Thursday, February 15, 2007

Product Review: e.l.f. Eye Brightening Eyeshadow

Some of you have asked about e.l.f. products, the new drugstore brand that only costs $1 for everything they sell. Out of curiosity I decided to take you up on the challenge, and I'll start with the Butternut Eyeshadow Quad.

I should preface this review by saying that I normally avoid drugstore brands (except for my Oil of Olay Regenerist face wash and my Revlon lipsticks, which far outrank their expensive counterparts). Generally I don't have good results with drugstore makeup, and I'm just disappointed by the inferior quality. Needless to say, my standards weren't high when I ordered the eyeshadow. Still, for $1, it's hard to go wrong, right?

My first observation was that the eyeshadow case is small. It's actually quite dinky, which is a bit of a disappointment. There's simply not a lot of eyeshadow there. I used a simple white eyeshadow as a base from lash to brow, and then I applied the e.l.f. shadows.

I have to say I'm impressed! The shadows are relatively matte, and they actually do brighten my eyes. They lasted with little to no touchup all day and they didn't smudge, crease, or disappear.

They are nothing fancy; they're low-shine and are kind of nondescript on your eyes, but after using them for a week I've decided that this is a strength. Instead of high-octane shine, the shadows draw subtle attention to your eyes. It's something like the 'less is more' approach. They could work for a fancy occasion; as I write this on Saturday the 10th of February, I'm wearing them in preparation for the symphony this evening.

Overall I was pleasantly surprised by this product. I will definitely continue to use it and I'd buy it again. Check it out--it's well worth the $1 despite its diminutive size!

Note: We're taking tomorrow and Monday off--we need some beauty rest! Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Why it's great (read: different) to be engaged on Valentine's Day

Being engaged is an interesting thing. It's like going through a metamorphosis, and lots of the things you thought were vitally important are not anymore, and many of the things you didn't think you'd ever care about, even under threat of bodily harm, are suddenly a lot more important. Valentine's Day is one of those things that got demoted from Most Important Day of the Year to Nice Day But I'm Not Going to Freak About it.

In some ways, being engaged on Valentine's Day is somewhat annoying. Everyone expects that you're going to have these great plans, and you're mired in vendor meetings and choosing china patterns. There also seemed to be an unspoken pressure between myself and my betrothed to step up to the plate. Our first committed VD needed to straddle the fine line between frumpy married couple and nervous, excited daters. We don't want to drop the ball the first time out of the box and end up having boring VDs for the rest of our lives. This is our relationship, after all. Advice flew in from all sides. "Get her jewelry!" was a popular one, which caused me to become quite angry at those people. Pardon me, but we're paying for a wedding. The last thing I want him doing is stretching his already very tight budget to buy me jewelry. Not to mention that I don't really find it necessary to make every Valentine's Day a sweep-her-off-her-feet day. I was already swept, now it would just be nice to rent a movie, snuggle on the couch and eat chocolate, thank you. My sister laughed at me. "You're already an old married couple!" I felt the pressure.

Then we took a step back and realized, hey, this is us. Valentine's Day is about taking the time to revel in your couplehood, and we had nothing to prove to anyone. We decided to take the time to rise up from the planning, events and stresses that we've both been dealing with and take an evening to just enjoy each other's company, which is, after all, why we're getting married in the first place. We just love each other, and I feel that's what this day should be about, if you have someone to celebrate with. Life is constant in its barrage of things to do and distratctions, but the hallmark of a successful relationship is being able to team up with your lover and get through it all. So we made reservations at our favorite Japanese restaurant and will share a glass of plum wine over our favorite - bento boxes. Afterwards we'll probably go home and crash on the couch and gorge ourselves on chocolate, because that's just how we do things. And that's fine with us.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why it's great to be dating on Valentine's Day

The dating stage is typically the most fun for Valentine's Day, don't you think? You're still in the impressing-each-other stage, trying to woo each other. This is the stage in most relationships that allows the most spontaneity and fun, and Valentine's Day is a chance to really wow your significant other.

There are plenty of fun and creative gifts you can give and outings you can do regardless of your budget (even a simple Google search can give you some ideas), and this is a perfect time to express something you've been meaning to for a while. Maybe that's a simple, "I appreciate you," or a weighty, "I think I'm in love with you," or a sweet, "Let's kiss."

If you really want to impress your sweetheart, give him or her a gift that says you thought about them. Don't feel pressured to buy her red roses if her favorite flower is pink gerbera daisies. Chocolate is traditional, but if he loves Swedish Fish, by golly, get the boy some Swedish Fish. Get a gift or go on a date that celebrates your sweetheart, not Valentine's Day itself.

If you are feeling traditional, go with roses, but learn a little about what different rose colors mean and share that with your valentine. I still remember the first time I got fresh, lush roses in a long box--one red, one yellow, and one pink--along with a note explaining the meanings. That was ten years ago and I still have that box...and a lot of warm memories. Sigh.

One thing to consider: a guy forgetting Valentines Day may or may not be a deal breaker for you. It probably wouldn't be for me, but you have to decide in advance--perhaps as a couple--if you are "Hallmark holiday" people or not. (Based on the comments on F. Nashville's post yesterday, it sounds like a lot of you are not.) Make a date for later in the week instead and celebrate your couplehood in your own way.

Photos courtesy of Proflowers.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Why it's great to be single on Valentine's Day

As the official Hallmark holiday of the year looms near, single gals all across the world fantasize about turning Cupid's arrows back onto himself. But must Valentine's Day for the single gal be all doom and gloom? Here are six reasons why it's great to be single on Valentine's Day:

Reason #1: Single gals have the freedom to buy their own gifts.

As couples are snapping up roses, chocolate, and heart-printed boxer shorts (all at a premium, I might add), you can be snapping up some merch of your own choosing, like a new pair of high heels. Being single also means that you don't have to stress about what to give your quasi-boyfriend on Valentine's Day.

Reason #2: Single gals can spend a relaxing evening at home.

While couples wait in restaurant lobbies, Single gals are already feasting on takeout from their favorite Chinese place and watching Thelma & Lousie. And before the couple is through their appetizer course, the single gal is running herself a hot bath, lighting aromatherapy candles, and plastering her face with a bright green mud mask. The couple is still lingering at their table, waiting on the check for their outrageously expensive meal, as the single girl settles in with a pint of Haagen-Daz cookie dough ice cream and a bodice-ripping Harlequin novel.

Reason #3: Single gals deserve the best in spa pampering.

Take the day off work and treat yourself with a day at the spa. Splurge for the works, including a massage, facial, manicure and pedicure. Most spas run great specials around Valentine's Day, so your day of relaxation won't make an excessive dent in your wallet.

Reason # 4: Single gals know how to party.

Valentine's Day is the perfect holiday to host a theme party. Three years ago, a good friend of mine created an event called "Chocopalooza," a feast of chocolate for Single gals who had no place to go on Valentine's Day. The event is not replete without a dark chocolate fondue, double-fudge brownies, and even chocolate martinis. The chocolate smorgasboard is followed by a viewing of Chocolat. Let's just say that I've known not-so-single-gals to skip out on their boyfriends to attend this event. Another idea is to take a cue from the Sex and the City girls, and host a "trade your ex" party. Each girl brings a guy that she doesn't want to date, and the mingling begins! Or, throw an "anti-Valentine's Day" party, and have your guests wear black, display dead flowers, and serve your guests these.

Reason #5: Single gals express love.

Valentine's Day isn't just about romantic love. Use the holiday as an excuse to show love to those who may not receive it very often. Volunteer your time to become a mentor at a battered women's shelter, or visit your local nursing home and play bingo with its residents. Love is about selflessness. I guarantee you will have a rewarding Valentine's Day if you express love to those around you.

Reason #6: Single gals use Valentine's Day as an opportunity to build character and self-esteem.

Repeat after me--my relationship does not define my identity. You are fabulous, whether you want to admit it or not. Take a few minutes on Valentine's Day to list the things you love about yourself, or better yet, write yourself a love letter. Shower on the self love already!