Friday, November 28, 2014

Struggling today

I've been a little quieter this week.  I've smiled a little less, slept a little more.  I've let the laundry pile up, the groceries go unpurchased, the boxes I've received go unblogged about (for now - I'll get to them).  I have been struggling.

Two weeks ago, I was pregnant.  I was trying to figure out how we were going to afford me going off on mat leave again.  I was planning another nursery.  I was worried that D would never potty train and I'd have two in diapers.  I was terrified by unexplained spotting but hopeful that it could be normal.  I was relieved that there was a heartbeat on the ultrasound.

And then I wasn't.  Any of those things.  Not any more.

And I'm doing okay.  Step by step.  Day by day.  And my son and my husband are being awesome and sweet and supportive.  D is actually using the potty a few times a day and waking up dry from naps.  G is cooking dinners voluntarily.  And I'm getting by.

It's enough for now.  I need more time.  I need my body to get back to normal.  So I can go on - not move on, not forget, not get on with it - just, go on.  Today I am struggling.  Tomorrow I will, hopefully, struggle less.  At least it's the weekend :)

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Bespoke Post "Aged" Review

I actually received this box a few weeks ago but then life happened and I didn't get around to reviewing it.  I think it's time to get back into the swing of things so, here it is.

Bespoke Post is one of the more expensive subscription services out there ($45 US per month plus tax and an additional $10 - 20 in shipping costs to Canada!) but also one with very well-curated boxes full of quality products.  You also can see what you're getting in each box so it's not a surprise and choose your box from a variety of options - or skip that month if there's nothing that interests you (or if it's not in the budget).  The boxes tend to be geared more towards men with an interest in quality goods although many of them would be appreciated by men and women alike.

I elected to make a one-time box purchase at a $55 cost instead of joining the subscription.  I probably have more subscriptions right now than our budget likes and, while this one is skippable, it is also really pricey and I can't see the three of us needing such fancy items on a regular basis.  With shipping, taxes and exchange, this worked out to $83.80 in Canadian funds which I feel comfortable spending on a Christmas gift.

I chose the "Aged" box which was a restock of an old favourite from last year.  It is not currently available on the Bespoke Post website but they do tend to bring back retired boxes from time to time if you're interested in this one (you can see it in the Box Archive and sign up for email notification in case it becomes available again).  You can also check out the boxes that they do have available at the moment - a lot of variety in these options.

Please excuse the terrible pic - I took this but not one of how everything was packaged within the box.  Ridiculous!  Bespoke Post describes "Aged" as follows:

It’s simple: choose an unaged liquor or a cocktail, pour into the aging kit, wait 10 days, then taste the transformation. The aging process changes the character and flavor, mellowing the taste and letting new flavors shine just like with aged beer, whiskeys, and wines. And unlike traditional barreling techniques, the shape and size of this kit brings the wait down from months. Patience was never our virtue.

The information sheet which came with the box includes instructions and also some cocktail recipes that can be created using this kit.  My dad will love that!

The kit includes the aging kit itself, pictured below:

This kit comes with everything you need to age some alcohol or a premixed cocktail:  A sturdy glass bottle (375ml) with stopper, two wooden barrel staves carved into a honeycomb pattern to increase surface area, and a cheesecloth for straining.  Only one stave needs to be used in each batch and they can be reused 4-6 times according to Bespoke Post - although, personally, I would probably not use this single piece of cheesecloth that many times.  That means this kit could make up to 12 batches of aged alcohol! 

Value:  It is difficult to put a value on this kit since it's such a unique item.  There are many aging kits available online but so many are much larger or include the alcohol or are simply very different from this one.  This one is the closest I can find and it is priced at $12.50 US but I couldn't find any shipping information on the site and the "estimate shipping" feature in their shopping cart wasn't working for me for some reason.  So I'm going to make a random guess at value here and go with about $20-25?

"Aged" also includes two gorgeous Sempli cocktail glasses.  As you can see in the picture, they come nicely packaged in a gift box with an additional info card from the company.  The base of these glasses is really nice - it's more like the bottom of a top than a flat glass so they swirl your drink when you put it down.  They are really nice, fancy glasses that would be perfect for any bar.  

Value:  The Sempli website prices a set of two of these glasses at $50 and shipping them to Canada would add an additional $55!! (Seriously - I put one set of two glasses in the shopping bag, selected my country and the price jumped up to over double! Once I picked my jaw up off the floor, I checked shipping to the US - $10.50.  I can drive to the US in about an hour.  Sometimes I am astounded by how much we get ripped off in this country!)  

Overall, I think my parents are going to love opening this up on Christmas Day.  They entertain a lot and my father is a bit of a martini aficionado.  While they do have a lot of cocktail glasses, they don't have any like these - they are really, really nice despite the insanity of the price (even without shipping, I would never spend $25 a glass).  The aging kit itself may not be the highest value item but it is unique and it is what makes this box.  I am hugely impressed with the curation of this box, okay with the value, and was very happy with the shipping (it took a reasonable amount of time and there were no issues).  I would definitely check out Bespoke Post again for gift shopping in the future, although I might consider joining the subscription to save a little cash next time.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Lost and found

"Loss" is such a simple word that can apply to so many things - small and large.  You lose your car keys.  Your child loses his teddy bear (and occasionally his mind).  You lose your baby weight (or you don't).  You lose a child.

We lost our little one this weekend.  I'd rather say that than "miscarried".  "Miscarried" sounds so medical and cold.  It wasn't medical and it wasn't cold.  It was emotional.  It was not just the physical action.  It was the feeling of emptiness, of the little heartbeat on the ultrasound disappearing forever.  That is true loss - not the missing-keys kind but the hollow-in-your-heart kind.

We will have another child.  Just not this one, at this time.  And we will be okay.

But part of getting to "okay" is acknowledging the loss.  So today, I will hold my son a little closer and we might play in the snow or paint a picture or bake cookies.  And I will honour the sibling that he doesn't get to have right now by holding him or her in my heart - that way, he or she is not really "lost" at all.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sometimes I hate the internets

Oh, the internet.  Sometimes I love you so much, I wonder how I survived the early years of my life without you.  I love that I can look up the name of that actor who looks so familiar in the show I'm watching right now.  I love that I can easily figure out what the heck to do with half a bunch of swiss chard and two hot peppers without having to get too creative in the kitchen myself.  I love that I can connect with other moms and teachers and women who feel and think and experience what I do. . . or who don't but are willing to listen anyway and share their feelings / thoughts / experiences too.

And internet shopping.  And subscription box shopping.  And makeup and box reviews.  And celebrity gossip.

But I don't love Dr. Google.  No, I don't like him (her? let's not be gender-biased, here) at all.  I don't like that whenever my son's not feeling quite himself, or has a weird looking poop, that I feel drawn to search it out, diagnose it, and solve it.  I don't like that I hesitate to call Telehealth or my own freaking doctor because it might not be a big deal. . . but then everything I read makes it seem like a big deal and makes me feel like a crazy person until my husband talks me down.  And, of course, until my son starts acting like his usual self and has a totally normal poop.

I don't love that even though I've done this whole pregnancy thing before, I feel the need to second-guess myself, to question what I know in my bones (and in my logical mind).  Can I have a warm bath? Is 5-free nail polish really safe? I don't remember feeling this way last time, is it a sign of impending doom?

I guess acknowledging you have a problem is the first step to solving it.  So no more googling signs and symptoms.  No more searching out problems where there are none.  No more self-diagnosis - I am not a doctor and Google certainly isn't one either.  Now, to find the serenity to accept the small things that are probably not indicators of terrible illness, the courage to seek real help for the big things that could be signs of a larger problem, and the wisdom to know the difference.

And, Google?  We can still do some Christmas shopping and gab about who we think is getting away with murder behind Viola Davis' back, k?

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Ipsy November 2014 Review

I was so excited today when I arrived home to a bright pink mailer in my mailbox! I hadn't received a shipping email or had a chance to check out my glam room so the reveal was that much sweeter.

For those who don't know Ipsy, it is a monthly subscription service which sends you 5 make-up, skin care or hair care items per month in a cute make-up bag.  The products are often deluxe sample sizes but there are usually a few full-size items as well.  The cost is $10 per month with free shipping if you happen to live in the states but for those of us in Canada, add $4.95 shipping as well as exchange.  There are savings to be had if you subscribe to a longer period, though.  I paid for a year up front which worked out to $184.33 Canadian funds, or $15.36 per month.

If this review piques your interest in Ipsy, please consider using my referral link :)  I'd appreciate it!  There is a waiting list but they often offer ways to skip the line.

Here is what came in my Ipsy bag this month:

Okay, so I'm not the greatest photographer (especially not when D is insistent that everything is his and trying to get in the shot!) but you can see that the bag is a pretty cute silver sparkly number with a pink zipper.  Not so sure about the zipper but at least the silvery sparkle feels like it has a plasticky layer over top so it won't shed sparkles everywhere.  I know the theme this month is "Girl Meets Glitter" but I don't need a trail of it following everywhere I go.  The bag will probably be gifted this time around.

Item #1:  Marc Anthony Oil of Morocco Argan Oil Volume Shine Hairspray

Value:  9oz of this is selling for $8.29-$8.99 depending where you look, so this 1.5oz sample would worth approx. $1.38-$1.50.  I like round numbers so I'll go with $1.50.

Value to me:  I love Argan Oil products for my hair.  They seem to tame the occasional frizz and make it feel really soft.  That said, I haven't used an Argan Oil hairspray, and don't use hairspray often in general, so I'm not sure how this will work for me.  I like the brand and the idea and the fact that it doesn't smell terrible so I'll try it.  This isn't my favourite item this month but it isn't the worst either.

Item #2:  J. Cat Beauty Wonder Lip Paint in Red Potion

Value:  This full-size item is sold for $4.99 on J. Cat's website.

Value to me:  Yes, this really that dark.  At first, I thought this looked like the colour of fake blood and it does - in the tube.  When I put it on, it's actually a really pretty shade of red that is, well, less dark and a bit brighter.  It's exactly the kind of lip shade I usually wear since it goes with the whole "Snow White" colouring I have going on :)  I have never used a lip paint before and can say with certainty that, while I like the idea, I wish it came with a lip brush to apply it.  I have one, and will be using it from now on, but I tried this with my finger first and it took a lot of effort to remove the staining.  I suppose that is an encouraging sign of how it will wear.  This is a hit!

Item #3:  Starlooks Gem Eye Pencil in Ultra Orchid

Value:  This full-size item sells for $16 on Starlooks' website.

Value to me:  Speaking of my Snow White colouring. . . here is a swatch of this gorgeous sparkly purple on my winter white (even though it's only fall) arm.  I am loving the colour - purple is a go-to for me and this is a lovely shade.  I am not so sure about the sparkle.  While there is an appropriate amount of sparkle in what is billed as a sparkly eye liner, I'm not sure how this will wear.  Will I end up with glitter all over my face? Will I look like I'm on my way to a rave? This will definitely be in my plans for holiday partying but I will have to experiment with it to test its suitability for more everyday looks.  I do like it a lot though!

Item #4:  Temptu S/B Highlighter in Pink Pearl

Value:  Temptu sells 1oz highlighters for $27.50 on their website.  This is a 0.1oz sample size, so a $2.75 value.

Value to me:  This is another new product for me.  I have never tried a highlighter and wasn't really sure how to use one until I read the helpful suggestions on Ipsy's website.  I'm not sure how much "contouring" and "body highlighting" I'm up for but this is a soft shimmery pink, not far off from my skin tone so I could see myself using it to liven up my brow line or add some extra glow over blush.  Not my favourite but I'm excited to play around with this one.

Item #5:  Be a Bombshell Cosmetics Eye Base in Submissive

Value:  This appears to be full-size, so a $14 value according to BaB's website.

Value to me:  Not a big fan of this one.  It's supposed to be used either as a base upon which to build eyeshadow or a stand-alone shadow but this colour is just not for me.  While it's not as dark as it looks (it actually goes on pretty sheer and is a nice bronze/copper colour), it doesn't go with any eye makeup I own.  Remember the white, white arm above with the pinky undertones.  I swatched this and it looked yellow against my skin tone.  I'll pass this one along to my sister :)  To be honest, this is the first item in 3 months of Ipsy bags that has been unusable for me and I'm okay with that.

Total Bag Value:  approximately $39.24 (I won't assign a value to the bag, itself, since I feel like that's more of a perk than a product, although other reviewers might do so)

Total Bag Value to Me:  I loved 2 products, am interested in trying out 2 more and will send the 5th to a loving home.  Even without the value of the eye base, I feel this bag was worth what I paid for it.

Thanks for reading my first subscription box (bag?) review ever! I hope it was useful and entertaining.  Feel free to drop my a line in the comments if you have any questions or suggestions.  Do you want to know how I ended up getting the lip paint off my fingers? Have an idea to distract my toddler when I'm taking photos in the kitchen? Have at it in the comments section!

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Writing again

So I used to write. . . a lot actually.  Writing was like breathing:  something so natural I hardly realized I was doing it until I had filled the page with my thoughts and ideas, hopes and dreams.  Then I stopped.  This blog is an experiment, something to get me writing again.  And that is both exciting and terrifying.  What will I say? Will anyone care to read it?

The answer to the first is whatever I need to say.  I’m a mom (to a rambunctious 2 1/2 year old boy), an expectant mom (coming in July!) and a full-time English and Drama teacher so expect some posts about mommydom, some posts about work-life balance and maybe some posts about what I’m loving in books, TV and film.  I’m also an online shopping and subscription box addict so there will definitely be some posts about what’s in my mailbox and what I think of it.  Mostly this blog will serve as a kick in the pants – to me, to take some time to do something that’s just for me - "me, with kids" instead of "me-with-kids".

As for the second question, we'll see.  If you've found yourself here, welcome! I hope you like what you read and find something that speaks to you.  I'd love to hear what you're thinking too!