May Favorites

I know, this post is soooo late (SO Sorry! Arg!), but after debating between posting May and June Favorites together or separate, I decided it would be better to just keep them separate. Otherwise, we’d be here all day… Let’s get started!

Beauty
TangleTeezerI had several beauty favorites this month, but I couldn’t narrow it down any more, because all of these products are fantastic in their own way! First of all is the amazing Tangle Teezer. I have never used a brush that untangled my hair so effortlessly and painlessly! I use it both on wet and dry hair and it works through my hair without breaking or pulling on the strands. I’ve noticed fewer split ends and it’s great to blow out your hair because it’s less hassle than trying to work both a handled brush and blower dryer…at least I find it easier. I’ve never been graceful blow drying my hair with a brush… I highly recommend getting the Tangle Teezer, no matter what length of hair you have! I found my first Tangler Teezer at Target when they carried it briefly, but I’ve not been able to find it there since the one time, so now I get mine online.

Eva NYC Up All Night Volumizing SprayWhile we’re in the hair department, if you have fine hair like I do, I highly recommend the Eva NYC Up All Night Volumizing Spray. I got a sample of it in an Ipsy Bag and I was addicted! I ordered a full sized bottle from here. The spray is light enough to not weigh your hair down, but gives it texture and thickness at the same time. You can apply it as often or as little as you need throughout the day or even on your non-wash days to freshen up and give your mane a boost. It also helps extend your style longer throughout the day. I spray it on damp hair before I dry and style my hair and then on dry hair when it’s looking a little flat or tired. Plus, it smells amazing!

Garnier Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping CreamWith getting ready to turn 30 this year, I’ve been reminded more that I need to take care of my skin. I usually moisturize at night, but I hadn’t really paid attention to my eyes. I’d just use a little concealer in the mornings to hide any dark circles, but I’d yet to find anything to minimize the tired bags under my eyes. I started doing a little reading and research on eye care and discovered Garnier’s Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Eye Cream. It comes in a little tube that looks like it would be gone in a week, but it lasts forever! All you need is one little dot under each eye, TAP it in gently – don’t rub it under your eye! – and you’re set for the evening. When I wake up in the morning, I look more rested and the tired bags have been disappearing over time. I rarely wear concealer under my eyes now, since the dark circles are gone. While I’ve learned most anti-aging skin products cause me to break out instead of helping my skin look refreshed, this little eye cream does the trick!

Simple Micellar WaterSpeaking of skin care, I’ve been using Simple’s Cleansing Micellar Water in my routine lately. I first discovered micellar water after hearing several of my favorite beauty vloggers rave about it. I had used toners in my routine, but my skin would always get dried out and get super oily after a few days because the toner would strip too much natural oil from my skin. Micellar water is not quite a toner, but offers many of the same benefits without over drying my skin. Simple Eye Makeup RemoverIt also removes all my makeup, so for days when I’m in a hurry or have stayed up too late to do my whole night routine, I can still go to bed with a clean face. I also use Simple’s Kind To Eyes Eye Makeup Remover, which is a godsend for stubborn waterproof makeup or mascara! It takes off EVERYTHING, so my lashes are completely clean, helping them both stay healthier and making it easier to apply mascara the next day! Plus, it doesn’t irritate sensitive eyes or contact wearers. If you want to find out more about how micellar waters work, check out this post by POPSUGAR.

Maybelline Lash Sensational MascaraI need to post my review of mascaras soon, but after a few months of trying out different formulas and brushes that promise curl, length, volume, and all around amazing-ness, Maybelline won out for me with their Lash Sensational Mascara formula. I absolutely LOVE this mascara. I wasn’t expecting to find a mascara this great in the drugstore, but that’s just the icing on the cake! I tend to have naturally straight, kind of stubby looking lashes, that don’t tend to stay curled. I tried this mascara, not really hoping for much, but as soon as I’d done one eye, I could see a difference immediately! Even when I don’t wear a smokey eye or line my eyes, you can actually see my lashes now! My lashes stay curled and look longer, they don’t look clumpy, and it stays on all day. So if you’re like me and have been struggling to find a mascara that works, give this one a go!

Entertainment & Technology
As I mentioned in my monthly recap, audiobooks have been the best way for me to tackle my reading list this year! I’m working towards blocking out time in my day to sit down and read an actually hard/soft cover, paper pages BOOk, but for now, it’s just not possible. I still want to get through my list, though and I love hearing stories throughout the day. So, I’ve taken up my audiobook addiction again. But if you buy audiobooks, it can really make a huge dent in your budget, because most audiobooks cost more than the paperback version. Enter Overdrive. Overdrive is a free app that allows you to connect with your local library system and borrow audiobooks, right through your iPod! No need to go to the library, browse, and listen to CDs anymore. Now, sometimes, it may be difficult to find an audio version of the title you’re looking for, but most best sellers are available. So, all you need is a library card and the app! I’ve been able to listen to books while driving, doing stuff around the house, walking Pepper, working out, etc. It’s the perfect solution for frugal multi-tasking bookworms. 🙂

I’ve found three great shows that I’ve been watching on Netflix and Hulu this month. If you’re like me and love food, check out The Pioneer Woman. It’s like stepping into her blog and almost like a mini-retreat to see her home on the ranch, while she’s cooking up delicious meals. This show makes me want to cook and just eat! But with that in mind, I don’t recommend watching this show while working out. I made that mistake and my workout was torture!

But if you DO want some motivation and inspiration while you’re working out or just need a reminder that there are awesome and happy people in the world, watch Behind the Mask on Hulu. This show is about sports mascots and what all is involved in being a mascot. It follows four mascots from high school to pro teams and you get to know the person behind the mask. Outside their masks, most of the mascots are facing up hill challenges, whether that’s being the unpopular kid in school or reaching a plateau in their career. Yet, all of them are some of the most positive, hopeful, encouraging, and kind spirited people! It’s so encouraging to watch this show and see what they’re dealing with in their personal life, but that they find such joy in cheering other people up and getting others excited for their team! Watch it, it will make your day!

The last show that we’ve been loving as of late is Parks & Recreation. I don’t where we’ve been and why we haven’t been watching this show before now, but it’s just as funny if not sometimes more funny than The Office. I adore Leslie Knope and she’s just deepened my girl crush on Amy Poehler. My husband has now ranked Chris Pratt as one of his all-time favorite actors this year and Jonathan’s now incorporating Tom Haverford-isms into his daily vernacular.  All of the characters are lovable and there’s not one episode where my hubby and I don’t just crack up over something! Even though we didn’t watch this show when it was airing, I like that we can binge watch it on Netflix and not have to wait an entire week for the next episode. If you need a heavy dose of humor, want to add some flavor to your vocabulary, or want to feel like taking on the world, this show is for you. 🙂

Food
HelloFreshWe did some fun cooking this month and discovered a few new favorite dishes! I got an intro offer with my Martha Stewart Living magazine for HelloFresh. HelloFresh is a meal subscription service that sends you all of the fresh ingredients and recipes for three meals a week, for two people. HelloFreshOur first box arrived with all of the ingredients completely chilled and refrigerated. We tried the Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Roulades with Kale and Couscous Salad, Burst Tomato and Squash Fusili, and our favorite, Mustard Pork Chops with Green Beans and Crispy Potato Cakes! Everything was so delicious! We enjoyed trying new recipes and flavors, plus, I love that HelloFresh sends you just the right amount of ingredients for each dish so there are not a lot of leftovers, but the dishes are so filling.

And now we have the recipes to make our favorite dishes again! I love that the scheduling is flexible, even when you sign up for a subscription, you’re not locked in to receiving every dish, every week. You can skip a few weeks if you want to or need to, and you can also pick your preferred day to receive deliveries that works with your schedule. If you would like to try HelloFresh and get $40 off your first box, use the code: XVXVWR. Even if you’re a picky eater like me, I promise you’ll find something you like! 🙂

What are your favorite recipes? Have you found a holy grail beauty product that’s made your routine easier? What TV shows do you live to binge watch?
Tell me in the comments below!

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Monthly Recap – June

Well, another month has flown by! Is it just me, or is time on hyperdrive lately?

I’ll be honest, June was a tough month for me. I don’t want to start this post off negatively, but I feel I need to be honest. In a nutshell, there were several surprises for us that weren’t too pleasant and I struggled with my depression a lot. For those who struggle with depression, you’ll probably understand; it just gets you down, zaps your drive and energy, and it can take a while to get out of the funk. But despite the rough stuff, we DID have some bright spots!

30 for 30 Progress
As I mentioned in my May Monthly Recap, I’ve been working on saving and making more money through couponing and rebates. During the month of June, I kept utilizing those tools and I’m hoping to write some posts soon on my methods. In the same vein, I feel like we’ve got our monthly budget routine pretty nailed down. As for staying within our budget consistently, we’re still working on that!

2015-06-01 21.41.11I started working on #4 “Work on landscaping and gardening.” We’ve been trying to stay on top of our lawn and greenery this year, but due to my hubby’s work schedule, we can’t go out and manicure our lawn every weekend. With all the rain we’ve had these last two months and investing in a weed management service, our grass grows so quick!2015-06-01 19.09.59 But thankfully, one day, we were both able to get outside and tackle some yard work. While my hubby did his thing, I decided that I’d trim the bushes that were taking over our front window. After about five minutes of trimming, I was reminded of how much I hated one particular shrub. So, in a moment of slight frustration and a spur of the moment decision, within 20 minutes, I’d taken a saw to the bush and trimmed it clear down to the ground. It was both satisfying and shocking at the same time. But I honestly can’t wait to pull out the other two hedges and plant some miniature boxwoods and flowers in that front bed! Budget and weather allowing, I’m hoping to finish the project before the season changes. We’ll see.

2015-06-15 18.11.33In another spur of the moment decision and whittling down my 30 for 30 List, my hubby and I decided to move our home office. Our home office had been in a spare bedroom right next to my hubby’s man cave, but I always kept the door closed and rarely spent time back in that room. We had painted it a darker color than the rest of the house, but the room doesn’t get a ton of natural light, so it was always too dark to see anything. Plus, we still had some boxes that hadn’t been unpacked and there were still things to organize, hence the reason it was on my list this year… On the other end of our house, just off our kitchen, we have a bonus room. 2015-06-15 18.12.56We’d been using it as a dining area when we hosted friends, but other than that, it was just a big room. So, on one of hubby’s days off, we just decided to move the office into the bonus room. Turns out, we’ve ended up having more space, the room is brighter, and more functional. Plus, now we actually can use the spare bedroom as a guest room until we have kids! We’ve almost finished setting everything up and getting organized, but I can already tell you that it is far more functional and enjoyable to spend time in than the other room! I love it! I plan on writing an office tour post with lots of pictures once I’ve got it all finished!

Books Read
The Girl on the TrainI was able to read two books this month! Thanks to audiobooks, I love technology… I finished The Girl on the Train. I honestly kept waiting for this book to get interesting. But it was a little confusing at times and somewhat annoying. But not terrible overall, just not my cup of tea.

EnchantmentThe other book I read was Enchantment by Donald Spoto. I adore Audrey Hepburn and have a special place in my heart for classic movie celebrity biographies. I grew up watching classic movies from the 30s-50s. While my peers were watching movies and cartoons from the 80s and 90s, I grew in up in a world of musicals and black and white film. No regrets! I always find it it fascinating to learn about the actors lives off camera and how they grew up. Audrey Hepburn’s life is no exception. It was interesting to learn about her young upbringing and see how it influenced who she became as an adult. She was such a loving woman with an incredibly generous heart, but there were also a few surprises that I didn’t see coming. It made for an excellent read. If you’re an Audrey Hepburn fan, it’s a must-read!

Fitness
As I mentioned above, I struggled with depression this month. From being sick the month before and overwhelmed by other life “stuff,” my fitness goals kind of took a back seat. In all honesty, I found that my stress-eating had gotten out of control and I ended up gaining back all the weight I’d lost. I still logged my food and worked out on my bike, but I’d lost my self-discipline and motivation. My efforts were bare minimum and half hearted. So, I’m back at square one, but July will be different! I’m tired of this lack of motivation and the setback in progress was so frustrating! July will be different.

Travel
No travel this month. And, I’m not sure that we will be making any trips until the holiday season. I plan on writing an update, but I’ve decided to change goal #12. Instead of taking a vacation this year, we’re planning on adopting another puppy into our family. There’s no set timeline on this yet, but after talking about future goals and plans, along with discussing our budget, we realized it was unrealistic to do both a vacation and adopt a puppy this year. So we picked the puppy. 🙂 Who wouldn’t? Like I said, I’ll keep you posted on this, but I can’t say when, just yet! Stay tuned. 😉

Watched
For Fathers Day, my sweet dad wanted to go out to a movie with all of us. My husband was only able to join us for brunch before he had to go to work, but it was a fun time to spend the day with my sister and parents. It’s not been just the four of us for a while. InsideOutWe decided to go see Inside Out. I. Was. Stoked! I have been waiting a year to go see that movie, because I’m a huge nerd and love Pixar! This movie isn’t your typical Pixar, though. Yes, they have a tendency to anthropomorphize everything from toys to cars to animals to monsters (you get the idea), but this concept was unique in the fact that they were able to give a face to emotions. I LOVED it and I think it’s a great way to understand the basics of how our emotions influence us and how they contribute to developing our personality. The amount of detail and subtleties that I noticed reflected so much research that went into the film. I learned a lot as an adult and I think this would be a great movie for kids who are growing up and trying to understand why they feel the way they do…and realize that it’s ok to feel different feelings, that we need all the various feelings to make sense of life. They all serve a purpose and that we shouldn’t be defined by one feeling or another. The animation was as always, amazing. Plus, the cast was just perfect. If you’re an Office, Parks & Rec, or SNL fan, you’ll love it! I could keep raving, but I think you should go see it for yourself. 🙂

In other news, Pretty Little Liars is back on! The pilot and first few episodes of season six have been so good! My A theories are evolving… So You Think You Can Dance also started up again. Audition weeks are my favorite, so we’ve been enjoying those. Plus, they’ve been on Hulu, so I can go back and re-watch my favorite routines. It’s gonna be a good season!

Listened
I mostly listened to my audiobooks this month, like I mentioned above. So nothing too new in the listening department.

Memorable Moments
2015-06-09 21.02.49-22015-06-10 14.29.20My husband turned 28 this year and we had a great day celebrating on his birthday. We enjoyed a dinner and I baked him a cake, then later on he enjoyed a guys day out watching Jurassic World and hanging out with his guys. Our parents were able to have dinner with us and we tried the new Pepperoni Grill that opened nearby. It was incredible! All in all, I think he had a pretty good birthday this year!

Spoonflower-HedgehogsI entered another Spoonflower contest in June, which you can see here. I didn’t win, but I love entering their contests because it offers a great creative outlet, plus a fun community of artists! When they have contests, it’s neat to see everyone’s interpretation of the same subject. Every single one is different!

This Made My Day
2015-06-17 20.59.36I had a random mish-mash of things that just made my day this month. At a family gathering, my aunt gave my a Diet Coke she’d found with my name on it – spelled CORRECTLY! That never happens.

Jonathan and I enjoyed a random nostalgic jam session while we were moving the office. We found our mixed CDs from high school and had a great time guessing who the artists were. We got to explain our weird eccentric tastes and the influences behind them at the time.

2015-05-27 15.34.47I got sunset hair this month! I’m a natural brunette, but I’ve been a red head for the past year or so, which I love. I’ve never felt more myself than with red hair! But I decided to shake it up a little this time and add purple to the ends. 2015-05-27 11.32.47My stylist did an excellent job and created a color melt between the red and purple so that they transition in a more “natural” looking way… Since I work from home and don’t have to adhere to a dress code, I decided why not? I love it! 2015-05-27 16.52.27The only draw back is that my shower looks like a purple minion got splattered all over the walls when I wash it, but other than that, it’s perfect! It’s just subtle enough where you don’t immediately notice it, but in the sun, it looks kind of like an upside down sunset. 🙂

Monthly Moral
June taught me that positivity is a fight! Happiness is fleeting and joy is a choice. It doesn’t come easy. It’s a daily choice to look for the good around you or to change your perspective of your situation. The world is fallen and we are not perfect. It’s so easy to spiral into depression and despair, but we are not doomed to that. We have the freedom to choose what we make of our day and how we choose to look at it. We can’t control other people or what may happen to us, but we have full control over our response and attitude. It took me a while to remember this truth this month, but I finally did and I’m thankful. I plan on making July a better month.

How was your June? What was the best part of your month?

Monthly Recap – May

Good grief! I’m sorry this recap post is soooo late. Better late than never, though, right…?

May was an extremely busy month, but it always is for us. Between both of our families we have dozens of birthdays and wedding anniversaries, along with Mother’s Day and any weddings or graduations we may be invited to in the middle of Oklahoma’s infamous tornado season…  Despite the busy schedule, May was a pretty good month!

30 for 30 Progress
During May, I realized that I focused on several of the money related goals from my list. I’ve been doing some freelance work for a few clients and during May, working from home began to take over my schedule. I’m grateful for the work, but I’m also realizing how much time building your own business and serving your clients takes when the separation between work and home is not as clearly defined. I’ve been putting together plans and doing research to officially start my business while also keeping up with my deadlines for my clients. I’m looking forward to getting more done in this area in the months to come. Prayers appreciated though. This is a bit daunting.
I also worked on our budget plan and tried to find more ways to utilize coupons and rebates. The encouraging thing that I realized in doing all of this was that in the first five months of this year, without having “a real job” outside the home (hope you caught the sarcasm…), I brought in a little over $800 of extra change here and there. Nothing steady, but it’s become really helpful and nice to get “surprise” rebate/reward checks! 🙂 

Books Read
Screen Shot 2015-06-30 at 6.33.22 PM
I read Amy Poehler’s, Yes Please book and it was really good! I thought it might be similar to Tina Fey’s Bossypants, and it is, but it is also so much more! I have a new appreciation for Amy and who she is as a person. I loved how open and honest she was in her book and how you can see her reflecting on her overall life growth. The book had depth that I wasn’t expecting. I “read” the book by listening to the audiobook, which was quite enjoyable listening to the author read it. Plus, she also had special guests read portions of the book, so it’s a great listen! I want to buy the hardcopy because I would love to jot down several good quotes to remember. Read it. It’s good. 😉 

Fitness
Ok, here’s the thing. I’m one of those people who rarely gets sick, but when I do…it’s bad! I noticed I had a sore throat for a few days that wouldn’t go away. I thought it might be strep, so we went to the doctor. It ended up being tonsillitis. Long story short, I ended up missing several workouts and got off of my workout routine. So my fitness progress took a little bit of a hit this month. 😦

Travel
No travel this month…

Watched
2015-04-06 23.09.11-1I watched a lot of season finales in May! Mad Men had to be the most memorable season finale, though. My husband and I are big Mad Men fans and have watched the series all the way through. It’s one of the few shows that we both “watch” without being off and on our phones or just having it play in the background… When the last episode aired, we both had different reactions to it. Most of the time, I can’t stand good shows, movies, books, or stories ending. I want them to go on forever because I love staying in those worlds. Sometimes I’m not a fan of endings because it’s telling that the writers didn’t know quite how to tie up all the loose ends, but I have to say that the writers for Mad Men did a fantastic job! I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the ending. My husband was not so excited, he was left kind of miffed for some reason… But to each his own. If you haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy time traveling through Mad Men, I highly recommend it! 

Listened
As I mentioned above, I listened to a few audiobooks this month. I’ve been trying to catch up on my book list and the most efficient and realistic way for me to do that is to listen to audiobooks. Having worked in the publishing industry, I understand that there is a lot of debate and valid reasons as to whether audiobooks “count” as reading or not… I tend to approach is as another method to consume a story. Personally, I don’t have as much time to sit down and read a book. Unfortunately, I tend to fall asleep and loose my spot… #KeepinItReal
I listened to Yes, Please by Amy Poehler and then began reading The Girl on the Train. I’m planning on writing Pepper’s Bookshelf review posts on both, soon! Stay tuned!

Memorable Moments
Family Celebration
May is chock full of opportunities to get together as a family! Since there are so many birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, we decided to just pick one day to celebrate everything! We all went over to my aunt’s house and celebrated two birthdays, two anniversaries, and Mother’s Day. It seemed like almost everyone got a card or gift, and then we also had everyone’s favorite desserts.
Since it was May in Oklahoma, we expected a few tornadoes, but this year had to be one of the most memorable tornadoes. Flooded StreetThankfully we didn’t experience any damage or have any close calls where we live, but the internet went crazy with #Tigernado. Read more here to find out more of why, but it was probably one of the most unusual storm days we’ve had… Along with the tornadoes, we had record breaking rainfall which caused flooding around the state. Thankfully, though we are now out of a long drought!
We celebrated our four year anniversary this year! It’s crazy to think that we’ve already been together that long, somedays it feels like we just tied the knot and other days, it feels like we’ve been married forever. It was such a good day! Read more here.
Two more milestones happened this month: we’ve officially been homeowners for two years and I left the corporate world a year ago. Time is just flying by so fast!

This Made My Day
Who I Carried Today
I had a guest writer on my blog this month! Memorial Day is an important holiday in our home. I had already planned on writing a post on how I’ve come to view the day and what it means to me. With my husband being a former Marine, I knew he was planning on remembering the day in his own way, but when he came home, he surprised me by asking if he could write a blog post to share his thoughts on Memorial Day. I was a bit surprised, but also excited that he wanted to share. If you knew my husband, the adage “still waters run deep” fits him perfectly. He tends to be a deep and internal thinker, so I love when he opens up to share those thoughts. He’s an excellent writer and I was so encouraged that so many people loved his post! His single post has been the most viewed post on my page so far. I’m pretty proud of him!

Monthly Moral
This month, “grace” was the dominant theme in my day. I began to feel like I’d failed at life or that I would never get caught up from being sick and getting behind on a lot of my projects and daily tasks. I was feeling so discouraged and overwhelmed. When I stepped back and looked at the situation or what was bogging me down, I was reminded to give myself grace. I am not a robot, life happens, I may not even have enough time in the day to tackle my mountain of tasks, but it’s ok. It’s not the end of the world, it will eventually get done. But just because I didn’t get it all done, all in a day, or all perfectly, does not mean that I’m a failure. It’s a challenge to hold onto that mindset, but I’m working on it.

Status

Monthly Recap – March

Whew! March was jam packed! I feel very accomplished and I’m proud to say that I got a lot done, but I’m looking forward to a less busy month. 🙂 Once again, I’m linking up with The Lady Okie and her Project 12 posts. Find how my March panned out below:

30 for 30 Progress: As I mentioned in my previous Monthly Recaps, SpringNightthere are a few items on my 30 for 30 List that I will be working on throughout the year. I made headway on a few projects this month and I’m excited to see more of my list completed! I made progress on making our office more functional (#3), I got my 401k paperwork finally taken care of (#16), I finally got a cleaning schedule nailed down (#22), and we got Pepper enrolled in training (#21)! I also started a Spoonflower Shop and entered my first contest. Even though I didn’t win, it was fun to design something based around a challenge and to be part of a creative community again. I also had two sales during the month of March! I’m hoping to add more designs to my shop in the future.
150316-MM-Day16My biggest 30 for 30 List accomplishment this month was tackling the 31 Day Purge Project from A Bowl Full of Lemons. I adapted the Spending Freeze idea from Living Well, Spending Less and incorporated it into our March project, creating my own March Makeover. It was a challenge, but it feels so good to have a decluttered and organized home! It was also really eye-opening to see how we could get through a month without having to spend money on everything. It allowed us to focus on saving and helped us stay on the same page financially! You can find out how the project went by clicking here and looking up the hashtag #MarchMakeover15PO on Instagram.

Books Read: I am so behind, it’s not even funny! No reading was done in the midst of all the productivity…

Fitness: As of this post, I’ve lost 8 pounds since I started my fitness plan in February! (YAY!) I am starting to see a noticeable difference in how my clothes fit and what I see in the mirror, plus I have more energy. It’s not as noticeable to others at this point, but it’s encouraging to see a difference. I created a separate page to track my progress here.
FitbitI also got a Fitbit! It’s been motivating to try and get all of my steps in, to track my quality of sleep, and to see that just by being more active in the day, I’m burning calories! And before you think that this Fitbit was going outside of our Spending Freeze, I was able to get a very good deal, we discussed it, and we decided it would be a good purchase!
My Fitbit syncs with both MyFitnessPal and GymPact. I’ve mentioned MyFitnessPal before in previous fitness posts, but I’ve started using GymPact which is an app that lets you earn money for working out and logging your food. I mentioned GymPact in my most recent fitness update. You can link the app with your other fitness apps and devices and set goals for yourself. When you complete or meet your goals (your pact) for the week, you earn cash that can be transferred to your PayPal account. If you miss a workout or don’t complete your pact, you have to pay. Needless to say, that’s pretty motivating to stay on track. I’ve been using it for about 3 weeks and have earned nearly $5. I know that’s not much, but it’s better than nothing and better than paying $5 for a missed workout!

Travel: No trips this month. 😦

Watched: Ever since Friends came on Netflix in January, we’ve been watching it non-stop. We finally finished the series! It was bittersweet, but it was fun and I have a feeling it will be another show for us, like the Office, that we just watch over and over again…
150325-MM-Day25We also had a movie night at home as a family and enjoyed watching Mockingjay. Jonathan and I both agree that it’s the best movie in the series so far. We were in suspense the whole time we watched it in theaters and it was just as enjoyable at home, along with all the behind the scenes footage.
My sister and I are huge fans of Pretty Little Liars, so when the season finale aired this month, we were glued to the TV. While I know a lot of PLL fans were disappointed with the season finale (no spoilers here), personally I thought that it was one of if not the best episode of the show to date! There were answers but also so many more questions and I can’t wait to see how they answer them in the upcoming season! Any other PLL fans out there?

Listened: I discovered two excellent podcasts this month! The Accidental Creative is really good and though provoking for professional creatives. But it’s also applicable to others in cop orate careers. My favorite episode for the month was “The Power of a Morning Ritual.” I was encouraged to establish a more consistent morning routine and hopefully I’ll be able to implement one soon.
The other podcast is great for when you need a laugh… Grownups Read Things They Wrote As Kids is hilarious! Based out of Canada, they hold open mic nights and encourage adults to bring their diaries, journals, letters, etc. from when they were kids. Some of the entries are adorable, most are really funny, some are deeper than they originally appear. Overall, it’s always a fun listen.

Family Moments: We survived a few little earthquakes (one big one that jolted both Pepper and I) and our first tornado of the season. We were only in the tornado warning zone, but it still makes me a bit anxious, so I was thankful that hubby was home at the time. Pepper slept through the entire thing…
We got Pepper enrolled in training this month! So far, she’s the only one in her class due to a schedule mix up, but she’s learning and catching on. She loves going to “school” as we like to call it and gets so excited when we drive up to the building. We’re working on loose leash walking, sit, wait, leave it, etc. The loose leash walking is the most challenging, but I’m glad we’re seeing a little progress there. It gives me some hope that in addition to being the sweet puppy she is, she can be an obedient puppy too. 😉

This Made My Day: I finished up my first sketchbook for the year! If you follow me on Instagram, you can see me post a daily sketch and since we’re almost 100 days into the year, I ran out of paper in my first sketchbook and had to start a new one! It’s been really neat to go back through and look at the sketches I made at the start of the year. I can’t wait to look through all of them at the end of the year and see how my style and technique has progressed!

Monthly Moral: With the March Makeover, I learned a lot about “stuff” and how much of it we don’t really need. I found so many things that were just that, “things” and were taking up space both physically and mentally. I had to work on letting go of things that I no longer needed and really didn’t serve a purpose anymore. I was reminded of how much of a sentimental pack rat I am. But once I started seeing the extra space that was starting to be created and realizing what I actually used, I was able to let go a lot easier and feel like I could breathe! I think I’m going to have to purge clutter periodically from our home and from my life.
I also realized that we can live on less. I went grocery and general shopping once. That’s ONE Target trip for the month! But we made it and we weren’t deprived or in desperate need for anything, plus we were able to save the extra money we would have spent frivolously. I don’t think we should try to live in a Spending Freeze all the time, but it honestly doesn’t hurt to do it every once in a while.

I’m excited to see what April has in store! How was your March?

What’s In My Bag?

In the spirit of spring cleaning and because I wanted to swap the purse I’ve been carrying around all winter, I thought I’d do a “What’s In My Bag?” post. I love watching these kinds of posts on YouTube because I just find it interesting to know what people carry around with them, what products they use, or what they carry their stuff in. Plus, I’m just nosey… 😉

I needed to clean out my purse, since I couldn’t remember the last time I had done that, but I also am reminded every time I go to the grocery store that I need to carry a bigger purse so I can take my Target grocery/shopping bags with me. (You can save $.05 for every bag you bring for your items, instead of using plastic bags. You don’t have to only use bags you bought from Target, but if you can’t find or don’t have bags, you can buy them for $.99/ea. Plus, if you’re environmentally conscious, it helps with that too…) But even after changing purses, I’m not sure I’ll be able to carry my grocery bags without some reshuffling before my next grocery trip… Since I’m saving up for a designer handbag, the purses I use now are pretty inexpensive, but still great bags! I tend to buy my purses from Target (do you see a theme? I heart Target!) because they have great designs and are affordable. NavyPurse All winter, I’ve been carrying this nifty navy purse that I bought from Target for about $30-40. I like that it has three outside pockets and is open in the center. I like to keep my keys, my phone, pens, and other items that I need to be able to find quickly. NavyPursePocket1 I like to keep my keys and phone (not pictured) accessible in the front pocket. I also like to keep my pens and pencils accessible…and apparently chocolate! I love Sharpie pens, they just have a nice smooth flow of ink and come in a range of colors, plus they don’t bleed through the page. Chuao chocolate is so good! If you haven’t tried it yet, you should. They offer so many unique flavors! Each bar is a little pricey, but the chocolate is high quality, rich, and surprisingly, not high in calories. 😉 NavyPursePocket2 NavyPursePocket3 In the other two pockets, I like to keep my headphones, charger cord, mobile charger, and memory stick easy to reach, especially when I’m in the car and need to charge my phone. My mobile charger is handy for times when I can’t get to an outlet or my car. For whatever reason, I’ve also been carrying around a tape measure. Hey, never hurts to have some tools on hand! NavyPurseTop NavyPurseCenter The center section of my purse holds pretty much everything I could need while out and about:

  1. Blogging notebook for jotting down ideas on the go.
  2. Coupon wallet/folder. This is what I keep all of my coupons in, however I don’t take this to the register with me, since it would take too long to hunt for all the coupons I’d use. These folders are perfect for couponing, they’re cute, durable, and they don’t cost much!
  3. My GorillaPod was a gift from my mother-in-law and it’s helpful for taking steady photos with your phone or camera. It’s a flexible tripod that can wrap around or attach to numerous surfaces while still providing grip to help stabilize your shot.
  4. A lady “always” needs necessities for that time of the month…
  5. Trident gum. I like this container because you don’t have to worry about a wrapper, plus if you want to share with people, there’s a lot more gum in one of these containers than a little packet.
  6. Planner. Find out how I use my planner here.
  7. Password log. I don’t always keep this with me, but it depends on what I’m doing or where I’m going as to whether I need it or not. I know that there are password apps that store your passwords and protect them, however I’m old school and I like to keep our passwords in a booklet.
  8. More gum… I like Orbit, but these packets tend to spill in my purse or get lost.
  9. Granola bars for when I need a boost of energy or I need a snack. Lately I’ve been enjoying Special K bars and the Simply Balanced nut granola bars. They’re good for you and they taste  good!
  10. My wallet. I keep all of my cards, sometimes cash, business cards, gift cards, and always at least one giant paperclip for my coupons. I love that this wallet zips closed so nothing falls out.
  11. Sunglasses case. I keep my sunnies and some lens cleaner in this nifty little case.
  12. This metallic pouch is where I keep all of my little beauty things that could get lost in the bottom of my bag. I’ll show what’s in this pouch in further detail below…
  13. Hand cream. I like to use Bath & Body Works hand creams both for the fragrance and because they soak deep into the skin quickly. My hands tend to dry out easily since I wash my hands a lot, so having lotion on hand is a must for me.
  14. Apparently I need to carry two of a lot of things… I like to always have hand sanitizer in my bag. You never know when there might be gunk you could get on your hands, plus these smell so good! Both of these are also from Bath & Body Works.
  15. Tums Smoothies. This is a nifty travel size that I bought before a trip and I just keep in my purse now and refill it as needed.
  16. I guess I need chocolate on hand at all times… I mentioned these in my February Favorites post. They’re so yummy!
  17. This is the one shopping bag I can fit in my purse right now. I got this at Pier 1 a while back up at the register. I like that this bag folds up to this little size and fits in a little pouch so it stays neat and compact.

TanPurse I decided to switch to a tan purse for spring. This purse is a little bigger, but does not have pockets to help contain like items. So, I decided to add a few more pouches to help keep items together and make them easier to find. Since I’ve been subscribed to Ipsy, I’ve collected a few little makeup bags that have come in handy for organizing my purse items. SilverPouch

  1. Tissues. These are always a good thing to have on hand…
  2. I like to keep these Colgate Wisps in my bag in case I need to brush my teeth while I’m out. You know when you go out to eat and sometimes you feel like you just need to brush your teeth right after? These are perfect for those times.
  3. Dental floss. See above… Dental floss is never a bad idea.
  4. Band-Aid Friction Block Stick. I love this little dude! It looks like a little deodorant stick, but it’s for your feet. It helps prevent blisters from forming when you rub it on areas that you tend to get blisters or when your shoes feel a little tight. This item has saved my feet on long days or late nights when I’m wearing heels!
  5. Nail file. You never know when you might break a nail…
  6. Soap. This is a little nifty packet of lavender soap leaves that I picked up from Pier 1. They’re nice to have when I find myself in a public restroom that’s run out of soap in the dispenser. You can just take out a little sheet of soap, run some water over it in your hands and it foams up!
  7. Powder. I always keep an extra compact of powder in my purse for any necessary touchups I may need while I’m out and about. This is Neutrogena’s Shine Control Powder.
  8. Oil blotting sheets. These are also helpful for touching up your makeup, especially in Oklahoma summers. I like these Clean & Clear Oil Absorbing sheets. The Body Shop also has some nice tea tree oil sheets that work well too!
  9. Lip gloss. Always. Currently I’m carrying around Rimmel’s Show Off Lip Laquer in 101 Celestial. It’s a nice nude/pink shade that has been going with any makeup look I happen to be wearing. The formula is moisturizing and stays on like a lip stain.
  10. Bandaids. It never hurts to have some bandaids… PenPouch ElectronicPouch

I added these two pouches to my bag, since I don’t have any exterior pockets or additional pockets on the inside of my purse. The first pouch holds all of my pens and pencils. The second pouch corrals all of my electronic accessories and tools.

So that’s pretty much it! What essentials do you carry in your purse or bag?

What kind of purse do you like to carry?

February Favorites!

No, I didn’t forget about my favorites post for February… I know this favorites post is a little late (now that we’re halfway through March!), but with my March Makeover, I’ve been so busy! Even though February was a short month, I found a few favorites that I enjoyed throughout the month… So, better late than never, here we go!

Products

2015-03-10 12.17.27So when I go grocery shopping, I like to carry my coupons that I plan on using with me for reference. It used to be a hassle trying to juggle all these pieces of paper, my phone, and picking out items in the store, but I finally found something to help keep all my coupons together! I found these great giant paper clips at Target in the office supplies. I love Nate Berkus’ products and these look classic, but also work well for keeping everything together! It’s the simple things, but I love these…

Beauty

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 2.43.26 AMLately, I’ve been loving several beauty products! First off, I lucked out with scoring samples of Benefit’s Roller Lash mascara at both Ulta and Sephora. I saw several beauty bloggers reviewing this mascara before it came out and I was really curious about it because it’s supposed to curl your lashes and keep them curled longer. My lashes will curl for about a minute before they start straightening out again, so I was really intrigued to try it. And I have to say, besides one other high end mascara I’ve tried, this has been the only mascara to hold a curl all day! I’m still not sure I want to shell out $24 for a tube right now, but it’s nice to know that my lashes will cooperate with a mascara for once! Right now, I’m using the Roller Lash as my first coat of mascara to hold the curl and add length. Then I apply a second coat with the Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara that I mentioned in my January’s Favorites.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 2.48.24 AMSpeaking of eyelashes, I received a new eyelash curler in my Ipsy Bag and it has made a noticeable difference in my eyes looking more bright, open, and awake! The Emite Make Up Professional Eye Lash Curler is amazing. It gets in so close to your lash line and presses the curl into your lash without creating an awkward dent. Even when I’ve not used the Roller Lash mascara, my lashes have look more curled. I’ll be honest, if I hadn’t received this curler in my Ipsy Bag, I don’t think I would spend $25 right now on an eyelash curler, but it IS a quality beauty tool, so I still think it would be a good investment in your beauty tool collection.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 2.54.06 AMAnother beauty product I’ve been loving is the new L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation. I tend to have oily to combination skin that is sometimes a challenge to keep from looking too shiny throughout the day. I saw this foundation and had heard some good reviews on it, so with coupon in hand, I decided to give it a go. This foundation is awesome! It applies beautifully and smoothly, it goes on matter but isn’t cakey and my skin doesn’t get shiny. A bonus is that this line provides a light fair color that matches my skin tone perfectly. Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 2.53.56 AMSo for all you fair skinned ladies out there, this foundation might be for you! If you like to set your liquid foundation with powder like I do, I highly recommend using the L’Oreal Infallible Makeup Extender Setting Spray with this foundation to keep it in place and help set the foundation and powder together. The setting spray is half the price of Urban Decay’s All-Nighter or De-Slick (both great settings sprays, by the way, but a little expensive fore everyday use in my opinion), so it’s a great everyday option for your budget!

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 2.01.37 AMWith the new pro-matte foundation I’ve been using, I’ve started applying my foundation with the Precision Blending Sponge from the Grab ‘n Go section of Ulta. I wasn’t able to find it on Ulta’s website, but Amazon has it listed on their site. However, at Ulta, the sponge is half the price than what Amazon listed. I know that there are other blending sponges out there, but I tried this one since it was way cheaper than the popular, yet expensive, Beauty Blender and I’d never used a blending sponge in my routine. I don’t think I’ll go back to applying my foundation any other way! Using a damp blending sponge to apply my foundation has minimized the amount of foundation I have to use and gives my face a more smooth and flawless look. I’ve also noticed that it helps my makeup stay on longer than before. I’m hoping to try a few other blending sponges (this one is my next one to try) to find one that is reasonably priced but also made out of a quality material that will hold up well through cleanings. Regardless, I’m sticking with blending sponges for my routine from now on!

Entertainment & Technology

I tend to binge watch a lot of TV on Netlfix and Hulu, but lately I’ve been watching YouTube more often than TV. I’ve always loved YouTube and my subscription list is pretty long, but during February, I found myself watching a few channels more often than others:

TheKitchyKitchen – I recently discovered Claire’s channel and just couldn’t stop watching her videos once I found her. Her videos are so inspiring and refreshing. She has a lot of fun and simple recipes that are so sophisticated. Her dishes look like they would be challenging, but they are so easy and take hardly any time to make! Most of her recipes are pretty healthy too. It makes me want to bust out my mixer and start baking and throwing dinner parties. The design and editing style for her videos are very professional and it’s like watching a magazine. I absolutely love her channel! Her website is pretty neat too!

GlamLifeGuru – I have been watching Tati’s channel for a couple of years now and I love her reviews and tutorials! She shows a wide range of beauty products from high end to drugstore makeup products, but she also focuses on getting the best deal for your dollar. What I love about her channel is that she is so genuine with wanting to show her subscribers what they really want to see and goes the extra mile to answer their questions. She has a very down to earth personality that is so fun, it feels like you’re just hanging out with your friend and talking about your favorite things. She recently launched an app that allows her subscribers to interact with her and each other. She’s simply lovely and I look forward to watching her weekly videos!

PrettySparklyShiny – Kristina’s channel just makes my day every time I watch one of her videos. I feel like I can relate to her tastes and interests in a lot of ways. She does a lot of makeup videos, but she also does reviews on technology, designer handbags, and planners on her blog as well. Her vlogs are so fun to watch, since you get to follow her all over Houston and enjoy her weekends with her. She has a really positive and optimistic style to her videos while still keeping’ it real, if you know what I mean.

Clothing

Ok, prepare yourself, we’re about to get personal here. But ladies, this really is a crucial part of working out. Having the proper clothing can make a big difference in your confidence to work out and also at times, motivate you to workout. I find that when I’m wearing clothes that make me feel good, I feel better about working out, because I don’t feel frumpy. So, I discovered a new sports bra that I love. Typically, when you work out, there’s the standard sports bra you can wear…which can sometimes be a hassle to put on or take off and can discourage you from working out. At least, that’s how it’s always been for me. I decided I needed to invest in something that would make me feel feminine, be comfortable, and still support me. I discovered Victoria’s Secret Sports bras. They provide the perfect amount of support, comfort, and they make you look cute while you workout. They also offer different kinds of fits and closures which can make it way easier to wear. Yes, they are a bit more expensive than a standard sports bra, but if you’re signed up on their mailing and email lists, they send out coupons and have sales running all the time! I don’t think I’ll ever go back to another kind of workout gear. 🙂

Food

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.08.31 AMDespite focusing on my health goals in February, I did have a few favorite treats that hit the spot! Justin’s peanut butter cups are better than Reese’s in my opinion. I usually will keep a pack in my purse in case I need a little bit of protein or just a snack. My favorite are the dark chocolate cups! They’re organic and they taste so good.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.09.23 AMAnother chocolate favorite is Hershey’s chocolate spread (can you see the chocolate theme?). Since it was Valentine’s Day in February, I enjoyed some chocolate strawberries with this chocolate spread. I seriously could eat it with a spoon right out of the container, but I try to reserve it just for strawberries. 😉

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.10.28 AMI’ve given up soda with my new fitness plan and so instead, I’ve been drinking a lot of water and juice. I discovered Disani sparkling water and it has just a hint of flavor and carbonation. So, when I’m craving a soda, instead, I can mix some of the Disani sparkling water with some juice and get a healthy soda substitute. Plus, the sparkling water is good on it’s own, so when I’m enjoying a meal that I’d usually pair with a soda, I just get a sparkling water instead.

So before March is over, what have you been loving in February? Who do you watch on YouTube? What’s been your favorite snack or most motivating workout gear?

Pepper’s Makeup Bag | All About Those Brows

I decided to start a new series featuring beauty products that I use, products I’ve tried, products I love, and drugstore substitutes I’ve found for high end products. Please keep in mind that these posts are just my opinion, and know that I typically try products that I’ve heard good things about from beauty bloggers, vloggers, and people I know in real life. I am not sponsored to post these reviews. I am not a beauty guru, nor do I have any professional background in cosmetics, I just love makeup!

This week raises a few eyebrows, since we’re talking brow gels and brow pencils. Brow gels have caught my eye in the past year or so and have made a huge difference in my makeup routine. Until the beginning of last year, I had never really done anything to my brows and usually just ran a brow comb through them. I started hearing some of my favorite beauty bloggers talk about brow products and doing brow tutorials and began seeing the benefit of what finishing out your brows can do for your overall look. Brows frame your eyes, give more definition to your face, and help polish your look. I honestly can’t do even my most simple and quick routine now without doing something to my brows.

I’ve been using my favorites for the past year: 150227-BrowPost-BrowWhiz150227-BrowPost-GimmeBrowthe Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Brow Whiz and Clear Brow Gel! I’ve tried the ever popular Gimme Brow by Benefit in the past, too. However, since we’ve become a sin150227-BrowPost-ClearBrowGelgle income household, these high end products, while they’re amazing, they burn a whole in your budget quick! Benefit’s Gimme Brow is teeny tiny, and costs a whopping $22 and while the Brow Whiz by Anastasia Beverly Hills last longer (mine lasts on average 6 months with everyday use) it’s still a chunk of change at $21, plus the Clear Brow Gel at $22, they add up to $43.

So, I had been on the hunt lately for a drug store 150227-BrowPost-BrowMascaraand more budget friendly option. I was excited to see an ad for L’Oreal’s Brow Stylist Plumper Brow Gel Mascara as I was clipping coupons. On my next errand run I made sure to check it out and my jaw dropped when I saw the price: $8.99! My wallet breathed a sigh of relief and when I tried it at home, I was converted! The wand is the length of a mascara wand which offered much more control. I was able to have a lighter touch and not have to clean up or redo my brows, like I almost always ended up having to do with Benefit’s Gimme Brow’s short wand. The L’Oreal gel has fibers to help fill in your brows, a slight tint, and held my brows in place all day! Since I’ve had this in my makeup drawer, I noticed I’ve been grabbing this instead of my Benefit Gimme Brow or Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel. I like using this gel, because if I’m just having a light and easy makeup day, I can just use this gel and still have brows that look neat and filled in.

150227-BrowPost-NyxFor days when I’m wanting fuller more defined brows or doing a more glammed up makeup look, I use both a brow pencil and brow gel. I still have a special place in my heart for Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Brow Whiz, but I just recently found a drugstore alternative with the same concept. Most brow pencils have to be sharpened and don’t come with a little handy spooly which is why I fell in love with the Brow Whiz in the first place. Nyx finally came out with a twist up pencil (no need to sharpen) and a spooly combo brow pencil! Priced at $9.99, it’s a perfect dupe for the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Whiz. I can’t tell you how I excited I got when I found the Nyx Micro Brow Pencil! I absolutely love it!

So altogether, my brow budget has gone from $65 (when you add all the high end brow products I was using…OUCH!) to $18.98! These drugstore products are easier to find, cost less, and give you the same great results. I highly recommend them!

What are your favorite brow products?
What kind of beauty products would you like to read about next?