Thursday, March 31, 2016

March Beauty Favorites

I haven't posted a Favorites post in a very long time, and even though I don't have that many products to share for this month, I still thought they deserved a mention. Sometimes even those fantastic items get somewhat forgotten between all the reviews that I do, so I wanted to show you what I've been really enjoying reaching for time and time again.
Let's start with a Holy Grail lip balm I've recently repurchased: the Nuxe Rêve de Miel ($15 for 0.52 oz on Nuxe US website). I did a review/ comparison post of this beauty and the Osmia Honey Myrrh Lip Repair a couple years back (here), and while the Osmia is good, Nuxe is better - in fact, it is the best overnight nourishing lip balm I have ever tried. My lips tend to get very dry and dehydrated, and daily lipstick wearing tends to exacerbate the problem. But a generous layer of Nuxe's deliciously citrus-scented Rêve de Miel before bed solves all my parched lips problems, and I love that this balm is thick enough to stay on the lips all through the night. If you haven't tried it yet, I would encourage you to give it a go - the price tag may be a bit high for 'just a lip balm', but one pot lasts me nearly a year.

Continuing with 'targeted area skincare', I've been recently sent a new eye cream to test out - Tatcha Deep Hydration Firming Eye Serum* ($95 for 15ml/ 0.5 fl oz, also available in the travel size for $33), which is part of their Luminous range. It's a lightweight gel/ cream enriched with Okinawa Red Algae, Honeysuckle Leaf and caffeine to depuff, firm and plump up fine lines. I don't have very serious concerns when it comes to my under eye area, but a lot of lightweight eye cream textures just aren't moisturizing enough. I'm pleased to report that Tatcha (yet again) got the formulation just right: the serum feels light and absorbs quickly into the skin, but feels very hydrating and soothing on the skin. I also love, love, love the cooling ceramic applicator - the shape fits perfectly in the inner corners and under the eyes, and the serum layers beautifully under concealer. While this product does contain some 23-karat gold dust, the shimmer is so fine that I can't see any particles once on the skin. Big thumbs up.
I don't often feature haircare on the blog as I tend to be rather low-maintenance when it comes to hair products, but this past month I had a chance to try out some of Pacifica's haircare range via their Jet Set Trio Kale Collection* ($19 for 2 x 2fl oz shampoo & conditioner and 0.5 fl oz leave-in detangler, available at Ulta). I haven't formed an opinion on the Super Kale Juiced-up Shampoo & Conditioner yet, but I've been really enjoying the hot pink tube of Hairvana Leave-on Detangling Conditioner*. I tend to be a bit biased against brands that try to do it all - skincare, haircare, bodycare, make-up - but I've been very pleasantly surprised by this Pacifica's product. First off, it smells divine (like coconut vanilla cookies), but more importantly, it detangles my fine hair easily without weighting it down. In fact, I almost feel like it gives my annoyingly soft and fluffy hair a little bit of texture, so that it's easier to manage. I would definitely purchase a full size of the Hairvana ($14 for 5 fl oz/ 147 ml) once I run out of my other detanglers.

Onto two meager make-up items, both of which I reviewed in detail in the past couple of weeks. I wanted to mention them again because they're the type of product that you just can't put away. I've been using the Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara* ($26 for 0.32 oz, reviewed here) since early January, and I'm dreading having to toss it rather soon. I haven't been using a lash growing serum but even on my shorter and less dense lashes, the Velvet Noir still gives lots of volume and definition. It is starting to flake off slightly now that my tube is drying out, but I still can't bring myself to swap it out for a fresh mascara from a different brand.
I also can't get enough of my ILIA Multi-Stick in Fine Romance* ($34 for 5g, review with swatches). I don't have a blush in my current Project Pan, so in the past three months, I'd been swapping my blush options out every couple of weeks. But since trying out Fine Romance for the first time, that's all I want to wear on my cheeks. I think it's a great spring-time color for my pale complexion; towards the end of winter, I can look a bit tired and ghostly, but this beautiful berry rose shade brings vitality to my skin again. Seriously, a great cream blush formula.

That's it - a short and sweet list of products this month. I'm getting a little bored using the same items every day due to my Project Pan and I'm looking forward to a new selection in a month's time, when my Project draws to a close. What have you been loving this month? Are you already in a full-on spring mode?

Disclaimer: Products marked with an asterix (*) were press samples I received from the brands' PR for review consideration. I purchased everything else myself. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the products featured were purchased with my own monies or provided free of charge. All links are non-affiliate. Thank you for reading!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Beauty Empties: 1st Quarter of 2016

The first quarter of the year is almost behind us, so prime time to share my beauty trash with you. Like I've mentioned in my no buy/ low buy update here, even though I was able to completely finish plenty of products from my stash, I still feel I have a whole lot to go through, especially in the skincare department.
I have noticed though that one reason I'm not going through things quite as quickly as most people is that I tend to use a very small amount - in fact, I've started to think it's too little for the product to be really effective. For example, I often use so little balm/ oil cleanser that it's not enough to effectively clean my whole face, or I skimp on moisturizer on my neck/ chest area. I'm now working on changing those habits, and hopefully that will also translate to products being used up faster (like, before their expiration date).
Speaking of expiration dates, let's talk about some products that were definitely past their prime and needed to be tossed. Most of these were only half full (the Moroccan clay mask, Coral Actives Acne Treatment, Essie Van d'Go & Barry M Hot Pink polishes, the YSL Glossy Stain no. 15), so I did manage to get quite some use out of them, but they're definitely off now and need to go. The pencil eyeliners from Urban Decay, NYX and Benefit were all old and too dried out to use, and while the powder blushes still seemed fine, I know I've had them for a very long time, and since I have very similar shades in my collection from other brands I would rather use, I just decided to go ahead and toss these. The Enjoy Volumizing Hair Mousse was just awful for my hair, and an older product too.

Alright, now onto the products that I have actually finished! Let's start with skincare:
Products I disliked and wouldn't repurchase: Boscia White Bright Mask (absolutely no results, I dislike peel-off type masks)
Products I enjoyed, but I'm trying out other things: Insta Naturals Age-Defying Skin Clearing Toner*, Radical Skincare Advanced Peptide Antioxidant Serum* (reviewed here), Haba Whitening Squalane, Heroine Make Mascara Remover (review), Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser (review), Clarins Pure and Radiant Mask (review), SK-II Essential Power Cream* (review), Andalou Naturals Lemon Sugar Scrub (review)
Products I would repurchase (but am probably trying out other things too): Andalou Naturals Apricot Probiotic Cleansing Milk (review), First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads (my third container, review here), CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, Paula's Choice C15 Booster* (review), Skinny Co. Coconut Oil* (I'll talk about this more in a future post), LiLash Lash Growing Serum (review, my second tube).
I don't have as many empties for body and haircare, but I used up two lip balms! That's quite an achievement, I think ;)
Products I disliked and wouldn't repurchase: Nivea Intense Repair Hair Conditioner (smells like hair dye!)
Products I enjoyed, but I'm trying out other things: Caudalie Hand Cream, Tatcha Gold Camellia Lip Balm* (review - I went back to my HG Nuxe Reve de Miel), Clarins Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm, Mitchum Anti-Perspirant (good deodorant but dislike the Powder scent), Cutex Nail Polish Remover, L'Occitane Bonne Mere Honey Bar Soap (that's the yellow sliver in the bottom of the photo)
Products I would repurchase (but am probably trying out other things too): Batiste Dry Shampoo (already repurchased, my HG dry shampoo), Haus of Gloi Bubbling Scrub in Twice is Nice (great sugar scrub formula, love the coconut cookie scent), The Body Shop Brazil Nut Shower Cream, Lush Bubble Bar (I believe this was Amandopondo, I bought the Pop In the Bath this time).

Make-up! Oh, the excitement... of using up only four products, two of which were deluxe samples :) By the way, you can follow my make-up empties count on Instagram now - I was inspired by Vita to see how many make-up products I'll be able to finish this year.
Products I disliked and wouldn't repurchase: Benefit Gimme Brow in Light/ Medium (review)
Products I enjoyed, but I'm trying out other things: Bobbi Brown Corrector in Porcelain Bisque, Chanel Le Blanc de Chanel primer, bareMinerals Stroke of Light Undereye Brightener.
Products I would repurchase (but am probably trying out other things too): None right now.
Lastly, foil samples and sheet masks. Even though I'm not doing a dedicated samples project right now (like I did for two months last year with my Use Up Those Freaking Samples challenge, here), I am still quite focused on finishing some up. I'm going on a short city break tomorrow and I'm hoping to make even more of a dent then in my sample stash.
Products I disliked and wouldn't repurchase: Hanaka Vitamin A Marigold Sheet Mask (absolutely dripping with essence, almost no results), Bobbi Brown Luminous Moisturizing Foundation in Porcelain (good shade match but too emollient for my combo skin).
Products I enjoyed, but I'm trying out other things: Etude House Sheet Masks in Bulgarian Rose and Fig, Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel, Benefit Porefessional primer, Burberry Fresh Glow (just meh)
Products I would repurchase (but am probably trying out other things too): Clark Botanicals Anti-Puff Eye Cream (used up three sachets of this now and I'm still quite enjoying it!), Leaders Insolution Illuminating Sheet Mask (very hydrating and soothing, enough essence for two applications - Leaders is now available at Ulta, although I think they revamped their masks and I don't see this one).
Ufff, typing up these empties posts is always a bit of a struggle for me - but I hope you enjoyed nonetheless. Let me know if you have any questions about any of these products, and please share how you're doing on the stash-downsizing front! Hugs :)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

2016 Skincare No Buy and Make-up Low Buy Update #1

Since my various shopping limitations have somewhat decreased the number of review posts that have been going up lately, I thought I'd compensate by sharing my experience with my 2016 Skincare & Bodycare No Buy (read the introduction post here), as well as my continuing Make-up Low Buy I implemented over two years ago now.

So far, both of these projects have been a success. Let's start with the make-up part, because it's the more challenging for me personally, and I think more interesting to hear about. My low buy consists of allowing myself to purchase no more than two make-up products a month, including nail polish but disregarding make-up gifts with purchase, gifts or PR samples. I haven't purchased any make-up products whatsoever in all of January and February, but I did have four drugstore products (two from Bourjois and two from Kiko) I purchased in Warsaw late last year. I wasn't sure how to count them in - I decided to transfer them into the new year count, which would max out my limit for two consecutive months (Jan and Feb). Since then, I sold one of those products in a blog sale (Bourjois Rouge Edition Velvet in Nude-ist), leaving me with one product below limit for the year.

In March, I purchased two products from a friend's blog sale, but out of the two, I decided to keep only one and pass the other to a friend as it wasn't a lipstick shade that suited my complexion very well. I have also placed an order at Ulta, prompted by a few things: a) expiring points - a $3 discount, b) 5X the points for my anniversary of being a reward member, c) husband requesting some new skincare items - would you like to see what he uses some time? d) an awesome bareMinerals gift with purchase - if you ever need to place an online order, wait until Wednesday, which is when Ulta usually sends out an email with a link to a deluxe GWP. It would all be well if I stuck to just purchasing products for my husband, but then I remembered that I also needed a travel-size dry shampoo for an upcoming trip, and Ulta had a special discounted price for Lorac glosses I've been hearing good things about, and then if I only purchased one or two more drugstore items, I could use the $3.50 off $10 coupon...

So in the end, I also ordered a new concealer from Catrice that Polish Youtubers have been raving about, and the Lorac Alter Ego Lip Gloss in Seductress. That puts me at three products for March and exactly within the limit for the year. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to keep Seductress - I may end up gifting it to someone instead. So yeah, I indulged a little bit; but I'm working on using up two concealers from my stash, and then the gloss just looked like such a pretty color; I didn't need it, but I wanted it.

I have been trying to appease my guilty consience by telling myself I probably won't shop for any beauty products in April, which means I may not take advantage of the annual Sephora's spring 15% off sale. There's nothing I particularly want or need from Sephora at the moment, and I feel like I can hold off until their 20% off in November. The one thing I'm curious about is the beautyblender Solid Cleanser - I may purchase that in-store during the sale, using the remaining balance on a gift card. We'll see.

As for my Skincare and Bodycare No Buy, I have been 100% successful, and I haven't been tempted to shop almost at all. I have however some mixed feelings about my progress: on one hand, I've used up a whole lot of products already (empties post coming soon!), but on the other... I received some very generous PR samples, which have increased my stash almost to the starting point.

I've used up a lot of skincare minis (top left corner of the drawer) and am now able to store my bar soaps in that space.
Please don't misunderstand me, I'm very grateful to receive products for review, and I think it's very helpful in posting reviews for you guys, and alerting you to some brands or products you may not have heard about previously. However, it does somewhat negate my efforts to downsize my skincare stash. I have come across the opinion that accepting PR samples while attempting to simplify via decluttering/ using things up is hypocritical and pointless, but I don't personally see it that way. To me, such train of thought would suggest that there is only one 'correct' way of reducing your possesions, and it's all or nothing - either you only keep one of each of everything (the right way to downsize), or it's a free for all and you can keep ALL TEH THINGZ. I guess my position is somewhere in the middle: I want a smaller stash I can manage, but as a beauty blogger, I'm not going to escape having a couple products in each category. It's okay - to be honest, I'm feeling a lot more laid back about my products, even when I realize something may not get finished before it expires.

All that being said, I have been able to transfer my back-up bar soaps to my main skincare and bodycare back-up drawer and I now keep my base oils in the bathroom cabinet, so I got rid of one extra storage box; I much prefer having everything in one space (you can compare what my back-up drawer looked like in November 2015 here). I have also selected just a few products to pass on to a friend - I simply realized there's no way I'm going to be able to use them up in time, and I'd much rather have her try them and see how she likes them. It's not exactly 'one in, one out' strategy, but it makes me feel like less of a hoarder.

And that's it - all in all, a rather satisfying quarter. If you're just embarking on a shopping ban/ limit for the first time, I promise it does get easier; in the past, I was constantly tempted by new product releases, and deciding not to shop a Sephora sale - any Sephora sale - was absolutely out of the question. So, how are you doing with your low buys and no buys? I'd love to hear about your thought process in the comments below!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Luxuriously Cheap: Kiko Milano Luscious Cream Lipstick no. 502 Review

Lately, I've been able to gauge rather accurately my true feelings about a product I'm testing by my enthusiasm for posting about it on the blog. Case in point: this incredibly inexpensive Kiko Luscious Cream Lipstick in the shade 502 ($9 for 0.12 oz/ 3.5 g, currently on sale for $3.90 - I purchased it on sale in Poland for 15 PLN). I've had it lingering in my 'to try' pile for a couple months, and when I finally cracked it open, it promptly got transferred into another pile of stuff I like to call 'tried but not excited about'.
First things first: for your mere couple of bucks, you're getting a luxuriously packaged lipstick in metallic tube with an innovative opening/ closing design: you push from the top and the lipstick pops out on the bottom, and then you can pull it completely open. A little bit similar to the mechanism in Chanel Rouge Allures, but slightly less smooth/ easy to click in and out. The bullet itself is a bit slimmer than that of a standard lipstick, comes embossed with the KIKO logo, and smells faintly of vanilla/ cake - a bit different than MAC lipsticks, but very pleasant still.
Kiko claims that the Luscious Creams are 'creamy lipsticks with pure, intense color' and that they are enriched with 'K2 Repulp', which contains Hyaluronic Acid and has a moisturizing, plumping, revitalizing and anti-aging effect. Quite a big claim for such a small lipstick, don't you think?
Curiously, I can't see Hyaluronic Acid or Sodium Hyaluronate or anything like that in the INCI on my box.
And when it boils down to it, I think my Luscious Cream is a perfectly nice lipstick, but I'm not completely over the moon. It does have a smooth glide, and the texture is somewhat thinner than most of my cream finish lipsticks - more lightweight and less slippery on, the exact opposite of the old NYX Round lipsticks, if you've ever had one of those (which I disliked the formula of). It's also nicely pigmented, although I wouldn't call it intense, and the finish is satin (no shimmer but not as glossy as some 'cream' lipsticks). Now here comes the clou of this review: because of that thinner texture, this Kiko lipstick does nothing for my vertical lip lines. There's no plumping or 'increased fullness' (as per their website), you can clearly see all the puckering on my... uhm, pucker?
The Luscious Cream lipstick feels comfortable on my lips initially, although 2-3 hours into the wear, they start feeling a bit dry and I need another layer to get some of that creaminess back. The lipstick feels comfortable longer, and my lip lines are diminished, if I layer a lip gloss on top; in fact, it's a perfect formula for wearing alongside a lip gloss, because even with that extra shine on top, the combo still stays put and does not smear all over the face. So if you enjoy layering lipsticks with glosses, the thinness of this formula may be a big plus for you; I normally don't layer, but I enjoy it with this particular lipstick.
L-R: Kiko Luscious Cream in 502, Maybelline Warm Me Up, Red Apple Lipstick Audrey. Swatches below in the same order.
The shade 502 is a pinky nude with some mauve undertones - a fantastic nude shade for cooler skintones that compliments just about any eyeshadow look or blush shade. I don't have another lipstick that comes close - Maybelline Color Sensational in Warm Me Up is warmer and deeper (more in the 'My Lips But Better' category), Red Apple Lipstick Audrey is deeper and rosier.
I would recommend this lipstick formula if you actively dislike overly creamy lipsticks, or don't have issues with vertical lip lines/ other texture on the lips, and/ or like layering glosses on top of lipsticks - I mean, it's pretty nice, especially considering the sale price. But if you're looking for a smoothing, hydrating go-to lipstick, it may fall a bit short for you. Have you tried any lipsticks from Kiko? What is your favorite drugstore lipstick brand?

Friday, March 11, 2016

A Fine Romance with ILIA Beauty Multi-Stick*

Even though I'm a big fan of natural skincare, I have to admit that I haven't dwelved too much into green make-up products - the less expensive brands often get lukewarm reviews, and as for the more high-end of the spectrum... Well, there aren't that many reviews in the first place, and then there's the price to consider.
ILIA Beauty, a Canadian brand focused on organic and ethically-sourced ingredients, has always drawn my attention on BeautyHabit with its sleek packaging and luxurious lip products, so I was more than happy to receive their Multi-Purpose Stick in A Fine Romance* ($34 for 0.176 oz/ 5g, available on ILIA's website here, Beautylish & The Detox Market in the US and Net-A-Porter worldwide) to try and review.
ILIA's Multi-Purpose Sticks come in 6 flattering colors, contain nourishing shea butter and Vitamin E, and can be used on cheeks, lips and eyes. I'm forever skeptical when it comes to products meant for both lips & cheeks; most of the ones I've tried in the past have been either too dry to use on the lips, or too emollient to use on the cheeks, or both at the same time. However, I'm happy to report that ILIA's Stick is the first multi-use product I've ever used that actually does what it claims!
The Stick has quite a firm texture in the bullet but applies and blends easily - for my cheeks, I use a small stippling brush, and for my lips, I just apply directly from the bullet. It's not greasy or oily in any shape or form - it has a somewhat translucent, gel/ cream feel, and applies very lightweight on the face. It has a beautiful satin finish that gives a natural glow to my cheeks and a stained look to my lips - no obvious shine, no settling into lines or pores, just a fresh 'my skin but better' appearance. Even as a stand-alone cream blush, this formula rivals my favorite Canmake Cream Cheeks - except it wears nicer and more comfortably on the lips as well. There's a faint natural nutty scent to the product that's only discernible on application, but otherwise the product is completely fragrance-free.

The shade I received, A Fine Romance, is described as a berry on ILIA's website - I'd say it's somewhere between a deep rose or a light wine shade with a cool undertone, a bit more muted than a true berry shade. I often have to be careful with shades like this because they can look too dark on my fair skintone, or make me look somewhat bruised - but A Fine Romance is pure perfection. Sheered out on the cheeks, it gives me a healthy flushed look, built up on the lips, it's an everyday 'bitten' wine - and even when the product wears off (it's not very long-wearing on my lips but stays put on the cheeks all day without sliding off or fading), it leaves a nice pink stain behind.
I'm a little bit in love with ILIA's A Fine Romance - you guys, it's so, so effortlessly pretty. For me, it's the epitome of what most green make-up brands strive for in their products: something quick and easy to use that enhances your features without covering them up, while nourishing your skin at the same time. Even on my parched lips, the Multi-Purpose Stick looks even the entire wear time and actually manages to moisturize and soften dry patches. I can't wait to try more products from ILIA - I'm seriously impressed, and I have been rather critical lately when it comes to roadtesting new products. Have you tried anything from ILIA? What are your favorite green beauty make-up brands?

Disclaimer: The product featured in this post is a press sample I received from the brands' PR for review consideration. All links are non-affiliate. All opinions are 100% honest and unbiased, no matter if the products featured were purchased with my own monies or provided free of charge. All links are non-affiliate. Thank you for reading!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Minimalist Monday: Updated KonMari Drawers & Tidying Up Q&A

It's been about a year since I first purged my clothing according to the KonMari method and I thought we were due for an update. You can click here to see what my dresser looked like back in May, when I decided to document it for all of posterity, and some things have changed a little since then. I just finished another round of more intensive decluttering a few days ago (as a consequence of reading Marie Kondo's newly released second book, 'Spark Joy' - would you like a separate book review?), so again I'm all fired up on the subject and full of different insights. I had this idea of doing this post as a Q&A - not that anyone has actually asked me these questions, though just for clarity's sake, this format may be easier to follow. But first things first.
The basic organization of my drawers hasn't changed all that much in a year's time - except that I now own even less clothing, so I've shifted stuff to make the drawers look fuller, but not stuffed. I'm not showing you my underwear drawer, but I have arranged all my bras the same way they stock drawers at Victoria's Secret, and I've put in a small divider for panties. I've made some room in my sock drawer so that I was able to fit in another box with my thights and stockings; I used to keep them in a separate bag deep in our closet, which made me never wear skirts or dresses in the cold season. The organization of this drawer makes a lot more sense now, and everything is easy to grab in the morning.
I also culled even more tops from my t-shirt drawer and thus decided to transfer my pjs into it as well - I keep sleeveless and short sleeve tops on the left, long sleeves in the middle, pjs and camisoles on the right. I have also recently color-coordinated them, keeping lighter colors in the front and darks in the back, and while I felt quite silly doing so, it does make the drawer look a lot prettier.
My sweater and scarf drawer has changed the least - I gave away a few more scarves and decided to store my belts in that free space (top right of the photo), but it's nearly the same.
The second drawer from the bottom, which used to house my sportswear and pajamas, now contains... some empty storage boxes and a basket. Sure, there's plenty of things other than clothing I could store in it now - back-up skincare, nail polishes, or purses - but for now, I'm happy with having that one empty drawer. I don't recall ever having an empty drawer, and it feels luxurious and full of possibilities.
Lastly, the bottom drawer contains jeans, pants, lounge leggings, and sportswear. This is my fullest drawer, and while I would like to have some more space in there, for now it's alright. I'm sure I'll find some more stuff to get rid of down the line... :) Now, for the Q&A part:
1. Have you rebounded?
If you've read 'The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up', you may remember that Marie boasted an absolute zero rebound rate after helping her clients tidy up their homes (although in her second book, she does admit that there is now one client - a participant in her TV show - who went back to their messy ways). I was personally extremely skeptical about that perfect score; how many times have you discarded unloved items and reorganized your drawers only to find them reverting to their cluttered selves only a couple weeks later?

However, this time I must have done something differently - I can honestly say that since my large tidying up session a year ago, I have kept probably about 90% of my possessions organized and clutter-free. I still struggle with some trouble spots; leaving dishes in the kitchen sink instead of putting them directly into the dishwasher, amassing piles of mail in the doorway, draping clothes over chairs; but all in all, my home remains quite neat and tidy.

2. Have you replaced the discarded items with new things?
Generally speaking, no, I haven't. I've decided to upgrade a few things - mostly cooking utensils, some basic layering tops - but I haven't been shopping much at all. It's been one of the things I've been very conscious of, because I really didn't want to fill all those carefully organized drawers with stuff again, and I wanted to prove to myself that all the extra things I used to own were just that - extraneous. And it worked.

3. Why did you need to do another round of decluttering? Shouldn't you have done it just once and for all, in 'one fell swoop', like in the KonMari method?
Well, yes, if I was following Marie's advice more closely, I definitely should have been able to do just one big decluttering marathon and be done with it ever since. HOWEVER. When I first purged our stuff before moving to our current apartment, I got rid of a lot of stuff, but I did not get rid of everything that didn't 'spark joy'. Things that I was hesitant about, things that I've had 'just in case', things I wasn't crazy about that I had bought or been given not too long ago - I kept all of it at that point. Why?
Bags of stuff we donated to Goodwill on Saturday: mostly clothing, books, some kitchen stuff.
Because I felt too guilty and/or scared to donate them at the time. Deep down I knew they were probably things I wouldn't be using, but I just couldn't part with them at that point. Which is why I've been decluttering in smaller increments since, and just completed a somewhat bigger declutter a few days ago - I keep getting better and better at discerning what I love and find useful and what just sits there with absolutely no purpose. I've gotten rid of a mixologist set we got as a wedding present (we love making cocktails at home but for whatever reason, this set contained tools we've never found a need for - a special knife for slicing citrus fruit, anyone?), our spare snowboarding pants (like we need spares now that we go snowboarding once a year...), a whole lot of books we were never going to reread.

Another aspect is that as time goes on, our perspective may change, and consequently our enjoyment or our decisions about the usefulness of things, may change as well. I think I will probably now always be vigilant about weeding out clutter, and I'll continue to do a larger purging session about once a year. It just sounds reasonable to me.

4. Has your husband joined you in tidying up?
Uhm, I wish. I love my husband dearly, but a) he's not naturally a tidy person, b) he has a tendency for hoarding. What saves us from drowning in clutter is that I balance him out with my OCD of having everything neatly put away and organized, and the fact that he hates shopping in actual stores - although Amazon browsing is a danger zone. He doesn't see a problem in clothing sprawled on the floor, overstuffed closets, books no longer being able to fit in our bookcase - and when I ask 'Can we get rid of this?', he usually counters by 'But why?! It's perfectly fine!'.

So yes, dealing with my husband's things is a bit of a challenge, and instead of this being his problem alone if he can't find a specific pair of socks or can't put away his laundry in a drawer, the problem is purely mine - I do all the laundry and I put it away, I strive to keep our books tidy on the shelves, I despair over a full closet where I can't see anything. The gist of the issue is that I care, and he doesn't. I wish it were different, but it's not, and it's most likely not going to change. So.

All that being said, I haven't had to resort to secretly discarding his stuff, and we've so far avoided a huge argument over keeping or throwing away a particular T-shirt. Most of the time, I let it go. If I truly think some stuff needs to go, I'll ask nicely if I can donate it, and if he doesn't want me to, I'll ask nicely again. And again, lol. I think that he has started to realize that the space in our apartment is limited, and if he wants 10 new programming books, or a new bike, or a hiking jacket, something else needs to go.

5. Has tidying up your home brought more joy to your life?
Yes!!! Two main aspects have contributed to my feeling happier at home - firstly, my level of anxiety has gone down, and secondly, I've been more motivated and able to focus on other areas of my life that are important to me.

Seeing a cluttered living room and kitchen first thing in the morning definitely makes me feel grumpier and less energetic, and consequently I do NOT look foward to the day, regardless of what I have planned. But getting up and seeing all the things I love put away where they belong, or clean and uncluttered counters in the kitchen, makes me feel more peaceful, and optimistic, and grateful for the new day. Really, the difference is night and day - you should try it!

Those tidy kitchen counters, and an organized fridge well stocked with supplies for the week, also makes me more motivated to prepare tasty meals and try new recipes. We only eat out about once every two or three weeks, and I'm responsible for all the home cooking - I'm also quite passionate about eating well (I like good food, people), and about eating right (clean, unprocessed food, lots of full grains, lean proteins and veggies). This resposibility of planning and executing our meals every day can get boring and repetitive really fast, but having a clean, well designed space that's peaceful and inviting makes it feel so much less of a chore. I may show you our kitchen some time, if you're interested - but cooking has been much more pleasant and enjoyable once I've sorted our space out. I've even started baking some quick and easy desserts again. Who would have thought?

Alright, I think I've waxed lyrical about tidying for long enough now. I AM still planning to show you our small walk-in closets, and like I said, maybe some of our kitchen cupboards and drawers if you're curious. Have any of you been inspired to declutter or change your storage after reading Marie Kondo's book? I find looking at other people's closets and storage spaces absolutely fascinating - you can see a tour of Claire's lovely closet and drawers here - they look beautiful, don't you think?

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

1st Project 10 Pan of 2016: Halfway Update

It's March and two months out of my four-month long Project 10 Pan have passed already! What better time to update you on my progress, am I right? The photo below shows all my products neatly lined up at the start of the Project in January... (click here to read the Introduction post):
And here's what they look like after two months of regular use:
Now, I realize I chose some pretty anti-climactic items that don't really show any progress, so I'm going to explain how I'm doing in more detail.

1. Koh Gen Do Aqua Foundation in PK-1: My Project goal is to use up half of the bottle (it was completely full at the beginning). As you can see by my sharpie mark, I only got down to the top of the lettering, which is not quite 1/4 of the entire foundation. However, I can't really fault myself - I've used the Aqua Foundation every single time I wore make-up in the past two months. I could probably speed things up by using more foundation each time, but I really like this one and I'm not in a terrible hurry to get it out of my stash.
2. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light: I wanted to see a bigger dip in the middle, and it may not be quite visible in my photos, but on the right side of the pan where I usually tap my brush, there is a bit of an indentation. I'm hoping to make it a bit deeper by the end of this Project.
3. Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner in Bluefin: I can't show you my progress since this retractable pencil doesn't wind down, but I've been pretty happy with my usage - I don't use it every single time I do my make-up, but I use it about 90% of the time, either on my upper lashline or to tightline.
4. NARS Smudgeproof Eyeshadow Base: It's difficult to judge my progress on this one: there's still plenty of product stuck to the sides of the tube, but I've been steadily scraping that off. Unfortunately, I think that after taking the stopper out, this product does begin to dry out more quickly, so it will be done by the end of April either way - I just want to get as much use out of it as possible.
5. NYX Powder Blush in Taupe: Yes, I've hit pan!!! That's probably my biggest success so far in this Project. I've been using this to contour my face every time I do my make-up, but also as a transition shade in the crease of my eyes - which is how I was able to hit that pan in the very middle. I have to admit though that it's not my favorite sculpting shade for my complexion - it actually pulls both a bit too warm and muddy. I will probably be saying goodbye to it after the Project ends.
6. Clarins Instant Light Lip Perfector in Rose Shimmer: Now, I could be doing better on this one. When I hold it up to the light, I can see a lot of product missing in the middle of the tube, but there's still a LOT left. My problem with this gloss is that I can't really layer it over other lip products (it's too creamy and slippery) - at least not the ones in this Project, which is what I've been wearing all the time - and as a stand alone product, it currently makes me look a bit washed out. I've been using it in lieu of a lip balm at home, but not very consistently. Oh well - I'm trying.
7. Revlon Lip Butter in Berry Smoothie: Compared to my January photo, I think I've used slightly over half of the bullet, which means I should be right on track to using it up completely by the end of April. I'm still really enjoying this lip color - quick and easy to apply, and perfect to perk up pale, winter skin.
8. Revlon Superlustrous Lipstick in Cherries in the Snow: I wear this lipstick about once a week, and reapply once throughout the day. That, coupled with the fact that this is an incredibly pigmented lipstick, makes my progress rather slow. But that's okay - I am still using it, I just haven't been feeling a bright lip all the time.
9. Zoya Nail Polish in Jem: This one is a bit of a fail - I think I only used it three times since the start of my Project. Not because I'm bored of this color; I just haven't been really painting my nails at all. I'm not sure why; I'm either too busy or find something else to do when I do have time. I'll try to do better in the next two months, although the weather is turning more spring-like every day, and I may shortly be in the mood for a different shade. We shall see.
The Balm Nude'Tude at the beginning of the Project in January.
 10. theBalm Nude'Tude Eyeshadow Palette: I'm very happy with my usage on this palette - there's not pan showing yet, but you can see quite significant dips in the lighter and mid-tone shades. I'm quite decided that I want to pan this palette for all of 2016, although knowing myself and my eyeshadow-wearing ways, I'll have to exclude the darkest shade out of this palette, or only aim to hit pan. I'm just not going to wear a black smokey eye every day just to use up Serious - ain't gonna happen. But I am still enjoying using the palette and coming up with different color combos or layering options.
My palette after two months of consistent usage.
And there you have it! Overall, I think I'm doing as well as can be expected. I know that I'm not a panning rockstar, which most likely stems from the fact that a) I don't wear make-up every day, b) I use a small amount of product each time, but that's okay with me, as long as I feel that I'm giving these awesome products plenty of love. How have you been doing with your Projects?