Birch Box: Take One

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Have you heard of Birch Box? I’d heard about it here and there, mentioned on a blog post or someone’s Facebook page but hadn’t ever really taken the time to look into it. Recently I stumbled upon Birch Box online yet again and decided I’d sign myself up for it – in case you don’t know, it’s a monthly subscription ($10) and each box has five small beauty products. If you like the items, you can purchase them through Birch Box’s online site and if you don’t like them, well – no harm, no foul.

I’m sure every month won’t be five for five and so I thought I’d share my thoughts on Birch Box here with you all. I signed myself up to receive the box for a year; I figured after a year, I’d have plenty of beauty supplies, a wealth of knowledge about how to use them and I’ll probably look fabulous to boot.

Okay – that last part is completely a joke. I already look fabulous. Kidding. Sort of. Ha-ha!

The first box ever – my October box.

Birch Box – October
Eau Thermale Avene: Thermal Spring Water

Okay y’all – this is exactly what you (maybe) think it is. It’s spring water in a spray can. I’m not kidding. Apparently it’s meant to be refreshing and lovely and all that but I just couldn’t help but get completely tickled that one of the things in the box was literally a spray can of water to spritz on your face to “refresh” you. Would I buy the larger size? No – because let’s be honest, I could buy a spray bottle at Target and make my very own refreshing little container of water. Ha! Seriously though, this will set you back $12.50…for a spray can of water.

I will confess this though – after the miserable Saints game on Sunday, my face felt like it was on fire. I still don’t know if it was because of the wind or because I was feeling under the weather (the game literally made me sick…ha!) but I used my little bottle of refreshing Spring Water several times and was really glad to have it!

Klorane – Dry Shampoo

Dry Shampoo – who doesn’t need this stuff? I have the thinnest, most pitiful little head of hair and while I ranted and raved a while back about my PhD shampoo and getting to go two days without a hair washing…I may have raved a bit too soon. I’m still pretty dedicated to washing my hair almost daily because it’s so fine that it just takes next to nothing to make it look limp and greasy. Gross – I know. It’s true though. This is a sample size and while I wouldn’t buy this exact brand (too expensive) it’s good to have in my purse for emergency touch ups! I’ll stick with my usual for at home fixes: Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak…mostly because it’s only about $5 and Klorane will set you back $20!

Well People – Expressionist Mascara

Mascara is one of those make-up/beauty items that no one can really live without; or at least, shouldn’t be able to live without. Even if you aren’t into eye shadow and liner and all that jazz, good mascara can really make a huge difference! I’m a die-hard fan of Maybelline’s Great Lash mascara but Well People is (from the couple times I’ve used it) a really good product. I prefer the blackest mascara and this is just that – and it goes on smooth and clump free, which I definitely love. However, given that a tube of this stuff costs $23.50 – I won’t be adding it to my make-up bag anytime soon. I’ll be toting my mini version in my purse till it runs out though….

Make – Skin Illuminator

I will confess – I know nothing about layering, contouring or illuminating the skin – I guess this product is going to give me a crash course in that… This teeny tube contains skin illuminator which is meant to give your skin a youthful, dewy glow. I have no problem looking youthful and dewy (I don’t guess I mind the dewy part…) but I don’t know that I’d think it was necessary for every day wear. Perhaps you don’t use it for every day wear anyway, I’m not sure. I’m such a make-up novice that I don’t know if I’d ever really get into using something like this on a daily basis. However, as with almost all these things…the regular size will set you back $45. So yea…maybe I won’t use this on a daily basis.

Clearing Solution – Ultra Fine Microfiber Sheet Mask

Who doesn’t love a mask? I mean, they aren’t just for dress up….right? This mask was meant to moisturize your face and I have to say – I guess it did that? I don’t know. It really just felt so awkward on and I thought at some point perhaps it would not feel so slick and slimy (yes – those are the words I’d use to describe it) but it never did. From the time I put it on until I took it off, it just felt cold and awkward on my face. I guess my skin felt nice after the face, but at $9.00 a pop I don’t see myself purchasing another of these. It just didn’t blow me away.

All perfectly packaged in a wee little box.
So – this was my first box and the initial impression is mostly one of intrigue. This month the box had a lot of things that I’m probably never going to actually use much in my day to day; I just don’t see myself becoming a user of skin illuminator or refreshing spring water spritz on a daily basis. I definitely see Birch Box as a way to be introduced to a lot of different or unique make-up and beauty products that I wouldn’t normally purchase for myself. If for nothing more than that, I’d say $10 a month is a small price to pay to discover new beauty products.
Do you receive Birch Box? 
Do you receive something like Birch Box?

London Bound – Day Trippin!

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Y’all – London is only 37 days away. Thirty-Seven. 3-7! I don’t know if I can even wrap my head around that, but I do know I had planned to write a little more about our trip than I have…since I haven’t written anything else about since oh….July 30th! What in the world? I guess I’ve been busy living in the moment – which is good – and so I haven’t been looking ahead too much…

Now though – less than forty days just doesn’t seem that far away – so I guess between digging out the passport, buying tickets to attractions and tours…well it’s all getting very close. I get tickled just thinking about it, but my bank called me a few weeks ago to make sure someone hadn’t stolen my card to fund someone’s vacation to London. Nope – just funding bits and pieces of MY vacation to London!

There really is so much to see and so little time to see it – we discussed the things we knew we wanted to see and the things we’d like to see if we could fit them in – and we’ve been using Lindsey as a sounding board; she’s very jet set and this will be her FOURTH trip to London. I need to catch up! One of the things we decided would be best for us was day tours – you hop on a bus, it takes you all over the countryside to see some of the sights and then at the end of the day deposits you back! We chose two tours and I thought I’d share a little about what we’d be seeing on each one – I can’t wait!

Day Tour One: Bath, Stonehenge & Windsor Castle

The Roman Baths – of Bath, ha-ha!

Bath – located in Somerset, South West England and is best known for the curative Roman baths built in AD 60 that still exist today. Our tour will allow us the chance to tour both the Georgian and Roman baths and give us insight into what life was like in the city in the time of the Romans. Pretty cool, huh?

Very mysterious!

Stonehenge – A prehistoric monument north of Salisbury; Stonehenge is arguably one of the most well-known sites in the world. While the site is well-known, it’s use is still up for debate and the theories range from a site for healing, a site for death and even a site of ancient worship. I suppose in December I’ll get to form my own theory!

When can I move in?

Windsor Castle – located in Berkshire; Windsor Castle has the distinction of being the longest occupied residence in Europe. The original castle was built in the 11th century and has been home to British monarchs since Henry I in 1110; it is today occupied by the Queen herself, but only as a weekend house! Our tour will allow us access to St. George’s Chapel and the state apartments in the castle – exciting!

Day Tour Two: Stratford Upon Avon, the Cotswolds, Oxford & Warwick Castle

The home of Anne Hathaway

Stratford-upon-Avon – The home of one of the world’s best known playwrights, William Shakespeare! A market town that was home to the Bard himself; we will be able to tour Shakespeare’s birthplace, explore the town where he grew up and perhaps get a glimpse of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre.

This looks like something out of a movie….

The Cotswolds – A chance to check out the English countryside; the Cotswolds were designated as an Area of Outstanding Beauty in 1966. The Cotswolds promises rolling hills, thatched roof cottages and crooked village streets; the Cotswolds are steeped in history and heritage!

I’ll feel smarter just being on campus…

Oxford – The college of Oxford dates as far back as the 13th century and can count Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein as just a few of it’s many esteemed graduates. Our tour will allow us to explore the grounds, take in the Bodleian Library and the picture perfect courtyards…and hopefully let us hit up a souvenir shop – I’m going to need a sweatshirt, ha-ha!

A room with a view – certainly!

Warwick Castle – One of the oldest castles in England; Warwick was built in 1068 by William the Conqueror and still stands today; a beacon of history, offering insight into the past. The castle is over 1,000 years old and we will be offered the chance to explore the dungeon, take a look around the city center and perhaps step inside the castle to learn about the battles, banquets and ceremonies of Warwick.

We have so much more planned, I mean – we are managing to cram seeing all of this into two days! I’ll be back again soon to share just a couple more things we plan to do. There are less than forty days to go. I can’t believe it! 

A Sneaky Dog, Shredding and the Sad Saints

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I feel like I blinked and the weekend was over – I feel like that happens every weekend though, so no real surprise there. The past week passed in a little bit of a blur…I feel like I was here and there and yet also not doing much of anything all at the same time.

I feel like that’s my opening line every time – the week passed quickly – blah, blah, blah… It’s true though.

Brrr…

So true.
Forget sweater weather – it’s definitely soup weather.

My dog always manages to amaze me – and not necessarily in the way(s) that I want him to. He’s a sneaky little creature and loves nothing more than to snuggle under a blanket. Especially a blanket that is where he’s not supposed to be. Monday afternoon I left him out when I left for work and thought I’d secured the blanket in a very snug fashion on the couch – but I obviously don’t know Watson’s skills at dismantling blankets so he can climb under them. My Dad came home and sent pictures of Watson, barely visible but nestled ever so snugly under the blanket – he’s such a sneak I tell you!

The mastermind of maneuvering his way under blankets.
Loved this movie – so much.

Tuesday after work my Mom and I decided to go to the movies and see The Peanuts Movie – although how that should really be phrased is that I mentioned over and over that I wanted to see it and she said she’d go with me. We had some wholly unhealthy food to munch on at the Alamo while we watched the delightful antics of the Peanuts gang – and as a child who was raised on the Peanuts, I absolutely loved it. Yes, the movie LOOKS new and updated, but the story is the same. The heartwarming and wonderful that you know and love from the Peanuts gang is still there and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I especially enjoyed the little kid behind us who exclaimed “oh – the duck!” every time Woodstock appeared on screen.

This silly little puppy never ceases to crack me up with his silly relaxation habits.
I got this because I’m fabulous & on top of trends. Insert laughter here.
He’s such a little weirdo.

I apparently lost my mind somewhere Wednesday because as much as I despise the elliptical and I can’t walk outside anymore because of the darkness…I decided the obvious choice would be to finally commit myself to the Jillian Michaels Thirty Day Shred. And well, what a commitment that is, let me tell you. It’s a commitment to pain – she may kill me before it’s all said and done – I thought it was bad on Thursday morning when it hurt to go down the stairs, but that wasn’t the half of it. I thought I was going to go ahead and die on Friday night just sitting still. I’m serious. Jillian is definitely shredding me but I won’t let her defeat me. I’ll push on through the pain tonight and hopefully it will start to get easier at some point…because I’m going to need to be able to walk and all that jazz.

Some of the ultimate comfort food on a fairly crazy Friday.
My cell phone camera can’t ever quite capture the colors…

As I mentioned, Friday night was pretty sad and pathetic. I went to bed around 11 because I just couldn’t handle the pain anymore; I felt like someone had hit me with a Mac truck, courtesy of the shredding and whatnot. I also couldn’t handle watching the news anymore because the world is a sad and troubled place and watching coverage of the attacks in Paris made my heart ache. So, I went to bed. Saturday my Mom and I were joined by a friend and we went to some of the Christmas open houses in and around our area; I even managed to get a pretty good jump on some of my Christmas shopping – which is really late shopping for me since I’m usually more than halfway done by now. Oh well. We tried to rally our Bulldogs to a victory on Saturday afternoon but it didn’t really work out that way… It wasn’t a good football weekend.

Wearing his Dak jersey – even though it didn’t work out so well for Dak & the boys.
Jingle the Christmas Owl – he’s majestic.

Sunday was supposed to be a glorious day – we had tickets to the Saints/Redskins game at FedEx Field and it was my very first NFL game to attend…ever. I got all decked out in my Saints best and had my Who Dat spirit all fired up…but it was for naught. The tail gating was interesting and I loved the fire and spirit of all the the Saints fans around us; especially the guys who’d made a sign that said “Breesy Like Sunday Morning” but there isn’t much to stay excited about when the defense decides they aren’t going to show up to play. Blah.

Filled with such optimism for my Saints.
The selfie stick for these Saints fans.

We went to the game with some of my parent’s friends from church – all Redskins fans (well, one was a Steelers fan…) and can I just tell you that I maybe get a little bit intense about my sports teams. I do. The stadium was interesting, the whole thing was an experience…to be sure…but after the Redskins scored on the first drive of the game, I started to get a little worried. Sure, Drew threw some pretty passes and the we scored early on, but after we got our fourteen points…well, we just seemed to lose all our steam. And the Redskins just rolled right over us – which made me sad and mad and frustrated. I’m telling you – I get too excited about sports. It’s a thing. After the heart-breaking loss, we had supper at Chili’s and headed home to prepare for a whole new week. 

Socializing with the enemy – not sure about those Redskins colors…
Excited about my first NFL game – the excitement didn’t last long.

So – another week has passed. Thankfully by the time I post this, another Monday work day will have passed too. And in case you were wondering, I’m counting down the days until Thanksgiving break. Are you? 

Five on Friday

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THE GOOD LIFE BLOG

Oh Hallelujah…it is Friday and I for one could not be happier. I realize I’ve said this the past few weeks, but this week has seemed lllooonnnggg! I think it’s the end of the year rush toward the holidays, wishing it was time for Thanksgiving break stress and exhaustion, ha-ha. Not that I’m really exhausted…and I suppose I have little to be stressed about, but there you have it.

I’m just really glad it’s Friday and I’m really glad to be linking up for Five on Friday!

One. Twisted Peppermint is back at Bath and Body Works and I honestly just want to scoop up the entire shelf. I wouldn’t have thought I’d want to smell like a peppermint but a friend of mine turned me on to this scent last year and I have just been waiting for it to come out again so I could stock up. I currently have three lotions (one for the office, two for home) a body wash, a body spray and a candle. We also have Twisted Peppermint soap at the office because I have introduced my office buddies to the awesomeness that is Twisted Peppermint. 

Two. Nationals Holiday Packets – that’s right, if you’re reading that and thinking “what in the world” then fear not…because what that means is I already have tickets to THREE Nationals games for the 2016 season! The Nationals are currently offering Holiday ticket packs and you can get tickets to three games next season for as low as $45! You better believe I jumped on that deal, scored myself some tickets and now I’ll be watching the Nationals play the Marlins in April, the Cubs in June and the Rockies in August. If you live in the DC, Northern Virginia or Maryland area and want to check it out, look no further than right here. Bonus: If you buy your tickets before December 11th, you get an ornament!


Three. Fitness this week has been interesting…to say the least. I embraced the elliptical on Monday night, we were out and about on Tuesday night and on Wednesday night I really decided I’d jump off the deep end and commit to trying out Jillian Michaels Thirty Day Shred. Oh sweet merciful Lord, I don’t really know why I thought it would be a good idea because I’m two days in and it’s nothing but pain. I’m pretty pleased because I’ve made it two days and stayed committed but man, my legs are killing me…my arms hurt when I raise them too high and my abs (or lack thereof) scream every time I sneeze. So – yea, the fitness is happening. And the fitness might kill me, ha-ha! But – I press on!
Four. Tomato Soup & Grilled Cheese is a definite comfort food and at the end of this long week, when it came time to get lunch I knew without a doubt that some delicious and warm tomato soup with a grilled cheese would really hit the spot. So, I did just that and hit up Panera for lunch. I need to learn to make some really good tomato soup so I can whip this comfort food winner up at my house!

Five. Retail at Christmas is one of those things I’ve been thinking about a lot recently…and thinking about how thankful I am that I don’t have to experience the Christmas season from behind the counter of a retail shop. I experienced it last year and somehow at the “best” time of the year, shopping can truly bring out the worst in people. I can remember vividly being yelled at about ornaments and wrapping paper, standing in one spot for over three hours just to ring up people and let’s not even get started on the couple who came into the store on Christmas Eve at 5:59 (we closed at 6) and proceeded to look at every card, not buy a single thing and stroll out laughing at 6:47 – as if we, the retail employees didn’t have anywhere or anyone we wanted to be with on Christmas Eve.

I think it should be a requirement that everyone work retail during the Holiday season once in their life…so….When you shop this Christmas season – try to remember that retail employees are people too; they may be having a bad holiday season or just a bad day – and nine times out of ten, if the store doesn’t have the shirt you want in the size you want, it’s not their fault. Treat all people with kindness. All people. Of course – some funnies…because I couldn’t pick just one.

So – that’s my Five on Friday. I hope you have a wonderful weekend – because I certainly plan to! 

31 Favorites

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Well…I’ve been thirty-one for a little over a month. So far, it’s been pretty good. Only time will tell if thirty-one will be one of my favorite years, but until then….



31 OF MY CURRENT FAVORITES…

Song: Any and all Christmas music. I know; it’s November 12th. I love Christmas though, LOVE. IT. Once I discovered (courtesy of  my friend Danielle) that the all Christmas, all the time radio station is back on…well, that’s all she wrote! My favorite Christmas song though? O Come, O Come Emmanuel!

Dessert:  Chocolate anything.

Drink:  Coffee! Ha-ha, no but seriously…I love the stuff. 

Breakfast: Waffles! I love waffles! Haven’t had any in a good while though…

Lunch: I am a sucker for some kind of delicious soup – and luckily there is a Chick Fil A (hello tortilla soup) and a Panera Bread about 5 minutes from my office. Granted…those are favorites, not what I actually eat on a daily basis…

Dinner: My Momma’s red beans & rice (which I got to eat last night, yay!) is definitely one of my favorite things to eat for dinner. So yummy. Also delicious? Hamburger steak & baked potato – also cooked by my Momma!

Time of Day: Twilight…dusk…sunset. Especially when it’s dramatic & colorful.

TV Show: Too many to pick but a current favorite is Scandal

Day of the Week: Saturday, of course! Saturdays always tend to offer such possibility – including the possibility of sleeping late!

Piece of Jewelry: My Fossil watch! I’ve had it for approximately forever but the battery has been dead for a while now & no one would touch it because it was a Fossil watch!! Eek! Thankfully my incredibly handy Dad worked his magic & got it fixed right up again last Friday & I’ve been wearing it ever since!

Guilty Pleasure: Purses? Does that count? I love purses & I probably buy them too often and probably (hehehe) spend too much. I feel slightly guilty when I buy the purse, but ooohh it definitely gives me pleasure to carry it around & have it be mine. Ha!

Candy: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups; but especially Reese’s trees, pumpkins, eggs…they always taste just a teeny bit better than the genuine article.

Blog: Carolina Charm – I can’t even remember how I found her blog but I absolutely love her blog; she is so open, honest and refreshing. Plus, she has two of the cutest little kiddos I think I’ve ever seen! 

Sound: Music of all kinds; I just love listening to music.

Thing to Wear: Fleece lined leggings; y’all, they are glorious. I got a pair last year just because I figured in this whole mountain climate they might be useful & now I own four pair & love them all. They are so cozy & delightful. 

Restaurant: If we’re talking chain restaurants then I’d probably say Chili’s; I’m a sucker for their soups. If we’re talking just a local to my area place, I’d offer two options: Hunter’s Head Tavern in Middleburg, VA (an English style pub) or Due South in DC (Southern style food). Both delicious. Seriously.

Ice Cream Flavor: Strawberry White Chocolate from Ice Cream Jubilee; it’s the only flavor I’ve gotten twice and for good reason, seriously delicious strawberry ice cream with white chocolate chunks swirled in. Yum! Honey Lemon Lavender is a close second…

Store: Target. Oh Lordy – Target. I’m pretty sure I go into Target at least once a week. No lie.

Cereal: Cinnamon Toast Crunch

Way to Exercise: Walking with some jogging tossed in for good measure. Although due to the time change, I’m having to embrace the elliptical. The elliptical is definitely NOT my favorite. I miss walking/jogging outdoors.

TV Channel: The Food Network; I watch cooking shows while I’m on the elliptical. Because that seems like a good idea, right?

Way to Relax: Reading a good book all snuggled up in my bed. I do this almost every night & it relaxes me completely…to the point that within about thirty minutes, I’m falling asleep!

Sport: Baseball! Only 145 days until Opening Day 2016!

Vacation Spot: I couldn’t possibly pick; there are still way too many places that I haven’t seen & I certainly can’t pick a favorite spot because my favorite spot might be somewhere I haven’t been yet…

Fruit: Pineapple, although I rarely eat it. Once you’ve had the real deal the canned stuff just doesn’t cut it & the real deal can be pretty pricey.

Vegetable: Carrot!

Household Chore: I don’t have a favorite household chore. I have plenty of not favorites…

Flower: Lilies

Color: Royal Blue

Smell: Coffee, Peppermint, Woodsy smells in general.


Bible Verse: Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. Hebrews 11:1