 1520. The last 2 have lasted a total of 6.5 months a piece. Cause of death you ask? Early-onset electronic dementia. Not old age, dementia. It starts off slowly; the slight lagging, the odd color changes at the corners of the screen. This is then quickly followed by the rapid downhill stage where the phone starts doing things on it's own without me having to touch it. Yes, my phone will be sitting next to me untouched and suddenly it starts scrolling around and opening up random apps, sometimes apps I haven't opened in weeks. This is then followed by full screen color changes, extreme lagging, and at times completely freezing for no reason at all with the only solution being a complete reboot.

Please don't get me wrong, I love the Windows operating system and the Nokia Lumia 1520. It's an amazing phone (when it's working) that can do fantastic things and it will make life so convenient (when it's working). However, it doesn't appear to have a very long lifespan. When I went in to ATT the other day to talk to them about my options for getting another phone, I found out that the Nokia Lumia 1520 never took off like they had hoped so they never developed products for it. Now I am stuck with a one-hit wonder with no way of keeping up it's sleek, expensive integrity. No matter which angle I'm viewing this equation from, the end result will be me paying full price for this phone, and then having to paying for a whole other phone.

While I had the hype and excitement of owning a cool, brand new thing that practically nobody else had yet, it didn't make up for the waste of money and headaches. Owning new tech is cool, but owning tech that can be protected and is more than just a one-hit wonder: priceless.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My first "scoop" of 2015

Hey lovelies, this is my first "scoop" for 2015. I hope you guys enjoy! Also, I do apologize for the random dryer door in the background.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

The Lipstick of the Day

If I haven't mentioned it before, I am obsessed with lip products. I "discovered" my lips this past year, in the sense that I discovered I really like the way they look when under lipstick or lipgloss. In the last year, my lip products went from less than 5, to over 50. Yes, 5-0. It's insane, to say the least. However, I have been fortunate enough to acquire almost all my lip products for either: free, almost free, or definitely less than full-price. 

My latest lip score was one I did a review on: Red Apple Lipstick. Yesterday I put together a look wearing the shade to film a video that I had hoped to have up by today.

This past week I had radio silence on my blog when I normally post 2 times a week. Reason being:  last weekend my laptop coughed, sputtered, and kicked out. We had to save as much as we could, and this past week we reformatted the whole thing, with me having to start over from scratch. I got it set up and I filmed the other day and woke up bright and early this morning only to encounter some problems with saving my edits. The video I recorded and edited will be uploaded tomorrow - I will make sure one way or another I figure this situation out and how to not have it happen again, but for tonight I will show you my lip look. (Please excuse the awkward duck face. I take photos in variations of duck)

Products Used

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Red Apple Lipstick - the first step in my 2015 Makeup Makeover

A week ago I wrote a post about my 2015 resolution: more conscious thought & consumption. This especially included my makeup and skincare products that I will use up and replace with their more conscious counterparts. When I was told about a vegan & cruelty-free makeup company based out of Texas a few weeks ago, I got really excited because I love trying new brands &products, I love having anchor companies, AKA - companies that I can rely on to always come back to and have products that I love. Maybe this company can be my first cruelty-free & vegan makeup anchor company.

Well, low and behold, I fell in love with them. "Them" being Red Apple Lipstick based out of  Houston, TX. Their website was informative, easy to navigate, and like a true thrift addict I immediately found the Sale section. There was a 20% off coupon, free shipping over a certain amount, and 2 beautiful shades of lipstick singing their siren song. I caved like a souffle gone awry. 3 days later I was so excited when I received my Red Apple Lipstick care package. I tore into it and fell head-over-heels in love. Here are some reasons as to why you'd love them too:

1.) Unlike some companies, Red Apple Lipstick doesn't fool around with their shipping: I got my package 3 days after placing the order. It might have something to do with the fact that I'm their neighbor, but my mother lives in California and it also only took 3 days to get to her. It probably would've gotten to me sooner if they hadn't of had to go through the swamps to get to me. Darn those pesky gators.

2.) The packaging of the lipstick is amazing. It's feminine, sleek, yet tough. The design is very unique and unlike any other packaging I've seen for a lip product. The black exterior with the raised bumps on the bottom makes me feel like the lipstick tubes are super tough and can withstand anything,though I won't put them in the dryer or throw them around to test that theory!

3.) Shipping &packaging aside, the products actually work. Their lipsticks are hydrating, they don't drag on the lips, and they're incredibly pigmented. The color doesn't slide around on the lips after talking for a while either making them better than a lot of the higher-end lipsticks that I've tried.

4.) They don't have a weird/overly sweet smell. I own Kat Von D and MAC and I enjoy a great smell, but sometimes when I take off the lids of their lipsticks I feel like I just stepped into that candy shop at every.single.mall in America. On the flip side, I have opened some lids and been utterly revolted at how chemical-y and weird some products smell. It's like "I get it, you're not vegan, but do you have to make me smell the cancer I'm slathering on my skin?". This isn't the case with Red Apple. You open up the lid and...nothing. They don't smell perfume-y, and they don't smell like cancer. Your nose can inhale in relief at the lack of scent. To me, this is a major plus. While a scent can be nice, depending on my mood/what I've just eaten, a scent can actually make me not want to use a product. I'd rather wear a product based on the color, not the smell.

5.) While their products last a long time on the lips, they don't take 10 years and a team of scientists to remove at night. I get the appeal of lip products that claim to last through tornadoes & earthquakes, but at the end of the day I don't want to take 20 minutes just to remove the goo caked on my lips. I'd much rather have to touch up a little after eating then when it's late and I'm super exhausted but I have to pull out every oil & makeup remover I own just to see my natural lip color again.

6.) Last, but never least, Red Apple Lipstick is: vegan, cruelty-free, soy-free, gluten-free, paraben-free, fragrance-free, allergy-free and made in the U.S.A. Not only is this product safe for anyone's skin, you're also supporting team U.S.A. 'Merica.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Lip Liner Love

In my post talking about my 2015 resolution, I discussed really diving into makeup for the first time in my life this past year and finally feeling comfortable with beauty. While I feel comfortable with skin care and makeup now, there was one product that took the longest for me to want to add to my routine: lip liner. 

Lip liner at first seemed a bit unnecessary. If the lipstick I'm wearing is pigmented, why do I need something underneath of it? It really seemed like a superfluous item that I could just avoid all together. However, despite my reluctance, I began to notice as I started to wear lipstick more and more, the frustration of talking a lot or drinking or eating and having all my lipstick pretty much wearing off after a few hours. I eventually became attracted to everybody's unanimous reasoning for lip liner: if you wear it, your lipstick will last muuuuuuuuch longer. Since I'm pretty much the slowest applier of lipstick EVER, the thought of having to reapply less became more and more appealing. 

Until I walked into Ulta/Sephora/MAC and saw the prices of the lip liners. Oy vey. My frugal tendencies and tight budget had me do a 180 promptly on my heels and march straight back out their fancy doors. Then it was off to the drugstores for me, and unfortunately that overwhelmed feeling with makeup came back as I was standing in front of the massive aisles chalk-full of different brands of colors. "Who do I chose?", "Which brand is better?", "Which ones last the longest?", "How many different colors I do need?", "Do I need a lip liner for every color lipstick I own?!".

It was, to say the least, a bit overwhelming. Of course I had watched a bagillion-million youtube videos and everyone talking about their favorite lip liners - most of them being high-end. I turned around and headed home, deciding to do research before potentially wasting money. After some time, and no more closer to an answer, I was wondering around Walmart one day picking out skin care items when I saw a random endcap hanging piece. Usually filled with loofas or eyeshadow quads, this one had little pencils hanging off it, and a sign that said "FLOWER" on top. I wanted to kick myself in my a$$. I had read over a year ago about Drew Barrymore's makeup line exclusively for Walmart, FLOWER, and how all of her products are cruelty-free.

I ran over, snatched one of each color, and continued on with my shopping. When it came time to check out, I was amazed - they only cost $1.50 a piece!!! Since purchasing the four lip liners 3 months ago, I have used two colors so far, and I have to say they are excellent. I didn't put them in my 2014 favorites because I haven't used all of them yet, but they are worth checking out. When I went to go find them online for this post, I sadly found that they must have increased the price to $6.98. However, they are still worth it because they are so pigmented, they come in a twist-tube instead of a pencil that I need to sharpen every.single.time, and they go on easily.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

2014 Product Favorites: $30 or less

Hey lovelies, I hope you enjoy my new video where I do a show-and-tell of my favorites from 2014! All of these products are under $30, so if you liked any of them, the links are down below for each product I showed.

***The prices I quoted in the video are what I paid for them at my specific state's retail location. What they're priced online may be different for some of the items due to difference in state/retailer purchased through***

2014 Product Favorites

Saturday, January 10, 2015

2015 Resolution

I know this is coming a bit late as we're already 10 days in to the new year, but today I want to share my 2015 resolution. I've never really taken resolutions too seriously in the past because 9 times out of 10, people don't keep up with them past the first month or two (myself included). So many people in my circle have made resolutions for 2015 about their exercise, their diet etc, but this year I don't want to make a  resolution about one singular aspect of my life.

I, through much thought and discussion, have made the resolution to be more conscious. This year, I want to be more conscious in all aspects of my life: conscious with my movements, conscious with my words, conscious with my saving, conscious with my relationships, conscious of keeping up habits that make me feel good about myself, conscious with my internal health, but especially in the one area I found I slacked the most in this past year; my external health:

 Previous to 2014, I understood the basic concepts of skin care: clean your face, moisturize, if you have a zit treat it. I also understood the bare basics of makeup: if you have a zit, conceal it, if you have uneven skin use a foundation, put on blush for color, put on powder to take away shine, and then use a setting spray to keep everything in place. When I bought skincare, I went for the one organic brand I knew, even if all the products didn't work well for my skin. When I went for makeup, I went for either the cheapest items from the one organic makeup brand most readily available to me or what people recommended because I really didn't know how to explore makeup on my own. Beauty and skincare was very overwhelming and intimidating to me for the longest time: I was scared to explore even when what I was buying wasn't working for me because it was easy.

This past year I dove head-first into makeup and skin-care exploration like an eager scuba student on his first deep-sea dive. Thanks to my Ipsy bag subscription, a bazillion-million youtube videos, countless articles, classes and discussions, I feel comfortable for the first time in my life around skincare and makeup. This year it's part of my goal to be more conscious about what I buy that goes on my body and face now that I actually know what I'm doing. I have always strived to be cruelty-free and organic with the few products I used to buy before, but this past year I got caught up in excitement of the glitz and glam and forgot to pay attention to the fine print of what I was spending my money on. While most of the products I purchased are cruelty-free, many products I brought home are sadly laden with chemicals.

My mother is the most interesting combination of glamorous and earth-conscious hippie, and I strive to be like her in that respect. After many discussions in the last 2 weeks of what we've acquired throughout 2014, show and tells on Skype, and much frustration venting via text from the light bulb realization moments of "Oh my gosh, these products aren't actually good for me, at all", we have both decided to finish what we have, and then encourage and support each other to be smarter consumers. This year, in 2015, as I use up my body care, my skin care, my makeup, my cleaning supplies, I am going to be replacing them with their cruelty-free and organic counterparts.

As you can see, I have a lot of work cut out ahead of me <.3

Sunday, January 4, 2015

My favorite top coat

Hello lovelies! I hope you're having an amazing new year so far. One resolution I've made for this year is to better upkeep my at-home manicure routine. Because I work a very physically-intensive job, my nails are the first place to show how hard my day has been. It gets frustrating to look down and see chipped polish, but at the same time it has become something I look forward to; a kind of personal time I give myself each week when I pamper my hands and feet and choose a new color for the week.

I've tried various brands over the years of nail polish colors, top coats and base coats. At the end of the day, I can say with confidence I've gone from the cheapest drug store brands to the highest luxury brands, and many in-between. It wasn't until I ran out of my beloved Zoya top coat about 4 months ago that I decided to hunt once again and see if I could something less expensive and just as good. I walked into my Sephora and looked on their nail polish display. I saw some interesting colors, but then I saw the Sales rack, and it was overflowing with various colors of the Formula X brand. 

After a few minutes of hunting, I found a Neon Top Coat on sale for $2.99 and checked out immediately. After 4 months of using this top coat week after week after week, this is my favorite top coat to date. I go with the non-toxic all-natural brands when I can, however, I can say that this top coat makes my nail polish last longer than even the Zoya brand top coat. It doesn't matter what brand of nail polish you use it over, it will make it last for at least a week and a half minimum. I still love Zoya and will use their top coat when I get to a less physically-intensive job, but for now while I am toiling away like a construction worker day in and day out, I will use a product that keeps my nail game strong.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

The Eyebrow Equation Pt. 2

Hey lovelies! I hope you had an amazing Christmas & New Year's! If you're off today I hope you're resting and relaxing with loved ones or doing what you love most. Today is going to be a continuation of my last post regarding eyebrows; Eyebrow Problems. 

It's been about 3 weeks since my post talking about my some recent eyebrow issues and my discovery of organic cold-pressed Caster oil. Well...the acquisition of Caster Oil didn't work out quite the way I had hoped. Getting to the Whole Foods an hour and a half away from me is much harder than I originally thought around this time of year with traffic & increased work schedules. Instead of getting sad about my geographical shortcomings, I decided to figure out what I had the ability to utilize: my own kitchen cabinet. There were several options for hair strengthening in the articles I had read for my last eyebrow post. While Caster Oil seemed like the best option, they also mentioned coconut oil and olive oil.

The first night I tried using coconut oil along with my oil-pulling routine. I took a clean disposable spoolie, dipped it in the warm coconut oil in my cup and brushed it through my eyebrows. The downside to hot coconut oil is that it's runny. VERY runny. I kept having to wipe my face off every 5 minutes, which was frustrating because I used a very sparing amount on my eyebrows. The next night I used my extra virgin olive oil, and that's what I've been using ever since. I pour a little bit into the bottle cap, get just a drop or two on the spoolie, swipe it through my brows and take a tissue to gently blot any excess that might potentially run down my face before going to sleep. I don't want to blot too hard because then it will remove most of the liquid and defeat the purpose of the whole process.

 ((I got these disposable spoolies at Sally's Beauty for $3 a bag and I use each one for 2 nights before throwing them out. I use one side of a spoolie one night, and then the other side for the next night.))

I have also decided to not only hit it topically, but internally as well. That's right, hair pills. Not Viviscal though. I've heard some amazing things about the popular Viviscal, but I went for the more easily accessible option, both geographically and money-wise: Biotin. Biotin is an amazing co-enzyme supplement that is known for helping with hair growth. I wanted to help my eyebrow hairs grow in faster, but also maybe help jump start some extra hairs to grow in too. 

I've been using a combination of these by taking the hair, skin & nail supplement in the morning and using the olive oil at night. Due to this process I've noticed a huge difference in my eyebrow hair loss. I have still lost a few hairs, however, I have not lost hairs every day and when I have lost hairs, it's only been one or two vs. 6 or 7 at a time. The first night I used the olive oil I actually asked my husband the following morning if he noticed anything different about my eye area, and he said my eyebrows looked thicker. I didn't prompt him to even look at my eyebrows, I just randomly asked him out of nowhere and that's what he said. Clearly something works. 

Of course, I have only been using this process for a little over 2 weeks, so I will keep using it for another 4 weeks and update along the way. I do also want to note I have switched up my makeup remover for my eyebrow area. I was using the Clinique makeup remover, but I am now using the Lush Ultrabland cleanser. It is sold as a facial cleanser, but it is the BEST makeup remover I have ever used. It's really gentle but it removes everything, even waterproof mascara.

((These are my eyebrows now after using this process for a little over 2 weeks. Please forgive my skin. To me they look much thicker. I can still see a bit of sparseness from areas where hairs came out, but they're quickly filling in.))

I hope this helps anyone out there who might be experiencing the same problems <.3