Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christmas Card Day

Every year a group of us gals get together to make Christmas cards for friends and family.  It happens about a month before Christmas and it includes food, lots of laughs and a whole bunch of creative ideas floating around.  It's actually a time where us "Scrappers" or in most of our cases "Back Scrappers"* get to utilize some of the techniques and tools from the previous ScrapFest**.  This year was a slightly smaller crowd; just my mom, Jennifer and I.

An extra bonus to Christmas Card Day is I get to bust out my cocoa maker.  I got my cocoa maker 4 years ago and I love, love, love it!
This awesome machine not only mixes and heats your cocoa/hot chocolate, it keeps it heated and mixed all throughout the duration of your event.  You can use milk or water.  You can put in powders or syrups.  The directions included recipes which had some of the coffee variety and I believe some cider recipes too.  This machine is very portable.  I will warn you, it is not the easiest to clean.  I find a baby bottle brush and some heavy duty dish washing soap works the best.  I like this product so much that I bought it for 3 other people over the years.   I bought mine at JcPenneys.  I found others at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  Here's the Amazon link for more information.

My mom made her yummy peanut butter Fritos.
A perfect blend of salty and sweet, this treat will be sure to alleviate any PMS.

Mom also made her Mexican layer dip, something that Jennifer and I love.  Jennifer brought some delicious chocolate chip cookies that her daughter made.  And no small gathering would be complete without the presence of Tastefully Simple, in the form of beer bread and Artichoke & Spinach warm dip.

I didn't get all of my card making done, but here are some cards that I completed.
I added just a hint of Stickles for the lines of the reindeer body.  
This time I colored in the body of the reindeer.  
This one is my favorite.  I really loved the snowman and the use of the Creative Memories oval cutter.  And I wanted to use non-traditional Christmas colors so I'm pretty pleased with the outcome.
A close up of the cute snowman and the "snow".  

In order to save time and paper, I tend to do a couple of cards that are similar to one another. 

I love penguins!

This is how you know I made it!

I really enjoyed making my cards this year and look forward to finishing up here at home.  I'm not so great at thinking outside of the box when it comes to creativity and these annual events really help me in technique.  

To see some of Jennifer's work from the day, click here:

Thanks for reading.  Do you have any annual card making traditions?  I would love to hear about and would be happy to look at your cards.  

*A "Back Scrapper" is a term used for someone who is not current in their scrapbooking events. It is a term often uttered by scrapbook snobs who have too much time on their hands.   Example:  "Jean's grandson graduated last Spring and she started doing his scrapbook a month before the ceremony.  What a back scrapper!"

**ScrapFest is an annual 3 day event held at the Mall of America in Bloomington, MN where scrapbookers from across the nation gather to learn new techniques, use new tools and do over 30 make and takes.  The event also offers crops and workshops at an additional cost.  The next one will be held September 14-16, 2012.  

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Chicago Haul

My mom, my niece and I took our annual bus ride into Chicago's Woodfield Mall yesterday.  As many of you know, I am NOT a morning person so as you can imagine getting up at 4 am was not my cup of tea.  But I did and off we went.  Luckily, there was no drama.  Just a lot of shopping and a lot of good times.

Here are a few things I bought.

The first store we went into was Forever 21, the accessory store.  For some reason, I was under the impression that this store was expensive.  I thought I went to this store in the Mall of America before and gasped at their prices.  Must have been a different store because most of the earrings I picked up were under $7.
I was immediately attracted to these earrings.
 They make me think of the 80's movie "Desperately Seeking Susan" with Madonna and Rosanna Arquette.  If anyone remembers that movie, the bad guy was trying to track down Susan (or Roberta) because she had the ancient Egyptian Nefertiti earrings.  Anyways, I loved that movie when I was a kid and I adored those earrings.  And these babies were a steal at $5.80, on sale for $4.06.

Hmmm, I wonder why I like these earrings so much.  Do the words "Showtime, Synergy" ring a bell?
While not pink, these earrings remind me so much of the earrings that Jem wore to project holograms.  I had to have them.  Regularly $4.80, on sale for $3.36.

I stumbled upon this cute sparkly necklace.
I'm a fan of costume jewelry, as you can see.  This necklace is regularly $8.80.  I got it for $6.16.

Forever 21 has a bunch of stretchy rings.  While typically not a fan of gold jewelry, I felt the gold complimented the light peachy pink petals.
$4.80, on sale for $3.36.

And keeping with the flowers...
$3.80, on sale for $2.66.

Forever 21 was having a 30% off of everything sale.

And since I love accessories so much, I had to stop in the Aldo accessory store.  This store was pricier than Forever 21 which is why I only bought one thing.  These!
These hearts and the Jem stars above really remind me of the year 1989.  It was a time that fashion was very important to me, no matter how bad it was. ;p   Earrings in particular were something I enjoyed collecting.  These earrings came in black, silver and red.  I had a hard time choosing but ultimately I had to do the black hearts, for Joan Jett's sake.  These earrings were not on sale (BOO!) but not a bad price at $8 if you're into that sort of thing, which I am.

Next stop, Sephora.  I love makeup and I love Sephora.  Too bad Cedar Crapids does not have one, not even in our JcPenney's stores.  We only have an Ulta.  Ulta is great because it carries high end and low end, plus you can get reasonably priced toiletries and use a coupon however it is not as stocked on some products, such as Nyx.  They are constantly out of certain colors of eye shadows/pencils.  And I don't like the way they set their makeup up.  And the store always looks trashed.   The closest Sephora is in Des Moines, which is 2 hours away.  While there is only high end makeup there and it's expensive, Sephora gets exclusive makeup which Ulta does not.  One of my goals for this trip was to try some brands that I heard great things about but hadn't used it myself before.  Too Faced is one of those brands for me.  So I got my first ever Too Faced palette which also includes their Shadow Insurance eye primer.
For future reference, please take note of the eye makeup I'm wearing in this pic.

The palette is called "Sweet Dreams".  This is the cover, complete with glitter.  I wonder if they used Stickles.  ;p
It opens like a fancy book.  This is the inside.
This palette costs $52.  I think it's a Sephora exclusive, at least the receipt says it is.  It includes 15 eye shadows:
Top Row, left to right:  In the Buff, Peach Fuzz, Copper Peony, Teddy Bear, Lovey Dovey
Middle Row, left to right:  Satin Sheets, Cut the Cake, Party Girl, Nice Ash, Smolder
Bottom Row, left to right: Honeymoon, Label Whore, Nice Stems!, Cop a Teal, First Dance

It also includes 2 blushes: Cocoa Rose and Sweet Pink,
A bronzer called Chocolate Soleil
A highlighter called Candlelight Glow
and 3 cards that show some different looks.

As I was walking to the check out, I found another Sephora exclusive from the brand called Benefit.
A $10 packet of 3 trial sized facial products.  It includes:
"That Gal" brightening face primer
The POREfessional pore minimizer
The Stay Don't Stray primer for concealers and eye shadows.

I went to the M.A.C cosmetic store.  I've never used a M.A.C product before.  I know, I know, it's crazy.  I've been putting it off.  I've heard how great their products are but I also know how expensive they are so I've been avoiding that store for years now.  There isn't a M.A.C store in Cedar Rapids.  I think there is one in Des Moines at a crappy mall.  So I decided to bite the bullet while in Chicago.

First off, they play really loud club music in there.  Look, I don't have a problem with loud club music, but if I'm about to drop a load on your product, I need to be able to concentrate.  Turn that shit down.  Grandma can't think!  ;p  Second, when I told the lady that this was my first M.A.C experience, she looked at me like I was on crack.  And when asked what I do use, I answered "mostly Urban Decay" and I got another look like she couldn't grasp the concept of someone using something other than M.A.C  I would hate to see what would have happened if I told her about that Wet N Wild palette a bought a few months back.

 She asked me what I was looking for and I didn't know how to answer that.  I wanted to see it all.  I had no idea what I would be buying.  I just knew it was going to be something and she better wow me.  But she said she'd let me look around.  The store is very small and it was packed asshole to asshole with people.  I was getting so overwhelmed, first by all the products, then the loud music and finally by all the customers who all seemed to know exactly what they wanted.  I was started to get anxious as I often do in those type of situations.

  I finally decided that eye makeup would probably be the best thing to start with since that's what I enjoy the most.  I would have loved to have them match me up foundation/concealer-wise but it's seemed too chaotic for me to make a decision, especially on a product that costs over $30.  And no offense to you young "cosmetologists" out there, a lot of them do not understand that I want something that matches my skin.  I have fair skin with freckles.  I want something that is going to cover the majority of my freckles, any zits I might have and any blotches I happen to have that day.  A lot of younger girls can't understand that just because I don't have the ability to tan, it doesn't mean I want them to give me an instant tan with foundation.

The problem with the eye shadows at M.A.C is you mostly have to make your own palette.  You buy a container that holds 4 shadows for $7, then you pick out 4 shadows for $11 each.  So by the time it's all said and done, you've spent $51 on four shadows. And I'm so used to buying already put together palette so I don't have a lot of decision making to do.  M.A.C didn't seem to have any of that, which made it extra confusing for me.   Some other girl started to help me with the eye shadows.  She did the whole "eye shadow to match your eyes" bit.  She determined that I have green eyes and picked out yellow, brown, dark green and a smokier brown.  She had me take of my eye make up and then she proceeded to paint stripes on my eyes with the four colors, putting the yellow right down the middle of my lid and crease.  Here's why you can't rely solely on the "matching the eye" trick.
  1.  I actually have 3 colors in my eyes, almost identically in both eyes: green, blue and brown.  I can wear a plethora of different colors based on that fact.  You don't always have to play up the green just because it's the main color.
 2.  I'm pale.  Dark greens are great but you really have to be careful.  On someone as fair as I am, dark green can go from "fun shade" to "battered wife" in 2.2 seconds.  
So anyway, I didn't care for the look and she told me it was because she didn't have a chance to put a primer on.  Okay, primer is wonderful but it ain't that much of a miracle worker.

By that time, our lunch table had been called so I had to leave the store.  I told her I might be back once I had more time to look.  So I went to lunch and agonized on what I was going to buy because I was not leaving the mall without a M.A.C product.  I felt rejuvenated after my lunch and ready to face the store again.

This time I was greeted by a flamboyantly gay guy, who was freaking awesome.  He pointed me in the direction of M.A.C's new Iced Delights eye bags which just came out about a week ago.  There a 3 different bags for $45 each that include two eye shadows, and eyeliner, and angled eye brush and a Zoom Fast Black Lash mascara. And the bag it came in, of course. I chose the silver bag.
I love that it gives me 4 different products to try at a price that wasn't SO outrageous. And I love that the man who wasn't wearing any makeup was more helpful than the two girls that were wearing 5 layers of the product on their face. He actually saved my opinion of the store because I really wasn't impressed until he came along.  So thank you, Employee 440864.  I'm sorry you have to work with them bitches.  

I know the M.A.C store in the Mall of America is not quite as busy, not like that anyway so maybe I'll be able to make more of an informed decision in a less chaotic environment.

The next stop was Torrid, the plus sized store.  I have a love/hate relationship with this store.  I love the style but I hate that the clothes are so high priced for such poor quality.  So no clothes for me this time.  But I found a couple of cool accessories on sale.  The store was having a "buy one, get one half off" sale so I got these.

The hair clips were $8.50 which I paid full price for.   The ring is regularly $12.50 but at half off, my cost was $6.25 (Score!)  My mom ended up getting the ring too.

And our last stop, The Body Shop.  I was all stocked up on body butter but after being given a 50% of purchase coupon, I found these in the 3 for $10 bin.
My mom bought me the lip roller on the end there.  Mmm, mmm, berries!  I love strawberry douche (okay, so it's really shower gel but it's douche in France)!  The tea tree oil facial wash is for a friend and I've never used the eye makeup remover before.  And I think I even got another 10% off because my total was less than $5.

The bus driver let us watch the Golden Girls DVD my niece bought on the way home which made our trip back a little more entertaining.  I was hoping for a huge sing-a-long but the rest of the people on the bus were not that cool.

Before I go, I tried some of the makeup I bought and here are the pictures.

FACE: I tried the Benefit "that girl" face primer, the POREfessional and the Stay Don't Stray concealer primer.  I thought the Stay Don't Stray WAS the concealer!  So I didn't actually put any concealer on.  I used my normal L'Oreal True Match foundation.

EYES:  Too Faced Shadow Insurance Primer
Lids: Too Faced Cut the Cake (light lilac)
Crease, outer V, lash line: Too Faced Nice Ash (grey)
Highlight: Too Faced Satin Sheets (pink)
Eye liner:  M.A.C Graphblack Technakohl liner
Mascara: M.A.C Zoom Flash Black Lash

EYE BROWS: Too Faced Teddy Bear (brown)

Cheeks: Too Faced Sweet Pink blush, Candlelight Glow highlight

Thanks for reading/looking. I was going to do a video haul but I'm still kind of camera shy.

What kind of makeup do you guys use?