Birchbox Review | July 2014

How the latest and greatest in beauty and lifestyle products made me feel a little bit more gorgeous this month…or not so much. Here’s the skinny…

Birchbox Review July ATG FINAL

#1.  Harvey Prince Hello Body Cream | It’s no secret that thanks to Birchbox, I’m a fan of Harvey Prince. If I had to pick my signature scent right now, Hello is my near daily go-to perfume choice (which I’ve gushed about before here and here.). In a nutshell, the Hello Body Cream is the icing on the cake! The formula is infused with my beloved Hello perfume, along with sweet almond oil, citrus botanicals, and shea butter to give it a bright scent, and light moisturizing feel. The texture is silky and the product blends into the skin almost instantly. Your hands (which is where I opted to use this product) feel saturated and soft, without a greasy residue. As much as I love the cream, I’ll stick to their perfume as my Harvey Prince indulgence of choice. Though I do adore this product, I can’t see myself spending $22 on a 12 ounce bottle of lotion at this time. I’d rather save up and invest in the fragrance.

Overall: A do…if you can get behind the cost.

#2.  Ruffian Nail Lacquer – Ambrosia | I’ve received a Ruffian nail polish sample from Birchbox before. I won’t go into much further detail from my previous review last September, but I will say that I loved this color much better than the one I got last year. I do think this was largely why I was so unimpressed at the time. There’s nothing worse than a “blah” shade in any beauty product. The Ambrosia color has a unique metallic lavender finish that sparkles subtly in the sunshine. And even better, you really only need one coat. Where Ruffian does excel is in the design of the bottle. I do appreciate the ball shape on the cap. It allows for a good grip and gives you more control during application.

 Overall: Perhaps I misjudged Ruffian the first time around. Relationship status, pending.

#3.  Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer  | Like most skin care products designed to help with fine lines and wrinkles, this gel serum from Juice Beauty (cool name!) would take time and repeated usage to see any real results. I’ve only used this product a few times and would need to continue use for a while to form an opinion (and I don’t know if the size of the sample would give me enough product to form one anyway!). I don’t really have anything to say other than I wasn’t a fan of how it made my skin feel pretty dry after application. I was always desperate to get to my moisturizer after using it. Admittedly, I happen to be in the category right now of not really having aging concerns when it comes to my skin. This likely due to my age, my race (African-Americans tend to age well), and the fact that my mom looks more like my sister (so I have good genes!). That being said, I’ve always been one for good skin care (also thanks to my mom) and probably do need to start thinking more seriously about using something like this product on a more regular basis to get an early start at warding off signs of aging. Unfortunately, I don’t think it would be with this product anyway.

Overall: Eh.

#4.  Ruffian Dressing Room Nail Lacquer Remover Towelettes | I have a confession to make and I may lose cool points for it. I typically resort to maximum strength acetone-based nail polish remover when it’s time for a polish change. And while I know this stuff is known to wreak havoc on nails, I like the ease of a quick swipe, swipe, swipe, and the polish is gone. Though I think these towelettes are a pretty genius idea, I wasn’t thrilled that it took 3 times as long for me to remove my polish. It’s not like I was in any big rush or anything, I just hate rubbing the same nail over…and over…and over…times 10 (it’s my A.D.D. nature, I’m sure). However, these perfume scented towelettes are winners in and of themselves. Each wipe is enough to remove the polish of an entire mani or pedi. They are acetone-free, and therefore, naturally much less harsh on nails. Add in the fact that they smell wonderful, and are infused with vitamin E – which leaves the nail bed area all the more moisturized – and this is something I could buy into, despite the longer removal time. Where these fall short is being able to really reach toward the sides of the nail bed nearest the skin in the deeper crevices. You’ll still need the aid of a Q-tip, which is slightly disappointing given that a box of 10 towelettes costs $12.

Overall: A do…if you don’t mind a longer removal time…and the cost.

#5.  100% Pure Gingerade Shower Gel (Honey Cream Wash) | This was a case of I just couldn’t tell. I couldn’t tell if this all-natural (a plus!) ginger-inspired body wash was a scent I could get behind because I didn’t hate it, but I couldn’t say I loved it either. I really couldn’t tell much about its performance from the pathetic-sized samples I got where one packet barely did anything on my loofah. I actually had to add my go-to Caress body wash to it to finish my shower. This has all the ingredients for a terrible first impression. It might help if Birchbox sent a larger sample to really get a sense of the product, but this was disappointing. I just gave up and denounced this altogether. There are too many products on the market to experiment with. Neeeext!

Overall: Pass.

#6. Ofra Universal Eyebrow Pencil | I don’t personally use eyebrow pencils. If I ever feel the need to define them on a rare given day, I usually just add a few swipes over my brow bone using a brown eyeliner pencil applied with a light hand. That said, this eyebrow pencil by Ofra is a good option if you don’t like the all-in-one convenience of just using your eyeliner. What makes this particular pencil stand-out, is that it’s designed to work on any gals brows, from blondes to brunettes. Obviously, I can’t speak to its universality, but as a brunette with a darker (honey) complexion this pencil works well. You really only need just a few strokes and you’re set. The pencil is long-lasting and fills nicely.

Overall:  A do… if you’d rather not just use an eyeliner.

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What I’m Lovin’ Right Now

Last week, I was driving down Ventura Boulevard  blasting responsibly listening to Daft Punk’s recent release, Random Access Memories, when suddenly my eye was drawn to the person in the car to my immediate right. She was bouncing around uncontrollably, shouting in the driver’s seat. When I realized she was okay and wasn’t suffering from a seizure, a huge smile swept across my face. This lady was hardcore rockin’ out in her car. Is that what I look like when I’m alone in my car with the music blasting at an appropriate driving level, totally lost in that jammin’ feeling?

I’m a HUGE fan of the right tunes always around you in life, but especially when on the road. I highly recommend it as the best way to deal with the oh-so-awesome LA traffic, or to quickly bounce back after that a-hole cut you off on the 405. It seems with the right music anything that’s wrong in the world is instantly right…at least for those 4 minutes.

The best part of my little story while driving along Ventura Blvd. last week? When we finally hit a red light, I turned down my music dying to know what this lady was rockin’ out so hard to. It was Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories. She was two tracks ahead of me. 

here’s what i’m lovin’ right now


1. Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories.

2. Chunky side french braid for an instant good summer hair day.

3. White tulips poised in a clear square vase.

4. H&M Sandals.

5. Mango Drop Waist Swallow Print Dress.

6. Essie Nail polish in Smokin’ Hot.

7. House of Harlow 1960 Medallion Locket Pendant Necklace.

8. Michael Kors Berkeley Clutch.

9.’s No Issues Today.

10. Baked Bree’s Baked Chicken Tacos.

Nailed It

One of the luxuries that I used to give myself was a pretty consistent trip to my favorite nail salons around town for a relaxing pedicure that always made me feel recharged and happy afterward. Unfortunately, this was one of those luxuries that I put the kabosh on when I made the decision to move into my own place and needed to reallocate expenses. The beauty is, while it is nice to sit back, flip through a 3-week-old US Weekly while someone gives you a foot massage and soft toes – at home mani/pedis can be almost as relaxing. It’s one of those DIY’s that force you to zone out and simply focus on what you’re doing (though I fail at not being able to keep the polish off neighboring skin every. single. time.).

For the most part, I tend to stick to pretty neutral colors when it comes to nail polish, but lately I’ve been experimenting with a lot of different colors to keep things fresh and fun. Nails have become all about color. Nothing is off-limit. I have to say though, an amazing white french tip on the toes is still the epitome of classic fresh in my opinion and was my go-to look when I was a religious nail salon visitor.

Since these visits are no more, I’ve become that girl who does her own at home nail treatments. This simply means: remove the color, shower, and re-polish; not always taking the time to recreate that spa experience at home.

I don’t polish my fingernails too often because no matter what I do, they chip an hour later without fail. (Ugh.) So I’ve become a huge fan of changing it up frequently when it comes to toes in particular. One of the best things about this time of year are open toed sandals with a fresh pedicure.

I thought I would share some of my favorite nail polish colors and these 2 helpful videos on how to recreate a little bit of that missing spa experience at home and on the cheap. I hope it inspires you to still keep things luxurious…even on a budget.

Nailed It_ Polish Colors

Happy painting! xx

|| What I’m Lovin’ Right Now ||


With the official start to summer only 2 short days away, I’ve been excited at all the fun to come. I can’t say that I have an absolute favorite time of year, because I’m usually ready for the change in season at the exact time the new season joins us (and this can’t ring more true right now). While fall and winter both have their unique traits and celebrations, I’m NOT a fan of being cold. At all. So if I had to pick, there’s something about summer that makes me happiest. Perhaps it’s because I’m a California girl through and through. I love sunshine, warm weather (if we can keep it around circa 80-85 degrees), the beach, long days, 4th of July, outdoor movies, the Hollywood Bowl, sundresses, sunnies, sandals, fruity cocktails and iced lattes. So the plan this particular summer season would be to channel as much of what you see in the picture above for the next 3 months.

love & light,


here’s what i’m lovin’ right now

|| Kate Spade’s Alyx sunglasses featured on Keiko Lynn’s blog last week. WANT. ||


|| These 14k Gold Peach Wire Wrapped Earrings from Diamblond’s Etsy Shop. ||


|| Homemade Frozen Strawberry Lemonade // Recipe here. ||


|| Ryan Gosling’s very wise and very true words. ||7b04ce5c55ab76db9a3211a4637a4614

|| Vintage inspired door knobs as curtain tie-backs // Details here. ||


|| Revlon’s Plum Seduction Nail Polish (currently on my toes and perfect for summer!). ||


|| What’s inspiring me to want to drop everything and take a summer adventure.||


|| Mushroom, Asparagus + Prosciutto Pizza with Balsamic Glaze // Recipe here. ||


*click photos for image sources.

|| What I’m Lovin’ Right Now ||


This quote from Lao Tzu speaks to me because I am the first person to admit that I have a hard time being present. The good news is that I’m very aware of this complication in my personality, the bad news is that I still struggle with it…often. My mind frequently wanders throughout the day to the next thing. It’s always about what I have to do next, where I have to go next, and when I have to get it done by. The trouble is, this usually happens while I’m dead in the middle of doing something that should already require my full attention.

Essentially, I’m almost always in a state of forward thinking, forward planning; forgetting to just stop, breathe and just enjoy what is. The important part to note is that during all this forward thinking, day-dreaming, and yes, even backwards reflection (but that’s another post for another time) – is I’ve somehow trained myself not only to not be 100% in the moment a large chunk of the time, but that I can somehow continue this train of thought AND get whatever needs my immediate attention in the present done in a manner that still suits my perfectionism. I call this unique ability “multitasking.” You might call it, crazy.

Needless to say, I realize there are times that I am missing out on the simple joys in life because my thoughts are elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I’m much better at this than I used to be. Yoga has been a great outlet for me (but I admit that have been known to mentally make my Trader Joe’s grocery list while in downward dog). Getting older (and ideally wiser) has helped. Blogging is one of things that forces me to be present (though you’d still be amazed at what I can do at the same time I’m writing). And I think I’ve picked up some of my boyfriend’s completely relaxed energy (where he annoyingly has absolutely no problem being totally and completely present almost all of the time – while I’m still festering over something that happened 2 days ago :)). 

So this little gem of a quote I stumbled across this week was a concept that instantly hit home for me and I’m sure many of you. We live in a time where GO, GO, GO – DO, DO, DO – BE, BE, BE inundates us from the time we wake up forcing us to always be thinking ahead – because if you don’t, you’re not in the game, right? I’m not so sure about this anymore.

As with everything in life, there is a journey. Perhaps mastering this is part of mine.

What’s yours?

I hope you’re lovin’ this quote as much as I am and it gets you to think about your own journey… and making sure you’re present enough to enjoy every single step.

love & light,


here’s what i’m lovin’ right now

|| Tbags Los Angeles’s Layers Mini Dress from Shopbop.||


||Light and airy bathrooms with stand-alone tubs. Insert me with a book here like ASAP.|| b63139a7ea6ab584bf59c36f6d6c7957

34dc0394e2c18432185fc19379c3edcb || Alternating nail polish. The perfect solution when you can’t decide between two colors! ||

||Sweet Potato Veggies Burgers with Avocado. // Recipe here.||


||The perfect office space.||aa593be3650d3a3d8878efa0b628d712

47791ad6e8f10cd9c7595097e4d2457c|| The NEW “happily ever after.” ||

||Spice racks as office supply storage. Genius.||304634fa079182c6ba308d5389322727

||The video causing an internet sensation. Ladies, it’s time to Lean In.||

*click photos for image sources.

Girl Night In

The long holiday weekend started off on the right note (if I do say so myself). I spent my Thursday night celebrating with a girl night in. Girl night in? Yes, a girl night in. A night to be home alone and do those things that are completely girly, yet make you feel like a million bucks because you took some time to focus on you. I wanted a night to decompress and prep for the next 4 busy, but fun-filled, days off to come. This included an evening dedicated to a little self-pampering, some relaxation, good food, a glass (or two) of wine, the ultimate “girl night in” flick; followed by some reading while the iPod did its thing filling my humble abode with just the right music. By the time I made it to bed, I had completely reset from the work week and was ready for a very special weekend. Posts to come on all the labor day weekend festivities! Here are some of my tricks to the ultimate girl night in:

{DIY hydrating facial using some of my favorite Dermalogica products.}

{DIY mani/pedi. China Glaze nail polish, color: Sexy Silhouette.}

{Girl night in flick: Sex and the City: The Movie.}

{A glass of my favorite white wine, Moscato.}

{Trader Joes’ BBQ Chicken Pizza. Fresh from the oven and super yummy!}

{Current read: The Cider House Rules by John Irving.}

What are your girl night in tricks? Please feel free to leave me a comment below. I’m always looking for new ideas!