National Air and Space Museum

air_and_space_museumWhen G and I went to Washington DC earlier this summer, there were a few things I knew we had to do. The National Mall is obviously a must-see in DC and I also wanted to check out some of the museums. The Smithsonian museums are the most well-known and we narrowed our choice down to what we considered to be the main three: American History, Natural History, and Air and Space. I had been to the National Museum of American History before and really enjoyed it but wanted to see something new. As much as I enjoy natural history museums, I’ve seen quite a few before, plus, G loves anything related to planes or space. So naturally, we decided on the National Air and Space Museum.

air_and_space_museum22What I didn’t know is that the Smithsonian actually has two Air and Space Museums. They outgrew the first one on the National Mall so they built a second near the Dulles Airport back in 2003. The museum in Virginia was actually really close to where we were staying so on our first day in DC we went over to check it out. I guess the Air and Space Museum is so popular that when people have long layovers in Dulles they take a shuttle to the museum for a couple of hours. Not a bad way to kill time between flights!

air_and_space_museum2The Air and Space Museum was really fun to visit. It consists of two hangars: an aviation hangar and a space hangar, as well as an observation tower where you can watch planes land at the Dulles Airport. The museum was completely packed with planes- they were hanging from the ceiling, covering the floor… and the space hangar was filled with relics from space, everything from satellites to games that astronauts played. This is definitely the place to visit if you are at all interested in aviation, but it would also be fun for history buffs. It was interesting to see all of the different planes and how the styles and technologies have changed over the years.

air_and_space_museum6And everything in the Air and Space Museum has a story behind it. These aren’t planes they found in the middle of nowhere, they are the “first of this,” or the “only remaining.” Many of the items on display can be recognized by name by people who aren’t even interested in aviation, like the Enola Gay or a piece of the Hindenburg. And a lot of them were just fun to look at. You could really see the evolution of technology and the changes that were made to aircraft over time.

air_and_space_museum18The space hangar was also nice to see. It’s crazy to think about how far we’ve progressed with the space program in such a short amount of time. This was another area where everything included was a recognizable part of history (but I guess that’s the point of the Smithsonian, everything has to be important to be included!).

air_and_space_museum20The “space stuff” was probably the best part of the museum. It’s funny to see a case of watches, tools, and even makeup and think such ordinary objects are so cool because “they’ve been to space!” It really puts things into perspective and it’s interesting to see how they had to alter things we use every day to make them spaceworthy.

air_and_space_museum16The National Air and Space Museum was a lot of fun to visit for both G, an aviation and space enthusiast, and me, a casual fan. It was crazy the amount of planes to look at! Everywhere you looked, there were more planes! The museum had a nice setup with a big open space and lots of walkways at different levels so we could see everything. It was interesting to see the history of aviation and space flight and there was also an area where we could see other planes being restored. I would definitely recommend checking out one of the Air and Space Museums, whether it’s the one we visited in Virginia or the original museum on the National Mall in DC.

air_and_space_museum15air_and_space_museum12air_and_space_museum11air_and_space_museum8air_and_space_museum21air_and_space_museum17Also fun fact: this National Air and Space Museum was featured in Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Guess I’ll have to rewatch it so I can say, “I was there!!!”

-Molly

 

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Donuts

Chocolate Peanut Butter Donuts

A few weeks ago I decided to attempt making donuts for the first time for my roommate’s birthday. Learning to make donuts had been on my “To Bake” list for awhile but I never seemed to have the right occasion. While I was browsing potential treats to make for my roommate’s birthday I found this amazing looking recipe by Joy the Baker for chocolate mini donuts with peanut butter frosting. Once I read the recipe I knew I had to make these. I was on Amazon almost immediately ordering a mini donut pan!

The recipe was actually pretty simple to follow. I did find it kind of difficult to fill the mini donut pan using a spoon like the recipe calls for so I put the batter in a ziplock bag and cut a corner of the bag off for a make-shift pastry bag and squeezed the batter into the pan – I found this much easier than the spoon technique. I also ended up with quite a bit of frosting left even though I tried to put a lot on the donuts! Overall I thought the donuts turned out really cute and they tasted great! I love anything that combines peanut butter and chocolate! They were also a total hit at my roommate’s birthday party!

What have you been baking lately?

-Stacie

 

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August Beauty Favorites

august_beauty_favoritesFor the month of August, I was all about bright colors. With the temperature well above 100 degrees (and a whole week above 115!), neutral colors just didn’t cut it. I wanted all the bright, fun colors I could get my hands on! August was all about rediscovering old favorites of mine as well as finding a new favorite. My August Beauty Favorites were Benefit’s Roller Lash, Urban Decay’s Deluxe Palette, and Julep’s Ally.

benefit_rollerlashI got a sample of Benefit’s Roller Lash when it first came out a few months ago but I was waiting until I finished my current mascara to try it out. I started using Roller Lash at the end of July and I’m really surprised by how much I like it. I hate Benefit’s They’re Real mascara because it is impossible to remove and I always poke myself in the eye with the wand (and they use plastic bristles so it really hurts). Roller Lash is a huge improvement. It is designed to curl and lift your lashes although I don’t really notice those benefits. The brush is much thinner than a lot of brushes out there so it’s easy to coat every lash without poking your eye out! I’ve found that’s it’s very easy to get a dramatic look with this mascara and it is incredibly easy to use. This stays on all day and doesn’t smudge on me (an issue I have with a lot of mascaras, even waterproof ones). Although it lasts all day, it comes off easily with my regular facial cleanser and water, no special makeup removers required!

urban_decay_deluxe_paletteUrban Decay’s Deluxe Palette is an older eye shadow palette that has been discontinued. I was able to pick it up during a sale a while ago for only $10. This is a fun palette but the colors are so bright that it doesn’t work for every day. I tend to pull this out during the summer or when I want really bright looks. I love Ransom and Peace (especially together) and Graffiti is a fun unexpected shade to wear. Scratch is a beautiful pinky neutral. The shadows blend nicely but I have to layer them over a white base to make the colors really pop. Applying these with a brush gives a softer look while a foam applicator is necessary for intense looks. These aren’t the best quality Urban Decay eye shadows so I can see why this was discontinued but it was a really great deal for the price.

julep_allyJulep’s Ally is a constant favorite of mine but I find myself wearing it a lot more during the summer. This was a surprise polish for me- I received it in one of my Maven boxes and I only chose that box because I really wanted the other color it was paired with. The other color ended up just being ok but I fell in love with this. I saw a reviewer describe it as “Katy Perry blue” and that is the perfect description. This is a bold, bright blue with shimmer. It does have Julep’s signature blue-polish-smell to it which isn’t much fun but the color is absolutely gorgeous. I love to wear this on my toes and I do it so often that if I had a signature pedicure polish, this would be it.

august_beauty_favorites1August was a fun beauty month for me. I found a mascara that lasts all day without smudging but still washes away easily at night. I revisited a palette full of bright colors and created a lot of fun looks and even found some new combinations to wear. I also remembered just how much I love a nail polish color. Seriously, just seeing this fun blue on my toes all month brought a smile to my face!

What were your favorites for August?

-Molly

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Skin Actives

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It’s no secret that we love our beauty products, but Stacie and I are also super into skincare. As much fun as it is to play around with new makeup looks, it’s even more important to take good care of our skin. A couple of months ago, we were contacted by Jess, a woman from a company called Skin Actives Scientific, who asked if we would like to try some of their products. I did a little research into the company and really liked what I found out. Skin Actives is a skincare company that focuses on quality ingredients and scientific research rather than fancy packaging. Plus, it’s located right here in AZ. Their whole system is setup so you can tailor their products to your needs. In addition to ready made skincare, they also sell additives. If there is a certain ingredient you really like or want to try you can buy the additive and mix it into your favorite moisturizer or serum. Jess asked us for information about our skin type, any sensitivities we might have, and what our skincare goals are. The whole process was really easy and a few days later we each received a box full of goodies chosen specifically for our skin needs. I’ve been using the products I got for the past couple of months and here is what I think so far (Stacie received different products based on her skin type and goals).

creamy_facial_cleanser1One of the products I received was Skin Actives’ Creamy Facial Cleanser. I’m not too picky when it comes to cleansers but there are certain things that I look for. I’ve been really happy with this cleanser. It is a cream formula that doesn’t really lather up. This is moisturizing so it doesn’t leave that awful squeaky-clean feeling that really means your skin is stripped of moisture but it cleans really well, I don’t feel like I need to rewash my face with something else after I use this. I really like how this cleanser makes my face feel and it even removes my eye makeup (this is the gold standard I hold all cleansers to). The packaging isn’t very cute and it does get dirty easily but I really like this cleanser. I would definitely buy it again. The Creamy Facial Cleanser is $14 for 4 oz.

dmae_serumI was most excited to get the DMAE 4% Serum. I’ve written before about how much I love my Perricone MD Face Finishing Moisturizer and it contains DMAE. A lot of the reviews on the Skin Actives site talked about how people switched from Perricone to Skin Actives and liked it much better. DMAE is a slightly controversial ingredient but it’s great for minimizing wrinkles and tightening skin. One of the things I like about Skin Actives is how honest the website is. Instead of shying away from the criticism, Dr. Sivak (Skin Actives’ founder) addresses it on the product page and explains why they still carry the ingredient. I also like how each product page gives suggestions for what skin types should use the product and what other products should be paired with it. I am really happy with this serum…. as long as I don’t use it too much. I love how good it makes my skin look if I use it a couple of times a week. My skin looks clear, brighter, and firmer. DMAE is the ingredient that has made the biggest difference in how my skin looks and this serum works really well for me. However, if I use it too often my sensitive skin does not like it. I’ve found if I use it every day I start to break out. I will also say that if I get any of this on my eyelids it makes them burn soooo bad. Would I get this again? Definitely! I love it, as long as I only use it every other day or so and don’t get it anywhere near my eyes. I received the 4 oz bottle of DMAE 4% Serum which runs $52.70 but there is also a 1 oz bottle for $16.

diy_vitamin_c_serumI also received the Vitamin C Serum. Since vitamin C can be a little harsh for sensitive skin, Jess sent me Skin Actives’ DIY Vitamin C Serum. Instead of coming premixed, the DIY kit comes with a separate serum base and vitamin C serum powder. I started with half of the vitamin C powder to create a 10% mixture. Once I tried the serum for awhile and had no reaction I added the rest of the powder to bring the serum up to 20%. Vitamin C is great for exfoliation and reducing redness. It also helps restore elasticity and promotes cell turnover. My skin looks brighter when I use this. Skin Actives recommends keeping their serums in the fridge and this feels so nice on my skin when it’s hot out. I really liked the serum when I had it mixed at 10% but I think 20% is a little much for me. Unfortunately you can’t reduce the strength once you’ve mixed it all together! The packaging is also terrible for this serum. The pump is too long so when you screw the lid on it bends in a way that doesn’t allow serum to get out. This is one product where better packaging would be very beneficial. I might buy this again but I would have to put it in a different bottle, and I’d stick to a 10% mixture. The Vitamin C Serum is $15.50 for 1 oz and comes premixed at 15% or in a kit like this one.

bright_i_serumI don’t have much luck with eye creams. My eyes are really sensitive so most creams sting or burn my eyes. If I find any that don’t, they cause milia to pop up immediately. Usually I just use my regular moisturizer on my eyes but I know you are supposed to treat your eye skin differently. Skin Actives Bright-I Serum isn’t a heavy cream and it doesn’t irritate my eyes. This serum is also kept in the fridge so the coolness helps with puffy eyes. The Bright-I Serum is designed to reduce dark circles, too. I like the feel of this serum around my eyes but I don’t notice any difference when using it. I’ll probably use it up but I won’t buy it again. The Bright-I Serum is $15 for 10 mL.

vitamin_a_creamSkin Actives makes several different moisturizers and I received the Vitamin A Cream. The Vitamin A Cream is a nice alternative to Retin-A, which can be too harsh for a lot of people. This promotes skin renewal and cell turnover and also helps keep skin clear. It can increase the risk of sunburn so Skin Actives recommends using SPF with it. This cream has an interesting smell (it’s not bad but it doesn’t smell like roses like my Perricone moisturizer). It also felt a little sticky on my face but that could have been from the serum I applied before this. This is a very light moisturizer that isn’t quite enough for my skin. I need to layer another moisturizer over this to get the hydration I want. I didn’t notice any changes to my skin with this. This cream was average for me. It wasn’t awful but I wasn’t really excited about using it. It’s a great price so I might buy it again but I wouldn’t miss it if I didn’t. The Vitamin A Cream is $17 for 2 oz.

advanced_protection_spfBecause the Vitamin A Cream increases the risk of sunburn, I also received Skin Actives’ Advanced Protection SPF 30. This is a really nice sunscreen. It absorbs easily and isn’t at all greasy. This actually dries down to a bit of a matte finish. I use this on my face and it doesn’t irritate it or make me break out. This feels so light on my face, I forget I’m even wearing sunscreen. It’s also nice because I can apply it before makeup and it doesn’t rub off when I put on my foundation. I would buy this again, it’s a really nice sunscreen. The Advanced Protection SPF 30 is $9.50 for 2.5 oz like I received or $14 for 4 oz.

liquid_rainbow1The final product in my box was Liquid Rainbow. Liquid Rainbow is a moisturizing lip product that contains 100% active ingredients. It is applied like a lip gloss but doesn’t feel gloopy or sticky on the lips. This absorbs well and really keeps my lips feeling hydrated. I like to wear my Nuxe Reve de Miel at night and this during the day. This does need to be applied fairly often but the lipgloss applicator makes that really easy. My only complaint with this is the label. The sticker peels off very easily when twisting the bottle to open it. I would probably get this again but this one tube will last me a long time. Liquid Rainbow is $12.50 for 10 mL.

skin_actives4Overall I’m pretty happy with Skin Actives and the products I received. You can tell everything is good quality with ingredients that work really well. I love the idea of being able to DIY your skincare so you get exactly what you want. It’s also nice to be able to support a local company and they have so many different products, I’m really interested in trying some more. I really like all of the scientific and usage information on Skin Actives website, it makes me feel very comfortable with the company. I really like the Creamy Facial Cleanser and DMAE Serum. The Vitamin C Serum is also nice although I wish the bottle was different. The Bright-I Serum and Vitamin A Cream seem like really good products, they just aren’t perfect for me. I also really like the Advanced Protection SPF 30 and Liquid Rainbow is a lot of fun. Although you sacrifice packaging and marketing with Skin Actives, the prices are really great (although some better packaging would be nice!).

-Molly

Although Skin Actives sent me these products for free, they did not ask me to post about them. These are my honest opinions of the products after trying them for two and a half months.

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Bite Bellini

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Bite Beauty recently partnered with Sephora on three new limited edition lipsticks and matching 250 point perks. Starting this month, Sephora is releasing a new point perk each month until October. They contain a mini lipstick, lipgloss, and matching button mirror, all in a color that matches Bite’s limited edition lipstick for that month. August’s color is a bright pink, so naturally I had to have it (September is a red shade and October is rumored to be a dark berry). For 250 points, I received two versions of Bite’s new color Bellini, plus a cute matching mirror.

bite_bellini1The set contains a mini Lush Fruit Lipgloss and a mini Luminous Creme Lipstick. The full sized lipstick is currently available for purchase on its own but the lipgloss is only available in this point perk. I already have a couple of compact mirrors to take on the go but the one in this set is so cute that I’m glad it was included. I think it would also be really fun to glue a magnet to the back and stick it to the fridge.

bite_bellini2The mini Lush Fruit Lipgloss in Bellini is a decent size and the color is really nice. Bellini isn’t that unique of a shade but it does lean warmer than most bright pinks I have. It’s different enough for me (a pink lover) to buy but I’m not sure anyone else would notice much of a difference. I think the warmth makes it more wearable than a lot of fuchsias so if you have a hard time with bright pinks this might be worth checking out. I’m not a huge fan of lipgloss in general and I’ve never really liked the feel of Bite’s that much. Their glosses are really thick so they can be hard to apply but they do last a long time and don’t seem to bleed on me. They aren’t particularly sticky and they are really shiny.

bite_bellini3Bite’s Luminous Creme Lipstick in Bellini is the same warm bright pink shade. It seems like a really small sample compared to the lipgloss but there’s actually a lot of product. I’ve had issues with Bite’s minis breaking in the past so I’m going to be a lot more careful with this one. So far I like this lipstick a lot more than the other Bite shades I own. I don’t know if they’ve changed the formula or what but it wears better and doesn’t flake on me like the older shades do. I find the shape of the mini makes it a little hard to apply but I love the color. It’s so bright and cheery and since it leans warmer it is easy to wear for me.

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Mac Viva Glam Miley Cyrus, Bite Bellini, Bite Palomino

I’ve seen a lot of people ask how Bellini compares to other shades, especially Bite’s Palomino. It is much brighter and warmer than Palomino, which leans just a little purple and cool. The closest color I have to it is Mac’s Viva Glam Miley Cyrus, which is a little lighter and not as opaque. I absolutely love the Mac shade (it’s probably my favorite lipstick I’ve bought this year) so I’m happy to have another color that’s similar. In terms of formulas, Viva Glam Miley Cyrus is lighter and more moisturizing but it does transfer more easily. Bellini is creamier and a little heavier but it still feels nice on the lips.

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Bellini lipgloss, Bellini lipstick, Bellini lipgloss over lipstick

The lipgloss is very pigmented and pretty opaque on its own. It has good color payoff and can definitely be worn on its own. The lipstick has a slightly richer color and is completely opaque with a creamy, satin finish. When the gloss is worn over the lipstick it creates a deeper shade that is completely opaque and super shiny.

bite_bellini_swatchThe Bellini lipgloss is full of color even when worn by itself. It’s a milky color with no shimmer but lots of shine. This looks much more vibrant in person. Unlike a lot of glosses with a lot of pigment like this it doesn’t go on patchy or unevenly.  The thick formula stops it from bleeding and it has a slightly tacky but not overly sticky feel to it.

bite_bellini_swatch1The lipstick is very bright and creamy. It glides on well and has a satin finish. This is very opaque with just one pass so even though I only have a mini of this shade it will last for a long time. The formula is better than the Bite lipsticks I’ve tried in the past but it’s still not as nice as I would like. I really like this color although I prefer the formula of the very similar Mac Viva Glam Miley Cyrus lipstick.

bite_bellini_swatch2When the lipgloss is layered over the lipstick it creates a very bright, intense shade. This is a deeper pink than either of the products on their own. I like the added shine and bolder color when the two are layered but it feels a little heavy on the lips. The gloss is so thick and although these two products last a long time when worn like this, I am very aware of how much product I have on my lips. I love the look of the gloss over the lipstick but I prefer lip products that feel a lot lighter so I will probably reserve this for special occasions.

I’m really happy I picked up this 250 point perk. I don’t love the feel of the lipgloss and I have a similar lipstick that I prefer over this one but I still like having these. The color is so nice and I love how Bellini leans slightly warmer than most bright pinks. I will still get plenty of use out of these products and the button mirror is really cute. This 250 point perk is currently available at Sephora stores and online here. The full size Bite Beauty Luminous Creme Lipstick in Bellini is $24 here.

-Molly

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