It's been quite a while since I've gotten a proper haul from Sephora, and I cleaned up quite nicely with this one. I think it's clear that I am a bit of a sample junkie; I love the thrill and high of trying something new, never knowing quite what to expect. I would also take a variety of small items over one huge item. I would rather have a stocking full of stuffers, so to speak, then one big, singular package.

So, here's what I got!


I know it looks a little extravagant, but the majority of these items were free samples, and VIB 100 point rewards.

Tarte Awaken Your Complexion Set (with Maracuja oil,  Maracuja Creaseless Concealer, a concealer brush, Amazonian Clay Finishing Powder, and sample of Maracuja C-Brighter Eye Treatment
Sephora Supreme Cleansing Oil
Benefit Goodtime Gals mini set (with Posietint, That Gal, and Girl Meets Pearl)
Bliss The Youth As We Know It Face Cream (100 point reward)
Bobbie Brown Everything Mascara (100 point reward)
Skincare sample bag ( a sampler's dream come true!)

So, with all the samples, the only things I actually purchased are these:

I've been looking for a new cream concealer and Tarte has never steered me wrong. I've sampled the Maracuja oil before and quite like it, so those, coupled with the brush and setting powder, were a great deal for $32.00. The concealer is definitely my favorite of the moment. It is heavy duty, very concentrated and creamy. The tiniest dab goes a very long way. I haven't noticed any creasing or cakiness from it either. If you have a lot to conceal, from blemishes to under eye circles to hyperpigmentation, this would be a concealer to try.

The Sephora Supreme Cleansing Oil is my favorite makeup remover at the moment. It cuts through face makeup easily and only struggles a little bit with waterproof mascara. I use a gentle cleanser after it (right now I'm using LUSH's Angels on Bare Skin) because it would leave my skin a bit too oily otherwise.



This little set seems expensive for $15.00, but compared to the full price sizes, it's actually a good deal, and again, a little goes a long way with these. I'm always looking for new highlighters and primers!


And now, to further illustrate my point that, um, I have a bit of an addiction, here is my beauty sample stash, stored quite classily in a shoe box:


These run the gamut from samples stuck in magazines, to minis from Ulta and Sephora, to samples I've gotten in Birchboxes. I'm pretty much stocked for any trip I take, and so any time I get a hankering to try something new, off to the shoebox I go!

Is this odd? Do you have a sample stash? If there is anything you'd like me to talk about in more detail, just leave me a comment!


OK, so I was nominated for this Inspiring Blogger Award from La Domna (thank you!). And now I'm going to be totally uninspired and re post my answers from a tag I did quite a while back, because, well, they're sort of interesting facts and for some reason I can't get my brain to trudge up anymore at the moment. I'm sorry if that's totally lame, but if I had to come up with all new answers, who knows how long it would take me to do it? And maybe some of you never saw the original post, so it is sort of like you're seeing it for the first time? So, enough with the rationalizations, and because I'm being totally uninspired, I will post all 11 kind-of-interesting facts about me, and I tag anyone who so chooses to also share some odd or interesting facts!

11 Random Facts About Me:


1. I met my BF G over ten years ago on the Counting Crows message boards (one of our all time favorite bands). We found out we lived only 50 miles apart and that got the gears turning. Everyone thought I was crazy to agree to meet him, but I don't do anything without cold, calculating contemplation and I knew I had to do it. Our first date was seven hours of wandering about an area mall, and at closing time we were pretty much an item.

2.The Myers-Brigg Personality test says I am an INFJ, of which only 1% of people are. Which explains why I rarely fit in anywhere perfectly. Not familiar with the test? It's quite insightful, and this description sums me up very nicely.

3. My real name means "one who listens". I am indeed one to stand back and observe and take things in before stepping into the fray.

4. I have some very minor manifestations of synesthesia, which means your senses get mixed up, and sounds have colors, tastes have shapes, words have sounds, etc. As a child I assigned genders and personalities to numbers and described yellow for example as a "thirsty" color, but never really thought of it as weird or unusual. I also have some sensory defensiveness, in which bright lights, loud sounds, too many people, drain my energy and are overwhelming. Certain textures of food as well, particularly raw fruits and vegetables, are just intolerable- have had that bizarre issue pretty much forever. For example, I can eat applesauce, apple butter, dried apple chips, apple fruit leather, but no raw apples. Weird, I know.

5. I've never been into sports, but I took ballet for 15 years and Hawaiian/ Tahitian dance for 10 (yes, this involved wonderfully flattering grass skirts and sequined bras.) I started when I was 3 and legend has it at my first recital I stopped dancing on stage and yelled to my mom in the audience "mom, I love it!"

6. I was raised Catholic and attended Catholic schools for 12 years, but really stopped following it in the 8th grade. I dabbled in Wicca in high school and college and now consider myself a sensitive, progressive, ethical atheist.

7.  From the 7th to 10th grades my goal in life was to be an Egyptologist. I was obsessed with all things Egypt. During the summer I was the geeky girl lounging poolside reading a book on translating hieroglyphs, or random concepts in astronomy like black holes. I still love those subjects but can't really think of them as viable sources of income. As if being a library technical assistant is, of course.

8. I'm not a party/bar person, but I have done karaoke a few times and it was pretty fantastic. I love to sing but have always treated it as this top secret thing that could never be revealed or shared. Getting over that fear even slightly was a huge, epic deal for me. I haven't done it in a while but it is on my list of things to do. I so miss the applause.

9. I'm a not-so-extreme couponer. I like nice things, but I can't stand paying full price for anything, so I am always clipping coupons for groceries, using Ebates, scouring the interwebs for codes, and combining sales/coupons for the best deals. I am not, however, one of those people that clear shelves or stockpile 150 cans of peas just because they're free. Everything in moderation, people.

10. I'm totally into the Steampunk aesthetic and love making jewelry reflecting that style.

11. I have worked in libraries my whole working life, except for the one summer in high school when I cleaned pools. Good times.

Oh, here's one more little tidbit:

This is our furbaby Maisy. She is very special, and likes to sit on her food plate when she's hungry. I pride myself on capturing her essence in the most disturbing, unflattering pictures ever. Observe:


Not too bad....and now...



DEMON KITTEH!!!!







That's all for today!
Today I'm going to ramble a bit about something I've been pondering of late. As is made clear by many of my blogging subjects, I love buying from and supporting independent businesses. I prefer putting my money towards something that was created with love and skill by an individual rather than handing it over to some massive conglomeration. But with this arrangement comes other complications. Buying from a large business tends to involve a modicum of anonymity, whereas with the indie seller, there is no middle man, fewer nameless faces or faceless names.

 Most of the time, the business relationship is still purely a professional one, and the only face you see is the one the seller chooses to project. But what happens when you come to realize that the person you buy from carries an ideological view in stark contrast with your own? It is not such an easy question for me to answer. What if you enjoy their product and their business model, all the terms of the professional exchange are adequately met, yet there is this nagging knowledge that the seller's beliefs fly in the face of all you support or there is something about them that you just don't like?

On one hand you can logically support the seller's right to believe whatever they wish, and understand that everyone is unique, complex, and fallible. But then, do you still choose to offer that individual your hard earned money? It is far easier and more comfortable to imagine the art being created in a vacuum, so you don't have to take into account the creator's flawed humanity or have your own called into question. But it is not always that easy. Emotionally speaking, is the art that you loved now tainted or made less pleasing since you know more about the artist, so to speak, than you really wanted to know? It's not that one should expect all artists to be "good " however one may define the term, that would be totally unreasonable. It's simply that usually when you experience said art, unless you've really done your research or they've made their views publicly known, you're never any wiser to the fact that they may not be. In this case, ignorance is bliss.

This conundrum can apply to pretty much any work of art, be it film, music, written work, etc. I do think there is a difference between being able to a appreciate an established work of art from an artist that is deceased or otherwise further removed from the work as opposed to a situation in which the artist is currently, directly reaping financial gains based in part on your support. Is it possible to enjoy that seller's product on its own merit without it being considered a blanket acceptance or condoning of what that person stands for? So while buying indie is truly gratifying because it supports individuals and you know exactly where your money is going, it is also treacherous because those individuals are not exact mirrors of ourselves, and this realization can be disillusioning.

 
This is usually not a problem because, so they say, variety is the spice of life, and most sellers project a purely professional face and you never really know that much about them personally. But what if you discover that this particular variety is truly offensive to your sensibilities? In a purely hypothetical scenario, imagine you are a vegan, devoted animal lover who stumbles across the fact that a seller you have enjoyed buying from often hunts recreationally. Would this be a non-issue as long as the business transactions go smoothly and the product meets your standards? Or if that scenario doesn't work for you, just imagine any of your most deeply held beliefs, and then finding out that the seller believes adamantly and vehemently the opposite. Do you still want to hand them your money? Do you still feel as good about supporting them? Is it an unfair double standard to even pose such questions when one may not question the true beliefs/actions/motives, etc. of individual members of a larger company or a company as a whole in the same manner?

I'm curious if you have ever been faced with such a dilemma, or if it has even crossed your mind before. Would you find it relatively simple to separate the art from the artist, and continue to enjoy buying from that seller? Or would you cut your losses and move on?

*For the record, this is not about any seller that I have reviewed on my blog, and while I have encountered such disenchantment with a few unnamed sellers, my query is mostly hypothetical.
The scent of woodsmoke easily ranks among my top five all-time favorite scents. In fact, there are times I think it could possibly be the best scent, ever. So when Solstice Scents announced they would be releasing a perfume inspired by woodsmoke and the caramelized sweetness of marshmallows, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I haven't smelled many woodsmoke perfumes, and most are candles or home fragrance oils that just barely resemble the warmth and comfort instilled by woodsmoke carried in on a cool autumn breeze. The most pleasant one I've tried is the Marshmallow Fireside scent from Slatkin and Co. It leans much more towards marshmallow rather than fireside, and I wish it had just a touch more smokiness to it.

So, this new perfume, Smoky Mountain Mallow. Does it make manifest all my woodsmoke dreams? In a word, yes. But I admit at first I was not so sure. I had a very specific representation of woodsmoke in my mind when I first smelled it, and it was a bit different from what I expected. But over the course of a few days, it has, as most of Angela's scents do, grown on me with relentless tenacity. I just had to set aside what I expected it to be and appreciate it for what it is, which is, per the description:

Woodsmoke, Fossilized Amber Resin, Lapsang Souchong CO2, Guaiacwood, Labdanum, Nutmeg EO, Marshmallow

Simply put, this is a seriously powerful, intensely smoky scent that dries down to a faintly sweet, creamy finish. Whereas scents like Marshmallow Fireside let the marshmallow take center stage, Smoky Mountain Mallow is all about the smoke. The smoked tea is very apparent to me at first, though I don't believe I've ever actually smelled it on its own. The other elements are harder for me to distinguish but they all work together to make a scent that is complex and multi layered, and a real morpher. I honestly don't get as much of a marshmallow scent on the dry down, just a creamy sweetness. It's not exactly a roasted marshmallow scent for me, but more perhaps like plain marshmallows. Other reviews I've read say they smell the toasted marshmallow quite distinctly, so again, maybe I just need more time with it.

I can say that any fears that this will leave you smelling like fake liquid smoke or bacon can be put to rest. I don't get any of that here, which is actually pretty impressive. It would have been so easy for this scent to lean in that direction, but it doesn't.


At first I expected a smoky scent like the kind I smell occasionally around my neighborhood when someone is cooking out or has a bonfire going. It's hard to explain, but this woodsmoke smells older. It smells decidedly rustic, like a frontier fire. Or a sooty stone fireplace that has provided a family generations of warmth. What the difference is specifically, I honestly can't define, but the difference is there for me, all the same. In fact, it smells exactly like a very a specific place to me. I wrote about it once here. Basically it smells like an area park that was turned into a working 1880's living history farm. They have old barns and houses, they work metal in the blacksmith's shed, cook things on the wood stoves, sell penny candy in the general store, wear period clothing, you get the idea. I've gone to this place ever since I was very young so the smell of it is firmly implanted in my mind. The smell of Smoky Mountain Mallow is a spot-on match for the potent, lingering woodsmoke of this place for me.


When I first smelled it, I was reminded of this picture that I used in my post about this place, of a girl in a period dress boiling peanuts over a wood fire for the annual country fair, waving her arms through the smoke.


Smoky Mountain Mallow isn't that overpowering, of course, but it is a very assertive, strong scent, perfect for smoke lovers. I think I will really enjoy this on cold days, especially when I'm outside hiking or anywhere the scent would especially complement the nature around me. I think it may be a bit too strong for me to wear to work, because it really smells literally woodsmoky, and not everyone I work with would understand the appeal of smelling as such. I got the ganache also however, and because of the cocoa butter the sweetness is amped a little, so I think I could layer that with other scents quite easily.

If you have even the slightest affinity towards smoky scents, I would highly recommend trying this one. It is a beautiful, memorable scent!
It's true that I have a somewhat tenuous relationship with LUSH. I've railed quite passionately against their absurd hard-sell practices and scoff at the magical candy coating and top -quality, hand-harvested fairy dust that must cover all their products in order to justify their prices and elitism. I enjoy what I enjoy and take it all with a grain of salt. I cannot, however, turn my nose up at a sale.

Because it's a LUSH sale, yo. They never happen. Because their stuff is just too damn magical for sales. But once a year the stars align and the LUSH gods smile down upon the wee folk (we customers) and grant us our one burning desire: to buy a bath bomb without the accompanying sinking suspicion that our wallets have just been terribly violated. Getting two bath bombs for the price of one really helps the medicine go down. Of course, they're only having this sale to get rid of holiday merchandise that would otherwise go bad, not because, you know, customers deserve perks and incentives now and then. They make it quite clear that they are the ones doing us wee folk a favor. For Fresh Sakes, they say, and that is all.

If I sound a bit cynical, that's because I sort of am. I hate hearing from ex or current LUSH employees on my blog telling me how much they hate the hard-sell method they've had to employ, and how hard it is to be fake and over-the-top bubbly all the time. I feel sort of guilty about buying from them at all, which is hypocritical on my part because I'm sure there are tons of companies that treat their employees like rubbish and I unknowingly still buy from them. I guess it bothers me because the brand purports so vehemently to be the exact opposite, and actually does seem to have their hearts in the right place when it comes to certain issues. I just wish that heart would extend to their employees and a reconsideration of the tactics they use and the unpleasant and counterproductive environment they create for all parties involved.

I only feel better shopping at my area LUSH (and I've gone there just a few times since this summer) because once I had a honest conversation with one of the young ladies working there, it has been far more tolerable and pleasant for me. She remembers me each time I go in (which is not often, so it's quite impressive.) And she does the perfect, normal customer service thing: She greets me, offers help if I need it, then leaves. No interminable, high-pitched sales pitches, no bath bombs dropped surreptitiously into my basket, no grabbing my arm to demonstrate soap. None of that. And for that, I thank her. She sort of saved the day, because if I hadn't talked to her, and if I had had the same horrible experience I had the time before when she wasn't present, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have gone back at all. But because she did not do what she was trained to do, she kept me as a customer. Sort of ironic, eh?

Ok, I'm sorry I sucked all of you into a LUSH rant, I swear that's the end of it. I'm sure you all googled "Lush haul" and clicked on my link so innocently and
 la-dee-da, only to be assaulted by my rabid ranting. I'm sorry. From here down, it's sunshine, lollipops, and the best bloody fairy dust money can buy.

Said money has been tight lately, so I really didn't think I'd be able to get anything from this sale at all. But G gave me a little cashola for my Christmas gift, so I was able to get a small assortment of items. These were all items I've never tried but have been wanting to, so I was pretty happy to be able to partake in the sale!

The website crashed with quite a thud when the sale started, and if I hadn't already been signed in  and assembling my cart ten minutes before the sale technically started, I predict I would have had much more trouble that I did. Even with that, it took a good half hour to get through properly. And for all the hassle, I admit LUSH did the nice thing and sent those who ordered during the peak crash time some free soap.

So, here is my haul!




1 Cinders Bath Bomb
1 Party Popper bomb
1 Sandy Santa sugar scrub
1 So White bomb
1 Golden Wonder bomb
1 Father Christmas bomb
1 Christmas Eve bubble bar
1 Melting Snowman bath melt
free Angels Delight soap and godmother soap sample


To reiterate, these were all buy one get one free, so I only paid for four items!
I only had two injured bath bombs in my order, and I wasn't too upset about it because I has planned on cutting a few in half anyway. They just did the work for me.
My Party Popper was neatly broken, and that's the only one I've tried so far. It has a nice effervescent, fruity scent and the half I used turned the water a pretty shade of purply pink. I only got one soap leaf, but there may be more in the other half. The popping candies were a neat touch.



My So White wasn't exactly....wait for it....so white.


More like, so pink. So the surprise of the pink center is sort of ruined, but that's OK. It's neatly split down the middle so I can get two uses out of this one as well.



I've never tried one of the bath melts, but I thought this would be a cute one to try. I will probably cut it into several pieces because I don't like the water too oily, and this contains cinnamon leaf oil I think so I need to be careful with that.




My Christmas Eve bubble bar was a bit bigger than I thought it would be, and nicely formed. Looking forward to this one!



I don't really care for the Angel's Delight scent (super fruity) but it is a pretty soap so I will still use it as a hand soap in our bathroom.



I am an exfoliation addict so I was happy to get a Sandy Santa!



And just as a bonus, here is one of my most used everyday makeup looks:

I also just got my hair cut the day I took this picture, so I wanted to capture that. My stylist gave me shorter side swept bangs along with a short angled bob. I think it's working better for me than blunt bangs.

Here's a closeup of my eye:




I'm wearing BFTE's Golden Age on the lid, BFTE's Dusty Rose in the crease, and The Balm's Mary Lou Manizer as a highlight. I got a sample of it in a recent Birchbox and I really like it. I've been using it pretty much every day for a month. I'm also using Ulta's Extreme Wear Gel Liner in Perfection, which has been my go-to liner for a while now. Regular black liner sometimes feel harsh for everyday for me, and this shade blends into my lashline really well and emphasizes without looking too obvious. Oh, and on my lips is a lip balm from Morgana Cryptoria, Amaranth. Those are discontinued but she has lots of great lippies!

That's all for today, thanks for reading!
 BFTE is going to IMATS this month! I wish I could go, I'm betting it will be awesome! Anyone planning on attending?

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