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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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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

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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. :( *

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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. 

March Favorites

Someone asked me today if I was keeping up with March Madness, but minus that one year where I was a basketball cheerleader, I’ve never really watched much of it. So my March Madness has consisted of (drum roll) beauty goods.

OCC Lip Tar Stained Gloss

OCC Lip Tar

OCC Lip Tars are well-loved and hyped lip products, but at $18 a pop I’d been holding off on the investment. While they are known to be extremely pigmented and long-lasting, subtle they are not. Every time I swatched in Sephora it was like BAM LOOK AT MY LIPS PLEASE K THX. The Stain Gloss is a tamer version of the lip tars which makes it a wearable pop of color. I purchased the color Rhythm Box, which shows on the lips as a mid-ranged, bright pink, almost like a mix of berry and hot pink.

Stila CC Cream

Stila CC Cream

Gotta admit- I am about two years behind the bandwagon on BB and CC creams over here, but the Sephora sales lady insisted I take a large sample, and I owe her a thank you. Although I personally don’t need much “color correcting,” this cream feels great and provides a very pretty, satin-to-dewy finish that is worth it on its own.

Sephora Bunette

BunetteOh hey, second and third day hair! This contraption beats the pants off of ghetto-rigged sock buns and makes getting ready in early mornings a snap. It’s not the most durable of products, and you’ll have probably have to buy another after heavy use, but its cheap price and awesomeness make up for that.

So there are definitely a few other products that make the list for favorites this month, but I’m saving them for a full review post. Can you handle the anticipation? Can you?

In bad news, I now have about one of every type of beauty product a girl can need/I previously lacked/is at least semi-reasonable in price and purpose. Not sure what I’ll be finding in April with a legit enough excuse to buy, but I’m sure something will turn up in the collection. Til then!

Weekend Recap

Oh, the Monday blues. One day life will be nothing but weekends (retirement, you’re so far away), but in the meantime… workin’ it two days a week. Maybe the best part of moving back to Georgia is being closer to so many old friends that can fill up those weekends.

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These girls. Besties since middle school. Erika is busy with student teaching, and Anna is busy with MBA classes. But Anna and I made time to get dinner on Friday which turned into three hours… of margaritas. Whoops.

Saturday offered up a cookout reunion with my lovely college friend, Alisa. The last time I saw her, we were running a 5k through Animal Kingdom in Disney World.

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Bless her for running about half her normal speed so that my sorry butt could finish without stopping. Saturday she ran a half marathon before I even got out of bed, so clearly some things never change.

Sunday came in with beautiful warmth and sunshine but also gail force winds. Didn’t stop me from paying Lowe’s a visit and walking out with quite the haul.

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Pops and I spent the day shopping for and building a raised bed which I am way, way excited about. Full post on that coming soon.

Hope you a fab weekend and see you in a bit for March Favorites.

 

My March Ipsy Bag

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Month three! Ipsy was s-l-o-w getting this bag to me this month, and unfortunately it was only kinda, sorta worth the wait.

The deets:

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

The goods:

marchbag

This bag. What on earth. Note to Ipsy- you’re mailing to the masses. Try to pick a pattern that appeals to more than 5% of your customers.

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Pixi Flawless Beauty Primer

So after taking a sneak peek in my “Glam Room” on the Ipsy website, I was probably the most excited to receive this product.

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After trying out so. many. drugstore foundations to find a match for my skintone, I was bummed that the only one I could find was very matte. I normally go for the satin or dewy finish since I don’t struggle with oily skin (thanks Accutane!). This primer worked great under my L’Oreal True March foundation and gave just a little something extra to my complexion, grease-free! Hooray.

bareminerals

bareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in Get Ready

bareMinerals is another brand that I automatically associate with my first foray into makeup. They have expanded their line substantially from their flagship product, mineral powder foundation, to include mascara, eyeshadow, and lip products. I already have one of their glosses in a nice pink shade that I do enjoy, so I had hopes for this lipstick. It’s a very moisturizing, highly pigmented color, which is all good, but it looks very similar to the POP Beauty gloss from February’s bag, so a bit redundant. :\ bareMinerals lip products have a minty smell/taste in case you don’t like that kind of thing, but I don’t find it to be overwhelming.

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Chella Eyeliner in Indigo Blue

I really, really like the style and formula of this eyeliner pen, but the color… bright blue? In most facets of life, I’m quite the adventurous person, but that quality typically does not extend into makeup. The craziest I’ve ever gotten is wearing dark purple liner, so this bright blue may or may not get some use. The pen itself, though, is really great. You can make a very thin and precise line or adjust the angle of the liner to make a more dramatic, thicker line.

One swipe each.

One swipe each. The blue looks brighter in person.

This product retails for $24 on the Chella website, which is about double the max I typically pay for eyeliner. Might have to splurge on this one in a more wearable black. We shall see!

nyxshadow

NYX Love in Rio Eye Shadow in No Tan Lines Allowed

What a bummer to see this color combo in my bag. :( Of the ten palette options offered this month, of course I receive the one set that I wouldn’t choose on my own. Even though it doesn’t look like it on a computer screen, these colors are too cool toned for my tastes, and I already have similar colors in my larger palettes. Although I’ve heard good things about these shadows and generally like this brand, Love in Rio will be donated to someone who has the room to store more eyeshadows.

The rating:

So this month’s bag is probably in last place for me so far. For only having four items, I had hoped to really love all of them. I’m pretty picky and don’t need some of these products, which might seem to make those items less appealing? Who knows. Overall, though, I would still say the bag is a good value, even if it didn’t precisely match up with my personal color preferences. You may love it, though! Check out the Ipsy website if you’re curious about signing up.

 

This entry was posted in Ipsy.

Belated Thoughts on The Bachelor Finale & What Nikki and I Have In Common

So I thought I had scheduled this post to publish… but apparently not. Seeing as Juan Pablo and Nikki are still gracing the tabloid websites, I figure this one is better late than never.

Everyone knows this season of The Bachelor has been a train wreck. From the PR disasters to the low ratings to the finale fiasco, the execs at ABC are most definitely regretting taking a chance on good ol’ Juan Pabs. Although I haven’t particularly enjoyed this season, I watched every week all the same and had mixed feelings about the final girl, miss Nikki Ferrell.

nikki

So Nikki and I have a couple things in common. I like a girl who can tell it like it is and isn’t spewing rainbows and sunshine all day, every day, especially in a difficult situation like The Bachelor. Although she has gotten some flack for her comments and seemingly snobby asides… if I’m honest with myself, I would probably be caught making all kinds of comments that I’d regret later, especially in such a charged situation. Between the lack of phone/internet/tv and the producer manipulation and the emotional rollercoaster, the less appealing parts of my personality would be bound to make an appearance at some point or another. So, I don’t fault the girl for that. Do I think she should have reigned it in a bit if only for the fact she’s on national television? Yep. But she clearly had a connection with the guy and he obviously saw plenty of good things about her, so you go, girl.

Were any of us surprised when Juan Pablo bucked tradition and didn’t offer a proposal at the end of this gig? I mean, he couldn’t even say “I love you” but did throw in there that he “liked her a lot.” Not exactly what a girl wants to hear after professing her love and hoping for a ring. As we all watched Nikki share on the After the Final Rose special that she was still in love with Juan Pablo, she also told us that Juan Pablo still hasn’t told her the same. Cue the internet and its bashing frenzy:

“Have some dignity!”

“Where’s her self-respect?!”

“She’s desperate!”

It was incredibly uncomfortable watching a woman being told her significant other does not love her… over and over again. I mean really, Chris Harrison, how many times did you need to clarify that he, in fact, did not love her? Talk about beating a dead horse.

But let’s get real. Juan Pabs gave Nikki the final rose about four months ago after knowing each other/dating 24 other girls for about 2 months. Not only that, but those four months had to be a secret with a ton of restrictions. In real life, does this seem like a ridiculously unacceptable amount of time before getting to that place? I venture to say no. Too long for my personal tastes? Yep. But let’s commend the guy for taking his time and not caving to the pressure and criticism that he surely knew would come his way.

I’m sure Nikki has her reasons why she is still with him even in the face of unrequited love, but I really hope she’s going into this with eyes wide open. JP seems to have (or maybe had) ulterior motives based on his past attempts at acting and modeling, so hopefully she’s not going to be blindsided when it doesn’t work out. I can admit that I’ve had the displeasure of being the Nikki in a past relationship. It sucked and I feel for the girl. Fortunately my poor judgment wasn’t on primetime television, so there’s that. If I were her, I’d have a mental deadline for the relationship getting to the place where it needs to be, and after that it’s kthxbye.

Some of my favorite tweets on the whole sitch:

As big of a mess as this season turned out to be, the finale ratings were even higher than Sean’s season, proving that no one can really look away from a good train wreck. Since women tend to have better luck in the televised, complete unrealistic world that is this franchise, I’m looking forward to seeing Andi represent the A in the upcoming season of The Bachelorette.

What were your thoughts on JPabs and Nikki? How about Crazy Claire- did she redeem herself a little? Comment me!

 

Love It or Lose It: Sonia Kashuk Eye on Neutral 2 Palette

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Hello, hello! Today we’re going to take a look at this lovely matte palette by Sonia Kashuk.

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As much as I love my Urban Decay Naked 2 and my Lorac Unzipped palette (mentioned in my February Favorites post), I’ve been hankering for more mattes in my collection. Lately the shimmers have become less appealing, but good quality, reasonably priced mattes are hard to find. Minus the Urban Decay Naked Basics palette, there just aren’t a lot of exclusively matte palettes to choose from in the stores. After some serious Googling, this one was first up to test drive.

The Naked Basics palette retails for $28, which I found to be just a little too steep for only six shades. Even though I know Urban Decay’s eyeshadows are pretty high quality, I was looking for more options. Sonia’s palette is still not cheap at $20, but you do get 12 shades and a good bit of product for your money.

Swatch time!

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As you can see, a couple of the lighter colors have some pigmentation issues and require a lot of product to be applied to make a good show of it. Most are not as buttery smooth as I find Lorac to be, but they still blend easily. Overall, though, I am pleased with this purchase. There are plenty of looks I can make from this palette alone, and it’s small enough to tuck in my purse if needed without taking up too much room.

Pros

-12 shades

-travel-friendly size

-versatile

Cons

-a little dry for my tastes

-cheap packaging

The funny thing is that I remember buying this brand waaayy back when as one of my first makeup purchases ever. It turns out Sonia has partnered with Target since 1999! The prices always seem a little steep, but that’s probably because they are sitting right next to the more budget-friendly Covergirl on the shelves. I haven’t tried much of the brand except for a few brushes and this purchase, but I’ve got my eye on a thing or two

Have you tried any Sonia Kashuk products? Were they worth the price? Comment me!

A Nail Newbie’s Product Review: Zoya Nail Polish

zoyanaturel

So in my February Ipsy Bag post I mentioned the life-changing discovery of Zoya nail polish. I also fully admitted my complete lack of skill and patience when it comes to painting my nails. I kinda feel like my beauty-lovin’, girly-girl card should be revoked for this egregious sin, but today’s post is to show you that an old dog can learn new tricks, y’all.

Disclaimer

One thing to get out of the way before I put my nubby nails on display: I bite those suckers. I always have and probably always will. Call me a “picker” that really needs to reign it in, but the bottom line is that my nails are always short and never glamorous, so don’t judge too harshly, mmk?

Now let’s discuss the product that changed my naked nail ways: Zoya Nail Polish in Odette.

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As I said in my Ipsy post, there was originally a complete lack of excitement about this product. After giving it a shot, though, I was like…

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It’s magic. The formula literally self-corrects, which is great for someone like me with shaky hands and bad aim. In my experience, most nail polishes need several coats to minimize the streaks and get a smooth top layer, but not Zoya. The polish flattens and smooths on its own, filling in the streaks and brush lines. It’s cray cray to watch, but I love it.

Odette is a lovely purple color, but it isn’t really one I will feel like wearing all of the time, so I purchased the color Livingston for a pretty, bright red.

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Once flip flop season comes around, it’s reds on the toes for me, so this one will get a lot of use. I’m happy to say Zoya’s Livingston formula was consistent in its awesomeness, so next on the shopping list is Rue, also from the Naturel collection.

In summary:

Pros:

-killer formula for easy application

-nice color selection

-free of the Big 5 chemicals

Cons:

-not cheap

-takes at least 30 minutes to dry without a topcoat

Even after finding this magic in a bottle, I know I will never be one to rock serious nail art (as you can see, I can barely get one color on in a decent manner), but a girl can always benefit from having pretty, polished nails, amIright?!

Zoya is available at Ulta and on the brand’s website and retails for $9. Let me know if there are other brands you can recommend that help a newbie out!

 

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Quitting Your Job and Going Back to School Full-time for a Completely Different Career

Life lessons from me to you.

1. Is there ever a realistic chance that you can live your life on an actual budget? Like… ever?

2. Will you be able to turn off your binge watching of Bones (or insert any TV show remotely relatable to your field on study) on Netflix and actually study enough to make that A? I mean, sure, the topic is relevant to your anatomy and chemistry and biology courses and may even make you think you’ve learned something, but let’s not mistake three hours of eyeballs on screen as a review sesh.

3. Are you willing to work hard to maintain a social life and semi-acceptable sleep schedule? Night classes and heavy course loads are not exactly great for making plans or normal circadian rhythms.

4. Are you the type to be super gung-ho about something for a little while, or do you make carefully thought out, permanent-ish decisions? Hint: shoot for the latter.

5. Can you handle feeling like a bit ol’ clusterfudge of life mistakes while apparently every other millenial is blissfully sailing through life with their original career choices still in tact? Avoid LinkedIn during times like these, my friend.  Trust me on that.

And here’s a sixth for good measure which is probably the most important:

Are you willing to make the sacrifice now for the reward later?

You won’t get where you want to be with no effort and no risk. A price has to be paid, and there are no shortcuts. -Dave Ramsey