• March 8, 2017

    Skin Care Routine

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    Many people start to see their skin look duller in their 30’s because cells do not regenerate as quickly as in your teens and 20’s.  Fine lines and dark circles, and sun spots also start to make an appearance during this time which makes your late 20’s and 30’s an essential time to start caring for your skin if, like me, you have just kind of ignored skin care in general so far in life.

    Now that I am getting older and 30 is only months away, I decided it was time to start doing some research and find out what I ought to be doing to take better care of the skin I’m in.  I learned that, in addition to my regular sunscreen and moisturizer, I will also want to add a gentle cleanser, vitamin C serum, and eye cream.

    Micellar-Water

    A gentle cleanser is super important to start with when caring for  your skin.  Remember how I said your cells won’t regenerate as quickly as they did when  you were  younger?  Well,  you don’t want to over exfoliate, but you still need to keep your skin clean and those cells moving!  Plain old soap and water is ok, but I chose Pacifica Coconut Micellar Water as my cleanser.  Micellar water works by specifically pulling dirt and oil away from your pores and skin without harsh chemicals (and doing a better job of it than soap), making it the perfect pick me up in the morning and a great way to remove light make up at the end of the day.  I chose Pacifica because it is gluten free, cruelty free, and is made in the US.  It also smells really nice and (I’ll admit I’m a sucker) the packaging is gorgeous.

    Vit-C-Serum

    Vitamin C Serum is my next essential product because it treats the onset of wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin.  Vitamin C is the only vitamin proven to actually work in anti-aging studies.  It works by producing collagen in the skin which helps tighten and firm it.  I chose Lumene Bright Now Vitamin C BB Serum because it is gluten free and cruelty free.  It also works as a serum and moisturizer, which I really like.  I apply this daily as part of my night routine.

    Eye-Cream

    The next product I’ve started using is an eye cream by bareMinerals.  Much like the vitamin C serum, eye creams are meant to reduce fine lines and plump the area around your eyes to look healthier and younger.  Eye creams also help fight dark undereye circles and tiredness in your face caused by stress and exposure to the environment.  I chose bareMinerals Brilliant Future Age Defense & Renew Eye Cream because it is generally considered gluten free and is cruelty free.  I’m also pretty sure it’s made in the US.  I use this daily as part of my night routine.

    Mask

    The next two products are less essential and more fun in my mind.  First, I got the Pacifica Wake Up Beautiful Mask.  I use this once a week to help keep my skin hydrated, which it really needed during the cold winter months.  The nice thing about this mask is that you don’t have to wash it off, so it really holds the moisture in!  It’s gluten free, cruelty free, and made in the US.

    Hair-Mask

    Next is the Moroccan Oil Hydrating Mask for hair.  I use this once a week as well to keep my hair hydrated and looking good.  It is super easy to use – I just shampoo like normal, rise and squeeze as much water out of my hair as possible.  Then, massage in some of the mask and go about the rest of my shower time stuff, rinsing the mask out after 5-10 minutes.  Easy-peasy, and it smells amazing!  It is gluten free and cruelty free.

    Since starting my skin (and hair) care routine about a month ago, I feel that my skin is looking brighter, cleaner, and healthier.  It is showing fewer fine lines around my eyes and I think the dark circles are going away too.  I’ve been really happy with my choices and am starting to see why so many people are willing to throw down serious cash for these kinds of products.  I’m glad to have started caring for my skin and hair at this time in my life – it is starting to give me more confidence, not only because my skin looks good, but also because I am taking time on a daily basis to do something small but good for myself.  Having this skin care routine is almost meditative and forces me to slow down a bit and really be nice to me – no wonder it’s working!  *grin*

  • February 22, 2017

    February Round Up

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    I hate to say it, but this month really sucked, ya’ll.  Work has been incredibly stressful and after being out sick for a week, it became that much more stressful.  Right.  Plus, I was sick forever which is never fun.  Because of it, I had to miss out on plans with friends, a couples massage with my hubby for Valentines, book club, and I was still sick on his birthday too so he ended up having to cook for himself and was still sleeping in the guest room in hopes of self preservation.

    *sigh*

    I am trying to find the light, though, and focus on what good there has been this month.  Because of my illness, I was able to read a lot.  My books this month were Spook by Mary Roach, Bonk by Mary Roach, and I’ve started the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon.  Clearly, I really enjoy Mary Roach’s snarky, scientific writing.  She’s provocative, honest and real which I found so refreshing that I just kept looking for her books.  She does have a couple I still haven’t read, but by the end of the month I was ready for a change.  Outlander is spectacular.  I’ve seen the television show already and thoroughly enjoyed it – so far the book and show line up quite well with each other, but, of course, the book is better.  I am loving the insight and thoughtfulness that the book is able to provide, something television and film rarely really get right.

    I also spent a lot of time listening to music.  Not just any music, though, Broadway music.  Specifically, the soundtrack to Hamilton.  Clever, fun, informative, and relatable are not words I ever thought I’d attribute to anything about early American history… but Hamilton does it!  Someday, I will see the show.  Probably a mediocre band of performers from a local theater group, but I will see it.  And I will know every song by heart when I do.  Probably because it’s the only thing I’ve listened to all month.

    Before getting sick, hubster and I did make it to the movies to see Hidden Figures.  I loved everything about this movie – the characters, the set and costumes, the story, the significance of a story like this in times like this…  So. Good.  If you haven’t see this yet, go now!  Take your daughters, your sisters, your mom… any woman you can find (men, I suppose, should also see it.  It’s just so, so important for women to see right now).

    I have also discovered a new snack food that I am super obsessed with.  Harvest Snaps are surprisingly amazing.  I picked up a couple bags on a whim when I was grocery shopping and fell in love.  Or, in obsession.  They have the consistency of a Cheeto, but don’t have all the nasty artificial crap on them.  My favorite flavors are the tomato basil lentil beans and the lightly salted snap peas.  Mmm…. so yummy.  And if you try really hard, you can convince yourself they are healthy.   *grin*

    Finally, now that I am feeling better, hubster and I are working on making up for missing his birthday and Valentine’s Day!  We’ll be making fondue and eating cake all weekend long! It’s not quite the same, but at least there is cake!

    And there you have it!  February was hard but not wholly unpleasant.  Just remember to look for the good things even when you’re not feeling the good things.  <3

  • February 15, 2017

    UGH

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    Well, it’s that time of year, I guess.  I’ve been sick with a really bad cold for a week now and I’ve gotta say… I’m so tired of this!  I am one of those people who resist illness pretty well, but once I do get sick, I get really sick.  So, yeah.  That’s where I’m at right now.

    I am fortunate, though, that the job I have offers paid sick time and I was able to stay home and let my body heal for a few days without sacrificing my paycheck and ability to cover costs at home.  I know not everyone has this option, so I’m trying to look on the bright side.

    Anyway, I hope to be back in full force next week – wish me luck!

  • November 23, 2016

    Hawaiian Vacation: Aloha, Mindfulness, and Meditation

    flower

    Welcome to my third and final post about my Hawaiian vacation!  I hope you’ve enjoyed visiting the beautiful island of Maui with me this month!  You know, I’ve always heard people say that Hawaii is a special place.  I always assumed that they meant it was beautiful and fun and a good place for a vacation.  While these things are all true, there is really something special about that place.

    waterfall

    ocean

    While visiting, I spent as much time as I could learning about the history and culture of Hawaii.  I talked to a few locals, including some fabulously interesting Uber drivers, and I feel like I really gained so much from their insight.  You see, Hawaiian culture is incredibly inclusive, respectful, and spiritual – something I think the mainland needs a big lesson in right now.

    lei

    friend

    It seemed like everything done and everything said had special meaning and history.  People would go out of their way to help or to share a smile with you.  This was at the resort, restaurants, shops, tours, car rides… literally everywhere I went.  People were so happy to share their culture and stories with me, it was really wonderful!

    church

    You’re probably familiar with “aloha” meaning both hello and goodbye?  That is true, but it also conveys respect and love and spiritual connection.  One tour guide explained that native Hawaiian language has limited words and many words are combinations of words, so “alo” is like the uplifted face – the connection you have with another person or god or nature, and “ha” is like your life breath – your spirit and being.  So, “aloha” is that respectful, spiritual connection to people, to god, to nature, to… everything.  And remember in Lilo and Stitch when Lilo says that “ohana means family and family means nobody gets left behind”?  That is true, but ohana also extends to all Hawaiian people.  And notice that “ha” also shows up in ohana?  They put caring for the whole community very high on their list of priorities.

    celebrate

    Every encounter I had while in Maui was extremely positive and I could feel the energy of the people around me.  Once away from other tourists, I could sit and think and absorb the good vibes that I’ve only ever felt in Hawaii.  I took as much time as I could to meditate on the things people told me, to really feel their words.  One gentleman I met spent a good bit of our conversation encouraging me to bring Aloha to the mainland – to spread their love and peace to a nation that is in turmoil and feeling so much hate right now.  I hope I’ve done this… I hope people meet me and feel loved and respected.  I hope I don’t lose the lessons I learned  in Hawaii in the coming months and years.  And, while I don’t necessarily expect that you really get what I am trying to convey by reading these words alone, I do hope that you will also go out and be a light to your community.  Connect with your life breath and treat every relationship as sacred.

    jellyfish

    sunset

    Peace.

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  • November 2, 2016

    October Round Up

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    Happy November, ya’ll!  October went a little nuts and I got totally behind on my blogs!  I do want to share my round up for October, though, so here we go!

     

    soup

    My hubby has struggled with a deviated septum his whole life which makes it hard for him to breathe properly, especially when he’s trying to sleep.  So, this fall we decided it was time to get it taken care of and he went in for surgery.  Everything went great and he’s said that he feels so much better now!  He’s able to sleep so much better than before!  To help him heal, I made homemade chicken soup and it was ah-maz-ing!

     

    hawaii

    After the surgery was done and we knew everything was good, I confirmed my girls trip to Hawaii.  A friend of mine was planning to attend a conference for her work and I talked her into letting me tag along.  The trip went splendidly and you can bet there will be tons of pictures and more detail up next week!  *grin*

     

    books

    I also read a lot this month – fall always gets me into the mindset of study,  books, and cuddling up with blankets and tea.  This month I read Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson, The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and Stir by Jessica Fetcher.  If you haven’t read Jennys blog or books, you really should consider giving it a try.  She’s quirky and fun but she also talks about deep, important issues like parenthood and mental illness.  I also enjoyed The Girl on the Train which is a thriller/suspense novel.  I really liked the mystery of it and trying to figure out what was happening along with the main character.  Stir is a memoir for my book club about a woman whose recovery from illness was aided hugely by her love of cooking and food.  I haven’t quite finished yet, but so far it’s been really wonderful!

    Despite all the busy-ness of last month, we did still manage to see a couple of movies.  The first was Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children.  I really liked Tim Burton’s take on the story and its overall darkness.  Some things were, of course, left out from the book… but it was so good it wasn’t too hard to find forgiveness for Tim.  We also saw The Girl on the Train which was pretty good.  I preferred the book and felt that there was just a lot more suspense and intrigue than the movie.  My husband did not read the book, though, and said that he was able to follow it just fine and liked the movie well enough.  One thing I do want to understand is why they would change the setting from London to New York?  It made me unexplainably sad.

    Lastly, Halloween!  Because of the crazy, busy, expensive, and exhausting way this month went… I didn’t get to do my decorations as planned.  This makes me really sad because now I’ve failed my 30 before 30.  Hopefully next year we can get our stuff together and carry out my plan.  We did enjoy the fall colors, candy and baked goods, and pumpkin everything in October and that helped a little.  We watched some classic scary movies and drank lots of hot tea.  Now, we’re in November and I am realizing just how much I have to do before Christmas… how did we ever get this far into 2016?!

  • September 7, 2016

    Hair Cut for a Cause

    Pony-Tail

    This may  not seem like a very big deal, and really it’s not, but I got my hair cut over the weekend.  What makes this worth writing about is what happened afterwards!

    You see, I’ve been growing my hair out for about 4 years and finally decided it was time to say goodbye to the heavy curtain that pulled me down and made me look a little bit depressed and far too young.  It’s strange, but it took all summer for me to finally feel ready to part with it even though it really didn’t do anything for me.

    Back

    Anyway, the important part is the after part!  Now that I have a ponytail that’s not attached to my noggin, I’ll be mailing it to the Pantene Beautiful Lengths program to be made into a wig for a woman who has lost her own hair from cancer treatments.  I haven’t known anyone while they were going through chemo, but cancer has touched my grandmother, dad, friends, and co-workers in various ways and to various degrees.  I can only imagine what it’s like to involuntarily surrender ones hair to the treatment and how alienating that must feel sometimes.  I think about the people in my life and the stories I read online or in magazines of courage and strength and I think about how hard it must be to have to be strong.  To have to put one foot in front of the other, no matter how uncertain the path.  And then I think, if something so small to me could make life a little more “normal” or a tiny bit more bearable for someone, then I should give it freely and openly.

    Side-View

    And so I do.  I chopped it all off with the hope that my heavy burden might help another feel lighter and free to be herself again.  I share this, not for recognition or praise, but to encourage you to do the same if you are able.  Give what you can to make this world a little happier, a little less dark, and little more free.  Sow seeds of love and peace – our world needs all the good we have to give.

  • August 24, 2016

    Top 5 Bath & Beauty Products

    Life seems to be getting away from me lately.  Between summer activities, house projects, washer/dryer threatening to go out on me, and some really tough cases at work… I haven’t had much time for self care, let alone any writing or picture taking!  It’s been so sad for me too, because I’ve really been wanting to share this one with you!  *grin*

    Here are my top 5 favorite bath and beauty products:

    Natures Gate Shampoo/Conditioner

    Natures-Gate

    I really love the way the herbal ones smell!  Ugh, it’s SO good!  And it leaves my hair shiny and healthy without the use of gluten, animal product, parabens, GMOs, Soy, etc!  They are cruelty free and eco-friendly too!  It’s amazing to have a product that is ethical, safe, and works really well too!

    Physician’s Formula Mascara

     

    Physicians-Formula

    I have always struggled with mascara – it usually makes my eyes teary and crusty and yucky if I wear it too long.  Recently, a friend of mine mentioned that there might be gluten in the one I was using – who would have thought?!  Turns out, it’s really common and it’s actually really hard to find on that is gluten free!  No wonder I had issues before!  This Physician’s Formula mascara is easy to apply and doesn’t hurt my eyes even if I wear it every day!  Not all of their mascara’s are gluten free, but they label them very clearly on the packaging so it’s easy to find safe ones.  This particular one is not waterproof and I have found it smudges if you aren’t careful, but it’s a trade-off I am willing to make!

    The Body Shop Hand Creams

    The-Body-Shop

    A work friend gave me the strawberry hand cream for Christmas last year and I fell in love!  It is so smooth and absorbs very quickly which is a must for me in a hand cream.  They come in great little travel size tubes so I always have one in my bag and use it constantly!  The price may seem a little bit much for a tiny tube, but you really don’t need much when you apply it so it lasts a long time.  Also, The Body Shop has pretty frequent sales, so if you watch the website and buy a bunch when they are on sale, you can get a really great deal!  I think the last time I bought these, they were 3 for $10 (and when one tube usually costs $8… that’s pretty amazing!).

    Lush Bath Bomb

    Lush

    A beauty love list wouldn’t be complete without Lush Bath Bombs!  I don’t do baths too often, but when I really want to spoil myself, I love these products!  My favorite so far is Butterball.  The natural and safe ingredients leave my skin so soft and lightly scented.  It’s truly relaxing and peaceful while also being really good for my skin and they are ethically sourced too!  Ahhhhh-mazing!

    Lancome Juicy Shaker

    Lancome

    And for my grand finale, and truly indulgent beauty product: Lancome’s Juicy Shaker!  I struggle with lip colors and never feel like they last or look right and they always leave me feeling sticky and icky, but not so with this!  It is a little bit sticky at first, but leaves lips soft and comfortable after a bit.  The color is so nice too – I got the red colored vanilla pop and was a little afraid of it being too dark on my pale Irish skin, but it’s totally not!  Plus, it smells so good!  *grin*  The only downside (and why I only have one) is that they cost a whopping $21!  Ouch!  But, it’s good to spoil yourself once in a while, right?

    I hope you’ve enjoyed this little journey into my bath and beauty loves!  I’d love if you would share with me in the comments what products you love and what makes them so wonderful!

  • August 3, 2016

    Photo Session

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    If you follow me on Instagram, you already know that I got a shiny new toy for my birthday:

    Camera

    It’s a Nikon Coolpix B500.  I’m still learning my way around it, but so far I’ve been very pleased.  It’s not a DSLR, so there are some limitations as far as zooming and focusing and the manual aspect that higher end cameras offer.  That said, I think this is about as close as any point and click camera can get to a DSLR – the zoom is amazing and the images are crisp and clear!

    The reason I asked for this camera is because the DSLR we have is wonderful, but also big, expensive, and hard to take on camping, hiking, and vacations.  I needed something  better than my phone camera but less intense then the Canon Rebel!

    The first day I had the camera, we went to a winery and I snapped a few pictures of the grounds.  Totally forgot to take any of the actual wine tasting… I guess I’ll have to go back and try again!  *grin*

    Vineyard

    Grapes

    One day these will be delicious wine… and I will be back for them!

     

    Wine

    Then, last weekend, we went camping.  The spot we had wasn’t super great for pictures – truly lacking in flowers, moss, or any color really.  I did manage to get some nice shots of the lake, though, and the wildlife as well!  

    Tent

    Heron

    That zoom! O.o

     

    Fly-Away

    I hope you will enjoy watching me learn my way around this camera and getting a glimpse into my world as I go.  It’s been a lot of fun for me so far!

  • May 18, 2016

    Top 5 Things to Love About Spring

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    Spring is such a wonderful time of year, don’t you think?  There is always so much to do, but there is also so much to love!   I’ve managed to narrowe it down to my 5 favorite things about springtime!  I hope you enjoy my photos and feel inspired to get out and see some of your favorite spring things.  *grin*

    1. Everything is new!

    Duckies

     

    Lavender

     

    2. It’s nice enough to go outside!

    Geese

     

    Walking-Ollie

     

    3. Iced coffee!

    Iced-Chai

     

    4. Garden planning!

    Pots

     

    Herbs

     

    5. Breaking out the spring and summer wardrobe!

    Dresses

     

    Scarves

  • May 4, 2016

    Infused Water Recipes

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    If you are anything like me, you struggle to drink enough water every day.  And if you are like me, this next piece of information is going to blow. your. mind.: the old idea of 8, 8oz glasses of water every day is bunk.  It doesn’t take into account your height, weight, activity level, or anything!  A 100lb woman who works out for an hour every day won’t need the same amount of water as a 300lb woman who never works out, or a 300lb woman who does work out every day.  Makes, sense, right?

    So, how much water do you actually need to drink?  To find out, take your weight and multiply it by 67% (or .67) and the total is the number of ounces you should drink if you are not working out or spending the day in the sun.  So, if you weigh 130lb… 130x.67=87… 87oz of water every damn day!

    For reals.  And that’s just the base level – you should drink another 12oz for every 30 minutes you work out!

    When I learned this, I about died.  I mean, I don’t drink that much of anything in a day, let alone just water!  It felt so insurmountable at first that I almost gave up before I even tried.

    But then I didn’t.  I didn’t give up.  I tried really, really hard for longer than I care to admit and finally reached my goal water consumption!  I defiantly don’t hit it every day, but I’ve changed some habits and made water a priority, so it’s way better than it used to be.  To help me reach that goal, I tried lots of different things, one of which was flavoring my water like they do in fancy spas.  Mmm… fancy water.  Here are my two favorite water flavor combinations:

    Strawberry Cucumber Basil Water

    Strawberries

    • 1/2 sliced cucumber
    • fresh basil leaves
    • 5 strawberries, sliced

    Strawberry-Water

     

    Ginger Pear Water

    Pear-and-Ginger

    • 1 sliced pear
    • fresh ginger

    Pear-and-Ginger-Water

    Let ingredients mingle for a few hours and enjoy!  Hopefully having fancy spa water will help inspire you to drink more water and actually enjoy it!