Meg Says, Listen to This: “St.Jude”

I had the pleasure of seeing Florence and the Machine perform live at Bonnaroo a few weeks ago. I’ve been listening to them for a while, but I was blown away by what an incredible experience the live show was. Florence Welch just has such an amazing, genuine intensity about her. I love when artists pour their everything into a show, and she definitely seemed to do so. Their set was only about an hour, (I personally think she should totally have a longer scheduled set in the future – just sayin’) but oh my goodness that hour was full of such passionate, pure music. Her voice is something to be marveled at. Since the festival, I’ve had a heavy rotation of several artists on repeat – Dawes, Kacey Musgraves, and Florence and the Machine have been the top ones lately. There’s no way I could ever pick a favorite song, but I’d like to share “St.Jude” from her most recent album How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful with you today. Her lyrics speak to me from each track, but something different came over me the first time I really listened:

And I’m learning, so I’m leaving
And even though I’m grieving
I’m trying to find the meaning
Let loss reveal it

And “maybe I’ve always been more comfortable in chaos” because maybe I have. I read this really interesting interview with her from The Guardian that shed a lot of insight on her life. I think a lot of people can probably relate to the emotions she expresses there. Anyway ramble ramble about how absolutely fabulous Florence Welch is, now time for some music (and a stunning work of visual art!)

Meg Says, Try This: NYC City Proof 24 Hour Eyeshadow

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Just popping in to blab about another awesome product in my Influenster Blossom Vox Box. The NYC City Proof 24 Hour Eyeshadow Cream Stick was a cool beauty product I was excited to experiment with. The color is a pretty shimmery kind of mauve champagne shade (605 – Brooklyn Mocha,) and I love that it has the ability to be casual in a day look, or you could glam it up for a night out kind of look if you so desire! I was kind of nervous about how the application process would go this morning because I usually use eye shadow that you apply with a brush. To my surprise, the stick eyeshadow glides on really easily, and it didn’t seem very difficult to make an even effect. Even though this is one of the last products I sampled from my Influenster box, it ended up being one of my favorites. I’m definitely curious to try out other shades in the future (like the 5th Ave. Gold Rush, or potentially a shade of green just to see what it makes my eyes look like!) I put the eye shadow on this morning with the rest of my make up while I was getting ready for work. I work in a store and my shift doesn’t end until around 6pm. I was impressed with how well it held up throughout the day, (especially considering how hot and humid it is in Florida even when you’re indoors the majority of the day!) I think the product definitely lives up to the 24 hour effect in their name! So friends and family, and all my lovely readers if you’re curious about checking out this NYC makeup, I definitely recommend!

(***DISCLAIMER: INFLUENSTER SENT ME THIS PRODUCT FOR FREE TESTING PURPOSES. ALL OF THE OPINIONS EXPRESSED HERE ARE MY OWN.***)

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Meg Says: I’m Trying This, My Influenster Blossom Vox Box Experience

About a month ago, shortly after signing up as a member of Influenster, I received my first Influenster Blossom Vox Box in the mail! The lime green box was full of so many surprise goodies. It’s been an awesome month testing out all of these products.

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The most useful: Australian Gold SPF 30 Lotion
The most tasty: Beanitos Black Bean Chips
The most surprising: Clairol’s Hair Food Shampoo
Least Favorite: Bear Naked Coconut Curry Granola
Favorite New Beauty Product: NYC New York Color cream eyeshadow stick
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Clairol’s Hair Food Root Cleansing Shampoo was the first product that I tested out from my box. I would consider this “fancy” shampoo because I normally buy pretty basic and inexpensive hair care products. I was a bit skeptical because of all of the facts on the label, thinking okay great “parafin free” but how will this be any different? Well, boy was I surprised when I actually used it. If you’re a regular follower of my blog, you’ve probably noticed that I have some pretty crazy long, thick, curly hair! Normally I’m not very impressed with hair care products because my hair is so wild that it’s hard to notice the difference when using a product. Well when I used the Hair Food shampoo, I was shocked at how clean my scalp felt, and my curls were pretty tame without using extra product with it. My hair normally feels kind of heavy, but with Hair Food it feels weightless! Also, the aroma of the shampoo is incredible. It’s a fruity scent that definitely lingers while using it, but it’s not overwhelming. I’m surprised too at how far a few pumps of the product goes, so I think the whole bottle could last a while which is a perk! I’ve used the shampoo in different settings and water pressure situations as well. The shampoo was reliable whether I was at the beach, or just fixing my hair before a long day at work. Since using the shampoo, I’ve added it to my normal hair routine and already recommended it to friends and family. I’m curious to try other products from the Hair Food line in the future (like the conditioner!) Here’s a selfie so you can see what my hair looks like after I just used the shampoo!
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The Australian Gold SPF 30 lotion was one of the products I was already expecting awesome results from, and I was not disappointed! I’ve been a loyal consumer of Australian Gold for years (their SPF 30 bronzing spray has been a staple in my beach bag for a while.) This is the first lotion I tried from them. I took it with me to the beach and was really happy with the results. The lotion has the same great classic scent as other Australian Gold products – that tropical smell with a hint of coconut that always makes me think of fruity drinks and palm trees. The sunscreen was really easy to apply and it rubs in easily as well (instead of getting streaky on your face.) The facial coverage is my favorite. I didn’t suffer from redness around my hairline or my nose which are usually my problem areas. It’s awesome that the sunscreen is water resistant as well. I used this while I was lounging on the beach, swimming in the waves, and also kayaking in the bay! All of these activities involved strong sun exposure, and I felt comfortable with the skin care protection Australian Gold provided. The tester bottle is such a convenient size, I ended up bringing it with me to Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee last week – it was great to just leave in the front pouch of my backpack for easy access!
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The Beanitos Black Bean chips were another favorite from my Influenster box. I had never tried them before. My package included a Chipotle BBQ flavor, and classic black bean. I took both bags with me, on a beach weekend for snacks. First I tried the Chipotle BBQ. I love things that have a spicy kick, and I was pleasantly surprised at how much flavor was packed into these little chips! I ate some of them plain first to get a complete tasting experience, but my dad had brought along some smoked fish dip so I paired them with that afterwards. The flavors combined were great together. A few days later I tried the Black Bean chips and though they’re the “original” and maybe some might think, “plain” I liked them even more than the Chipotle BBQ! Beanitos are a flavor packed, craving satisfying, fiber boosting delicious snack! I was seriously impressed with these. After I opened the bag, I had to share them with the people around me because I was so shocked at how delicious they are. The nutritional stats are pretty good too if you’re health conscious. I already started day dreaming about prepared foods that Beanitos would be a good addition to (like taco salad, or with some spicy chunky salsa, or guacamole!) Since trying Beanitos for the firs time, and going through my two tester bags I’ve already started purchasing other flavors and am definitely spreading the word to friends about how yummy they are! Here’s a photo showing, not a crumb left in that bag – they’re so good!
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The Bear Naked Granola on-the-go packs were another great find in my Influenster box! I had just been browsing all of my granola options in Target the week prior to receiving my box, so I was excited to be able to sample two flavors (there are so many options out there!) After a long outdoor run one morning (in the nice May Tallahassee heat!) I was ready for a good breakfast snack. That seemed like the perfect opportunity to try some Bear Naked Granola! I opted for the caramel apple flavor, and I paired it with some chopped fruit (a mix of strawberries and banana) and some cold almond milk – to enjoy it cereal style. This was a really tasty breakfast! Afterwards, I felt full and satisfied and didn’t have that snacky feeling where I wanted to find multiple other items to eat right after! The amount in the package seemed perfect for a breakfast meal, too. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy the coconut curry granola flavor as much. I was kind of surprised since I’m normally a huge fan of anything with coconut in it, but to each their own. I’m sure to some people this flavor combo would be super appealing it just wasn’t doing it for me, especially after the caramel apple flavor was so delicious!
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The NYC New York Color cream eye shadow stick was one of the last products from my Influenster box for me to try out, but it’s definitely one of my favorites. This is the first time I’ve used a creamy type eye shadow, and I was a little nervous that I’d have a terribly messy application but I was seriously impressed with how easy this stick is to use! I applied it before work in the morning, and they’re not lying about the 24-hour coverage, the eyeshadow definitely stayed in place even when it was super hot during the day and the rest of my make-up look felt like the humidity was getting to it! I like that it’s got a burst of sparkle, but it’s also a bit of a neutral color, so it can be for everyday wear if you want (or could also be glammed up for a night out if you prefer!)
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I had never heard of the Nasoya Pasta Zero before receiving it in my Influenster box, but oh my what a cool alternative to regular pasta! I usually avoid cooking too many pasta dishes at home because I know I won’t have a ton of self-control, and carbs are delicious and the calories add up BUT Nasoya solves that problem! You’re able to indulge and feel like you’re having a “cheat” dinner, but you’re not actually indulging in anything bad for you. (Of course it depends on how you prepare them!) I ate some of them pretty basic because I love to eat noodles with just a little bit of spices (like garlic and pepper,) but no sauce. I also experimented with some tomato sauce and ground turkey and a bunch of different spices and fresh vegetables. Every way I prepared the pasta made for a delicious meal, and I was super excited about that. I’m definitely keeping an eye out in stores to see if I see this to purchase in the future! I was also shocked at how quickly I could prepare meals with them, and they weren’t hard to drain like some pastas can be. All around a great experience in the kitchen with Nasoya!
IMG_7920 I didn’t receive the Equitance product in my box, so I can’t comment on that. As for the Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs lotion, I would say that’s the one product that made me anxious from my box. That’s just because the shade I received was so dark in comparison to my natural complexion so I didn’t want my legs to look crazy different than the rest of my body. Fortunately, that worked out alright, but I think I’d have more confidence in experimenting with the product in a different shade. Luckily the lotion doesn’t have a crazy weird scent like some can, so that’s definitely a perk!
So, there you have it! Here’s my little run-down of the Influenster Blossom Vox Box. This was such a great experience, and I love getting to share with people about each of the products I was trying. Some brands I was familiar with, and some were brand new but each product was definitely fun to try and see how I liked it in my routine. Some of these products will definitely be staples either to my grocery lists, or my beauty routine, and I am so glad I got to try them out. Are you an Influenster? Got any recommendations from your own VoxBox experience? If you have any questions about any of the products I shared, please send them my way in the comments! I love talking about this, so I’d be more than happy to share more. Thanks Influenster for introducing me to such great new stuff!
***DISCLAIMER: REMEMBER WHILE I RECEIVED THESE PRODUCTS COMPLIMENTARY FOR TESTING PURPOSES FROM INFLUENSTER, ALL OPINIONS EXPRESSED HERE ARE MY OWN.***

Meg Says, Try This: Australian Gold Lotion

Hi guys, I’m back again with another great product review from my recent Influenster Blossom Vox Box. One of the coolest things I found in the box was a tester bottle of Australian Gold Lotion Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30. My parents live over at the beach about two hours from Tallahassee, and I’ve visited several times since I’ve received my box. I used the sunscreen for multiple outdoor activities – from laying out just relaxing in a beach chair in front of the gulf, or kayaking out in the bay. I found this sunscreen provided incredible coverage, and my typical problem areas (like my nose, or up around my hairline) didn’t burn or get red as they normally do with sun exposure. I have always been a fan of Australian Gold but I typically go for their SPF 30 bronzer spray. This is the first time I tried one of their lotions. I was really impressed with how easy it is to apply. It’s not streaky and it has a smooth finish and rubs in really easily. The lotion also carries the same incredible scent as their other products – it always reminds me of being ina tropical paradise. It seems to have a hint of coconut. The sunscreen also seemed to hold up well in water exposure whether I was getting splashed with the paddle in the kayak, or going for a dip in the waves at the beach. I definitely reapplied during all of my activities though. Now that I’ve used this product several times, I can definitely say it’s not only one of my favorites from the Influenster box, but also from items in Australian Gold’s line! I will continue to recommend this lotion to friends and family!

(Disclaimer: I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes, and all opinions expressed here are my own.)

Meg Says, Try This: Bear Naked Granola

Last week, after one of my morning runs I decided it’d be the perfect time to try one of the Bear Naked Granola packages I received from Influenster in my Blossom Vox Box recently! I am a general granola fan, but i hadn’t tried any products from Bear Naked yet. At first, I had a hard time deciding between the two flavors: Sea Salt Caramel Apple or Coconut Almond Curry? I decided to go with the Sea Salt Carmel Apple (I mean, doesn’t that just sound delicious?!)


I poured it in a bowl with some almond milk, and sliced up some fresh banana and strawberry. Wow! What a pairing. It was so fresh and sweet tasting, and I loved the crunch. Typically I’m a cereal fan (generally Cheerios,) but it was awesome the amount of crunchiness, sweetness, and flavor this packed my breakfast with. I have to say too, that it kept me pretty full throughout the morning and I think it was a great energy boost after the heat zapped some of my energy during the run!


Now that I’ve discovered I’m such a fan of this flavor I’ve found myself searching the grocery aisles to explore other flavor options Bear Naked has available, and wow the choices are pretty expansive! I can’t wait to try the Coconut Almond Curry Influenster sent me as well! (Disclaimer: I received the product complimentary in my Blossom Vox Box from Influenster, to test and provide feedback for free but all opinions expressed here are entirely my own.)

Listen to This: “Hush”

My oh my, “Hush” by Angus and Julia Stone is one of the most beautiful songs I know. Somehow it has played on shuffle, each time I’ve been on a walk or run at Cascades Park the past few weeks, and every time I’m reminded of just how lovely it is. The song feels like a lullaby for grownups. The melody and the words, and the culmination of beauty just soothes me. Something about the song has a very calming power. I was first introduced to the fabulous duo on a mixed CD my friend Emily made me in college; one of the tracks was “Red Berries.” They have a very memorable sound, and years later I’m just as in love as the first time I heard them. Perhaps you’re winding down from a busy weekend, or you’re gearing up for a busy work week. If you need a moment to just breathe and remind yourself to take it easy – this song is a great assistant for that. Give yourself a little chill moment.

If you haven’t heard it yet, be sure to check out “Hush” now!

Music Monday, Listen to This: “Wild Child”

I have been binge watching Ally McBeal on Netflix recently. That’s a whole other story, but an on-going story line in the series is that Ally’s therapist suggests we all need a “theme song.” That song you hear in your head that gives you confidence and encourages you to be you, throughout your days. When you’re feeling down, just let that song come to you and live it out.

In more recent days if asked, I’d say my song was probably “Follow Your Arrow” by the amazing Kacey Musgraves. Now, though? I am captivated by Kenny Chesney’s (featuring Grace Potter!!!) “Wild Child.” What a beautiful song! The video is also picturesque – very natural and spirited. The lyrics though…if I’ve ever heard my soul being spoken to through a song – reflecting it? This is it.

“A kaleidoscope of colors in her mind child
A touch of crazy hides behind her wild smile
So simple yet experimental
Innocent but still a little wild child”

See for yourself how wonderful this song is by watching the video below:

Watch This: The Theory of Everything

Hi, readers! I know I have been off the blogging wagon for a little while now; (I’ve been more vigilant in my paper journal writing,) but as of recently I have finally viewed several films that are definitely worth sharing about. Today I took myself on a “me date” to the $2 movies to see the matinee of The Theory of Everything As you’re probably aware, last week during the Oscars Ceremony, Eddie Redmayne won the award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking. I admired Redmayne for his craft the moment I saw him on-screen in My Week with Marilyn, (which I blogged about here in 2012,) but after seeing his performance in this film – WOW. The award was definitely well deserved. Both Redmayne and Felicity Jones, who played his wife Jane, gave absolutely outstanding performances.

I’m an emotional film watcher. Actually, I’m just emotional in general. I experience everything to an in intense degree whether it’s film, music, or written material. The Theory of Everything tremendously tugged on my heart strings, though. It was moving, it was inspiring, and it was made in such an incredibly exceptional manner. The cinematography alone is beautiful. I had high expectations for the visuals after the first time I saw a trailer, and I was not let down in the slightest. The film is such a beautiful depiction of struggle and triumph, of unconditional love, of hope of inspiration of living life to the fullest.

The opening scene, and it’s display of the gorgeous Cambridge, England immediately won my heart. The film takes you on the journey of Stephen Hawking’s life as a PhD in physics candidate at Cambridge, where he meets the ever lovely, Jane. He’s quirky and brilliant, and she’s intelligent and beautiful. Not long after their relationship begins, Hawking is diagnosed with a motor-neuron disease. The film follows them on their journey together, the obstacles he faces physical, and what that puts them through emotionally. The story of them building a family, him continuing his passionate endeavors in cosmology, and how the couple grows over the years.

I have to agree with what Eddie Redmayne himself had to say regarding the role:

[he would tackle the part in such a way that] “everything would be connected to everything. Because it is obviously the most extraordinary challenge and responsibility, to be trusted to tell the story of someone’s family, which is also a sensitive and complicated one. And to investigate all these aspects of this iconic human being: the physical, the vocal, the scientific, and then cohere it all in the emotional, because at its heart this is a very unusual love story. Young love, passionate love, family love, love of a subject, but also the failures of love and the boundaries of love.” (How Eddie Redmayne Did It article.)

That is precisely the story – a grand, unusual love story. I was challenged by this film. Challenged about my opinions of enduring love and relationships, and life and hardships and how our trials shape us, and also how the human heart can adapt to life. I was challenged to think about the boundaries of all aspects of life, as well – tangible and philosophical, what our relationships can withstand, the ever expansive possibility in life. This is such a stunningly beautiful film, and it’s driven with soul, and vision, and purpose. This is a splendid telling of the Hawking family’s story. If you haven’t seen the film yet, I highly recommend it!

Turn It Up Tuesday, Listen to This “Simple Song”

Alright, I know everything I’ve been posting lately probably seems oddly interconnected (like my posts for Wish I Was Here, which Zach Braff made and used The Shins music in, and he also made Garden State, which features the line: “You’ve gottahear this song, it’ll change your life, I swear.” (That one’s in reference to “New Slang.”) Anyway, recently I was reminded of the beauty in “Simple Song” by the Shins. And it really is just that…a simple song. The Shins are one of my chill out bands. I can throw on their music and just tune out. It’s nice to have songs like that to turn to at times. If you’re not familiar with this one, I suggest you check out the official video below. And I’ll leave you with my favorite line:

“Love’s such a delicate thing that we do, with nothing to prove, which I never knew…”

 

Watch This: “Boyhood”

Yesterday afternoon I went to see Boyhood with two of my cousins. It’s Richard Linklater’s latest film. Like Before Sunrise/Sunset/Midnight he’s teamed up with Ethan Hawke (who plays Mason’s father) once again. The coolest concept of this film to me, (which I saw on the Today Show when I was at my parent’s a few weeks ago) is that it was filmed over twelve years. Basically you see all of these people age, on screen. Kids go through their funky phases and different hair cuts. The audiences watches first days of school, moving to new towns, leaving friends, making new friends, watching parents date, the swapping from one house to another with split parents, the experiences of blended families, new careers.Relationships grow and shift and people make good decisions and bad decisions, and mature throughout time. It’s like the circle of life all played out in front of you.

It was really cool to see newcomers in the film too, but then again if you think about it – they’ve been in the business quite some time, it just took a while to be able to see their work. Mason (played by Ellar Coltrane) was only seven years old when they started this project. I was reading the trivia section on IMDB and fun fact: Lorelei Linklater’s daughter plays Mason’s sister, Samantha! It’s almost three hours long, but I definitely didn’t feel like I’d been in the theatre for that long. In other movies like that, I’ve been known to grow restless, or antsy but this one just didn’t have that effect. (And I didn’t even have to miss anything to run to the restroom, which is always a plus.) It’s also kind of like exploring a time capsule of music throughout that time. While the song selections were subtly, they were obviously chosen with careful intention. The film takes place all throughout Texas, namely Houston and Austin (which just struck my wanderlust even stronger to make a trip to Austin.)

I think it’s an interesting depiction of children that have grown up over the past decade or so, as well. However you want to take it, there’s a shift from kids playing outdoors (even if they’re a bit mischievous in their activities of choice,) and then heavy reliance on video games for entertainment, but then there’s also a creative shift, a definite appreciation for nature. I hate to give away too much about films, even though I want to gush over them and convince you to watch them. But it was cool to see how this family evolved over time, changed roles in society, grew closer together, communicated; the snowball effects of their decisions. This isn’t a film I’d necessarily watch several times, but I definitely recommend it for the viewing experience, if anything just because it’s such a genuine depiction of life. It’s a concept like nothing else I’ve seen before. And how exciting that this project was successfully completed! I for one am so glad this came to theaters in Tallahassee, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that even though it was put in one of the smallest viewing rooms, it was packed! (I love when lots of people are interested in exciting films like this.) If you have the opportunity to catch this film, I’d definitely recommend it, and I’d love to hear about your thoughts afterwards!

If you haven’t seen it yet, here’s the trailer. Now go check it out: