Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Oh Beauty Blender, I Love You!

I came across this weird little makeup sponge a few months ago and decided to give it try.  I was hesitant to buy this at first because I thought it that paying $20 for a sponge was just ridiculous and was under the impression that this would be like any old sponge.  I can tell you that I feel that the Beauty Blender is $20 well spent!  They should last you about 3-4 months and I've had mine for about 2 months now, and it's still in great shape.

The Beauty Blender doubles in size when you dampen it, and to use it, it should be wet.  The sponge is great at soaking up all of your excess makeup and smooths out your foundation like no other brush or regular sponge can do.  Instead of spreading makeup across your face, the Beauty Blender distributes the makeup evenly.  It has changed the way I apply makeup and as a result, I've been getting a more flawless, smoother finish.  I don't think I've used my foundation brush since I started using the Beauty Blender!

The other great thing I recently discovered was the BlenderCleanser solid cleansing bar.  I've just been washing my Beauty Blender with the BareMinerals brush cleanser I wash all my other brushes with (which by the way, is not a good product) and there always seems to be some residue left behind.  No matter how much I washed, whenever I squeeze the sponge dry, makeup would still come out of it.  I've been weary about buying product-specific cleansers, since I feel that most of them are ripoffs.  I used 100 of my Sephora Beauty Insider points to try out the Beauty Blender Solid, and OMG... after the first use, my sponge looks brand new!  I was ecstatic because, let's be honest, you want to make this pretty expensive sponge last as long as you can!  Look at the difference!

Dirty sponge

Clean sponge after one wash... look at the difference in color!

Monday, March 16, 2015

Poshmark vs. Tradesy

Do you have a bunch of old clothes, shoes and handbags sitting in your closet and you don't want to just donate them, but don't know what to do with?  The past couple years, there have been a bunch of new apps and websites popping up where you can sell your used clothes, shoes and handbags, such as Poshmark, Tradesy, Threadflip, Threadup, and Twice.

I've been using Poshmark for about three years now, since they launched.  I've sold over $2,000 worth of clothes, shoes and bags on Poshmark, so I'm definitely a huge fan.  Poshmark makes it so easy to list your items.  You take pictures of your items with your iPhone or Android device directly into the app, put in a short description, and how much you would like to sell for.  Then you wait for someone to purchase.  Once someone purchases, Poshmark sends you a priority mail label, you pack your item and send it off.  Once the person accepts the item, you get paid.  It is pretty easy!

I recently tried out Tradesy, which is a similar service to Poshmark.  I had decided to try Tradesy only because I had a high value item listed on Poshmark that wasn't selling.  Since Tradesy takes less commission, I figured I could list my item for a lower price on Tradesy.  While these two services do essentially the same things, there are some differences.  If you are thinking of trying one of these out, here are some things I like and dislike about both Tradesy and Poshmark.

Selling on Poshmark vs. Tradesy

Poshmark Tradesy
Items under $15 = $2.95 flat fee; sales over $15 = 20% Flat 9% fee on all sales
Able to post items through app only; cannot do it over the website Can post through app or via website, but process is more complicated
Use Instagram-type filters to make your photos better Tradesy will clean up your cover photo within 2-3 days
You get a priority mail label for up to 5 lbs. You can choose to receive a shipping kit, print a free label or ship on your own
Free easy transfer of funds to your bank account or receive a check in the mail 2.9% fee when you cash out to Paypal, debit card or bank account

So as you an see, Poshmark is overall easier, but you get more money through Tradesy at the end of the day.

I've also been a customer through both of these sites.  I've only bought one thing on Tradesy, which unfortunately, I didn't like.  The great thing about Tradesy is that they do allow returns, which Poshmark does not.  Here are some things I like and don't like about both as a buyer:

Buying on Poshmark vs. Tradesy

Poshmark Tradesy
One click buying Your purchase will need to be accepted by the seller
All sales are final. No returns Returns are accepted by Tradesy. You receive store credit if you don't like the item and a full refund if the item was misrepresented.
Can use the credit from selling for purchases Can use the credit from selling for purchases

There's definitely more risk involved in buying something on Poshmark, since you don't get the luxury of returning your items.  Even with this, I've found the buying experience to be a more pleasant experience than buying on Tradesy.

This is the one thing that Poshmark has that Tradesy lacks: a sense of community.  This may sound strange about an app; however, I feel that the Poshmark community looks out for each other.  Everyone describes their items perfectly and responds timely to questions.  Poshmark hosts "parties" three times a day where certain items are featured to be shared in showrooms, and best of all, people share other people's items if they like it.  Tradesy doesn't have that at all.  In fact, you can't even share or promote your own items.  To be fair, Tradesy does offer sales on items without those sale numbers affecting the sellers, so you could get a good deal.  Though Poshmark takes more commission from my items, Poshmark's community is what keeps me using the app.  I feel like I actually have friends on the app and we're all in this together.

I will probably continue using both services as both have pros and cons.  If you're itching to do some spring cleaning, give these two services a try!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Playing Hooky in Wine Country!

This week my team from work went to Napa for an offsite team building day.  We started the day off with a limo ride from San Francisco to Napa.  Our first stop was lunch at Bouchon Bistro in Yountville, sister restaurant to the Thomas Keller's famous French Laundry.  Bouchon is a traditional French bistro, featuring an amazing raw bar.  Seeing that we work at a French company, it's only natural that we lunch at a French bistro!

Lunch was absolutely amazing.  Every table gets freshly baked braided French bread with butter upon sitting down... a very "French" thing to do.  We started off with a bottle of the 2009 Harmonique Pinot Noir, some escargot with mini puff pastry, and truffle fries to share.  I ordered the steak frites, which was absolutely delicious.  The steak was cooked to a perfect medium and topped with caramelized shallots and an herbed butter.  It being truffle season, Bouchon was featuring dishes with fresh truffles.  One of my co-workers ordered a house made pasta dish with freshly shaved truffles and it was heavenly!

One thing you can't do is eat at Bouchon and skip dessert.  Needless to say, by the end of lunch we were too stuffed to eat anything else, but how often do you get to go to Bouchon?  Of course we all ordered our own desserts.  I got an apple crumble with maple ice cream.  If you ever get this at Bouchon, it is large enough for 2-3 people to share!  Do not attempt to finish this yourself!  They were also featuring a chocolate brownie with candied walnuts, caramel sauce and ice cream.  Half the table got that and scarfed it down!

The front of Bouchon in gorgeous Yountville, CA

Menu doubles as a napkin holder

Steak frites and an apple crumble with maple ice cream

Two hours later, we finished lunch and headed to Turnbull Wine Cellars for our tasting.  We were a bit short on time since we spent so much time at Bouchon, so this was the only winery we went to.  Turnbull looked like an art gallery as you walk in.  They were featuring original Ansel Adams prints and had a great collection of wine to taste.  We had a flight of Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.  To give you an idea of how good their wine was, I wanted to buy a bottle of the 2012 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, which was part of the tasting, but it turned out to be $85 per bottle!  It might have been worth $85, but I know it will probably just sit in my collection for years before being consumed.  My co-workers were making fun of how I brought a bottle of Veuve Cliquot for the limo ride up that I had from my wedding (3 years ago, mind you).  Luckily, it was still bubbly, but they were impressed that I hadn't finished it off already!

The grounds also had a nice outside seating area with a fire pit and a cute little vegetable pairing garden.  I'm not sure who owns this place, but there were a bunch of old antique cars on the lot as well, so the owners must be huge car collectors.  I would highly recommend checking Turnbull Wine Cellars out on your next trip to wine country!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

March 2015 Stitch Fix Unboxing!

Last month I only kept one item from my Stitch Fix box.  I absolutely love the sweater, however, with the 70 degree weather here in California in the middle of winter, I only wore it once.  I was glad to see that this month's fix had some more spring items.

If you don't know how Stitch Fix works, please check out my first blog on what Stitch Fix is.  Here are the items I received this month:

  1. Dear John Kyleigh Straight Leg Jeans (Playback Cuffed)
  2. Market & Spruce Aleah V-Neck Solid Dolman Sleeve Shirt
  3. Splendid Aledo Reversable Pullover
  4. Market & Spruce Julia Utility Jacket
  5. Renee C Virginia V-Neck Top
I was really excited to see no dresses in this fix!  The last couple of dresses didn't work well for me, but I was a little weary to see a pair of jeans.  I've only received one other pair of jeans from Stitch Fix in the past and they just didn't fit me at all!  As I started taking the other items out of the box, I got excited as they all seemed like items I would keep... neutral colors and no floral prints!

So let's see what these looked like on!

Outfit #1: Dear John jeans with the Splendid pullover.  I un-cuffed the jeans to see how long they would be and, to my surprise, they weren't that much longer for my short legs.  :-)  I definitely like the fit of the jeans, even they they are low-rise, and I usually don't like low-rise jeans.  The Splendid pullover was just incredibly soft and comfy!  It is also reversible and the other side is light blue.  I don't think I would wear it inside out, but you can definitely do it!

Verdict: I didn't even look at the price tag before putting on the pullover and fell in love with it.  This shirt is a $98!!  What?!  I guess I'm paying for the Splendid brand and I   Now I have to think about the jeans, which are at listed at $78.

Outfit #2: Market & Spruce dolman sleeve shirt with the Dear John jeans.  I actually thought I was going to love this shirt, and then I put it on... It was just too big on top and the bottom was too narrow.  I understand these are dolman sleeves... but the wings were huge (as displayed in picture 2)! The top just scrunched up and the shirt was too sloppy for my liking at a whopping $48. 

Verdict: No thanks.  Absolutely returning!

Outfit #3: Market & Spruce utility jacket (with a plain black t-shirt) and the Dear John jeans.  This jacket fit really nicely and was comfortable.  There was also enough room for me to be able to wear this with long sleeve shirts, if needed.  I liked the peplum shape to the jacket, which was adjustable on the inside!  The only thing I wished was for this jacket to be in another color!

Verdict:  After much debate, this jacket is going back.  I couldn't justify paying $78 for something that I might wear once in a while, since I really don't have any pieces in my wardrobe to match with this green color.  If this had come in black or navy, or even a dark red, I would've been completely sold!

Last item:  There's no photo of me in this Renee C shirt because I couldn't get it on!  My arms got stock half way through and I couldn't pull the shirt down without feeling like it was going to rip in half.  This seems to happen more often with shirts that have zero stretch and also have no zipper or button to make putting it on easier.  I usually just get annoyed and frustrated and give up.  I was bummed because it did look nice on the hanger and I love polka dots.  

Verdict: Obviously going back.

Jeans: After much debate, I decided to keep these jeans.  I tried them on again cuffed and un-cuffed and feel that these are versatile enough that I can wear them at work or on the weekends.  It's got good stretch to them, but they still fit like straight jeans.  It's hard for me to find a good pair of jeans that I like, so at $78, these are much cheaper than the Lucky Brand or 7 jeans that I normally get.

Verdict: Keeping!

Final Verdict:  I give this fix a 3 out of 5.  I wasn't as delighted with this fix than some of the previous ones.  I ended up keeping two items, which is still good (and didn't lose out on my $20 styling fee).  I, however, feel that I could have found these items at the mall myself and didn't need Stitch Fix to do it for me.  I was happy to see that the Splendid top was on sale at for the same price, which means Stitch Fix doesn't mark up the items, since I had wondered about that.  All in all, I still got some great items and it's always fun to try new clothes!  Schedule your Stitch Fix today!