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

Birchbox, October 2015

This month I have two boxes to share with you. For my regular monthly box, I selected the Game Face curated option. Then I used $10 worth of points to order Power Pose, the other curated option. Both of these boxes contain products from brands that have supported breast cancer awareness in some way or another.
Birchbox Game Face

Game Face Box
Prescriptives False Eyelashes Plush Mascara ($5.90)
Adding this on to the stash. I haven’t tried it yet, so I don’t have anything specific to say.
Origins Checks And Balances Frothy Face Wash ($4.40)
I’ve already tried this. It smells great and seems to be pretty gentle. I love a good frothy face wash, but avoid them as them tend to dry me out. This might be a good option for me moving forward.
Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer ($9)
I wear Smashbox primer every single day (well, assuming I bother to put makeup on). I love the stuff. I usually wear the green, but I love having these small tubes around. They are great for travel and great to extend the times between purchases.
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+ ($3.09)
Eh, nice to have, but nothing to write home about (or blog about).
Estée Lauder Revitalizing Supreme Global Anti-Aging Crème ($8.50)
I don’t think I’ve purchased a moisturizer outside of sample boxes all year. Love getting these.

Total Cost: $10
Total Value: $30.89

Birchbox Power Pose

Power Pose Box
Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Eye Serum Synchronized Complex II ($18.20)
Clinique Chubby Stick Moisturizing Lip Colour Balm – Mega Melon ($8.50)
Pretty color. I have too many lip products, so I’ll probably put this one in the daughter’s stocking. Or I’ll put it up for swap.
Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief ($5.46)
Darphin Stimulskin Plus Multi-Corrective Divine Cream ($29.50)

So. . . the full size version of this is apparently $295 for 1.7 ounces. I highly doubt it is worth that much. I’ve tried enough skin products – high-end and otherwise – to know that there is very little to make a $300 skin cream worth it. That being said, I’ll use every drop of this. Not going to snub a high-end sample too much or I might not get one again.
Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer ($9)
Tube #2, no complaints here!

Total Cost: $15 or $10 for subscribers, paid for with points = $0
Total Value: $70.66

Both Boxes, Cost: $10
Both Boxes, Value: $101.55

Holy samples, Batman! I’ve got a lot to sort through this month. I’m absolutely glad to have used points to purchase the Power Pose box. Yes, I ended up with three Clinique products, two Estee Lauder products, and two identical Smashbox products, but all are high-quality samples I’m happy to have in my stash.

As always, if you want to sign up for your own Birchbox please be a dear and use my referral link. Use the coupon code SUBSCRIBENOW50 to get an extra 50 points ($5) to spend in the shop.

Saturday Review: Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium

Black Opium
I recently received a small bottle of Yves Saint Laurent Black Opium perfume free from Influenster for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

I’m pretty picky about fragrances. I usually prefer deeper, mostly musky scents – these really work on me, where as more fruity and flowery scents tend to go a little bit bitter. First opening the bottle, Black Opium had an appealing scent, but I was unsure how it would work on me.

First impression: Black Opium is strong and deep. I like that is comes off a little woodsy, but I’m unsure about the long-term wear-ability.

Later impression: The vanilla really starts to come out after a bit and I like it. Since I usually gravitate to musky scents, I miss out on the more sweet flavors. I like that this combines the two.

End of the day: This smell spectacular on me. A win.

Verdict: I really like this. I’ll use the rest of this sample bottle, for sure, and I might add it to my list of possible future purchases. I also enjoy the sparkly bottle.

Birchbox, September 2015

It is that time again! Let’s see what arrived on my doorstep this month.
Birchbox September 2015
Acure Organics Facial Cleansing Gel Superfruit + CGF ($2.50)
I’m always happy to have extra cleansers to put in my stash. I don’t think I’ve purchased one outside of beauty boxes in at least a year. I’m not in love with the way this smells, but it isn’t bad.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Perfect Brow Pencil ($2.99)
So. . this is tiny. I really can’t imagine doing my brows more than one of two times before it just feels too tiny to use. Any shorter and I’m bound to end up poking myself in the eye. I already have a brow pencil I absolutely love and don’t expect this one to replace it. The color looks okay though, so I’ll keep it to toss in a travel bag or my emergency purse bag.

trèStiQue Correct & Cover Concealer Crayon ($2.08)
I actually don’t own any concealer, so I was happy to see this in the box. It goes on smooth and is the perfect sample size. I’m a little iffy about the color on me, but plan to experiment.

NER:D Skincare Super Hydrating Mask ($18.67)
Love, love, love sheet masks. I have at least 50 – don’t judge! – and this one will fit in just fine.

RUSK Hair Care Elixir Mist ($11.20)
I’m very unsure about this one; I’ve never used a product like this that hasn’t left my hair looking greasy. I’ll probably pass it on to my daughter or put it up for trade.

Total Cost: $10
Total Value: $37.44

As always, if you want to sign up for your own Birchbox please be a dear and use my referral link.

Birchbox, August 2015


Multi-purpose Crayon from LAQA & Co. Charm School Kit ($6.70)
Benefit Air Patrol BB Cream Eyelid Primer ($10.85)
RUSK Volumizing Mousse ($3.40)
St. Tropez Gradual Tan In Shower Lotion ($6.25)
Scalisi Skincare Anti-Aging Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($7.65)

And I ended up with an extra, sort of.

I picked R+Co DEATH VALLEY Dry Shampoo ($7.35) when the sample choice came around and my selection was verified. Then when I checked my box spoilers online (couldn’t wait!) I noticed that it wasn’t included. I have been in desperate need of dry shampoo for a couple of weeks, but refused to by any since I knew I had some coming. So I was pretty disappointed that it wasn’t listed. When the box actually arrived on my doorstep however, the regular Birchbox was in an even larger box with my sample. I don’t get to review it for points, but looks like Birchbox noticed and fixed their mistake automatically.

Total cost: $10
Total value: $34.85 + $7.35 = $42.20

This is a great box for me. I needed the dry shampoo, always need mousse to add to my collection, love high-end skincare products, enjoy Benefit, and will even try the tan lotion. The lip crayon is a miss, but my daughter will appreciate it for sure. Overall? Winning.

As always, if you want to sign up for your own Birchbox please be a dear and use my referral link.

Birchbox, July 2015

My box came later than usual this month (and took nine days to travel the last 350 miles), but it was worth the wait! Love the box design this month too – my daughter claimed it as soon as I took it out of the package.

stila Look at Me Liquid Lipstick ($11 or $6.67)
I was the least excited about this sample. Usually I would put something like this up for trade because I just have too many lip products, but the pigment looked so insanely bright I just had to try it. Whoa, not my color. Crazy bright pigment though. A note on the value of this one: If you consider full retail price the price for the discount three-piece set with bag on, the value is $6.67. If you consider full retail price the price for a full size lipstick, the value is $11. I’m going to go with $11 here, as I think that makes more sense.

COOLA SPF 30 Organic Makeup Setting Spray ($7.20)
Setting spray is a must-have for this lady in this sticky summer climate. I’m always happy to add stuff like this to my stash. I haven’t tried this one yet though, as I’m still in the middle of my regular spray (super inexpensive e.l.f.). This sample especially appeals to me because of the SPF; I’m a fan of extra sun protection.

dr. brandt Microdermabrasion Skin Exfoliant ($9.75)
I have another tube of this waiting to be tried out. If I like it, I already have another waiting. If not, I have a spare for trading. Can’t go wrong!

Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray ($4.94)
Another winner for me! Texturizing sprays work extremely well with my short cut. When I finish the sample bottle of Oscar Blandi I’m working through right now (pretty good, smells fantastic!), I’ll move on to this one.

theBalm cosmetics Balm Desert Bronzer/Blush ($2.60)
I’ll never use this, but theBalm samples are always tiny and therefore not prime candidates for swapping. I’ll probably pass this on to my daughter for her next round of sleepover makeovers.

Total cost: $10
Total value: $35.49

Overall, I’m really thrilled with this month’s box. I ended up with a couple of products I know I will use and a couple I’m happy to try. Value isn’t bad either. As always, if you want to sign up for your own Birchbox please be a dear and use my referral link. Use coupon code SUBSCRIBENOW50 when you subscribe to get $5 (50 points) to spend in the shop.

eBay + Free $$ + Wine = ?

I recently found myself in possession of a $50 eBay gift card after writing a few guides through a couple of BzzAgent campaigns. Usually I would take this kind of surprise money to buy something the family needed – maybe not completely necessary, but needed. Putting it towards a birthday/Christmas gift or buying one of our regularly used products for example. This time however, I decided to buy random nonsense for me. It took a while to write those guides; I totally deserved it.

Let me share my spoils.

1. Photo of Louise from Bob’s Burgers signed by Kristen Schaal
I’ve been all about Bob’s Burgers lately and Louise might just be my spirit animal. Not too sure what I’m going to do with this though; I don’t have any interest in collecting autographs.
2. Tiny teacup from occupied Japan
Did you really think I could spend free eBay money without buying another teacup for my collection? You did? Really? Well, you don’t know me at all! [slams door]
3. Magic Brain Calculator
It is missing the stylus, but is still going to look pretty neat sitting on my bookshelves. Confused? Check out this youtube video to see how it works.
4. Jimmy Carter peanut necklace
This is creepy and wonderful; how could I not add it to my wardrobe? I first wanted to get the creepy smiling peanut ceramic bank, but the bids went higher than I wanted to pay. I still had more to buy, of course!
5. Teeth!
I had to buy this. Obviously.

Saturday Review: YSL Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara


Yves Saint Laurent Volume Effet Faux Cils Mascara
Retail: $32

I received this mascara for free through Influenster and have been using it for a couple of months now.

Pro: Great black color and very long-lasting. The sparkly gold tube doesn’t hurt either – I love that prestige cosmetics like to take the packaging up a non-tacky notch.

Neutral: The brush appears clumpy. Although I haven’t had this translate to my eyelashes, I have accidentally touched a hidden clump to my eyelid and had to perform spur-of-the-moment makeup reconstructive surgery. And it tends to get clumps around the top that will stick out the sides when you put the lid on if not careful. This isn’t really a big deal, but is disappointing when you are talking about $32 mascara.

Here is a photo of the clumps at their worst. I don’t know about you, but I’m not thrilled with a mascara that requires extra maintenance.
Con: It takes way too long to dry. Now, it isn’t unusual for high-end brands to take longer to dry than your typical drugstore variety, but this one just takes a really long time. I feel like I have to walk around not blinking for an eternity and I’ve often arrived at work and found a bit of a mess. One time in particular, I forgot about the mascara and used my setting spray a couple of minutes after putting the mascara on. Whoa. Raccoon disaster.

Verdict: No, not at this price point.

Birchbox, June 2015

JPEG image-3BC534E7797F-1

Marcelle Waterproof Eyeliner in Blue Lagoon ($7.30)
Yeah, it’s blue. Now, I like color and I’ve worn blue eyeliner before, but I can’t really say that I need more than one. I’ll add it to the stash or pass it on to someone who needs a little more blue in their life.

TOCCA Eau de Parfum, Bianca ($0)
You know I’m not thrilled with perfume samples in my boxes. Didn’t like the smell of this one either, so I tossed it.

Dr. Jart+ Dermaclear Micro Water ($2.55)
This is the sample I picked. If you’ve read any of my past beauty-related posts, you know I love Dr. Jart+. I’ve never used a water-based cleanser, so I’m excited to try this one out.

Pura Vida Lace Headband ($2.25)
This doesn’t work with my pixie cut, so it went straight to my daughter’s stash. It is really high quality though and can double as a ponytail holder. The price might turn some people off – I would not have purchased them when I had longer hair – but if you have super thick and long hair (like my kid), the quality if really important.

Temple Spa Good Hair Day Shampoo ($1.75)
Temple Spa In Good Condition Conditioner ($1.75)
Always good to have travel-sized hair products in the stash. I haven’t used these yet, but the don’t seen to be anything special.


Very low-value this month, but I’m not disappointed in the products. As always, if you want to sign up for your own Birchbox please be a dear and use my referral link. Use coupon code SUBSCRIBENOW50 when you subscribe to get $5 (50 points) to spend in the shop.

Saturday Review: Japan Crate, May 2015


Umashi Oasi Cheetos
Japan Crate description: Not as intense as your typical Cheetos, these Umashi Cheetos have a mellow, sweet and salty corn taste. The more you eat them, the more you’ll love them!

Playfullytacky opinion: These are strangely sweet, but it works.

Yaokin Maple Hot Cakes
Japan Crate description: A complete pancake experience without the mess. Thick, delicious maple filling sandwiched between two perfectly moist pancakes.

Playfullytacky opinion: Oh my gosh, I want to eat these every day. The little cookies tasted like the last couple of bits of a plate of diner pancakes – you know, the bits that have been soaking in syrup. So delicious.

Ginbisu Chocolate Bar Z
Japan Crate description: A light wafer stick that has been soaked in rich, chocolatey goodness. A unique texture between smooth and chocolatey and crunchy. It’s a whole new experience!

Playfullytacky opinion: Kind of like a churro mixed with a melted chocolate bar. Difficult to explain, but the Tacky husband loved it.

Chocolate in Disguise
Japan Crate description: Chocolate is a lot like us – when it gets bored, it puts on a costume. . . well at least these chocolates! Each character has unique fortunes for each color.

Playfullytacky opinion: These kind of tasted like harder Sixlets and were fine. They were less like candy I would want to buy for a treat and more like something I would add to goody bags.