For Better or For Worse – Where in the world are the Alley’s?

Hello, friends!

I have been itching to post again recently, but I couldn’t find the time, energy, or heart to write anything. I wasn’t inspired, I’ve just been exhausted. I finally got my act together and realized that there would never be a perfect time, so why not now?

Let me give you fair warning: I’m under energized, under caffeinated {but currently taking applicants if anyone wants to bring me a non fat, no whip white chocolate mocha or a chocolate chai tea latte…anyone?} and most likely, over-emotional, but here we go:

They say marriage will have good years and bad years, especially when you are first starting out, as you are navigating new territory. When I was told this advice before I got married, I took it out of context. I thought that it meant that you’ll fight a lot during your first few years, you won’t get along, it’ll be hard to adjust. Maybe that’s exactly what they intended by the advice, maybe it wasn’t, but I had several issues with that advice.

First, that’s just not how Charles and I work. We don’t have bad years, we don’t have huge blowout fiths where we quit communicating. We blend, we mesh, we are best friends, how am I supposed to get on board with someone telling me we are about to have bad years? Second, it just seemed like such a pessimistic outlook and point of view, and I didn’t want to believe it could happen.

Our first two years of our almost four year marriage truly were your typical “honeymoon” years, further distancing me from this theory.. Then, the past 14 months happened. First, there was the cancer diagnosis of Charles’ father. They say one of the hardest things to do is to mourn the loss of someone who is still alive, and they are right. It’s hard knowing what is to come. Then, his father passed away, which was a devastating loss. We started recovering, and then the unanticipated loss of our sister in law happened. I truly cannot tell you which is worse, losing someone and knowing it was coming, or losing someone with no warning. Sadly, these are both realities we had to face this year. Next came my mother’s accident.

I finally understand what people meant when they said we would have “bad years.” Not necessarily bad as in fighting and not blending as one person, but more external life factors being thrown upon your marriage. Unfortunately, the way you handle situations that we have been going through have the ability to strengthen or destroy a marriage.

The events of the past 14 months have made our lives more tough. As a married couple, we’ve hardly had any time alone this year. Things haven’t felt normal for a long time, now expecially. Between Charles starting a new business, which has been keeping him busy until late hours, and myself shuffling back and forth between work and the hospital, we see each other in passing lately. It hasn’t been easy. There are nights we don’t see each other at all, sometimes several days in a row. There are many weekends spent apart. There are times when we can’t put each other first. Days when our house is a total wreck, when I can’t make a homemade meal, or when we’ve had no sleep. There have been instances where we can’t make decisions together, and have to trust the other to make the right decision for both of us.

It could have been so easy to let the events occurring around us to push their way into our marriage and to pull us apart, but you see, I actually feel more confident in our marriage now then when we first got married. Now I know that regardless of what life throws our way, we can navigate the troublesome waters together. Why do I feel more confident? Because these have been the hardest times we’ve had to go through, and they’ve still seemed EASY. I love where we are in our life and in our marriage, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

If I can leave you with one piece of advice, it would be that when things in your life seem out of control, and when you are going through stormy waters, remember, your reactions literally have the power to change the outcome of whatever situation you’re going through. Navigate life together.

So in a nutshell, that’s what we’ve been up to. Survival mode! I promise to attempt to keep this page more current on our whereabouts, especially for out of town relatives.

“A man will leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. Therefore what God has joined, man must not divide.”

 

 

 

 

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Spring Cleaning + a DIY!

I don’t really know how I feel about Sundays. I really like that I get to be at home..sipping coffee, working around the house, & watching Netflix, but then there’s that impending moment where you realize “I don’t get to sleep in tomorrow!” and “It’s going to be 5 more days before I get this bliss again.” I’m currently caught between the two emotions, but I’m more on the happy side. The sun is shining, it’s beautiful outside, my sweet sweet nephew is coming over this afternoon, and the handsome husband is coming home in a few hours from the lake. And a happy Sunday to you!

I stayed home this weekend while Charles went to the lake for a few different reasons. First, I had a hair appointment on Friday afternoon that I was NOT going to miss. Second, our house needed a good cleaning + we needed groceries, etc. The plan for me was get my hair done on Friday afternoon, meet some girlfriends for dinner, and then Saturday morning, wake up and start re-organizing the kitchen, scrubbing everything, cleaning windows, cleaning the clutter in the guest bedrooms, wash the sheets and all the laundry, etc. I had lofty goals and I was in the right mindset to accomplish them. It’s so much easier to get things accomplished when your husband is out of town. I know you feel the same way.

This plan was on track until I woke up at 3 am on Saturday with what I believe to be food poisoning. It. Was. Miserable. I didn’t sleep, I had a headache, I was sick to my stomach..you name it, i had it. PLUS it was dreary and cold outside which didn’t help matters. Luckily I managed to get out of bed for short periods at a time in the morning, and was able to get all of the laundry done / sheets washed. I even managed to go later in the morning and stop by the local farmers market for some nice flowers before picking up some soup for myself. And look at these vintage taper candle sticks that I found for .99 cents at a thrift store? I was SO pleased. Luckily, we live in a day and age with Walmart to go groceries, so I even ordered my groceries from bed and all I had to go was pick them up. DIdn’t even have to get out of my car, & I went in my pjs. Luxury!

I did manage to finish all of the dishes, most of the dusting, washed the insides of all of the windows, cleaned the bathrooms, etc. I even felt well enough last night to go sing at church and go to dinner with my parents. I woke up this morning feeling SO refreshed and ready to go {I know..why couldn’t i have just felt this well and motivated yesterday?}

I want to share a quick DIY with you for something that helps me when I’m cleaning, and I hope it will help you, too! It’s DIY Toilet Bombs! There are literally the easiest things you’ll ever make, and they work SO well. I use these when I’m cleaning the toilets and it greatly extends the amount of time I need to go before I have to scrub the toilet again. It’s a busy time of year, one where you’re having BBQ’s, cookouts, bonfires, friends over, etc, so what better DIY is there to help with the increased bathroom traffic? I actually use these as garbage disposal cleaners as well. They are all natural, reduce odor, and clean + prevent dirt. Here’s how to make your own!

Here’s the cast of characters:

  • 1 + 1/3 cup baking soda {reduces odors, keeps clean}
  • 1/2 cup citric acid  {all natural! This is found in the fruits that we eat and causes the “fizzy” sensation of the bath bombs. It can be a pain to find..I found it by the mason jars in Wal-mart, but it took me three stores to find some!}
  • Essential oils of your choice  {I used a mixture of grapefruit, lemongrass, and lavender!}
  • Spray bottle of water  
  • Some sort of ice tray / silicone mold   

First you start making the bombs by mixing together the baking soda and the citric acid in a bowl. Mix well!

Next, take your spray bottle of water and add in your essential oils. You don’t need to add three, I only did because I love the way these smell. You really only need one! Don’t be stingy with the drops! You need between 30-50 drops of oil total. Shake well in the spray bottle of water! {added bonus, you’ll end up with leftover water + essential oil mixture..I recommend using this as a pillow spray to help you relax at night! I use this mixture on my pillow and can instantly feel myself relax and fade away into a fast and peaceful sleep!}

Next, spritz the citric acid + baking soda mix with the water {I used a small bottle and spritzed about 10 times at once.} IMPORTANT: make sure you don’t spritz more than this at one time, or else the citric acid will all fizz up and won’t work with the toilet bomb. Mix up well, and then repeat the spritzing and mix again. You’ll end up doing this for about five minutes. You know you’re done when your mixture has the consistency of wet sand.

You should be able to take a handful of the mixture, squeeze it in your hand, and have it stick together like below. That’s how you’ll know you are ready to go.

Once it’s reached this consistency, you’ll begin placing the mixture in your ice cube trays or silicone baking molds. I searched HIGH AND LOW in Target for some cute silicone ice molds {pineapples, hearts, ANYTHING} but all I could find were these regular ice trays. But get creative!! This can be SO fun. Make sure to FIRMLY pat them down in the trays, and don’t fill the trays too full, because this mixture will rise. Let sit in the trays for about 6 hours or less if they are hardened, and then remove.

Toss a “cube” into your toilet and let the fizzing begin! I swear you will fall in love with this DIY, you’re cleaning routine will thank me!

Green Thumbed Alley’s

Does anyone else have two days in a row that are just so utterly opposite of each other? Because this is happening to me at the present moment – so please tell me I’m not the only one!

The past two days, I’ve felt like I’ve had it all together – I’ve gotten to work early, had successful days at work, watered all the plants and vegetables and moved them into the sunshine, taken walks at lunchtime and then taken the dogs on 2 mile walks after work, gone to the gym, prepped dinner, swept + mopped all the floors, had all the dishes done, and been in bed at reasonable times. I felt like I had been nailing this week.

This morning I woke up and drove halfway to work before realizing I was still wearing my UGG slippers, then when I got to work, I got off the phone and instead of hitting “end call” on the phone, I turned off my lamp. Some days, you just can’t win.

That being said, I want to share with you a marvelous weekend that Charles and I had last weekend {the weekend before Easter}! My husband and I have been focusing on curb appeal for the house, and we have been having a blast in the process. A few weeks ago, I shared with you the two small flower beds that we fixed up on both sides of the garage, and we are loving how much such a small change created such an impact to the appearance of the house. Sunday was all about tackling the swampy pit of grass and dirt that sits in front of our guest bedroom window. All that was there was a dead tree that blocked sunlight from the house and the dead limbs sprawling everywhere actually made the house look smaller! Needless to say, it had to go. My husband and his handy friends Chad & Matt got to work to remove that tree last week! I am so pleased. Since the tree was finally removed, and the ground was finally dry enough to create the flower bed, Charles and I took full advantage and started our next curb appeal project.

Let me just show you the “before” picture {sans tree..I forgot to take a before picture while the most hideous tree known to man was still there..what kind of blogger am I?}

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We set out to Lowe’s as soon as they opened, coffee in tow, to get our supplies. They ended up not having everything that we needed, so we got what we could and off to Southerlands we went.

PSA – Are you a member of Southerland’s text message “Garden Club?” If you aren’t…you are missing out on 25% off trees and shrubs every day!supplies2supplies1supplies3

45 garden paver stones, 35 bags of top soil, 9 bags of compost, 12 perennials, 6 boxwoods, 3 bags of mulch, 4 succulents, 2 adorable little purple plants, 2 lavender plants, 1 cute little plant that I’m not sure what it’s called, 1 elephant ear, 1 aloe vera plant, and 1 weeping willow later, we were finally ready to start our flower bed.

It took us about 7 hours total for this project, including shopping for supplies. Here’s some pictures of the progression / after:

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Doesn’t it look about 50x better? We were both so pleased with how much of a transformation this made to our home. And it was fun to do together! We laughed, listened to music, enjoyed the sunshine…We even ended up having enough rock left over to make small flower beds around the mailbox and around a tree in our front yard. We haven’t planted anything yet, but hope to this week sometime.

 

In addition to planting flower beds, we used two of the succulents, one of the lavender plants, and the aloe vera plant and planted them in the cutest {and most inexpensive} terra cotta pots from Wal-Mart, of all places. I think the mossy green color pairs perfectly with the orange, rusty colored pots. I’m actually quite surprised at how much I love having these little guys inside the house, it just makes the kitchen feel more homey and bright.

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We also re-potted some of our vegetables that we have been growing, since they need bigger homes! The tomatoes, cayenne peppers, jalapenos, and green onions are all re-homed into their bigger pots, and the mint and lavender are starting to sprout now, so they are still in their little homes.

 

I have to tell you, Charles and I are both loving having our own little garden and nice flowers around. I enjoy going home at lunchtime so that I can take a walk around the neighborhood and put the vegetables and plants out in the sunshine. I enjoy going home after work and watering all of the plants, then taking the dogs on a walk. It’s been my routine these past few weeks, and it’s become more something I look forward to than something I have to do.

 

I can’t wait to show you a few more things Charles and I have been working on for around the house to make it feel more like “us.” It’s supposed to be a cold weekend, so who knows what all we can accomplish to the interior of our home this weekend..Stay Tuned!

My weekend – via iPhone

Some of you may be wondering where I have been since last year when I posted last – and some of you may already know where I’ve been. Suffice it to say, it has been a whirlwind of a past few months for us, and I’m finally ready to get back into the swing of this blogging thing.

I don’t want to waste time catching you all up on the ins and outs of the past few months {trust me, there’s nothing interesting to share, I really haven’t been up to much!} so let’s just hop right into how I’ve spent this week/weekend. Warning: This will be all from photos off my iPhone. I only decided about ten minutes ago that I was going to jump back into posting, so I didn’t know to get out the good camera – or to have my sister come take pictures! With that being said, here we go!

Honestly, this weekend has been a glorious weekend. My husband and I were BOTH in town this weekend at the same time, and didn’t have concrete plans. This may seem to most as normal or nothing to get excited about, but lately, for us, this is a “little luxury” and I intended to soak up all of this time together. We’ve been trying to take a different approach to life lately. A slower one, focused on more time together, more intimate, more calm and kept to ourselves. I stumbled across a quote the other day that embodied everything we have been feeling lately, and it’s been such an inspiration. It says “The older I get, the more I realize the value of privacy, of cultivating your circle and only letting certain people in. You can be open, honest, and real while still understanding not everyone deserves a seat at the table of your life.”  That struck a cord. Just some food for thought for your Sundays!

Let’s get right into the weekend. On Friday, it was particularly stormy, and I thought we were probably going to be stuck in for the night {which I was completely content with!} but right as Charles got home, the storm had cleared, the sun came out, and a beautiful rainbow appeared. I should have known right then that good weekend was to come. We ended up getting sushi, and I was in bed by 9:30. The end.

Saturday morning, I woke well rested and decided to head to our local farmers market with Cholla, our little min-pin. It was only the second weekend this market has been open for season, so there wasn’t a vast amount of vendors, but it was still magnificent. Look at my loot! I’m fairly certain you can smell that gorgeous mint through the computer..

We had a great time, despite the chilly weather. We went back home and made a cup of coffee and did some research on what we would need from Lowe’s to FINALLY DO SOME LANDSCAPING IN THE FRONT YARD. We had nothing. No flowers, no trees, nothing. I was blessed that Charles was willing to get out of the warm bed on a cold and windy morning to go with me to Lowe’s to pick out flowers, trees, soil, etc. We didn’t completely finish everything we needed to, but we came home, made some mimosas, and got to work on the two flower beds outside of the garage. Look at this before + after. Nothing too fancy, but a significant improvement.

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I tell you what. I had more fun listening to music, drinking mimosas, and planting flowers with Charles than I’ve had in weeks. He makes me laugh, it was just the two of us, and we just had a glorious time. There’s still a lot of work to do creating a flower bed off the guest bedroom window and then doing a small flower bed around the mailbox, but we were happy with what we accomplished. Since it had rained, it was to wet to do anything besides those flower beds…{but that’s okay, that just means I get another fabulous gardening day with my handsome husband..I won’t complain!} We did, however, plant a plethora of veggie seeds and can’t wait to see how they turn out! We planted: green onions, tomatoes, cayenne peppers, jalapeños, vidalia onions, lavender, and mint!

We spent the rest of the afternoon doing a bit of grocery shopping + cleaning around the house. We grilled out steaks with friends and had a nice fire in the backyard. Take a look at some of our new additions to the house decor: The large GATHER sign and the large Letterboard are both from Paperwerk, which I’ve blogged about SO often, and much of the other decor was from Hobby Lobby. All of their items labeled “spring shop” were 40% off {and they were already fabulously priced..}

I am LOVING my new Mainstays essential oil cool mist diffuser. I purchased this at walmart and have been obsessed with Lemongrass and Grapefruit scents. I’ll put a few drops in the diffuser in the mornings and it wake me up and makes me feel refreshed. I’ll switch out of sandalwood or lavender at bedtime. Do you have a favorite essential oil? Please share if you do..

Sunday has been spent lazily drinking coffee, puppy walks, and then we are going golfing with some out of town friends {well, the boys will be golfing..I’ll be sitting in the golf cart!} 

I hope you’ve had as wonderful of a slow weekend as I have. I’ll leave with with a recent picture of the mister and myself.

Ho Ho, XO!

Welcome to my witching hour. I hope my post will be at it’s prime today because of the fact that I’m writing it during my favorite hours of the day — the wee hours of the morning.

`Everything is so peaceful between 5-7am. So peaceful. The peace is only intensified during the Christmas season. Everything during life is so chaotic during this time, I’m rushing back and forth from one place to the other, only to come home and have a to do list as long as my arm, so getting to spend a few hours knocking out the essential to do list items during a time of day when it’s oh so silent, my husband and sweet pups are sleeping, and the Christmas tree lights and twinkling just makes my soul soar. Now, of course I only get to enjoy these hours during the weekend – when I should be sleeping in – because I have to work at 6am during the week, and usually, I do sleep in..until at least 6:30 on the weekends, but today I had to take my parents to the airport, which means no “sleeping in” for me. {I foresee naps in my future..} Luckily, I got to spend some much needed time prepping for my husband’s 30th birthday lake weekend, and I can’t WAIT to share with you the fun things I have in store for him.

Okay. I’m sitting in bed with Milli the doberman curled up in the tiniest little ball next to me, I’ve got a cup of french vanilla coffee in the cutest sweater mug you ever did see {thanks, Katie!!}, and the winter morning light is starting to pour in the bedroom. Let’s start this post.

I know I just shared a few drinks with you a few months ago {ahem, I have been drinking that Cranberry Moscow Mule for WEEKS now..each time it just keeps getting better, so I hope you loved it too!} but I wanted to share a more “big batch” recipe with you that will be perfect for your holiday hostessing. I was doing a lot of soul searching Pinterest searching, and was trying to get inspired for a new Christmasy cocktail.

Can we pause for a moment to talk about the HYSTERICAL names for Christmas Cocktails? I’ve found everything from Santa’s little helper, Santa’s little ho ho, Jingle Juice, Grinch Green Punch, Rudolph’s tipsy spritzer, Yuletide Mules, the Red Rudolph..I could go on and on. I just love every single name! It makes me feel all holly and jolly inside. I perused all of the recipes, and I just couldn’t find one I was amazingly excited to make, so I decided to put my own twist on a winter sangria. I adapted this from a “secret sangria” recipe I found on Pinterest. First of all, why do people call things “secret recipes” even after they have shared them with you? I don’t understand. More like not so secret sangria.

I hope you enjoy this little recipe I’ve concocted, and I hope you get the chance to use this at your Christmas gatherings. Never miss an opportunity to get boozy with family and friends that you don’t always see! I’m giving you the “Big Batch” recipe, but feel free to adapt for yourself! Oh, and I’ve named this cocktail “Ho Ho, XO” 

  • 1 can La Croix {or Aquafina sparkling grapefruit water, or Fresca, or Squirt..}
  • 1 bottle champagne {Don’t use extra dry. Use either Brut or Spumante. I honestly think Spumante may make this drink too sweet with all of the other sweet flavorings in this sangria, so Brut would probably be your best bet. Because, you know, me being a professional bar tender and all…}
  • 2 cups vodka 
  • 1 cup white juice {You can use white grape peach, white grape, white cranberry..whatever you want, just make it kind of fruity tasting}
  • 1/2 can frozen limeade {softened..}
  • Garnish {cranberries, pomegranate seeds, rosemary..whatever you’d like, really!}

You stir it all together {..and you turn yourself around, that’s what it’s all about! 10 bonus points to you if you read this singing “do the hokey pokey”} in a big pitcher, and let it chill. Letting it chill isn’t necessary, you can pour this into a glass and drink right away, however, one, I like to make things ahead of time when I’m anticipating a large group, and two, I like the different flavors to get a chance to blend a little bit better.

Now, clearly in the pictures below, I only made enough for one person. Do as I say, not as I do, alright? It was just myself drinking this and I didn’t want to make enough for a party until Christmas Eve. Also, I wrote this post on Saturday and didn’t get it uploaded until Monday..don’t hate me.

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Have a few glasses of this drink and it’s you that’ll be merry

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bottle popping struggles

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Glaring at your husband / photographer

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I’m thankful for Sephora

Thanksgiving Week is upon us, my friends! I’m thankful for so very many things in my life. I saw a quote not too long ago that said something along the lines of “I remember the days I used to pray for the things I have now,” and that really struck a chord with me. In my lifetime, I have been through many ups and downs, but I can’t help to look at my life, my husband, our family, our pets, our home, and everything that surrounds us and just feel all the warm and fuzzy feelings imaginable. What makes you thankful this holiday season?

I’m currently thankful for the overcast day with darker clouds, cool weather, and the beautifully autumnal red tree I’m starting at. Creative juices are flowing with this dreamy backdrop I’m currently staring upon. Swoon.

Although Thanksgiving week is a great time to take a time out, slow down, and reflect upon the things for which you are most thankful, it  sometimes rarely works out that way for me. Thanksgiving week can be hectic, especially with multiple families in town, and I always seem to be rushing around. My skin decides that with all of the stress and the eating and the 12 hour days jam packed with activity that it wants to break out, my makeup doesn’t want to stay on, and I find my face and skin looking a bit dull and tired. This year, I wanted to be proactive about the issues I face every year around this time, so I came up with a solution:

In comes the Sephora Haul.

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I was already out of my beloved Tarte Amazonian Clay foundation {My two favorite foundations are Tarte Amazonian Clay and Make Up Forever Mat Velvet} and I decided that I needed to switch it up a bit, so I headed into Sephora, where I found so much holiday goodness that I just knew I had to share. Let’s take a look into my Sephora bag-o-fun.

  • NARS ALL Day Luminous Weightless Foundation – For my combination and oily skinned friends {don’t worry, I know you, I am you, I feel your pain} the word “Luminous” may frighten you. It frightened me. The girl at Sephora sensed my fear and did an experiment on her hand to show me that this foundation was actually perfect for people with combination skin during the winter, as even for people with oily skins, sometimes too thick of foundations can dry you out. She took the product and gave it a good shake, and pumped a bit of product onto the back of her hand. I began to question her expertise, because this product looked like the most watery and thin foundation I had ever seen. She used her fingertips to rub the product into her skin in circular motions, and you could see it right before your eyes, the product became this smooth finished, lightweight coverage that was a matte finish and absolutely gorgeous. I then let her try some on my face. And then I was hooked. It truly lives up to its name of “weightless,” in fact, I can wear it for 12 hour days and feel like I have nothing on my face. Something to bear in mind with this foundation {which could be a Pro in your book or a Con in your book..} This foundation contains NO SPF! It’s quickly becoming winter, and I have SPF in my other products, so I didn’t take this to be a con. Plus, if you use too many products on your face that contain SPF, you’ll get “ghost face” in pictures, so I knew this foundation lacking SPF wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me. Overall? You’re a pal to me, Nars.dscn5596
  • Make Up Forever Super Matte Powder – I was also having problems with my HD finishing powder casting a white glow on me in photographs, so I decided to take a walk on the wild side and venture out to this new Super Matte powder to avoid this problem. This was a big step for me, I’m a translucent powder person. Colored powders? You scare me. I’m afraid of orange face. I don’t want to look like a clown..I don’t want to look like an oompa loompa, someone help me. Luckily this powder doesn’t make me look orange, and it makes my skin feel baby soft! Disadvantage? I wish it were in a compact. I’m not big on loose powders. If wishing made it so..
  • Tarte “Tartiest” quick dry matte lip paint in “Bestie” – Say that three times fast. So you remember how I told you about my love affair with the ELF matte lip pencils? I am still in love with them as a budget friendly option, I love their creaminess and how inexpensive they are, but Tarte? You’re the real MVP here. I typically only wear anything on my lips when I’m going out to dinner or on special occasions, but I wear this all day at work. First of all, the color is an absolutely gorgeous mauvey {is that a word?} brown color. Second, it goes on as a liquid and dries matte in – I kid you not – seconds! I can’t even get over how quickly it dries. Third, you literally feel like you are wearing nothing. It doesn’t feel creamy, it doesn’t feel thick, it doesn’t feel sticky. It literally feels as if you are wearing nothing on your lips, it is so paper thin, and I am absolutely dying over it.dscn5594
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  • Sephora Collection Bright Future Concealer – I don’t have too much to say about this concealer, mainly because it’s not the best I’ve used, but it’s certainly better than a vast majority of concealers out there, and the price point is at $14, which is borderline drugstore prices, so that’s an A+ in my book. It honestly reminds me of the Revlon color stay concealer, which I love, but the Sephora concealer is a bit more of a matte finish whereas the Revlon is a bit dewier.dscn5587
  • Smashbox Photo Finish Color Correcting Primer – I like to think of myself as having good skin {thanks mom!} With that being said, lately I’ve had a real problem with redness on my cheeks. I constantly look flushed, and it ends up making my blush and contour look out of place. Sometimes it travels into my t-zone as well, and on my chin. It’s not dry, it’s not patchy, it’s just red! I decided that it was worth a shot to try a color correcting primer to see if that could help take away some of the redness, and I’m glad that I did, because this seems to be helping. On the upside with this product, it does seem to help with the redness. I wouldn’t say it fully takes it away, but it minimizes the appearance. On the downside, the woman at Sephora told me that you aren’t to use this all over your face, so I have to use two primers, which can be a bit of a pain. Does anyone know why you wouldn’t want to use color correcting primer on your whole face? I’m at a loss, I don’t understand. It also takes a bit of time to dry, which can be a bit of a hassle, but the fact that it hides the redness I’m experiencing makes the extra few minutes worth it.

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So those were all of the products that I purchased, but then I did use a few rewards points on their “gifts” and received a few samples as well, of which I haven’t used all of yet, but I wanted to give you a taste of the few things that I actually did try.

  • Naked Skin Color Correcting Fluid – {As shown in the photo above} I received a trial of these fluids in the “peach” and “green” color. I haven’t used the green yet, since I’ve been using the smashbox primer, but I have tried the peach, and let me tell you, I’m going to have to pick one of these bad boys up. I only use this under my eyes, as it’s meant to conceal dark circles and dark spots, and it works. No matter what undereye cream I use, concealer I use, how good I’ve slept, or how much water I’ve been drinking, I still cannot manage to get the darkness out from under my eyes! It’s rather annoying, actually, but this product somehow seems to just soak up all of the darkness and correct it to almost match my skin tone. It’s magic! I don’t know how else to describe it. You should probably run to the nearest Sephora and grab this before I buy out all the inventory. Probably one of my favorite products from this haul, and I wouldn’t have known about it without a free trial. Sephora, you’re the real MVP.
  • Make Up Forever Ultra HD Concealer – Another sample I received. Honestly, this was something I probably wouldn’t buy for myself. On the upside, it did a great job with dark circles, or at least better than your average concealer will do. On the downside, it’s HD {ghost face in pictures!}, as well as it is just about the runniest concealer I’ve used. It’s so..liquidy. I’m sorry, I can’t even life today, I’m using words like Mauvey and liquidy. {picture shown above with the sephora concealer}
  • Sephora “Masking Must Haves” set – This was one of the 500 rewards points gifts, and I’m pretty excited about the products in it. It contained the following:
    • Origins High Potency “Night-a-mins” — ….can we just talk about how cute the name of that is? Slather this on your face at night and let it work its magic. I’m not really sure what this product is supposed to do..all I know is, it smells like Vitamin C and oranges and my face is soft when I wake up, so I’m a happy gal.
    • Origins Checks and Balances Frothy Face Wash – In typical fashion, I did a “hand test” with this product before I used it on my face {protect that face, girl!} I rubbed the product onto the back of one hand, washed it off, and compared it to my other hand. This product makes your skin baby soft and adds almost a sheen to your face. It smells of baby powder and flowers, and it removes eye makeup in one swipe with no tears.
    • Origins “Maskimizer” Mask Primer – Have you ever heard such a thing? It’s supposed to open your skin and prep your face for the mask to be able to dig down deep and do its job. I haven’t used this before a mask yet {but I plan to tonight..a little pre-thanksgiving pamper session, anyone?} but I have used it before I put on my moisturizer. It feels very refreshing, but I’ll keep you updated once I actually use it with a mask.
    • Origins Masks – Also in the kit were two masks – a charcoal mask and a hydrating mask. I haven’t used either {again, I plan to tonight!} so I’ll keep you updated.

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That’s all you get today. I’ve been up at four making homemade cinnamon orange rolls, and I’m beat. I’m fully beat. And I have 30 hours of tasks today and only 24 hours to complete said tasks. I need the coffee. Feed me the coffee. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Winter is coming, protect your hair!

It was a beautiful, fall weekend. In fact, it was our first weekend home with virtually no plans in several weeks. We spent our Friday night dancing around the kitchen to country music, cooking and cleaning as we went. We went to bed early. We awoke the next morning early to get ready to take our Christmas card picture {insert shoutout to my sister’s amazing photography business here — go like her on Facebook  — N.M. Franklin Photography!} I started showering and getting ready for the fun shoot we decided to do – Christmas card pictures in our pjs — only to find that I was virtually out of shampoo and conditioner. No. Good.

I made do with what I had and rushed to finish my hair and makeup. I was going to do soft curls with my straightener, because who has time for a curling iron? Or knows how to use one? Seriously — i don’t know how – i need help, let me know. That’s when problem number two snuck up on me — my trusty Paul Mitchell flat iron completely crapped out. I don’t mean was struggling – I mean complete and totally dead. To make matters worse, only half of my hair was curled when it died, and it was too early in the morning to run out and buy another one {if someone wants to open a 24/7 emergency Ulta anytime soon, let me know, because I would be all about it.}

Surprisingly, I didn’t panic of freak out {mainly because there was no time} and instead I just messed up the curls I already had and tried to tussle the top section of my hair to look like “bedhead” since it was a pajama shoot, but this left me in a lurch — I had to find a new straightener AND new shampoo and conditioner. I went back and forth on whether or not I should go back to the Paul Mitchell, as it had treated me so well over the years, but ultimately decided to try something new and see how I liked it. Enter the BaByliss PRO Nano Titanium Prima3000 — phew, that’s a mouthful. This post is getting lengthy, so i’m going to bullet point the aspects of this flat iron that make me swoon:

  • Doubles as a flat iron and a straightener {just lock the plates for the wand!}
  • Straightens my hair with ONE PASS, and that’s unheard of if you have ever felt my hair
  • Made of stainless steel, so it won’t warp like plastic constructed straighteners
  • Titanium plates instead of ceramic – higher heat transfer to your hair at quicker speeds, which causes less damages and smoothes faster
  • Swivel Cord. Because we all learned from our old CHI flat irons to NEVER buy a flat iron without a swivel cord.
  • Hairstyle holds for DAYS as opposed to hours. FACT.
  • SHINE FOR DAYS

After only a week and a half, I can honestly say I’m crushing pretty hard on this flat iron. No, I was not paid to write this post, nor was I sent a free flat iron in exchange — all thoughts are my own and the product was purchased with my own money.

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I honestly have been having a good hair day every single day for the past week and a half, partially because of the straightener and partially because of my new shampoo and conditioner. I have always wandered past the ethnic hair section in Target and wondered what kind of effect the products would have on my hair, since it’s a completely different consistency than the target market for this section, but after intense research, watching videos from beauty guru’s on youtube, watching reviews and tutorials, I finally decided – I’m going to be brave and try out a new hair line from the ethnic section. What does my hair need more of? Well I color my hair and I use heat tools, so of course my hair needs moisture, which is exactly what these products aim to do. Enter Carol’s Daughter Black Vanilla Line. I ended up purchasing the hair smoothie {mask + moisture treatment}, the shampoo, and the conditioner from this line after hearing rave reviews, and boy oh boy, am I glad I did. Below are some of the benefits your hair will surely reap if you try this collection:

  • Less Frizz {I know, doesn’t every shampoo claim to do that? Yes. But how many actually deliver?}
  • More volume. Most shampoos tend to weigh my hair down, but this combination left so much body and life in my hair, that four days later, my hair still looks like day 1 or day 2. Talk about a win. 
  • The smell. You. GUYS! The smell is probably my favorite part. I usually go for shampoo’s that smell “clean” and “fresh,” but this combo smells like, well, for good reason, vanilla. Vanilla cake batter, in fact. Actually, it reminds me of going to Vegas and walking into hotels. They always have that vanilla mist that they spray to make the hotels smell nice, and this is that smell in a nutshell. Four days after washing, my hair still smells like vanilla, and I like it. 
  • SHINE FOR DAYS

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This is DAY FOUR HAIR. Day. Four. And there’s still volume, hallelujiah!

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I wanted you to see the texture of the hair smoothie.

I promise I’ll have my super awesome photographer sister take some good outfit pictures soon, but you guys, life has been so crazy! You’ll have to settle with my amateur photo skills for this week, at least.

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