Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Stress-Free Travel Tips

As much as I enjoy traveling, there will always be stresses associated with it. Who will take care of my pets? How much can I actually trust the weather forecast? How do I know that my home will be safe? So, I've worked with Dropcam to bring you some of my tips for traveling with the least stress possible.

Wear sunscreen--and reapply!
There's literally nothing more stressful than getting an all-over burn on your first day, because then you're more focused on your pain than on your vacation!

If you're going abroad, talk to your mobile-phone company ahead of time.
Don't be surprised by a high cell-phone bill because you used your minutes abroad! Talk to them about a potential international plan, and ask them to unlock your phone so you can use it outside of the U.S. Bonus: If your phone is unlocked, you can purchase a SIM card with another phone carrier to use for your trip. I purchased one for 9 euros in France, and for just 20 euros/month I got unlimited calls and texts within France as well as 3MB of data. (Merci, SFR!)

c/o WikiHow

And before you leave the country, call your credit and debit-card institutions!
If you don't call them ahead of time, I can almost guarantee that your card will be frozen after just one gelato purchase in Italy. Then you have to go through the hassle of trying to contact your card company to explain the situation, which will take precious time away from your adventures. Let them know in advance when you'll be leaving and where you're going (i.e., traveling throughout Europe, taking a Caribbean cruise, etc.) so you can purchase things with ease.

One more international note: Get a AAA travel/debit card to use global ATMs without a bank charge.
You can't escape the 3% international fee, but you can withdraw from any ATM in the world using a AAA debit card and you won't get charged a single bank fee. The card is only $4, and you can just drop on into your local AAA to get one. I used mine to withdraw money in every single country I've been to, and it has worked without fail.

This is what the card looks like. The palm tree is so fun!
c/o AAA

Whether you're going by car, train, plane, or boat, be sure to pack plenty of snacks.
Trust'll get hungry. Don't get stressed about finding a restaurant along the highway, having to pick at your airplane meal, or finding the restaurant cart on the train.

Install a Dropcam (or two) in your home for extra security of knowing your home is safe.
You can live stream your Dropcam feed over WiFi, so no matter where you are in the world, you can always check up on your home. Let's hope that the feed is boring!


Full disclosure: I was contacted by Dropcam about collaborating on this post, but all content and opinions are mine.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Beauty Scenario Tag

Dylan over at Sartorial Spice nominated me for this fun beauty-tag game! Let's go!

You have to get rid of all your foundations, except for one high-end and one drugstore pick. Which do you keep?
Seeing that I only own one foundation, a BB cream, and a CC cream, this question isn't too hard. As far as the drugstore pick, I'm happy with my Rimmel Stay Matte Foundation, and I've gotta stick with my Dr. Jart+ Black Label Detox BB Cream for my high-end pick. Seriously, that stuff works miracles.

You go into an interview, and your interviewer has lipstick on her teeth. Do you approach the subject, or ignore it completely?
This is really tough. Hm... I'd have such a hard time trying not to stare, but I honestly don't think I'd say anything. I don't want to embarrass her and potentially ruin my job prospects.

You’re not feeling yourself, and you need a pick me up. What lipstick do you put on to make yourself feel beautiful?
I either go for Milani's Best Red or MAC's Lady Danger. A red and a bright orange, they're sure to brighten the mood!

You go back in time to your teenage years for one day. How would you do your hair and makeup differently?
I definitely wouldn't straighten my bangs to the point where some pieces stick out straight--agh! I cringe just thinking about it! And I wouldn't go so heavy on the black eyeliner.

You ask your hairdresser for a shoulder-length, Pixie Lott haircut. But they hear you wrong, and give you a pixie cut. Do you…
  • A) Smile, say “thank you,” leave, and call your mom while hysterically crying?
  • B) Cry in the salon, making things awkward?
  • C) Complain to the manager, and demand a refund?
Honestly, probably B, lol. My family has been using our hairdresser since before my mom even met my dad, so we're pretty close and I can be up front with her. Pretty sure she was at my bat mitzvah, haha. I definitely wear my emotions on my sleeve, and it isn't always a good thing.

Your friend surprises you with a 4-day city break, and you have 1 hour to pack. Which “do-it-all” palette do you pack in your makeup bag?
EEK I don't use that many palettes! I own a few eyeshadow palettes and that's it. Lately I've been loving my Coastal Scents Revealed Palette, though!

Your house has been robbed. Don’t worry; everyone is safe. But your beauty stash has been raided. What’s the product you really hope is safe?
My Beauty Protecter Protect & Oil! The argan oil does wonders for my hair!

Your friend borrows your makeup and returns it in awful condition. Do you…
  • A) Just pretend you haven’t noticed?
  • B) Ask them to repurchase it?
  • C) Secretly do the same to something of theirs?
Definitely A. Some ruined makeup isn't worth getting into a fight with a friend.

And there you have it! Now, I'd like to nominate the following ladies to participate:

Remember to comment with the link to your tag!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Love in a Box Blogger Swap (April 2014)

It's time for this month's Love in a Box swap (hosted by Megan of Lush to Blush and Kimberly of Kimberly's Chronicle)!

Astrid of Astrid Stars was my partner this month, and it was so fun getting to know her. Astrid is also a senior, and she's studying Cinema and TV Arts at California State University (aka, she's creative). Her lifestyle blog features fashion, quotes, makeup, and other inspiration, so go check her out! And now, here's what she got me!

How perfect are this card and notebook?! She said that the notebook was for documenting my travels, and I absolutely plan on using it for that!

I had bouquets upon bouquets of flowers in my box thanks to this beautiful scarf and lovely earrings! I can't wait to wear everything, especially now that it's springtime in Michigan (and warm enough to actually wear pastels without covering them up with a winter coat).

I was SO EXCITED that she included Cadbury Creme Eggs! I mentioned that I'd recently tried them (#jewishgirlproblems) and loved them, and I can't wait to start eating these!

Here's the box as a whole.

My final thoughts? Astrid is awesome, and this was like opening my very own (and first) Easter basket! Thanks so much again, Astrid!

Are you a blogger and want to participate? Sign up here!
Time for a link-up! Love in a Box is a monthly blogger swap hosted by Kimberly from Kimberly's Chronicle, and Megan from Lush to Blush
Did you participate in this month's Love in a Box? If you did then grab a button and link on up girl!  

Grab button for Kimberly's Chronicle
<div class="Kimberly's-Chronicle-button" style="width: 200px; margin: 0 auto;"> <a href="" rel="nofollow"> <img src="" alt="Kimberly's Chronicle" width="200" height="246" /> </a> </div>

We would love to read about your March swap! Stick around and check out what the other girls received in their swap boxes this month. Don't forget to use #AprilLoveBox or #BloggerSwap on Twitter and Instagram!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Birchbox Unveiling (April 2014)

April 2014

April's theme was "Rainy Days," and Birchbox really went with the theme. Between the rain-themed packaging and the rainy-day tip, Birchbox was spot on. But, in all honesty, does one really need to wait for a rainy day to enjoy all of this?

The tulips just scream spring, don't they?

Here are the products I received.

KIND Healthy Grain Bars in Maple Pumpkin Seeds with Sea Salt: full size costs $11.88; sample value is $0.72

I've never had a KIND bar because most of them have nuts (to which I'm allergic), so I was relieved to see that this is a new nut-free flavor! I'm saving it for when I really need a pick-me-up snack, but I've only heard great things.

Cynthia Rowley Beauty Eye Pencil in Black: full size costs $16; sample value is $12

I was hoping I'd get a Cynthia Rowley eye pencil in my box, so I was happily surprised to receive this! While silver would have been fun, I'm definitely not complaining about black. Right now, I'm wearing blue eyeliner, but I can't wait to test out this pencil.

Color Club Gala's Gems Collection nail polish in Aquamarine Azulino: full set costs $13; sample value is $3.25

I just painted my nails with this color and love it! The polish is creamy and pearly and only requires one coat. Color Club hasn't failed me yet.

Davines Oi/All in One Milk: full size costs $28; sample value is $10.38

So I already use argan oil in my hair, but roucou oil? I'd never even heard of it until I received this product! It comes from the seeds of the achiote fruit in the Amazon, and supposedly does wonders for your hair. I can't wait to try it and see the shine for myself!

BijaBody Daily Body Serum: full size costs $34; sample value is $0.58

Honestly, I'm not too sure what to do with this serum. I guess put it on my body...? The concept of serums is still new and vague to me, but maybe this will turn me onto them.

Total value: $26.93

Bonus: Birchbox even added this card
with an idea of how to spend a rainy day!

This month's Birchbox was a huge win because of the products and value. A nail polish and an eyeliner? A beauty lover's heaven! I'll use everything in this box, and I'm already looking forward to next month's!

Do you subscribe to Birchbox? Let me know what you got in yours--I love seeing everything!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Région Centre

First of all, major apologies about the lack of posts lately. I've had an exam almost every day for the past two weeks (yes, you read that right), and didn't plan ahead for my blog accordingly. Anyway, cheers to almost being done with undergrad!

As I'm gearing up to move to France in September, I still don't know which city I'll be placed in. I'll get my exact assignment next month or in June, but I do know that I'll be in Région Centre teaching at the primary (elementary-school) level, hopefully in a medium-to-large-sized city. So, I thought I'd do a little exposé on this part of France!

Région Centre. As you can see, it's super close to Paris!


Tours (pronounced "tour") is the city that's near and dear to my heart. I spent this past summer interning there, and it's just gorgeous and amazing. It's close to all of the Loire Valley châteaux (castles) and a hot second away from Vouvray. You better believe I did lots of wine tasting! Tours is a medium-sized city with a population of about 135,000 over 13 square miles. Okay, maybe it's small, but its metropolitan area has a wide span! Tours is two hours away from Paris by train, or just one hour by TGV. This is my first-choice city for next year. (Note: I took the photos of Tours below.)

Hôtel de Ville de Tours (City Hall of Tours) 
Gare de Tours (Tours Train Station)
Tours along the Loire River
Place Pluméreau


Orléans (pronounced "or-lay-ahn," unless you can do the nasal vowel at the end) is most famous as Joan of Arc's hometown. There's even a museum/replica of her home! The city's population is about 115,000 over about 10 square miles, and it is the capital of Région Centre. Orléans is between Tours and Paris, so it's about an hour outside of Paris by train.

c/o Wikipedia
c/o Wikipedia


Châteauroux (pronounced "shah-toe-rue") is a bit smaller than Tours and Orléans. There's no real "claim to fame" here and I've never been here, but doesn't it look charming? Its population is just under 50,000 for 10 square miles. Châteauroux is about two hours by train from Paris, and there is no TGV option from here.

c/o Wikipedia
c/o Wikipedia


While I've never been to Bourges (pronounced "boorj") either, a good friend of mine is from here. Alexis and I were assigned to each other as Skype partners while he was in school in Bordeaux, and my friends and I actually visited him while in France this past summer! (He's currently pursuing the French equivalent of an MBA in Paris.) Of the four cities listed here, Bourges is the largest (at about 26 square miles) but has a small population (about 65,000). And gorgeous is that cathedral and its gardens? Like Châteauroux, Bourges is about two hours by train from Paris and with no TGV option.

c/o Wikipedia
c/o Wikipedia

Which of these cities would you want to visit?

Friday, April 4, 2014

Product Review: Broadway Nails imPRESS Press-On Manicure

When I got the Broadway Nails imPRESS Press-On Manicure in my Influenster Uni VoxBox, I was excited about the prospect of press-on nails but not too thrilled with the pattern. However, I wasn't going to pass up testing a new product just for aesthetic reasons, as this comes in many different patterns and colors. So in lieu of writing an optional Arabic essay tonight, I decided to experiment!

I was very impressed with how easy they were to apply! After laying out which nails I wanted on which finger, I washed my hands and swiped my nails with the nail-polish remover/cleansing pad included in the kit. Then I peeled the tape off the back of each nail, pressed it on, and voilà! And, after 30 minutes, you're free to cut or file the nails, and the kit even includes a mini nail-file. Unfortunately, I don't like the pattern even after applying them (it's called Lovestruck, BTW), but I'm not letting that influence this review. How pretty are these pale-pink nails and classic French tips? I think I'll be stocking up on some solid colors!

Overall, I still don't love the pattern, but I would definitely buy this product again in a solid color or simpler pattern (like polka dots or ombré). Starting at only $5.99, these are perfect for sorority date parties, school dances, or any other occasion you want manicure-quality nails without the steep price of a manicure (or time commitment of going to the salon!).

Want great nails like this? Find a local retailer here, or use code imPRESS2014 for 20% off your purchase at before April 30!

Full disclosure: I received this product compliments of Influenster to review, but all opinions are my own.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Product Review: Studio Gear's Hydrating CC Cream

I only recently hopped on the BB-cream and CC-cream bandwagon, but I instantly fell in love. It's lighter than foundation yet offers great coverage, and even SPF. So when BrandBacker and Studio Gear sent me Studio Gear's Hydrating CC Cream to review, I was super excited!

For my shade, I chose Linen, as it was the lightest (and I have extremely fair skin). It's a good thing it has SPF 20 in it, because while I love having pale skin, I need to be extra careful with it. For those of you who aren't fair-skinned, the other shades available are Natural and Wheat. You can see them here:

Before I get into my review, I'm going to do a before and after photo. Note that, in the "before" photo, I'm not wearing any makeup, and in the "after" photo, the only makeup I'm wearing is this CC cream.

...and after.

Obviously, my skin isn't perfect in the after photo, as I'm only wearing the CC cream. I found that this CC cream was lighter than others that I've tried, so I actually used two layers of it on my nose, which happened to be extra red for some reason. (Why was it so red? Don't ask. I'm blaming dry skin.) But you can definitely see that it evened out my skin tone, prepping it for the rest of my makeup routine. And it blends SO well! With my extremely fair skin, many BB and CC creams are too dark, but this one blended perfectly and matched my skin tone.

After adding a light layer of powder.

Overall, this is a great CC cream for those days when you don't want heavy makeup. Plus, its light weight and SPF make it perfect for the beach or running outside. At $34, it isn't cheap, but is comparable to other BB and CC creams. (Psst...use the code below for 10% off, making it only $30.60!) Still, it's a win in my book!

Interested in this amazing CC cream? Use code bloggercc for a 10% discount off of your entire Studio Gear purchase!

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post by BrandBacker, but all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

A Quick Announcement

I just got accepted by the French Ministry of Education to spend a year in Région Centre teaching English in elementary schools! I am thrilled about this opportunity and can't wait for all of the blog posts that will come--be it packing, prepping, beauty products once there, traveling, etc.

Thank you to all of my lovely readers for the support!