The Secret is in the Shoes

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I was talking with my sister on the phone today and we got on the topic of fashion, what our personal styles are, and when it’s a good idea to branch out.  I told her about how I didn’t want to get into “fashion rut” and how pregnancy had been an eye-opening experience for me.  Even though I was pretty small my entire pregnancy, and never wore maternity clothes, I adjusted my style to suit my new body.  To my surprise, the change of pace was welcome to my wardrobe.  I told her that I had learned to step-out a little bit and try new things, so that I could always have a fresh “edge” to my style.  And then she said the truest thing: that the secret is really in the shoes.

Don’t get me wrong–adding a new piece of jewelry to your collection, or mastering a new hairstyle can work wonders to change up your look.  And we all know how refreshing it is to add a few new shirts into our fashion rotation.  But, a tell-tale sign of a fashion-rut is the shoes.

An old pair of shoes completely detracts from your entire look.  So does an unseasonable pair of slip-ons. Just think about the power of shoes for a moment.   A set of heels can take a pair of jeans from day to night.  A pair of flats can put a short skirt in check and make it modest.  Flip flops look completely different with shorts than heels do.  Even if you don’t consider yourself a “shoe person” (which I’m NOT) deep down inside, you know it actually counts for a lot.

SO, don’t let yourself get caught wearing 2 or 3 year old shoes with an outfit the same age.

If you are wearing that gorgeous lace skirt you bought a while ago, that’s perfectly fine and beautiful.  But pair it with a set of shoes you got more recently.  It’s not that you can’t wear older shoes–but your shoes and clothes should never be the same age.  A broken-in pair of shoes makes a broken-in outfit look worn-out as a whole.  Either the clothes or the shoes have to be new in order for your look to remain fresh.

And seasons matter too.  I learned this when working in a fashion boutique.  My boss mandated (like, basically half-way thru September) that we were no longer allowed to wear strappy sandals.  I thought it was a petty demand.  Boots were no fun to wear at work, and strappy sandals looked better with the skirts I was wearing.  But, in hindsight, she had a point.  If we were supposed to be cutting-edge fashion associates, we couldn’t be sporting sandals in late September, no matter how hot it was.  There were flats, boots, and heels that had a much more fall-look to them.   And the vibe of sandals honestly threw-off our fall styles.

I promise I’m not a shoe snob.  I’m not one of those people who drops hundreds of dollars on name-brand shoes.  In fact, I don’t even like shoes!  I wear flip-flops as often as possible, because they give my feet the least amount of “shoe” that I can find in my closet.  And in college, I was famous for wearing slippers, despite our professional dress code.  (And yes, I got dress-coded for it, haha).  At one point, I believe I owned 36 pairs of slippers.  Obsession is a real thing.  I even wore tiny bridal slippers as my wedding shoes on our special day.  So yes, no shoe snobbery here.

But I wanted to share my sister’s words of wisdom today…because sitting back, I realized just how right she was.  Shoes really can make or break a look.  They can completely stamp a date on your outfit.  And they can destroy the season of your style if you’re not careful.

Moral of the story: if the shoe fits, buy it in every color it comes in. 🙂  That’s not a summary of this post, it’s just my parting words of wisdom.  Now the real question is: (comment below) when is it time to officially retire a pair of shoes?

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Sea Breeze vs. Burt’s Bees

I can’t believe I’m doing this.  I can’t believe that anything could hold a candle to my well-loved Burt’s Bees line of skincare.  But Sea Breeze kinda does…well, okay, ONLY in regards to toners and ONLY ONLY in regards to what toners are for.

I am a long-time Burt’s Bees lover.  The natural ingredients, the gentle honey smells, the buttery texture of their creams…ooh, it gets me every time!  It was a no-brainer to go for their toner.  I get their Radiance Toner with royal jelly (it’s the special food that the worker bees bring the queen bee, who lives 40x longer than the rest of the bees…it’s supposed to have anti-aging and luxury properties.)  I love it.  A cold silky cotton pad of it right before bedtime, before I moisturize…perfection.  It has a slightly herbal smell that is delightful.  It is gentle and has absolutely no “astringent” feel to it.  It’s the best toner I have ever used.

It was a simple little story as to how I stumbled across the Burt’s Bees Radiance Toner.  After using up my Mary Kay toner, I thought I might switch things up and try a new toner.  *Discovers that Burt’s Bees makes a toner*  *Buys it*  *LOVES it*  *Begins to run out of said-toner*  *THERE IS NONE LEFT IN THE STORE*  So I try Sea Breeze.  Oh my.

The first time I put Sea Breeze on my face…OUCH.  It felt like I had squirted a bottle of toothpaste on my face like it was shaving cream and then pretended to shave it off with my toothbrush….not that…I ever did that…when I was a little kid.  Ahem.  I thought I had been lied to.  I had heard Sea Breeze was a “good” toner.  The bottle said “Classic Clean” not “Acidic and Destructive.”  And it said that it was SENSITIVE SKIN….uh, yeah maybe if you have non-penetrable elephant skin.  Let’s just say, I was NOT a fan of how “tingly” and “DEEEEEEEP cleansing” the Sea Breeze felt.  I almost dumped out the whole bottle right there on the spot.  I still had a little bit of Burt’s Bees left in my bottle…right?  Maybe if I was conservative, I could eek it through until my next bottle arrived from amazon.

And then I got daring.  A night or two later, the glistening little bottle of Sea Breeze gave me a classic stare when I was washing my face.  It was mocking me.  It was asking me how come so many people liked Sea Breeze, and yet I couldn’t handle it.  It told me I had kind of overreacted with the whole “tingling” sensation and that a lot of toners do that, hence the word “astringent.”  Finally, my Sea Breeze bottle took the ultimate stab…the last-chance hurrah that it knew would be my downfall…my Achilles’ heel.  It mouthed the word “money” to me.

That was it.  I knew I couldn’t dump out an entire brand-new bottle of toner.  Not after one try.  So I meekly soaked a cotton pad of it and delicately dabbed it on my face like it was poisonous. Not that I would put my poison on my face.  But if I had to, I would dab.  Tingle.  Minty.  Tingle.  My face was cleansed in an extremely obvious way.  And I had survived.

Since I made it out alive, I decided to work the Sea Breeze into my skincare routine until I had finished the bottle.  I couldn’t stand it twice a day…but maybe once at night?  I could always revitalize my face with the Burt’s Bees toner in the morning, right?  Well, the more I gave Sea Breeze a try, the more it worked for me.  And then one day, the truth hit home.

I had washed my face clean with my Oil of Olay washcloth (the dry kind that has soap already dried into it, and you just have to get it wet to turn it into a soapy little bath for your face).  I had been wearing a full face of makeup…which for me includes primer, foundation, and bronzer.  I used my cotton pad soaked in Sea Breeze, and to my horror, pulled off another face-full of makeup.  How did I miss all that makeup with Olay washcloth?  Those had never let me down!  And my Mary Kay toner never pulled up that much makeup.   And my *gasp* Burt’s Bees never pulled up that much makeup.  I thought maybe it was a fluke.  Maybe I hadn’t washed my face as well as I thought I had.  But, the proof was in the pudding.  Night after night, it continued to pull makeup out of my skin after I had well-washed the makeup off.  I tried it in the morning, when I hadn’t had makeup on my face for hours.  It still pulled dirt from skin…dirt that I have no idea how I got because ALL I HAD BEEN DOING WAS SLEEPING.  The Sea Breeze is a deep cleanser, I concluded.  Wow.

So…which wins the spot in my beauty drawer?…my silky herbal Burt’s Bees, or my deep cleansing, tingly Sea Breeze?  To be honest, I keep both in my drawer.  The Burt’s Bees is too gentle not to keep; it’s just so luxurious.  But now that I know how clean the Sea Breeze gets my skin, I can’t turn my back on it.  So I like using Sea Breeze when I want to feel fresh and clean clean clean, but I use Burt’s Bees when I just want to rub a gentle and moist cotton pad on my face after washing it.

Which one should you buy?  It all depends on why you use toner in the first place!  Let me know in the comments below what toner does for you, and what your favorite brand is.

 

Radiance Cream

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My new all-time favorite way to moisturize.  I simply love the Burt’s Bees line of skincare. So it was a no-brainer when my Mary Kay Botanical Effects moisturizer was running low that I would give Burt’s Bees a try.  I picked up their Radiance night cream with royal jelly because I already knew I liked their radiance line.  Let me tell you, this cream did NOT disappoint.

I love the ingredients list.  Burt’s Bees flaunts the naturalness of their line, and with good reason.  They use Bee pollen and Shea Butter in this cream, so all the moisture you’re getting is from a natural source.  The cream is overflowing with extracts: wild cherry bark extract, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, spearmint extract, lemon peel extract, cucumber fruit extract, rosemary leaf extract and sage leaf extract…just to name a few.  That gentle smell of butter and honey is a natural smell, which often can make a skin product good for sensitive skin.

I love that it has royal jelly in it.  The whole “secret” behind the royal jelly is that it is the food that the worker bees feed to the queen bee.  So, it’s the good stuff of the hive.  And what’s more, the queen bee lives 40x longer than the rest of the bees, and she is usually twice their size.  So royal jelly is nourishing.  The plumping effect and anti-aging properties that it offers the queen bee are basically transferred to your skin when you use it.  That’s why it’s called “radiance” cream…because your skin looks fuller and younger.

And yes it does.  The first night I put this on, I was struck with how luxurious and buttery the texture was.  And unlike most heavy creams, I felt like this dried nicely on my skin without leaving me feeling greasy.  When I woke up the next morning, I was visibly more radiant.  I was BLOWN AWAY with how the royal jelly made my skin feel.  I felt like I glowed.  My skin was moist and full…it was everything I could have asked a moisturizer to do to me.

Now, this is technically a night cream.  And truthfully, it is heavier than your average moisturizer.  However, it’s not so heavy that I don’t put it on in the morning.  I like wearing it throughout the day because it is extremely moisturizing.  It feels good on my skin, and makes it feel radiant, not oily.  I especially like wearing it under my makeup.  However, if you really struggle with oil, or you hate the feel of a moist face, then you might want to try the day cream.

This post was not in any way sponsored by Burt’s Bees…only inspired by them because I LOVE their products.  I have to say that this night cream is one of my very favorites from their skincare line.  What’s your favorite moisturizer?

Gratitude

For a good reason, I was struck with gratitude today.

It was rainy and cold and dreary outside…but that only made the inside of our little apartment all the more cozy to me.  I had fallen asleep holding my sleeping little baby while my husband and I watched Liverpool together (Premier League soccer).  It was just a peaceful, dreamy Sunday afternoon nap and I treasured those slow minutes so much.  The three of us, curled up and spending time together just for the sake of being together.  For the sake of not wanting anything else but just that.

I really am grateful for all that I have been given–so often I can’t even believe is mine, but it is.  I know I didn’t earn it–everything in my life is a gift.  And I’m so grateful.

One thing though…I want to be better at “stopping and thinking” about my gifts and life.  I am daily impressed by them.  But I want to take it a step further than just being impressed.  I want to be grateful, and I want to thank everyone who has given me these gifts.  I want to thank my husband primarily, my little daughter, our wonderful military community, our loving friends and family, our generous Church, and ultimately God, Who lets all these  amazing people give out His gifts in their different ways.

What are you grateful for?

 

Expirement Expired!

Well, I reached my 1-month blog goal.  I started my blog on December 14 and decided/ordered myself to blog once a day for one month straight.  And now, looking back on my calendar, I am happy to say that I have filled out every day with a blog post from December 14 until today.

Am I above admitting that there were times when I played catch up and posted an article with a backwards date on it to fill a missed day?  No.  That was me.  But am I proud to say I am publishing my 33rd blog post?  Yes indeedy I am.

Take aways:  What did I learn?

I learned that I procrastinate, which is why it earned the number one spot at the top of my new year’s resolution list…I’m determined to stop putting things off.  I am phlegmatic.  I realize that anti-procrastination does not come naturally to me.  But I’m determined to work on it, and at least to stop putting off so many things as I do.  I have always been of the opinion that it’s better to be a little more on the relaxed-side then on the stressed-side when it comes to getting things done.  But what I learned is that the problem is, being too relaxed can lead to stress.  So in any case, I didn’t save myself from stress by being “relaxed” because all I really did was stress myself out by letting things pile up.

I also learned that blogging is fun.  I learned that I like it.  I learned that I don’t want to stop.

But I also learned that less is more.  It was hard for me to create the kind of quality content I wanted because the quantity of the content deadline was getting in my way.  Check out my blogulitions post to see how I plan to rectify the situation.

I think last but not least, I learned that goals are a great thing.  If I hadn’t set a 1-post-a-day monthly goal, I would have half of the posts that I do!  And I wouldn’t know half as much about blogging as I do now.  Setting a goal really pushed me.  But having a goal also kept me from getting overwhelmed.  I didn’t launch the blog telling myself, “Quick, go out there and write big!” but instead I said, “Be committed and give blogging a shot.  Write 1 article every day for 1 month and see how you do.”  It was a goal with a definite limit.  No matter how hard it was to pump out 33 articles, I knew that by January 15, the deadline would be over and I could breathe easy that I had done it.  It was easier to meet that goal because it was specific and doable.  I love goals like that.

So in conclusion, I would like to thank you for being there for me during my experiment.  I’d like to thank you for your readership, supports, comments, and likes.  Thank you for the patience when I didn’t quite get all 31 articles out daily.  They all made it up there eventually, but necessarily on a 24-hour clock.  I really appreciate your time and support with this whole experience.

Last, can you keep reading as my blogging journeys on through 2016?  I have a lot of surprises planned.  I hope by the end of 2016 that my blog is unrecognizable from it’s humble start in 2015…but I hope that I can always recognize the support that is given to me by my readers.  Thanks guys!

My Eyelash Secret

 

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I have three steps that I take in order to make my eyelashes look just how I want them.  The first, a killer mascara.  The second, a hefty amount of coats.  And last…my eyelash secret serum.

I first found out about an eyelash growth serum during my quest for how-to-use-coconut-oil-in-my-beauty-routine.  We all went on that at one time or another, right?  Only me?  Okay.  I’m usually late to the party.  I was watching a youtube video from the beauty guru Carli Bybel and she mentioned that she used the following recipe as an eyelash/eyebrow serum.  I liked the idea, tried out the recipe, watched in amazement as my eyelashes grew 3 feet longer, and batted them a lot more often.  Read and learn and try.  You have to.

You will need:

Avocado Oil

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Castor Oil

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And of course…who else but Coconut Oil himself.

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The Secret Serum Recipe

  1.  Place your coconut oil in a warm and sunny place, but not the microwave. 🙂  Once you get 1oz., pour it into a small plastic jar (I like using travel lotion bottles).
  2. Pour 1oz. of castor oil into the same little bottle.
  3. Add 7 drops of avocado oil into the bottle.
  4. Mix by shaking vigorously.
  5. Clean and wipe dry an old mascara brush.
  6. Dip the brush into your bottle of serum, and stroke onto your (bare) eyelashes the way you would apply mascara.
  7. Repeat every night for one week to see results.

And you will SEE those results!  Your eyelashes will be longer, definitely thicker, and your mascara will apply more dramatically.  If you do this for weeks and weeks in a row, you eventually just reach a “healthy” point where your eyelashes are as long and thick as they are going to be for a while.  I usually don’t use the serum for weeks on end, because your eyelashes don’t really need it.  I recommend doing it for two weeks straight, then taking a week off, then doing it for a week, and just rotating it into your nighttime beauty routine every other week.

N.B. It is 100% healthy and will not cause damage to your lashes, eyeballs, or skin around your eyes.

Give this a try and comment how you liked it!!

What’s in my Diaper Bag

I should actually title this, “What’s in my purse” because I don’t technically carry a diaper bag.  Before I had the baby, or even got pregnant, I promised myself I wouldn’t become a camel once I had children…carrying a purse, diaper bag, snack bag, groceries, and a handful of coats.  Obviously children are COMPLETELY WORTH IT.  But I made it a personal goal to not have to be a camel.  Just a mom.  And so far, it’s been working.

I found a stylish bag (read: I had an unused Vera Bradley in my closet) and decided to use it as both a purse and diaper bag.  My previous purse was really just a tiny clutch, and it could hardly hold a tissue, so I knew I needed an upgrade.  But a Vera Bradley tote bag was the perfect answer to my search.  It is large enough to hold diaper-y things (is that a word?) but stylish enough to just be a regular purse that goes with my outfits.  Sometimes. Vera Bradleys can be a challenge in the matching-every-outfit category.  Oh, and I am aware that Vera Bradley makes a “diaper bag” and it’s really nice…but it’s totally shaped like a diaper bag and is hulking like a diaper bag and so therefore I can’t honestly pass it off as just a purse.  Let’s be real, it has the camel vibe.

This is what I keep in my Diaper Bag/Purse:

-diapers. duh

-wipes. more duh

-one spare outfit for baby.  doesn’t seem like ‘duh’ until you’ve had a blowout at the dentist.  yes, that happened.

-tiny roll of doggy-do trash bags.  perfect for bagging used diapers and masking the smell.

-my nursing cover.

-my wallet…this is a purse after all. 🙂

-cell phone.

-keys.

-lip moisturizer.

-hand sanitizer.

-now I feel bad for writing this because it’s so obvious…but you get the point.

It’s basically all “my needs” and “baby’s needs” without being a ridiculously giant (camel) bag of snacks, toys, blankets, towels, a deck of cards, etc.  You’ve seen those diaper bags.  You know who they are.  You know who you are.  Are you a camel?

For anyone who thinks I’ve distanced myself from the animal class by rejecting camel-hood, fear not.  I’ve embraced the human love-affair with the chameleon.  Try as I might, I still try to get my Vera Bradley to blend in with my outfit.  Good luck to me, it’s fuchsia, pink, and safari sunset paisley.