How to Look and Feel Refreshed When You’re Actually Exhausted, Sick, and/or Hungover


Hello, hello! My dear friend from college, Claire, and her friend Jessica started a fun little linkup called Tips & Tricks Thursdays. It just so happens I recently used my own set of trade secrets to look refreshed and recovered after a night of, shall we say, a few too many. These strategies also come in handy when I’m waking up for class with very little shut eye the night before, which happens far too frequently these days. So, here we go- my tips and tricks to look refreshed when you’re really exhausted, sick, and/or hungover!

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  1. DRINK WATER. ALL THE WATER. As my pathophysiology lecture explained last week, alcohol leads to dehydration due to its lowering of the hormone ADH in our bodies. Unfortunately, dehydrated skin doesn’t scream healthy and well-rested, which is why we want to replenish our body’s water supply ASAP. We all know the tried and true strategy of keeping a glass of water by the bedside for those awful early morning, post-drinking cotton mouth attacks, but don’t stop at that one glass. Just took a shower? Drink a glass. Managed to shove some carbs in your mouth? Drink another. Attempting to become presentable with hair and makeup? Do it while drinking water.
  2. Puffy eyes? Throw some spoons in the freezer until nicely chilled and let ‘em rest on your bags to decrease swelling. If you have a tightening and/or anti-puff eye cream, bust. it. out.
  3. Exfoliate and moisturize to high heaven. Exfoliating those dead, dull skin cells off your face instantly makes you look more alive. By slathering on moisturizer, you’re issuing an apology to your dehydrated skin and helping to reverse the recent damage. Taking care of your skin the morning after is so important because 1) it has the biggest effect and 2) it’s where everyone is looking.
  4. Enlist the help of specialty skincare products and cosmetics. I personally use Valentia’s Even Glow Serum to help me fake that healthy, rested glow. It contains 20% vitamin C for brightening, rosehip seed oil, hyaluronic acid, and green tea extract, so you might as well multitask while you’re at it, right!? Also, the Revlon PhotoReady Skinlights Face Illuminator in Bare Light adds a very natural highlight to the face. You can either drop some of this into your liquid foundation or apply it on top along the high points of the cheeks. Instant radiance, folks.
  5. For red, irritated noses due to an unfortunate cold or virus, use a gentle lotion like Cetaphil to help with crackly skin and a color correcting base like Stila’s CC Cream to even out your skintone. Stila’s CC cream is green based which helps cancel out redness. (You can also use a green concealer, but keep it lightweight- heavy products on irritated skin can exacerbate the problem.)
  6. Lastly, eat something at least moderately nutritious and not full of grease, oil, and fat. WaHo sure does sound lovely right about now, but keep your eye on the prize, people!

That’s about all I got as to how I fake it til I make it. Hope these tricks come in handy for you as they have for me!

 

Casual Claire

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Refinishing My IKEA Mokkjokk Dining Set: The Saga

Sometimes I get lofty dreams about being crafty and DIY-y, but the reality is that these type of ventures often leave me so frustrated that I wish I never joined Pinterest. Anybody else? Thankfully I have a highly talented Dad to bail me out of these potential #fail projects.

 Neither myself nor my roommate owned a kitchen table for our new place, so when IKEA had a sale on the Mokkjokk table my dear parents and I made a trip on down to that glorious store for this lovely piece.

IKEA Mokkjokk Table and Chairs

IKEA Mokkjokk Table and Chairs

This dining set is made out of solid pine, and I decided I would much rather have that than the cheap half-wood/half-plastic stuff at other stores. Although the original “antique” stain was decent, it didn’t match the vision I had in my head, so the Googling began. It turns out that there are a lot of people who also love darkly stained, sophisticated looking wood tables! I actually found a couple other bloggers who refinished their Mokkjokk no problem- a little sanding, a little staining, ta-da! Unfortunately that was not my experience. At all.

First, we gave the set a light-ish sanding to remove the top polyurethane layer.

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Then we got to work applying the Minwax Stain in Jacobean.

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Doesn’t she look pretty!? So even and glossy. At this point I was very excited for the beauty that was sure to await me after the 24 hour drying period and subsequent wiping off. Instead I found this:

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That’s right- almost the exact same color table. How could that be, you ask? I still haven’t quite figured it out, but the only thing left to do at this point was sand, sand, sand. Getting the table down to the raw wood was our only hope of having the Jacobean stain actually sink in, so here I commence the hours upon hours of manual labor. It wasn’t so bad for the first few days when I turned on the music and jammed out in the garage, but it didn’t take long for me to be over it.

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Once again, feeling like Heidi the Tool Girl from Home Improvement.

Serious sanding going on.

Loootttss of sanding.

Keeping me company.

Keeping me company.

Finally we got the set down to bare pine, if but with a few scratches and unevenness along the way.

Naked pine!

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Blowing out all the dust for a solid five minutes.

But wait, still not done! We slapped on some Minwax Pre-stain Wood Conditioner (a must for pine and other soft woods, apparently) then applied the first layer of Jacobean.

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Look at that patchiness, that streaking! The heartbreak was real. Although the color was nice, we had to apply another coat in an attempt to even out the staining. I didn’t take pictures of this part (like I said, over it), but we finally got to the point where it was just the best it was going to get. Lastly, we applied two coats of polyurethane and here’s how she looks in my new place:

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 The end result is a bit more rustic than what I was going for with the grain showing through and some areas of uneven staining, but overall I think it has a nice look in our townhome. Even if it didn’t turn out perfectly, it’s something my Dad and I did together so it’s pretty awesome.

So, what have I learned?

1. This girl likes power tools.

2. What works for one blogger… may not work for another.

3. Rent a heavy duty sander for large projects.

4. Sometimes spending a little more on an already perfect piece is worth the extra money.

Hopefully soon I’ll have a proper dinner party and use this table for something other than studying!

 

July Favorites

Considering my last favorites post was from April, it’s safe to say I have maannnyyy goodies that I’ve been loving since then. I’ve been dutifully pinching pennies as I save up for grad school, so this month’s favorites are all drugstore (or drugstore priced) cosmetic products. Gotta love high quality, cheap makeup! Let’s get started with some of them, shall we?

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L’Oreal Infallible Eyeshadow in Amber Rush

So summer is the perfect time to play with golds and bronzes on the eyes, and please believe this shade is beautiful. It’s become a highly coveted shade on the interwebs and with good reason, so it may take you a couple visits before your local store has any left of this color, but it is definitely worth the search. This pressed pigment-esque eyeshadow has super versatility from day to night, and the best part is that it takes such little work to look good- you literally just lightly pack it on your lid and you’re done. You can find my favorite tutorials/videos using this product herehere, and here.

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Physician’s Formula Eye Booster 2-in-1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner + Serum

My trusty Sephora lady led me astray when recommending Stila’s Stay All Day eyeliner pen for long wearing, smudge free eyeliner. This drugstore version is so. much. better. It sets quickly and does not budge. Just an FYI, the learning curve can be a little steep if you’re new to working with eyeliner pens, but I think they are the best way to get that very precise, dramatic line. To make the whole process more user friendly, I personally prefer pens that are fairly saturated with product so that you don’t have to tug on your lid or go over the same area twice, and this one does just that. (Pretty sure the “lash boosting” is just a gimmick, but it can’t hurt!)

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NYX Blush in Taupe

Hellooooo, perfect contour color! In my humble opinion, contouring calls for a color with cool, almost gray undertones to best mimic an actual shadow. While many people use regular bronzer when HACing, I personally think it looks a bit unnatural and can sometimes look like you just wore the wrong shade of foundation or powder. After reading about this little guy on the interwebs but not being able to find it in stores, it was definitely worth it for me to order off of Amazon because I use it every day I wear makeup. This “blush” offers easy blendability, but the pigmentation can go from subtle to BAM easily so practice both a light hand and patience.

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Nivea Kiss of Care & Color Sheer in Coral

This lip balm with a subtle wash of color is perfect for lazy days when you reeaalllyy don’t want to try very hard… or even those days when you just don’t want to look like you’ve tried very hard. For me, this coral shade is a slightly brighter “my lips but better” look. Although I do prefer it over the similar Maybelline Baby Lips as far as moisture goes, Nivea adds in a really unfortunate scent-turned-taste that really irritates me for those five or so minutes before it fades away. After that, we’re golden, and this one has found a permanent home in my purse.

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Revlon Colorstay Whipped Crème Foundation in Sand Beige

So I know I posted all about the Flower About Face as my holy grail foundation, but I got to thinking about all of my upcoming loonnngg days in class and clinicals and decided to venture out into the much touted ColorStay line. This formula was so intriguing because of its “whipped crème” consistency that has only previously been seen in high end formulas. When you first open the package, it looks like a jar of thick, almost coffee/toffee flavored pudding, but it applies much lighter than it looks or feels. Somehow, someway, it has that little bit of magic in it to where my face just looks good when wearing it. So far the longest I’ve worn this is about six hours, so I haven’t had to put its long wearing claim to the test yet, but I like it so much that I’ll keep it in my rotation regardless.

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Coastal Scents Revealed 2 Eyeshadow Palette

When Urban Decay released their Naked 3 palette last winter, it took so much will power not to run out and snatch that $54 beauty up. I told myself that I needed to first work more on using the palettes I already had before splurging on another Naked palette (wasn’t that so grown up of me?). But, when Coastal Scents released this dupe on sale for only TEN BUCKS, there was no will power left. Although with some of the shades you can definitely tell this isn’t a high end palette, overall it offers pretty colors and a great value, even at full price. If you’re wanting the additional variety in looks you can get with the Naked 3 palette but really not interested in dropping big bucks for it, I suggest giving this palette a try.

Annnndd that’s all for this summer edition of favorites. Coming up this week (between taking my micro final and MOVING AAHHH) I’ll have an update on that whole raised bed gardening thang and maybe a post about my new adventures in woodworking and staining. Good times!

A Complete Career Change: From Advertising to Nursing

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Today I wanted to do something a little different and follow up on my last post about this new adventure I’m starting called nursing school. Let me start by saying that I am very excited but also pretty surprised that I’m doing this. It still seems strange to me, so much so that sometimes I forget it is actually happening. I, Megan, who hated biology in high school and avoided any life science in college, am off to get my master’s in nursing. For people who know me, my college degree, and work experiences, this change in career trajectory probably seems like it came out of nowhere. But really, all of those things led me to the former job I had, working with the clients I had, who sparked an interest in this whole field of healthcare. So, if you feel like reading a novella about how this all came to be, keep on reading.

Taking it way back to undergrad, I loved college and my relatively stress-free major of advertising. Sure, come senior year I was itching to begin my career and make a paycheck, but overall I had a great time at the best university in the Southeast. (UGA, obviously.) Advertising appealed to my creative side but also had a heavy emphasis on strategic thinking, which offered a nice blend of thought processes for someone like me. It wasn’t just my major, though; I was involved in multiple leadership positions in related clubs and committees, so my commitment level was pretty high. I definitely thought I had found a great career path. Obviously, what someone decides for their life at age 20 isn’t always what works years later.

Post-graduation I dabbled in hospitality, marketing, and sales and moved across the country in both directions. Things were great for a while, but eventually I realized I was looking for more purpose in my every day. My clients at the time were mostly medical professionals, and having many candid conversations with them about their jobs gave me an insight into why they chose that path. Add that to a growing sense of discontent with the whole sales and marketing game and it became time to explore possibilities.

Because of my experience volunteering with local hippotherapy barns, speech therapy and occupational therapy were the first possibilities I seriously considered. Working alongside both of these disciplines exposed me to what they can do for people of all ages, and let’s be real- a job that has both horses and kids on a daily basis sounds like a dream. Ultimately I decided that these fields, although wonderful, lacked the variety in specialties, school flexibility, and (quite frankly) earning potential that I wanted from a second career, so the searching continued.

After shadowing a surgeon, physician assistant (PA), nurse anesthesist (CRNA), and nurse practitioner (NP), clarity came in the realization that medicine was the right direction. Surprisingly to me, I was intrigued by so much of it- the OR and surgeries, the physiology of the body, the way people can use their knowledge and skills to not only save lives but to improve the quality of lives. Knowing medical school wasn’t an option for me, it came down to a long and difficult decision making process between applying for PA school vs NP school. I could write maannyy paragraphs about exactly what went into this process- the months of researching programs, endless conversations with my mom and friends, taking eight science pre-requisite courses in a year- all while I began to define my priorities. Ultimately, I decided it’s the nurse life for me.

The moment I finally made the decision was a huge relief. This girl is a pro researcher, and it is an exhausting personality trait when it comes to big time decisions! Although the relief was sweet, it was temporary. Soon the stress of picking schools, applying, and waiting began and lasted until I got a very happy phone call with an acceptance offer than I was happy to take.

In the end, I’ll be starting at a master’s level nursing school in just a few short weeks and hopefully beginning nurse practitioner training not too long after completing this program. Getting everything ready for the transition is almost a job in itself, but I am very ready to get started! Wish me luck, and let me know if I can practice IV sticks on you. ;)

P.S. Hopefully this whole post wasn’t a complete bore for y’all to read. My main goal in sharing this long and wordy part of my life is to encourage you to make things happen and to not waste too much time being unhappy. Although this whole process has not been easy or without sacrifice, I see the end goal as worth it. Life is both too long and too short to not go after what you want.

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Plus, I know I love hearing about other people’s career paths and passions, so this one is for all my fellow curious (if slightly nosey) folks out there. I would love to hear about your story navigating post-college and career life if you feel like sharing.

P.P.S. I’ve been thinking of blogging a bit about the whole experience of becoming a RN, so let me know in the comments if it’s something you’d be interested in reading!

It’s Been A Hot Minute.

Heelllloooo! Remember this fun little blog? You may not because I’ve been a bad, bad blogger, but I’m back today with an excuse and a life update.

So the most important thing lately is that I am getting all my ducks in a row to start NURSING SCHOOL.

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Dressing room selfie. In scrubs. Never thought I’d see the day.

What the what. If you would have told me this would be my future back when I graduated college the first time, I would have laughed in your face. This girl, the one who took Geology over any type of biological science, would not only be taking anatomy, physiology, and a host of other science course, but enjoying it? Crazy. The days are dwindling until I move and classes start, but I can tell you the thing I’m most excited about- scrubs. Not even ashamed to say how much I look forward to working in elastic waist bands and pajama-like clothes.

In the meantime, this summer has been busy and full of family. My nanny job unexpectedly ended five weeks early, so I’ve been relishing in the temporary freedom of unemployment (hopefully for the last time ever!). The time off has been helpful since I’m taking Microbiology and struggling to find motivation for it. The highlight of lately, though, is seeing all my family so frequently. I have the cutest nieces and nephews, including the sweetest baby boy you’ll ever meet, and they’ll be horribly missed once I’m away at school. Gotta soak it in while I can.

So, with lots of life changes coming up, first order of business is packing all my stuff. I’ve had the misfortune of moving ten times since graduating high school, so you would think I’d have this whole moving thing down. But nope. The only part I’m exciting about is getting some of these fun packing supplies:

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It’s the little things, right?

So that’s an update as to what’s been up. Be back soon, promise.

Better Late Than Never: April Favorites

So I’m way late to the game, but life’s been busy! Here’s what I’ve been lovin’.

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It Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Matte Eyeshadow Palette

Yeeeep I love this palette. This makes palette number three in my collection, but I find myself reaching for it all. the. time. Every one of my eye go-to eye looks requires at least one matte shade, and the wide color variety here is on point. Over half of the shades are unlike anything else in my collection, not to mention all the fancy ingredients they pack into the shadows, so the steeper price tag has been very worth it for me.

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Milani Baked Blush in Luminoso

Having heard a lot of good things about this line, I decided it was time to branch out past my trusty light pink Covergirl blush. This blush gives a very pretty peachy-pink with a bit of “luminous” sheen to it that is a perfect complement to warmer weather looks.

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Anastasia Brow Wiz in Brunette

Anastasia, you are the eyebrow pro, and I thank you for helping me to mask this whack eyebrow situation I have going on. After deciding in January that my eyebrows could benefit from some growing out, I’ve been battling with stubborn hair follicles and the resulting patchiness ever since. This brow pencil helps fill them in so that they look naturally fuller and not so scraggly.

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Luna Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars

When it comes to finding relatively healthy but tasty protein bars, the struggle is real. As a peanut butter lover, these bars by Luna are some of the best tasting ones I’ve found. Although the 8g of fat and 12g of sugar don’t thrill me, the 12g of protein fill me up, so this bar is great to keep in purses or gym bags.

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Aladdin 32oz Double Walled Mason Jar Tumbler

Pardon the bad picture, but this may be the best $10 I’ve ever spent. This tumbler makes drinking water much more fun, and it will also work very nicely filled with special drinks for trips to the pool and beach. I think there was some creative re-arranging of lids and straws at my Walmart because I haven’t seen this color combo available online, but there are so many other colors to choose from or collect. Gotta live that #chuglife.

See you next month in two weeks!

Spotlight On: Flower Beauty by Drew Barrymore

Hey, strangers. I’ve been gone for a few weeks now, but today’s post is lengthy and full of good stuff I’ve been testing out recently. After trying and falling in love with my new Holy Grail foundation from Flower Beauty, About Face, I knew I had to try more products in Drew Barrymore’s line.

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Most of the time, I give a big, fat eye roll whenever celebrities come out with a makeup line. Typically it’s obvious that all they contributed was a pretty headshot for marketing purposes (I’m looking at you, Kardashian Beauty). But it’s really refreshing when one does the complete opposite, like Drew does with Flower. A few minutes of Googling showed that she is deeply invested in this brand, having been involved from conception to production. She draws from her experience being in a makeup chair her whole life and also as a CoverGirl for many years to bring credibility to her venture. From the website:

You no longer have to spend a lot of money to get the quality cosmetics you want and deserve.

How do we do it? We do not pay for advertising. Where other beauty brands spend a vast percentage of the cost of their products on ads, we do not. Drew, as an owner of the brand, takes pride in promoting Flower, which in turn allows us to put all of our resources into the formulas and packaging, and not into advertising.
 
Custom-formulated with the same ingredients used in luxury make-up, our exclusive botanical-infused Soft-Focus Complex illuminates for a lit-from-within effect.
All products are proudly made in the USA and are never tested on animals.
 
So be em-FLOWER-ed. The best make-up isn’t only found in high-end stores any longer.”

Although Flower has some great pros like being vegan, made in America, and cruelty-free, the main negative is that it is only available at Walmart.  This distribution model fits into her strategy of creating high-end, luxury quality products at mass market prices, but the limited availability can be an inconvenience if you don’t have a Walmart close by. I’m hoping the brand expands into Target sometime soon to give brands like Sonia Kashuk some competition. Drew has posted many tutorials and FAQ videos on the Flower Beauty website that give insights into her products, so if you’re interested in knowing more, head on over.

Having loved the About Face foundation, I started with another foundation but in stick form.

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Skincognito Stick Foundation( $8.98)

I can’t be the only one who tends to favor sleeping an extra five minutes than waking up in time to get the full face of makeup done. With this foundation stick, I’m able to apply and blend out a nice coverage look at red lights (don’t flame me) or in front of work in less than 30 seconds. The finish and coverage are great, but I do find myself oilier than normal after about four hours and needing a powder touch-up. Not too shiny that I can’t blot it away, but for that reason I wouldn’t recommend it for oily complexions.

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Color Play Creme Eyeshadow in Wild Geranium ($7.98)

This color is so, so pretty and totally on trend- rose gold! Here’s how the shadow looks in different lighting.

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This shadow is very light and moussey and applies gorgeously, but unfortunately the staying power is just not there. I’m talking three hours max before it starts to look creased and faded. :( So, if you’re going out for a dinner/lunch or something relatively quick, then this will create a pretty look, but definitely not long-lasting. The good news is that you can do a touchup without the product looking funky, so if you don’t get irritated applying creamy products more than once a day like me, throw this one in your purse to take with you.

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Lip Service Lip Butter in Cherry Chiffon ($6.98)

I’m a sucker for red lips, what can I say. Love the pigmentation and smooth application of this one.
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“Buttery-like texture Glides on easily, leaving lips looking smooth and full
Rich texture provides an optical plumping effect
High percentage of emollient oil for a super-smooth, shiny finish
Non-Tacky Superior Shine”
Again, the staying power is something to be desired, but you’ll also find that in the very loved Revlon Lip Butters, as well. These offer a similar moisturizing finish that feels very nice on the lips.  If anyone has a recommendation for moisturizing yet long-lasting drugstore lip products… gimme!
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Raise Some ‘Brows in Dark Brown ($5.98)
I was hoping to find a good alternative to the pricey Anastasia Brow Wiz, but this just didn’t do it. The dark brown color has a strange gray tint to it. The tip of the pencil isn’t small or pointed enough to produce non-obvious hair strokes. The color goes on chalky. I wouldn’t recommend this one.
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So back in the day I received a sample size of Benefit’s Watts Up highlighter, and I love it. Truthfully, I don’t highlight very much of the time out of sheer laziness, but when I do, this product is on point. Unfortunately, the full size isn’t exactly cheap, so I thought this Flower highlighter might be a dupe. My first impression is that I don’t like how large the stick is. Its “chubby”-ness makes precise application a little bit more difficult than my tiny Watts Up. Even when I’m HACing up a storm, I like to walk the fine line of believable enhancement vs painted on and glitterific, so the smaller size of the Watts Up applicator is easier and more appropriate for my typical use.
With that said, let’s compare colors.
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Glisten Up on top, Watts Up on bottom.

Super similar, right? Watts up does have more of a gold tint to it, but in certain lighting they look exactly alike. Flower’s Glisten Up also comes in a more golden color called Gold Coaster, but after seeing how much gold comes through in Pearl Shimmer, it would probably be too much for my preference.

 lipsuedeLip Suede Velvet Lip Chubby in Floral Coral ($7.98)

My lip collection was missing a good coral, and the newly warm weather is a great reason to rock a fun, bright lip. I wasn’t sure what to expect with a “velvet lip chubby,” but it turns out velvet=matte. I personally am not a huge fan of matte lips because they tend to accentuate lines and dryness. To make this work for me, I top it with a very sheer, light pink lip gloss.

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So there it is! A small sampling and review of Flower Beauty. Overall I am impressed with what Drew and her line has to offer. Since originally launched, they have expanded to over 160 products, so there is definitely more for me to try and hopefully love. Next time you are at Wally World, don’t skip the cosmetics section!

My Ipsy Bag: April 2014

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This month was FAB, y’all. Ipsy really stepped it up.

The deets:

-$10 month, free shipping
-Auto-renewing subscription
-Contents are semi-customizable by taking a preferences quiz at www.ipsy.com but non-refundable

The goods:

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April’s theme is “Beauty Rocks,” hence the record player on the bag.

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Urban Decay 24/7 Velvet Glide-On Eye Pencil Travel Size

“An ultra-plush version of UD’s creamy, waterproof 24/7 formula. Create perfectly blended-out or rich, precise lines that are blacker-than-black. “

I am not a huge fan of the original 24/7 formula since I found it was just as smudgey as some of my favorite drugstore liners but at double the price. I’ll give this one a go but with low expectations.

A full-size pencil retails for $20.

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Starlooks Luscious Longwear Lip Pencil in Naked

“Starlooks’ Luscious, Longwear, Matte Lip Liner formula contains a Kiss-Off Resistant polymer that, when worn alone or in combination with a matte Lipstick, offers an incredible 8 hour wear.”

I don’t wear lip liner just about ever, but this corally/neutral color seems good to have in my collection for when I’m really taking my time getting ready.

This is a full size pencil retailing at $14!

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dr. brandt® microdermasion

“dr. brandt® microdermabrasion gently sweeps away dead skin cells and softens skin texture, which enables better absorption of skincare products and helps diminish the appearance of fine lines, acne marks, and skin discolorations.”

I love me some skincare and exfoliation, and this is a great brand to try. The full size of this product is supah pricey, and after one use I didn’t love it enough to replace my glycolic acid routine. But I will definitely use up this sample!

Full-size retails for $78.00.

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Elizabeth Mott Pop! Goes the Eyeshadow in Champagne

“The Elizabeth Mott pop! goes the eyeshadow is the ultimate eyeshadow that’s long lasting, easy to apply, and effortlessly blends. Buildable colors will take you from subtle highlights to dramatic smokey eyes. With pop! goes the shadow, eye shadow creasing is a thing of the past. Get ready to try the eye shadow that will change your life!”

Well, that’s definitely a tall order. I can’t speak to the creasing yet, but the shadow itself feels very soft and is a very pretty and versatile color. The weird thing about this brand is that there is such a small variety of products with very few colors. And when I say very few, I mean three. Weird.

Full size product! Retails for $12.99. 

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Coastal Scents Medium Shadow Brush

A girl can never have too many eye shadow brushes! My inventory is a mix between expensive MAC brushes and cheapo Elf ones, so I don’t discriminate. Although I’ve never heard of this brand, the brush feels very soft and the prices seem reasonable.

Can you see why I was impressed this month!? This month’s bag was an excellent value. Nice brands, full size products… what more could you want for $10?! You can visit the Ipsy website if you want more information on how to join.

Adventures in Raised Bed Gardening: An Overview

Hello, hello! Today’s post is an ode to spring and part one of my Adventures in Raised Bed Gardening. The beautiful sunshine has made its way to these parts and it is heavenly, y’all. With every spring comes time for the annual visit to Lowes to gather supplies for whatever greenery I’m attempting that year. Last year while living in Charleston, I splurged on these beautiful pots.

pots

They are BIG and HEAVY but I love the glazed ceramic look. My Charleston townhome had a back deck overlooking a lake, so we turned it into a tropical oasis with palm trees and assorted bright, tropical flowers. Of course, the flowers died, just like nearly every other thing I try to plant. But I don’t let that stop me!

This year I finally have a yard that is big enough for a garden, so a couple weeks ago I convinced my dad to take a trip to Lowe’s with me (aka our favorite store) to get supplies for raised beds. Home Improvement was one of our favorite shows growing up, so I think we were long overdue for this trip.

homeimprovement

Remember?! Man, the 90s gave us some great sitcoms. And also J.T.T., the best part of that decade. Obvi.

lowes

So here was our haul, and let me tell you- this was not a cheap venture! We may have gone a bit overboard for the first go at it, but if my Dad is anything, he is thorough. (We always joke that once he retires he’ll get a job at Lowe’s just for fun. And the employee discount.)

What you can’t really see in that picture is the two 8x10x1 pieces of wood we purchased and had cut in half in store. Dad found two pieces that passed his inspection, and the big wood cutting contraption gave us our perfect 4x10x1 boards for raised beds. We used a combination of screws, nails, and metal braces (def not the technical word) to assemble these beauties and then filled ‘er up!

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I did some research on the Bonnie website as to the best type of raised bed and also the best plants for our location in the South.

2014-03-30 16.49.55

I’m really hoping this beautiful, sturdy raised bed grows a big ol’ harvest of tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, yellow peppers, cucumbers, and green beans. I don’t know if I can handle another year of gardening disappointment, especially after this big of an investment, so cross your fingers for me! But, even if things don’t grow as much as I hoped (or at all), I loved exploring Lowe’s and learning how to use power tools with dear Dad. <3

There is a lot to this whole process, so I figure a multi-part post would be the best way to cover it all. See you in part 2!

The Search to Replace My Holy Grail Foundation

You know those times when you put your makeup on in your bathroom and all looks fine, but in natural sunlight there’s a more tan/less tan/orange/pink/yellow mask on your face? Blech. There are few worse makeup faux pas. So after realizing that I’d been wearing the wrong shade in my Revlon PhotoReady Airbrush Mousse foundation (the horror) and not being able to find an exact match within the line, it was time to begin the quest for my new Holy Grail, an arduous task for even less pickier beauty junkies.

Thankfully there is both an Ulta and a Sephora 20 minutes away to aid me in this search. If you spend any significant amount of time in a Sephora store looking for face cosmetics, an employee will offer to test your Skin IQ using a fancy contraption that they hold up to your skin to analyze your skin type and coloring. Ulta also has a ton of testers out and employees that will help you apply them to your heart’s desire (or if you are like me, you wave them off and dive in by yourself). After watching way too many YouTube reviews, I went into both stores with a long list of products to try. Y’all ready for a novel!? Here we go.

First up was Makeup Forever HD Foundation.

makeupforeverHD

Makeup Forever HD Foundation

Even with all its popularity and praise, I had a suspicion that this one would be too heavy for me, and I was right. Although great for special occasions or other times when you expect your picture to be taken a lot, it wasn’t a good fit for an everyday face.

Second up was NARS Sheer Glow. Cue the angels singing!

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

NARS Sheer Glow Foundation

How I love you. How I hate your $45 price tag. This one had a beautiful finish, medium coverage, and a perfect color match for my slightly yellow undertones. Thinking I had found the one, I took a healthy  sample size home to check out its staying power, and still loved it after a day’s wear. But after thinking over this potential purchase, the $45 price tag was a lot to swallow. I decided to try and find a drugstore dupe that still gave me the look at a fraction of the cost.

Unfortunately this became a longer and costlier version of Goldilocks- too pink, too yellow, too matte. Are any just right?

The wish list:

-satin to dewy finish (not matte)
-perfect color match for my slightly yellow undertones
-natural looking, medium coverage

The contenders:

covergirl3in1
CoverGirl Outlast Stay Fabulous 3-in-1 Foundation

Pros: good coverage, longwear formula, primer/concealer/foundation in one, a PUMP

Con: fairly matte finish + substantial coverage = not glowy enough for me

neutrogenahealthyskin
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Makeup

Pros: loved the semi-dewy finish, SPF, and good-for-you ingredients

Cons: the color range is awful so no perfect match, no pump=messy application

*This one would have been my pick if only they had my shade. :( *

lorealtruematch
L’Oreal True Match Foundation

Pros: SPF, great color range, good coverage

Cons: no pump, matte finish

After several trips back and forth to multiple stores, I was just about over it, and frankly the NARS price tag seemed to shrink as the frustration grew. But finally, I did a random Google search for “best foundations for yellow undertones” while stuck in traffic and came across a new-to-me beauty brand. Apparently Drew Barrymore launched a cosmetics line last year called Flower sold exclusively at Walmart. After some more googling, the premise and approach of her brand became very intriguing. Drew’s strategy is to use luxury and high-end ingredients in mass produced products through Walmart, driving costs down while maintaining the quality normally found in much more expensive brands. So, I stopped in a store near me and found a full display of beautifully packaged makeup. The foundation that I originally read about on the internet was the About Face Foundation, so it was my first item to pick up.

Flower About Face Foundation
Flower About Face Foundation

Here’s what their website says about this product:

-Provides skin-smoothing moisture
-Natural, seamless coverage
-Smoothes imperfections and evens tone
-Vitamins C&E for anti-aging benefits
-Fragrance-free
-Paraben-free

Sounds good, right?! And I love the sturdy, glass packaging with a PUMP and rose gold details. Of course, none of that would matter much if I didn’t love the foundation itself. And thank ya Jesus, because I DO.
 
 It gives a very similar look to the Sheer Glow but for so much cheaper, so I’d say it’s a great dupe for NARS Sheer Glow. It is probably a little less glowy than the NARS, but I can add a small amount of this Pixi Flawless Beauty Primer when I want to amp it up. Overall I think the Flower’s finish is better for all day wear and more likely to work for multiple skin types. It’s true that the $13.98 pricepoint is pretty high compared to other drugstore items, but the high-end details and the quality of the foundation definitely make it worth the money for me, especially when you compare it to the price of Sheer Glow and other pricier foundations.

Having loved one item from this line, I’ve slowly been trying more products from Flower Beauty and will do a full review on those later this week! Next time you’re in a Walmart, stop by the cosmetics section and see if Flower is available. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.