Wednesday, January 29, 2014

EcoTools Flat Liner Brush - Review

Disclaimer: All products mentioned in this post were purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

Part of my reorganizing for the new year has been to try a new way to organize my blog pictures. I've previously been organizing them by month so I wasn't so overwhelmed with a million pictures. The bad thing was that things were getting left behind when I moved on to a new month.

I'm going to try and work back through and review things that I never got to or forgot about. I don't think I'll ever get myself caught up, but it'll be good for me to go back and look at the things that I purchased over the last year or so. With that though, my pictures will be ping-ponging around with different backgrounds since I moved from taking pictures in my half-bath to using a light box, and I've tried different fabrics and bulbs with my light box.

One of the first things I pulled out of my picture archives was the EcoTools Flat Eyeliner Brush.

Price: $3.99 on


I bought this brush because Wayne Goss on YouTube (Love him!!!) talks about using this type of liner brush to push liner into the lashline, which just makes lashes look thicker without a thick eye liner. All of my other flat liner brushes are angled.

First of all, I have to say that I don't think I've ever been disappointed with the quality of EcoTools brushes. I own most of the brushes in their line, and there are a couple of new ones that I want to pick up. All of the brushes that I have are really soft and don't shed. If I don't like an EcoTools brush, it has to do with the shape of the brush, not the quality. The Flat Eyeliner Brush lives up to the EcoTools quality I have come to expect.

As for this particular brush, it is thicker than what I was wanting and expecting. However, I pulled it back out because I hadn't used it in a while, and it does a beautiful job creating a smudgy, smoky liner look without me having to grab a cotton swab to smudge it out.

Final Thoughts

 While this brush wasn't exactly what I was looking for, I do like it. After grabbing for it again, I think I'm going to reach for it more often. I've gotten into too much of a rut of constantly reaching for my Urban Decay liners. It's time for a change.

Have you tried this particular EcoTools brush? What is your favorite EcoTools brush?

Disclaimer: All products mentioned in this post were purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jane Eye Shadow in Lotus - Review and Swatch

Disclaimer: All products mentioned in this post were purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

I'm trying to get ahead with blog posts, so I'm writing this post on January 6, but I plan on scheduling it to post on January 22. For those of you who schedule your posts, do you find that weird? I usually like starting my posts with something a little chatty, but doing that with posts scheduled so far in advance means my chatty stuff will be out of date by the time this post goes live.

Oh well! I think I'm going to chat anyway. :-)

Since this is the second week of January, my resolutions for the year are still going pretty well. I think *knock on wood* I've found a good method for keeping me on track with the routines I want to set up for myself. If things continue to go well, maybe I'll share in another month or two.

The product that I'm reviewing today is one by Jane Cosmetics. Just like a lot of other bloggers, I remember using Jane back when I was in high school. There was a super shimmery loose blush that I loved. I also love their little pamphlets with beauty tips that they had with their display.

I picked up a couple of the new Jane products (available at Ulta) before Christmas.  I had one of the magical 20% off everything coupons and a 5x bonus points offer. I also thought Jane products were 2 for $10 at the time, otherwise I probably wouldn't have grabbed anything. When I got home and looked at my receipt, I realized that I didn't get the 2 for $10 deal. :-(


The Jane Cosmetics single eye shadows retail for $8. Ulta seems to regularly have Jane on sale though (usually buy one get one 50% off), so it is worth waiting to grab products then.


The packaging itself is pretty basic. It's a simple black compact with a clear window on top, which shows the beautiful flower pattern stamped on the shadow itself.


Lotus swatched on bare skin

 Lotus is a really basic champagne shade. For reference, the shade is more pink than Stila's Kitten, but it is more peach than Urban Decay's Sin. Lotus is shimmery, but it isn't glittery. It has a soft, smooth texture that applies easily, and it lasted on me all day with primer.

Final Thoughts

This is a really nice, workhorse shadow. I've been loving using this type of shade on the inner half of my lid with a darker outer half, so I think I'm going to get a lot of use out of it. At retail price, the Jane Cosmetics line is a little pricey for being a "drugstore" brand, so if I decide to pick up more items from the line, I'll definitely keep my eye out for sales. If I can find a good deal, I would love to try more of their shadows since Lotus is so good.

Have you tried Jane Cosmetics since their relaunch? Are there other products I should check out or avoid?

Disclaimer: All products mentioned in this post were purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Tarte Amazonian Clay Blushes in Flush (New Version) and True Love - First Look

Disclaimer: All products mentioned in this post were purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

I was so excited last weekend when I found out that Ulta was having a 20% off sale. It seems like these are becoming more frequent, which is fantastic. I love them even more when they happen to coincide with Ulta Rewards bonus points offers. I plan on hoarding all of my points for the holiday season so I can get a bunch of products for free!

My order came in yesterday, and I was able to take pictures this afternoon. I plan on waiting to post about most of the items in my order until I've had a real chance to try them out, but I wanted to get some swatches up today because I haven't been able to find any yet.

I picked up the new Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blushes in Flush and True Love. I skipped out on the third new color, Fearless, because I already have a blush by Tarte with that name from a QVC set, and I assumed they were the same (apparently, they are not).

Price: $25 each


The first thing I noticed when I opened my box from Ulta and looked at my beautiful new blushes was that Tarte has changed the packaging on their blushes. I don't know if the packaging will change on all of their blushes or not. I personally prefer the old design with the raised floral pattern around the word Tarte, but the change isn't huge, so I don't mind it.

Inside the blush, the compact looks like the old ones. 


Just like most of the Amazonian clay blushes, Flush is matte. Tarte describes this shade as a pink berry, which is accurate to my eyes.

Here's a picture comparing the new version of Flush with the old version. If you like the look of the old version and don't already own it, you can get it along with a cream shadow and a shadow brush for $19 here. Considering the blush itself retails for $25, this is a fantastic value. I don't know how long it will stick around, so I would suggest grabbing it quickly.

The first swatch picture is the new version of Blush by itself. The second one shows the difference between the new one and the old. The third picture compares the new Amazonian clay version with the old formulation of Flush cheek stain. The new version of the powder blush is much closer in color to the cheek stain. It's a little more pink than berry though.

True Love 

 Tarte describes True Love as a watermelon shade, which seems accurate as it is a pink with a hint of coral. Just like Flush, it is matte. 

 Just like with the new version of Flush, I happened to have the cheek stain in the same shade (still the old cheek stain formula). As you can see in the picture, the colors are nearly identical.

First Impressions

Since I haven't actually tried these on my cheeks yet, I can't give an official review. However, I do love the Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-Hour Blushes in general, so I expect that I will enjoy these as well. I'm also really excited about the colors. The new version of Flush seems like it is going to be a great shade for fair-skinned girls like me. Most of Tarte's blushes are really bright, so adding another more subtle blush to the line was smart. 

Will you be picking up any of the new colors?

Disclaimer: All products mentioned in this post were purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Products I Want to Use Up - 2014

Disclaimer: All of the products mentioned in this post were purchased by me. All opinions are my own. 

Last year I did a couple of posts about products I wanted to use up. It went okay. Looking back, I thought I had done more updates than I actually did.

I'm going to try it again this year.

When I went through and picked out the products that I plan on working on, there were a couple of things I looked at. Some of the products were chosen because they are products in which I've already made a big dent. I also chose products that were getting old.

Another motivation for doing this is to get rid of some of the products I own that aren't cruelty-free.

Tarte Amazonian Clay Full Coverage Balancing Foundation in Fair - I've had this for a really long time, and you can see in the picture that I've used a lot of it, so I'd like to go ahead a finish this off.

Nars Sheer Matte in Siberia - This foundation is in the same boat. I've had it for a while, and it is about half gone, so I want to try and finish this one too. I know using up both will take a while.

Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer - I have several full-sized primers in my collection, so I decided to use up all of my mini sizes. This is the last mini size that I have. It's hard to see in the picture, but it is about half gone already.

Benefit Erase Paste in Fair - Benefit isn't a cruelty-free company, so I'd like to get this gone. I would guess I have about a third of this left.

Tarte Park Ave Princess Bronzer - I have a lot of bronzers, so I'm taking the same approach that I took with my primers. I'm using up my mini ones first. I'm just about to hit pan on this one.

Hard Candy Concealer Pencil - This little pencil came with the Glamoflage Concealer, which I threw out a long time ago. I've been using this to clean up the edges of my lips. I can't sharpen it anymore, so it should be finished in the next week or so.

Urban Decay 24/7 Concealer Pencil in CIA - I've had this for a long time, and it seems like it is drying out a little bit. It's crumbled a couple of times when I've tried to sharpen it. I've really like it though, and I might repurchase it once I work through some other concealers first.

Too Faced Wrinkle Injection Extreme Wrinkle Filler - I got this in a swap a long time ago, and I tend to forget to use it.

Milani Eye Shadow in French Vanilla (largest pan) - I need to work my way through my extra matte browbone shades. Wet n Wild's Brulee is my absolute favorite, so I'd like to clear the clutter and stick with that one in the future.

ELF Shadow from the Day to Night Palette (triangular pan) - I pulled this out as a shadow to use up a while ago because the pan is relatively small. It's a cream with gold shimmer that I can use on the inner corners of my eyes nearly every day.

Everyday Minerals Eye Shadow in Funnel Cake (darker brown) - I have a ton of mineral eye shadows that I've pressed, and I don't use them often enough. I pulled this out because it is an easy crease shade. It does have some shimmer, but it doesn't show when applied.

Everyday Minerals Eye Shadow in Driftwood (lighter brown) - Another pressed mineral eye shadow. Again, I chose it because it is an easy color to use.

Stila Lip Glaze in Splendor - I was really sad when it came out that Stila is no longer cruelty-free. This is an easy gloss to throw on, so I hope I can finish it relatively quickly.

Chapstick Lip Balm in Cake Batter - Chapstick isn't cruelty-free either, so this will be living in my pants pockets until it is gone. I have another Chapstick balm to go through after this one.

Tarte fRxtion Lip Scrub and Balm - Another old product. The darker side is the sugar scrub, and the white side is the balm. I have a feeling this will break off before I can finish it.

Silk Naturals Blush Samples in Candie and Tart Light - I have a lot of mineral blush samples sitting around, so I pulled out a couple to work on. 

Tarte Double-Ended Lip Liner - I got this at the same time that I got the lip scrub. The colors are okay, but I'm much more likely to swipe on a balm or gloss.

Stila Smudgestick Eye Liners - Again, with Stila's change in cruelty-free status, I'd like to clear out what I can. Eye liners are easier to go through than powder products, and these colors are pretty easy to wear, so I'm going to try and wear them as much as possible to finish them off.

Urban Decay 24/7 Liner Pencils in Whiskey and Rockstar - It should be pretty obvious why these made the list. They are nearly gone to begin with, so I might as well use them up.

Those are all the things that I specifically pulled to use up. I've already mentioned that I'm working on my stash of lotions too. I didn't add in any pictures of them because I'm going through them relatively quickly using them twice a day on my arms and legs.

Are you trying to use anything up in the new year?

Disclaimer: All of the products mentioned in this post were purchased by me. All opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Perfect Palette TAG!

Disclaimer: All products mentioned in this post were purchased by me. All opinions are my own.

I have loved watching these tag videos on YouTube, so I thought I would go ahead and do this tag myself. 

One of the things that was really fun for me while I was putting together this post was pulling together the pictures. I used the ones I already had, so it shows how my photos have changed since my blog started. I've used a variety of backdrops and lighting setups over the past two years. 

On to the palettes!

1. Best Packaging

I'm going to choose theBalm's Balm Jovi palette for best packaging. It is nice and slim. Best of all, theBalm has figured out how to include both cream and powder products in a palette without it creating a huge mess. 

You can check out my review of this palette here

2. Best Color Payoff

I'm going to choose the Urban Decay Vice 2 palette for the best color payoff. All of the colors are well pigmented, and there aren't any glitter bombs! 

Vice 2 Palette - Row 1 Swatches
Vice 2 Palette - Row 2 Swatches
Vice 2 Palette - Row 3 Swatches
Vice 2 Palette - Row 4 Swatches
 I haven't reviewed the Vice 2 palette. Would anyone still be interested? I just checked, and it is still available.

3. Most Versatile

Unfortunately, the palette I consider to be most versatile was limited edition. I love the Too Faced A Few of My Favorite Things palette. It has a really nice mix of finishes. It has the basics that include a matte cream a and few matte brown blending shades. It has neutrals and brights. As a bonus, it also includes two blushes and two bronzers.  

You can check out my review of this palette here.

4. Best for Traveling

I'm going to break the implied rules here and choose Z Palettes for this category. The ability to choose the exact shades that you want and put them all in one palette is the ideal, which is precisely what a Z Palette provides. With the different size options, I can travel with just a few shadows or a wide range of them.  

5. Biggest Regret

I regret buying the Too Faced Naked Eye Collection. Most of the colors aren't very pigmented, so I didn't use it very often. It has been listed on my blog sale for a while now.  

6. Best Color Names

 I was trying to choose a different palette for each of these categories, but I have to give this one to theBalm's Balm Jovi palette too. I love how they play on band names and use musical terms. They just put together their theme really well. 

7. Least Used

I think theBalm Shady Lady palettes are my least used palettes that I'm still keeping. The shadows themselves are beautiful, but it didn't seem like there was much of a plan when choosing the shades. I couldn't come up with many looks from those alone because the shades seemed so random and disconnected. I have them depotted at this point, so I need to start playing around in my Z Palettes to work on pairing them with other shadows in my collection. 

Shady Lady Volume 1
Shady Lady Volume 2
Shady Lady Volume 3
8. Most Used, Most Loved, Desert Island

This category has to go to the original Naked palette. I got it within the first year of it being released, and it is still my go-to palette when I don't know what to wear.  

I never actually reviewed this palette individually because I had it long before I started this blog, but you can check out my post where I compare it with the Naked 2 palette here

I'm going to be lazy and tag EVERYONE to do this tag! :-)

Have you found a perfect palette yet? What is it? If you've done this tag yourself, please let me know so I can check it out.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Finished It!!! Volume 11

Disclaimer: Most of the products mentioned in this post were purchased by me. A couple were giveaway prizes or were given to me by a friend. All opinions are my own. 

My shoebox of empties was overflowing, so it is time to do another empties post. I need to work on a post of products I'm trying to finish up, but I'm having some trouble deciding how I want to do it. I started making  a list of products, and it was starting to feel too long. Then as I was doing my makeup, I saw more things that I'm working on finishing that weren't on my list. After that, I got to thinking that I should pull out the items that I own from brands that aren't cruelty-free and work on those.

Equate and Simple Facial Cleansing Wipes - I didn't love either of these. I used them to remove swatches from my arms and hands. Neither one of these brands is cruelty-free, but even if they were, I wouldn't be repurchasing them. 

Bath and Body Works Creamy Pumpkin Anti-bacterial Hand Soap - I got this as part of the fall bonus bag. I liked the scent of this more than I expected. I don't usually purchase hand soap from Bath & Body Works, but I would happily use any that come in value sets or bonus bags.

Bath and Body Works Fresh Sparkling Snow Foaming Hand Soap - I got this soap in the Black Friday bag. The scent was nice. It was crisp and fresh smelling. Like the other soap, I wouldn't rush out to repurchase this but would be happy to use it again.

Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Soap in Citrus Orange - I really love the Dr. Bronner's soap in the almond scent, so I thought I would try this one. The citrus orange scent wasn't my favorite. It smelled more like the orange peel than the actual orange. Because of the scent, I don't think I'll repurchase this one.

The Honest Company Shampoo + Body Wash in Sweet Orange Vanilla - I liked this body wash, but I didn't love it. It lathered well, and the scent was okay. It's a great option if you are really concerned about the ingredients in your beauty products. I might eventually throw another one of these into my Honest Company bundle, but I'm not rushing out to repurchase it. 

Jason Dandruff Relief Treatment Shampoo - I bought this shampoo because it has sulfur in it, which is what was in the Neutrogena T-Gel shampoo that I used for years to control my flaky scalp. I alternated this with my Nature's Gate Tea Tree Shampoo. It did a good job. I've already repurchased this and will probably continue to repurchase it in the future.

Bath and Body Works Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin Body Wash - This was another item from the fall bonus bag. Even though I'm not a huge pumpkin fan, I really liked this scent too. I would definitely consider picking it up again when I've worked through my body wash stash.

Studio 35 Pure Honey Body Wash - I picked up a set at Walgreens over the summer that had this, a bubble bath, and a body lotion. I had a small milk & honey-scented body lotion a long time ago that I've been hoping to duplicate ever since. This scent didn't do it either.  I don't know if Studio 35 is cruelty-free. I would guess they aren't. I don't plan on repurchasing.

Spectrum Organic Coconut Oil - I jumped on the coconut oil bandwagon. I've used it for an eye cream, a body moisturizer, a face moisturizer, and a hair masque. I bought this particular brand because it was the one available locally. I've already purchased another jar, and I have a jar from another brand on the way in a Vitacost order. I plan on keeping coconut oil on hand for the foreseeable future. Benzyl Peroxide Acne Treatment - As you can probably see, this bottle was huge. When I purchased it, I also purchased a mini bottle that I refilled with this large one. It has 2.5% benzyl peroxide, which from what I've read, is the best strength to use (higher strengths are too harsh). I've still got most of my mini bottle left. I'm thinking about trying Paula Choice's acne line next, but I would have no problems repurchasing this product in the future.

The Body Shop Nutriganics Smoothing Day Cream - This was in last year's bonus bag during The Body Shop's Cyber Monday sale, so I didn't pick it out myself. Day creams that don't have sunscreen in them drive me crazy. I rarely use a daytime moisturizer with less than SPF 30, so I used this at night. It was okay, but it wasn't good enough for me to consider repurchasing it.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Stress Control 3-in-1 Hydrating Acne Treatment - I'm almost done with my back-stock of this product. After I finished this one, I started on my last tube. I'll be happy to finish that one and start using a brand that is cruelty-free.

Tata Harper Reparative Moisturizer and Hydrating Floral Essence - I won a set of mini Tata Harper products on Facebook a while ago. It sounds like a really great company. Although I didn't see it mentioned, I would be shocked if they weren't cruelty-free. I don't think the samples that I had were enough for me to decide if I loved these products. They are really expensive, so I couldn't afford to repurchase any of them if I wanted to.

The Body Shop Coconut Shower Cream Mini - I got this mini bottle as a bonus item in an Ulta order. I have the jumbo size in my body wash stash too. I like the scent and the amount of lather it gives. I might repurchase it eventually.

The Honest Company Healing Balm Mini - I think the primary purpose for this product is supposed to be as a diaper cream. It reminds me of Neosporin, and I have used it as a Neosporin substitute. I have also used it on my cuticles and on my heels, which are always really dry. If it isn't used quickly enough, it starts to separate and get really runny, which is a major downside for me. I have a full size tube already, and it is going to take me a long time to finish it up. I won't be getting another one any time soon.

Philosophy Creme Brulee Body Souffle - I loved both the smell and texture of this, but this particular formula is discontinued, and Philosophy isn't cruelty-free, so I can't repurchase, and I won't be trying other lotions from this brand.

Simply Me Lavender Body Lotion - A friend gave this to me because she either didn't like it or just didn't use it. I liked that it had alpha hydroxy acid in it, and I didn't mind the lavender scent. As a lotion it wasn't bad, but it wasn't amazing. I don't know about Simply Me's cruelty-free status, and I didn't like this enough to hunt down that information.

Pacifica Island Vanilla Body Butter - I LOVE this scent! I have a rollerball perfume in this scent too. The body butter was nice. I would probably buy it again if there was a good sale on it or it came in a good kit.

Olay Bikini Moisturizing Lotion - This came in a set with a razor and a bikini trimming blade that I bought years ago. It really annoyed me when I read in the small print on that back, "Also sold as Olay Advanced Healing Body Lotion." I thought it was a lotion made specifically for the bikini area, and it was just their regular lotion in different packaging. At this point it really doesn't matter. Olay isn't cruelty-free, so I'm not longer buying their products.

Bath and Body Works Midnight Pomegranate Body Butter - I like that this scent is a darker - for lack of a better word - fruit scent. What I mean by that is that it doesn't smell like summer to me. This is a great scent to use during the winter months. It is no longer part of Bath and Body Works's regular line though, and I don't know if it is one that still reappears during their semi-annual sale. The body butter is nice and heavy. I think I mostly used this on my feet before putting on fluffy socks in the evening. I would repurchase it in the future.

Bath and Body Works Black Raspberry Vanilla Body Lotion Mini - I think this is one of my favorite Bath and Body Works scents, and it isn't in the regular line anymore either, which makes me sad. It is a great scent to wear year-round. If I ran across this during a semi-annual sale, I would probably pick some up.

Bath and Body Works Fiji Passionfruit Body Lotion Mini - This scent was nice and summery. Like the other ones, it isn't available anymore. I don't think I would repurchase it if I did happen to come across it.

Luxury Lane Soap Nourishing Body Lotion in Blackberry Tea - I really like the formula of this lotion. I probably would have ordered more when I placed an order with Luxury Lane Soap in December, but I have too much lotion to work through first (I'll be tacking on a picture of my stash at the end of this post). The Blackberry Tea scent is one that I really liked, but my fiance said it smelled like soap. The scent was also really strong, which made me feel self-conscious using it in public. I would repurchase both the formula and the scent.

Mario Badescu Papaya Body Lotion - This was one of my free samples in an order I placed right before it came out that Mario Badescu sells in China. I won't be buying from Mario Badescu again.

Bath and Body Works Stress Relief Body Lotion in Eucalyptus Spearmint - This isn't a scent I would normally buy for myself, but it was part of a gift. I liked it, but I didn't like it enough to repurchase it.

Tarte Clean Slate Poreless 12-Hour Perfecting Primer - This was a decent enough primer. I've  had issues with primers in general lately, so I'm not really loving any of them. I don't plan on repurchasing this one.

Kiss My Face Lip Balm SPF 15 in Strawberry - In my hunt to get lip balms with SPF over the summer, I ended up ordering somewhere around six of these. I like the formula a lot. It lasts a while on my lips but doesn't feel overly waxy. I wish the SPF was higher, and it does get softer as I get to the bottom of the tube, but it is one of the best SPF balms I've found. I will probably repurchase when I run out.

Lip Smackers Lip Balm in Jelly Donut - This was part of a Disney lip balm set that I got on clearance at WalMart last year after Christmas. I hadn't used a Lip Smackers balm in years. Sometimes it felt really waxy and sometimes it felt okay on my lips. I don't know if Lip Smackers is cruelty-free. I want to say that they are, but I don't plan on buying more after I finish the ones that I have.

Simply Lip Balm in Pomegranate - In my last post with finished products, I said I had used the last Simply Lip Balm in my stash. Then I found two more hiding in the couch. I really do like this balms. I pulled up their website to remind myself which flavor this particular balm was, and I also visited their Facebook page, and I discovered that they are only being sold on Amazon. One listing that I saw had 20 for $14, which is a fantastic deal. I think they might just find their way into my next Amazon order.

Shea Moisture Organic African Black Soap with Shea Butter - I got this in a set a long time ago. I never even used it on my face. I just used it on my body. It had some natural scrubbing particles in it. I've accepted the fact that I just don't really like bar soaps. I won't repurchase. 

Lots of samples - Most of these aren't cruelty-free. I love Kate Sommerville's ExfoliKate, but I don't know about that company's cruelty-free status. Urban Decay Primer Potion is my favorite eye primer; the sample pod was the new anti-aging version, which seemed to work just as well as the original. Really, I'm just happy to have all of these little packets out of my life.

Taylor Swift Wonderstruck Scented Body Lotion - I mentioned in my Josie Maran Coconut Water Cheek Gelee review that I had a nasty rash break out on my arms and legs from a lotion. This is the offending lotion. I didn't finish it, but it is definitely going away.

And now for the promised picture of my lotion stash:

This is the majority of the lotions that I own. There's still a few more that are scattered around the house that I didn't bother to collect. As you can maybe tell in this post, I'm making some headway. I'm making a point to apply lotion to my arms and legs every morning and night. Last night I went through and pulled out all of the ones that aren't cruelty-free or have a questionable status, and I'm going to work on those first.

Note to self: Don't wait so long between empties posts.

What have you finished up recently?

Disclaimer: Most of the products mentioned in this post were purchased by me. A couple were giveaway prizes or were given to me by a friend. All opinions are my own.