2018 Year in Review

I used to have WordPress create those little year-in-review things, but I guess they’ve stopped doing that.  I did promise an overview of all the insanity that’s been happening behind the scenes here and why the blog went dark from May through pretty much this month, so here we are.
Our last dog (right, photo above), the boydog of a set of siblings, was 14 and while he was old and creaky, partially blind and deaf, and partially incontinent, he had been a pretty happy dude.  His health dropped off rather suddenly over the course of two weeks at the end of May, and we had to make the tough decision to let him go.  Medications weren’t keeping up with his arthritis pain, he couldn’t make it up the stairs without assistance, he’d lost weight, he kept having these bizarre spells where he’d fall down howling and shaking and need a few minutes to recover and get back on his feet, and he’d stopped being interested in food (typically he’d devour breakfast the second it hit the bowl, but he started taking two hesitant bites and walking away).  We’d lost his sister two years prior to cancer, but at just shy of 13 and 15, these two dogs lived long, spoiled rotten, and much-loved lives.  It’s still difficult, adjusting to life without another living being in the house after having a companion here for almost 14 straight years (nearly my whole married life), and I still have bad days where the loneliness and lingering grief really overwhelm me.  The husband is away long stretches with his new job, so it’s been really difficult.  I don’t think we’ll get another dog partly due to how I’m just not at all ready, and partly because we have opportunities to travel more and it’s not fair to have a dog only to leave it so often.

At the exact same time all of that was going on with the dog, we decided that downsizing from our single-family-home-with-yard to a townhome would be a good option.  Again, husband is gone 4+ months at sea for work and keeping up with the yard work, house work, gardening, weeding, etc on a sizable lot didn’t make sense for one person when the other was only home to enjoy the yard/house about 30% of the year.  We had a really fantastic backyard space and had done a lot of improvements, but in the last 2 years husband had been at his new job with these lengthy absences from home, it just stopped making sense financially and in terms of my time.  Also, I REALLY hate mowing the lawn.  Loathe it.  I’ll clean 1000 toilets before I’d ever mow another damn lawn.  So, I started looking and finally found (and successfully bid) on a townhouse.  It’s an end unit with a really great view, and now I enjoy watching the complex’s landscapers mow and remove the leaves while I sip coffee and work on the computer.  Of course, this is the year that everything goes wrong, so the moving process was not without a lot of problems.  We decided to have the flooring replaced in the new place since the carpets were original and in pretty bad shape, but the installers couldn’t come out for two months which set us behind and left us with four rooms we couldn’t move anything into (3 bedrooms and the main downstairs living space).  The new place is a whole mile from the old place, so instead of boxing everything up, we moved bits and pieces in reusable grocery bags and big plastic bins, mostly unpacking as we went.  That was going pretty well until we found out that husband’s truck had a major mechanical issue and was out of commission for the remainder of moving.  He also went back to work in the beginning of September (we closed on the new place early July), so that left me with my little car to finish up clearing out the garage and shed.  We’d never had cars in the garage, so you can only imagine what a job that was.  We closed on the old place at the end of October, so that was a solid four months it took us and me alone to get everything moved.  Just don’t ask to see my garage right now!  The beehives were moved to a property nearby – I had found a woman who wanted to host bees but didn’t want to do the work of beekeeping, so that worked out perfectly for both of us.

In June, we went to the Netherlands to take our first trip to Janine, the barge we now own in the Netherlands.  Husband was delayed arriving for a week due to a delay at work, so I spent the first week aboard on my own, cleaning, relaxing, taking time coping with the loss of our dog.  The trip ended up being complete bliss, and it was just the break I needed from the stress at home, but re-entry was REALLY hard.  I absolutely did not want to come home because I knew what was waiting for me – reminders of the dog we didn’t have anymore, the empty house, the stress of moving.  On the plus side, we did get to see friends get married early July, and I was asked to be their photographer.  It was an amazing, joyful weekend celebrating their happiness!

After closing on the old house end of October, November was filled with photography clients.  I got to see all of my yearly clients and take photos of their families for their holiday cards.  It was busy, so I didn’t get any unpacking or organizing done around the house, but I did enjoy seeing my regular clients all again.  I’m probably going to have to close out the business over the next year since the husband’s unpredictable schedule means I’ve had to turn away clients.  Having the barge now means that we want to travel more to spend time in the Netherlands and take advantage of our investment, so if the husband is off of work, we’re going to be gone.  However, I don’t really have much notice regarding the specifics of his schedule so it means I can’t plan basically anything in advance.  My Fall clients would still be okay to keep on, but I’m not sure that’s enough to support the business without incurring a loss (the cost of taxes/insurance/etc).  That would leave me with just beekeeping, and while it’s not a full-time job, at least it’s still something to tell people when they inevitably ask, “And what do you do?”  You guys, if you can find me a job that would be completely okay with me up and running off at short notice for 2 months straight, and can handle a super unpredictable schedule, I’m in.  I haven’t found one yet.  It’s really tough to answer that question without feeling like a complete loser for not having a job, but still have an answer that’s socially acceptable as an occupation (and for friends with kids, being a parent is a legit full-time job and I respect the hell out of you for it since that’s a job I’ve never wanted because it’s REALLY hard).  Or I need to find a way to not care (yeah, sure, that’s easy).

So, a bit of a bigger brain dump than I expected to write today, but that’s been my insane life since May, and of course, that’s not even all of it.  Things are starting to get quiet finally, but this is the time of year I naturally want to hibernate and disappear, so it’s probably part that too.  I’m not big on the December holiday festivities and generally don’t mind being alone, but it’s been especially difficult this year, not having a dog around and being *really* alone.  Friends are great, and I love seeing them, but the company of a beloved pet is different.  Anyway.  I hope to get back to putting stuff on the blog regularly and already have a few things planned over the next few weeks – stuff I’ve been meaning to post and just didn’t get to, so stick around!

Storybook Cosmetics – November 2018

My poor little blog has been neglected since April, but it’s time to get back at it.  To be fair, there were a lot of crazy things happening, but I think I’ll get into that in another post.  This post is about the first shipment from the Storybook Cosmetics Book Club!  The first shipment was originally scheduled to ship in August, but there were a few delays, and this finally arrived on the 27th of November.  There was clear communication on social media about delays the whole way along, so I’m okay with that.  This being the first shipment, sometimes it takes a while to work out all the logistics and timing, and hey, it was well worth waiting for!

The first shipment is based on Little Women and is shaped like a book, complete with a dark green woven fabric printed book cover featuring gold lettering.  Inside the book, there’s a mirror on one side, and three eye shadows and a liquid lipstick on the other.  The eye shadow colors are Meg, Beth, and Amy, and the liquid lipstick is Jo.  This is just so perfectly on theme!  The packaging is gorgeous and sturdy with a magnetic closure.  As for the eye shadow colors, Meg is a shimmery sage green, Beth is a matte tan, and Amy is a shimmery, plummy pink sort of color.  The liquid lipstick is a deep raspberry shade – not a bright color, a good bit darker than my natural lip color, and it goes on much darker than it looks in the tube.  I really do love the color though, and the formula goes on creamy without drying out my lips.  It dries to a pretty long lasting matte finish.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next shipment which, according to an update today, looks like will arrive in January.  Honestly, I’d be okay with this being an every-other-month club since I could see it going to makeup overload pretty quick since those are all full-size products.  The cost is $24.99 per month plus shipping which came out to a total of $28.99 for me.  As far as a value goes, the liquid lipstick costs $14.00 on their website, and a 12 pan eye shadow book goes for $55, so it’s hard to come out with an exact value, but I’d say it’s right on target with their other products, plus, it’s a unique one-of-a-kind item that only goes out to subscribers which is always the draw of subscription boxes.  Overall, it’s a stunning product, and I can’t wait for the next!

Benevolent Beauty Box April 2018

Another Benevolent Beauty Box is here!  April’s edition featured four items this time, but the one is basically a four-in-one by itself and is a huge item, so I’m perfectly fine with this!  Let’s get into the contents.

  • Bellapierre Colour Stay – .32 oz / $10 – (Full Size Product)  It’s essentially an eye-safe glitter glue or primer that helps cosmetic glitter or shimmer eye shadow stick in place.  I, um, I tend to use a good bit of cosmetic glitter, so this is great by itself, but it also goes well with the other products in the box.  I think this is a touch thinner and easier to apply than the Too Faced glitter glue I love, so I’ll have to see how it holds up against the classic.
  • Star Looks Makeup Remover Pen – 2.5 g / $14 – (Full Size Product)  I guess I’m good enough fixing makeup oops with a q-tip that I just never bother getting special pens.  I mean, this is great, I’ll use it, but the fact that the ingredients on the box don’t match the ones on the website make me a little worried.  On the website, it says it contains paraffin and on the box, it doesn’t.  *shrugs*
  • Manna Kadar Blossom Floral Compact – 3.2 g / $29 – (Full Size Product)  I don’t really use blush or highlighter, but it says this can be used as an eye shadow as well, so that’s probably where it’s going to go.  The colors are pretty neutral between the light, pink, and bronzeish color, so it’ll work blended together or separately, no problem.
  • Bellapierre Eye Slay – 1 set / $45 – (Full Size Product)  I received the color, Mermaid Glam, which is going to be SO much fun to try out.  There are three pots each with 2 grams of mineral eye shadow plus a brush.  One of the pots in my set is a cosmetic glitter (the super bright blue one in the middle), so GLITTER!  I’m definitely going to give this a whirl sometime soon.

Overall the value of the box comes to $98 which is probably around the lower end of average for this box.  The big item is that eye color set, and I’m glad there’s the Colour Stay glitter glue to go along with it.  I’m kind of neutral on the Manna Kadar compact and the Makeup Remover pen, but they’re still items I’ll use for sure.  As always, looking forward to next month!

Sephora Play! April 2018

April’s Sephora Play! arrived this past week, and it was box variant #351.  I’m WILDLY underwhelmed.  I got a ton of anti-wrinkle products that the product sheet says were selected for my skin concern, but nowhere at all on Sephora’s website – not in the Play! Profile or in my regular Sephora Profile – do I ever list wrinkles as a skin concern.  In fact, I rather love my little wrinkles.  They’re badges of honor for all the times I’ve smiled and laughed, squinted and raised an eyebrow.  I don’t find trying to stop the inevitable march of time a worthy effort when I can actually do something about dry skin and acne.  It’s just silly to me.  Anyway, so yeah, this box was basically a total miss for me because I DO NOT CARE ABOUT WRINKLES.  Way off base, Sephora.  The theme this month was, “Insta Beauty” which was all about getting a perfect selfie, but again, if you know me, I’m not going to all perfect up my face when I take a selfie in my beekeeping suit.  I am who I am, and FWIW, sparkly lip gloss looks terrible on camera, so.  I don’t even.  *sigh*  But hey, at least the bag isn’t culturally insensitive this month?

  • Dr Dennis Gross Wrinkle Recovery Peel – 16 treatments / $88 – (Product is 2 packets, value of $11 by volume)  A wrinkle product I don’t need, not to mention how it contains AHA and increases sun sensitivity while we’re working our way into Spring and Summer.  This would’ve been way better in Fall or Winter, but nevermind that because I don’t even want this.  I don’t want to ‘recover’ wrinkles that are just going to come back anyway – again, I’d rather work on my dry skin and acne than worry about things you can’t stop.
  • Kiehl’s Line-Reducing Concentrate – 1.7 oz / $62 – (Product is .17 oz, value of $6.20 by volume)  Another ‘wrinkle reducing’ creme that contains ingredients that make your skin more sun sensitive.  Poor timing, and another poor choice for my profile.  Straight to the give-away box with this too.
  • Burberry Blush Eau de Parfum – 1.6 oz / $90 – (Product is .06 oz, value of $3.38 by volume)  Oh gosh, this is hideous.  I sprayed a little on the card and it’s just a mess of florals including my least favorite, Jasmine.  Straight to the give-away box you go!
  • Buxom Full-On Lip Polish – 4.44 mL / $20 – (Product is 1.5 mL, value of $6.76 by volume)  The color I received is Celeste which is described as a prismatic soft peach.  I have to tell you that I’ve never bought a Buxom lip product because I get SO many of them as samples, and I find the tingle a little off-putting.  This is no different.
  • Philosophy Purity Made Simple Moisturizer – 4.7 oz / $25 – (Product is .25 oz, value of $1.33 by volume)  It’s a pretty basic moisturizer, though the first two ingredients are water and silicone, so, I’m not all that impressed right off the bat.  For a moisturizer, I’d expect to see an actual moisturizing ingredient in there, but silicone is kind of an inert filler, not a moisturizer.  Philosophy is also not cruelty free, so while this is basically the one product in the box I’d consider using, I’d never repurchase it since their parent company, Coty, engages in animal testing (they sell in China).
  • Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Perfector Skin Tint – 30 mL / $36 – (Product is 5 mL, value of  $6 by volume)  The color I received is #6, Warm Sand, and it’s WAY off base for my skin tone.  I fall somewhere between a light and fair, and this has some wild yellow tone to it that shows up as fake-spray-tan orange on my face.  Another huge miss, not to mention that the company isn’t cruelty free anyway.

Overall the value of the box comes to $34.58 which is about average.  The cost is only $10.60 including tax and shipping for me, but my personal value here is basically zero.  This box is pretty much a huge waste and I feel like I got a box intended for someone else since NONE of it matched my beauty profile.  Hugely disappointed this month, Sephora.