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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vacation Luxuries for your inner Princess


Sometimes, there are crazy things you by from Sephora and you don't know why you spent that much on a single product. It doesn't make sense, it's probably not worth it and you probably didn't need it. But when I am on vacation, I like to have crazy, unreasonably-priced luxuries to make me feel like I'm royalty at my home away from home. Here are some of the crazy things I've brought with me on my beach vacation.

Caudalie Beauty Elixir: My friend Sara turned me on to this stuff and I'm not even sure what this does. On the Caudalie Website, it says it gives you a glow, minimizes your pores and sets your makeup. I'm not sure I believe all of that nonsense, but you know what it DOES do? It smells amazing and it feels amazing on your face when you spray it. It's got a rosemary, floral sort of smell and a slight tingle when you spray it on your face (eyes closed of course). This stuff is $49 for the full-size and I'm not even sure what it is. But you can buy a small little tiny size at Sephora for $18, which is just as stupid, but less of a sting on the wallet and was a perfect size for my purse. It's steamy and humid at the beach here and this has been so amazing in the middle of the day when my face is kind of feeling gross and hot. If you have money burning a hole in your pocket and you're vacationing somewhere hot, pick it up and treat yourself.

Ole Hendriksen Grease Relief Cleansing Cloths: I am super into cleansing cloths. Maybe because I'm lazy. My current favorite are the Yes to Cucumbers wipes for sensitive skin. I don't have sensitive skin necessarily, but for some reason, I love these wipes. They smell faintly of cucumber and they get your makeup off. I had heard a lot of buzz in the beauty community about these brand of cleansing wipes. I couldn't imagine that a stupid face wipe could be so amazing. I saw the little 10-count sample at the checkout at Sephora for $8. So it's $0.80 for each of these stupid face wipes, which is INSANE. But...

They are amazing. They feel amazing on your skin, they smell fantastic and they have a cool side with bumps on it that exfoliates your skin. I have oily skin and I enjoy anything that reduces the amount of grease and crap on my face and the fact that these wipes have AHA's in them is a huge plus for me. They leave my skin feeling clean, refreshed and smelling fantastic. The 30-count is a $15 which is a little more reasonable at $0.50 a wipe. I think I will definitely be going back for the big size, but maybe I can't buy them all the time. I don't use these to remove eye makeup (I use Clinique Take the Day Off Remover), it just takes off my blush and face powder and primer.

SUPERGOOP! Sun-Defying Sunscreen Oil: Sunscreen Oil, eh? Sure. I was attracted to this product initially because as a darker-skinned person, I didn't enjoy the blue-ish white cast that creamy sunscreens leave on my skin. Maybe I'm vain, but I think it looks really terrible. This product seemed like a good alternative because it was an oil. I initially didn't think an oil could really protect you from the sun because I believed that white-cast was coming from whatever chemical was keeping you from getting sunburned, but I took a chance on it anyway. It's $10 for a 1-ounce spray of this. That CRAZY. But I was going on vacation and this was a chance to be luxurious and treat myself like a princess. Well, I really love this product. It's waterproof up to 80 minutes and it feels really good going on your skin. Not greasy, but silky. I was out playing golf on a hot, sunny day and I did not get burned.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15: This is the most ridiculously expensive lip balm ever. It's $22.50 for a full-size, which is nuts because you only get 0.15oz worth of product. However, this is the best lip balm I've ever used. It goes on remarkably smooth and is incredibly moisturizing and the colors are usually very pretty. I have this balm in at least 5 colors but my favorite is the newest shade, Tulip. It's a pretty, bright pink and it's the perfect MYBB (my lips but better) color. Big ups to Fresh for compelling me to buy an insanely over-priced product in almost every color that they offer.

So, that's it for my ridiculously over-priced vacation luxuries! Are there expensive guilty pleasures that you enjoy? 
Monday, August 11, 2014

August Boxycharm Review!

For those of you who don't know, Boxycharm is a beauty subscription service similar to Birchbox and Ipsy Bag. Once a month for $21, they send you (free shipping!) 4-5 full-sized beauty products. It's a mix of high-end and drugstore, but this is my 4th box and I've only gotten one drugstore item (it was a mascara, which is great.) Boxycharm is my one and only beauty box subscription right now. What initially attracted me to the service is that they are sending full-sized items every time instead of samples. Not that I hate samples, I just think Boxycharm is the best bang for your buck right now. I have been waiting for it with great anticipation this week and now I'll let you know what's in my box! Disclaimer: This post is NOT sponsored by Boxycharm and I do pay for this box and chose to review it on my own for the benefit of my readers only!

Here is the box in upon opening. It's the Beach Babe Box! This is very exciting because in exactly seven days, I will be on the beach! YES. ALL of the products in this box are full-sized.



The first thing I noticed was a Tarina Tarantino lip color in Floriculture which was a really pretty berry color. I was very thrilled to see this in this month's box because in my June box, I also received a product from this line (which was a highlighter). I loved the highlighter, so I was very excited about this lipstick. The packaging is exquisite. It feels very heavy, high quality and has these adorable little crystals on the side. The color is absolutely gorgeous and it felt really soft on my lips and the color was perfect for me. It was a cute berry shade that goes perfect with my complexion and is exactly the shade of lipcolor I usually like to buy.

Verdict: AWESOME. I am not a lipstick girl, but I will be using this! (Retail price: $22)

Next, I saw this Enter Pronoun Blowtorch Bronzer. Enter Pronoun? What the heck? Well, turns out this is a unisex makeup line. Ok, cool. I also noticed that they don't really have a lot going on in terms of amount of products on their website. It looks like right now they are offering some concealers, this bronzer and an eyeliner. It looks like they are a startup or maybe just being cool by only selling 3 products? Who knows. But this bronzer retails for $35. Imagine me doing a Z-snapping motion after I say THIRTY-FIVE DOLLARS. That is like a YSL or Chanel pricepoint, baby!


That being said, the packaging is STUNNING. It's as beautiful as the Tarina Taratino product is and the bronzer seems nice. That being said...I'm not really a user of bronzer. Honestly, I have never even considered using it, especially since I don't see that many women of color reaching for it. But, I'm sure it's great and I'm going to hold on to it and give it a shot.



Verdict: STAY TUNED. I might use this, I might give it to a friend. Who knows. (Retail price: Once again with feeling...$35)

Next was this ModelCo Cheek and Lip Tint in Rosy Red. I've never tried a ModelCo product before. Is it just for models? Is it made by models? In general, I'm a little suspicious of products that are supposed to be for my lips AND cheeks. My first impression is that when I swatched it on my hand, it wasn't just a tint, it was a STAIN. It had a pretty good staining quality and I couldn't wait to try it on my lips. When you rub it it has a strange brick red color and it felt VERY sticky on my lips. When it dried, it felt okay, but in the 10 minutes that it was wet, it was sticky, sticky, sticky! I didn't try it on my cheeks since I was already wearing Tarte cheek stain.

Verdict: NEUTRAL. It's okay. It's a VERY SUBTLE color payoff (which is what it's marketed to be) for a no-makeup, makeup look. I'll use it and see how it goes. (Retail price $22)

Then there was the Ofra Cosmetics Lip liner in Silk. I watched a few YouTubers open their boxes and I appear to be one of the unfortunate ones who got a lip liner instead of a black eyeliner from this company. I got a stupid lip liner in July's box too. This was extremely disappointing.

Verdict: MEH. Who wears lip liner? I'll probably never use this. If anyone wants this, I'd be HAPPY to send it to you. Disclaimer: I did swatch it on my hand once. (Retail price: $13)

Lastly, I got this powder brush from Morphe Brushes. Here it is...



VERDICT: AWESOME. This brush rules! It's as soft as a bunny, feels really high quality and is a nice large size. I'll be using this to try my new bronzer or whatever. I would buy more brushes from this line. (Retail price: $19.99)

Overall, I was extremely pleased with this box! I was rather disappointed by my July box (which also came late), but this box is far more impressive and an extra bonus for including a Tarina Tarantino product! I can't wait until September's box! If you want to subscribe to Boxycharm, please use this link! This is my referral link and if you sign up, I get boxy "charms" which are points to buy full-sized products. 

Update

Oh hey, blog, HEEEEYYYY! I have been away for a while and BOY have I been busy! In the few months that I've been away from my blog, I've...

  • Become a reasonably successful entrepreneur
  • Made my Boston Jordan Hall soloist debut! (W00t!)
  • Gotten my first solo reviews in Boston Music Publications
  • Explored Voice Acting
  • Been on AM Radio heard in 38 States! (OMG!)
and finally...

  • gotten engaged to the man of my dreams!
So, when you ask yourself..."Where has Kay been?", you can now answer that question with confidence! I have missed my blog, but I have done SO MUCH! I just wanted to give a quick update as to where I've been! I'll be moving again in a couple of months so the mayhem continues!
Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why I Love YouTube Beauty Gurus


I'm not a makeup freak by any means. As a matter of fact, this is the entirety of my makeup collection. My dress collection is much more embarrassing (or awesome!).

I know I'm late to the party on this. However, over the past 6 weeks or so, after having stumbled upon Grav3yard girl's YouTube channel during a Dereck and Kay Show broadcast, I have been obsessively watching YouTube "Beauty Gurus" talk about makeup, hair products, beauty products, etc. I wasn't sure why I became so fascinated with the entire phenomenon. All I knew, is that I could watch them all day and I knew I wasn't the only one. Grav3yard girl has over TWO MILLION subscribers alone. TWO MILLION. This blog at current has 91 followers, which is a drop in the internet bucket. Why had I become so fascinated with these girls when I didn't even care that much about makeup? Here's what I figured out:
  1. I don't have any sisters: Growing up a military brat, I got shuffled around the world and by the time I got to high school, I was much more concerned with "being serious" than I was about makeup. Most of my makeup experience had to do with Stage Makeup and that was boring (and gross). I didn't care about it in college, and I didn't care about it in graduate school and I cared even LESS about it in my entire 20s and early 30s. I have one really girly, stylish friend and I only get to go to Sephora with her about twice a year. When I do, we spend an hour or more in there and it's very satisfying. Watching these videos is like having a really stylish, girly friend any time you want.
  2. Someone else gets to spend money (or get it for free in some cases). It's no secret that some of these girls make their living off of YouTube Videos which fascinates me. High-end cosmetic products are INCREDIBLY EXPENSIVE. In 2011, I impulsively bought a super-overpriced YSL Eyeshadow Palette that I honestly wish I had returned. The colors don't work with my skintone and the eye shadows kind of suck. Now, if I'm thinking about buying something, I just look it up on YouTube, watch some reviews and try it in the store before I buy. No regrets. That being said, a lot of these YouTube Beauty Gurus get sent products for promotional purposes, but that doesn't bother me. It's Retail Therapy without the spending money part.
  3. The-Behind-The-Scenes Catiness & Scandals: Admit it...you like a good internet scandal. YOU DO. Back in the day when the Anthropologie Blog Community Anthroholic Scandal happened, I could NOT stop reading message boards and posts. When girls are involved in something, you can almost guarantee that there will be some kind of drama and there is no shortage of interesting controversy revolving around these YouTube Channels. I think most of it comes from a mean, jealous place, so I won't place any links here, but it does make for an interesting contrast. I have great admiration for anyone who has found a way to monetize their hobby. I'd say, "You Go, Girl!" but that's so 90s...
  4. It's Light and Fluffy: I spend the majority of the day worried about stuff. I'm a worrier and most of the time, I'm worried about pretty serious stuff. Almost the entirety of 2014, I have been quite worried about my kitty cat, who has had some serious health problems. Watching someone talk about mascara for 10 minutes will make me forget about worrying for a little bit and maybe even cheer me up.
I don't know how long this phenomenon will continue to be popular on YouTube, but I'm loving it. I think I'm also fascinated by the "Anyone-Can-Be-A-Star" thing. It also does, unfortunately also make me want to buy stuff, which is BAD. I'd be interested to talk to a few of these girls about their experience! In the meantime, I'm entertained. Anyone else watch these videos in their spare time too?
Thursday, February 20, 2014

OOTD: Sweet Life & Getting Lucky

It's a few days before the big Cantata Singers concert and I'm having fun choosing outfits for rehearsals. It's been so long since I posted an outfit and I did not have any decent light to work with so I apologize for the quality of this photo.


Paddington was totally photobombing as well! The cardi is from Express, but it's ancient. I got the skirt from a second hand store, but it's from Anthropolgie and it's from Corey Lynn Calter (Sweet Life Skirt). It still had the tags on it when I picked it up and I got it for a steal. It's one of my favorite skirts as it's so cute with the pink and gray stripes. It's really well made and looks adorable on. For some reason, I have INSANELY good luck at consignment stores. Everything I find that I love was like a highly coveted piece or something, it's in my size and either still has the tags on or looks like it's only been worn once. I don't know why I am so lucky in this way. I don't have ANY other luck in life it seems, but I can find something awesome in a consignment shop any day of the week.

I recently started buying a scratch ticket every now and again and this weirds me as well as intrigues me. I'm not even sure (and this is embarrassing) what to do with ones that win. I won about $5 (which is actually not a win because I spent more than that for the tickets), but the tickets are just sitting around. I'm just not lucky with that stuff. I went to Las Vegas in September and I was like the most unlucky person ever. I won a little bit of money at the stupid Sex and the City machine (like $75), but only because I was obsessed with watching the stupid show clips when I would hit the bonus. They know how to get you. Yet, I still like to try my luck...why do I continue to do this when I know my luck is bad? Or is it just a mindset? If I believe in my luck, do I become lucky? Maybe I should just stick to keeping people organized... Follow my blog with Bloglovin
Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Whip-it-Up Wednesday: Organizing Tips for Renters


Good Morning, everyone! This week, I'm going to introduce the first of my series about organizing (because it's what I love to do!). I decided to begin by talking about the challenges involved in organizing a space that you rent. When you live in a home that you own, you have a lot more flexibility about what you can do with the space. If you need a closet, you can just knock a wall down and build a closet. If you need to install a custom cabinet pull-out drawer in your kitchen, you grab your drill and you go to town. If you rent your apartment, live in a dorm or rent a room, the amount you can change the space is limited. Here are some tips to help you stay organized in a rented space! I made a video showing what I've done in my own rented space. The music is pretty loud, but I uploaded it that way by accident and I'd have to remake the video to fix it. So, bear with me!


In this video I talk about:
Hooks
  • Hooks are really great for hanging things. Hats, coats, hoodies, pot holders, oven mitts...and other stuff. If you rent your space, you probably don't want to put a lot of holes in the walls or damage the paint with permanent adhesive. I LOVE Command Hooks! These are a renter's best friend. You can do SO many things with Command Hooks and there are so many different kinds that do all kinds of different things. You can hang pictures, message boards, coats, towels, control cords...the possibilities are almost endless. There are even clear ones now!!!
  • Over-The-Door/Cabinet Hooks are cool too. An Over-The-Door coat hook, dishtowel hook or bath towel hook works well in a space where you cannot drill into the wall.
  • YES,  I know that all over-the-door solutions look somewhat unattractive on the other side due to the way they function. Here's where I'm going to give you a little tough love: DEAL WITH IT. Beggars can't be choosers. If it really bugs you that there are two little silvery little nubs on the other side of the door, don't use them or paint them to make them blend in. This is just the unfortunate part of the over-the-door situation.
 Under-cabinet Drawers: 
  •  Can't install pull-out cabinets? NO PROBLEM! Get some drawers you can simply place in the cabinets and voila! You've got a great solution! If the drawers you get are stackable, you can use the majority of the vertical space. The ones I purchased aren't for sale anymore but here some awesome ones from Ikea. Here is also a great solution from The Container Store, which is a little more expensive, but worth the extra cost since it will basically last forever.
Freestanding Shelving:  
  • Just because you can't put some holes in the wall doesn't mean you can't make the most of some empty wall space. If you're pressed for space...GO VERTICAL! My kitchen is SUPER tiny, so I built a freestanding pantry:
You can also purchase a wardrobe and use it as a pantry if you don't want to look at all your stuff. I personally like having it exposed so that I can make decisions easily. This pantry is a combination of InterMetro Shelving and Elfa Cabinet-Sized Drawer Units...both from The Container Store. Not attached to the wall, so I can disassemble it and take it with me to my next space. I also love these wardrobe solutions from Ikea.

Personalizing Your Space:
  • Can't Paint? Well, you have to work with what you've got, baby! Something I haven't tried, but I'm dying to is Tempaper. Tempaper is a removable wallpaper that is supposed to be damage-free when you remove it. It looks super awesome and it's a great way to bring a little bit of personalization to a rental space if you can't paint the walls, but are bored with plain white walls. Tempaper is not a cheap solution, but I think investing in just one wall's worth of color can really transform your space. 
  • Changing knobs: There have been some ugly, super boring knobs on cabinets in places that I've lived. The good news is, if you have a screwdriver, you can often easily switch out these boring knobs for some cute ones. I got mine from Anthropologie. The regular-priced ones are a little expensive, but you can grab some super cute ones on sale pretty much all the time. I only paid about $3 for each of the ones I purchased for my kitchen. I splurged for my bathroom knobs, but only because I needed two. It brightened up my kitchen so much to use these cute knobs and made it feel like it was a little more "me". JUST KEEP THE OLD ONES and replace them back when you leave ;-)
  • Doing something bigger: If you really want to do something bigger like say...replace the faucets with something better and fancier...ask your landlord. There is a chance, they may even do it for you or offer to split the cost! Some changes will increase the value of the space and it may benefit the landlord to make the change. The bottom line, is that you don't want to do anything that will cause you to lose your security deposit and you always want to be up front with your landlord about what is going on in THEIR property. The worst thing that could happen is that they'll say no and chances are they'll appreciate that you at least asked.
What do you do to keep your rented space organized? I'd love to hear your tips and tricks! 
Thursday, January 30, 2014

Letting Go

Every person who spends over a decade perfecting an art has a dream. Whether or not they want to admit it, every painter, every writer, every singer, every dancer and every actor would love to spend all day at their craft and be handsomely rewarded for it. If you have ever watched a talent show, such as The Voice, America's Got Talent or American Idol, you have seen the amount of talent in the world that is unrewarded. Only a select few can really put food on their table solely through the money earned through their art. This is a reality we all know at the core of our hearts, but few of us want to admit.

During the past 6 years that I've been singing professionally after having not sung at all for 7 years, I've been through a lot of transformations. There was a time when I didn't think I was worthy of getting paid for singing and that I should give it up and never open my mouth again. I started to get hired for things...little things and actual good things with great ensembles and big names. I got good reviews. Over the past 16 months, I've felt really great about the work I've done vocally. I am a professional singer and I can say with confidence, that I'm not bad. I'm actually quite good and I'm proud at what I've accomplished.

That being said, I'm all over the place. I have spread myself so thin with all of my hobbies and pursuits that I have not been able to put 100% of my effort into any one thing. I'm teaching here, I'm singing there, I'm organizing here, I'm selling there. Aside from work, there are all of those other things in life like eating, being a friend, love, living and basically trying to enjoy your life. Some people are content to be a Starving Artist. I have decided about three weeks ago, that I am not one of those people.

I want to be able to buy frivolous items, go on vacations and go out to fancy dinners more than I want to excel at my art...and that's okay.

At one point in my life, I may have looked at this crossroads as one path being failure and the other path being a valiant artist, but I really don't think that it is either of those things. There is no failure in wanting to live a certain lifestyle and making sacrifices to get there, as much as there isn't necessarily valor in eating ramen noodles every night and working 6 different jobs so that you can go on thousands of auditions. They are simply paths to be taken. There is neither shame or valor in either one.

Over the last few weeks, I have been struggling with the realization that I cannot "Live The Dream" anymore. I have been grieving as though someone close to me had passed away. I am spending a lot of time struggling financially, going to job to job and losing track of my schedule. I lead an interesting and fascinating life and it is so satisfying and amazing when someone hands me a check for singing. It's actually unbelievable to me. But it is no longer enough for me. Giving up music as a "career" is not a failure when you haven't actually failed. The failure would have been all of those years spent at my office job, passing the time, wondering if I had any talent at all. That would have been the ultimate failure.

Letting go has been one of the hardest things I've ever done. And letting go doesn't mean abandoning my art. In fact, I am more in love with music than ever. I've done great work. I am still a very hire-able soprano. I still am working to perfect my technique. I will still audition. But it is not going to be my primary career, and I'm okay with that. Letting go has made it possible for me to sing more freely. I am not critical of every single sound that leaves my throat, I'm grateful I'm able to produce it. I still have gigs to do and recitals to program, but not depending on these things for my income is freeing. To have music in my life be the sweet dessert instead of being the entree makes singing all the more delicious.

My life has been such an adventure. Here's where one chapter ends, but let's turn the page. I can't wait to see what happens next.