Wednesday, November 23, 2016

November Sale Roundup

Hi bumblebees,

This is not a sponsored post and there are no affiliate links except the one at the bottom. I was just trying to clear out some of the almost 19,000 emails I have in my inbox for some reason when I realized that I'm constantly getting bombarded with sales and promotions (which is a problem when all my newsletters with actual articles end up in the same tab). So, where am I going with this? I can't promise this is going to be a regular thing but at least for Black Friday/Cyber Monday I'll try to update this post when I see a sale that looks interesting. No fuss. Just whatever discounts I see floating around. I'll link to the website when I've verified that the codes are working.

Tarte: (November 23-25) Early Black Friday code. 25% off with the code FRIYAY, Free Shipping on $25+ orders

Ann Taylor: 50% off with the code CELEBRATE

Macy's: (through November 26) Extra 20% or 10% off select sale and clearance departments with promo code THANKS, Free shipping on $50 orders

Paula's Choice: (through 9pm PT November 28) 20% off, free shipping, excludes kits and sets, choose 3 free sample packettes on $5+ orders, No code needed

Eva Franco: 50% off select styles, No code needed

Bebe: Up to 50% off Black Friday Deals, priced as marked, No code needed
$30 off every $100 spent in store and online with the code FRIDAY30

Journelle: Up to 15% off orders of $150, 20% off orders of $300, 25% off orders of $500 with the code JUSTSAYYES, Free US Shipping on $75+ orders, Free Returns

Speedo: Use the promo code NOVSAVE for $10 off $40+ orders, $25 off $75+ orders, or $60 off $150+ orders

Zoya: (November 25) 70% off any purchase with the code YAY

Ulta: (November 24 5pm CT) Black Friday Beauty Busters

From MusingsOfAMuse...

Stila: (November 25) 25% off and free shipping with the code 25BFSALE

Shiseido: (through November 28) 20% off, free shipping, and 3 free samples with a $25 purchase with the code FF2016


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

#GOMO with Eventbrite: Exploring Downtown NYC

Hello chickadees!

Today we'll be taking a break from our regularly scheduled programming to discuss something a little different. I hope you'll enjoy it. :)

You may or may not know this depending on how closely you follow this blog, but I live in New York City, and when I'm not reviewing nail polish or beauty products, sometimes I leave my apartment. Shocking, I know. I was raised to appreciate the value of music and theater, and living in the city allows me to indulge my passions for them both. These days I'm more of an observer than a participant, but wonderfully, theater invites you to be a part of a community regardless of what side of the stage you're on.

When I was younger and saw one or two shows a year, my entire concept of theater in New York was centered around Broadway. In actuality, there's so much amazing music and theater happening in the city on a daily basis that it can be overwhelming. I've had to get very good at scheduling, and even then sometimes it's impossible to fit everything in. I'm more than familiar with the feeling of FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out. So that's why I decided to team up with Eventbrite and participate in this project. If there's anything I've come to realize in the last few years, it's that the only way to combat FOMO is by getting out more often. Cute, isn't it? Squash "Fear of Missing Out" by Getting Out More Often.

In the spirit of Getting Out More Often, I thought I'd take you around with me downtown and show you that there's more to see in the city than the tourist attractions around Times Square. And to prove that there's more to theater in the city than Broadway, I'll finish up by reviewing two of the shows that I've seen recently at downtown venues. OK, let's go! (Expand the slideshow.)


Of course there's more to getting out more often than just wandering around the city. Once in a while it's nice to treat yourself to an event and one of the great things about off-Broadway theater is that it can be considerably more affordable. Eventbrite is one avenue for finding unique and free events in the city every week. In fact, I purchased the ticket for one of the shows I'm about to review using Eventbrite. I swear it's true. Part of the reason I wanted to work on this project was that I'd just used the service a few days before Cara wrote to me. I have the confirmation email to prove it. :) I'd wanted to see the show because I'd discovered a great Danny K. Bernstein musical at the festival last year. Of all the musical entries this year the show I ended up seeing, Lamia, jumped out at me because of one of the composers, Janna Pelle. I urge to check out her albums. The first one is particularly great.
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 Lamia is a story of transformation but, like its protagonist, I'm not sure if the creators really thought through what they wanted it to be. The story at the core of this play is a simple one. Like Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Mermaid, Lamia tells the story of creature who falls in love with a human man and wishes to become human so that she can be with him. I believe the inspiration for the play is probably the Keats poem. This play frames that myth as the story that a bride is being told on the night before her wedding day as she deals with her anxieties and misgivings. Given that the running time of the play is less than an hour, you might assume that much of that time would be spent trying to flesh out the characters and give weight to the narrative since the framework is so straightforward and easily understood. Instead, Lamia abandons a lot of traditional storytelling wisdom in favor of a convoluted book, songs that have nothing to do with the plot, and a framing device that adds very little value. It's the sort of play that serves as an example of why conventional storytelling structure has held up for so long. Even though it isn't difficult to grasp the story or the point of the play, it's still important to have a certain amount of connective tissue to give the story emotional weight.

With all that said, I didn't hate it. I managed to enjoy myself, if not always for the right reasons. While the vocal music felt like the intrusion of unwanted indie rock band, much of the underscoring established a late 1960's-early 1970's rock vibe that set the perfect tone for the piece. That sensibility is carried into the movement which is reminiscent of an Alvin Ailey style of modern dance and the book which is influenced by both spoken word poetry and traditional oratory storytelling. If Lamia had been framed as a period piece with a group of hippies retelling a Greek myth, it would have explained these otherwise ridiculously dated elements. Though even with that framing device, the book needs serious revisions. As it currently stands, it barely sketches out the plot in favor of nonsensical gibberish. There's too much style over substance. What this play needed was to build up its characters so you could understand and sympathize with Lamia's plight and the concerns of the bride hearing her tale. Overall, I'm conflicted about this show. I laughed at it and not with it but I did enjoy most of the time I spent in the theater. I did think that the way the costumes transformed was fairly creative and I thought the staging made pretty good use of the small theater. Lamia was a good concept for a play that was not executed well. It lacked ambition and had too much filler and not enough substance which is particularly disappointing in a short play.
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I didn't want to leave this post on a negative note and luckily I didn't have to. A few days after seeing Lamia I had the chance to see The Good Earth, which is currently playing a short run at the Flea Theater. The Good Earth is a Welsh import that tells the story of a family and community whose village and way of life comes under threat. But it's also a story of family. Honest and raw and heartfelt.

Writing a play is a very difficult endeavor. When you've seen the myriad ways things can go wrong, you come to really appreciate a simple story told well. The Good Earth does just that. By anchoring the play in the story of the Adams' family and their struggles to stay in their home, Motherlode Theatre makes you invested in the larger political issues at play. The play is ostensibly about the conflict between the council that claims the village is too dangerous to live in because of the nearby mountain and the villagers who resist the council's attempts to relocate them to quickly built homes in a neighboring town. And yet over an hour or so later you find yourself coming to understand what it means to take a job in a big corporation when you've always lived in a self-sustaining village where class barriers are nonexistent. You've gained a sense of place through a capella Welsh vocals that carry with them the weight of emotion and cultural tradition regardless of whether you can understand the lyrics. The Good Earth is a beautiful example of how an oppressed group can make themselves heard not through violence or volume but perseverance and humanity. I was particularly moved at the relationship between Jackie Adams (Gwenllian Higginson) and her brother James (Michael Humphreys). My main criticism of this play would be the final resolution which I found unnecessary and slightly manipulative. Still, The Good Earth is a testament to what can be accomplished with good writing and excellent acting on a limited budget. It is playing until September 3rd and I would urge you to see it while you can.
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When I set out to write this post, I hadn't anticipated reviewing two shows, but I'm glad I did. These two experiences reflect a much larger year of theatre-going experiences and I think they show the value of taking a chance and going out more often. You could spend years on regrets for not taking a chance on past experiences or you could embrace the joy that's to be found in letting go and instead combating the fear of missing out by doing more. You'll never know what event you'll be telling stories about for the next week if you don't get out there. If you're thinking of hosting an event or looking for fun things to do in the city, you can RSVP online with Eventbrite.

I hope you enjoyed hearing about what I've been doing around the city for the past few weeks. If you decide to use Eventbrite and join in and Get Out More Often, I would love to hear about it. Feel free to share your stories with me in the comments and happy exploring!

-Cat :)



Friday, August 12, 2016

REVIEW of Anna Sui Nail Color in N400 Anna Red With SWATCHES

Hello my darlings!

This was my birthday manicure. That's why I'm reviewing this polish two months after my birthday. Don't judge me.

Color: Anna Red is a true red creme. It's a gorgeous color. It leans slightly on the brighter side without being an orange-based red. It's a great kind of staple red to have in your collection, like a good red lipstick.
Formula: The formula was thin.
Application: The first coat of polish applied so smoothly. Drag was not even up for consideration. The brush just glided over the nail. The polish applied very evenly and even though it was thin I was impressed at how red the polish already was in one coat. The opacity wasn't high, but it was already a very strong color as opposed to some thinner polishes that go on sheer and watery. At two coats, the polish wasn't entirely opaque but as I said, this was my birthday manicure so I was in a bit of a rush. I had a party to go to. ;) In the future, I might try three coats and update this post to let you know how it went.
Scent: What? New category? Yes. I would never recommend smelling a polish while it was a wet, even if it claimed to be natural or nontoxic, but while I was painting my nails, I already noticed the absence of that oppressive chemical smell a lot of polishes (especially the cheaper ones) have. Then once the polish was dry, I kept thinking I was smelling roses, especially when I would flutter my hands around my face while talking. It turns out this polish is scented! It was a wonderful birthday surprise, since as a June birthday, the flowers for that month are roses. I don't really believe in the magic of the universe but it was a wonderful coincidence that I chose this polish that day.
Wear: The rose scent lingered a day or two though I was washing my hands a lot more often than I usually do because I was hosting a party. It's possible you could get the scent to last longer than that but I haven't tested it out. I'm not sure if it's because I only applied two coats, but the polish did wear very well. I got a lot of tip wear and it also picked up scuff marks and cuts very quickly.

CONCLUSION: I would recommend this polish. I don't think you need to have it because there are plenty of great red polishes. But if you want something for a special occasion to make you feel fancy and you're only going to wear the manicure for a few days, I think Anna Red is a great choice. Application was really easy and I loved the experience of having the rose-scented manicure. Wear was not great but I will try and revisit this review after applying three coats to see if that improves anything.
The next time you're about to buy something at amazon.com, it would be amazing if you could take a few seconds to come to this blog first and get there through one of my amazon.com affiliate links. It won't cost you any extra but it would be an incredible help to me.

SWATCHES

Thursday, August 11, 2016

REVIEW of Essie Strut Your Stuff With SWATCHES

Hello peaches,

I think it's time for a fun summer color. Though technically I swatched this polish at the end of March. Let's keep that our little secret. This is going to be a shorter review because I was busy and apparently I didn't take very many notes or photos.

Color: Essie Strut Your Stuff is a bright aqua blue creme polish. It reminds me of OPI's Can't Find My Czechbook but it's been a while since I swatched that one. As always if you'd like me to try to find dupes and do a comparison post, just leave a request in the comments. Bright blues like this aren't for everyone but when they're flattering to my skintone, they just make me happy every time I look down at my nails.
Formula: The formula for this polish was pretty thin, though I will admit I bought it secondhand so it's possible that it was diluted or that it's not the genuine article.
Application: The first coat applied smoothly without any drag. However, because the polish is so thin, it kept getting pushed around when I would try to paint another brushstroke. The brush was also more streaky than usual. The second coat also applied smoothly. On short nails, the opacity wasn't bad. It failed a light test because light could still pass through my nails but because the polish application was even, I think you could get away with it. I added a third coat to see what would happen. The results were slightly more opaque but not terribly different. I think the debate between two or three coats with this polish is just a matter of preference. Though, on my right hand (painting with my nondominant hand), two coats were not enough and I definitely needed three.

CONCLUSION: Assuming I actually bought a bottle of Essie Strut Your Stuff, yes, I do think I would recommend this polish. It's on the thinner side, but as long as you're OK with that look, it applied fairly well and the color looks great. I don't think it's a polish you need to own if you have a lot similar colors but if you're just looking for one that applies pretty well or you want to do some kind of jelly sandwich, Strut Your Stuff might be what you're looking for.
Please click the amazon.com affiliate before starting your next shopping trip at amazon.com. It would help me out so much.

SWATCHES 

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

REVIEW of OPI Embrace the Gray With SWATCHES

Hello (dust) bunnies!

It feels good to be writing again. Before we get into the review, let me address what's been going on. Essentially, there have been two things keeping me from writing. My life/future is still in a state of flux and I have been very busy. On one side of things there's a lot of chaos and scrambling and toxic, anxious feelings. And on the other side there was work and scheduling and stress (and some fun!) but also a lot of chaos. I was recapping for a while which took up a lot of writing energy. I was also taking advantage of living in New York and seeing a lot of theatre and concerts which used up a lot of critical brain power. Basically, I was draining up my reserves for both positive and negative reasons. For the moment things have calmed down. I'm not working regular full time hours anymore (but if you're hiring, wink wink) and I don't have more than the usual number of events on the horizon. I'm very happy to be talking to you again. I say this every time but I really did miss you. Anyway, I think I still remember how this goes. Let's get into the review, shall we? ;)

Color: OPI Embrace the Gray is a medium gray creme polish. It feels like a fairly straightforward, no nonsense color. As a gray, it doesn't lean too brown or too blue. It embraces the color it purports to be. If anything, it's slightly more blue/cool-toned. If you like grays, I think it's a flattering shade. You see a lot of very light neutral grays and a lot of dark grays, especially in the fall but there aren't a ton of mid-toned grays. I like having it in my collection. To me, it's not really a summer color but it doesn't need to be relegated to fall and winter. I wore this one in early March.
Formula: The formula wasn't notably thick or thin but I ran into application issues.
Application: The first coat of polish applied smoothly without any drag but it did cause me a bit of trouble. I had to be careful to use medium thick coats and not go too light or thin with the coats of polish. For some reason it didn't want to adhere to the nail and trying to work with it using the brush only made it worse so it was difficult to get smooth, even coats. The polish kept coming off in patches and then when I would try to even it out it would form streaks and ridges. The second coat was more of the same. I had to go very lightly with the brush to avoid brushstrokes and yet try to have enough polish on the brush and at the same time not have so much polish that I'd lose all control and have polish pool in my cuticles. That run-on sentence is great evidence of the juggling act that was taking place. On short nails, two medium thick coats was basically opaque but there were some tiny patches of balding so I added a third coat. At three coats the polish was fully opaque. The third coat was the same as the previous two in application.
Wear: The polish wore well without a notable amount of tip wear. It did dull a bit and pick up scuff marks but that might have been more noticeable because it was a gray polish and inclined to look dingy.

CONCLUSION: If you can handle this polish, I would recommend it because of the color. It certainly isn't impossible to work with. I've dealt with much worse, including with similar grays. It's just fussy so I wouldn't get it unless you have an experienced hand.
 
Click the affiliate link before your next Amazon.com shopping trip. Thanks! ;)

SWATCHES

Korres Sample Sale Report August 2016

Hello my darlings,

I know I've been gone for awhile. If you're not a longtime reader and aren't interested, skip this first paragraph. This isn't really the post to talk about it but I will try to write something soon. To catch you up a little... I'm still here. I've been here. I have some ideas for what I want to write and future projects but I just haven't had the time to devote to it for the past few months. As far as sample sales go, I haven't been going to as many of them as theatre has become a bigger part of my life. There are only so many places I can run around to in the same day. I'm going to get back into hauls and review posts but sample sale reports will probably stay infrequent. I am thinking about theatre reviews but I have yet to decide if that's going to be happening here or on another blog. This is a weird time to be jumping back into sample sale reports as this summer cold is trying to murder me but I was going to check out this sale anyway and unlike the MAC sample sale (haul coming!) I thought I could actually manage to cover it since I didn't have to wait outside for hours to do so. Anyway, after all of that preamble, here are the details...

I was going to check out the first day of the sale but, as I mentioned in the intro paragraph, I'm not feeling too great. I went to the first Korres sale (which I don't think I reported on for the blog) but I've been too busy to go to subsequent sales and it's not a brand I follow very closely. I mainly know about their products from the items I picked up at their first sale.

The 530 Broadway sale space is right on the corner. I was expecting an office building so I breezed right past it but it's actually a pop up storefront on the ground floor. There is a coat check near the front door but it doesn't seem mandatory and in this weather, I don't think anyone has extra layers unless it's a raincoat. The register is a little past the coat check on the left hand side. They take both cash and credit. I asked and they said they are anticipating on some kind of restocking (maybe different items, maybe more of the same) but they can't commit to anything. Based on the print out price signs and the longer run of the sale, I would expect some markdowns as well towards the last few days but if there's something you want and you're willing to pay what it's currently marked, I would grab it now instead of waiting.
 Checkout desk in the right corner

OK, on to the good stuff. Prices and products. First I'll do a bit of rambling based on the photos. You can find a full price and product list at the end of this post. In this first photo you can see the honey syrup, mini body butter, and Japanese Rose Butter Whip. One thing I really appreciated is that almost all of the products (excluding a few like the eye pencils) have testers out so you can get a sense of the scent, consistency, and color. This is especially helpful since a lot of Korres products tend to be heavily fragranced.