Sephora Play! March 2018

Another Sephora Play! has arrived, and it’s a little on the late side this month.  The theme is, “Festival of Beauty,” but again, a pretty nebulous theme that doesn’t actually make sense for any of the products in the box.  This is box variant #364 and it arrived yesterday, March 21, 2018.  I saw the spoilers and wasn’t too pleased with what was going to show up, but again, for $10, I guess I don’t have a lot of room to complain, but!  Then I saw the bag.  Sephora, you’re better than this.  There’s a great article here that goes into the detail on the use of the term, “Spirit Animal,” and it’s really awful that Sephora chose to use it on the bag this month.  It’s a shame, because I love the bag fabric, color, and ribbon, but the use of a culturally insensitive term like that really ruins it for me.  They could’ve easily said, “Beauty is my life,” or, “Beauty is my passion” instead of using a term that’s garnered some controversy.  Anyway, rant aside, on to the contents.

  • Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner – .016 oz / $22 – (Product is .008 oz, value of $11 by volume)  I know I have a sample of this that I’m already using, but it must be from a gift-with-purchase or something.  I could’ve sworn it came in another Sephora Play! box, but I guess not since I didn’t find it in the blog archives (I missed posting a few months, so maybe it was in one of those?).  Anyway!  Waterproof black eyeliner from a cruelty free company?  Yeah I can use that!
  • IGK Mistress Hydrating Hair Balm – 5 oz / $29 – (Product is .5 oz, value of $2.90 by volume)  Well, sure, it’s paraben and sulfate free, but unfortunately the third and fourth ingredients are silicones, so it’s a hard pass for me.  If you’re using products without parabens and sulfates, then you’re not able to wash out the silicones in this product that build up on your hair, so it’s silly to be all “we’re good for curls!” when you’re not.  It’s also incredibly heavily perfumed and smells just awful to me.  I’ll stick to my natural hair products, thank you very much!
  • Supergoop Setting Mist – 3.4 oz / $28 – (Product is .5 oz, value of $4.11 by volume)  It’s got an SPF 50 rating, but it’s heavily alcohol based which is bad for dry skin, and it has peppermint and spearmint oil, so that pretty much makes it a nope for me (mints tend to irritate my skin, and they just smell awful to me – why would you want a face product to smell like toothpaste?!).  This goes traight to the trade/give-away pile.
  • Bobbi Brown Extra Illuminating Moisture Balm – 1 oz / $68 – (Product is .17 oz, value of $11.56 by volume)  It’s basically a moisturizer with a very, VERY subtle pearlescence.  It’s okay – nothing really amazing, definitely not $68 for an ounce amazing, plus it’s not cruelty free, so this wouldn’t end up in my skincare routine on the regular.
  • Korres Greek Yoghurt Foaming Cream Cleanser – 5.07 oz / $26 – (Product is .68 oz, value of $3.49 by volume)  I haven’t yet tried this, but I love Korres products already.  Even though they started selling in mainland China, it’s only via internet sales, so they maintain their cruelty free status.  The cleanser smells light and fresh, and I love having these smaller sizes for travel.
  • Amika Soulfood Hair Mask – 2 oz / $12 – (Product is .7 oz, value of $4.20 by volume)  This is another product I haven’t tried yet since it’s going to be a single use foil packet tube.  Unfortunately, a quick glance at the ingredients means I won’t be trying this either since it contains silicones that don’t wash out without a shampoo containing SLS/ALS which I don’t use, so they just build up over time, and that’s no good.  It also contains Isopropyl alcohol (ie. Rubbing Alcohol) which is a heavy NO for dry and curly hair (SERIOUSLY?!).  I’d never EVER put rubbing alcohol on my hair and expect it to be nourished, so I can’t even believe it shows up in the ingredients here.  Hard pass.

The total value of this box comes to $37.26 which is pretty great for a cost of $10.60 per month including tax and shipping.  Unfortunately this box is mostly a miss for me since they included products that they thought were suited to my curly hair profile, but aren’t actually suitable for curly hair at all.  Super disappointing.  I will keep and use the eye liner, cleanser, and moisturizer which still make up for the cost of the box, but I’m bummed about the two hair products being absolute misses as well as the controversy over the bag.  Honestly, I’d be happy to go without the silly bag if we can get a full-sized product each month.  We’ll see what next month brings!

Local Meads

A local meadery, Haymaker Meadery, decided to run a fun competition among local beekeepers across three counties.  The idea was that beekeepers from Philadelphia, Chester, and Montgomery counties in Pennsylvania would bring in honey from their beehives which would then be turned into three separate meads using only honey from each individual county.  They collected the honey in August 2017 and in February 2018, the meads were finished, bottled, and ready to be tasted and judged.

Since I make mead at home as well, I was pretty psyched to be a part of this and rustled up two jars of honey to participate.  Each 2.5 lbs of honey is returned to the beekeeper in the form of a bottle of mead which is a pretty great trade!  Plus, participants also received a discount on purchases during the judging day.

The honey in the photo above is late Summer honey from my hives, so it’s darker than its earlier Spring counterpart.  As part of Chester County’s mead, the final product was indeed the darker of the three meads, so I have to imagine I wasn’t the only one bringing in fresh, late summer honey that was probably mostly clover-based.  After judging, the winner was declared to be Montgomery County’s mead, a lighter mead reminiscent of a Riesling with a touch of lemon and floral notes.  I’ll hand it to Montgomery County bees and beeks – they really put together some lovely honey to create a great mead.  I mean, they’re all good, and I was hard-pressed to pick a favorite since they all have their merits, but it was neat to see that even a matter of 10 or 20 miles could create honeys so different and as a result, meads that were so different.  Haymaker Meadery is looking to start another round of county-specific meads this year on Mead Day in August of 2018, so beekeepers, be sure to set aside some honey to participate this year!  It’s exciting to see your honey made into a professional mead, and getting to chat with other area beekeepers while sipping on delicious meads at judging day is a fun way to spend a Saturday afternoon.  There may still be bottles of these three available at Haymaker, so I’d definitely suggest visiting the shop and trying some truly local flavor!

Sepia Saturday 410

I kind of lost steam on these and miss nearly a year’s worth of Sepia Saturdays.  Things have been pretty upside down here, but I’d like to get back at these since I still have SO many photos from the family collections to share.  This week’s theme image showed a police officer escorting a group of children.  I don’t have a police officer, but I do have a woman escorting two children.  The woman is Hilje (Dijkema) Jaarsma and this was likely taken in Uithiuzen, Netherlands in about 1945 or 1946.  She only has two children with her, so the youngest child, my husband’s father, is probably out of the photo (likely in the arms of the person taking the photo).  I haven’t been able to figure out the exact street where this was taken, but I’m pretty sure it was somewhere in Uithuizen since that’s where the kids were born and where Hilje and her husband lived before coming to the USA.  Anyway, a short and sweet one for this week to get back into the habit!

Dia & Co – March 2018

Well, I decided to give Dia & Co a try after Stitch Fix left me hanging yet again.  I won’t be posting that Stitch Fix delivery to the blog, but I did put it up on Instagram if you want to take a look.  It was a complete miss and I sent everything back, so it was a waste of $20 and I was incredibly disappointed.  Anyway!  Going through the process signing up for Dia & Co, I noticed that they asked a bunch more questions about fit and color/print preferences, so I’m hopeful that this will go better!  They also cater exclusively to plus sizes, so I have to imagine that they have a better sense of how plus size clothes work.  Simply adding a set number of inches to a straight size doesn’t make clothes fit a plus sized gal the right way, and I know Dia has a few brands on their list that I already love, so I feel like I might trust them more to get fit right.  First boxes tend to be a little bit of a gamble while the stylists get a feel for your personal style and fit, but the great thing about Dia & Co is that they let you upload pictures to show off how things from your box fit.  This is BRILLIANT for getting a better customization as time goes on.  My stylist, Rachael, sent along a note:

Welcome to the Dia & Co family!  We’re really excited to start this journey with you and build a wardrobe you’ll love to wear every day.  These Celebrity Pink skinny jeans have a three button closure which will bring a bit of retro style into all of your looks!  You can wear them out to dinner with the gorgeous Marybelle blouse and a pair of ankle boots for a fun and fabulous look.  As it starts to warm up, the Kut From The Kloth shorts will be a great piece to incorporate into your wardrobe, so wear them with the East Adeline tee and a pair of canvas shoes.  The City Chic dress will look stunning paired with t-strap heels and statement earrings.  Don’t forget to send us your feedback – we want to know what you like, what you don’t and and what styles you’re willing to try.  And most importantly, we want you to have fun with this!  xo, Rachael

Item: City Chic Lyra Dress
Paired With: Shoes and Shrug (mine)
City Chic is a brand I REALLY love and their clothes always tend to fit me well.  I think I made a slight judgement error when putting in my sizes online since I kind of run between two sizes depending on the manufacturer, so this came in a size too big.  City Chic also tends to be a bit generous with sizing, so usually I go a size down with them.  The color is GOREGOUS and the material is a Polyester/Elastane blend, so it has a little bit of stretch.  As Rachael suggested, I grabbed my favorite pair of t-strap heels, but I don’t really have statement earrings since I have all those curls that end up getting tangled around dangly earrings.  I was SO torn over this dress because it really is lovely and in the right size it would be a dream (Dia & Co offers free size exchanges), but I just don’t have enough occasion to wear really nice dresses like this.  I think if it had been done in a more casual cotton blend, I might have kept it.  I noticed there was a polka dot version available as well, and that might have been a better match.

Item: Celebrity Pink Vanderbilt Skinny Three Button High Rise Jeans
Paired With: Top (this box), boots (mine)
Item: Marybelle Bella Woven Blouse
Paired With: Jeans (this box), boots (mine)
Let’s start with the jeans!  They were the right length, but the high rise just didn’t work with my short torso.  They came within about 4 inches of my bra band line and since I carry most of my weight around my bottom, they kind of looked like mom jeans.  I’m not quite brave enough to post the photo of them with a shirt tucked into the jeans, so let’s just say it wasn’t flattering.  But, the length was spot on!
The top.  Oh man, I adore the star print – it’s so cute and unique and exactly what I want to see.  Unfortunately, bell sleeves?  Ehhhhh.  I did love the crochet detail at the sleeves and near the hem, but ruffly/frilly sort of things just aren’t very me.  If the same print was on a more plain t-shirt or v-neck top?  DEFINITELY would’ve kept it.  I also find that I push up sleeves a lot if I’m too warm, so sleeves I can’t push up are probably not going to be a winner with me.  Rachael suggested ankle boots, but my favorite pair of black boots worked well enough.  I don’t even own a pair of ankle boots really?  Or at least, I couldn’t think of another boot pair of shoes I own that would work here.. I tend to go for calf-height boots usually.

Item: Kut From The Kloth Mason Walking Short
Paired With: Navy top and shoes on left (mine) and top on right (this box)
Item: East Adeline Malia Short Sleeve Ruffle Peplum Tee
Paired With: Shorts (this box), shoes (mine)
In the photo on the left, the red shorts are from Kut From The Kloth, a brand I already know and love.  At first my mind went, Shorts?!  It’s going to blizzard the snot out of us tomorrow, are you daft?  But then I put them on and between the inseam length, the soft denim, the color, and relaxed fit, I had to keep them.  Granted, I may not be able to actually wear them until May or June, but it’s a staple sort of piece that doesn’t go out of style.  Plus, as you can see by the top I picked from my own closet, I have lots and lots of navy colored tops I can pair with it this summer.  We also have a trip to the boat in the Netherlands coming up in June, so these will DEFINITELY be coming along.  Rachael suggested canvas shoes, and I have these super cute pair of sailor themed mary janes that were kind of begging to be included here.  Just don’t mind my blindingly pale legs – it’s been winter for a long time, dude.
For the right photo, I paired the two pieces from the box as suggested by the stylist, and eeekk that top.  Again with the ruffles not being my style, but also that the ruffles add so much width and bulk to my shape, and putting a ruffle at the biggest point of my body (hiii my hips) is probably not a great idea.  Peplums and I just don’t get along.

So, final thoughts.  I did only keep one piece, the shorts, but hopefully the feedback on the returns will be taken into consideration for next time.  I ended up going back into my profile and changing my size one lower on tops and dresses to help get a better fit right out of the box.  I am kind of between the two sizes depending on how tops fit – if the fit is more fitted close to the body, I go to the higher size, but if the fit is looser/free, I end up going with the lower size.  I’m not sure if ruffles and frilly bits are just a thing for fashion this year, but I’m not into it at all, so getting two tops with ruffles was a miss.  My profile is set to edgy/casual/retro and both tops felt more Bohemian I think?  But again, first boxes with clothing boxes are a chance for the stylist to get a feel for the client’s preferences, so they don’t always wow right off the bat.  Dia & Co also does some neat collaborations with big name designers, so I’m excited to see who they work with in the future!  Anyway, I’m looking forward to my next box and hope that they review the feedback and really nail it next time.  In case you’re thinking about signing up and want to use my referral link, here it is!