Beauty & Fashion

Too Faced The Sweet Smell of Christmas Mini Melted Liquid Lipstick Set (w/ swatches!)| IS IT WORTH IT?

Hello friends!

Today, I wanted to share a review of the insanely popular Too Faced liquid lip set for this year!  It’s sold out on the Sephora website, as well as the Too Faced website AND Ulta, but hopefully it’ll come back!

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Can we just take a moment to appreciate how stunning this packaging is??

The set comes with four different liquid lipsticks, three in varying nude shades and one in a classic red.  The unique selling point for these lip products is that they semll just like their name!  So Pumpkin Spice smells like pumpkin, Sugar Cookie smells like cookies, etc. Unfortunately, each color seems to have a different formula, so I’m going to detail those variations quickly as well as provide a summary of some points.

(In order left to right: Cinnamon Bear, Pumpkin Spice, Hot Buttered Rum, Sugar Cookie)

In general, this formula has a pretty light texture that feels like nothing on the lips.  It doesn’t feel dry or look like it dries my lips out, but if you have problems with liquid lipsticks drying you out I would definitely suggest a lip scrub and lip balm prior to application – just be sure to remove the lip balm before putting them on to get the best wear time out of them!  There is very little tackiness when you first apply that goes away over time unless you press your lips together pretty hard.  They all tend to be very long-wearing, but there are some differences in formula listed below.

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Pumpkin Spice – this one has the best formula in my opinion.  It goes on fully opaque, the scent is strong, and it is completely transfer-proof.  It mostly made it through a Chik-fil-a meal, which is pretty good! There was some transfer onto my chin, but that happens with every lip product I’ve tried.

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Hot Buttered Rum – this formula isn’t quite as good as Pumpkin Spice. It is transfer-proof, the smell is strong, but I did have to add a second layer to get fully opaque.  Thankfully, it layers incredibly well on itself so there wasn’t any weird clumping or streakiness!

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Sugar Cookie – similar to Hot Buttered Rum, this isn’t a bad formula, but it’s not as good as Pumpkin Spice.  It is transfer-proof and smells super yummy, but takes some building to be fully opaque on my pigmented lips.  I also noticed that after a few hours the lines in my lips are more prominent than when I first applied, making them look a little dry.  Not too bad, though!

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Cinnamon Bear – out of all four, this formula is the worst in my opinion. It’s not necessarily bad, but the first time I wore it I had transfer every time I drank something or kissed the back of my hand to test. The scent is also not as strong or distinguishable as the others.  Still, the color is very opaque!

If you’re looking at this set from a monetary standpoint, you might be disappointed!  It’s $25 for these four lipsticks, and a full-size melted matte lipstick runs at $21.  On the surface this seems like a great deal, however the minis in this set are each .1 ounce, and the full size is .4 ounces.  That means that you get the same amount of product with both options, but you pay $4 more for the set!  Sephora lists this as a $48 value, but I’m not sure how they come up with this number.

That being said, if you’re looking to try this formula, want a bunch of colors, or are in love with the novelty of these fall-scented lipsticks, you might love this!

So, we come to our final question: is it worth it?

Yes!

I know I said that the actual value of this isn’t great compared to the full size, but if you’re like me and own a ton of lipsticks, having smaller sizes ends up being a better value for you anyway, since you can go through them quicker and hopefully use them up before they expire.  Too Faced offered an awesome color selection with this set, as I feel like many people would enjoy wearing the neutral shades, and everyone needs a red!  The limited edition scents make them all the more appealing as well.

Even with the variations in formula and slight problems, I don’t think it’s bad enough to warrant skipping out on the set, considering they’re still really good liquid lipsticks!  Plus the different scent in each of these makes them so much fun to put on.

That’s all for today!  As always, leave your questions, comments, and suggestions below.  I can’t wait to hear what you have to say!

Have you picked up this set?  Do you plan on it?

Beauty & Fashion

Kopari Aluminum-Free Coconut Deodorant | IS IT WORTH IT?

Hello, friends!

I wanted to share an awesome new product I’ve been using lately that I received for free from Influenster.  It’s the Kopari Aluminum-Free Deodorant (if you couldn’t tell by the title!).

I’ve been testing this for about a month now, so I feel like I have a pretty good idea of how it works, and am excited to share my experience with you!

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The deodorant smells like a very soft coconut milk, which basically translates to a slightly sweet smell in the tube and like nothing when applied to your underarms.  If I ever do smell anything, it’s just a slight freshness, but not an overwhelming or strong smell like you’d find in traditional drugstore deodorants.

When applying this deodorant, it glides on incredibly smoothly and feels like you’ve put nothing on.  It’s completely clear, and leaves no marks that I could tell on clothes, which is so important to me considering I wear a ton of black and always leave white stains from traditional deodorants on my shirts.

The one thing that is very important to note when switching to natural deodorants is that you may experience a “detox” period.  This is supposed to last from 2-4 weeks, and is totally normal. However, if you experience painful rashes that don’t ease up or go away, you could be having an allergic reaction and should stop using it. If you’d like to learn more about what the detox period is, check out this link provided by Kopari. (Please remember that the information given in the link is provided by Kopari, and a general google search may be needed to learn more about what to expect as well!)

I experienced a small breakout on each armpit that lasted for about two or three days, and then went away. I haven’t had any other issues since!  I personally never noticed an excess of sweat or stink, but that is generally what they warn you should expect when switching to a product without antiperspirant.

So now we get out of my experience, and into whether it’s worth buying this deodorant over traditional drugstore deodorants!

If you look at it from a technical side, you get 2 ounces of product for $14.  A traditional deodorant from a store like Walmart is 2.6 ounces, and comes from anywhere between $2-$5, depending on the brand and product.  As you can see, there’s a pretty big gap between pricing.  However, it’s important that you consider other factors, such as ingredients, in your decision.

If you fall in love with the deodorant and want to keep purchasing it, you can get 15% off by signing up for their auto-purchase program, which brings the deodorant to $11.90, and you can sign up for 1, 2, or 3 months between purchases at a time.

So finally, we get to answering the question: is it worth it?

Yes if you have the money to spare and are concerned about the ingredients in traditional deodorants.

I know this isn’t necessarily a definitive answer, but there’s always caveats to if something is worth the price!  This is not a product that I think everyone needs to run out and purchase, because $14 is kind of steep compared to $5 for something from Walmart.  However, if you have the ability to spend that kind of money, I would highly suggest it!

Will I repurchase this item?  Probably, but I’m going to use up the deodorants that I already own first.  If I notice any weird change in going between the two, I may have to pass on using my cheaper stuff and just start investing, because I really do enjoy the way this deodorant feels and smells!  Plus, if I can do something small like this to help my body, why wouldn’t I?

If you’re interested in purchasing this product, you can find a direct link to the product on Kopari’s website here.  You can also purchase it at Sephora here.

Have you ever tried using natural deodorant? What was your experience?

Bullet Journaling

November 2018 Bullet Journal Setup

Hello friends!  I’m here today to share my first attempt at a monthly bullet journal!

I want to be clear: I’ve bullet journaled for a few years now, but I’ve never really set it up in a monthly format; I mostly just make pretty lists and dailies once in a while.

This month, I used the Tombow dual brush pen in 993, a Pilot .38 gel pen, and some washi tapes from Target.  The stickers are from various Etsy shops and Target!

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The first spread I made was the ‘traditional’ bullet journal monthly spread.  The days of the month are listed along the side and the space next to it is where you put whatever is happening that day.  I don’t think I’ll do this spread again; even though I really enjoy the way it looks, I don’t have enough going on in the month to make it worth a page.

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I also made a grid monthly spread, which I definitely prefer!  Apparently I don’t know how to count, though, because I made way too many squares for the month!  I might try to fill it with random statistics from the month, but we’ll see.  I’m using this spread as more of an editorial calendar, so all of my blog posts and Instagram posts are laid out for me to use as an at-a-glance.

I will probably use the same layout next month, but with larger boxes so I can fit monthly activities as well.  I’m also going to try to change the sidebar, since I don’t think I’ll use it.  I might try to track numbers or use it as a brain dump section!

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What’s a monthly bullet journal without a habit tracker??  I LOVE tracking my daily to-do’s, and I can’t wait to see it fill up.  I put my daily habits on the bottom and things I want to track on the top, even if I don’t do them every day.  It’s more a reminder to make sure I’m paying attention to them.

On the other side of the page, I’ve put my goals for the month of November.   Setting goals is a great way to make sure you’re working towards your best self in my opinion, so I like to set a lot of them!  They’re all pretty simple, but incredibly beneficial to me and what I want to see in my life.

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A log I wanted to try this month was the “month in books”.  I’m going to use it to track the books I’ve read, the rating I gave it, and any extra notes I want to remember about it.  I don’t think I’ll fill the entire page, so I might have to do some doodles.  I’m planning on making a year-sized spread for 2019 in a similar set up.

On the other side is my spending log, where I’m going to make it a point to track my shopping for the month!  That way I can see where my money is going when I’m out and about.  So far, I see a pretty clear trend, not that I’m super surprised by it.

I also made a productivity log, so I can write down at least one productive thing I’ve done every day, and this is formatted just like the monthly list.

Well, that’s my monthly setup for November!  I really like some of it, and I’d definitely change some of it.  That’s the beauty of bullet journals!  You can change it to fit whatever you’re looking for in a planner.

Have you heard of bullet journaling? How do you keep yourself organized?

Books

The Safe Word by Karen Long

Hello, friends!  It’s been a while, hasn’t it?  I’ve been working on trying to find balance in my life with a new full time job and what I want to do now that I’m done with school, but I’m ready to dive headfirst back into this!

This is going to be a spoiler-FREE review of The Safe Word by Karen Long, which is the first novel in the DI Eleanor Raven series.  I’m trying to read my MASSIVE backlog of books from when I first got on Netgalley and requested pretty much everything, and this is one of the lucky winners that was on my Spookathon TBR.

The Safe Word - Karen Long

There are rules that every player of every game must abide by, no matter how dangerous the sport.

Toronto has become the backdrop to a macabre set of artistic installations: women kidnapped, tortured and horrifically displayed by a killer with a vision.

Only someone capable of understanding the killer’s creative desire will be able to stop the murders and D I Eleanor Raven is uniquely qualified. Driven by a complex personality she pursues only the facts, only the things she can see, but never casts a judgement.

But she also has a dark and dangerous secret – one that will threaten her very survival.”

I felt very meh about this. The overall idea was interesting and I really enjoy detective-based thrillers/crime novels, but I just didn’t quite connect with this story.

The plot itself felt very realistic, and the pacing was interesting. Like I said, I enjoy detective-based books and reading from an officer’s perspective. I liked the fact that everything was constantly moving, and the way that they found clues seemed realistic (at least for me, someone who hasn’t worked as a detective/police officer and hasn’t read a lot of it). The killer was creepy but also deranged and sloppy and that was a strong point for me.

I could predict nearly every single plot twist, and even if I couldn’t, I wasn’t all that impressed with them. There was one twist that just had me shaking my head in disbelief. I don’t want to spoil anything since it’s definitely a huge part of the plot, but I didn’t think it made sense at all.

Towards the end of the story, I felt like the pacing got weird. The story felt so realistic, I could completely understand where everything was coming from, then in the last 20% all of the timing was SO convenient and perfect, like everything ended with a little bow tied up around it. It felt a little like the plot was moving at regular speed, and then it got put into slow-mo for a very specific portion.

I hated the characters. Eleanor is rude and acts like a child about her new partner, which is both understandable and yet so irritating. She’s convinced her previous partner, who can barely walk anymore without wheezing, is going to come back to the station and resume duties, and she can’t be convinced any other way. She doesn’t give Laurence much of a chance, especially at the beginning, but he doesn’t give her much to go off of, either.

Laurence is this goof of a guy who tries to charm his partner but is hopeless at the actual job of being a detective. He’s sweet, but kind of stupid. Part of that might be influenced by Eleanor treating him like he’s stupid, so maybe take that with a grain of salt. By the end he magically figures out how to be a great detective, so at least we get a little development.

The side characters were all annoying and forgettable. They were kind of funny sometimes, but mostly the same person with a slightly different dialogue and always rude.

I HATED Eleanor’s “dark secret”. The book immediately starts with you finding it out, and then you see small sprinkles of it throughout the story, but NEVER to the extent that you would assume based on your first impression. It’s not that I have anything against the BDSM community, but it just felt so random and convenient for the plot. I guess that’s the point, but it still just felt so out of place. There could have been a million reasons for the ending to happen, but it had to be tied back into this secret? It also created this incredibly weird subplot that was a bit of a red herring.

I also don’t feel as though the representation was very good. The only people who you see as part of the BDSM community were kind of slimy individuals, or they just seemed like total whacks; not a great way to show off an already misunderstood group of people. The representation for other minority groups didn’t impress me much either; they were often stereotypes and it was incredibly frustrating at times.

On a similar vein, I disliked the setting immensely. It didn’t feel like it was a real place. There are sex clubs with the most stylized people in them. Maybe I live in a very conservative area, but I’ve never seen a club so blatantly sexual and possibly illegal, like, ever. It felt entirely too fictional for what I had expected. Though in reflection, a book with the title “The Safe Word” is probably going to be a little bit focused on the raunchy.

I felt very average about the actual writing of the book. I’ve certainly read worse, but I wasn’t blown away either. Finally, I KNOW that you can’t judge a book by it’s ARC, but the formatting of the file I got drove me nuts. I hope that the actual book isn’t like it; there were grammatical errors, weird line breaks, and NO SCENE BREAKS. So the scene would change and there would be no indication of it, which made reading very confusing. While this didn’t necessarily change the way I would rate the book, it did pull me out a few times.

Overall, it felt very much like the beginning of a series, but not one that I think I would continue.

Rating: 3 Book

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.

Uncategorized

August TBR

Hello friends!  I am back to tell you all about the books I plan to read in August.

August is definitely the month of NetGalley. I have 3 ARC’s I want to read that release this month, which is super exciting!

I also didn’t finish 5 books in July, which means they’re being moved forward to this month.  Here’s July’s TBR in case you were curious, as I’m not going to say much about them this month!

My new ARC’s that come out this month are pictured below.

Dead Man Running is a book I got from FirsttoRead.com.  #fashionvictim, Sadie, and Smothered are all from NetGalley.  I’m especially excited about Sadie, as a lot of people I follow on GoodReads have been praising it!  Hopefully I’ll read all of them & you can read my reviews on GoodReads or in my August wrap-up!

The only book I got to randomly select this month was Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, which is a book I’ll pick up from the library.

stiff the curious lives of human cadavers

I can’t wait to read all of these books!  I’d better get a move on if I hope to read all of them and not have to transfer another 5 books over to my September TBR.

What are you planning on reading in August?

July 2018 TBR(1)

Uncategorized

My Summer Bucket List

Summer has been here for a little while now, but I still wanted to share with you all the things I wanted to do this summer!  Since I’m done with school, I feel as though I can do all those wild things that I want, which makes no sense because school doesn’t happen during the summer anyway, but go with it!

Summer 2018 Bucket List | amidwestbelle.com

1. Go to the zoo. I love zoos, and the new city I’m in has one, so I wanted to visit it at least once this summer!

2. Go to an amusement park. A summer staple is to go to an amusement park!  I’ve done it almost every summer since I can remember and I would love to keep the tradition going.

3. Visit the neon bridge. There’s a popular bridge in my area that lights up with neon lights during the night, and I thought it sounded so cool to see for myself!

4. Visit a winery. Despite now being 22 and being a fan of wine, I have yet to ever go to a winery!  I’m going to try to make it a point to visit at least one this summer.

5. Attend the State Fair. I’ve been to the state fair before, however I’ve never had the chance to really wander around and enjoy it; there’s always been something specific I needed to do.  This year I want to spend at least one day enjoying the fair!

6. Go to the Farmer’s Market. I would love to buy fresh fruit and vegetables, and this is the best way to do it!

7. Start a scrapbook/photo album. I own a ton of craft supplies, but have yet to do anything with them. I want to make use of it and start to keep track of my life!

8. Visit 3 new restaurants. This won’t be too difficult; I live in a big city!  It’ll be fun to expand my horizons and give a try to new places.

9. Make Jello shots. Jello shots taste great, and I want to make some!

10. Spend a day at the water park. A summer staple – need I say more?

What will you be doing this summer? Do you have any goals or things you want to do?

Books

July TBR

Am I the only person who has a massive TBR pile that only seems to get bigger?  It feels that way sometimes!  This month I wanted to share with you all my TBR, or To-Be-Read, for the month of July.

Since I have so many books (over 900!), I wanted to come up with a fun way to pick the books to read for each month instead of just trying to randomly guess what sounds good at the time.

I chose 10 books that I would try to read this month!  They’re sorted into different categories based on how they were picked for the month and where they come from!

The first books I have on my list are the ARCs I received recently that are going to be published in July or the beginning of August and so need to be read this month!

The first is a NetGalley book called The Tarot Cafe; it’s a manga collection that I thought sounded incredibly interesting and I wanted to check out what I thought of it!  The second book was from FirsttoRead, and it’s called The Boy at the Door.

The next two books are rollovers from June that I haven’t finished and want to complete in July!  The first book is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and the second is Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World.

Those four were the books that I had to add to my July TBR for one reason or another. The next six are all books that I had a lot of fun finding!  I decided to use a random number generator for all the books on my GoodReads to-read shelf, and find the book that corresponded with the number I chose.

Two books I got randomly were both books on my physical TBR shelf in my apartment!  I was definitely excited to see that. The first was Why Not Me? (715) and the second was My Life Starring Mum (504).  I’ve owned both for quite a while so it’ll be nice to read them and hopefully move them out!

Old Yeller

This month I only had one book that I didn’t own & had to get from the library, which was Old Yeller (190).  I’ve watched & read enough dog books and movies to know that I will cry at the end of this, but I don’t remember ever reading this before and I want to do that!

Finally, I had three books randomly selected that were all digital NetGalley books I needed to read and review.  The first is The Safe Word (673), then On Her Majesty’s Frightfully Secret Service (741), and finally Eternal Neverland: Steps Before the Fall (446).

I’m not sure if I’ll be able to get to every book this month, which means there might be some rollover to next month, but I will try my hardest!

What books are you reading this month?

July 2018 TBR