Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"Paint September" is this Month's Artistic Challenge

watercolor painting of a shell
a watercolor painting I created for #paintseptember

Last month I wrote about an artistic social media challenge called Drawing August and shared my contributions. I thought you might like to hear about this month's artistic challenge, Paint September. 

#paintseptember is another collaborative Twitter event similar to #drawingaugust, except that instead of creating a drawing everyday, the goal is to paint everyday. The point isn't so much to complete a painting a day, as it is to just engage in the act of painting.

Paintings take longer for me to complete than drawings, so I'm not sure how many I'll accomplish this month. Nevertheless, it's a wonderful source of motivation and inspiration. The last days of summer are quickly slipping away. The painting above is my farewell to summer. Shells represent summer to me, so a tribute to days spent at the beach seemed like an appropriate way to mark the end of the season.

A Simple Exercise

If you're new to painting, a fun exercise that I enjoy is saturating a piece of watercolor paper with water, loading a paintbrush with watercolor pigment, and touching it to the paper. As the paint spreads and drys, it's interesting to see what shapes and images emerge. It's like watching the clouds move and change on a sunny day and finding images in them. Then you can outline the shapes with a pencil or define them with more brushwork. 

In this little painting I'm working on, you can see an ancient city overlooking a forest beginning to emerge.

painting in progress
a painting in progress

I haven't seen as many tweets on my feed with #paintseptember, but it's well worth the extra effort to do a search. There are many beautiful paintings being posted across all the social media networks. I'll be participating as much as I can and hope to see you there too! 

Friday, September 5, 2014

Ethical Fashion...Spotlight on HELPSY

It's the first week of the month and that means it's time for another post in my Ethical Fashion Series. I'm very excited to tell you about the online retailer, HELPSY.

HELPSY offers ethically made products that are beautiful and fashion forward. "Look Good, Do Good" is their motto. HELPSY was founded on the belief that fashion can have a positive social impact "100% of the time", while also being "cutting-edge". 

Based on their definition of ethical fashion, all their products must meet at least 4 of the following criteria:

  • non-disposable & well-made
  • eco-conscious materials
  • eco-conscious design techniques
  • fair trade/wage
  • handcrafted
  • profits to philanthropy
  • recycled
  • local production
  • local material sourcing
  • upcycled
  • vintage/second hand
  • made in small quantities
  • cruelty free


Because I have a bit of a jewelry addiction, I chose the Little Sifa Necklace for my first Helpsy purchase. 

1.  Packaging

storage pouch for the necklace

The necklace was tucked into a beautiful drawstring pouch with a tag which states that 100% of the profits help create jobs and training programs for female artisans. This pouch will be perfect for keeping the necklace safe during storage and ensuring it will last for many, many years. 

2.  Product Details

African Horn Hook Pendant
Indego Africa, African Horn Hook Pendant Necklace

From the ethical brand Indego Africa, the Little Sifa necklace is made in Rwanda and crafted of found & recycled cow horn and tin. No animals were harmed to create this necklace. 

This beautiful pendant hangs from a generous, 30" long, sterling silver chain. Because these pieces are handcrafted, each one is unique. The necklace I received was slightly different in color than the one pictured on the website, but this was stated in the description and as I expected. 

I love the size of this necklace. It's large enough to be a statement piece without being overwhelming. The natural materials juxtaposed with a sleek, simple design create a modern, yet timeless, feel. 

No one was around to take my picture this morning, so this was the best I could do on my own. Hopefully you get a sense of the necklace's size.

The classic style, quality materials, and excellent craftsmanship means this is a piece I will wear and treasure for a lifetime. 

3.  Ethical Qualities

HELPSY's product descriptions include the ethical qualities of each item. The ethical qualities of the Little Sifa necklace are:
  • non-disposable & well-made
  • eco-conscious materials
  • upcycled
  • recycled
  • fair trade
  • made in small quantities
  • hand crafted
  • profits to philanthropy
  • local production
  • cruelty free

Additionally, here is what Indego Africa told me about the horn that is used to create their products: 

"While cows are a highly valued resource in Rwanda, their horns are often discarded after the rest of the animal has been used. We ensure that these beautiful pieces do not end up in the landfill by repurposing or "upcycling" them to be used in our jewelry and home d├ęcor collections. We do not support cruelty towards animals whatsoever and always aim to be sustainable in our sourcing."

4.  Verdict

Would I buy from HELPSY again? Absolutely! I already have a wishlist!

Indego Africa Pineapple Sweatshirt--I was so impressed with my necklace and Indego Africa's mission, that I can't wait to purchase items from this label in the future.
Mullein and Sparrow Tinted Lip & Cheek Balm--As a busy new mother, I love products that can do double duty.
Freedom of Animals Chaye Clutch--I adore over sized clutches. This one is so classic with it's black and white color scheme. I love that it is made in the USA of vegan and sustainable materials.
Carrie Hoffman Mid Finger Band--A simple, gorgeous design. I'm loving dainty rings at the moment.

If you haven't already joined the Ethical Fashion movement, I hope you'll consider doing so this season. 

Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day!

More about Indego Africa
Indego Africa is a "nonprofit social enterprise and lifestyle brand that supports women in Rwanda through economic empowerment and education." 100% of their profits fund tailored training programs that are designed to provide their artisan partners with the skills to develop and grow their own businesses. Indego Africa's mission is to "break inter-generational cycles of poverty by providing female artisans with the tools and support to reclaim their own futures, flourish as independent business women, and drive development in their communities".

Indego Africa

I purchased the necklace and was not compensated in any way for writing this post.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sublime Subscription

sample society by allure subscription box

Yesterday was a holiday in the United States, so I took the day off to spend with my family. I hope all my American readers enjoyed the three day weekend as well. 

Who doesn't love a fabulous subscription box? They are a great way to try expensive products before purchasing and to learn about new products and brands. I adore subscription boxes and eagerly await their arrival in my mailbox. It's like getting a little surprise present every month!

I've tried many subscription boxes over the years. They always seem to start out wonderfully, but unfortunately over time they can become very hit or miss, except Sample Society from Beauty Bar and Allure magazine. This is the only sample subscription service that, so far, hasn't disappointed me and maintains its quality month after month.


This may be the box's weakest point. It isn't tied with a pretty ribbon, and the outer color isn't the most appealing to my eye. However, the products are carefully nestled in crinkled paper strips with tissue paper folded over the top, much like what Glossy Box uses. The outer appearance doesn't bother me much, because it's what's inside that matters most to me.

Inside the Box

august sample society box
August Box

  • 5 deluxe size samples. Each sample contains enough product for several uses. Sometimes it's even a full size! The samples are a mix of skin, hair, makeup and sometimes a fragrance.
  • Mini magazine with details about each product.
  • $10 gift card to use at toward a $50 purchase during the current month. 


samples from the july box
July Box

The products are almost always from high end brands that I've heard of and would like to try.

July's box included:

  • Fekkai Prx Restoratives Hair Mask
  • Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis eau de toilette
  • L'Oreal Paris Extraordinaire Colouriche Lipcolor
  • Butter London Nail Laquer
  • Laura Mercier Mate Radiance Baked Powder

August's box included:

  • Too Faced Melted Liquified Longwear Lipstick
  • Oribe Surfcomber Tousled Texture Mousse 
  • Kate Somerville Dilo Oil Anti-Aging/Sensitive Restorative Treatment
  • Ciate Mini Paint Pot nail polish
  • Jane Iredale Longest Lash Mascara 


$15 per month. I've found that this subscription is a much better value for the money than the other services I've tried. After 5 months, the products are still consistently high quality.

Do you use monthly subscription boxes to try beauty products? If so, which one is your favorite?

Friday, August 29, 2014

This is the Perfect Fragrance for Fall...

In my last post, I talked about changing my handbag for fall. The next transition piece is my fragrance. For the past two years, Fan di Fendi Eau de Parfum has been my signature scent for autumn. 

Fan di Fendi inspires the feeling of an autumn day spent strolling down a tree lined walk, the sun shining through the partially bare trees and dappling the red, yellow, and orange leaves. The dry, fallen leaves crunch underfoot, the cool air caresses your cheek, the warmth of the sun glistens in your hair...all while you're dressed in head-to-toe couture and loaded with gold jewelry! It just smells like the perfect autumn scent on the perfect autumn day!


The bottle is gorgeous! It's sleek, modern, and expensive looking. I love the gold details. It looks beautiful on my dresser, but mostly I keep it hidden away in a drawer. Keeping your perfume in a cool, dry place away from sunlight helps extend it's shelf life.


This fragrance is warm and sensual. I've heard it described as a "floral, fruity scent", but it doesn't come across at all fruity to me. It's more of a spicy floral. It smells sophisticated and expensive with just a touch of the outdoors. The fragrance softens and mellows throughout the day, without losing any density. It smells better and better as the day passes! 

Top Notes:

  • Tangerine
  • Black Currant
  • Pear
  • Pink Peppercorn

Middle Notes:

  • Jasmine
  • Tuberose
  • Rose

Base Notes:

  • Patchouli
  • Leather (Normally I strongly dislike leather in perfume, but here it's incredibly soft and subtle) 

Because memories are so closely tied with scent, whenever I smell Fan di Fendi I always remember the first night I wore it. I was visiting one of my best friends and after a fun day of shopping, our last stop was Sephora. Fan di Fendi is a little pricey, so of course I wanted to test it out before purchasing it. I spritzed on a generous amount and off we went for a night on the town. All night, everywhere we went, people exclaimed "OMG! What smells so amazing!?". By the end of the night, we'd just dissolve into giggles. What do you think I did first thing the next morning? That's right! I raced back to Sephora and bought the biggest bottle they had! 


This fragrance has serious staying power! A few spritzes and it lasts ALL day...12+ hours! 


I always get tons of compliments when I wear Fan di Fendi. However, I've read mixed reviews about it, so I know it isn't for everyone. I have a feeling chemistry plays a big part in how this smells on different people. I would strongly recommend finding a sample and trying it out for a couple of days before buying the full size bottle.  

What is your signature scent for fall?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What's NOT in My Bag!?

As I mentioned in Friday's post, autumn has arrived. One of my favorite things to do when the seasons change is to switch out my handbag. This seems like the perfect time to write a "What's in My Bag?" post. 

Shireen actually gave me the idea for this post, when I commented on her "What's in My Bag?" post and joked that if I wrote one, it would be more aptly named "What's NOT in My Bag?". She said she'd love to read that post, so here it is!

As you can see, it's a disorganized jumble, but I love it anyway!
I have a few bags that I'll put on rotation throughout the fall and winter months, but this Alexander McQueen De Manta tote has been one of my all time favorites ever since I purchased it three years ago. It's always the first bag I use in the fall and getting it out feels like greeting an old friend. This bag just makes me happy! 

What's in the Bag?

Makeup Bag

I try to keep my beauty items corralled in their own little bag, otherwise they disappear and I don't see them again until the next time I change out my handbags.
  • Caudalie Hand Cream--very hydrating, not greasy
  • Burberry Brit Sheer--has a very light, feminine, crisp scent
  • BCBGMAXAZRIA Bon Genre--I received this in a subscription box last year. I never would have chosen it for myself, but I love it as a fall scent. 
  • Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment--This balm by Fresh is very hydrating with a pretty hint of color. SPF 15 is great bonus.
  • eos lipbalm--an inexpensive product that is fabulous!
  • Ana Sui butterfly mirror--I have been carrying this for 10 years! 
  • Tokyo Milk Marie Cherie cosmetic bag

The Essentials

  • Phone--I had no sooner purchased this iPhone 5s, than it was announced that the iPhone 6 will be released soon. So typical of my luck! I do love it though, so I will just try to ignore all the fabulous things that will be said about the iPhone 6, until I'm eligible for an upgrade.
  • Keys--Not much interesting there, except for my Julie West Skeleanimals key chain. I collect designer art toys, and Julie West is one of my favorite artists. 
  • Burberry wallet--This was such a great investment piece. I've had it for about 4 years and it still looks brand new. It's big enough to hold my cards, cash, & change, but small enough it doesn't take up a lot of real estate in my bag.
  • Case XX pocket knife--This scrimshaw style knife was designed by Linda Karst. It's such a handy thing to carry. Plus, I'm a Pisces. 
  • Ray-Ban Wayfarer sunglasses--I have quite a collection of sunglasses. I used to change them with every outfit, but for the past couple of years, my Ray-Ban Aviators and Ray-Ban Wayfarers have been my favorites. They look great with everything. 
  • Notebook--I love this little literary notebook by Out of Print. Moby Dick is one of my favorite books. I always carry at least one notebook, as I'm constantly jotting down ideas and making lists. 

Essential Extras 

Because people in my family turn into raging lunatics when they're hungry, I always carry snacks. When I say "people", I mostly mean me.

  • Handsanitizing wipes--Because I'm germaphobic.
  • Organic baby snacks--Baby loves everything by Plum Organics.
  • Organic protein bars--Protein is the best way to prevent becoming "hangry".

Baby Essentials

I try to avoid carrying a diaper bag at all costs, so I usually stuff some essentials into my handbag. However, I won't show all the boring stuff, like diapers, wipes, ointment, etc.
  • Hand made hat--It's chilly in the mornings and evenings and because babies loss a lot heat through their heads, a warm hat is a must.
  • Sterling Silver rattle--Baby has inherited my fascination with shiny things. He loves this little rattle.
  • Organic teething ring--from Burt's Bees. I love that it's made from cornstarch, not plastic.
  • Sophie the Giraffe--made from natural rubber
  • Organic burp cloth--a great multi-purpose item for cleaning up spills & spit up. Can also be used to block the sun or as a little blanket. 

So, that's the abbreviated version of the contents of my handbag. What bag will you be carrying this season?

If you've written a "What's in My Bag?" post, please leave the link in the comments. I'd love to read it!