Thursday, December 3, 2015

ELF: Best & Worst Products



As a broke college student who loves makeup, I have been really into finding good drug store makeup products and dupes for high end products.  As many of you are probably already familiar with, ELF (Eyes, Lips, & Face) is a very popular brand of drugstore makeup that is known for having products ranging in price from $1-3, & sometimes $5.  I have owned quite a few products from ELF since I started wearing makeup, and some of them are terrible and some I use almost every day.  Today I wanted to review some ELF products that I have used, and tell you what I would recommend from ELF and what products I think you should buy from a higher end brand.  These are mostly just the best & worst from ELF.  I left a lot of products off of here that I have used and been "eh" about over the years.
Disclaimer:  All opinions & photos are my own.  I have not been paid by ELF or given any free products to review.



EYES:
Best:
     1. Clear Brow & Lash Mascara
  • I don't use the clear mascara all that often, but I use the brow gel side almost every day.  It holds my brows and the brow powder that I use in place all day, and it doesn't make my brow hairs clump together.  Win!

     2. Smudge Pot
  • I have an ELF smudge pot in the color "Ain't That Sweet?" and I use it all the time!  It's a cream eyeshadow, and it's perfect for those days when you want to look more put together without the effort.  I love this color because it isn't too out there, but it brights up my eyes really well, and it stays in place all day.  I put a photo of the smudge pot and a swatch above this section to show how pigmented and beautiful this product is!  I love it!

     3. Glitter Primer
  • I don't own ELF's glitter primer anymore, because I don't use glitter much anymore, but this was a staple for me when I did high school cheer.  I got into the glitter pretty heavy for games, and when I used this primer it didn't fall into my eyes.

     4. Endless Eye Pro Mini Eyeshadow Palette (Natural)
  • This is another product that I don't own anymore, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't recommend it.  I had this palette for years, and I even used it for my prom makeup (which lasted all night).  The only reason that I got rid of this palette was because it was old, and I did not feel the need to repurchase it because I have the Naked 1 palette from Urban Decay for my neutrals.  If you don't want to spend over $50 on the Naked palette, this is a great neutrals palette.  (It is normally $10, but is currently on sale for $7 on the ELF website)  It definitely isn't as high of quality as the Urban Decay product, but I was very impressed with the quality for the price.  As long as I used an eyeshadow primer and my white NYX eye crayon under them, there was very little fall out and they were decently pigmented.


Worst:
     1. Individual & Natural Lash Kits
  • The lashes themselves are not the worst, but the glue is.  Fake lashes are definitely something that I would recommend spending an extra $4 on for better quality.  You don't need high end lashes, but $5 vs. $1 can make a huge difference.  I found these lashes really difficult to place, as they were very stiff, and the glue simply does not hold them on for very long.  I wore the natural lashes to prom, and when I went to the bathroom to touch up my makeup I found that one of my lashes had completely fallen off without me even realizing it.  How does that even happen?!?

     3.  Little Black Beauty Book (Warm)
  • This product isn't terrible, but I also would not recommend it.  It's only $8, but I would recommend saving your money and purchasing the palette I talked about in the "best" section.  It has a lot of neutral colors like the other palette, but I got a lot of fall out with them, and they were not very pigmented.  The packaging also started to fall apart about a week after I got it.  Overall, I had very high hopes for this palette after loving my other neutral palette, and I was really disappointed.


LIPS:
Best:
        Lip Exfoliator
  • I've had my lip exfoliator for almost a year now and I love it.  It works really well and smells like coconut & brown sugar.  Yum!

Worst:
        Matte Lip Crayon
  • I purchased this one during my hunt for the best drugstore red lipstick, and it was probably my least favorite.  I have many matte lip colors that I love, but this formula is extremely drying.  My lips looked like a bright red desert, and every crease and crack in my lips was made very apparent.  Yuck!


FACE:
Best:
        Makeup Removing Wipes
  • These are much cheaper and work just as well as any other brand that I have tried.

Worst:
     1. Zit Zapper
  • I know a lot of people really like the zit zapper, but all it did for me is dry out my skin and create a flakey, dry scab-like thing in place of the pimple.  I quickly ditched this product and headed to the dermatologist to get real acne cream.

     2. Tinted Moisturizer
  • I had really high hopes for this product, because I wanted something lighter than foundation that I could wear every day and have some sun protection.  I only used it once, then immediately threw it out.  It was very orange, to the point where I looked like I had a bad enough spray tan that I could audition for Jersey Shore.  It also was very streaky and couldn't be blended well.  Of all of the ELF products that I have tried, I think this one is the worst of the worst.

     3. Under Eye Concealer & Highlighter
  • The concealer was fairly difficult to blend in, and couldn't be worn without foundation (I have since purchased an Urban Decay Naked Concealer that I can wear by itself when I'm short on time and it blends into my skin flawlessly).  The highlighter was sheer and streaky, and I did not like the shimmer in it.  I have heard really good things about the HD lifting concealer, so if I had it to do again, I would purchase that concealer and not the concealer/highlighter duo.

     4. Essential Brushes (White)
  • I have heard really good things about the $3 black studio brushes by ELF, but the $1 white essential brushes are terrible.  I have never had an eyeshadow brush shed on me before using the blending brush from this collection, and the brush fell off of the handle the 2nd time I used it.  The bronzing brush also shed all over my face and was very course. 





Sunday, August 23, 2015

Beer Pong Cupcakes


Hey ladies (& gentlemen)!  I thought I would share this fun baking project, because when I went to find cupcake ideas for my boyfriend's 21st, I could not find anything that I really liked.  I ended up improvising and combining ideas that I could find on pinterest to make these chocolate pale ale cupcakes with a beer cream cheese frosting and jell-o shots on top!  
Happy baking!

The Cupcakes:

Chocolate Pale Ale Cake

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 Cup Sour Cream
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 Tbsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Cup Pale Ale (save the rest for the frosting or drinking)
  • 1/2 Cup Unsalted Butter (diced)
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 3/4 Cup Unsweet Cocoa Powder
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1 Tbsp Baking Soda

Preparation:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F
  2. Whisk together the sour cream, eggs, and vanilla extract in a medium size bowl.
  3. Begin heating the beer in a large saucepan over medium heat, then slowly add in the butter while continually stirring.
  4. Once the butter is completely melted, stir in the cocoa powder and sugar.
  5. Combine the two mixtures from steps 2 and 4, then whisk together.
  6. Add in the flour and baking soda.
  7. Pour the mixture into lined cupcake pans, then bake for 14 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

The Frosting:

Beer Infused Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz Cream Cheese (1 Package)
  • 1 lb Powdered Sugar (1 Bag)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Cup Beer
  • Green Food Coloring (optional)

Preparation:

  1. In a kitchenaid (mixer), beat together the cream cheese, vanilla, and beer.
  2. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, and continue mixing.
  3. Once it is to the desired consistency, add in the food coloring (if desired).
  4. Chill the frosting in the refrigerator before frosting cupcakes.  This isn't required, but I have found that it makes frosting the cupcakes much easier.  I like to place my frosting in a ziplock bag in the fridge, then to frost, I just snip off the corner of the bag and begin piping!

The Jell-O Shots:

Ingredients:

  • 1 Small Box Lemon Jell-O (makes 4 servings)
  • 1 Cup Boiling Water
  • 1 Cup Cold Vodka (or 1 cup total of Vodka and Water, depending on how strong you like them)
  • 20 Red Solo Cup Shot Glasses (I got 20 for $1 at the local dollar tree)

Preparation:

  1. Boil 1 cup of water, then stir in the Jell-O mix.
  2. Allow the mix to cool to room temperature (if you don't wait for it to cool, the alcohol added in the next step can get boiled off).
  3. While the Jell-O mixture is cooling, put the cup of vodka (or water and vodka mix) into the freezer.  This will help the Jell-O shots to set faster, and the alcohol will not freeze.
  4. Combine the cooled Jell-O mixture and the cold vodka, then pour into the shot glasses.
  5. Allow the shots to set for about 3 hours or more.
  6. Enjoy responsibly!

Assembly:

What You'll Need:

  • 20-25 Frosted Cupcakes
  • 20 Lemon Jell-O Shots
  • Ping Pong Balls (alternatively, you could make these out of white fondant, but they were 6 for $1 at the dollar store)
  • 1 Piece of Cardboard or White Poster Board
  • 1 Green Poster or Construction Paper

  1. To make the board that looks like a ping pong table, I simply used 1 part of a 3 fold presentation board.  I found a green poster at the dollar store, so I cut it in half and wrapped it around the cardboard...super easy!
  2. Since I made 20 Jell-O shots (lemon to look like beer), I arranged the beer pong pyramids with 4 on the bottom, then 3, then 2, then 1.  I used the extra cupcakes for the 21 and ping pong balls.


Boyfriend's 21st Birthday {Man Boquet}

Hey guys!  My boyfriend recently turned 21, so I thought I would share with you the gift that I made him.  Things were super hectic because I was also planning a surprise party for him and I totally forgot to take pictures along the way, so I hope my descriptions help.  Happy crafting!

Materials:

From the liquor store:

  • 3 Lottery Scratchers
  • 4 Cigars (I got 3 average and 1 good one)
  • 9 Mini bottles (I used Chambord, Crystal Head Vodka, Bulleit Bourbon, Jameson, Maker's Mark, Rumchata, Crown Royal, Glenlivet, & Kraken - My boyfriend likes whiskey and bourbon so I did more of those, but you can use whatever mini bottles you want)
  • 1 Full Size Bottle (I used Tullamore Dew, but again, you can use whatever will fit in the pot)
  • 1 Cigar Cutter
  • 1 Cigar Lighter
  • 1 Bullet Bottle Opener

From the dollar store:

  • 1 Plastic Pot
  • 1 Bag of Brown Paper Confetti Filler (spanish moss also works well)
  • 1 Pack of 20 Red Solo Shot Glasses
  • 1 Bag of Barbecue Skewers
  • 2 Pieces of Floral Foam

From the craft store:

  • 1 Small Piece of Burlap
  • 1 Hot Glue Gun
  • 1 Roll of Twine
  • 1 Wood Tag
  • 1 Pack of Scrapbooking Letters


Assembly:


  1. Cut the burlap to whatever width you want it, and trim the length to about 5 inches longer than the circumference of the pot.
  2. Wrap the burlap around the pot, and tie it in the front.  I did half of a knot, then hot glued the ends down to secure it and make it look more finished.
  3. Fill the bottom of the pot with floral foam.  Leave more space in the front of the pot to fit your full size bottle - I cut the floral foam with a serrated kitchen knife outside, because it can be pretty messy.
  4. Secure the mini bottles, scratchers, cigars, & red solo shot glasses to barbecue skewers using hot glue.  The shot glasses, scratchers, and cigars are fine with just 1 skewer, but the heavier mini bottles will need 2 or 3.
  5. Place the full size bottle in the pot, and secure with hot glue and/or skewers if necessary.
  6. Stick the mini bottles, cigars, shot glasses, & scratchers around the bottle however you like.  I did 5 layers to give it more depth, but it all depends on how you like it and how many things you use.
  7. Cover all of the floral foam with the confetti or spanish moss.
  8. Place remaining items in the top of the pot (additional mini bottles, cigar accessories, bottle openers, etc.) & place the tag (using twine, a wood tag, & scrapbook letters).