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I Got Free Candles, and You Can Too!

9 Sep

Due to a combination of unpreparedness and neurobiological disease, there were no posts last week. Thanks for understanding! And if you aren’t understanding, then thanks for being true to your emotions! It was a rough week, but I’m determined for this one to be better. Hmmm… you know what makes life exponentially better? FREE MONEY!

“What?” You may be asking. “Is this post guest written by a Nigerian prince? Because this sounds like a scam and a half!” Firstly, you should assume ALL posts are guest written by a Nigerian prince, just to be on the safe side. Secondly, I’m not even joking about the free money. It’s real and it’s fun and it’s easy and it’s REAL.

SurveyMini is basically like getting paid to have opinions

Sometime in the Spring I downloaded an app called SurveyMini. It uses the GPS in your phone to know your location and send you surveys based on where you’ve been and what businesses you may have visited while you were there. In exchange for answering a few questions, you get points, and you redeem those points for gift cards. Gift cards, mind you, that are for actual businesses that you will actually patronize. So, basically, free money.

The surveys are pretty straightforward, and you get points even if you didn’t actually visit a business. For example, I’ll sometimes get a survey for a hotel that is on the route I take while walking Hero. The app will tell me I have a new survey, and when I go check it’ll say “Did you visit X Hotel recently?” When I say no, it will give me 100 (or sometimes even more) points. If you did visit a business though, you say “Yes” because lying is bad, and you will then get subsequent questions about your experience. Examples of common questions include: Did you have a good trip? Who made the decision to go here? How much money did you spend? Once your survey is finished, you’ll see the points added to your account. The points do not correlate to your review, i.e., you don’t get more or less points depending on whether your review was positive or negative. In fact, I played around with the app and (from the user’s end) it all seems pretty randomized. Once I got 500 points for saying I didn’t visit a business. Many times I’ve filled out surveys with dedication only to end up with 100 points.

SurveyMini is basically like getting paid to have opinions

As for redeeming points, this is where it gets odd. Not odd in a sketchy way, odd in a snail mail way. See, everything is done through your phone and the app, but when it’s time for SurveyMini to send you your gift card, they do so through the good old fashioned USPS. There must be some reason for this, but I don’t know what it is. Maybe you can’t just be giving what is essentially free money away to someone without an address? Anyway, don’t expect to redeem your points and then go running off to TJ Maxx to spend your money three minutes later. I was bummed to see that I would need to wait for my gift card to arrive, but I was equally thrilled when it came in three days (they told me a week to ten, I believe).

The great thing about this app is that the rewards are real, the effort you have to put in is extremely minimal (seriously, a survey takes about two minutes) and it’s all completely free. You don’t even have to pay for the gift card to be sent to you! It took me about five months to accumulate the 25,000 points necessary for a $25 gift card, but I’m a professional homebody. I bet if you’re out in the world doing stuff, you could get your rewards even faster.

SurveyMini is basically like getting paid to have opinions

It should be clear that if you don’t want any record of your GPS activity, or don’t want to give your name and address to a business, then this isn’t the app for you. You need to leave it running in the background of your phone for the GPS to be able to find you surveys, but I haven’t noticed any effect on my battery life. I have, however, received my gift card and used it to buy candles at Marshall’s, so it’s safe to say I think it’s worth it. FREE CANDLES, GUYS!

I will always disclose any sponsorships, but I wanted to add an extra disclaimer just in case you saw this post as a huge ad for an app, so here it is: I am in no way affiliated with SurveyMini or any of the businesses that use its services. I was not compensated in exchange for this review. I just really like candles. I burn through a lot of them. GET IT?! 

SurveyMini for iPhone3GS and later with iOS 7.0 and Android 4.0 and later: Free

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Wear, Watch, Want #4: The Pretty Little Sweaty Cat Eye Edition

30 Aug

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Wear: Anthropologie Dresses

It’s been so hot in LA this week, I’ve actually thought my organs were melting. I’m great at coming up with a fashionable layered ensemble in the cooler months, but when it’s as hot as it’s been lately? Forget it. I do, however, have a little secret to looking polished when you’re sweating buckets: Dresses. Specifically, dresses from Anthropologie. Anthro is the perfect place to go for a casual, comfy, hot-weather-friendly dress that will make you look like you’ve put effort into your style, when really, you’ve just tugged a dress over your head. I’ve tried casual dresses from other retailers, but Anthropologie (specifically, the Anthropologie sale room) is where all my favorites and go-tos are from. I don’t own the dress in the photo, but it’s from Anthro and it’s by Tracy Reese (who as you know is MAH FAVE), so once it hits the sale there’s a good chance it’ll be joining my collection.

Watch: Pretty Little Liars

Devoted readers may remember me telling you to watch Pretty Little Liars already. A lot of you are new around these parts, though, and especially after this week’s summer finale, it bears repeating: You should be watching Pretty Little Liars. Not only is this show endlessly entertaining and dear to me, but it’s a show that loves its fans. If you read my previous plea to watch Pretty Little Liars and DIDN’T start reading Heather Hogan’s absolutely perfect recaps on AfterEllen, HOW DARE YOU. You probably watched the finale and were like (and here be spoilers) “Oh nuts, Mona is dead.” But for those of us who are disciples of #BooRadleyVanCullen, that last scene had us screaming, “VANDERJESUS! VAN. DER. FREAKIN’. JESUS.” Seriously, that Vanderjesus reference was the greatest, sweetest, most wonderful way Marlene King could tell her devoted fans, “Sorry, guys.” RIP Vanderjesus. May you be hacking into Heaven’s quadruple-firewalled database as I type this. *Pours out a Pink Drink*

Want: Marc by Marc Jacobs Cat Eye Sunglasses

I have been wearing the same pair of Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses for about 4 or 5 years now (They are kinda like these, but kinda not). They’re fine, but I know I need a new pair. These ones will just die on me one day when I least expect it (not unlike our blessed, holy Vanderjesus) and I will be left heartbroken. SO! I’m shopping for a new pair. Actually, I’m done shopping. I know what I want, and what I want are these M by MJ Cat Eye peeper protectors.

That’s Why Her Hair’s So Big. It’s Full of Dry Shampoo.

28 Aug

NYM Dry Shampoo

It’s time for part two of my Week of Hairstyle Preservation! In this installment, I’m going to tell you about my current favorite dry shampoo. I consider myself a bit of a dry shampoo connoisseur. I’ve tried so, so many, and about 80% of them I find disappointing. As mentioned in Tuesday’s post, I won’t take great pains to style my hair, so I like my dry shampoo to be easily accessible (ie, available at Target), inexpensive, but still effective.

Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo fits the bill perfectly. In fact, according to their website (and Nielsen), its’ the #1 Dry Shampoo in the US. The price point is fantastic, especially considering it’s a product that actually does what it promises. I’ve tried some high-end dry shampoos, and, based on what I’ve tried, I don’t think there’s too much of an argument for going high-end. For me, the greasiest of grease-monsters, I find that even if I use dry shampoo, I still have to put my hair in an updo that day. So dry shampoo isn’t going to make my second day hair look like first day hair. It’s just not. I have accepted that. What I’m looking for is lift, and a slight amount of oil absorption, that will make me look decent enough to get through the day before washing my hair that night.

The way I like to dry shampoo is to apply it to my roots the night before, so that it can really sink in while I’m sleeping, and when I wake up in the morning I can comb it, fluff it up a bit, and tie it up into a topknot or ponytail. I section my hair and spray a light layer of dry shampoo at my roots, underneath the hair. This is the Great Dry Shampoo Secret. Under the hair! In sections!

Dry shampoo is also a great trick to adding volume to your hair, even if it’s freshly washed. I don’t think hair can possibly be big enough (hence my love of hot rollers), so this trick is a key part of my hair routine.

The one caveat to this recommendation is that I have light hair. I’ve never had the issue of white, powdery residue on my hair. I mean, maybe I have, but it doesn’t show up. So maybe this specific dry shampoo does that, maybe it’s completely transparent. I have no clue. I’ve never experienced anything but fantastic results. BUT, I do know that if you follow my tip of spraying UNDER your hair, at the roots, and sleep on your hair, it will significantly reduce your risk of waking up with artificial dandruff.

Not Your Mother’s Clean Freak Dry Shampoo: $6

What Is This Girl, Obsessed With Priming Things?

26 Aug

Living Proof Hair Primer: It Actually Works!I’m a beauty addict, sure, but that addiction stops short at hair. I just can’t be bothered with any hair maintenance that’s expensive or time consuming, or, to be honest, involves anything more than minimal effort. It’s not that I don’t want my hair to look good – I do – I just don’t want to make my hair look good. I remember reading that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen had a hairstylist that lived with them while they were still teens that did their hair each morning, and I thought, “That sounds ideal and not at all extravagant. Were I a teen billionaire, I’d do the same.” Living Proof Prime Style Extender isn’t exactly like having a hairstylist live with you, but it’s about as close as us non-teen-billionaires can get.

Here’s the gist: Every 2-3 days I wash my hair with my super fancy shampoo and conditioner that I buy from the TJ Maxx clearance rack, then while it’s still wet, before I even comb it, I run a dollop of this miracle elixir through my hair, roots to ends. I comb it out with my beloved Sephora Wide Tooth Comb (which they no longer make and I’m PANICKED, GUYS), and blow dry with a round brush for my bangs, and nature’s brush (my hands) for the rest. I don’t even do a full blow dry, just enough that my bangs and roots are thoroughly cooked. That’s it. No more maintenance than that. The after-effect is hair that is shiny, smooth, and protected from dirt and grime that makes my second day hair gross and third day hair a nonstarter.

You don’t even need a lot of product. I have medium length hair, that’s relatively fine but dense, and I use about a quarter sized dollop for my whole head. I rub my hands together and work the product in around my face and the crown of my head, then sometimes I’ll add a teensy bit extra, if I feel it’s needed, to the bottom layer of my hair. I concentrate almost solely on my roots, as this is the “root” of my super oily scalp (HAR HAR). I figure when I comb out my hair the product will be distributed well enough throughout the rest of my hair.

This is like nothing I’ve ever put in my hair before. It’s lightweight to the point where you think it’ll do positively nothing, but then it just makes things… better. Remember when I went on and on about how great makeup primers are, because they take your makeup game to the next level? This is the same principle, but it’s a primer for your hair. Once you start with this Style Extender as your base, everything is improved. Even if I don’t use any other products or style my hair. This primer takes about three heartbeats to use and BOOM. Better everything.

In terms of Lazy Girl Hair Styling Secrets, I have another little trick up my sleeve, but that’s for Thursday’s post…

Living Proof Prime Style Extender: $20

Wear, Watch, Want #3: The Comfy Teenage Ampersand Edition

23 Aug

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Wear: Mossimo Perfect Fit Longsleeve V-Neck Tee

I love a good tee. I have strict standards for what makes a good tee, so when I find one that fits my criteria, I fall for it hard. I bought this super soft, comfy tee at Target without even trying it on (it’s so easy to return to Target that sometimes trying on just seems unnecessary), and once I got home and put it on I was IN LOVE. This week on my Target run I picked up another, because in the week that I owned this tee I wore it four times. I have the pictured dark turquoise color, and now I have the black too. It’s so perfect for throwing on with leggings or jeans or ANYTHING, and you’ll be cozy and comfortable and even a little bit fashionable. Plus, one of these perfect tees will only set you back $15. Now that I’ve written this I think I need two more. Seriously. It’s that good.

Watch: My Mad Fat Diary

I already told you to watch My Mad Fat Diary in my post about distractions. But I recently finished the second season and I need to tell you again: WATCH. THIS. SHOW. Series 2 was finished at the end of March, and I was watching it in real time, until the second episode. Then I had to take a break that lasted until this week. No spoilers, but there was an event at the end of that episode that utterly destroyed me, and I couldn’t watch for a few months. It’s rare that I feel so strongly for a character and what they’re going through that I just have to quit for a minute, but that is how much I love Rae Earl, and My Mad Fat Diary in general. If you love My So-Called Life, I cannot recommend My Mad Fat Diary enough. But comparing it to MSCL isn’t even fair to My Mad Fat Diary, because it stands on its own as an amazing, true, sometimes so-heartbreaking-you-have-to-quit-for-a-minute, depiction of the teenage experience. Oh, and in case your heart breaks into a million pieces for Rae at the end of episode 2.02, let me tell you, I cried during the season finale because I was so, so happy for her. So there, there, everything will be ok. (Also, I am purposely not going to discuss the planned MTV remake because I CANNOT.)

Want: & Other Stories

For those of you reading in the US, you may not know that H&M is actually part of the H&M Group, a retail group that presides over SIX different stores. If you live in Sweden, or many other European countries, you’re probably like, “DUH.” But I don’t think many Americans are aware of the H&M Empire, so let me tell you: We are seriously missing out. I have been known to stalk the websites of COS, or Monki, or & Other Stories, and just stare longingly at all the things I want but, as long as I’m in the US, I can’t have. COS has recently started shipping to the states, and are opening stores in New York and Beverly Hills this fall. I’m incredibly excited for this, but I’m also a bit miffed, because New York is ALSO getting & Other Stories, while us losers in Beverly Hills are not. I think if I had to choose I’d RATHER have & Other Stories, but I’m hopeful that eventually there will be an outpost on the left coast. They are going to start shipping across the US once the New York store is open, but it’s just not the same, you know? I want a brick and mortar store! I’m ready, & Other Stories, TAKE ALL MY MONEY!