Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Beauty Resolutions

First of all, I would like to say happy new year to all of my readers.  I hope that this year will be your best and most beautiful yet!

Every year, I create New Years Resolutions.  I love using the new year as a time to plan, set goals, and evaluate the progress I made over the past year.  If you would like to read a post about new years resolutions in general, please check out my post from last year here.

 In the spirit of the new year, I thought I'd share a few of my beauty-related resolutions with you. 

1. Quality over quantity.
This a goal I started working on over the past few years.  In the past, I owned every trendy drug-store brand makeup item that existed.  I had piles of makeup in every imaginable color and formula.  I did use it, though.  I had fun matching my makeup colors perfectly with my outfit, and trying all types of looks.  

However, when I went away to college and was forced to scale back, I realized that I actually preferred a more streamlined makeup routine.  I noticed there were certain colors that I wore regularly, and that, when it came down to it, most of the inexpensive items that I had were pretty similar.  After being forced to toss all of my mint-green eyeliners and hot pink lip glosses in order to conserve space, I began to favor my new more neutral and natural look.  So, over the past few years I've weeded out all of the drugstore junk in favor of a few key higher-end products.  Nowadays, I'd rather have one amazing pallet than a pile of inexpensive shadows, or one really luxe foundation instead of 5 ho-hum ones.  This is one resolution I generally stick to, unless I manage to get a super-deal on the cheap stuff.

2. Take care of my hands and feet.
This goal always makes my yearly list.  I like the idea of well-manicured hands at feet at all times.  I think it looks polished and shows the world that you care about yourself and the impression you make.  But sadly, since I stopped getting salon manicures in order to save money, I don't always keep this resolution!  

 3. Add a little lip.
This resolution is a new one this year.  In my past high-maintenance makeup routine, I wouldn't have been caught dead without lip gloss.  The thing is, though, that I have horribly dry lips that flake and crack regularly.  It is so severe that  I'm pretty sure it is some type of skin condition.  As I downsized my makeup routine, I started using lip gloss and lipsticks less and less often until I finally gave them up altogether.  I decided that most lip products further aggravate the dryness and that adding color to dry flaky lips just draws attention to my problem.  These days, I just smooth on some Nivea lip balm and call it a day!  The items pictured are the last few glosses that I have yet to throw out.  I decided I should use them here and there, and then finally, toss them for good.   

4. Use up all my samples.
I request lots of samples online, and generally, I use them up as I get them, with the exception of a few that I stash for travel.  However, lately I've had some around that I either saved, forgot about, or procrastinate on writing reviews for.  So, I'm going to finally give these products a try.  Expect to see some new reviews in 2014!

5. Take excellent care of my skin.
This means using gentle face washes, removing makeup, and washing my face no matter how lazy I'm feeling, then following up with toner, lotion, and eye cream.  I want to exfoliate and moisturize my body more regularly as well.  I also believe that regular massage is essential to help circulation. 

So, do you make resolutions every year? (Feel free to post a link) What is your top beauty resolution this year? 

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Outfit: So This is Christmas...

Christmas day look

Christmas day look by artaslife featuring party string lights

A very merry Christmas to all my readers!  Hope you are enjoying this day surrounded by family and peace.

This is what I plan on wearing Christmas Day.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Home Wishlist

Home Wishlist

Home Wishlist by artaslife featuring reusable wall decals

Just a few things I'd really like for my bedroom/home...

-I need a new comforter, since my boyfriend got red ink on the pretty black, white, and gray damask bedspread I currently have.  I really like my comforter, and it fits well with my overall decor, so, I'm undecided whether to go with another damask style, or mix things up and go for a more simple gray or black quilted comforter.  Either would look nice...

-I wanted the acrylic makeup organizer when I created this set, but I actually got it today. Ross had one almost exactly like the one pictured, and it was only $4.99, which is an excellent price for these organizers! Yay.

-I want one or two Coco Chanel quote wall decals.  The one I want most says "Every day is a fashion show and the world is the runway." I LOVE that! Unfortunately, its hard to find the one I want on Ebay or Etsy that is the type of size and font I want. It seems that it is a more popular quote in England. I also like the one that says "I don't do fashion, I am fashion."

-The Chanel accent pillow would look great in my room.  I've seen a pretty good DIY video on youtube, for those of you not in that income bracket :)

-I really need a new chest of drawers.  Just simple and white is all I need.  My over-stuffed closet will thank me.

-The indoor fireplace is the coolest thing I've seen in awhile!!! I happened to see these on sale on Hautelook.com.  I never knew such a thing existed.  I'd love that for my living room coffee table!

-Finally, I'd like to create a clothesline collage like this one, and use it to hang a few fashion inspiration pictures.  But I'm not really a big DIY type, so I always neglect this project...

So, what's on your wishlist these days? What do you think would complete your bedroom style or spice up your home decor?


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmas Beauty Wishlist

Makeup Wishlist Xmas 2013

Makeup Wishlist Xmas 2013 by artaslife featuring MAC Cosmetics

These are the beauty products I'm currently dreaming of...

#1 on my list is the Naked 3 palette.

The MAC eye shadow palettes on my list seem so sparkly and perfect. They make me undecided as to whether I should go with one of these and skip the Naked 3.

I'd love to try eye shadow by Chanel.

And the polish set..well, that's just wishful thinking.  It looks awesome, but I just can't picture spending that much on nail polish since my sister gets discounted professional brands like OPI. 

So, what's on your wishlist this year?

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bargain Brag: Stocking Stuffer Edition

I recently scored this haul of beauty products during CVS Drugstore's winter beauty clearance.  CVS was offering 50-75% off of selected merchandise, so I racked up on inexpensive beauty products that make great stocking stuffers!

 After the 75% discount, these NYC eye palettes were just $1.25 each!  They even come with primer and highlighter. 

The 75% off made these NYC nail polishes only 25 cents each.  These four colors were on sale.  I bought ten bottles in all.   

These Rimmel Lasting Finish Pro polishes were a steal!  They came to $1.12 after the 75% off, but I also had $1 off coupons for Rimmel, meaning I paid only 12 cents per bottle!!!  

This entire CVS haul only cost me $5.90.  I bought these about one week ago, but, if you hurry, you might be able to find some clearance bargains still lingering at your local CVS.  

Even better than cheap beauty hauls are freebies.  All of these items in the above picture were completely free!

I got the Suave lotion for free through a Suave Facebook Giveaway.

The body spray is by "Essence of Beauty" which is CVS's store beauty brand.  I got this for free for liking the CVS Minute clinic page.

I found these Nivea lotions at Dollar Tree for $1, and I happened to have $1 off Nivea lotion coupons, making both of them free for me.

I plan to give all of these items as gifts.  I am going to make up little bags of goodies to share with a few friends who I usually don't exchange gifts with.  I like how sale items allow me to stretch my money further and show my friends I was thinking of them during the holidays.

So, what goodies are you planning on giving as stocking stuffers this Christmas?


Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Decor on a Budget

Low Cost Holiday Decorating Ideas

This is my first year in a new apartment.  I was so excited to finally create my very own Christmas decor from scratch!  I wanted to make my place feel festive, without spending a fortune.  So, I thought I'd show you how I made it a very Merry Christmas for my home and my wallet.  

This is the only item I did not buy this year.  I bought this adorable ten-inch tree and its trimmings in a craft store when I was 15.  It has been a part of my holidays ever since. 

This poinsettia garland from Dollar Tree was only $1, and adds a pretty touch to my front door.

I added 3 of these glittery snowflake window clings to each of the mirrors in my entryway. They proved difficult to photograph, but in person, they add a subtle holiday sparkle to the mirrors that are a regular fixture in my living room. I got the entire pack of 9 for just 89 cents at 89 Cents Direct.

This mosaic glass vase is also part of my everyday decor.  I added a touch of Christmas with these red velvet poinsettias from Dollar Tree.  

My sister collects nutcrackers.  She has all shapes and sizes.  This little guy is her newest addition. (Dollar Tree-$1)

I created this shiny centerpiece for my coffee table with a glass vase and ornaments from Dollar Tree.  It cost a total of $2 to make.  If you have extra glass vases or bowls and extra Christmas balls, this is also a great way to re-purpose items you already own!  

I plan to use this vase to store nail polish after the holidays are over.   

This 6ft artificial tree pre-lit with clear lights was only $35 at Family Dollar, but there was also an extra 25% off when I bought it, making my tree only about $27!  

The tree trim is almost exclusively from Dollar Tree.  I also got a pack of 6 disco ball style ornaments from 89 Cents Direct. 

This glittery gold filigree star tree-topper compliments my tree perfectly. Can you believe it? I found it at Dollar Tree for only $1 as well!   

I bought various packs of Christmas balls, 2 five-packs of glitter bows in red and gold, and four strings of poinsettia garland.  In total I spent about $15 on all the tree trimmings! (That includes topper and skirt.) 

My sister and I really wanted to add the trendy ribbon trim we have seen around.  I found this gold with poinsettia wire-trimmed ribbon for 50 cents a roll at Dollar Tree!  We used 2 rolls, and only spent $1!  

Dollar Tree was by far the best place I found for low priced ornaments.  While shopping for Christmas tree items, I visited Target, Kmart, and Walmart.  The prices were much higher than Dollar Tree for the same and similar items! This is true even with those large boxes of Christmas balls that they sell.  Because you are buying a lot, I expected them to be cheaper than the five and ten packs from Dollar Tree, but when you do the math, that is simply not the case. 

The only bad thing about shopping for Christmas decor at Dollar Tree is that there is less choice as far as color and styles.  I had a red and gold color scheme in mind for my tree, and luckily, they had many items in these very traditional colors.  If you were looking to do an unconventionally-colored tree, you might not find what you needed in Dollar Tree.  Also, I stuck to classic balls and ornaments that came five to fifteen per pack.  If you want the larger or more stand-out ornaments, or you have a very full tree, you will pay more.  

Even the tree skirt is from Dollar Tree!!!   

I bought this nutcracker for my sister for $2 at Walmart. 

My holiday decor definitely gives my modern-styled apartment Christmas spirit and a more homey feel.  And I'm proud of the fact that the price for all of it was around $50.  Now, I have more money to spend on Christmas gifts!  

Merry Christmas to all my readers who celebrate.  Have you bought any new Christmas decor this year? What trends and colors do prefer?  Do you go for bargains, DIY, or high-end Christmas style?   

Friday, December 13, 2013

Outfit: Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

Tomorrow, I had plans to see the Macy's light show (which is a holiday tradition here in Philly) and then head to the Christmas market at Love Park.  Unfortunately, the weather is supposed to be super cold and snowy, so we decided to hang in and bake some cookies instead.  This is what I'll be wearing.  I thought this outfit would be fitting for a cozy day at home with friends.  

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree

Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree by artaslife featuring a striped shirt

So, what kind of holiday activities do you have going on?

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bargain Brag: H&M Jewelry Haul

While out Christmas shopping, I spotted some great jewelry deals at H&M.  They had lots of marked down items, and there were many for only $1!  I racked up on some cute jewelry for myself, as well as some that I plan to give as gifts to friends.  When I went to the register, I discovered the deal was even sweeter-THERE WAS AN ADDITIONAL 30% ON SALE ITEMS!  That made the dollar items I had found only 70 cents each.  I bought a total of 10 items and paid only $8.90. 

 All of these rings were only 70 cents each...I grabbed this drapey 2 finger ring, a set of 4 pearl rings, a set of 3 rings that includes a spiky ring, and a thick chain ring, all in gold tone.

I grabbed these two-toned feather earrings as a gift for my sister.

I got these skin and nail tattoos that feature small black outline shapes. I really like these!

I also go this set of three bracelets that I think will make a nice stocking stuffer.
 I got these 3 necklaces.  A pretty one with rhinestone hearts, an eagle necklace, and one with rivets.
 Marked at $3, the eagle necklace was my most expensive pick.  After the discount, it came to an extravagant $1.90! haha.  I really wanted one of these when they were so trendy last year!  I like the modest size (and price) of this one.  Athough the huge ones were infinitely cooler, this one is a lot more wearable for me. 

So, have you snagged any good deals while Christmas shopping? What is on your jewelry wishlist this holiday season?

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Winning is Beautiful!

How I win free beauty products in giveaways and sweepstakes.

Last week, I saw a package for me on my living room table.  That was nothing unusual.  I'm always requesting samples, so I'm always getting some sort of package. I became curious when I saw it was from Mary Kay, though.  The envelope felt like it contained actual makeup, not a sample, and I didn't remember requesting anything from them... 

When I opened the package, there was a pretty bronze cream shadow and a brush.  I had won a weekly sweepstakes from Project Runway and Mary Kay!  How exciting!

This is nowhere near my first win, however.  Last year, I got into requesting product samples after I happened to randomly see a Yahoo News article about free samples that sparked my interest.  The type of people who request samples often enjoy the hobbies of couponing and "sweeping" (or entering sweepstakes), as well.  As I began to read blogs about free samples, I also saw many sweepstakes and giveaways mentioned.  So, I thought, it didn't hurt to enter.  Slowly, I became a bit of a "sweeper" myself.

Although my friends and family make fun of me for it, I really enjoy samples, sweepstakes, and coupons!  I totally understand how, to my friends, they may seem like comical hobbies better suited for a stay-at-home mom with OCD.   But I see it differently.  I have plenty of nonconstructive online pursuits (like Facebook stalking, obsessive online shopping, random Youtube tangents, and so on. I'm sure I'm not alone...) But the thing that differentiates sampling and sweeping is that they are actually productive "time wasters."  I send my name and address out into cyberspace and often get something I didn't have before in return.  All types of nice things show up in my mailbox for free.  How cool is that?

That's why I thought I'd share the love and show you guys some of the things I've won over the past year, as well as give you some sweepstakes pointers.

This is a Dove prize pack I won last year in their daily holiday sweepstakes.  It contained Dove body wash, a nice bath pillow, aromatherapy oil and eye mask, and yummy French Vanilla tea. 

I won this Milani lipstick from a Facebook giveaway. 

I won these full-sized Vaseline products from a "She Finds" sweeps. 

I won these energy bars from a Facebook sweepstakes. (They were really good, btw!)

I got this full-sized Nivea lip butter from a giveaway on Nivea's Facebook page. 

I won Aussie deep conditioner from Allure Magazine.

I snagged a full size Suave Moroccan Infusion Shampoo in a Suave giveaway.   

I was the winner of a Palmer's weekly sweepstakes.  

And just this weekend, I got this email message:

Here are my tips on how you can win: 

1. Find sweepstakes and giveaways.  There are many ways to do this.  Connect with companies you like on whatever social media sites you regularly use.  Many giveaways and sweeps work through Facebook entries.  There are also a substantial amount you can find on Twitter, Instagram, etc.  If you like a company on Facebook, you will be able to see when they post promotions.  There are also tons of blogs and webpages made just for contest, sweepstakes, and giveaway information.  My favorite sites for finding sweepstakes are http://contests.about.com/ and Samplestuff.com's Facebook page " Free Samples And Freebies"

2. Enter the contests that you really want to win.  Since there are so many contests out there, it makes sense to focus just on ones that you actually would like to win.  What good is it to get something useless, even if it's free?  Not only that, but it is selfish, as you are taking a prize from someone out there who really wanted it.  I always think, "Would I actually use this thing?" before submitting my information. I try to only enter sweepstakes that offer something I am either dying to have, or at the very least, could be useful/fun in my daily life.

3. Increase your odds.  First, if you enter tons of sweeps, statistically you are bound to win some!  So the more you enter, the better your chances.  There are also some other simple considerations to boost your odds.  Sweeps that are for lesser known companies, less valuable items, or nitch products will likely have fewer entrants, making it easier for you to win.  Sweeps with restrictions (state/age/gender etc) also will have better odds than those with none.  Check the entry rules about how often you can enter, too.  Some allow daily or weekly entry, others are one time only. Enter each as much as possible to boost your chances.  Any contest that requires you to do something extra or creative (upload a photo, write a paragraph and so on..) will likely have fewer entrants than those that just require a form.  The more prizes given, the more likely you are to win.  With the Mary Kay sweeps I just won, they chose 5,000 winners weekly.  Those are much better odds than just 1 winner a week.  The shorter the entry period, the better the odds.  So, those quick day-long Facebook giveaways are pretty easy to win.  Many of the items I won are from this type of sweepstakes!

4. Always check your email.  I didn't get any message about winning the Mary Kay sweepstakes, but usually, with even the smallest giveaways, they inform you that you won and ask you to verify your address within a certain time frame.  If you fail to respond you can lose your prize.  Over the summer, I was travelling in Guatemala, and due to spotty computer access, I did not check my email often.  I won a lip and cheek color set from Lucky Magazine worth over a hundred dollars, but I didn't respond to the email soon enough.  Unfortunately, I lost out on my most valuable prize so far.  Not cool!  Also, many times the notification email is sent from an individual employee, and can look quite unofficial, so check your email regularly and carefully.  

5. Think like a winner.  I totally believe in visualization and positive thinking.  If you feel like you are going to win, you probably will.

Finally, and most importantly: 

6. Don't give up!!! Keep entering.  It takes time for sweepstakes to close, for the companies to choose names and contact winners.  Chances are you will forget you even entered by the time you hear you won! Give it time, and keep going.  If you are persistent you will surely win.  

I wish you the best of luck!    

So, do you enter giveaways and contests?  Have you ever won any?  Please feel free to share your own winning tips in the comments.