Monday Musings + Coffee – Long, Short Weekend

Huh, somehow, I wound up doing another Musings + Coffee post on a Monday.

This weekend has been crazy, so you’ll have to excuse my lack of blogging. In the last 72 hours, I have experienced — in no particular order — a concert, a dead car battery, 24,000 steps worth of Chicago, and a missed mandatory class. Once I get to the OOTD posts from these last few days, I’ll go into more detail, but suffice to say, I’ve been busy.

Somehow, though, it seems I managed to fit in some flatlay photography for one of these posts. Keyword — some. This isn’t the most cohesive set of photos I’ve ever posted on this blog (save the first two, which are clearly from the same set of my bullet journal), but I like them all for their individual merits. And I did indeed get some really good photos this weekend; it’s just that they’re unrelated. I hope you can forgive me.

Apart from the bullet journal photos, I’ve also got this from picture from my plant class that I thought turned out really well. Our homework is to go out and collect and identify plant samples — how cool is that? It’s probably one of my favorite classes at the moment because it’s low-stress, it’s a subject that interests me, and it’s fun. Compare that to my Russian Lit class, which is high-stress, not interesting, and not much fun, and it’s easy to see how an outdoors botany class would speak to me for this semester.

Plus, I like plants. I’ll have to give you guys an update on my dorm plants soon — since I’m in a new dorm room this year, I guess you’ll have to see the updated configuration. We had some tragic losses (RIP my rose moss seedlings), but we’ve also had some new additions to the family.

The weekend concluded with this really lovely sunset over the Golden Dome, which I had the pleasure of watching out a library window. Sort-of. I wasn’t actually able to secure a coveted window seat myself to watch the whole thing, but I walked by the window multiple times so I could catch it — probably thoroughly annoying the person who was actually sitting by the window in the process.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

REVIEW: BareMinerals Blemish Rescue Foundation Collection

Here’s fun fact: the original BareMinerals foundation was one of my first high-end makeup purchases way back when I was in middle school.

I mean, okay — BareMinerals isn’t super high-end and it’s not budget-breakingly expensive, but it was to me when I was 13. I was getting $7 a week in allowance from my parents, so a $30 purchase like the BareMinerals foundation was a big deal — if you think about it, that was over a month of allowance for me.

The sad bit was that I didn’t really like it that much — the lady in Ulta who shade-matched me didn’t do a great job because I found that after I got home and actually started using it, it was much too dark and orange-y. I also remember oxidation issues, with the foundation durning even darker and more orange as the day went on.

It made it practically useless, so even though I didn’t have any problems with the product itself, I wasn’t able to ever really wear it. And since I was 13 and only getting $7 a week, it didn’t make any sense to take the risk of another month’s money on another shade of the foundation that still might not match me properly.

So I guess you could call my attitude towards BareMinerals when I received my Influenster VoxBox was fairly mixed. On one hand, I do remember liking the coverage and texture of the product itself, and I still do rather enjoy the stick concealer I was sent for review earlier this year, but on the other, I was never able to get my money’s worth out of the original foundation, and I’m still a little sad about that. I think it’s still sitting in the back of my makeup drawer, practically unused.

But I tried to go into the review with an unbiased mind — impossible, I guess, but still worth making an effort to do. It wouldn’t be fair for me to judge this new product using my bad experience from six years ago.

In my VoxBox, I received the new BareMinerals Blemish Rescue Skin-Clearing Loose Powder Foundation in Neutral Ivory,  the Skin-Clearing Anti-Redness Mattifying Primer, and Seamless Buffing Brush with Antibacterial Charcoal. Altogether, it’s about $83 worth of product, so I’ve got to give it to BareMinerals for being super generous.

Firstly, as these products are marketed for their skincare benefits as well as their general cosmetic use, allow me to give some background on my skin. It’s best described as combination. My biggest issues are mild acne and sensitivity. I’m 19, nearly 20, so my pimples aren’t quite as bad as they were when I was 13, but they haven’t really gone away entirely either. It’s mild enough that with good makeup, I can pretty much cover up everything I need to, but without, it’s pretty obvious that I have a smattering of pimples on my temples and between my eyebrows. The worst for me is when, due to the benzoyl peroxide spot treatment I use, I wind up with a patch of dry skin surrounding a pimple that hasn’t yet gone away. An ideal foundation for me would be light enough that I could use it on the parts of my face that don’t really have any issues to smooth away the mild imperfections, but buildable enough that I could apply it to my acne-prone areas and conceal them without highlighting the dryness there.

Now onto the review — I’ll go in order of application, so let’s begin with the primer. Out of the tube, it’s a green paste-to-gel -like substance meant to correct ruddy tones in the skin. I assume it would appeal to people with acne all-over as it would, in theory, correct the redness of pimples.

I’m no stranger to green color correcting products. There was a time in middle school where I used a green concealer religiously to conceal redness on my cheeks. I never really got into green primers though, as I generally found that the color-correcting properties of a green product were best when used sparingly, but in concentrated amounts, rather than all-over. I believe the same rings true for this product. I just don’t think the green is strong enough to do anything. As for the other qualities of a primer — texture, staying power, mattifying-effect — I’d say it’s just average. It’s not bad, but there’s better out there.

The foundation turned out to be the pleasant surprise of this review. I had wondered if I would have the same oxidation issues I’d had with the original Bare Minerals foundation, but I have not had that problem at all. The color is slightly darker than I would have chosen for myself, but it’s not so far off that I can’t use it.

The best part was easily the buildability and texture. It did just what I wanted it to — went on light on my less-problematic areas, and built up to heavier coverage with some stippling in my acne-prone areas. For that, I have to give it credit.

The worst part is an issue not exclusive to this product, but that applies to all powder foundations — it’s messy to put on. If you’re looking for something to just slap on and go, this is not it. While application itself isn’t too hard — I just buff it on, with a bit of stippling for more coverage — it’s getting the powder out of the container and onto the brush that’s difficult to do with being messy.

As for the brush, it, like the primer, is perfectly serviceable. Not great — there are better buffing brushes out there for less money (I personally like the Real Techniques buffing brush). But this one’s soft, picks up product well, and is stiff-enough for buffing, so it functions as it is supposed to. My main complaint is the shape — it’s short and fat, so it doesn’t fit in my brush-holder with the rest of my brushes. I can’t really speak to the “antibacterial charcoal” claims. It sounds like a label they just slapped on there to make it seem more hygienic, but I don’t know — maybe the charcoal really is more sanitary.

Finally, what about the skincare benefits? Did I find that my acne improved thanks to using this product?

Well…I don’t know. To be honest, I didn’t use it for long enough to be able to assess its long-term skincare effects. Additionally, one’s skin condition is affected by such a wide variety of factors that I don’t know if I’d see the effects unless they were drastic and fast. Which, for this product, they weren’t — that’s not to say there wouldn’t potentially be benefits from long term use, but I just can’t say with the few days I’ve taken over the last month to test this out. Alternatively, maybe my acne would get worse. I just don’t know.

All I can assess this product fairly on is on its ability to function as a foundation. And you know what? It’s actually pretty nice. It’s way better than the original Bare Minerals powder I tried out six years ago, and I would say that if you, like me, didn’t really like that one, you may still find that this new one is a pretty decent product. You could probably pass on the brush and the primer though. They’re serviceable, but there are better options out there for less money.

Summary:

Primer

Pros:

  • Perfectly serviceable

Cons:

  • Why settle for serviceable when you could find something for less money that works better? (I’m personally a fan of the Revlon Photoready Primer)

Foundation

Pros:

  • Light-to-medium buildable coverage
  • Doesn’t oxidize!
  • Wide range of color selections
  • Smooths over my dry patches without emphasizing them

Cons:

  • Messy, time-consuming application

Brush

Pros:

  • Perfectly serviceable

Cons:

  • Why settle for serviceable when you could find something for less money that works better? (In my opinion, the Real Techniques buffing brush is a good substitute)

Have you tried the new BareMinerals Blemish Rescue collection? Or do you have any suggestions for your favorite foundations? Let me know your thoughts below!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one! Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries and collars, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Monday Musings + Coffee – Rebranding

This is it — Saturday Musings + Coffee is no more!

I’ve come to the conclusion that I just can’t be trusted to keep up with consistent slice-of-life flatlay posts. Believe it or not, I find flatlay photography much more difficult than fashion photography. For me, at least, it takes a lot more effort to hunt down enough cutesy “little things,” and then a good clean background (there are surprisingly few white tables at Notre Dame) for a flatlay post than the effort to put on a cute outfit and get someone to take a picture of it. I’m going to put on clothes anyway, so it doesn’t take much more to take some photos of the outfit, but I have to go out of my way to do flatlay pictures. Believe me, my life is never as well-organized or simplistic as these photos portray.

But don’t worry — I’m not getting rid of the Musings + Coffee lifestyle posts. I don’t think I can keep up with weekly Saturday posts, but I do want to continue the spirit of them. That’s why today’s post is called “Monday Musings” — because it’s Monday, and I’ve decided I don’t want to be restricted to an arbitrary weekly blog post system that revolves around one day. From now on, I’ll do Musings + Coffee posts when I feel like it, regardless of the day of the week.

What a novel concept.

Speaking of novel concepts, happy September! I can’t believe August is already over — this time last month, I was still living in Kentucky with my parents and going to work in Frankfort. Now I’m back in school, and life moves at a completely different pace and rhythm.

As for September’s bullet journal spread, I decided to focus it around Notre Dame fall football (with some Charlie Brown characters thrown in for added flavor), since we’ve got three home games this month. Honestly, the constant football is kind-of exhausting. Love thee Notre Dame and stuff, but I’ll be pretty relieved when I can finally have a Saturday to rest and just do homework.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Saturday Musings + Coffee – Back At It

Hoo boy, it’s been a long time since I’ve written one of these!

It’s not that these Saturday Musings posts are that hard to write, but the photography for them is a little more challenging, admittedly, than an OOTD post. I don’t want my flatlays to get repetitive, so I don’t want to keep using the same objects and backgrounds over and over again. But I only have so many objects that I can sit atop a white sheet and make them look cute, you know?

I do have new spread in my bullet journal to show off though, so I figured that was some solid content deserving of a post.

It took me a ridiculous number of hours to get this month’s spread looking like it does. Why did August take so much longer than usual? Well…because I never finished July.

A solid chunk of July for me was spent in Nepal, which meant a solid chunk of July was spent doing things like talking about religion and modernity and finding ancient temples and not doodling in my journal. I’m committed enough to my bullet journal that I want it to be pretty and complete, but not committed enough that I want to designate time necessarily every day in order to write in it so it can be pretty and complete. As a result, I often wind up having to fill in days and events that have already passed, which I guess you could argue defeats the purpose of even using it as a planner.

Okay, so maybe my bullet journal is more of a log of past events than a planner of future ones. Whatever, I’m going to make it look cute and aesthetic either way.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Saturday Musings + Coffee – Nepal Day One

Greetings from Nepal!FullSizeRender-1.jpeg

It took 27 hours of traveling including layovers, but finally, I’m here!

These photos were taken in the Chicago O’Hare terminal while I waited for my flight to Abu Dhabi — waiting which I probably shouldn’t have done.

See, I had a four hour layover in Chicago after I flew out from Lexington, and so I figured I would be able to sit there with my laptop for at least a little and do a bit of work. That’s actually where this blog was written and published.FullSizeRender.jpeg

So after two hours of sitting there in the domestic terminal, I figured I’d saunter over to the international one, which, judging by the signs I had seen, was just a short ride on the airport rails away. At this point, I had two hours before my flight departed, and I thought I had plenty of time.

Of course, things didn’t happen as planned — the rails were closed for some reason, which I didn’t realize until I had gone to two separate platforms at different locations in the airport and seen that they were closed. After asking around — with one person even telling me that the rails were open, which they clearly weren’t — I found a shuttle to take me to the international terminal.

That all took about 45 minutes, so as I rode the shuttle over to the international terminal, I was slightly worried, but not terribly so. That was, until I arrived at the international terminal and saw the queue to get through security.

I made it through, but not before worriedly calling my mother and questioning whether I’d be able to make it through in time. I’ve had experiences where it’s taken hours to get through a long security line, and I was afraid that that would happen to me again. Thankfully, by channeling my native Chinese pushing-through-lines skills, I was able to get through with about thirty minutes to spare.IMG_1116.jpeg

I was one of the last people to board the flight, and I missed out on any chance I might’ve had otherwise to get bumped up to business or first class, but I made it, and that’s what counts.

There’s more to this travel story, but I think I’ll leave it until I post the blog from that day. Until then, here’s what Google Translate just told me is “goodbye” in Nepali: अलविदा!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life at Notre Dame! Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

 

Saturday Musings + Coffee – Kathmandu Preparations

This is it, my last weekend in the US before I leave for Nepal!

I have a lot still to do — packing, applying for my visa, completing some reading, just to name a few of my upcoming tasks. I’m hoping actually do get some done this evening, we’ll see though. I have a bad habit of falling asleep with the light on after finishing up an evening blog.

Perhaps most concerning of things on my to do list is some reading I’d really like to do before I head off — reading that totals about 350 pages. And it’s not really even exciting reading, just dull academic stuff. That’s not to say it won’t be interesting, just difficult to motivate myself to do considering it’s not a necessity for a grade. Heck, I even had difficulty motivating myself to do academic reading in school when it was a necessity for a grade.

Thankfully, though, I have a few days off from work before I go, so I should have time to do all the travel preparations I need to do. I’m a little nervous to travel to a foreign country by myself, and I’m not at all looking forward to my six hour layover in Chicago, but once I’m settled, things should be alright. It’s just the process of getting settled that worries me.

I have a hard time getting excited for things before they occur, but once I’m actually in Nepal, I should be able to enjoy myself. I’m less likely to excitedly anticipate an event, and more likely to forlornly reminisce about it afterwards.

On a final note, check out this blop tongue from my cat this morning. He’s a good boy. I’ll miss him when I’m gone.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one! Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Saturday Musings + Coffee – Bullet Journal Life

Oh no guys, I’m posting another Saturday Musings blog on a Sunday. What a terrible blogger am I.

This weekend sees me beginning my first bullet journal, which is arguably a terrible decision for the actual organization of my life. See, I’m terrible at devoting time to projects like this. I want them to turn out beautiful, as if I’d put hours and hours of my time in to it, but I’m unwilling to put the hours and hours into it, so I wind up with something where a few pages are done to perfection and the rest are half finished and neglected.

But I just couldn’t resist! I started watching AmandaRachLee’s bullet journal tutorials on YouTube, and I couldn’t stop myself after I saw her pretty pastel colors and simplistic designs. Plus, I figured I already spent a lot of time putting doodles into my planner and making that look cute, so why not put just a little more time into making a bullet journal look cute?

We’ll see how it turns out, I guess. I’ve finished my June spread, and I’m really happy with how it turned out! I used my Prismacolor alcohol-based markers, resulting in having to skip pages due to bleed through (“ghosting” as I’ve heard it called), but I didn’t really have anything better to use. My Prismacolors aren’t really being used for anything right now anyway, so this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

I’ll keep you updated on my bullet journal adventures! I’m not sure I’d put much faith into me actually maintaining it, especially once school begins, but I wouldn’t count it out either. I like it so far, so hopefully my motivation remains!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one! Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

REVIEW: The Body Shop Body Yogurt in Mango

Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are my own.

At this point, it looks like I’m getting Influenster products to review fairly consistently now every month. I don’t want to jinx it in case I don’t end up maintaining that streak, but I’ve been getting a new VoxBox basically once a month since my first one back in February.

And I love that, as Arie from The Bachelor might say. It feels good to break up my OOTD posts a little with the occasional beauty review — it keeps things from going stale.

Today, I’ll be reviewing for you The Body Shop Body Yogurt in the mango scent, which I received a few weeks back for free from Influenster for review purposes. I’ve been trying it out a little over the last few days, and I’m ready to share my thoughts.

Packaging-wise, it’s nothing to write home about. Perfectly serviceable, is probably all I have to say about it. It holds the product, the lid is easy to unscrew, and the vibrant orange color makes it stand out from a lot of the beige and cream colored lotions I already own.

What is definitely something to note, though, is the scent. Seriously, this stuff smells so good. It helps, of course, that I like sweet, fruity scents like mango — if you don’t like mango, you’re not going to like this because it literally smells just like a freshly cut mango. It’s so potent that I got a whiff of it when I first opened up the parcel it had been mailed in (not even the pretty box blue box it was packaged in — the regular cardboard parcel containing that box). My first thought was that maybe it had spilled, and the reason I could smell it without even opening the container was that some of it had leaked onto the cardboard.

Rest assured, though, there were no spills — the scent is just that strong. I’ve owned a lot of Bath and Body Works lotions in my time, thanks to plenty of birthday parties in the early 2010s where Bath and Body Works products and those little hand sanitizers were all the rage, and I don’t think any of them compare to the strength of the smell of this stuff.

As for the actual moisturizing properties, it’s a lot more average. As you can see from my photos, it’s a pretty goopy consistency, though still more solid than liquid. It’s pretty close to yogurt, which I guess is why it’s called Body Yogurt. It’s best used when the skin is still wet, such as right after a shower — but I’m pretty sure that’s true of most moisturizers. I found that it absorbed fairly quickly, though not super speedy, and left a slight residue that went away after a minute.

What was most disappointing to me, though, was that the scent didn’t also stick around. For as pretty and as potent as it smelled right out of the package, on the skin, it didn’t really hold up. I guess you could see that as a good or a bad thing — if you liked the scent, like me, you might be a bit disappointed, but if you weren’t interested in smelling like a mango smoothie all day, you might not have been bothered.

Summary:

Pros:

  • Strong, sweet scent
  • Nice, goopy texture
  • Absorbs into skin quickly

Cons:

  • Scent doesn’t last long
  • Moisturizing properties are nothing special

In the end, it was an alright product. I liked it just fine — probably even more than the Bath and Body Works scented body lotions, which I have to think would be their main competitors. It wasn’t perfect though, especially with the fact that the scent didn’t last super long and the moisturizing properties were only so-so. Give it a try if you want something that smells yummy right out of the package but doesn’t get in the way of wearing perfume on top and doesn’t smell too strong on the skin, but if you’re looking for something with a little more in terms of skin benefits, you may want to look elsewhere.

Have you tried The Body Shop’s Body Yogurts Or do you have any suggestions for your favorite moisturizers? Let me know your thoughts below!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one! Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!

Saturday Musings + Coffee – Used Car Style

Writing this from the office of a car sales lot, so that’s new for these blogs.

I’m with my dad, who’s buying a new car on account of me wrecking one last summer. Long story short, the car was totaled, but even though it was my dad’s, my mom was the one who ended up getting a new car. My dad got the old car, which I’m pretty sure he was never entirely satisfied with.

Fast forward a year later, and now my dad wants a new car. I would also appreciate the new one so I can see a little better, so it’s great for everyone.

So I’ve been here for a few hours today, and I’ll probably be here for a few more. Thankfully, I brought a cute mug along, and the salesman who’s been helping us has a nice-enough looking desk, so I was able to get some flatlay photography done.

I ended up missing out on a baby shower for a friend today in order to hang out with my dad while he buys this car, but hopefully, that’s all I’ll miss. I’m planning on going out this evening if I can to hang out with some old high school friends, so I’d rather not be here too late this evening.

In other news, I’ve started listening to more French music lately in an attempt to improve my listening skills. You’d think with 4+ years of French education and a blog with a French title (not even a good one, actually — apparently “l’ensemble du jour” isn’t really the best translation of “outfit of the day,” it works, but it’s not perfect).

Anyway, I’m particularly liking Stromae, KYO, and BB Brunes. If you have a hankering (sorry, can’t really come up with a better word) for good French music, I would definitely check them out.

Looks like that’s it for today! Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one.

Saturday Musings + Coffee – Lex Vegas

It’s pretty sure I’ve only heard anyone refer to Lexington, KY as “Lex Vegas” like once total in my time living here, but I like it and I’ve been using it ever since.

This was my first full weekend here back home, since I spent the weekend after I moved out visiting Chicago. It was fairly quiet, though not boring — just how I like it.

I spent the Saturday morning visiting some local yard sales with my mother, which is something that never fails to amuse me. I don’t have to buy anything at all to have fun; I just like the hunt. It’s the same way with thrift stores. There’s something really enjoyable about picking through other people’s junk and feeling like you need to wash your hands after examining some dusty old appliances.

This time though, I did find some nice things to buy. I got a parsley plant (yay more plants!), some pots, and a few band shirts. Not that those were anything that I actually needed, and not that they would’ve been expensive to buy new, but getting them used meant it was only like $3 total.

In the afternoon, I got to see Amanda, whom I hadn’t seen since spring break in March. We got lunch, got some cute photos (stay tuned for those in the upcoming days!), got coffee, walked around the park, and in the evening, watched a movie in and ordered Chinese.

Again, it was quiet, but not boring. It was wild not having any homework to distract me from enjoying myself. During the school year, it’s not like I don’t ever go out and do fun things, but I do always have responsibilities (namely homework) to worry about the whole time I’m out. No summer homework = no homework stress, and that’s something I can definitely appreciate.