That Time I Ordered Clothes from China

I know you’ve seen them too – ads for super affordable clothes from China. But are they legit? Do they ever get to you, and when they do would you wear them?

One company I see advertising cute things all the time is SheIn. Now I know these companies have a rep for horrible customer service and a lack of transparency regarding shipping and sizing. So I decided to do some digging. The company offers express shipping in 3-5 business days for US residents. They have also sizing charts for each item. It’s annoying to check each one but by combining the sizing provided and some tips I found for shopping these sites, I thought I could get a decent fit.

So with all of that in mind, I decided to take a chance and order! I chose $159 worth of items and received $30 off using a coupon code on the website home page, 6% cashback with Ebates and free express shipping. I purposefully chose a variety of items from jewelry and shoes to tops for a true picture of the quality of the items. Here is what I ordered:

 

Scallop Tie Top
High Neck Print Top
Lace Overlay Top

 

Flouncey Chiffon Top
Off the Shoulder Top
Scallop Edge Top

 

Black Round Hem Tee
Grey V Neck Tee
White Round Neck Tee

 

Camel Cutout Sandals
Delicate Gold Necklace
Black Leatherette Espadrilles

These were the prices before any coupon codes, cashback, etc. Click the links above to be taken directly to the item on the SheIn site. A couple standouts that I was extra excited for were first off, the shoes! The espadrilles are what look to inspired by the Valentino Rockstud Espadrilles and the camel colored sandals? Yes, those do look an awful lot like the sold out sandal of the season, the Hermes Oran. I was also really happy to get some quality basics and new tops for work into my collection.

The order went smoothly. I paid with PayPal and received an email confirmation right away. The next day I received a shipping confirmation with tracking from DHL.  My package arrived in 6 business days and I was so. excited.

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So I started tearing into these bags and what I found was a huggggge mix of qualities and sizes. It became very clear very fast that these clothes were being sourced from many different warehouses and depending where it came from I was going to have a very different experience. This was gonna be a bumpy ride.

I started with the white blouses. The print one had a lovely pattern but the fabric was downright scratchy and it had two weird seams down the front that just looked wrong. The blouse with the tie was way too short (and I’m only 5’2″). The win in the bunch was the lace top. It was truly gorgeous but entirely too small. I may reorder it about 2 sizes bigger than the size chart recommended to me.

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Moving onto the black tops. The flouncy sleeve chiffon shirt had a very cute gold zip on the back. It reminded me of super similar tops they sell at The Loft more expensively. I would consider reordering this shirt in about 2 sizes larger as well. The black scallop tee is one of the only items I’m keeping! Unlike the photo, it is a cotton blend with some stretch and adorable. But my favorite of the black items by far has to be the off the shoulder shirt and by my favorite I mean it was atrocious. The fabric felt like the raw cotton blend you buy at Joann Fabric and the little arm holes barely fit my wrist. Major eye roll on this one.

Moving into another item that gave me a laugh, the t-shirts. The grey one was super nice and I’d get it in a couple other colors (though I threw it right in with the laundry because it smells of old Pad Thai). But the black and white are that weird, reflective, scuba-esque material they used to sell at Joyce Leslie. Ugh.

And finally, the accessories. They were all good quality, honestly! The espadrilles are too narrow so I’ll be returning them but they all look like shoes you’d pick up at JC Penney or another lower end mall department store so not bad in my book. Frankly, the Hermes dupes are way better quality than the others and I will be getting tons of use out of them. They are my favorite item by far.

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So what is my overall verdict? You never know what you’re going to get on sites like SheIn. There is no continuity of size or fabric. A lot of the photos make the fabrics look much higher quality than they are. There were some diamonds in the rough that definitely made the experience worthwhile but unless you have the money and time to spend, stick with Forever 21 and H&M for fast fashion, where you know what you’re in for.

All the best,

B

Are there any other sites like SheIn that you’re curious about? Comment below and be my next haul-spiration.

 

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Dinner for Two… weeks of meals under $100

Meal Plan

Hi friends,

I am back with a meal prep blog for you. With the plethora of ice cream I’ll be inhaling over the next 8 weeks, it’s important to keep my eating clean when I’m home. And since the majority of my next 8 paychecks will end up in boardwalk souvenir shops, budgeting is important too.

So I humbly present to you… 2 weeks of easy meals for 2 adults. The entire 2-week plan is less than $100. (Of course, this may vary but that amount is based on shopping at my local ShopRite here in the Philly area.)

I based this budget off of the food my boyfriend and I actually eat so obviously feel free to modify it as necessary. I chose almost all dinner recipes that can be made in a crock pot (indicated with CP) and prepped in advance for my fellow young professionals. These recipes are all low in fat and there are at least 2 vegetarian meals included per week.

As far as recipes go, they are a collection of my faves from Pinterest and beyond, but I will provide links to give all these talented ladies cred. So here goes!

Menu

Breakfast

  • Cereal and almond milk
  • Bagels
  • Fruit

Lunch

  • Pitas and rolls
  • Turkey or ham
  • Cheese
  • Pop chips
  • Fruit

Dinner

Shopping List

  • Ciabatta loaf $4
  • Pita pockets $2.50
  • Fresh bagels $5
  • Hamburger rolls (2 packs) $2
  • Almond milk $2
  • NutriGrain bars $2.50
  • Chex cereal $2
  • Large can crushed pineapples $1.25
  • One can each corn, diced tomatoes, black beans $2.50
  • Deli sliced sweet pepper rings $2
  • 2 cans chicken broth, one can beef broth $3
  • 2 jars marinara $2
  • 1/4 lb. deli American cheese $1
  • 2 bags shredded mozz cheese $4
  • Turkey burgers $7
  • Cheese ravioli $1.50
  • Mini frozen meatballs $3
  • 2 Wheat pizza dough $4
  • Low-sodium turkey and ham $8.70
  • Whole grain brown rice $3
  • 8 lb watermelon, cut $6
  • 2 large carrots $2
  • Garlic $1
  • Onion $1
  • Lime $.50
  • 2 bell peppers $3
  • 2 yams $1
  • 3 bags salad mix $5
  • 2 individual snack bags of tortilla chips for chicken tortilla soup $.50
  • 2 bags Quaker Pop Chips $2
  • 3 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast $9
  • 2 lb. boneless chuck roast $11

Preparation

Breakfast and lunch are pretty simple, just plan ahead. Follow the instructions linked for dinners. I recommend taking time on a Sunday morning to prep all your crock pot meals. Throw them in thick freezer bags, label, and store. If you’re interested in me doing another post on exactly how to meal prep with freezer bags, let me know. I feel like there are plenty of examples of this on Pinterest for reference.

Budget

I rounded for the most part but all told, my ShopRite at Home app says $96 total for this plan! Anticipate that you may also need to pick up some spices as needed. Anyone who has a local ShopRite, I would encourage you to try out their at-home service. Right now, they’re offering $15 off when you spend $75 and $10 off $20 in General Mills products. Plus, you can schedule a time that’s convenient t for you. Using this service alone has saved us hundreds because I have time throughout the day to slim things off the list and don’t pick up things I don’t need while perusing the aisles.

I hope you enjoy all of these recipes as much as I do, at a price point you can afford.

What do you want to see next? Challenge me to an even slimmer budget? Just MORE MEALS? Let me know in the comments below! 

Colourpop Review and first giveaway

img_0597Hi ladies!

I have been wanting to try some ColourPop lippies since I ran out of my theBalm products a month or so back and decided Black Friday would be a good time to go for it! I was attempting to add three new colors to my collection:

  1. A Kylie Jenner-esque nude
  2. An everyday nude pink to replace my Balm product (that is $18 a tube)
  3. A vampy-undertone red wine

After doing some research I decided on:

  1. Beeper
  2. Clueless
  3. Are N Be

I also purchased two self-sharpening lip liner pencils.

  1. For Beeper, I didn’t buy a pencil, instead opting to use my nude liner from Ulta
  2. For Clueless, I purchased the recommended Contempo pencil
  3. For Are N Me, I purchased the recommended LBB pencil

Swatches and Review

 

Beeper: This is a great dupe for Kyle Jenner Dolce K, this lippie is a perfect light nude brown for fall and winter.

Clueless: A spot-on dupe for Kylie Jenner Candy K and a pretty everyday nude pink

Are N Be: The third Kylie dupe seemed too dark to me so I went with Are N Be instead which appeared to be a little more plum. It was a mistake for what I was looking for. I never do well with dark lipsticks and this one has too many purple undertones for me.

 

I am doing a giveaway for this product and the matching lip liner, LBB! Scroll to the bottom of the post to learn how to enter.

Formula

Compared to other similar mattes, I would say the finish is medium moisture. Compared to my two other favorite matte lippies:

BareMinerals Gen Nude Matte Liquid Lipcolor: BareMinerals’ product is definitely dryer on the lips and leaves my chapped winter lips looking a little sad.

theBalm Cosmetics Meet Matte: theBalm has more moisture which some people find comfy on the lips and some find overly drippy and hard to work with.

ColourPop is a happy medium. Not dripping off the brush, but hardy enough that the light and medium shades don’t show imperfections.

This product definitely has wear power and you will need a good exfoliator and makeup remover to get it off. I wouldn’t recommend putting on a shade you don’t intend to stick with once your makeup is done.

The lip liners are super nice. I immediately felt the difference between by Ulta product’s dryness and lack of precision compared to the ColourPop variety.

Price

The reason people love ColourPop is the price. You can’t beat it! I used the $5 intro offer and caught the Black Friday special, bringing my total to $24 with shipping. I couldn’t even buy and ship one BareMinerals or theBalm product for the cost of five.

REMEMBER: Due to the “low cost nature” of the product, there are no returns except for items damaged upon arrival. So choose wisely!

Btw, check out my fabulous brows! They were done my Alexandria at the Ulta store in Deptford, NJ and she did an amazing job keeping my brows full and fleeky. Comment for more details or the products used in this look.

GIVEAWAY

I am doing a giveaway for the ColourPop liquid lipstick Are N Be, a deep plum perfect for winter, and the matching lip liner, LBB! The products you will receive are the exact ones shown in the pictures which were used for swatches only.

To enter, like, share and comment on this post on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/plugins/post.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fbianca.blando%2Fposts%2F1510658955617179&width=500

The winner will be announced December 17!

This is my first giveaway and if it gets a good response, I have two Aurora Bands (the UK and FB hair sensation) to give away next.

Thanks and happy holidays,

BGB

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5 Places You Must See on Your San Diego Vacation

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In beautiful mid-October, I traded in my ankle booties for sandals (definitely do not call them flip flops) and headed to the West Coast for the first time. And though I’m not rushing to give up my East Coast home, I definitely loved the California weather and scenery. Here are (IMHO) five places you simply must see when you Go San Diego!

1. Coronado

The beautiful, tiny island is where we spent most of our time. Over the glittering bridge from the mainland sits the charming hub of culture and charm that is Coronado. You must rent a bike and take one of the paths for a spin and get a real look at the Crown City. We rode for hours and were stoked to see the unique housing stock. Coronado looks like 100 people from 100 different cities moved there… and took their houses with them. We saw Malibu bungalows next to Victorian manors and super modern structures. And did I mention everything is within a block of the ocean (and a golf course, and a yacht club if we’re being honest)?

While you’re there you absolutely have to see the Hotel del Coronado. This massive work of architecture is one of the oldest hotels on the West Coast. Nestled on a private beach, The Del brings you back to days of Hollywood splendor, when the likes of Dean Martin and Sophia Loren could be seen lounging by the pool. Just a peek inside at the ole’ lift is worth the drive. Thankfully we got to see a lot more than that since this was the site of Jake’s beautiful cousin Colleen and her now husband James’ garden ceremony and bubbling brunch reception. (We all know I LOVE brunch.)

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We stayed at the Marriott Coronado Island Resort and wow. If you can’t stay there, take a walk on the boardwalk and just eat breakfast there. You’ll likely be joined by local birds who stop by for a taste of your jam. Best part of this place? The hammocks with ocean breezes. I could have stayed forever.

2. La Jolla

I know you remember that name from your middle school days of Hollister Co. sweatshirts. Everyone talks about La Jolla (pronounced la-hoy-ya), and for good reason. The town of major Hispanic influence is worth a stop. There is an awesome shop to rent gear for snorkeling and surfing. It was too cold for us to go in without wetsuits but the waves made the trip worthwhile for Jake.

Side note: There is nothing like a pier off a California beach. I felt like I was inside the dramatic scene where they jump in “Aquamarine.”

Take time to stop at Galaxy Taco when you’re done your day of adventures. The owner brings in fresh blue corn every day from Mexico for the homemade street tacos’ base. Yum!

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3. Seaport Village

A few minutes Uber outside downtown is the Seaport Village, home to artisanal and souvenir shops for all of your touristy needs. Be sure to stop for a cupcake at Frost Me! They don’t have a huge selection of flavors but the Nutella centers are so rich you won’t care.

Definitely stop into Hot Licks, the most expansive hot sauce shop I’ve ever seen. The husband and wife team carries a lot of authentic Mexican sauces, as well as their own line.

Funny story: A friend asked the owner of the shop to let him try the hottest sauce he had. The man gave him a toothpick with a speck of sauce out of a bottle in the back ie. danger zone of the case. One lick and I was racing off to Starbucks to buy him two kiddie cartons of milk. His mouth went numb and he sounded like a little kid with his tongue stuck to a frozen telephone pole. (And yes, I have video proof.)

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4. Balboa Park

San Diego is a fairly new city and that means it had a little more sophisticated urban planning than say, Philly. Needless to say, all the cultural centers are together in an area outside downtown called Balboa Park.

From Japanese tranquility gardens to vintage car museums, there is something for everyone at Balboa. In fact, you could spend a whole weekend there alone. My favorite part of Balboa Park deserves its own number though. The one, the only…

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5. San Diego Zoo

One of the premier zoos in the world, San Diego is more of an experience. I don’t think we got through more than half of the exhibits in the day we spent there but we had a really good time. You’re admitted with a fancy, collectible ticket and board a double decker tour bus that takes you around the whole zoo.

This zoo has EVERYTHING. Sculptures, great food, an IMAX theatre, and the most amazing habitats I’ve ever seen. The animals can be viewed from so many angles and their enclosures are so open, natural and big that I can’t imagine they even know people are watching.

This post can’t even begin to scratch the surface of the amazing trip we had. From the awesome food at Harbor Breakfast where we sat at the counter with locals (and their pooches) to the mall at Westfield Horton Plaza that looks like it popped out of a Dreamworks film. To the chic Burger King with an outdoor patio and me finally buying my very own Rainbows!

The best part of the trip really was getting to spend time with amazing family and celebrating a brand new marriage. It was the trip of a lifetime and really gave me the itch to order new luggage and keep on track with Mint so I can go out and travel more.

Are you from San Diego? What awesome places didn’t make my list? Tell me in the comments below. 

Future Rich: Credit 101

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So you’re in your twenties. You’re budgeting and starting to invest. You’re starting off on a strong financial foot. But you know that you should be concerned about credit. Your credit score number shows lenders you’re responsible and encourages them to give you money for the things you want like a house or car. Ready to rumble through the basics? Let’s get started.

What is credit?

Credit is a line of money given to you by an outside party to use as your own and pay back. It can come in the form of a credit card, loan or mortgage.

Your credit score is a number which banks and credit providing institutions use to see how good you are at working credit. That is obtaining it, using it, and paying it back on time.

Think of credit as a challenge. Use it, pay it. Do that enough times with enough companies and score points to improve your score. Simple, right?

What does a credit score look like?

Credit scores are numbers between 300 and 850.

300-590: needs improvement

590-640: getting there

640-720: good job!

720-850: killing the game!

How do I find out what score I have?

Many credit card companies including Wells Fargo and Discover provide scores to consumers now. See if your card provider or bank does. If not, use a free service like Credit Karma to check out your score. But BEWARE: do not frequently check your score! You shouldn’t check more than once per year. The number of inquiries on your score can negatively impact your overall number.

For this reason, it’s a good idea to get soft checks every couple months, especially if you’re looking to make a big purchase like a house where your score will come into play. A soft check does not go against your yearly inquiry number and is not 100% accurate but will tell you what range you’re in with little error.

My favorite place to get a soft check is on my can’t-live-without budgeting app, Mint (which you already know). Mint provides a free soft check every 3 months, right in the app! Along with tips to improve your score.

So I checked my score and frankly I’m afraid… How can I make my score better?

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Fear not, mere millennial. We can fix up that sad little score and get you the house (and interest rate) of your dreams yet! There are 5 major categories you can earn points in when it comes to credit. Some categories are worth more than others so I’ll rank them in order of importance:

  1. Payment history: Do you pay your bills on time? Your goal should be to always pay at or above the minimum payment on time. Late? Call your card company. They may forgive you if you don’t miss often.
  2. Credit usage: How much of your total credit do you currently owe on? Try to keep your total amount owed at less than 30% of your total limits. Under 20% is even better.
  3. Age of credit: How long have you been building credit for? It’s important to not only show that you’re good with your credit but that you have been over a significant period of time. For this reason, many banks encourage 18 years olds entering college to apply for a student card. It takes 6 years to build primo credit so start out small but start out early. And don’t close old accounts just because you pay them off!
  4. Credit inquiries: THIS is why we don’t frequently check our scores. You also are marked with an inquiry when you apply for a new line of credit.
  5. Number and types of accounts: On average, you want to maintain a few lines of credit of different types. Mix it up with credit cards and loans. Ideally, you want to have 13 lines of credit over a lifetime. Don’t go rushing to open every new store card available though. Every car and home you purchase over your lifetime will count toward that number so be conservative and stick with no more than 5 cards.

I mean is a little lower score really gonna make that big a difference?

Let me give you a “for instance” provided by my friends at Investopedia.

Say you decide you’re going to buy a home of your own. Congratulations!

You go to the bank to be approved for a mortgage and have a score of 730. You receive a 3.8% interest rate loan on your $300,000 abode and pay $1398 a month.

Your friend Mike goes to the bank too but Mike’s score is 610. He is approved too! (Woohoo neighbors!) But Mike gets an interest rate of 5.39% on the same loan. His payment? Nearly $300 more than yours every month!

Over the life of your loan, Mike will pay over $100,000 more than you. Let that set in for a second. One hundred thousand dollars. I’d say that’s a pretty big deal.

Are other people my age’s scores way better than mine?

On average, this is what scores look like by age:

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In that case, the average person wouldn’t be able to afford a home with a decent interest rate until their kids were buying their own homes. Shoot to be better than the average, but use these numbers to assure yourself you are just starting out (and so is everyone else).

Ready for more? Get a look at that credit score and start making moves.

And check out these other articles for more!

How I Got an Excellent Score by 22

Credit Karma Tips for Young People

Life Lessons in Credit (with awesome infographics)

Building Credit from the Ground Up

MAKE UP FOR EVER Artist Rouge Collection Review

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Today I was so lucky to receive three shades from the new Artist Rouge lipstick collection from Make Up For Ever*. The collection has 45 shades total, all cremes and mattes, and will be sold at Sephora. Artist Rouge is meant to be a highly pigmented, long-wearing, comfortable product. Let’s get started!

The three shades I was sent are…

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C502: Creme lilac with grey undertones

C404: Creme true red with blue undertones

C211: Creme mauve pink with purple undertones

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Colors

I really like all three colors for different reasons. The lilac isn’t super weird but is definitely different. For fall, it will be super pretty with neutral and golden eye looks to dress up tights and a baggy sweater. Still, I can’t see myself wearing it daily.

The red is totally classic. The bullet style applicator is easy to use and doesn’t cause a lot of smearing which is super important in reds.

The mauve will probably be a go-to for every day for me. It is pretty neutral on my olive skin tone. It resembles a mauvey nude I used to have from the Balm back in the day.

(Excuse my horribly unlined lips above. I was so excited that I just started slapping them on. )

Formula

Just in the short time I’ve been wearing the product I can definitely tell it’s long wearing. It sticks to your skin so be careful to use liner and concealer for a clean line when applying. The formula is incredibly comfortable on the lips. It doesn’t need a thick coating to look fresh. I forgot I was wearing it because it didn’t come off on my drinking glass or feel sticky. This may be one of the most worry free formulas I’ve tried in a long time, almost having the effect of a liquid lipstick which really stays put. The one-two punch of a comfortable long-wear that doesn’t feel cakey or dry is a real winner.

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Packaging

My favorite section. These lipsticks feel very professional. They are encased in a black, matte, metal tubing with simple branding. They click shut so no worrying about the cap popping off in your bag. The metal is very cool to the touch and feels durable.

Final Thoughts

I will definitely be purchasing more neutral colors of this product when it arrives in my local Sephora! The formula is long wearing, doesn’t fade, crease or smear, and feels like bare lips.

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*All products shown above were freely provided to me through Influenster to test. All opinions are my own.*

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