Herbivore Botanicals Mask Review

Herbivore’s Pink Clay Hyaluronic Acid Mega Moisture Creme Mask ($48)

 

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IMG_0657I bought this mask last September from Sephora and only really used it twice. This is totally out of my own laziness and not a reflection of the quality of the mask at all. I bought this for two reasons: I wanted a hydrating product for winter and the gorgeous packaging (is that bad? I’m just being honest). Initially I was VERY turned off by the separation of the product. I even considered returning it when I saw yellowy goops of oil bubbling between gobs of pink gooey clay. Also, I think the product leaked and the box had an oil stain on it. But that stuff is just a mark of a genuine small-batch, independent beauty company. Speaking of small batch, I don’t think this product is available anymore. That doesn’t mean a true Internet-sleuth couldn’t dig up a jar, it just means Sephora isn’t selling it.

I admire Herbivore Botanicals for their commitment to using high quality ingredients when formulating products. They make a variety of face oils. The most popular on Sephora.com is the Blue Lapis variety, but they have specialized oils for cell rejuvenation, youth preservation, and hydrating glow oil. A short aside on the topic of face oil: I’m a firm believer in face oil, I love layering the stuff all over my face before I go to bed and waking up to baby-soft skin and how smoothly my make up goes after applying it. Oils have become an essential step in my skin care routine. Anyway besides oil they sell facemasks, soaps, lip moisturizer, mists for literally everything, and bath salts.

On to the mask I bought. I am somewhat of a mask-hoarder. I love trying different skin care products and my biggest weakness is a great mask. It’s so fun to see your face transform after slathering on a mask. I like brightening with minty green algae masks and pore vacuuming with charcoal. Masks also deliver amazing results that are both instant and lasting. I am all about a great mask.   Herbivore’s Pink Clay Hyaluronic Acid Mega Moisture Creme Mask, which I promise I will never write out again for the rest of this review, is hydrating without leaving my skin feeling oily. That’s my key takeaway. I like that my skin feels soft and smooth and clean but not, well, too oily. My skin just feels clean and hydrated and nice. Applying the mask is a little messy. I wouldn’t do it without the provided spatula and although some things I’ve read online call it “pre-mixed” I absolutely recommend thoroughly mixing it before use. I let the mask sit for about 20 minutes and it does not ever dry out like other clay masks (probably because of the oils in it) so don’t wait for the mask to dry into a hard layer. I just splashed it off with warm water and then pat my skin with a towel to dry.

Is this the absolutely greatest mask I have ever used? Probably not. It’s better than average and because I admire Herbivore Botanicals I will buy their products again. I mainly bought this mask to support a good company and try out their line. I really want to try out their charcoal products, texturizing hair spray, and lip products.

 

And just for fun and a good laugh, here is my Snap Story quick take of the mask.

Useful Links:

Herbivore Botanicals

Herbivore at Sephora

 

Potted Herbs

Potted herbs for our window sill
Potted herbs in the window sill

The days growing longer and buds popping up on trees and blooming into bright leaves inspired me to add some fresh herbs to my bedroom.  So far the little guys have endured pretty well on my window sill.  I love the way they look and smell.  The pots come from a little flower shop in Pittsburgh’s Shadyside neighborhood called Toadflax.  The store offers fresh flowers, luxury beauty products, and chic home goods.  It’s an endless supply of perfect hostess gifts- the shop is packed from floor to ceiling with things like gourmet chocolates, jams, and teas, candles, beautiful cashmere socks, home decorations, and specialty one-of-a-kind teams.  It’s the kind of place that sells natural bristled tooth brushes and Marvis Toothpaste, which I reviewed awhile back, you can read about more about the toothpaste here.

At Toadflax the pots were displayed empty
At Toadflax the pots were displayed empty.  They might make nice bathroom or kitchen organizers.

I walked by these charming pots sitting in the window of Toadflax a few times before I bought them.  I love how they look a little lopsided as if they were actually hand crafted.  They are made by a California company called HomArt.  Unfortunately I’m not sure how they could be procured online (but I also have not put a lot of effort into it).  I thought herbs would be a good filler and the green leaves of Rosemary and Sage would look nice in them.  As a nice bonus the herbs add a nice fresh smell to my room.  Because there is no opening on the bottom I added rocks to the bottom before transferring the herbs into the pots.  So far I have been really on top of watering them and I hope they last at least through the summer.  I’d love to use the Rosemary for cooking.  Right now I’m just really please with how they look.

 

 

 

Here is a picture of the plants potted out on the deck.  I also took some pictures of the pots on the window sill but the lighting does not do them justice.

 

 

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I am absolutely not a gardener so if anyone has advice about how to keep these alive please let me know!

 

 

Jerome, AZ

View from the MountainLast year I visited Phoenix, AZ and one of the more memorable day trips was to a little old mining town called Jerome.   Location wise Jerome is Southwest of Sedona and Flagstaff but directly North of Phoenix / Scottsdale.  The drive, like anywhere in the American Southwest, is stunning.  Cactus-lined roads wind up and around mountains trails and bright cerulean skies pop against the rocky terrain.  I’m from the midwest and am used to flat fields as in all directions so to me Arizona is practically another planet.  I’m grateful my hosts drove, allowing me to gape moronically at the striking natural beauty that never seemed to end.

A big J marks the side of the mountain you drive up to find Jerome, I guess this is an old Southwest tradition. While scaling the trail we stopped and pulled over to check out an old car abandoned in a ditch. I’m not skilled in dating old cars but it looked at least 60 years old. This was the first forgotten old thing of many we saw that day.

Here's the car we saw in the ditch.
Here’s the car we saw in the ditch.  Who knows how long it has been there just covered in rust like that.

The actual town of Jerome is just like any other old, rural town in America. Relics of the past are not pristinely kept for the sake of preserving history but rather survive because of a, “if it ain’t broke” mentality. We drove past old saloon and shops, an ice cream parlor, police station… the staples of any small town, and kept on up the hill. At the very top we stopped at one of many local haunts, the Jerome Grand Hotel.

The Hotel has been the big draw since the being featured on an episode of Ghost Hunters or something like that. During it’s past life the hotel served as a hospital for the miners and surrounding town. It was considered a good hospital with modern technology but the death toll is massive, averaging out to at least one per day for the about twenty years it operated. The death count, an the original Otis elevator, and years of rumors have won the hotel a spot on the list of the country’s most haunted places. We asked politely and were given some keys to go exploring. I didn’t get the haunted vibe and none of my mirror pictures had orbs. But I don’t know if I’d want to stay there overnight.

The next stop on our trip was the old ghost town. The town is really just an old junkyard with some buildings and just a few residents. I have no idea what the few people who do live there do other than charge admission to look at an old one-room school house and gas station. We met a man with a little dog who was using a machine to saw logs I think. The dog was friendly but the guys living there were not—there were a lot of threatening signs to back my theory.

Jerome is a memorable and worthwhile trip. The drive from Phoenix is beautiful and the old town is definitely an interesting slice of life in the old Southwest. While the haunted aspect might be a little blown out of proportion but the town is definitely full of antique charm. We didn’t stop for dinner or drinks but there are plenty of places for that, too.

 

Spring Beauty Favorites

I’ve been looking ahead to spring and rocking a no make up, natural look.  Here are my go-to products to achieve a fresh looking spring face.

Hot Chocolate like the Parisians do it

ImageWhen the weather looks like this (my actual back yard) and people are throwing around terms like Polar Vortex nothing is more appealing than a little hot chocolate.  Now I can’t hate on Swiss Miss too hard, but, Parisians are the true masters of Le Chocolat Chaud.  Powder packets are a staple in American “rip and dump” cooking.  But you know what tastes better?  Actual melted chocolate.

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1 c. Milk

1/3 c. Chocolate Chips

1/2 tsp. brown sugar

Let me talk about the milk situation for a second.  People are really weird about milk.  I’m team skim milk and it’s honestly the only milk I’ve ever known.  Now I understand that sometimes for cooking skim is not ideal but I usually just use it anyway.  The milk isn’t really the star of this recipe, now is it?  Just use whatever milk you have and I’m sure everything will be fine.  I’m sure a heavier milk would make this taste better but it’s fine with skim milk.  When I want to get fancy I might do like 3/4 skim milk and 1/4 half and half or whatever.  I’m sure almond milk would also be pretty awesome here.

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Anyway the direction is pretty simple.  Just throw the milk in a little sauce pan (it’s better if it has a pseudo spout on the end for the sake of pouring) and put it on medium-lowish heat.  It shouldn’t boil.  Now I chose to get fancy and use two milks here but again the milk thing is really not a big deal.  Whisk that milk until it’s a little foamy looking.  Here’s an action shot.

Now turn the heat down a bit and slowly pour in the chocolate chips and brown sugar.  The brown sugar is critical, it makes the stuff taste like a cookie.  I caution the chip pouring because of the splash factor.  This hot chocolate is so good you won’t want to waste even a single drop.  When you pour in the chips stir it up until it’s all melted and the mixture is a really nice rich brown.  Now it isn’t going to look dark enough but as the chocolate melts the color deepens so just be a little patient before dumping in more chocolate (I’ve made this mistake).

And that’s it!  This is really strong so serve it in an espresso cup.  It’s not a lot of effort and usually the ingredients are on hand but it’s way more impressive than powder packet hot chocolate.  A little suggestion, if I may: skip the marshmallows.  This is super sweet and it doesn’t need anything add ins.  I know mini marshmallows would look adorable in this mini cup of hot chocolate, but it would just be a mistake.  You have to be strong and resist.

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Gatsby is the worst

A spoiler-laden discussion of Baz Luhrman’s The Great Gatsby.

WARNING: Do not read this if you don’t want the movie or book to be spoiled for you.  This discussion gives stuff away.  While I discuss what like like and don’t like about the film, it is NOT a movie review.

I went into Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby with lowest expectations.  I knew I would probably hate the feeble attempt to retell one of the greatest American novels ever written (if not the greatest). But my mom wanted to see it so I went with a scowl on my 3D glasses-adorned face.  When the movie started I thought I can be okay with this and just try and enjoy it if Luhrmann stays true to the integrity of Fitzgerald’s story. At the opening scene I was already furious.

I hated the way things seemed to happen TO Nick instead of just happening around him, they sort of made him the protagonist in a way that really violated the nature of the original story.  The movie opens on Tobey McGuire as Nick Caraway in the office of a therapist at a posh-looking sanitarium.  The exterior looked like one of those places they film ghost-hunting reality shows.  The interior looked like how they portray Harvard and snotty prep schools in the movies.  The therapist is looking at Nick’s rap sheet.  Depression.  Anxiety.  Fits of rage.  Alcoholism. WHAT?! This makes no sense at all.  This never happens in the book. Everyone forced through the American school system knows this.  Occasionally throughout the film it cuts to scenes of him with a mangy looking beard frantically pounding away on a old Remington typewriter or passed out next to scattered pages.  These scenes looked stolen from The Shining.  I imagined Tobey McGuire looking in a mirror and seeing a homicidal Jack Nicholson grinning back at him, stroking a pickaxe.

Why does this never happen in the book—because Nick isn’t the protagonist.  It doesn’t matter what happens to him.  At the end of the book he just essentially tosses up his hands and goes back to the Midwest where he came from.  He certainly was never an alcoholic.  Nor did he ever suffer a fit of rage.  The fact that a therapist was analyzing him and assigning him all these different afflictions violates the integrity of the book.  Nick is the narrator, he’s not the point.

The next terrible thing that Baz Luhrmann did to ruin Gatsby was give the audience too much information.  The thrill of Gatsby was that he was so full of mystery.  When guests filed into his West Egg palace they didn’t know who owned the place or what he did.  And there was a joy to that, the thrill of the own know and the fun of composing a new version of truth.  In the book Fitzgerald lays out heavy-handed hints to give the audience the information they need to know.

Baz, on the other hand, felt the need to explain every symbol in the story.  Tobey says something like “Those eyes of Doctor T. J. Eckleburg watched over them— like how God watches over people!” I understand that movie-goers grow dissatisfied when a film deprives them of some information.  But seriously it’s The Great Gatsby.  Everyone should know that the eyes of Eckleburg symbolize the watchful eyes of God.  I can’t be the only one who had to write a paper about this in high school.  By filling in too many blanks Luhrmann deprives the audience of the experience to create a unique version of the story.

The only thing that exceeded my expectations was Jordan Baker, played by the unknown actress Elizabeth Debicki.  To me she perfectly depicted a fantastical, Luhrmannesque version of Jordan.  She acted well and really suited the part.  I can’t really say anything else positive about the movie.

MAC Addict

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A few days ago I splurged a little bit at the MAC store.  Instead of keeping the joys of my custom eye shadow palette or obsession with Fix+ to myself I decided to write about it.  During my visit I picked up a custom eyeshade palette, the MAC 217 brush, Brow Set, Fix+, Cremesheen Glass, and a bottle of Snob.  I’m going to talk about the eye shadow and Fix+ spray.

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Making a custom eye shadow palette was an impulse decision.  I’m a big fan of the Naked 2 (and who isn’t?) but I wanted something small for on the go.  My heart was set on picking up one of the Yves Saint Laurent quads.  The beautiful packaging and shimmery pigments compelled me on Sephora.com, but in person I found the sets lackluster.   At MAC I realized a better move was creating my own palette with four perfect colors.  The artists helped me pick a good combo that was pretty close to the colors I use most in the Naked 2 palette (Bootycall, Tease, Half-Baked, and Suspect). The colors here are Naked Lunch, Haux, Wood Winked, and Mulch.

The way that MAC custom palettes work makes so much sense to me as a consumer.  The palette itself is made to last.  The eye shadow pans are magnetized and can easily be changed.  So if I run of out of one color I easily can buy a new pan and replace it instead of having to wait until all the colors are used up.  Another perk—if I get sick of a color I can just change it out.  The palette costs $9 and each eye shadow pan is $12.  Individually packaged eye shadows (not pans but full containers) cost $15 for the same amount of product.  To complete my on the go kit I also grabbed the 217 brush because it can be the only brush I need for basic eye.

I love shopping at the MAC store because I learn something new every visit.  I picked up a great tip about wetting a synthetic eye shadow brush with Fix+ and using it to get a much bolder eye color.  Fix+ is basically a miracle product.  I was reluctant to buy it because it seems like a $21 bottle of water, but honestly it’s so much more.  It can be sprayed on the naked face as a skin refresher, used to set color, and in the words of Beyoncé, “it makes your skin look like skin again” after putting on make up.  (You know that icky look of foundation on skin?  When you can totally tell someone is wearing make up because of that weird, unnatural texture?  Yeah, Fix+ takes care of that).  I love everything about Fix+ its light, clean scent and it’s incredible result.

Here is a swatch of Urban Decay’s Chopper applied with the Fix+ trick and without.  I’m pretty impressed with the result—perfect for some bolder going out type make up.  With Fix+ on the brush the color goes on more like paint.  Something I really like about this is that no flecks of color stray off the eyelid (does anyone else have this problem?  I always get shadow on the side of my nose).

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Decorating

ImageMy taste in interior design is clean, comfortable, warm, and modern.  I threw together some pieces for my ideal space for hanging out.

I think the most important thing is a great couch you could spend a whole day lounging on.  Since the couch is somewhere you could study, sleep, watch TV, or relax with friends, you end up spending a lot of time there.  Invest in an awesome couch.  Next, furnish that couch with some warm blankets and pillows.  I love this wool one from IKEA, I have it in my bedroom and it is super warm.  Because I’m a nerd, I’m obsessed with this ‘Ctrl, Alt, Del’ pillows.  They also have a Command, Option, Control version for Apple fanboys and girls, but I like the look of these better.

Coffee tables are likewise critical.  I love having a place to put things like beverages, magazines, various TV remotes or controllers, etc.  I also really like this nice tray which I would put fancy puzzle toys on, just for fun.  Also critical?  Lamps.  Improper lighting can be very frustrating.

This step ladder book case is pretty great, too.  I  would furnish it in a way that personalizes the room, like with large comic book anthologies stacked horizontally on the bottom shelves, an iPod dock somewhere in the middle, and framed photos toward the top.  Simple but functional.

Now, my favorite.  The beautiful bar cabinet.  Nothing says awesome like a stocked bar cabinet.  Not to mention this one is a transformer, it unfolds to maximize functionality and space.  The top becomes like a counter so you could even serve from it.  Obviously this is a pretty decadent luxury item that I cannot afford, but it is just so Batman.

Also needed for this room but not pictured:  a great TV cabinet with lots of places to hold gaming systems, media players, video games, DVDs, etc.  I think media items are best kept out of sight.  Clutter is distracting and triggers anxiety.

When decorating I like mixing high and low in a way that looks really seamless.  Like I said before, it’s important to spend money on important things like the couch or other items where functionality is critical.  When it comes to picture frames, pillows, and other accessories that’s where I try and save money.  The bar cabinet is a splurge, but c’mon, it’s pretty sweet.

If you like what you see definitely check out my Pinterest!! Most of it is decor inspiration.

Honey Café

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Recently I took a friend to the calm and cozy Honey Café in Glen Ellyn and the experience was delightful.  It’s difficult to find anything remotely cool in the ‘burbs but I thought Honey was pretty hip.  The atmosphere was clean and modern (large black and white prints, against white walls) but details like exposed brick and wood floors kept the place feeling warm.

Ordering was pretty difficult because everything looked so good.  I played it safe with eggs, toast, and potatoes– a simple classic, done very well by Honey.  The potatoes were crisp and had a nice light flavor.  I ordered sour dough toast, it was served with butter and the most delicious jam ever.  Honey serves tea and coffee from the Metropolis Coffee Company.  I had a cup of earl grey and they offered to give me another cup of tea to go.  I thought that was really good service– a lot of restaurants are stingy with tea.

I can’t wait to go back! Some of the menu items looked amazing but I really just wanted breakfast.  If I went back I might go for their Mac and Cheese or the Not Just Grilled Cheese sandwich.