Accidental Ulta Haul

Accidental Ulta Haul, featuring NYX Cosmetics, Real Techniques, L'Oreal Paris and a sneaky little surprise!

Since moving into my tiny apartment, Gracie Cat and I have entered a daily struggle with trying to keep her entertained.  Apparently the toys that were good enough back in Ohio no longer suit her now that she’s a big city kitty (such a snob), so she has started going after my stuff.

Her favorite past time is to wait until my apartment is pitch black and I’m trying to sleep, then jump up on the table/desk/vanity space and try to knock everything onto the floor.  Not only do I wake up to all my stuff on the floor— pens, pony-tails, paper, make-up brushes— but I am constantly woken by the sounds of things hitting my floor.  I bet my downstairs neighbors love me.

It started with my beauty blender, which she promptly ruined by biting and clawing it, and running it over every dusty surface of my tiny apartment.  Then, she graduated to the big dogs: my gel eyeliner pot.

And let me tell you, you don’t know terrifying until a tiny glass make-up pot falls from 4 feet up and lands on a wood floor at 4am.  I thought someone was breaking down my front door.

What was really impressive is that she managed to get the lid off the pot, dye her little white paws black, and smear it over the floor.  Because Gracie doesn’t do anything half-assed, that’s for sure.

And this was basically a long-winded way of saying that I needed a few things from Ulta, and then accidentally went hog-wild.  Beauty rewards points, a $10 off coupon, free shipping advertisement, and a sale on NYX products will do that to ya, I guess.

First of all I replaced my beauty blender, the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge and my eyeliner: L’OrĂ©al Paris Infallible 24HR Lacquer Intense Gel Eyeliner in “blackest black”. It’s my first gel liner— well, this pot is technically the second, thanks Gracie— and although I like the product, the brush needs some work.  It would be much better if it came with an angled brush for a more precise line, as opposed to the rinky-dink little one it comes with.

Then came the new products: NYX  Highlight and Contour Pro Palette, NYX Control Freak Eye Brow Gel in “clear” and the NYX Vinyl Liquid Liner.

All I’m going to say at the moment is that I am loving the contour palette.  I’m going to do a full review on it this week, so watch for that if you’re interested.

Unfortunately, I’m not too tickled by the liner.  I thought I’d like the skinny brush, but I find it a little hard to control. I have yet to figure out how to get a crisp line with it.  But after it dries, it does stay put all day though, and stays perfectly black, which is great.

And finally, the brow gel.  I’m #blessed with thick eyebrows, so I’ve never felt the need to invest in a specific brow product.  Though I try to keep the them trimmed and shaped, I have a problem with my eyebrows staying in shape during the day.  They always tend to go crazy and I look like I have rocker-hair eyebrows.  I really like this brow gel, as it keeps them in place, but doesn’t feel like I have a thick coat of goop on.  I use the spoolie applicator to kind of brush them out, then set them in the place I want.  It does feel like it sort of wears off by the end of the day, but my eyebrows still don’t move.  I may want to try a tinted brow gel next, but this is definitely working for me at the moment.

I picked the “surprise me” option for the samples, and got a little bit of Benefit Cosmetics the POREfessional with my order.  I know I’m super late to the party on this one, but holy crap.  I’m in love.  I have dark pores on the apples of my cheeks and on my nose, and it’s literally like someone airbrushed them away with this primer.  I’m in love.  I may marry it, who knows.  I do know I’m getting a full size of it next time I am able to.  Sh*ts like magic.

And that’s it.  I am already mentally planning out my next beauty haul– some new eye brushes, which I think I desperately need (ya know, along with food and rent).

If you have any brush recommendations, let me know!

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xo, kelsey (2)

Low-Cost Ways to Decorate Your Rented Space

subleasing, subletting, apartment, chicago, rented, low-cost DIY, home decor

If you live in a rental, or a sublet like me, then you know you have only a few options when it comes to decorating.  Not only am I living on someone else’s furniture right now (and someone else’s mattress… gross), but I’m in someone else’s home.  None of my decorations can be permanent, which makes personalizing my space a little tricky.

Luckily, I’m a creative thinker and determined to make my tiny apartment feel like my own little sanctuary, so I’ve found a few ways around it.

1.  Coffee beans.  Add them to anything and everything you can.  A big container of whole coffee beans is rather cheap, they smell good, and add some eclectic funk to your decor.  I’ve used them to hold make-up brushes in old jars, and at the bottom of a candle holder.

fairy lights, rose lights, twinkle lights, DIY, DIY home decor

2.  Get some funky lights.  Before moving, I got Rose Flower String Lights.  Unlit, they are white fabric, so they look pretty against the white curtains that came with my apartment.  And lit, they add a soft yellow glow to the room.  Drape them over some shelves, above your closet, or above your window, like I did.

3.  If your apartment is severely lacking in storage space, make the things that have to sit out look good.  I took some ceramic containers from a thrift shop, then added some $10 chalk board decals from Crate and Barrel to make fun labels.  Saved myself some cabinet space, but also added some decor to my kitchen.

low cost DIY gallery wall, gallery wall, velcro strips, art, homemade art, apartment, DIY home decor

4.  Hang pictures and decorations with leaving a mark on the walls with velcro Command Picture and Frame Hanging Strips. I put up my entire gallery wall using just velcro strips.  Each hung-up piece means something to me, which really makes me feel like this is my home.

5.  Repurpose whatever you can.  I always save glass jars, no matter what.  I turned burned up candle into a wide-mouth coffee-bean-filled glass jar for my make-up brushes, and a old salsa jar holds cotton pads in my bathroom. Adding a shiny spray paint to old items can make them look expensive.  Gold, copper, silver, or whatever on cheap plastic decor can really make a difference.  I did some spray painting myself a a few months ago, and I’m still loving how it makes some of my cheaper finds look more expensive.

Got any other ideas to cheap ways to dress up your rental?  Let me know!

xo, kelsey (2)

Ya Girl is Employed

A little over a year ago, I visited Chicago again after recently deciding that I hated the city.  Then I saw the other parts of Chicago, and all the potential it had.  I saw grass, and trees, and cute little homes that I had no idea existed when you walked away from the sky scrapers and giant hoards of people.  During a walk around the neighborhood, I decided that I was going to move there.  It was shortly after this picture was taken.

Fast forward to today, September 21st, 2015, I have officially accepted a job offer in that city.

Praise coffee and the gods of Google for allowing me to get to this point in my life.  And also college, mom and dad, and my cat, who really did nothing but should be thanked anyway because why not?

Although this has me feeling all sorts of deja vu, because I will be working for a very small nonprofit that will just barely pay me, so I’ll be getting another job.  What, 2014 Kelsey, is that you? Who let you into my new apartment? I just couldn’t turn down the chance for the experience, and everything I will learn in this new job.

This feeling is completely opposite of last week.  Flashback to last week’s disgruntled rant about working for the common good but receiving nothing for it, which is still totally true.  But now I’m feeling far less pessimistic, and far more opportunistic about all the world has to offer.

I love fresh starts, and for the first time in the month that I’ve lived here, I can breathe easily knowing that this new start was not a horrible mistake.  I have a job, I live in a city that is new and exciting, and I finally feel like I am making something of my adult self.

Anyway. This got really real really quickly.  Apologies.  A massive amount of relief has equaled this outpouring of sincere feelings, which I hate.  Feelings are gross, but if you hold them in, they tend to make more feelings and it’s just a vicious emotional cycle.  Let the feelings out, and stay above the influence, kids.

Morale of the story: put good vibes into the world, receive good vibes back.  Take a chance and don’t be afraid to fall, because what if you fly instead?  Think in color, not in black and white.  Fart glitter.  All that good stuff.

Peace, love, and business casual.

xo, kelsey (2)

BEAUTY REVIEW: essie Gel Setter Top Coat

essie, essie Gel Setter Top Coat, OPI, OPI fall polishes
I’ve been an essie polish snob for awhile.  Most of my collection is essie at the moment.  In my experience, they chip easily, but you just can’t beat the colors and the formulas are usually very good.
I just can’t find a polish brand that does pastels as well as essie does.  
I’m already a big fan of the essie Millionails Treatmentthat I’ve been using as a basecoat so I had high hopes for the essie Gel Setter Top Coat, I love the look of thick, plump gel nails, but am way too cheap to get them done professionally.
After trying it over a few different brands of polish and different formulas, colors, etc, I feel like I’ve gotten a good feel for it.  
There is no denying this gave my nails a good sparkle and shine, and had a good “plump” to them too, giving them the look of gel nails.  The immediate after effects were great, as you can see pictured, but it doesn’t take much to make my polish chip, or the ends to wear off and go white with this top coat.  I’ve honestly had better results in polish longer wear with my usual Orly Nail Dryer, Sec’n Drytop coat.
I found better results with thicker polishes underneath, like the OPI Orange You Glad It’s Summer?orange pictured (that I am LOVING for the weird Summer-Fall transition weather!) but the results are about the same no matter what brand or formula of polish.  
If you are constantly changing your polish and want to fake a gel look, or you have an event you need to look super glam for, I’d say go for it.  But if you’re looking for a long-lasting manicure, you’re going to have chipped nails within a few days with this top coat.  
Sorry, essie.  Love ya, but I don’t think I’ll repurchase this.

xo, kelsey (2)

How to Make a Blog: 101 Free Blogging Resources

blogging, tutorials, resources, how-to, seo, blogging photography,

So things look a little different here at CK. Over the last week or so I’ve made some appearance changes, gearing up towards some rebranding.

In keeping with wanting to spend as little money as possible, I’ve done everything via Google. It’s really easy to find tips on setting up a blog, and how to design a blog for free. And lucky for everyone else, I saved all the tutorials I’ve used on my own blog to my Pinterest:

I’ve been working on everything from improving my photography skills, changes to my blog format, how to improve SEO, and anything else I can find.  And I’m still going through ideas and tutorials, so the boards are being updated constantly.  
And as I am currently on my death bed thanks to a killer summer cold, I thought now would be a great time to share it with you.
Do you have any blogging resources you’d love to share? Let me know! I love knowledge.

xo, kelsey (2)