Random Thursday: Art that inspires me

I don’t think I could really call myself an art connoisseur. I just know what reaches out and grabs me. I like photos or drawings that evoke a sense of place or mood, or tell a story. I also love photos or drawings that look at something from a different angle. When you look at a drawing or photo–of a person, a place, or an object–and immediately think, “I wonder what the story is here?”–that’s a good piece of art. It draws you in and holds you.

I think it can be really hard to explain why a piece of music inspires you, but I have always loved Beethoven’s Ninth. I never get tired of hearing it. I think the fact that he was deaf when he wrote it just makes it all the more amazing; it’s a reminder that amazing things can happen even when life doesn’t look so bright.

Also: this song. I feel like M83 really writes soundtracks, not just singles, so naturally I was thrilled when they wrote the score for Oblivion. Their albums already sound like movie soundtracks, so it was a perfect fit. But you might also know them because “Outro” was used in the trailers for Cloud Atlas.

I feel like there are some movies that could be considered works of art, because they were just amazing from a visual standpoint, or because of the writing: Inception, Looper, and The Tree of Life all spring to mind. From a storyteller’s point of view these are an amazing one-two punch of putting together all the layers of a story and presenting it in a way that’s more than merely actors standing front of a camera.

Books that are masterpieces: well obviously, we have to start with The Lord of the Rings; this story has to be one of the most epic tales of courage and friendship ever written. I actually like the movies better than the books, because I think Peter Jackson and his team did a lot to refine Tolkien’s clunky writing and bring everything to life in a way that the novels didn’t necessarily do. And I think that Pride and Prejudice is one of those stories that will be referenced, copied, and parodied until the end of days. We all want to find our Mr. Darcy!

Fashion definitely counts as an art form. I hate to see people go with whatever is trendy just because they want to look “good”, as in “popular”. I think fashion should be a way to express yourself.

I also drool over the beauty of really lovely gowns (like every girl, I suppose). I’m inspired by the thought it takes to make something beautiful and different from the rest of the crowd.

Makeup, too, can be art. I love watching movies or flipping through magazines for makeup to recreate. It’s a way to set the mood and say, “This is who I am today!”

 

So what pieces of art inspire you? They can be visual, music, books–anything and everything. Art comes in lots of forms, not just paintings! Tell me in the comments!

Product review: ELF Studio Concealer Pencil & Brush

Happy hump day everyone! For me, this is actually day two of a much-needed vacation. This is my last break for a few months, since the madness of the holidays has already begun, so I’m trying to build up my reserve of scheduled posts once again! Today I wanted to share a review of a concealer that I bought this summer. What makes this concealer different is that it’s a) a pencil, like an eyeliner and b) it’s specifically formulated for covering breakouts! Best of all, it’s vegan-friendly and bargain-priced…so read on to see what I thought of it!

The product: ELF Studio Concealer Pencil & Brush; in three shades; $3 at eyeslipsface.com

The claims: Salicylic acid and tea tree oil treat blemishes; the brush helps blend the concealer on the skin to create a flawless finish.

Ingredients: Salicylic Acid 2%, Synthetic Beeswax, Microcrystalline Wax, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Paraffinium Liquidum (Mineral Oil), Bis-Diglyceryl Polyacyladipate-2, Isopropyl Myristate,, Petrolatum, Mica, Melaleuca Altenifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil BHT, Benzyl Alcohol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone, Iron Oxides (CI 77491 CI 77492 CI 77499), Titanium Dioxide (CI 77891).

I tried it: This is a unique way to deliver concealer: it’s in a chubby pencil that can be sharpened like an eyeliner crayon (there’s a sharpener on the lid); on one end of the pencil is a super-soft synthetic brush that blends the concealer once it’s on the skin. I’ve tried acne concealers before and have either disliked the liquid formula or found that they lacked staying power, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from this.

Surprisingly, this has a nice opaque coverage and the brush feels much nicer than what you would expect on a bargain makeup product. It blends well and can be built up for more coverage. The wear time is impressive too: I can get several hours without fading or budging.

I do feel that the combo of salicylic acid and tea tree oil helps to diminish the severity of breakouts. It’s nice to have these ingredients in the concealer rather than trying to layer a regular concealer over a spot treatment, since this typically results in the concealer sliding away.

My final thoughts: This is such a steal! Lately I’ve been dealing with those awful stress-related breakouts around the mouth and chin, and this has been a lifesaver–it covers everything up so I don’t feel so self-conscious, but doesn’t further irritate my skin or cause any dryness in the surrounding area. If you struggle with occasional breakouts and want a quick and lightweight way to hide them, I would definitely recommend buying this pencil!

Ten on Tuesday: early holidays and famous birthdays

1. I’ve been a terrible linker-upper this past month. Well, what can I say–life gets busier and busier all the time!!

2. I don’t know where I’d be without Spotify. I don’t listen to the regular radio much anymore.

3. Thank goodness for my electric blanket! It went from warm and fall-like to forty degrees and pouring rain almost overnight and it’s freezing here.

4. And thank goodness for vacation…I really need a few days away from the craziness of work before the full plunge into the holiday season!

5. Speaking of holidays…why does all the Christmas stuff hit shelves in SEPTEMBER?! Seriously?! Who needs to buy a fake tree and window clings that soon?! I want to spend September and October enjoying fall, not thinking about snow and Christmas shopping. One holiday at a time, please.

6. I am just beyond disappointed to see Rihanna on the November cover of Glamour…I was so thrilled to see Kerry Washington–beautiful, talented, brilliant–on the October cover. But I have been disappointed with Rihanna ever since the whole Chris Brown incident. I was really upset that she would give a long interview about respecting yourself enough to leave an abusive man and how she had a responsibility as a role model to her fans, and then she went right back to him.

Obviously it’s her personal life and no one has the right to judge, but I feel like no one is willing to shake her and say, “Girlfriend, you deserve better. You are better.” I feel like young girls look at these stars and see only the drama and the glitz and miss all of the quiet knots in the stomach and hidden bruises and pain. I wish these stars would take their position as a role model seriously enough to stand up and say, “You don’t have to take that. You can leave.” And then demonstrate it.

7. When it comes to TV or books, do you prefer spoilers or not? My husband avoids them at all costs; I don’t mind some spoilers. Sometimes, I confess, I seek them out. What can I say? I’m not good at waiting!

8. I got really bored and decided to look up all the famous people who share my birthday, because why not. I think it should be a game, like pick a half dozen people who share your birthday and they can be your zombie apocalypse fighting team. Anyway, I get to have some pretty good people on my team I think: Nicole Kidman (survived being married to Tom Cruise, after all), Robert Rodriguez (creator of El Mariachi and badass bucket hat-wearer), Rampage Jackson (member of The A-Team), James Tolkland (remember Strickland from Back to the Future?), Christopher Mintz-Plasse (should have some fighting skills from Kick-Ass), and Tom Wlaschiha (Jaqen H’ghar–say no more). So tell me, which six teammates do you get?

9. I’ve realized that my Pinterest LOL board is literally a jungle, so I’ve been breaking it up into smaller boards. With over 3300 LOL Pins, that should probably only take, oh, a year or two!

10. My mind has clearly been all over the place this week!! Tell me if you link up for Ten On Tuesday, I’d love to see what you’re thinking about this week!

RocksBox round #2

Last month I posted my first impression of the RocksBox subscription box (you can find that post here), with a little bit of info on the service and pictures of what I received. Since I sent back my box ahead of time, I got another box in the mail, so I thought I’d write up a quick unboxing post for this one as well to kind of expand on my original post.

The quick details on RocksBox: it’s a monthly subscription service that lets you “rent” trendy jewelry pieces and buy those you love most at a discount. Signing up is simple: head over to the RocksBox website and fill out a style profile detailing things like your jewelry style, the pieces you prefer (earrings, necklaces, etc.), colors, and more. You can choose from three different plans that range from month to month ($19/month) or prepaid in six- or twelve-month sets ($17 and $15 per month, respectively). Each month you receive three pieces of jewelry that are yours to wear as much as you like for up to sixty days; when you’re ready for a new box you just return your pieces in the pre-paid envelope included in your order. If you like a piece you can purchase it at 20% off the retail price. There are no preview or skip windows in this subscription.

It’s at this point that I have to say that the RocksBox website is not the most user-friendly subbie site I’ve encountered. It’s hard to find FAQs, cancellation info, etc. Thus, I wasn’t entirely clear on the timetable for sending out new boxes: if you send back your box early–how quickly do you get a new one (like a bonus) for that month? Apparently pretty darn quickly, because shortly after I returned my box I got an e-mail saying that a new box was en route. I will give them bonus points for being speedy!

I got three pieces in this box: a pair of earrings, a ring, and a bracelet. The pieces all coordinate surprisingly well, with tones of gold and black.

The Aura earrings from Edge of Ember (retail $75, member price $60) are just a flat fail for me. I don’t like them. Like the earrings I received last month, they look and feel cheap, and the design just isn’t “me”.

The Karatasi ring from Made (retail $30, member price $24) is cool enough, and it’s actually from a fair trade company providing sustainable employment in Africa, which I love. But again, it just isn’t “me”.

I started drooling when I saw the bag embossed with the logo for House of Harlow 1960. This is one of those super-trendy lines you constantly see referenced in magazines, and I was not disappointed when I pulled out this Sunburst bangle (retail $75, member price $60). It’s heavy and you can tell that it’s well-made. I was actually seriously considering splurging on this…until I played with it a little more and realized that the inlay is made of leather. I double-checked online in hopes it might be faux, but no go. What a bummer, because it’s an insanely lovely piece (and more so in person than in photos).

Also, while searching for the bracelet online to verify the materials, I found it listed on Piperlime for $68 + free shipping…so even as a non-member I could buy this for less than the listed “retail price” from the RocksBox website. That got me digging, and I turned up the ring for $25.31 at ASOS and the earrings on clearance at Bluefly for $22.97. Hmmmmmm…kind of suspicious there, RocksBox.

So overall–still not impressed enough to plunk down the cash for the subscription, and finding out the prices aren’t accurate (to put it nicely) just makes me miffy. I went ahead and canceled the subscription instead of paying for another month. It was fun to try, but definitely not worth my hard-earned cash!

Random Thursday: Things that brighten a rainy day

I actually happen to like the rain. It can be very relaxing and soothing, and sometimes it also serves as a handy excuse to be a homebody–no way to do those chores or go run those errands, the weather is too nasty.

But okay, sometimes the rain gets to be a bit much. My weeks are pretty busy so I’ll take any excuse for a nap if I can get it, and a rainy day is the perfect excuse to cuddle up with the kitties and my electric blanket. I’m not usually bummed about taking a long nap with my furry friends!

After cat naps, I think reading is the best thing ever to do on a rainy day. I light all of my candles, make a big mug of hot tea, and snuggle down in a blanket with a stack of books. I’m not gonna lie, there have been times I’ve gotten up for the day, looked out the window at the rain, and exclaimed, “It’s blustering out there! Looks like we can’t go anywhere today!” with more joy than is probably appropriate for a stormy day, just because I have a really good book sitting on the shelf waiting to be read and I know I won’t be able to concentrate on anything else until I read it.

Puzzles are a good way to pass a rainy day. I love crossword puzzles.

Pinterest is always a good time killer!

Rainy days are good days to catch up on things like TV, letter writing, closet organizing, and all those other things you don’t do on nicer days because you feel like you should go out of the house and not be a total recluse.

Rainy days are also a great time to bake and cook something. Nothing warms up a rainy, dreary day and a cold house like fresh cookies, bread, hot stew, and other yummy dishes.

What do you do to brighten up a rainy day? Tell me in the comments!