Best Beauty Tools You Can Use At Home

Best Beauty Tools

Blogger’s Note: Veet sent me a Infini’silk to review, but all opinions expressed here are my own.

When it comes to beauty products, I’m fairly middle of the road. I neither spend thousands of dollars on spa facials nor do I buy very many drugstore products. Basically, I want a treatment that works and I’m willing to spend some money to do that – but I always do a lot of research first, and I make sure I get plenty of bang for my buck.

Since the spa facials are out, I’ve invested in a few tools and treatments that I can from home. Not only are they extremely convenient, the cost of these tools is often equal to the cost of just one treatment at a clinic or spa. That’s pretty nuts if you think about it.

Here are a few tools that I’d definitely recommend:

1. Mia Clarasonic Brush – $99

Okay, so this is one that you guys have probably heard of, and it’s with good reason. If you struggle with acne and also wear makeup like I do, nothing beats the Clarisonic for removing foundation and totally prepping your skin for serums and moisturizer at the end of the day. The Mia Clarisonic is basically a little handheld, electronic face brush that moves the circular brush around on your skin, clearing pores and removing makeup and debris. It’s extremely long lasting (I’ve had mine for over two years) and removes makeup six times better than traditional methods. After using my Clarisonic, my skin always feels baby soft – I love it!

2. Veet Infini’silk at Home IPL Treatment – $229

Although you might be familiar with Veet from their waxes and creams, they’ve now stepped up their hair removal game with a home intense pulse light product. Also known as IPL, this technology is used for permanent hair reduction and is ideal for hair removal on your underarms, bikini line, stomach, arms, legs, back, shoulders, and chest. Now, I am one hairy lady, and although my combination of very light skin with very dark body hair is pretty unattractive normally, it’s also the ideal combination for the Infini’silk. I’ve only just started using this tool (and I’ll report back after a few more treatments to give you a full review), but so far I’ve found it to be very easy to use. I love the idea of not needing to obsessively shave anymore, especially around my bikini line where I get the worst bumps!

3. Riiviva Microderm Tool – $269

As we age, skin cell turnover rate slows down and makes our skin dull and rough. Microdermabrasian removes the outer layer of your skin by gently “polishing” it with a diamond tip and vacuuming away loosened skin cells. Typically it’s done in a certified spa or treatment clinic, but Riivivia is the only professional grade microderm tool on the market, and it can reduce the appearance of wrinkles, sunspots, stretch marks, keratosis pillars, or (my goal) mild acne and scaring. If you thought the Clarisonic made your skin soft, you’ll be blown away by the Riiviva (I like to say it makes my face feel like a baby’s bottom). If I’m consistent about using it, I definitely notice a reduction in red acne scarring. It’s definitely worth the cost, too – a series of 8 microdermabrasian treatments at a spa can run between $1,000 and $,2000!

Have you ever tried one of these home tools, or do you have another favorite to include?

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Americans, Safety, and Our Obsession with Firearms

Shooting

Have you ever shot a gun before? It’s pretty incredible, and I get why people are so passionate about it. I wasn’t anticipating it to be such a powerful experience, but something about putting that shotgun against your shoulder and feeling the bullets fly is pretty nuts. I definitely get a bit of a dopey look on my face afterwards, and I love fantasizing about living in California in 1850 on a prairie with a gun hanging on my cabin wall.

That being said, I refuse to have guns in our house. I do not think that guns are a reasonable form of self protection in the 21st century, and I actually feel less safe having them around. I know the statistics. And the idea of an accident or, god forbid, a child getting a hold of it is horrifying beyond belief.

Look, maybe it’s just my American showing, but I would be afraid of a government that refused to allow any guns in the hands of its citizens (I’ve probably read 1984 and The Hunger Games a few too many times). Don’t get me wrong, I am a believer in big government and I am down to pay more taxes so government assistance can be provided to those who need it. But I do think that it’s dangerously easy to get a gun, and we should have far stricter restrictions than are currently in place.

As Jon Stewart pointed out in one of his amazing shows in 2013, it’s true that while cars don’t kill people, drunk drivers do, when we enacted stricter laws like increased age restrictions, increased penalties for bartenders and drunk drivers, and launched huge awareness campaigns, it brought drunk driving rates down by 2/3rds in just a few years. Similarly, if we made just small changes to gun regulations like banning conceal and carry permits, restricted magazine sizes, banned certain guns, and increased accountability for gun makers and sellers, the damaged caused by guns could be greatly reduced.

And for those who say, the only thing stopping “bad guys with guns is good guys with guns,” an elementary school principle with a handgun is not going to put down a man with an assault rifle, a dozen magazines, and a bullet proof vest.

I get it – our country is founded on a passion for individual freedom and a hatred of a government who tries and tells us what to do. But the constitution was created hundreds of years ago in a world that was very different from ours (not to mention focused more on the right for men to join a militia than the right to individually carry) – maybe we need to consider that the world has changed enough that a higher concern needs to be reducing the #1 cause of homicide in the United States.

After all, although it’s people who kill people, the guns sure do help.

If anything, guns should be a hobby enjoyed by responsible and fully vetted adults in a safe setting. Unless you’re a member of law enforcement, there is never a reason you need a personal arsenal or a reason you should need to conceal a firearm and walk around a grocery store or shopping center with it.

If you’re a woman living alone in a home and you’re afraid, get a dog or pepper spray or an alarm system. Don’t talk on the phone while you walk down an empty street. Don’t leave your drink unattended at a bar. Trust your instincts. Don’t get a gun.

How do you feel about firearm laws? Have you ever shot a gun before?

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The Jackalope and a $160 PayPal Cash Giveaway

Some of you may have noticed that my blog is looking a little different these days! I asked Erin of Two Thirds Hazel, who did a fabulous job designing my blog, if she could do a little revamp on my header and menu, since I kind of had something new in mind. Now my little mascot is a rabbit with antlers, more commonly known as a jackalope.

Now, maybe I’m a little out of touch with reality, but I was under the impression that most people had at least heard of the jackalope. As soon as my header went live a couple of weeks ago, I realized I was completely mistaken. So allow me to introduce you to one of the finest of all God’s0 creatures:

Jackalope

The Jackalope – a mythological animal of North American folklore described as a jackrabbit with deer antlers. The story of the jackalope was popularized in the 1930s with the rise of pseudo-taxidermy where the body parts of one animal would be grafted on the body parts of another. The original origin of the jackalope myth however likely started with the papilloma viral infection, which causes the growth of horns or antler-like tumors in various places on the rabbit.

The most marvelous thing about the jackalope is how fabulously tongue-in-cheek and silly the myth seems to be. This is not a regal mythological creature like the unicorn or the dragon, although it is sometimes called “a fearsome critter,” (shy unless provoked, then it becomes quite dangerous). One of the only ways a jackalope can be caught is with a bottle of whiskey, its preferred sustenance. Supposedly in the days of the Old West, jackalopes often imitated human voices to trick perusers or mimic the cowboys singing around the campfires at night.

So, you see, the jackalope felt like the right mascot for a blog called, “Oddly Lovely.” Have you ever heard of the jackalope? What’s your favorite mythological creature?

Anyways, although I typically take Wednesdays off posting, I figured I’d give you this very long explanation of my new furry friend and hook it up with a $160 PayPal cash giveaway, which you can enter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Twelve Audiobooks for Listening Newbies

So you guys already know that I obsessively listen to podcasts (and I’ve shared with you my favorites). But my other audio-addiction is audiobooks, which I love for similar reasons – namely, it’s good entertainment when you’re doing chores or running errands. But audiobooks are also an easy way to read more if you just don’t have time to sit down on the couch and flip pages for hours.

The route that I’ve gone with is an Audible subscription: for $22.95 a month I get two audiobooks (you could also do $14.95 for one book a month). I’ve done this for years and years, mostly binging on trashy fantasy novel after trashy fantasy novel. I won’t subject you to all those here, but I do want to share some of my favorite books I’ve listened to. Of course, if you’re not into audiobooks, these would also just be good books for reading. But I found these narrators to be especially talented and the books to work especially well in audio format (because to be honest, not all of them do).

Audiobooks for Newbies

1. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

Shortly after the Zombie War came dangerously close to wiping out humanity, oral historian Max Brooks travels the world to interview survivors and record the testimonies of those who survived. Incredibly powerful, thought-provoking, and immersive, this audiobook is told by a full cast of voice actors who breathe full life into this novel.

2. Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

This non-fiction exploration of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair focuses on the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair’s construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. Fans of true crime won’t be able to stop listening to this completely enrapturing audiobook.

3. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain

Can we all just agree that this is one of the best books of all time? Chef Anthony Bourdain tells the story of his more than a quarter-century of drugs, sex, and haute cuisine from his years working in New York City kitchens. Bourdain himself narrates the audiobook, and he’s just as funny and entertaining as he is on television.

4. My Life as a White Trash Zombie by Diana Rowland

Angel Crawford has nothing going for her with her alcoholic dad, a pill habit, and a criminal record, until one day she wakes up in the ER and slowly discovers she has a craving for brains. Incredibly funny, relatable, and charming, this quirky book is a totally addictive urban fantasy with plenty of gore, and its light and easy-to-follow story makes it easy to listen while multi-tasking. The narrator also kills it with her adorable southern accent.

5.  The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

It’s 1939 in Nazi Germany and Liesel is sent to live with a foster family who also fosters both her love of books and a compassion for the Jewish fist-fighter who is hiding in their basement. Told from the perspective of Death, this heart-wrenching audiobook is both the story of a terrible time in history, but also the simple story of a young girl’s childhood.

6. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

In 1945, former combat nurse Claire Randall is on vacation with her husband in the highlands of Scotland when she is magically transported back into 1743, caught between the tension of the local Scotsman and invading British, as well as her love for the young warrior James Fraser. This incredible romantic epic is famous for a reason, and the audiobook narrator does complete justice to the pace and the characters, including their strong Scottish accents.

7. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

In the midst of a war against a hostile alien race, child genius Ender is drafted into battle school for rigorous military training, where his skills make him a leader even while he struggles with intense psychological battles. This was the first audiobook I ever fell in love with that has a full cast, and I promise it’s even better than reading it.

8. The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

Enzo is a special dog, profoundly philosophical and educated, who watches the life of his human Denny as he goes through struggles and joys, with the utter devotion and loyalty only a dog can possess. Prepare to cry your eyes out at this incredible story from the point of a view of a dog, utterly brought to life by the audio narration.

9. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

In this extremely long non-fiction tomb, Bill Bryson tackles the complete history of the world from the Big Bang to the rise of civilization and the evolution of man. Told in a way that makes sense even to those who are less scientifically minded, this non-fiction audiobook is far from a sluggish and boring read, and it keeps you completely engrossed.

10. Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Nine year old Oskar is an explorer and inventor, and when his father is killed in the 9/11 attacks, he sets out to solve the mystery of the key he discovers in his father’s closet. Despite the somewhat heavy topic, this audiobook is deeply heartwarming and whimsical.

11. Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1) by Charlaine Harris

Sookie is a cocktail waitress in a small Louisiana town whose ability to read minds gets her wrapped up in the affairs of the supernatural, including a very tall-dark-and-handsome vampire. This series was the origin of the True Blood HBO show, but in my opinion these audiobooks are far superior. Johanna Parker is, I kid you not, the best audiobook narrator of all time.

12. Anything book ever written by David Sedaris

You can’t go wrong with a collection of David Sedaris stories. Whether it’s childhood tales of learning guitar from a midget to settling down at 50 years old in Paris with his partner, these essays will have you rolling on the floor laughing. Best of all, Sedaris reads all of his own stories for the audiobooks and does so in a way that makes them closer to stand-up comedy than a simple novel.

Have you ever listened to audiobooks, and if so, what are some of your favorites? Have you ever read any of these books?

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The Velvet Underground Outfit

Velvet Underground 3Velvet Underground 1Velvet Underground 5Velvet Underground 4Velvet Underground 2So I know things have gotten a little heavy here on the blog lately. From talking about controversial posts to my case of the January blues, we’ve been getting introspective and reflective and a lot of other -ectives. I want to just take two seconds to thank everyone for your incredibly thoughtful comments on my post last Friday. I’m not even exaggerating when I say you guys made me tear up, and I wish I could have spent 30 minutes writing each of you responses. It’s pretty clear you would all be fabulous people to get coffee with!

Today, I’m going to go simple and light and share my Velvet Underground outfit with you guys. I really love pairing big, glam jewelry with edgy band tees – something about combining glitz with grunge is so chic, you know?

I picked up these shoes and this necklace last friday as a way to wrap up my terrible week. Shopping therapy isn’t necessarily the healthiest or most affordable, but gosh darn it, sometimes it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Do you guys ever indulge in some new shoes or a piece of cheap jewelry after a terrible week? What’s something you’ve splurged on lately?

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If We Were Friends Grabbing Coffee…

Coffee Shop

If we were friends grabbing coffee, I’d tell you the last week has been tough. It’s the first time in a long time I can remember when I’ve woken up every morning apathetic and like there’s no point in getting out of bed. It would be far too hasty to call this a depression, but it has the same characteristics as one. Nothing has really changed – same job, same boyfriend, same home. Depression is pretty illogical that way sometimes, huh? I’m working on shaking myself out of it, and fortunately I’ve built up some good tools over the years to manage these negative moods, but it’s been difficult.

If we were friends grabbing coffee, I’d tell you that I started a new kickboxing class! It’s absurdly expensive, but it’s right across the street from my house, and if there’s one thing I know about myself, it’s that I’m very good at talking myself out of going to the gym. I did some kickboxing in college and really loved it, but in the last year I’ve gotten pretty lax about exercise. Kickboxing is so mentally engaging and fast paced, you don’t even think about what an insane workout you’re getting. The coaches are dedicated and patient, and I have bruises covering my shins and I kind of love it.

If we were friends grabbing coffee, I’d tell you that my small social media marketing company was acquired by a medium-sized PR agency a few months ago for us to become their social branch. So far it’s been an easy transition, but work has still been slow. I’ve felt a little less than mentally challenged and not very excited about my projects, plus I’ve been helping out with a bunch of new client proposals, which are fun but can be discouraging because of the lack off payoff. Still, the advantages of my job are huge – it’s a ten minute drive from my house, I love my coworkers, my dog comes with me to work every day, the pay is decent, and I get to work in an industry I’m excited about. I’m hoping this is just the low dip in the typical ups-and-downs of a good job.

If we were friends grabbing coffee, I’d tell you how my main focus in life has been blogging. I wasn’t sure if this whole blogging thing would really stick, since I tend to be the sort of person who gets super into something and then just totally loses interest a few months later. Yet I have deeply enjoyed the process of writing and creating posts, taking photographs, marketing my blog, and getting to know everyone who is here reading this. I have been so incredibly blown away by the thoughtful, heartfelt comments people leave on my posts. Bloggers always says “the community is the best part” and while it sounds so cheesy (and even a bit insincere), it’s really true.

What’s going on in your life? What are you thinking about and doing? Fill me in (and be honest)! You are welcome to comment anonymously if you’d feel more comfortable.

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