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July Birchbox Review // Go Bold

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Sunday, July 26, 2015
I have been a Birchbox subscriber for officially a year. For those of you who might be on the fence about joining, I'll say it's definitely not for everyone. I love Birchbox for so many reasons, the top reason being that I often have little time to research or shop for new beauty items. Birchbox removes the necessity for me to go out and try to find things that are on trend and right for me. And who doesn't love getting a cute little package once a month?

This month Birchbox was all about going bold for the last month of summer. While I didn't love all of the products in my box this time around, I definitely found a few that I'm adding to my favorites.

stila look at me liquid lipstick in bella
This sample was my choice sample for the month and I was so excited to try it. (Every so often, Birchbox will let you select your sample out of three or four options.) Let me be clear -- my lips are typically covered in nothing but good old-fashioned Blistex and my idea of a bold lip includes anything and everything tinted. That said, I was very excited to try this new-fangled "liquid lipstick" that would supposedly stay on my lips through morning coffee and evening happy hours. I wore this lip color for a casual day at work and applied it using this tutorial from Birchbox. First impression -- wow, this is the wrong color for me. But I decided to rock it anyway. It definitely lasted through my morning coffee and faded only slightly throughout the day. While this probably won't be my go-to color, I'd be curious to try a more appropriate shade.

Bumble and bumble. All-style Blow Dry
I am in love with this product. My hair takes a beating pretty regularly -- blow dry in the morning, lots of product, and the occasional flat iron. While my hair is typically never too frizzy, I definitely noticed a difference after using this product. My hair felt smoother, held it's volume longer, and smelled amazing. This blow dry serum is definitely on my wishlist.

Atelier Cologne Pomelo Paradis Cologne Absolue
One of the many things I adore about Birchbox is all of the thought that goes into customization. I typically stick to one scent until I need to buy a new one, so I didn't want to receive a ton of perfume samples in my monthly box. In the customization profile I was able to select an option to receive 6 perfume samples per year. Six samples each year allows me to shop around for my favorites while not being overwhelmed by scents when I'd rather get other products. The Atelier Cologne is my fourth scent sample this year and it is an incredible scent. This perfume smells like refreshing grapefruit and flowers. It's fresh and luxurious and, according to Birchbox, contains ingredients from around the globe. This might not make it as my everyday scent, but it's got potential for a special occasion scent.
Key West Aloe Save a Tan
In the summer, I have a major problem with the sun. My skin burns so easily it often seems like I can do very little to protect it. I regularly use SPF on my face and apply sunscreen religiously when I know I'm going to be outside all day. But there always seem to be those days where I'll look down at my arms or chest and notice that red glow starting to appear. This aloe lotion will be perfect for the next time I get burned and need some sweet smelling relief.

Whish Three Whishes Body Butter
I've gotten a few products throughout the year from Whish and I must say that their scents are always incredible. I love putting my lotion samples in my purse for moisturizer on the go. While I likely won't be buying a full-size product, the almond scent and size of the sample are enough to earn a spot in my travel bag.

Interested in joining Birchbox? Receive great samples like these and much more by signing up here!

On the Importance of Adventure

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Adventure is an incredible thing. It can tear you down, build you up, and teach you things you never thought you'd learn.

I have always loved the idea of adventure. You know, the kind of adventure where you pack your bag with whatever you can and set off without a plan in mind.  With nothing to your name but the money in your pocket and the song in your heart. Alright, I've romanticized the idea a little bit, but you get my point. Setting out into the unknown is an exciting prospect!

A friend I studied abroad with in Rome lives this kind of life. Check out his blog here for more of his jet-setting. His life is full of amazing adventures and even more beautiful photos. Seriously -- follow his Instagram.

I know only too well how bad I would be at this kind of life. I love coming home too much. While I understand this adventuring life isn't for me, I can still get a taste of adventure and the lessons it can teach.

Adventure brings out both the worst and the best in you. Maybe the weather is a little too hot and muggy and you have to get creative about how to beat the heat -- duck into the next cute shop you see or start happy hour early! Maybe the restaurant you wanted to try is overbooked and you can't get a table -- opt for street food! I am a firm believer in the idea that things can always get better with food or a scene change.

Adventure brings you closer to people, especially if you're traveling in a group. Knowing the people that you're traveling with is absolutely key. I am lucky to have an amazing best friend in C who is rarely frustrated by the things that stress me out. His calm, laid-back attitude is always nice to have around in stressful situations.

Adventure makes for great stories. I can't stress this enough. Like the time that C and I found ourselves on a crowded L train, listening to a group of slightly intoxicated guys discuss the merits of Harry Potter. Or the time C and I walked to Brooklyn for brunch, too the subway back to Manhattan, and then spent four hours wandering around Central Park. Or the time I wandered Paris on my own, toured Versailles, and somehow ended up with a free train ride home. Okay, I sort of somehow lucked out of ever getting charged. Any adventure is bound to fill up your trip with tons of memorable moments.

All this adventure talk has me even more excited for my upcoming adventure! Next week I'm taking off to New Orleans for five days with C and two of my favorite other adventuring pals - M and H! We have a little apartment that is in the perfect location for adventure. We are planning on days full of exploring and nights full of dancing. I plan on saying yes to any and all adventures that might come my way. Who knows what memories we'll make! As they say -- laissez les bons temps rouler!!


To follow along on my next adventure, make sure to follow me on Instagram!

Delicate Fandom Finds

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Sunday, July 19, 2015
With Comic Con SD come and gone, fandoms from Westeros to Tatooine are at their peak -- scouting for rumors, anticipating new seasons and movies to come, and generally devouring everything related to their nerdy passions. 

While I've never been one to declare my fandom in bold ways like graphic t-shirts or tattoos -- mainly due to the fact that I have several that I am completely devoted to -- I think I have found my new favorite way to announce my love of Harry Potter, Star Wars, and all other f for the world to see.

Check me out on Instagram @alanabanahna!

My birthday is fast approaching and as an early gift, my mom bought a set of earrings for me that are absolutely perfect. They are all Harry Potter themed, delicate little pieces of magic. From owls, to lightning bolts, to Platform 9 3/4 tokens, these little babies are helping me show my love for the Harry Potter universe without being too obnoxious or over the top. I can even wear them to work and use them to start up a conversation! Sidenote: the glasses were an absolute hit with my team at work. We're all huge HP fans.

My newfound love for nerdy jewelry struck and now I'm scouring Etsy for new jewelry to wear. Here's what I've found so far --





What Etsy treasures will you find?

B Bar Linkup // July

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I was once in an interview and as we were wrapping up the interviewer said to me, "Is there anything else you want me to know about you?" I was almost taken aback. Anything else I want you to know? Like what?

After she asked me, I quickly racked my brain for an appropriate answer. Like the fact that I can't resist a good iced coffee? Or that since I was young, I've always been good at remembering actor's names and their general filmography? (Thank you, long car rides and Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon). Or that I've been able to read music since I was around five years old?

While I don't think any of those answers would have been wrong, I think what she meant was, "What is it about you that makes you special that I might not have picked up on in this meeting? What are you good at that makes you unique? What are your hidden talents?"

I'll be honest -- I had a pretty tough time writing this post. I did a lot of brainstorming, mind-mapping, and just general drafting before I came up with my answer. It's not nearly as exciting as a hidden opera singing talent or an Etsy shop full of creative projects.

No, I didn't come up with my 'hidden talent' until I read The B Bar's Word of the Month for July -- leverage. I started to think about the types of skills that I was dependent on in my daily life and which of those skills had always been key in my life. One skill came to mind -- organization.

While it might not be the best superpower or hidden talent, I have always been passionate about keeping things organized. When I was younger, my older brother and I would have to clean our play area. While this was always a chore, I remember really enjoying the way we would set up buckets and baskets in a circle around the room. We would then sort all of our toys into specific buckets -- Legos over here, action figures over there -- until all of the toys were picked up.

A few years later, my organization skills would bloom again as I set up an entire library in my bedroom for my brothers and friends to use, complete with detailed punch-cards and inventory lists.

Obviously my organization skills helped me through high school, then college, then graduate school, and now my full-time job is pretty much dependent on me being able to keep mountains of information and data organized.

While it might not be the sexiest hidden talent in the world, my organizational skills have been keeping me busy since childhood and I wouldn't trade them for the world!

Today's post is part of The B Bar's July Linkup. You can read the original prompt here and keep an eye out for more monthly linkups here. Click around check out some of the other participants and their hidden talents below:

Image: Death to Stock Photo.

Friday Five // Week 9

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Friday, July 10, 2015
The weekend could not come soon enough for me this week! Here's five things I've been dying to share with you since about Wednesday.

1 // 12 Ways Your Dog Saves Your Butt From Awkward Social Situations
I am Alana and I am a very awkward person. Like, how long are you supposed to hold eye contact when you're running by someone on the trail? I am also obsessed with my dog and his goofy ridiculous personality. I can't count the number of times he has made me smile in the last hour just by being himself. He is also my partner in crime and savior in many of these same awkward social situations.

2 // How to Keep Watching Women's Soccer Now That the World Cup is Over

Like millions of young girls, I played soccer growing up. Idolizing Mia Hamm and Brandi Chastain, I imagined myself playing on a grander stage. These past few weeks of the FIFA Women's World Cup have reignited the passion I always felt on the soccer field and made me want to keep it going. Now, more than ever, we need to remember the joy we felt at watching our women succeed on the World Cup stage and bring some of that enthusiasm back to the States! I think I need to buy a lot more gear. I'll take a Lloyd jersey, thank you.

3 // Italian Grandmas Try Olive Garden For the First Time

As an honorary Italian and a person who is now forever disappointed in American "Italian" food, I found this hilarious.

4 // The Summer Hair Care Trick To End All Summer Hair Care Problems
Okay, maybe only if you have thin hair that loses all volume in the summer like I do -- but this trick has been my saving grace for the past week. Are you ready for it? Try conditioning before you shampoo. Crazy, right? Revolutionary, right? Okay, and maybe it's not all that revolutionary, but it's definitely worth a try!

5 // You Look Disgusting
This video is incredible. It is dealing with a topic that I've been considering a lot in my daily life - the double-standards of society, especially as they relate to women. We're told to be comfortable in our own skin, but then we are torn down by vicious comments that our bodies/faces/skin/eyes/noses that we once felt comfortable with should be covered up with makeup or clothes. When we try to cover up to feel more comfortable, we're torn apart by claims of "false advertising" and shame.

I admit -- I am guilty of doing the tearing down. I have said some things that I am embarrassed to admit about other women's bodies, both bare and covered in make-up. This is something I am consciously trying to stop, turning my twisted comments into messages of support. I'm changing my inner-monologue from - "That's too much eye makeup" to "You do you, girl. That is a killer cat-eye. Teach me your ways."