Inside July’s Subscription Boxes

july box collageSo July happened. It hasn’t been my favorite month this year, but one of my favorite parts of the month is when little packages are delivered at my doorstep. A lot of goodies found their way to me in July, so here’s a round up of this month’s subscription boxes:

July birchbox

 

Birchbox-- $10/ month, referral code (sorry about the glare in the photo!)

Supergoop! SPF 37 Advanced Anti-Aging Eye Cream I love Supergoop! products, especially their CC cream. The thing is, I usually use eye cream at night, so the SPF just seemed unnecessary to me. However, I can imagine that if my eyes were puffy or irritated in the morning, it would be a good under-concealer layer. I may end up getting a full tube next time I restock my beloved CC cream.

Offa Universal Eyebrow Pencil  This may be the biggest win since I have been looking for an eyebrow pencil that matches my eyebrows, and (woohoo!) it matches perfectly. I don’t really have much more to say about this one except that it does what it’s supposed to do without being obvious and making it look like I penciled in my light eyebrows.

Ruffian Rapture Collection polish in Ambrosia and Ruffian Nail remover wipes. The nail color is really pretty and I plan to use it for my next pedicure. The nail remover wipes weren’t exciting to me since I am too inept at doing my own nails and go to a salon instead. The sample is handy though, in case I need to touch up a boo-boo. I can’t attest to how well they work for a serious job.

Juice Stem Cellular Repair Moisturizer. This moisturizer reminded me a lot of Caudalie’s Vinoperfect, which is to say that it’s luxe and wonderful. I wish the sample was larger, but I guess that means I’ll eventually have to invest in a full size.

Harvey Prince Imperial Gardenia. This fragrance is gardenia and gardenia only. I really love the smell of gardenia, and this fragrance is lovely without being perfume-y. I don’t think I’d wear it every day though.

 

july ipsy

Ipsy Glam Bag $10/ Month No referral code because they want you to share everything on Facebook, which is super annoying (in my opinion).

The bag itself is often part of the allure of this subscription, but this month’s was utterly hideous. It looked like a 7th grade sewing project. But here’s what else it came with:

BeFine Food Skin Care Daily Moisturizer SPF 15 First, for some reason I found “food skin care” to be a turn off. Sure I’ve made my own avocado moisturizers in my kitchen and stuff, but as a marketing ploy, it doesn’t work for me. The moisturizer was just okay, but this is 2014, why is the SPF only 15?

Bare Minerals 5-in 1 BB cream eye shadow with SPF 15. Intriguing, but the color was a bit too dark for my skin tone for a cream shadow. Maybe I just don’t do cream shadows right, but if they’re too dark they just don’t spread well and look like I am bruised. If this was a really light shade, I may have liked it.

Hang Ten Dark Tanning Oil SPF 8. What is this, the 80′s? Who lays out with dark tanning oil any more? No thanks. Straight to the trash can.

Pixi Mini Tinted Brilliance Balm. I have a different (not mini?) tinted balm from Pixi that I really like. This one is a shade lighter, which is kind of nice and gives a very natural, just ever-so-slightly tinted look. Not bad.

Whet nail polish in Facetious. This color just doesn’t do it for me; it’s a little too pre-teen for my taste.

I’ve been considering cancelling Ipsy lately, because it seems like in the past few months, they’ve changed their target demographic and sell cheap products directed at teens. Any suggestions on an alternative?

 

july popsugar

PopSugar Must Have Box- $40/month. Referral code

I always love this box, and this month was no disappointment!

Michael Stars Beach Hat. I used to have a similar hat to this that I loved, but it got crushed and lost its shape (it was cheap). This one is meant to be crushed and shoved into whatever beach bag or luggage that you have, which is just perfect. The hat alone also retails for more than the price of the box!

FrenchBull Ziggy Salad Servers.  So chevron isn’t really my thing, but these are still cute and festive for a summer BBQ. I took them to a party with my Caprese Pasta Salad and they added the right amount of pizzazz.

Sun Bum Sunscreen and After Sun Lotion. I’m definitely NOT going to throw away a decent waterproof sun screen, and this one spreads evenly, which is an added bonus. I love the after sun lotion too, because even when Islather on the protection, after a day at the beach my skin is often hot and dry. This is basically a soothing aloe lotion, and that works for me!

ACME party box stripey straws.  Cute straws! These are another one of those things that I don’t need but I also don’t mind having around.

TKO Jump Rope with Soft Grip Handles.  Woohoo! I’ve been doing a lot more HIIT training (I’ll post about that soon) and was going to buy a jump rope the week this box came. Perfect timing! It’s a pretty legit, sturdy jump rope.

Dang Foods Toasted Coconut Chips. They sell something very similar to this at Trader Joe’s, and I love them. I sometimes add a few to my smoothie, or they make for a good topping for almost any dessert. I also snack on them just plain, because I really love coconut.

Revlon Bold Lacquer Length and Volume Mascara. Not too shabby for a Revlon Mascara. I still have a few other mascaras that I like a little better but this is a perfect back up tube that gives some decent volume to my lashes.

And finally…

july barkboxKhaleesi’s BarkBox.  $20/month with 6 month subscription. Referral code

Loopies FishBone Toy. 

Khaleesi says: Good squeak. Fun tug-o-war. Good for hitting mommy to make her play. Rachel says: Khaleesi pretty much summed it up. She likes to hit me with this toy when I am not paying attention to her, and it’s a good one for tug-o-war.

Bixbi Daily Essentials Chicken Breast Jerky treats.  Khaleesi says:  ???  (as she cocks her head to the side) Rachel says: Whoops, I forgot about these. They’re in the cupboard. She has so many treats right now that I haven’t thought to open this bag. I guess that’s a sign we’re good with dog treats thanks to Barkbox.

Healthy Dogma Coconut Flavored Barkers.  Khaleesi says: Cookies! Yes! Cookies! I’m a good girl! Rachel says: she loves these. She definitely knows the word cookie and does a happy dance if I say the word. She really likes these and to be perfectly honest, I’ve been tempted to eat one. They’re made with real ingredients (though the pea flour has me curious) and they smell like real cookies.

Etta Says Duck Chew Khaleesi says: Mine!  Rachel says: She loves this thing and is possessive of it. I like it because it keeps her from chewing on my shoes, and it’s healthier for her than my leather flip flops.

Mr. Barksmith’s Pina Colada Smoothie. Kahleesi says:  Ice cube? Yummy. More? Rachel says: These are really cute. Khaleesi really loves ice cubes, so this frozen treat was right up her alley. It was perfect after a long walk on a hot day.

 

So there you have it! Barkbox is a real winner and keeps my pup happy, and PopSugar Must Have keeps her momma happy. Ipsy may not see another month at this house, but Birchbox has gotten better and continues to make me happy.

 

 

A New Look

khaleesi 4 months No, you’re not imagining things. With Love, Rachel looks a bit different now. Yesterday I officially transitioned this blog to WordPress, and while it was a lot of work, I can say that I am pretty satisfied with the results. I was pretty gutsy and jumped right into this migration without really knowing what I was doing, so don’t be surprised if you find some broken links here and there  or comments form doesn’t work correctly for the next week or so.

But all things considered, the migration wasn’t too terrible. It is time consuming, and involves a lot of wait time, but it was well worth it. I’ll spare the repetition of reasons why WordPress is better for bloggers and just link you to this post and this post. I also prefer the simple, minimalist look of most WordPress themes– I thought it was about time my little blog grew up a little, ya know? But along with the new look, I’m hoping to jump back into blogging renewed and enthusiastic. I won’t lie; a general sense of ennui has settled over this blog (and my life if I’m being honest) over the past month. I should write a post but meh… why go through the work? I should respond to comments but ehhhh…  When life slows down and I have all day to do as I wish, it’s harder to find inspiration. But August is a new month, and I plan to bounce back with more engaging, interesting, and fun posts. Pinky Swear.

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Easy Caprese Pasta Salad

This pasta salad, you guys. It’s light and flavorful, but the absolute best part is how ridiculously easy it is to make. I mean, I guess all pasta salad is easy to make, but this one just tastes like it took more effort.

But seriously. It’s Monday, and maybe you decided to also observe Meatless Monday (you really should!) but you’re wondering what to eat later today. It’s hot and you don’t want to cook but you also don’t want take out and ugh you’re starting to get angsty and wonder why there aren’t more veggie drive thru restaurants. Relax. Make this pasta salad. You’ll be happy.

Here’s all you have to do for a really big salad to take to a party or something –obviously you can make a lot less if it’s just for you:

Boil a pound of pasta (I like Fusilli or Penne ) like the package says and drain it. Rinse with cold water to let it cool.

While the pasta is boiling, cut some cherry tomatoes in half.

Pour some pesto into the pasta and stir. I like Trader Joe’s or Costco pesto. I don’t have measurements for you because this is a lazy dish and just put in as much as you like. You can make your own, of course, but that would be work and it’s hot.

Cut some mozzarella balls into smaller chunks, and add to the salad.

If you’re fancy you can add some freshly chopped basil, but you don’t have to. (The pesto has enough flavor, but the chopped basil makes it prettier.) Just add some salt and pepper and you’re good to go.

Boom! There you go! That’s what I call summer on a plate.

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Don’t Gamble With Your Sexual Health

Today I am very excited to have Tracey from Adam and Eve talking about an issue that I find incredibly important: Sexual Health. Since I work with college freshmen for a living, I was really happy to hear that she wanted to spread the word about sexual health on college campuses. I’ll let Tracey take over and do the talking:

You’ve heard it before. Going to college is the poorest time of your life, but it’s also the most fun. You’re away from your parents, you live with your best friends, and you’re never far away from a party.

If you’re one of the lucky freshmen entering college in just a few weeks, there are so many things to be excited about. College tends to be the time where young adults experiment, especially sexually. You’re surrounded by peers that are similar in age and are constantly meeting new people. Not to mention there is the availability of alcohol, which PsychologyToday.com reports is involved in 89% of hookups, likely due to alcohol’s effect of lowering inhibitions.

You’ve probably already been informed of the risks of STDs and unplanned pregnancy. But a lot the concern can go out the window when you’re on your third Bud Light and the most gorgeous guy you’ve ever seen is making eyes at you from across the room.

To make your experimentation as fun as it can be, there are some things that you should prepare for in order to stay well sexually and emotionally.


Always Be Prepared

Of course you know the importance of condoms, but too many men and women use the excuse of spontaneity as a reason for not practicing safe sex. Men should always have condoms handy just in case the moment arise. However, just because you’re a girl doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. You should have some condoms in your room and carry one or two “emergency” condoms with you, so that you’re always prepared. Being broke isn’t an excuse either. Depending on your location, you might be able to get free condoms from the student health center.

You can also buy condoms for yourself—meaning condoms made for women—that you can rely on ahead of time. AdamEve.com‘s Safer Sex Guide says that, “You can fit a female condom in a vagina up until eight hours prior to making love.” These are ideal if you’re going on a promising date that you think will go well. You’ll be prepared to have sex safely, and you won’t have to hesitate when things get heated.

The Realities of One-Night Stands

As long as you practice safe sex, there certainly isn’t anything wrong with two consenting adults having a one-night stand. But it’s important that you go into it with realistic expectations. Most women don’t believe that a one-night stand will prelude into a long-term relationship (if you do, well…you probably shouldn’t), but there are other false ideas that women can have.

A study in LiveScience.com revealed that most men engage in one-night stands simply for the sexual satisfaction, while women engage in one-night stands because they wanted to feel desired, craved, and flattered.

However, while a one-night stand might make a woman feel sexy or confident the night of, the opposite is true as soon as the next morning comes around. 80% of men had positive feelings after a one-night stand, but only 54% of women felt satisfied. The predominant amount of women in the study reported feeling the following ways afterward: “regret at being used;” “cheap;” “horrified;” and “degraded.”

Regardless of what your motivation is for a one-night stand, just remember to take it for what it is. If you feel that you won’t regret it, by all means, be safe and enjoy yourself.

Keeping Your Sex Life Private

Many students entering college are under the false impression that the more populous setting will help keep their actions anonymous. Maybe you don’t know all your classmates by name anymore, but that doesn’t mean your private life can’t be exposed to the masses. And unfortunately the more promiscuous you are, the more people there are to talk about it. It’s unfair, but it’s a potential consequence of your actions, one that is just as prevalent in college as any other time of your life.

Everyone should experiment, but if you’re doing something that you feel requires discretion, it’s best to only do so with someone that you really trust. It’s always better to have your guard up and protect your sexual well being than to give someone new the benefit of the doubt.

The same caution should be applied if you’re sending naked photos. It’s something that I would never recommend someone do, but I realize that won’t stop people from doing so anyways. It’s not that you can’t trust anyone, but you shouldn’t be oblivious to the idea of how easily a naked photo can fall into the wrong hands. Especially if you put it in the hands of a questionable person yourself. If you’re really into sexting, Snapchat is probably a safer bet, but again, there are ways to take a screenshot of those photos as well.

College is an amazing experience that you will leave you with lifelong friends and memories. Don’t let those memories be tainted by a bad decision you could have avoided. As long as you’re safe and you protect your privacy and yourself from STDs, you’re sure to have fun both in and out of the bedroom.

Tracey Motley is a freelance writer from Des Moines, Iowa. She lives there with her husband Chris and their dog Parker.

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Friday Funnies

This edition of Friday Funnies has gone to the dogs…and cats. Since I’ve been preoccupied with my fur babies all week (still haven’t actually seen the cat, BTW), it seems only fitting to share some of my favorite dog and cat funnies this week.

That GIF gets me every time.
Have a great weekend!

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I’m Moving…

…blogging platforms and domain hosts, that is. You may stumble upon a wonky looking Withlove-rachel.com over the next week, but do not be alarmed. I’m learning as I go, and while I think I’ve got this, I expect something is bound to go wrong.

 But also, because I am old school and follow blogs through the Blogger dashboard, in the past I’ve lost blogs that I read regularly when they’ve made a similar switch. It was sad; I thought they stopped blogging. I’m not stopping. This could (but hopefully won’t) happen if you’re following me on Google Friend Connect. In other words, feel free to follow me on Bloglovin’, sign up for email subscription with the form on the right, and while you’re at it you can get updates by following me on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.

Thanks for reading, and I promise I’ve got plenty more fun stuff in the pipeline that will make it worth your while.

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Slow Cooker Al Pastor Tacos

I love tacos. I mean, I really, really looovvvee them, as long as they’re legit. Let’s first set the record straight: “hard shell tacos” do not count as tacos. It’s okay if you like those things, but when I’m talking about tacos, I am talking about freshly warmed corn tortillas, lots of spicy meat, onions, cilantro, and lime. A little pico de gallo and avocado are an added bonus. But none of that ground beef and shredded lettuce crap.

Okay, so where was I going with this? Oh yeah, one of my favorite kinds of tacos are Al Pastor. Al Pastor is traditionally rotisserie grilled, like shawarma or doner. In fact, I learned that Al Pastor is one of those great fusion foods, inspired by Lebanese immigrants settling in Mexico. You learn something new every day…

Anyway, I don’t have a spit and I don’t have time for that, so this is a cheat method for making your own Al Pastor, in a slow cooker. This recipe is so, so easy and it makes for AH-MAZING tacos. The chipotles bring a nice smoky flavor, while the pineapple adds a hint of sweetness while making the pork fork- tender. Here’s what you need:

  • 2-3 pounds of pork roast, tenderloin, or shoulder (I used roast)
  • 1 small can of chipotle chiles in adobo (7 oz)
  • 1 (8oz) can of diced pineapple with the juice
  • 1/2 cup of chopped white onion
  • a spice blend using a teaspoon each of : salt, pepper, cayenne, cumin, and oregano
  • (optional) A hearty squeeze of Sriracha. It adds some extra heat and garlic, and I just believe that Sriracha makes everything better.

That’s it! Just plop the pork in the slow cooker, sprinkle the spices over the pork, pour the onions on top (if you buy pre-chopped onions, added lazy bonus!) pop open the cans and ooze them on top, and voila! Put a lid on it, set to low, and let it do it’s magic for 8 hours. (5 hours on high  if you’re short on time.)

The toppings are totally up to you, but I made sure to have freshly chopped onion and cilantro, some goat cheese crumbles (cojita would be better, but I couldn’t find any), avocado slices, and freshly made pico de gallo (easy-peasy: just stir up some diced tomato, onion, cilantro, lime juice, garlic salt, and pepper.) And of course, get yourself the best corn tortillas you can find and warm them up on your stove.

Mmmmmm…
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So This Happened.

For much of this past week, I’ve felt like a real jackass.

You see, on Tuesday we adopted this cat.

I know, those eyes are ridiculously huge, right?

A friend of mine had her but couldn’t keep her because their older cat terrorized her too much and the situation wasn’t safe or happy for her. We arranged for the kitty to come over and meet Khaleesi first, to make sure our dog wouldn’t terrorize her more than the old bully cat, and the two animals seemed curious and confused about one another, but very gentle and there was no chasing, swatting, biting, barking, hissing to be had so we thought, Great! We’ll keep her!

She is a shy little kitty who kept hiding in corners of the room, but she also liked to be held and to cuddle with me and C. We threw around a few ideas for names but decided to wait until we knew her better. She cuddled on the couch with C while I went to bed, and he dozed off just after she jumped down and curled up under a chair.

 Then when he woke up, she was gone.

She’s probably just hiding somewhere, I said and tried to go back to sleep. But C had already searched all over the house.  Babe, you left the back door open over night,  he reluctantly explained.

Shit. I often leave the door to the backyard open a little so that Khaleesi can go out to go potty. But I was still pretty certain that the cat was just shy and hiding out, so we figured we’d wait a day, and that she’d eventually come out for her food. Except that Khaleesi also has a penchant for cat food and can sniff it out no matter where I try to hide it, so that complicated matters more (and probably freaked the cat out more if she was hiding and watching).

After 24 hours, we decided to tell the couple that gave her to us, since their phone number was still on her tag. I felt like such an asshole having to explain that we already lost the cat. C made flyers and posted them around our block, and I searched the backyard and our neighbors’ bushes (at night, with a flashlight, like a real creep).

I kept assuring myself and C that she was probably just hiding where we couldn’t see her, but as the weekend crept up on us, even I began to lose that optimism. We went out of town for a wedding and left bowls of food around the house just in case, but C had completely lost hope by that point.

Then while we were out of town, the couple that gave her to us found a promising lead on Craigslist. A woman in Huntington Beach had found a small black cat with large eyes. We all called her that morning (ha, poor woman) but she had taken the cat to a local shelter, so while getting ready for the wedding I was on the phone trying to track down this poor cat and then analyzing photos to see if it really was her. I was so excited for a lead and so frustrated that I’d have to wait 24 hours before I could go check it out.

So when I finally made it home on Sunday morning, my plan was to drop off the dog and then head to the shelter right away. I walked into the front entry way and almost kicked over two small empty Tupperware containers near the front door.

The food I had left for her! It was empty, and her favorite toy was next to the bowl. I ran to another hiding spot where I left food and it was empty too! And the litterbox had been used!

So the point of that whole story is that we do now indeed own a really cute cat, even though she has no name and we haven’t seen her since Tuesday night. Or maybe the point of that story is that HA! I was right! The cat was in the house all along and I actually didn’t screw everything up by leaving the door open! Or maybe the point is that there is now a ninja kitty hiding somewhere, maybe in the walls, maybe in a closet behind my shoes, maybe in some crawl space I didn’t even realize existed in this house, and sooner or later she is going to scare the bejeezus out of me.

In fact, “Ninja” is now on the short list of possible names, as is Arya (since we’ve already got one Game of Thrones pet name). We welcome any suggestions! Also, we’re ordering this  feeder


to keep Khaleesi from eating her food. Anyone have advice or experience with something like it? Is it worth it?

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Why Get Off My Internets is Good For Bloggers.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love Get Off My Internets. If you asked most bloggers, they would say that this is utterly awful, that it is nothing but a hate site full of bullies. But if the recent drama that bloggers love to talk about tells me anything, it’s that bloggers read GOMI. A lot. And bloggers need GOMI.

(GOMI and wine are a winning combination.)

For anyone who is having a strong reaction to that last sentence, I’m going to give you some real talk: people in your life (and not just on the internet) talk shit about you– your friends, family, coworkers, people you barely know– they say things about you that you probably don’t like.It’s just the truth. And I bet you talk shit too. If you don’t, if you truly never have anything negative to say about anybody or anything, then I question your intelligence. We all do it, and to be shocked, shocked that anyone would have any criticism of what you write is just naive and silly.

So let’s talk about why GOMI is good for all of us bloggers and blog readers. I’ll start with this idea of criticism: not only is it a fact of life, but it is instructive and helpful. Of course no one likes hearing something negative, but if any other person with a job in the world is exposed to criticism from time to time. And if you own a business, teach, or practice law or medicine, strangers take to sites like Yelp, RatemyProfessor, and Angie’s list with their opinion of you. We all consult sites like these, and while they aren’t always an accurate portrayal, we think of them as helpful and instructive. When people take to GOMI and call a blogger to task for something she or he posted, it’s a moment for a blogger to really see how an audience is responding to the blog. It’s a bummer when someone doesn’t love what you write, but if you take the time to read why they don’t, you can learn from it and grow from it. If you’re not looking to learn and grow, quit blogging. If you’re putting yourself out there on the internet and want thousands of readers, you have to accept that not everyone is going to love everything you have to say. And that’s okay! If you can’t handle it, get off the internets.

Yes, sometimes there are ugly comments. They aren’t the majority of comments in the threads, but there are some there. And sometimes, those comments are really uncalled for and when that happens, fuck them. No really. If someone criticizes a blogger for having a big nose, that’s just stupid. You can’t let some stranger saying you have a big nose ruin your day. Part of growing up means learning how to decipher the constructive criticism from the stupid criticism, and learning to let the stupid roll off of your back. It’s okay to say “Fuck ‘em” from time to time.

GOMI-ers keep bloggers honest, or at least do their best. If you try to deceive your readers, or copy someone, or lie, GOMI-ers will call you out on it. And in a world where any blog comment is screened or pounced on if it  is anything besides blowing smoke up the blogger’s ass, GOMI allows readers to say what is otherwise censored on the blogs.

The truth is, most GOMI-ers are not “jealous haters.” It’s very rare that someone stumbles on your blog for the first time and feels compelled to snark about it just because they don’t like your face or because they are jealous of your life. In fact, they are most likely people who actually read and like your blog, but were disappointed with something you wrote or posted. Bloggers, listen to their commentary, because people on GOMI are your target audience.

The thing that I was surprised to learn about GOMI is the sense of community, yes, the community concept that bloggers always gush about, actually happening on an anonymous forum. Read through any of the Members-Only forums and you’ll see users sharing honest (not sponsored!) product reviews, sharing funny stories, heartbreaking experiences, thoughtful advice, words of encouragement, good laughs, and hilarious GIFS to make your day. Like I said above, I feel like a lot of blog comments are empty compliments and forced cheerfulness intended to attracting more page views. The anonymous nature of GOMI makes it possible for people to be real, to open up, and there’s some real beauty in that honesty that I see often on GOMI threads but rarely in blogs.

And one last thing I want to add– why is it that people who post on GOMI are characterized as “Jealous fat cat lady haters?” For one, let’s move past the whole “they don’t like me because they are jealous” B.S. Read what I said above about criticism. And what’s wrong with being fat?  Or having cats? Seriously, that’s more stupid that what I actually see posted on GOMI.

Alright, I know you have opinions on this, and I am curious to hear what you have to say…

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Friday Funnies

You know those times when you look around at your life and realize that you’re really, really happy? Well it’s been one of those weeks. So I’m here to share a little happiness with you with these pics from ’round the internets that made me laugh:

I love boobies!

This kid is the master at playing her parents against each other…

The happiness paper hat indeed!

I can’t stop laughing!

Some things get lost in translation, and some things get it just right.

You know how I love oddly specific signs

Have a great weekend!

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