Get 30% Off Julep Sitewide

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OFFER: Save 30% at Julep.com with code DEC30

Details: Offer expires on 12/31/15 at 11:59pm PT. Promotional code DEC30 must be entered at checkout. Offer may not be combined with any other promotional code and is limited to two uses per customer. Orders placed for the Monthly Maven Reveal (e.g. monthly Maven Boxes, Upgrade Boxes, and add-ons) are not eligible. Offer applies to julep.com purchases, excluding Mystery Boxes and products in the Jule Box, Savvy Deals, Sweet Steals, and Weddings catalogs. Not valid for purchase of julep.com gift cards, gift boxes, or Gift of Maven. No adjustments on previous purchases. Taxes vary by location.

Julep Rocks Around the Clock Mystery Box just $24.99 ($150+ value) + win a pair of diamond earrings!

December Mystery Box

Turn up the sparkle with the Rock Around the Clock Mystery Box, featuring two new colors: Carmen (Boho Glam) and Layla (It Girl). The box is just $24.99 but is filled with over $150+ of polish and beauty products.

Also, you have a chance to win a pair of one diamond earrings! Julep will select one lucky Mystery Box customer to win a pair of one carat diamond earrings (which are shipped separately).

Details: Offer expires on 12/19/2015 at 11:59PM PT, or while supplies last. Every Rocks Around the Clock Mystery Box will include Carmen (Boho Glam) and Layla (It Girl). Other products vary. Purchase of multiple Rocks Around the Clock Mystery Boxes may result in polish or product overlap. Offer may not be combined with any other promotional offer or discount (e.g Maven 20% discount). No exchanges or returns are possible on Mystery Box or individual items. Estimated full retail value is at least $150. Taxes vary by location.

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Save 40% With Julep’s Friends and Family Sale

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Friends & Family 40% Off Sitewide

40% off Julep.com – Friends & Family Sale

Promotional code WELOVEYOU must be entered at checkout to take 40% off of your cart value on orders up to $500 through 12/14/15 11:59 PM PT. Offer may not be combined with any other promotional code or discount (e.g. Maven 20% discount). Promotion excludes the Jule Box, Savvy Deals, Julep add-ons, Sweet Steals and Secret Store catalogs. Not valid for purchase of julep.com gift cards, gift boxes, Gift of Maven, or Mystery Boxes. Orders placed for the Monthly Maven Reveal (e.g. monthly Maven Boxes, Upgrade Boxes, and add-ons) are not eligible. All items purchased with promotional code are final sale, absolutely no exchanges or returns. No adjustments on previous purchases. Taxes vary by location.

FIRST MONTH FREE for new Julep Beauty Box subscribers – ONE WEEK ONLY

Julep Beauty Box Subscription

For the first time ever, Julep is giving new subscribers their first beauty box monthly collection for free! Join Julep now and you’ll get first access to the upcoming New Year Fresh Look collection on December 20th, where you get to select up to three full-size nail and beauty products for your box – OR pick one of their gorgeous curated boxes. Claim your free Julep beauty box using code FIRSTBOX at checkout.

Check out a few of last month’s most popular box combinations – I want them all!

Julep Beauty Box Subscription

When you join Julep beauty box, you’ll get a box of on-trend, full-size beauty products delivered to your door every month. It’s the gift to yourself that keeps giving! You’re going to love it. Here are a few more reasons why:

  • Julep is affordable. Every month you get more than $40 of full-size products for just $24.99 per month.
  • Julep is the only customizable box of full-size, limited-run nail colors and beauty innovations. That means no surprises, no dupes or colors you don’t like.
  • Julep subscribers get 20% off all single product purchases, free shipping, early access to secret sales. If you are passionate about your polish, that adds up to some amazing savings!

Ready to shake up your beauty routine? Then sign up for Julep today and get your first month free. The countdown is on, because this offer only lasts through midnight on December 18th. FIRST MONTH FREE for new Julep Beauty Box subscribers – ONE WEEK ONLY

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A Cleaner Face … With Oil?

Meraki Cleansing Face OilAbout six months ago, I received Meraki Cleansing Face Oil in one of my subscription boxes. I couldn’t even tell you which box it was. And for six months, it has sat in my medicine cabinet, unused.

Until last night. Even my normally oily T-zone has been dry lately, so why not?

I figured I’d just go for it. There’s a reason that Meraki made this cleansing oil, right? It must work, right?

I followed the directions on the bottle, using one dropper full on my face. I then placed a warm washcloth (okay, it was a hand towel because I couldn’t seem to find the washcloths) on my face for a minute. Then I wiped my face off completely with the same towel.

My face felt great! Not greasy at all! Chris thought I was crazy at first, then mentioned that it made sense since that’s what the Romans used centuries ago as a cleanser.

How does the oil-cleansing method work? The good oils bind with the bad oils and all get removed at the same time. Yes, that’s my unscientific explanation. I’m an editor, man, not a rocket scientist!

Wellness Mama offers several suggestions for which oil to use for your type of skin. Obviously, I just used what was in this bottle. It contains lavender- & chamomile-infused grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, and essential oils of lavender and neroli.

Now, if you know me at all, you know I’m not going to spend $20 on something I can make myself. So once this bottle is gone (because I also try not to waste anything), I will make my own cleansing oil, one that is best-suited for my skin.

I love the idea of blending olive or grapeseed oil with coconut oil to create a cream (which I read in the comments on Wellness Mama). And I’ll likely add a bit of tea tree oil to another bottle for that one week a month I tend to break out. Actually, selling two bottles (one for clear faces, one for breakout times) as a set is a great idea!

This method can eliminate the need for a moisturizer after washing, but I’ll wait and see. A weeklong visit to Michigan, with the cold climate and drying furnace heat, could determine my plan of action.

Do you use oil for cleansing? What do you use, and how well does it work for you?

 

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Le Tote Subscription Box Review, Nov. 23

11-23-2015 3-10-03 PMI’ve lost track of how many Le Tote boxes I’ve received now. But I can say that I still love opening it every time!

This box was a bit different from the rest because, as you can see above, it contained SIX items! Let’s just say that it’s a result of excellent customer service.

The box before this one included a shirt with elastic cuffs. But one of the elastic cuffs had given up (the quitter!), and I wanted to make sure no one else ended up with the slightly damaged shirt. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a location on the site that listed a “report a problem” option. I ended up having to email them to make sure they knew about the shirt (though I suppose I could have pinned a note to the offending shirt itself to let them know). They not only apologize profusely for sending me a damaged shirt, they let me know that they would also be including an additional item in the next package.

So, voila! An extra shirt!

Again, they’ve done a great job with my personal style. Only two items were from my “closet” on the site, and those were both jewelry. I also am horrible with my own style and hated the bib necklace. Really, really not me.

The first item was labeled as a tunic dress, but I’m not a fan of dresses this short, even with leggings, so I just tucked in the front and wore it as a top. Worked out great!

The only item that didn’t fit was the black shirt, which was strangely tight around the bustline. No big deal. Not everything can be a winner.

This box goes back today, in the provided postage-paid bag. I can’t wait to see what they send me next!

Le Tote is a monthly subscription box dedicated to fashion. Think of it like the Netflix of clothing and accessories. For $49 a month, Le Tote sends you three articles of clothing (tops, skirts, dresses or pants) and two accessories. You wear them and send them back (and don’t even have to wash them!). They will send you as many boxes for that $49 a month as the post office will allow. As soon as you send back your items, they will ship out another set. I managed to get three boxes in a month, though I’m sure four is possible.

Le Tote boxes include a postage-paid bag for you to ship your items back. I’ve stuffed the bag in the mailbox, scheduled a pickup and dropped it into a blue post office box to return it. It’s pretty simple to return it.

This post contains affiliate links. In the Meantime pays for this subscription.

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Hello Fresh Subscription Box Review

For a couple months now, we’ve been subscribers to Plated, a fresh food subscription box service that delivers ingredients for recipes for homemade meals. Last week, we decided to give Hello Fresh a shot instead. The boxes are comparable in price – Hello Fresh is $69 a week for three recipes, which makes six meals; Plated is $12 a plate, so six meals is $72. First-time subscribers can get a discount off the first box for either.

IMG_5356

Bratwurst on a pretzel bun with red cabbage slaw
The first meal we made was actually pretty easy. Unfortunately, when I opened up the package of dill for the slaw, it was half rotten and slimy. That was a first for me for a subscription box. On the plus side, Chris and I aren’t that big on much dill, so the half I used was plenty. The best part of this meal was the pretzel bun. It seemed a bit tough when I first opened the package, so make sure you follow the directions to toast the buns – it made a world of difference. I’m also really glad I have a toaster oven, because heating up the oven to toast two buns seems like a waste.

My brat, sadly, had two large chunks of gristle in the first bite. It would have turned me off from eating it entirely, but I was really hungry. Also, they only gave us 1 Tbsp. of mustard for two brats. Needless to say, we both added our own. Chris didn’t like this meal at all and ended up in the kitchen making Buffalo chicken with a rotisserie chicken from Sam’s Club.

IMG_5363Saffron-infused basa with basmati rice
Chris and I split on this one. He liked it, and I didn’t. There just wasn’t much flavor to the fish at all, and poaching it made it feel a bit rubbery. He thought it was a nice, buttery fish. I would have added carrots to the peas, red bell pepper and rice. There was a ton of broth left over after cooking, so the dogs got that on their food for dinner. Hey, very little goes to waste in our house!

IMG_5372Turkey meatballs with roasted carrots and mashed parsnips
This meal was a miss. While we both liked the turkey meatballs and the roasted carrots, the mashed parsnips were just too bitter and gross to eat. The recipe called to boil them (like potatoes), then mash, but that did the parsnips no favors. Chris wouldn’t even give the mash to the dogs. The roasted carrots were absolutely delicious, and the semi-burnt pieces were our favorite. Seriously, I think I’m going to roast all my vegetables from now on.

The verdict
Chris and I agree that these meals are worth it if they ended up being something we would happily order in a restaurant. At around $12 a plate, that’s comparable to what we would pay if we went out. Unfortunately, none of these meals measured up. While we love how they are boxed (each set of ingredients is in its own shoebox-size cardboard box), and the whole box is delivered ice cold and packed well, that’s not enough to continue this subscription. If any of these three dishes had been a hit, we would have continued.

Hello Fresh offers five meals a week, two of which seem to be vegetarian. I like having a meat with dinner, so we were limited to three options (which is to say, no options at all). Plated offers seven options a week, as well as two “chef’s choice” options for an upcharge. Plated also has more options as far as subscriptions – we’ve gone down to the two recipes a week plan, so it’s $48 (though you do have to pay $6 shipping with that plan). Hello Fresh doesn’t currently offer less than three recipes a week.

We’re going to stick with Plated for the time being. This experience with Hello Fresh was a disappointment. But next on the list will be Blue Apron.

Overall, I love these boxes. We get fresh ingredients and recipes I would never have attempted otherwise. They have made me a better, more adventurous cook. Before, I had never cooked a protein on the stovetop (I’m more of an oven/pressure cooker/slow cooker kind of person), but now I’m not afraid to attempt to pan fry chicken or fish. I like that the meals aren’t full of preservatives or other ingredients I’m not aware of, and they are slightly less expensive than the cost of going out to dinner.

In the Meantime pays for these subscriptions.

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Mad for Metallics Nail Art Tutorial From Julep

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Mad for Metallics Tutorial
Are you looking for a new way to give your holiday manis a little more impact? Try this easy tutorial from Julep using polish from their new Mad For Metallics Welcome Box. All it takes is three quick steps:
1. Apply your base coat and let dry completely.
2. Use a striping brush to polish a thin line at the bottom of the color area and let dry.
3. Fill in the rest of nail with color. Apply your top coat and you are done!
Did you know that when you join Julep’s beauty box, you’ll get a box of brand-new, full sized nail color and beauty products each month – and you deserve it!

  • Julep is affordable. Every month you get more than $40 of full-size products for just $24.99 per month (tip – prepay for three months at a time and save $15).
  • Julep is the only customizable box of full-size, limited-run nail colors and beauty innovations. That means no surprises, no dupes or colors you don’t like. You can see what is in your box each month and have the option of swapping out colors/products you already have or don’t want.
  • Julep subscribers get 20% off all single product purchases, free shipping, early access to secret sales. If you are passionate about your polish, that adds up to some amazing savings!

Join Julep and get the 4-piece Metallics Welcome Box FREE ($50+ value) – just pay $2.99 shipping with code MADLOVE. Want an even better deal? Pre-pay for your first three months of Julep and get the Welcome Box and shipping FREE. Either way, you are going to LOVE Julep.
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This post contains affiliate links.

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Plated Subscription Box Review

We’ve gotten about five boxes from Plated now, skipping every other week. We started with three meals a week, then went down to two. Each costs $12 per plate (so two meals for two people is $48, plus $6 shipping). If you buy three or more meals per week, shipping is free.

First of all, I take horrible food photos. I can’t say I put any effort into the photos because by that point, I’m freakin’ starving and just want to eat it, not stage the thing!

So far, I love everything about Plated. The ingredients are fresh, the box keeps everything amazingly cold, and the recipes are all new and exciting (to me). But because I just *need* to know about other options, Chris and I are trying out Hello Fresh this week.

I can say already that I prefer the options for Plated. Plated gives you seven meal options (some of which are vegetarian) plus two premium choices for an upcharge. Hello Fresh gives you five options, and two are vegetarian. Since we chose the 3-meal plan, we really aren’t getting any options at all. Yes, we could try vegetarian, but we both prefer meat in our dinner.

I’m sure I won’t keep subscribing to food deliveries forever, but I do have to say that this service has made a huge difference in my life. It’s not just because I’m eating healthier, either. I’m learning all sorts of things from these subscription boxes. I’m tasting new foods and even becoming a better cook.

That’s what’s most amazing to me – I’m cooking these meals and learning that I can do this on my own. I’m discovering that sesame oil is absolutely delicious, especially on roasted Brussels sprouts. I’m finding out that I actually like Brussels sprouts – and turnips and so many other foods I’ve never really eaten.

I feel much less limited in what I can cook now. Most of my cooking ability was limited to the oven or crockpot. Now I can cook chicken on the stove top and not worry about undercooking it. I can reduce a huge amount of greens to a teeny-tiny pile of nutritiousness. And I can even make my own spaghetti sauce (though finding really good tomatoes to do this is a bit more of a challenge).

I can do it. And Plated has helped me a lot along the way.

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Le Tote October Subscription Box Review

10-9-2015 11-13-44 AMAnother week, another Le Tote box!

This box was a huge hit for me. The first item I pulled out of the box was a shirt I’d gotten last month and asked for a re-send. I think it took maybe five weeks for it to appear in my box again. Love it!

The blue short-sleeve shirt was the only miss this time. It didn’t fit, so that was a bummer. But I rate everything I get, and Le Tote stylists take that information and make adjustments to future boxes.

The red dress was freakin’ fabulous! It fit perfectly, and hugged my curves in all the right ways. I didn’t have anywhere to wear it, though, so I ended up wearing it around the house, just feeling glamorous.

The earrings were cute, but I only wore them once, and the bracelet looks just like several other bracelets I have (though with completely different colors).

As you can see, every item Le Tote sent this month was from “my closet.” I do have a lot of items picked out, so there was very little curation this time on their part. They do pick out the sizes, however, based on how past items fit me.

Overall, I LOVE the quality of clothing in these boxes. I’m so used to having to wear camisoles or tanks under tops because they are so thin. In this case, only the tops that are meant to be sheer need tanks. Absolutely nothing else has required layers. It’s a welcome change.

Le Tote is a monthly subscription box dedicated to fashion. Think of it like the Netflix of clothing and accessories. For $49 a month, Le Tote sends you three articles of clothing (tops, skirts, dresses or pants) and two accessories. You wear them and send them back (and don’t even have to wash them!). They will send you as many boxes for that $49 a month as the post office will allow. As soon as you send back your items, they will ship out another set. I managed to get three boxes in a month, though I’m sure four is possible.

Le Tote boxes include a postage-paid bag for you to ship your items back. I’ve stuffed the bag in the mailbox, scheduled a pickup and dropped it into a blue post office box to return it. It’s pretty simple to send back.

How is Le Tote different from other clothing subscription boxes?
Stitch Fix is another clothing subscription box service. It’s $20 a month, and they will sent you a box of five items each month. You can choose to keep those items and pay for them, at a discount, or you can return them. You cannot wear them then return them. All items are new with tags. Le Tote’s items do not come with tags, because you are meant to wear them, or borrow them, and send them back. You have the option of keeping items by just holding onto them when you send back the items you’re not interested in. You could be the first wearer of an item, or the 10th.

Golden Tote has two subscriptions available. The $49 option sends you 2-3 articles of clothing, and the $149 tote sends you 5-6 pieces. You can choose to keep the whole tote or return the whole thing – you can’t keep individual pieces. The cost of the box is the cost to keep the items – there are no additional fees if you choose to keep them. If you choose to return the items, you will be refunded the money you spent. You choose one or two items you love, and Golden Tote will fill the rest of the bag based on your preferences.

Personally, I prefer Le Tote because I think it’s the best value. You get about 15 items a month (based on how long you keep boxes), and you never have to wear the same thing twice.

This post contains affiliate links. In the Meantime pays for this subscription.

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Taking Time to Write

Monkey-typingI haven’t been posting as much lately, I know. But I’m still here.

I’ve been spending a lot of my time writing instead of … writing. Sure, it sounds like the same thing, but I was recently bitten by the fiction bug again.

When my dad died eight years ago, I’d been working on a story for almost a year, but then I found I couldn’t write anything. Nothing would come from these fingers. I had to focus solely on editing other people’s words and forget about my own.

I think writing here, in this blog, has helped me a lot. I realized my words are still my own, and they still flow freely. They’re not all good, and some are just plain terrible, but it’s all trial and error anyway, isn’t it?

Another huge factor in helping me get my words back is reading the Harry Potter books again. I never stopped reading this whole time, but nothing has been able to keep my attention as well as these JK Rowling books. I’m not even sure why – I don’t write about wizards or broomsticks or even big bads, but it makes me want to write my own story.

My favorite part of writing is being able to skip around as soon as I get stuck on a scene. I’m sure not everyone writes like that, but it helps prevent writer’s block, and it helps me realize that maybe there’s a reason I wrote myself into a corner there, that maybe it was the wrong direction for a character.

So for now, I’m focusing most of my time on Jack and Sarah. I vow to not neglect the blog, but maybe you’ll only see me once or twice a week for a bit. And maybe, eventually, you’ll see my name in print.

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How-To: Zombie FX Makeup

This is my friend Nicole. She’s usually a beautiful woman. This weekend, I made her look like this for a zombie bike pub crawl.

This zombie makeup was my first attempt at making latex appliances. They were just blisters, but I made them the day before by creating puddles of latex on a sheet of stainless steel (from a sign … it was all I could find that was smooth enough).

The blisters peeled of easily and stuck quickly to the still-tacky liquid latex I applied to her face. She had four patches of liquid latex – forehead, both cheeks and neck. After I applied the latex to her face, then the blisters, I opened up portions to create a popped blister effect.

I was attempted to open a hole on her left cheek when the latex stuck to itself, creating a deep scar effect. It was a surprise, but it worked very well!

I then outlined all of the open blisters with black eyeshadow, and shaded all of the open blisters on the inside with black, paying close attention to the inner edges to provide depth. Then I went over the black with a dark pink shadow.

Zombie FX

This was my trial before working on Nicole’s face. YOu can see a bit more detail here.

For the popped blisters, I made a very rough circle about 1/4-inch away from the wounds with a reddish-purple lipliner. This does not blend well on top of the latex, so you really have to work it after you make the outline. I used an eyeshadow brush to rub across the lipliner pencil, then blend the outlines outward. That helped create a bit more depth to the blisters.

After that, I went through with Graftobian Blood Paste and filled in the blisters very lightly with a brush, trying to avoid the very center.

At that point, the blisters were done, but the rest of her face needed some blending. I went over most of it with a light brushing of blush to create pink skin, then did a very light coat of the blood paste – which I wiped off on a paper towel first. I wanted a hint of color, and no extra blood.

Then there are the grubs. I ordered those on Amazon and cut them off at an angle so the ones on the right side would appear to be emerging from her face. The one on the left needed a bit more coaxing, though. What I should have done is cut a hole in the center of the blister before applying it. That would have made it much easier. Instead , I had to pull it up while it was attached to her face, being careful not to pull it off completely, and cut a hole with cuticle scissors. I do not recommend doing what I did. But after I created the hole, I used latex on the end of the grub as well as the bottom of the blister to attach it.

So now she was all nice and gory … but didn’t quite look zombie enough. So I brushed a mix of black and brown eyeshadow all over her face and neck, in random patterns. On her neck, I stuck with an up and down motion to highlight tendons.

To highlight all the blisters, I added a dab of white creme makeup to the center of all of the blisters, innies and outies. If you add to much, you can always go back over it with the blood paste.

Finally, I brushed purple then pink eyeshadow across her lids and under her eyes to give them a sunken appearance, and took black eyeliner to her lips, drawing lines outward. Then I took her outside for some good blood spatter with blood spray. Unfortunately, the sprayer broke on mine and I had to dip the end into the blood and just splash her a bit.

And that’s it. My first zombie makeup of the season!

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