Saturday Sponsored Post and Review: Michael Todd 3x 35 Vitamin C Complex Plus Retinol Rejuvenating Serum

Whew. The title of this blog post is a mouthful.

This is a sponsored post and I’m going to put this disclaimer at the top instead of the bottom because I really want to explain why I decided to try this out. I’ve tried several samples of Michael Todd products, but they were all small. Too small to make an informed decision. I jumped at the chance to test this serum. In fact, I wanted to try it so bad that I did not accept payment for this post, just the product. So in short. . . I received this product in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
MT Collage
Let’s start with the official information from the Michael Todd product page:

World’s most effective versions of stabilized vitamin C and Retinol work together in this highly concentrated treatment gel to correct uneven skin tone and texture while stimulating collagen production. Potent treatment complex with special non-oxidizing actives for the most effective rejuvenating serum to smooth fine lines, correct dark spots and improve skin’s texture.

Key Ingredients:
Contains 5 of the most effective and stabilized versions of vitamin C available to correct uneven skin tone.
1. 3-0- Ethyl Ascorbic Acid
2. Ascorbyl Glucoside
3. Sodium Ascorbate
4. Textrahexyldecyl Ascorbate
5. Ascorbic Acid

Contains stabilized concentrated versions of vitamin A to optimize product performance
1. Retinol
2. Retinyl Propionate

Apply to freshly cleansed skin morning and night. Allow for absorption before applying moisturizer and SPF. Use daily for optimum results.

Full Ingredients:
Water, Glycerin, Polysorbate 20, 3-o-ethyl Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ascorbyl Glucoside, Sodium Ascorbate, Retinol, Caprylic/capric Triglyceride, Lactobacillus/radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Rosa Canina (Rosehip) Extract, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Macadamia Ternifolia Nut Oil, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Tocopherol, Niacinamide, Ascorbic Acid, Retinyl Propionate, Acrylates/c10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer, Phenoxyethanol, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Hydroxide

And now for my thoughts:

You guys already know I am a huge fan of serums. It is a 100% essential part of my daily skincare routine and my skin has improved dramatically since I added that particular type of product (and switched to a Korean-based routine. . . I credit both equally with my skin success).

I’ve been using this serum twice a day (usually) for three weeks now. I haven’t seen any additional improvement, but my skin as maintained its shine, smoothness, and elasticity. As a regular serum user, I didn’t expect new results so I’m happy with this.

I found the product to have a slight alcohol-like smell at first pump, but this dissipated as soon as I started putting it on my face. There was no lasting smell (I don’t know about you, but I don’t like my face products to be scented. . . especially those that are layered with other products).

It went on smooth and soaked in quickly. Overall, a good serum!

And it is a good price at $37 for 40ml. I think this is a good product to try if you are looking to up your skincare routine from typical drugstore products.

Parties, and Cheerleading, and Fallout. . . Oh My!

I have something like six posts half-way done in draft mode, but wasn’t able to finish a single one this week. And yes, that includes the second part of Memoir of an Archivist After Death I promised to post today. Oh well, I’m going to give you some random updates instead.

Me: I’ve been really busy lately, but just with regular stuff not any extra projects or events. We are heading to a Junior League party tonight that will usher in all sorts of Christmas joy. After I finish my work shift, of course. Maybe during if I hit up the bar. You’ll be happy to know that I’m not serving as bartender this year. Last year that led to calling my designated driver, stumbling out to the car, spilling wine on my purse and . . . a whole lot of other things I don’t remember. Here, let me give you an example – the next morning I saw photos from the event including one of the members who were there. I said “aw, they took photos after I left!” only to see myself smiling right in the center. So sad, I’m too old to still have nights I can’t remember.

The husband let me build a character and play Fallout for a couple of hours. That was fun. It is kind of like Sims with weapons. I don’t think I have it in me to be a real gamer because my mind is constantly thinking about all of the other things I should be doing. Also, you can’t just take out the enemies by doing a massive sweep with your massive gun. Come on now.

I’m excited for Thanksgiving for the first time in . . . well, ever. Still counting down the days until I can put up our tree though. You can take the girl out of Christmas. . . you know, let me just give you a little taste of what it is like to live with me this time of year:
Christmas!All he was trying to do was drink some coffee and he gets bombarded with a camera and enough digital editing to kill a moose. Nope, that doesn’t make any sense. My husband humors me. Thanks, skillet! [I just gave him that nickname, so he is going to be confused.]

Skillet: I’ve mostly lost the husband to Fallout 4, but he is doing a decent job of pretending that he still wants to be around us and isn’t just waiting for us to go to bed so he gets the living room to himself. I really don’t know what else he has going on in his life right now aside from gaming and food. Is there anything?

The daughter: She gave a powerpoint presentation in our living room about why she should be allowed to switch schools next year. This didn’t come out of the blue; we’ve talked about moving schools in a couple of years. Still – I raise the kind of kid who thinks giving a well thought out and nerdy presentation is the way to get what she wants. Not ashamed about that one at all. Her only mistake was badmouthing National History Day. Never – NEVER! – speak ill about history projects in the household of a historian. Just sayin’. Aside from that, she is in full-on cheerleader mode as basketball just started up. Frankly, she is absolutely adorable in her uniform, but I’m having horrible glimpses of what life is going to be like in a couple of years when she reaches teenagehood. The girl is beautiful. Blonde, long legs, blue eyes. . . stunning. God help us all.

The little man: School is ticking along and I feel like he is getting more comfortable working with the new therapists in the new classroom. He still loves the bus driver best. He surprised us with some new motions to Wheel on the Bus a few nights ago – it is always exciting when your kid learns something new, but especially exciting when it involves making his brain work with his hands. Super!

Did you see the new Zoolander trailer? It looks incredibly overdone, but the first one made me laugh so I’ll see this too. Maybe while drinking an orange mocha frappuccino.

Ornament Exchange Link Party Time

Check out the rest of the ornament-exchangers for some pre-holiday inspiration. I know I’m ready to decorate now!

Ornament Exchange Link PartyWelcome to the first 2015 Holiday Ornament Exchange!

Want to see all the amazing ornaments we have shared?

We are linking up all of our ornaments in the link below so everyone can see all the beautiful handmade and/or store bought goodies we came up with!

Let’s all get inspired this season!

The Hosts of the Exchange~Ornament Exchange Hosts

My Pinterventures | Made in a Day | The House Down The Lane | The Kolb Corner | Intelligent Domestications | Where The Smiles Have Been | Ash and Crafts | Inside the Fox Den | C’mon Get Crafty | Olives-n-Okra

We want to say a huge “Thank You” to all the blogs that shared the exchange announcement on their sites, we could not have done it without you! Hugs! Ornament Exchange Helpers

Lexi Michelle Blog | B is 4 | Xo, Lorey | Craving Some Creativity | Cherishing a Sweet Life | Our Crafty Mom | MidMichigan Mom

Make sure to visit all the other wonderful bloggers of the 2015 Ornament Exchange! All of their incredible creations are linked in the link party below.

DIY Adulation | The Farmhouse In The Field | Tastefully Frugal | My Sweet Things |Christmas Tree Lane | Simply Kelly Designs | Munofore | Decor To Adore | Tulips & Orchids | Rhinestones & Sweatpants |Happily Ever After, Etc. | From This to That | DIY Just Cuz | This Design Journal | I am Homemaker | Organized by Sunshine | Displaced Yinzer | My Life From Home | Nets Blog About Jnets Line | 10 Acres and 6 Chicks | Books and Life | Gardenchick | Two Purple Couches | DIY Just Cuz | Across the Blvd | Kentucky to Cali | Insolence + Wine | Our House Now a Home | Weekend Craft | Mary and Martha’s House | Random Bits of Happiness | Dragonfly and Lily Pads | Garden Matter | Recipe For a Sweet Life | Mama’s Journey | Amber Downs | Toolbox Divas | Craving Some Creativity | Vikalpah | Flourish & Knot | Raising Fairies and Knights | Blue Willow House | The Road to Domestication | Love My Messy Messy Mess | An Oregon Cottage | Home On The Corner | Fearlessly Creative Mamma | The Evolution of Mom | The Green Mountain Couple | Simply Home Love | Run with Jackabee | | The Chilly Dog | Try it – Like it | Gypsy Road | Playfully Tacky | Wife Mommy Me

We want to see your ornament tutorials too! Show us your creations by adding your post to the party below! Please add only ornament tutorials to the party. Thank you!

Continue Reading…

Holiday Ornament Exchange!

Ornament-Exchange2015If you have been a reader of this blog for very long, you may have noticed that I absolutely love the holidays. For me, January 1-October 30 is just one long buildup to the best time of the year – the only time of the year that really matters – the glorious period between October 31 and December 31. If I could live in a permanent Christmas town I totally would. I enjoy Halloween . . . I tolerate Thanksgiving . . . I adore Christmas.

It should be no surprise to you that I jumped at the chance to participate in a blogger ornament exchange graciously organized by Erlene at My Pinadventures. Somehow she managed to coordinate over eighty people, mostly strangers, into a lovely roundabout of holiday giving. The rules were simple – make or buy an ornament fitting your partner’s holiday décor for no more than $10 and follow it up with a post. This is actually the very last day of the fun. Blog posts from the various participants started going up on November 1. Start clicking on the links below to venture into the ornament rabbit hole.

I was thrilled to end up partnered with Lisa from She just revamped her tree theme to a lovely-sounding mix of Tiffany blue, white, and champagne/light gold. She described the rest of her holiday décor scheme as modern and Tiffany or Kate Spade-inspired . . . can you say holiday soulmate!? The PlayfullyTacky household lets our Christmas run wild and theme-free, but Lisa’s description fit right in with my usual inspiration. I was excited to come up with something great for her.

I decided to buy an ornament. I didn’t even have to think about it very long. I mean, I’ve successfully diy-ed several cute things and couple of stylish things, but I’m more of a burn-myself kind of crafter. There was no way these hands were going to create anything that would be at home on Lisa’s tree. PlayfullyTacky’s #1 rule of DYI . . . Know your limits.

Bonus! Buying an ornament for the exchange meant I had an excuse to check out all of the holiday displays freshly installed for the season. I took a few photos of things I liked best as I shopped and planned to share them with you. BUT! That was before I found a holiday decoration that really called to me. One that really embodies the spirit of PlayfullyTacky. Without further ado, let me present this busty, booted reindeer in all of her glory.
Seriously. Somebody is going to decorate their house with that saggy breasted, questionably dressed reindeer.

Confession! I actually purchased an ornament for Lisa online. I just couldn’t find what I was looking for during my shopping trip. Thankfully, provided. [Note: This post is not sponsored by Pottery Barn. I paid for the ornament. Another Note: Email me, Pottery Barn!] And since they were offering free shipping on their ornaments regardless of price, I didn’t even have to worry about going over that $10 spending limit. Woot!
Ornament 1
Here is what I really love about this ornament . . . it doesn’t have to be an ornament. It is the simple kind of beautiful with a touch of glam that will work on a tree or as an accent around a house. As soon as I saw it on the website, I knew it was the one for me. Or well, for Lisa.

Need more ornament-love? Check out the other exchangers who posted today.
Gypsy Road
Wife Mommy Me
Ash and Crafts
Flourish & Knot

Arkansas Cornbread Festival, 2015


Yep. It’s a cornbread festival, ya’ll!

While the daughter was at a cheer event on Saturday, the husband, little man, and I hit up the fifth annual Arkansas Cornbread Festival. Food festivals aren’t usually on our to-do list because of our daughter’s food allergy. It’s no fun to watch other people eats treats while you are stuck listening to your parents repeat over and over again, “No, better not.” She was busy though, so the rest of the family jumped at the chance for some cornbread deliciousness.

Cornbread 1
The cornbread festival is your standard neighborhood street fair except with sample after sample of delicious cornbread from professionals and home cooks. Yum. Sometimes you just get cornbread, sometime it is deep-fried (of course), sometimes it comes with a side dish. Sometimes it is even disguised as a cake like this treat covered in honey butter whipped frosting by local bakery Sweet Love Bakes.

Cornbread - Sweet Love
The day turned out to be overcast and quite chilly. My very favorite kind of fall day. We planned well and arrived at the festival just after it started when it wasn’t very busy yet leaving ample room for wheelchair maneuvering – very important!

After trying all of it, my personal favorite this year was a delicious corn spoonbread with mushrooms, topped with a whipped crème fraîche made by South on Main. Totes delish.
Cornbread - South on Main
Cornbread 2

Saturday Review: Oak Leaf K-Cup Carousel

Oakleaf1I was recently able to revamp my coffee/tea area with the Oak Leaf Coffee Storage Carousel for K-Cup Pods. This particular model can hold 35 k-cups, rotates like your standard carousel, and comes with a three-year replacement guarantee.

My first impression? This thing is sturdy. When we first our out Keurig several years ago, I considered getting a carousel-style holder but found them to be wobbly and flimsy. I was surprised at the weight of the Oak Leaf version when I pulled it out the box. Don’t get me wrong – it isn’t heavy by any means, but it feels better constructed than some of the lightweight chrome kitchen and organization products.

So, let me show you what I was working with. The coffee area of our kitchen takes up on entire corner of our very small counter. It is reserved for coffee, my daughter’s growing tea obsession, alcohol, and a few random other drink-related products.
For a while I’ve been storing our k-cups in this basket made of newspaper. It is a great basket, but not optimum storage for this setup. It doesn’t hold very much, but is somehow still so packed that we kind of have to dig through it to find what we want and often make a big mess trying to find something special. It gets worse when I’m trying to make a cup for myself – we buy decaf and regular coffee of the same brand and this leads to a lot of picking one up, reading it, putting it back in, picking one up . . . etc. Not a huge deal, but a hassle that could improved.

And here is what we ended up with after I added the Oak Leaf carousel.
So nice! It is a small change, but it makes a big impact. The carousel tidies up the space and makes it easier to find the k-cup we are looking for. Plus! It holds a lot more than my basket. You can see from the photos that my basket was reaching its maximum storage level. I transferred all of those to the Oak Leaf carousel and still have half of it open for more. Since we’ve reached November, I’m going to buy some seasonal flavors to fill that thing up!

Oakleaf6My overall impression? I wasn’t sure if I would like the carousel setup, but I’m really happy with it. The Oak Leaf carousel is sturdy, streamlined, and practical. Recommended!

Now I just need to figure out a better option for all that tea. . .

Disclaimer: I received this product free for review purposes. All opinions are my own and I was not otherwise compensated for this post.

Click here to see more Saturday review posts.

Memoir of an Archivist After Death [Fiction, Part I]

Remember when I said I was writing something for an archival short story contest? Well – unsurprisingly – I didn’t finish it. Since it is 2/3 of the way done however, I’m going to share it here in three parts. And I am absolutely going to write part three. Promise.

Memoir of an Archivist After Death
by Stephanie @ PlayfullyTacky

Have you seen Beetlejuice? You know, that late-80s comedic masterpiece from Tim Burton back before he became just a caricature of himself? A modern classic, for sure. I absolutely loved that movie as a kid. I can remember many a Saturday morning pushing that tape into the VHS player and settling in with a bowl of corn flakes. Always corn flakes, my mom never bought the fun cereal.

One of my favorite scenes was when the distressed Maitlands ventured into the Hades branch of their local DHS to meet with their caseworker. How exactly did the deceased end up working in this underworld office? Could I dye my hair as pink as the receptionist? And most importantly, where did all that paperwork come from and why did no one care that it wasn’t organized in nice piles? How would they ever find what they needed?

Is that weird? Oh my God, was I a weirdo? [Hang on for a minute while I reevaluate my entire existence.] Okay, anyway . . . I like to think that my love of that movie helped land me where I am today. Although I’m not entirely sure that is a good thing so helped might not be the right word. Where exactly am I, you ask? Well, I’m in the real-life version of that underworld DHS. And I’m in charge of all that paper.

They don’t prepare you for this in library school.

Let me start by telling you a little bit about a typical day here in my post-existence [context, people!]: The alarm goes off at 6am. No, not even the dead get to sleep in. There isn’t any need to shower, exercise, or eat, but a lot of us go through the motions anyway. Personally, I like to stare at a cream cheese bagel and swirl around a cup of coffee before I leave my building. I just can’t give up that coffee. It used to be the thing that made me feel like a living, breathing human every morning. Although I can’t say it does that much for me anymore, I keep up the habit all the same. Supposedly we in-betweeners can still eat the food, but it doesn’t taste quite the same and I prefer to stick with my memories.

My commute is usually uneventful – we don’t have the kind of traffic they do in Hell – and I arrive at work around 8am to be greeted by a way-too-chipper morning person. Her name is Debbie, she works the front desk, and I’m pretty sure she was murdered by her former coworkers. No one can deal with this level of pep in the morning. After escaping from Debbie, I spend the next eight hours alone in the basement sorting through death records, haunting assignments, closed reincarnation requests, and TPS reports (usually without their cover pages).

On a particularly interesting day, I might discover an old exorcism-avoidance training manual or maybe spend an hour lost in the files of Queen Victoria, Jim Morrison, and Tutankhamen. Last week I tackled the records from one of the European plague pandemics. For official records these are pretty scant; Lord knows the orientation lines had to be longs during those years. Literally, Lord knows. The higher-ups want me to build a searchable database and try to fill in the missing information for these and other mass-mortality records, but won’t even give me an intern to help with that one. Not gonna’ happen.

Technically I should only be dealing with the closed records, i.e. those pertaining to people who have moved on to their final destination (informally labeled 9L, for nine lives). It is a misnomer really, as not everybody actually gets nine. The label comes from an old system leftover from the administration of Lytton during his short term as Death in the seventeenth century. He tried to overhaul the records retention plan and really mucked things up with extraneous ledgers and processes that did nothing for standardization and increased the backlog ten-fold. I’m still trying to right things from that misadventure.

But let’s stay away from politics. As I said, I should only be dealing with closed records. However, at least once a week I get a call from some random case-worker trying to determine proper placement for a person mistakenly nine-lived. I’m constantly reminding them not to send me active files. I’m hoping it will sink-in sometime in the next century or so. An ambitious project, I know.

Drop-everything-and-work-on-this-right-now projects aside, this is pretty much what I do every single day. Or at least, what I was doing before everything changed.

To be continued.
Check back on November 20 for part two.

75 in 2015: October, Part II

Psycho USAPsycho USA: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of by Harold Schechter (2012)

Okay, so the title is a little clickbait-ish. I passed it up several times before checking it out from my library’s e-book selection just because of the title. I was pleasantly surprised by the content though. Don’t judge a book by its cover, right? What we’ve got here is short snippets of the crimes that were infamous for their day – and often similar to those that still live on in pop culture today – but were ultimately forgotten. All of the “crimes of the century” that faded. I really enjoyed how the book gave you short blurbs about crime (a few pages each) grouped into time periods with a little bit of analysis and context in between. It really worked and made this an enjoyable read.

And fyi – I love a good historic crime television show and only recognized one of the crimes mentioned. Pretty good, I think.

From “In the horrifying annals of American crime, the infamous names of brutal killers such as Bundy, Dahmer, Gacy, and Berkowitz are writ large in the imaginations of a public both horrified and hypnotized by their monstrous, murderous acts. But for every celebrity psychopath who’s gotten ink for spilling blood, there’s a bevy of all-but-forgotten homicidal fiends studding the bloody margins of U.S. history. The law gave them their just desserts, but now the hugely acclaimed author of The Serial Killer Files and The Whole Death Catalog gives them their dark due in this absolutely riveting true-crime treasury.”

ArbusAn Emergency in Slow Motion: The Inner Life of Diane Arbus by William Todd Schultz (2011)

I didn’t like this one. I found it incredibly boring – and it certainly didn’t help that the book described photograph after photograph that I couldn’t actually see without looking them up online. I don’t know. . . my response to the psychological analysis of Arbus was pretty much “ugh, get over it.” I’m not proud of this reaction as I take mental illness very seriously, but it is what it is. The book was slow and seemed to rehash the same thing over and over again; I struggled to finish it. My least favorite so far this year.

From “Diane Arbus was one of the most brilliant and revered photographers in the history of American art. Her portraits, in stark black and white, seemed to reveal the psychological truths of their subjects. But after she committed suicide in 1971, at the age of forty-eight, the presumed chaos and darkness of her own inner life became, for many viewers, inextricable from her work. In the spirit of Janet Malcolm’s classic examination of Sylvia Plath, The Silent Woman, William Todd Schultz’s An Emergency in Slow Motion reveals the creative and personal struggles of Diane Arbus. Schultz veers from traditional biography to interpret Arbus’s life through the prism of four central mysteries: her outcast affinity, her sexuality, the secrets she kept and shared, and her suicide. He seeks not to diagnose Arbus, but to discern some of the private motives behind her public works and acts. In this approach, Schultz not only goes deeper into Arbus’s life than any previous writer, but provides a template with which to think about the creative life in general.”

MoreauThe Island of Dr. Moreau by H. G. Wells (1896)

Excellent. I’m a big Wells fan, so I was surprised to be picking this up for the first time.

From “A shipwreck in the South Seas, a palm-tree paradise where a mad doctor conducts vile experiments, animals that become human and then “beastly” in ways they never were before–it’s the stuff of high adventure. It’s also a parable about Darwinian theory, a social satire in the vein of Jonathan Swift (Gulliver’s Travels), and a bloody tale of horror. Or, as H. G. Wells himself wrote about this story, “The Island of Dr. Moreau is an exercise in youthful blasphemy. Now and then, though I rarely admit it, the universe projects itself towards me in a hideous grimace. It grimaced that time, and I did my best to express my vision of the aimless torture in creation.” This colorful tale by the author of The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds lit a firestorm of controversy at the time of its publication in 1896.”

2015 total books: 69
2015 total pages read: 13,507
2015 total pages listened to: 8,013

75 in 2015: October, Part I

On Second ThoughtOn Second Thought: Outsmarting Your Mind’s Hard-Wired Habits by Wray Herbert (2010)

I give them one a firm “okay.” It was a decent read, but nothing to write home about, mostly rehashing things I’d heard before.

From “Our lives are composed of millions of choices, ranging from trivial to life-changing and momentous. Luckily, our brains have evolved a number of mental shortcuts, biases, and tricks that allow us to quickly negotiate this endless array of decisions. We don’t want to rationally deliberate every choice we make, and thanks to these cognitive rules of thumb, we don’t need to. Yet these hard-wired shortcuts, mental wonders though they may be, can also be perilous. They can distort our thinking in ways that are often invisible to us, leading us to make poor decisions, to be easy targets for manipulators . . .and they can even cost us our lives. The truth is, despite all the buzz about the power of gut-instinct decision-making in recent years, sometimes it’s better to stop and say, “On second thought . . .”

Catherine The GreatCatherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie (2011)

A one-word review is all that is necessary here . . . spectacular.

From “The Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Peter the Great, Nicholas and Alexandra, and The Romanovs returns with another masterpiece of narrative biography, the extraordinary story of an obscure German princess who became one of the most remarkable, powerful, and captivating women in history. Born into a minor noble family, Catherine transformed herself into empress of Russia by sheer determination. For thirty-four years, the government, foreign policy, cultural development, and welfare of the Russian people were in her hands. She dealt with domestic rebellion, foreign wars, and the tidal wave of political change and violence churned up by the French Revolution. Catherine’s family, friends, ministers, generals, lovers, and enemies—all are here, vividly brought to life. History offers few stories richer than that of Catherine the Great. In this book, an eternally fascinating woman is returned to life.”

Scary StoriesScary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz (1981)

I was feeling nostalgic. Like so many children of the ’80s, I grew up with these books and read them religiously, but not at night b/c those drawing were haunting. I still have my original copy of More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (or possibly my husband’s copy, we aren’t sure) and bought the trilogy for my daughter when Scholastic offered the set with the original art. After seeing a story online touting an upcoming documentary on the books (, I felt the need to pick one up and see if it still had any appeal.

I enjoyed revisiting this part of my childhood. The drawings were still terrifying and, even though the stories didn’t have my shaking in my boots, I could really see their appeal for youngsters. And I also noticed for the first time that these books have extensive end notes and additional information in the back providing some history on the classic stories.

I only read the first of the books, but I remember the second one being my favorite and expect to pick it back up sometime soon.