Free For All Friday! Christmas in Bethlehem

For our first ever free for all, I wanted to share something besides my hands and face and addiction. I went to college in a beautiful town in Bethlehem PA–lovingly referred to as the Christmas City (for obvious reasons). There is a giant Christmas star on top of the hill which is visible for miles, horsedrawn carriage rides, and the oldest bookstore in the world still running. There are luminaries and a live nativity. Christkindlmarkt, a traditional open-air market full of artisan crafts and gifts.

For myself, and I dare to presume many alumni and townsfolk, the most meaningful tradition is Vespers. A beautiful worship service created nearly entirely through the performance of classic and modern music, ending in candlelit carols. Even people with different beliefs find the service meaningful and moving. In college, since I studied music, I was able to participate in this event, which occurs the first two weekends every December–Friday Saturday Sunday. As an alumni, I have the option to come back and serve candles. The magic of flooding the darkened sanctuary with light puts a smile on my face just thinking about it, so naturally I cannot resist the opportunity.

This year, I took my best friend with me to assist. We went up early and spent the day eating and shopping, and walking around historic Bethlehem. Best part? We had a huge snowstorm that day! What an adventure! The campus is so beautiful that I couldn’t resist snapping a few pics of the old stomping ground 🙂

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Coming up the street after dropping some shopping bags off at the car!

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The domed structure is the bell tower of the church. After the service (weather permitting) the college brass ensemble assembles there and blasts carols over the streets.

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I spent so much time behind those stained glass windows.

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Bethlehem is beautiful in the snow 🙂

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Nail Art Catchup

Good evening readers! I’ve been posting a lot of box reviews lately, so here are some manicures to catch you up on what my nails have been sporting over the last few weeks…months? It might be months now. I’m probably the world’s worst beauty blogger 🙂

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This was my birthday manicure! I used two Zoyas–Zoya Sailor from the fall cashmere line, and Zoya Sunshine, their similarly colored fall Pixiedust. On the middle finger is Happy Birthday by Deborah Lippman.
I love the ease of application and full coverage of Zoya polish. These pictures do not do it justice!

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Here we have some stripe tape art, featuring butter London British Racing Green over Color Club Silver Lake. The “accent nails” are where I screwed up the taping >.< I dressed them up with Zoya Opal flake effect topcoat. I had been coveting this color green for a very very long time and finally snagged it for $10 during Ulta’s promotion in September.

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I tried out two more of the Zoya fall cashmere line–Louise (brown) and Pepper (red). These colors are scrumptious. I won the full cashmere set at the end of september at a fundraiser and i couldnt be more thrilled.

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Another new butter London–Scuppered. Incredibly hard to photograph. This polish is actually comprised of gold, green and red glitters and has amazingly full coverage.

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You got a sneak peek of this one in last week’s Birchbox reviews! This is Zoya Flynn, of the cashmeres, and Ruffian’s Hedge Fund, from Birchbox. This was also my first attempt at interlocking dots…BE GENTLE.

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Getting closer…HOMECOMING! This was from a few weekends ago. I went back to good old MoCo to march with the alumni band and did an accompanying mani. I honestly can’t remember what the blue and grey were that I used. The glitter was from the Sephora OPI Cinderella set.

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This mani is….action packed. I know I used Sonia Kashuk Fatigued and Sally Hansen Sugar Coat in Candy Corn. with striping tape. and rhinestones. Honestly I STILL can’t decide if i liked it or not.

Believe it or not, I have even MORE manicures to show you since I last uploaded pictures, as well as some very special manicures I created for charity. But more on that another time!

Do you all love Zoya and butter london as much as I do? What do you think about my quilted bedazzled manicure? Hit me up!

arbonne re9 advanced skincare regimen review

Dig back into the recesses of your memory, to the early days of this blog you are reading. You may have a vague recollection of me, your writer, throwing an insanely incredible princess themed party–at which one of the princesses in attendance was an Arbonne independent consultant.

Danielle Swiss (who has allowed me to publish her name and Arbonne FB page) is a friend of mine from college. She almost got me killed during freshman orientation weekend but could always be counted on to harmonize with me singing “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” on the streets. She also gave us all makeovers and facials and gave me two sample sets of the RE9 Advanced Skincare regimen: one for me, and one for my wicked stepmother. (Hey, that’s not a dig….she signs my birthday cards like that)

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The samples came in these neat little packets with step-by-step instructions. luckily, since Danielle also used these products at the party, I knew that you only needed a teensy little bit of each step to cover your whole face. This little kit lasted over a week!

There are 5 steps included: Cleanser, Toner, Serum, Eye Cream, and Moisturizer. The sample kit included 2 different day creams (regular spf25 and one for super intense moisture spf25, for dry skin) and a night cream.

My favorite aspect of this set is that the thing smells like an orange grove! They don’t have that fake orange soda orange smell–legit, fresh squeeze oranges in every bottle. The product page on the Arbonne website has more information about the botanicals and its appropriate-ness for sensitive skin. Let me give you a little break-down of what I thought of each of the products.

Cleanser: This product worked really well and smelled delicious. It foams just the right amount and like I said, a little dab goes a long way. Personally I will be sticking to my philosophy and my suki foaming exfoliator, but if I ever need a change this is where I’ll turn.

Toner: This is one of the only things that doesn’t smell of oranges. It has a slightly floral smell. I could visibly see a difference in the regions around some of my clogged pore areas (ee, yucky!). I have found a drugstore dupe as far as I’m concerned–Boots Botanicals brightening toner smells identical and has similar effects. The ingredients probably differ slightly but it works for me.

Serum: I am seriously considering this. I am currently product testing several other serums (philosophy, Murad, etc) but this was exquisite. This took the tightened skin of the toner and added firmness. Again, I took a squirt about the size of a pencil eraser and it took care of my whole face.

Day Creams: The one for drier skin was too much for me, and made me feel oily. Even with the regular I had to be careful not to use too much or I would be shiny. Would be great for older skin but I think I’m a little under the age cut-off for this.

Night Cream: The cat did NOT like this one. Every night I came to bed after using this he looked at me like I had just punished him for something. Which he probably deserved. This did put good moisture in my skin. I might get this too, but I am also testing other night creams and moisturizers to make sure.

Danielle will correct me if I am making this up, but I am pretty sure that she told us that Arbonne bottles automatically dispense a face-sized amount of product. i.e, you would pump once and have the right amount for each step. I think that is a really cool feature–especially for more fluid products such as serum where it is far too easy to over-squeeze.

As for the stepmonster, she said ‘I am loving this!” so there’s a ringing endorsement if ever I heard one.

Go here to view the RE9 line.

Have any of you tried this? what are your favorite Arbonne products? I do have some cosmetic samples to try as well 😀