A Quick and Easy Fall Makeup Tutorial

Hey friends! I’ve been wanting to write this post for quite some time, and I’m finally sitting down to pull it all together – so I’m excited to share this with you! For those of you who don’t know me, I am a Beautycounter consultant and passionate about all things safer beauty. Beautycounter is a company created by our founder, Gregg Renfrew, that is gaining national attention. We have skincare, bodycare, haircare, kids and baby products, and my most favorite – makeup – all formulated without over 1500 ingredients that can be potentially toxic and harmful to our bodies! I won’t go into any more detail about the brand right now, that’s worth a separate post 😉 But because of the safer ingredient lists on our products, many are skeptical if everything is actually effective. The answer is YES! Everything is extremely high performing, just like your usual drugstore and high end brands – they even perform better than several products I used to use! Long story short, I’m sharing this post with you because I love Fall, and I love Fall makeup even more. I want to show you first hand that you can achieve a beautiful Fall makeup look with safer products, without sacrificing effectiveness! So here we go! I give you a quick and easy Fall makeup tutorial featuring Beautycounter products!

 

Just to give you an idea of the effectiveness of our products, here’s a glamorous before photo. Also, don’t mind my stained t-shirt in all the photos. We’re staying in today, and I’m not about to get dressed just to take a photo #realtalk 😉

Step 1: Foundation

For our first step, we’re going to apply our Tint Skin Hydrating Foundation. I am currently wearing the shade Linen, however once my true pasty self comes to form in the Fall and Winter weather I will need the shade Porcelain. Since this is more of a ‘glam’ look, I decided to use our Tint Skin foundation to give more coverage than what the Dew Skin offers!

I applied the foundation simply with my fingers, but you can also use a brush or makeup sponge – whatever you like! I love our foundation for two reasons.

One, it’s SO buildable! I used one layer of the foundation today, however you can apply a second layer for a night out or a special event without looking cakey and gross!

Two, the Tint Skin is formulated with Jojoba Esters to help moisturize, soothe and soften your skin. In other words – it’s a foundation that is actually going to care for your skin while giving you the coverage you desire! Shop the Tint Skin here.

Step 2: Concealer

Next, we’re going to apply the Touch Up Concealer Pen. It’s important to apply concealer AFTER your foundation, because it will end up saving you some product! Foundation will naturally give you some coverage and help mask any imperfections, so you can add in concealer wherever you need a little extra umph! I use the touchup concealer pen in the shade fair.

As goofy as this looks, it’s worth the results! If you have terrible under eye bags and darkness like I do, it’s important to apply your concealer in an inverted triangle shape. Dragging the concealer below the under eye area will naturally draw the light down your cheeks, and away from the problem area! I blended my concealer with my pinky finger, being extremely delicate around the under eye area.

I adore our touch up concealer pen because of the brush applicator. It’s so easy to apply the product precisely where you need it! It is also formulated with knotgrass, which helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Over time your skin will appear brighter and firmer! Yes please 🙂 Shop the concealer pen here.

Step 3: Blush

Next, we’re adding some beautiful Fall color to our face! I’m using the satin powder blush in the shade sorbet. Now if you were to look at this shade on my website, it looks extremely intimidating. But I promise you with a light hand it is absolutely stunning, and it is the perfect berry shade for fall!

I applied the blush with a fluffy angled blush brush (say that five times fast!) To easily find the apples of my cheeks, I smile and start to apply the blush on my cheek bones, and then blend it back towards my hairline. Our blush powders are triple milled, meaning they are ultra smooth and incredibly creamy for a powder! They swatch on your hand like a dream, and apply to the face so easily. As far as staying power goes, they are honestly the longest lasting blushes I own (and I’m a die hard NARS blush addict.) What’s the magic ingredient you ask? Butterpowder. Butterpowder boosts the pigments color and wear, so you don’t have to worry about it fading away!

Shop the satin powder blush collection here

Step 4: Eyebrows

Eyebrows eyebrows eyebrows. Your brows are so important ya’ll, and they deserve a little TLC! You’ll see in the photo below how they can frame your face, and the difference a filled in brow can make! I use our brow pencil in the shade medium and it’s a perfect match for my brows and hair. One side of the pencil has an awesome spooly brush to help tame those wild hairs, and the other is the pencil itself!

The proof is in the pudding ladies – look at the difference! My right (your left) brow is filled in and full. My left brow is crying for help! A filled in brow lifts the eye area, and frames the rest of your face perfectly.

Now that looks better, doesn’t it! Both brows are filled in and beautiful! Shop the color define brow pencil here.

Step 6: Eyeshadow

The real gem of this post – our Velvet Eyeshadow palette in Romantic. I’m in love ya’ll. Before Beautycounter I was an eyeshadow snob. I wouldn’t settle for anything less than Anastasia quality (the Modern Renaissance Palette is my fav!) And I have to tell you, these shadows are just as good if not better! The Romantic Palette is perfect for those gorgeous berry fall looks that everyone loves!

I wanted to keep this look fairly simple, so I used the three colors on the right of the palette. I placed Dusk all over my eyelid. (Photo below)

I placed Truffle in my crease with a fluffy brush (photo below.)

And I used Candlelight as a highlight under my brows! It is a super simple three shadow look, yet still looks beautifully put together. Shop the Romantic Palette here.

Step 7: Mascara

 

If leave the house with anything on my face ya’ll, it will at least be mascara! A good mascara is so important. It lifts the lashes, makes the lash line appear thicker, and your eyes more awake (can I get an Amen?!) Beautycounter offers two mascara formulas, one is volumizing and one is lengthening. Layer the two together, and you get the most beautiful, dramatic lashes you could dream of! However today, I just used the volumizing mascara.

I prefer a pretty thick lash, so I always apply two coats of mascara. Before finding Beautycounter’s mascara, I would always wake up in the mornings with watery, red and irritated eyes. The eye boogers were real ya’ll! It wasn’t until I switched over to Beautycounter’s that I realized my mascara was irritating my eyes! Even after removing my makeup at night, I was waking up with the remnants of mascara irritating my eyes. Did you know many mascaras on the market today are formulated with carbon black? It’s used to give mascaras and eyeliners the deep black pigment we all love. So what’s so bad about it? Carbon black is a known human carcinogen, and is also used as a reinforcing filler in tires. Tires! I’m not sharing this to scare you, it’s just important to be aware of what you’re putting in and on your body! However you don’t have to worry about carbon black in Beautycounter’s mascara. It is formulated with caranuba and rice bran wax, as well as bataua oil to help soften and condition your lashes! Shop the volumzing mascara here.

Step 8: Lipstick

This little beauty pulls the whole look together! One of the easiest ways to pull off a beautiful Fall look is with a deeper color lipstick. This is Beautycounter’s sheer lipstick in the shade plum. It looks very dark in the tube, but once applied it is the absolute perfect wearable berry color! Don’t let the deep color of a Fall lip scare you, with minimal makeup on the rest of your face it can be absolutely stunning! I love these sheer lipsticks for so many reasons, but mainly because of their fragrance. Any time you see ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ that means you need to do some serious hunting to find out what synthetic ingredients are in your product to give them their artificial scent. There are so many products on the market I can’t use because their artificial heavy fragrance bothers my allergies and gives me a headache. However these sheer lipsticks contain natural vanilla, so there’s absolutely no artificial fragrance to worry about!

Is this color not absolutely beautiful?! To me, a Fall look is all about the lip color. It’s so easy to pull off a deeper than normal color by going minimal across the rest of your face! I didn’t choose to wear a super dramatic eye, and used a light hand with my blush so the focus of the face is the lip color. I absolutely love how beautifully these products pull together to create this look, you better believe I’ll be wearing this a lot this Fall!

So there you have it friends. Here’s a super simple yet beautiful Fall makeup tutorial using safer beauty products! Everything is free of fillers, synthetic fragrances and harsh chemicals. Now yes, I am a Beautycounter consultant, so you can say I’m a bit biased towards all of these products. However I used these products for quite some time before I even became a consultant. They are safe, effective and I feel 100% comfortable wearing them around my little one! I hope you all enjoyed this look, let me know if you’d like to see more blog tutorials!

Why a Closet Declutter is Important for your Self Confidence

We’ve all been there. You’re already running late. Your toothbrush is hanging out of your mouth while you sort through hanger after hanger, and you can’t find anything to wear. Everything in your closet either doesn’t fit, or makes you long for your body in college – so you wear the same exact outfit you wore the last seven times you went out. This makes you feel bad about yourself, so when you do put on that outfit that fits, your self image has already plummeted to the floor. That my friend, is how you know it’s time for a closet declutter.

Now I’m going to start this post off with a real sucker punch to the throat for you. If you know me in real life, you know I am petite. I am an overwhelming five feet tall, towering over all the little kids in Target. (You get the picture. I’m tiny.) HOWEVER – It is COMPLETELY possible for petite girls to have issues with their self confidence and body type. Let me say that one more time for the people in the back.

IT IS COMPLETELY POSSIBLE FOR PETITE GIRLS TO HAVE ISSUES WITH THEIR SELF CONFIDENCE AND BODY TYPE.

Alright, I’m going to go off on a little rant before we start to talk about the whole closet declutter thing. If a petite girl goes shopping with her friends, and makes a negative comment about her own body, she likely is immediately met with comments like “oh please, you’re so skinny” or “yeah right, you can wear anything you want!” Now tell me – how is that being a supportive and uplifting friend? Yeah, it’s not. Just because petite girls may not have the same issues as their beautifully curvy friends doesn’t mean shopping for jeans is all unicorns and rainbows. Because let’s be honest – it’s a real shot to your womanhood when you can wear a dress from the girls section in Target.

Anyways – whatever your reason is for dreading getting dressed in the morning, it’s time to tackle it and get rid of it. For me, that means going through your clothes and finally getting rid of those things you’ve been holding on to for three years that “might fit again one day.” I find the easiest way to do this, is to empty out all of the contents of your closet, and go through each piece one by one. As you put items back into your closet, make sure they actually fit your body today – not last year.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the moment with all your old clothes. You were so much smaller when that cute maxi dress fit, but now it’s more like a tube top on you. Your thighs didn’t rub together when you used to wear that pencil skirt, but now you can’t zip it all the way. That peplum top fit you so well until you started breastfeeding, and then your boobs said otherwise.

Whatever your reason, whatever the memory – get rid of it. It can be so depressing and a huge blow to your self confidence to wake up in the morning and look at the same closet full of clothes that don’t fit anymore. They serve as a constant reminder of what was, instead of what you are today.

Now I am preaching to the choir in this post ya’ll. Like I said earlier, I still am a fairly petite girl, but pregnancy took my body out back, beat it with a stick, and left me with a jiggly mess. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss my pre-pregnancy body. However I’ve come to love my body the way it is today. My flat stomach is now graced with a beautiful mom pudge that hangs over my pants – and that’s ok. It’s a reminder that my little body GAVE BIRTH to a 7 1/2 pound baby girl. My thighs are much thicker than they used to be and are covered with stretch marks. But that’s ok, because they helped support my ballooning belly for nine months. Because of these things and many others, so many clothes in my collection don’t fit anymore.

Let’s even go beyond the fit of your clothes. Chances are, you aren’t going to wear that sequined tube dress that you always wore on your GNO’s in college. If you’re a working professional now, you probably don’t want to wear that tube top to the office. If you work from home or are a stay at home mom, you may not need quite as many dress slacks and blouses. It’s ok for your style needs to change as your stages in life change. Don’t hold on to pieces just because of the past.

Anyways, every time I got dressed, I would pick out the same cute little tank top and think to myself “maybe today’s the day it will fit.” And every time I was met with the same result. It hugged my belly much tighter than it used to, and it would be impossible to nurse my daughter in. Today I decided to stop being so hard on myself and remove the temptation for those negative thoughts. I purged my closet of all the clothes I’ve been holding on to for the last year and a half that “might fit again one day.”

Now when I open my closet doors, I am met with satisfaction. I can see all the pieces in my wardrobe that fit my body today, not tomorrow, TODAY. Is my wardrobe as large as I would like it to be? Of course not. I will hopefully add new pieces to my collection over time. And that’s ok! Our wardrobes should be like our stages in life, constantly changing and evolving to keep up with one another. Don’t let your closet become a place of despair and harsh thoughts. I challenge you to go home, declutter your closet and leave yourself with a little bit of happiness when you get dressed in the mornings.

PS – anyone else find the number of Target hangers in their closet disgusting? 😀

 

An Honest Stitchfix Review

Alright guys, I finally bit the bullet and tried out the Stitchfix clothing subscription box. If you haven’t heard of it before, it really is a neat idea. You fill out a pretty extensive ‘style profile’ where you answer questions about your lifestyle, clothing choices, likes and dislikes and so on. You are then ‘matched’ with a stylist and they curate a box of five pieces and send it your way. The initial styling fee is $20 just for the box to be curated, and then you have the option to purchase each piece on top of that – so keep that in mind. You are also given the option to set a budget for each type of clothing and accessories, based on how much you’d like to spend per piece. It really is a neat idea if shopping has become a hassle to you, whether it’s because of a lack of time, little ones, whatever! So here it is, my honest Stitchfix review.

The box arrived within a week of my initial contact. Everything came wrapped up nice and neat within this tissue paper and pretty box – points for presentation!

The first item in the box – the Liverpool Mirabella Capri Skinny Jeans. These jeans were $68, which would make them the most expensive pair of jeans in my collection. Let me preface the rest of the post by saying this. I am a bargain hunter. The clearance rack is my best friend and I never pay full price for anything. I recently saw a cute romper in Target that I loved, and it’s full price was $24. I waited and waited for it to go on clearance, and recently purchased it for $8. So needless to say, I had a really hard time justifying $68 for these jeans.

I will also say, I had a really hard time not purchasing them. I didn’t buy them mainly because of the price of the whole box, but we’ll get into that later. But anyways, these jeans ya’ll. They were amazing. As you can see, they don’t have the typical zipper and jean waistband – they’re elastic. ELASTIC YA’LL. They rose high enough on my midsection to hide my mom tummy and kept it nice and tucked in. I’m also extremely short, and the length on these jeans were absolutely perfect.

I will also be vain for a moment, they made my butt look good. I seriously loved everything about these jeans. The material, the stretch, the waistband, they were a great pick to include in my box. I will definitely be on the lookout for this brand in department stores, and hope I can score a cheaper pair!

Next is this sweet Callum Tulip Sleeve Blouse. This is the only item from the box I kept, priced at $38. Now $38 is a high price for me to pay for a blouse. But I’m currently in a state of awkwardness after having my daughter. I’m not unhappy with my body at all, but my body has changed so much that most of my dressier clothes don’t fit very well anymore. This top fits me perfectly, and made me feel so pretty!  It’s a soft polyester and has a light texture all over, with overlaying cap sleeves. It falls at my hips just right, and doesn’t hug me in any of the wrong places. I mainly kept this top because I can easily dress it down with jeans, or dress it up with a nice pair of slacks. It was definitely another winner of a pick in my box!

Next we have the Romey Cold Shoulder Knit top, coming in at $28. It is a super soft cotton blouse that is light and airy, perfect for summer.

I loved the detail of the sweet cold shoulder sleeves, and how they gathered into a subtle knot at the edge. Cold shoulder tops usually look funny on my petite frame, but this blouse hit in just the right spot on my shoulders. This blouse was very pretty and fit me well, I just couldn’t justify another $28 on a cotton t-shirt.

Lastly, we have the Tasha Knit Dress for $48. This is the main reason I did not keep my entire box. The dress fit well in length, and didn’t fall too far down underneath my arms (which is a usual problem for me). But the style of the dress just wasn’t me. I felt it made me look a little bit older, and I didn’t see myself wearing it often. The material felt nice and was decent quality, it fit very well, It just wasn’t my style.

I also received a pair of earrings that I totally forgot to take a photo of, so here’s a photo from their website.

They were very pretty, and would have fit into my collection very well! I just can’t justify $28 for a pair of costume jewlery earrings. I will say they were nice quality and by no means felt cheap, they just weren’t worth $28 to me.

So let’s round all of this up. Separately, all of these items would have cost me $210. Which is just absurd to me. However purchasing the entire box was $157. My favorite items were really just the tulip blouse and jeans, and I honestly saw myself donating the rest of the items within a year or so. Coming down to those two main pieces I loved, It just wasn’t worth the $157 to purchase the whole box.

If that’s within your price point and in your budget, then that’s wonderful! This is definitely a great service to receive pieces you may not find on your own. I’ve just reached a point in life where I regularly clean out my closet (or entire house) and get rid of the things I don’t find myself using or wearing. For $150, I just felt like I could go out and purchase more items that I would love and enjoy much more.

I will say that they nailed the fit of all of my clothes. As I said before, I am very petite and finding clothes that fit me well (especially post birth) has become difficult. I was anxious to see how these clothes fit without being able to try them on first, and the stylists absolutely nailed it – everything fit perfectly! Ten out of ten stars in that section!

For really matching my style, I’d say they got a four. The tulip blouse I purchased is perfect, and really matches my style. The other items I did think were cute, but if I saw them while out shopping in Loft or JCrew, I may have just walked by them.

And lastly, the cost. Four out of ten stars here, and the reason I won’t be ordering another box. The prices of the items weren’t awful, but definitely more than I usually spend on myself. You also have to keep in mind the $20 styling fee as well. If some of the items felt a little higher quality, I may not have such an issue paying a higher price tag, but for me the quality just wasn’t there. Overall it was a fun experience, receiving a surprise box of clothes and accessories on your doorstep is something new and exciting for sure! If you have the room in your budget and are looking to treat yourself – give it a try! However for me, things just weren’t worth the extra cash.

 

A Letter to the Hopeful Mom on Mother’s Day

a letter to a hopeful mom

a letter to a hopeful mom

Dear Hopeful Momma,

I don’t know you, but know that I am praying for you. I know that what is supposed to be a day of smiles and joy, often brings heartache and sadness for you. Each year Mother’s Day is a painful reminder of past events and tears shed. Take heart in the following words, and know that you’re not alone.

Life is hard, and social media makes it harder. Every new day brings a friends new post announcing a pregnancy, someone’s gender reveal video, and a squishy newborn hospital selfie. And with every post you put on a smile, give your congratulations and scroll right along. But your story doesn’t end there. You close your phone, lay down at night and let your mind take over. It’s in these quiet hours that you feel exposed, lonely and depressed. Will you ever be on the receiving end of those instagram comments? When will it be your turn to host a “touchdowns or tutus” reveal party? Why are you the only one in your circle of friends who can’t call themselves ‘Mom’?

Maybe you’ve been trying for months, or even years, and are beginning to give up. Maybe you’ve been through several unsuccessful rounds of IVF, only to lose hope. Maybe you’ve carried children, but lost them through miscarriage or stillbirth. All of these things will leave a girl distraught and lonely, asking herself all of those questions to herself at night. Your husband and family members are there for you with a listening ear, but it’s just not quite the same unless they’ve been through it.

You’re not alone my sweet friend. There are hundreds of thousands of women who have gone through the same struggle of starting a family, myself included. My husband and I lost our first child through miscarriage in 2015, and it messed me up, plain and simple. We weren’t ‘trying’ to start our family yet, however it was a welcome surprise. No matter the surprise, the weeks and months after our miscarriage were the hardest of my life – half because of hormones, and half because I let my thoughts take over. I placed my self worth and identity in something that was mine for a mere 10 weeks, and it was suddenly gone. Thankfully, I opened my heart to some kind and gentle souls around me and healed – slowly – but I healed.

I say all of this to hopefully offer a lending hand and a listening ear to you. Mother’s Day can be one heck of an emotional roller coaster for the woman struggling to start a family. While having all of these emotions is completely normal and healthy, don’t let them dictate your thoughts and identity. We all hold many titles on this earth – mother, daughter, wife, sister and friend. But that’s the thing – those are all EARTHLY titles. Just like your current emotions, those titles are only temporary. So why do we get so caught up in these things of the world? We must focus on the eternal, and our identity in Christ!

If you become so caught up in finding your identity in things of this world, you will be sorely disappointed. The Bible says our joy and identity are to be found in Christ alone! Think about it for a moment, to trust Jesus as your Savior means that you believe AND receive that he died on the cross for your sins. When we accept Jesus, the old is laid to rest and we are made new – our new identity in Christ. It is up to us how seriously we take this!

So my hopeful momma, I know you’re hurting. I know another Mother’s Day is coming, and you are dreading the thoughts and emotions of the day. Now more than ever, you are questioning if you will ever be able to give yourself the title Mom. It hurts to want something so badly, and not know why you haven’t received it. But please hold on to this. No matter how much you long for a child, God longs for you even more. He wants to have a lasting, personal relationship with you. He wants to guide you through these trials, so that you can come out stronger. I will leave you with this. Stop looking for approval and satisfaction from those in this world, and place your identity in the one who knows and loves you best – Jesus.

A Spring Skincare Guide

A Spring Skincare Guide

It’s no secret, the harsh Winter air and cold temperatures can wreak havoc on our skin. We bust out the heavy moisturizers and slather ourselves all Winter long in desperate hopes to keep our face soft and moisturized. That one of the many reasons I’m always happy to see Spring roll around! Now that temperatures are warming up and our skin is bouncing back from the dry heat, it’s time to change up your skin care routine. I think it’s just as important to have a strong Spring skincare routine as it is a Winter one! Spring is a time to focus on restoring the moisture and prepping your skin for the Summer sun! Here are a few products that I think make up the perfect Spring Skincare Guide to get you ready for Summer!

A little disclaimer before we get started. Every single person has different needs for their skin – so what I recommend may not be the best option for you! It is best for you to know and understand your skin in order for you to treat it. I have extremely dry sensitive skin with minimal acne (thank you Lord!) I also have found that the less heavy products I use, the better! As soon as I started cutting out any products targeted towards acne, products with harsh chemicals  and heavy perfumes, I noticed a huge difference in my skin! So take my suggestions with a grain of salt, and make sure to keep your own skins needs in mind when choosing products to use.

A Great Makeup Remover

Spring Skincare Cleanser

I cannot stress this one enough ya’ll – and it’s number one in our lineup for a reason. We load our faces up with makeup, and they absorb so many chemicals and pollution throughout the day. It is SO important to remove it all at the end of the day! You already know it, so you don’t need to hear it from me, but your skin is your largest organ. It is so important to let it breathe while you sleep at night – which is why you have to make sure you cleanse well before bed!

Now I’m not a totally “crunchy” person, but I like to use as little chemicals as possible on my skin – which is why i absolutely adore these makeup removing washcloths from Sephora. They work just like the Makeup Eraser cloths, they’re just much cheaper! These little babies come in a 2 pack, and they’re better than disposable wipes because they’re completely free of chemicals and reusable! Just pop them in the wash with the rest of your towels to clean them. I usually wash mine once a week, so rotating between the two in this pack is perfect. Ignore the appearance of mine, I promise it’s clean, just well loved 🙂 But all you have to do is wet these under warm water, rub it in circles around your face and BAM – your makeup is gone! I honestly hardly ever use an actual cleanser because between this and my next product, my makeup is completely gone. You can buy these beautiful babies here.

Coconut Oil

Spring Skincare Moisturizer

If you guys get anything from this post – make sure it’s this. COCONUT OIL YA’LL. I absolutely adore coconut oil, and I use it for so many things in my beauty routine. It is the absolute best makeup remover and moisturizer all together in a sweet little jar. We all want beautiful radiant skin, especially as Spring and Summer are approaching because we typically wear less makeup. This is seriously the best way to cleanse your skin without drying it out!

I keep a jar of coconut oil on my bathroom counter and use it daily. For the days when I wear heavy makeup, I’ll scoop out about a quarter sized amount and emulsify it in my hands. Once it’s warmed up, I simply rub in small circles, really concentrating on my eyes (that’s usually where the most makeup is for me). It’s gentle enough to use on the eye area, and it conditions your lashes instead of ripping them out (can I get an AMEN). AND when you’re done cleansing, you smell like a tropical vacation.

Between this little beauty and my makeup remover cloths, I can easily remove all my makeup within minutes. I buy this Simply Nature Coconut Oil from my local Aldi. It’s 100% refined, Cold Pressed, Virgin oil. You can substitute it with any other Coconut Oil you like to use! I would just suggest that if you cook with Coconut Oil, to buy yourself a separate jar to use in your beauty routine.

A Purifying Mask

Spring Skincare Mask

There are so many masks out there, and they all have these amazing claims – and I feel like I have tried them all. From the classic green mint julep mask from Queen Helene, to the crazy peel off charcoal masks that were all over instagram, I always have some sort of mask in my beauty regimen. I can honestly say that this little beauty is the best one I have ever had in my arsenal. And let me just throw out there – I am not in any way affiliated with Beautycounter, nor do I sell it or plan on selling it – I just love this that much. If you are interested in trying out some Beautycounter products, here’s a link to my Beautycounter Rep’s website!

Anyways, this charcoal mask is the bomb.com ya’ll. I use it twice a week, usually on Wednesday’s and Sunday’s. It has such a fresh invigorating scent and leaves my skin feeling so soft and replenished, not dry and tight!

Beautycounter Skincare Charcoal Mask

The real magic of this masks happens while it’s drying. (Don’t mind this gorgeous glamour shot 🙂 )If you look closely on the bridge of my nose, in-between my eyebrows and on the sides of my nose, you can see where the mask has pulled excess oil out of my skin. And I have super dry skin ya’ll. Even in the dead of summer I use a pretty heavy moisturizer, and I don’t get that oily. This mask still manages to pull out extra gunk and oil every time I use it! It’s truly worth it’s weight in gold – I highly recommend it!

A Good Toner

Clinique Toner Spring Skincare

I feel like toners get neglected in the skin care world. And that is so sad, because they can make such a huge difference in the quality of your skin! After cleansing and using masks, your skin is stripped of some of it’s natural moisture – no matter how gentle of a cleanser you use. Toner’s help to restore your skin’s PH and replenish moisture back into your skin. That’s why even if you have oily skin, it is so so important to follow up your cleansing with a toner!

I have been using this Clinique Clarifying Moisture Lotion for over 2 years and there’s no turning back anytime soon. Clinique skincare is one of the most customizable lines out there, and I LOVE it. You can mix and match between products based on your skins needs. This toner is “Number 1” in their toner line, and provides the most moisture of them all. I simply squirt a few drops onto a cotton pad and gently wipe it across my entire face (minus the eyeballs). My skin feels so great after I use this, and it even helps remove any makeup that my cleansing routine left behind!

Serum Serum Serum!

Beautycounter Serum Spring Skincare

After my toner I apply this little beauty – the newest member of my skincare family. I can’t speak on the longterm effects of it yet but I’m already a raving fan.

Serum’s are so hot in the beauty community right now, and after using this I totally understand why. This is the Rejuvenating Radiance Serum from Beautycounter, and it is a rockstar of a product. I apply it after my toner and before my moisturizer, and I feel like my makeup goes on SO much smoother after using it!

It claims to help even your skin tone, improve hydration and diminish the appearance of wrinkles. It has become such a great pair with my moisturizer, I can’t wait to see what long term effects I see!

A Tried and True Moisturizer

Clinique Moisturizer Spring Skincare

Ah, old faithful. In my 26 years of life, I have gone back and forth between so many different facial moisturizers – it’s almost disgusting. And somehow, I always end up coming back to this little guy. This is the Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion +. Once again, Clinique carries several different moisturizers based on your skin type and this is the perfect one for me. Even if you’re an oily skin girl, it’s still so important to moisturize, you just have to find the right one!

This moisturizer applies so lightly and blends into your skin like butter. It absorbs in a matter of minutes, so you don’t have to sit around and wait before you apply your makeup! I apply it in the morning and at night as the very last step in my routine. I can genuinely say that if I miss a few days of using this moisturizer, I definitely notice a difference. It keeps my dry patches at bay, doesn’t break me out and keeps my skin looking radiant! If I had to choose one holy grail item from my skincare routine, hands down no question, it would be this moisturizer.

A Gentle Exfoliant

Aveeno Exfoliator Spring Skincare

Ah exfoliants, a dry skinned girl’s best friend. Exfoliation is probably my biggest tip to you when it comes to having radiant, Spring ready skin. I’ve honestly used countless exfoliators over the years, and all of them seem to perform fairly well for me. The past few months I’ve been using this Aveeno Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub, and I really enjoy it. I use this little guy while in the shower, mainly because I hate to try and rinse an exfoliant off over the sink (I always end up flooding the bathroom. Anyone else?)

The exfoliant particles in this scrub are gentle enough for me to use as often as I need and they have never irritated my skin!

And that my friends, is all I have for you today. I hope you’ll do some research on these products and find something similar to give your skincare routine a good boost for Spring! I love being able to feel confident about my skin in the Spring and Summer months, so I don’t feel like I have to cake up the makeup every time I leave the house.

I’ve repurchased the majority of these products time and time again, and will continue to. I’m definitely an advocate for less is more – especially with skincare. My skin is currently in the best shape of my life and I honestly think it’s because I cut out the unnecessary products, and stick to the few things that work for me!

What does your skincare routine look like, and what are some of your holy grail products?

Simple Banana Berry Smoothie Bowl

Banana Berry Smoothie Bowl

Let’s be honest. Do I want to eat clean every morning and start the day off feeling good about myself? Yes! Does that always happen – no. Most mornings I find myself cramming a cold Pop Tart in my mouth while washing last night’s dishes and keeping my daughter entertained. Eating well is one of the biggest self care tips I can give you. It’s cliche, but in order to get good results, you have to fuel your body with great food! I know. It can be so hard most mornings to get everyone ready and out the door on time, so your needs likely get pushed to the back burner. To solve these breakfast woes, I came up with a delicious treat that combines both your healthy and simple breakfast needs! Smoothie bowls are all the rage right now, but I can’t pay $7 for one every morning! I give you, the Banana Berry Smoothie Bowl.

Smoothie Bowl Frozen Fruit

Start off with your berry base. You really can use any fresh or frozen fruit you like, I usually buy these Simply Nature frozen berries from Aldi. They even carry pre-made smoothie packs that you just blend with juice, but that takes away the creativity 🙂 Lately I’ve been enjoying their organic strawberries and raspberries. They’re super yummy!

Frozen fruit in the blender

To blend my smoothies, I use my handy magic bullet. It isn’t as fancy or powerful as a Ninja – but I love the simplicity of it! I find myself using it much more often than my full size blender.

As far as measurements go, the small self-serve cups with the magic bullet make measuring out your fruit so simple. I never measure anything exactly in my smoothies, I just eyeball everything. So for the berries, I will fill the cup almost halfway full. You want your smoothie bowl to be a little thicker than a normal smoothie so it is easier to eat with a spoon as opposed to a straw. That’s why I usually make sure the majority of my cup is full of frozen items. If you’re using fresh fruit, just throw in some ice cubes.

Smoothie ready to be blended

On top of the berries I cut up a whole banana, and add in some almond milk. You can of course add whatever milk you like! Just make sure you add enough to cover your frozen fruit. Lastly, squeeze in a little honey and you’re ready to blend.

Smoothie bowl toppings

Once everything is blended, you’re ready to pour your yummy smoothie into a bowl. Here is where things get yummy. I love smoothie bowls because you can add so much texture to them through your toppings. Usually, I drizzle some honey on top. I’ll also add some sort of granola for a good crunch. Lately I’ve been loving this banana nut granola from Aldi! It has yummy whole grain granola pieces with dried bananas mixed in. I love the Simply Balanced vanilla granola from Target too. I’ll also add any fresh produce we may have in the house like blueberries or sliced strawberries. Of course when I decide to write this post, we have zero fruit in the fridge so this mornings smoothie was a little bland.

Smoothie Bowl

So there you have it! This yummy bowl literally takes less than 3 minutes to whip up. That may be a little longer than the time it takes to open a packet of Pop Tarts, but I promise you it’s worth it! The base of these yummy bowls are so simple, it’s easy to customize it however you want! Just remember that you want your smoothie to be a little thicker than normal. Here’s a final list of ingredients!

1/2 a cup of fresh or frozen berries of your choice

(Ice if you use fresh berries)

1 sliced banana

About half a cup of your choice of milk

Toppings of your choice

 

And that’s it! What would you add to your own smoothie bowl?

How to Start Your Day with Jesus

We’ve all been there – and you’re lying if you say you haven’t 🙂 We begin to regress and slack off our time spent with the Lord no matter how hard we try. If you have a Bible reading schedule you follow, a devotional journal, or just prayer time – it’s time to get back to it! If you’re looking for a new way to start spending time with the Lord through daily devotions, don’t feel down or discouraged. We’re human, and with that human territory comes imperfections.

First, Set an Alarm

Yes I know. You probably have an alarm set in the morning to wake you up – and it’s the worst sound in the world. It’s time to associate your alarm with something to look forward to – your time with Jesus. Get your booty out of bed, turn on that Keurig and pull out your Bible, devotional, whatever! If you know that it takes a little while for the fog to settle in the mornings, set your alarm a few minutes earlier than what you really need.

Once you have your timing planned out, set a recurring alarm on your phone to go off every day. And here’s the kicker – when that alarm goes off, don’t just snooze it! Make it a priority to get out of bed and give your undivided attention to the Lord.

Find an Easy Format Devotional

Now this is kind of loaded. By easy format, I mean whatever is going to be easiest for you to access early in the morning. If you’re an early bird and like to get into the meat of the word first thing, that’s great! Pull your Bible out and get ready to dive in. If you know you aren’t as attentive in the mornings, maybe save your deep reading for later in the day and find something quick to read in the mornings.

Personally, I’m not really a night owl or a morning person. My prime is 2pm, and then I quickly crash between 4:30-5. Because of that, I found a wonderful app that I love to use in the morning call She Reads Truth.

She Reads Truth

Let me tell you – I adore this app.  It is so simple to navigate with four simple tabs at the bottom. There are tons of different studies to choose from! The app itself is free, but for $1.99 a month you can access all plans as much as you like.

She Reads Truth

I am currently reading through their study of Esther. It is divided into around a chapter a day, so you can read through the book effortlessly. You also gain access to several author’s commentary on the chapter as well. After completing each day, it places a check mark next to the day so you know exactly where you are in the plan – and who doesn’t love check marks? Ahh, completion.

She Reads Truth

You can supplement your reading through the second tab, where you have access to the entire Bible in your preferred version. You can highlight, take notes, place a bookmark and more all in this tab.

This app is essentially the cream of the crop when it comes to a daily devotional. You can even configure the app’s settings to send you a reminder during the day do read your devotional – no excuses! The content of the commentaries in the app may not go as deep as you would like for them to, so this may not be your main Bible study resource. But I think it is absolutely perfect to open it up first thing in the morning instead of facebook 🙂

It’s All About Accountability

As with many other things in life, you are going to be much more successful if you find yourself an accountability partner. Find someone that you can trust and rely on – someone that you know isn’t afraid of hurting your feelings. Make sure that they will hold you accountable every day and follow up with you by text, e-mail, snail mail, whatever. We all need someone pushing us to be our best. Someone to come behind us and ask “Hey, did you read your devotional today?” “Did you eat your vegetables today?” “Did you drink enough water?” Find a friend that will hold you accountable, and do the same for them.

 

So what are you waiting for? Drop your excuses in a comment below, and start every day the way you should!

How to Build a Postpartum Recovery Kit

Ah, the necessary evil of postpartum recovery!

If you’re here you either

A – Just gave birth

B- Are preparing to give birth

C – Are one of the 7 people that read my previous post about my Postpartum Survival Guide

Either way, hello! And I’m glad you’re here. You’re either about to or are currently embarking upon those early days of motherhood. If you’d like some more tips and tricks on postpartum healing that aren’t super gory, check out the aforementioned blog post. If you want the nitty gritty, gloves off, how am I supposed to pee details of postpartum recovery, keep reading.

*Disclaimer* The following can get a little hairy and TMI, you have been warned.

If you had a C-section, I’m sure there are a few things you can add or omit from this kit, a few of these items solely will help vaginal birth recovery.

Anyways. Ya’ll. No one can prepare you for recovering from a vaginal birth, you just have to go through it yourself. I highly highly recommend you educate yourself as much as possible about what happens to your body postpartum. So much of our pregnancies are spent getting prenatal care, and while that is necessary, I don’t think we place enough stress on postnatal care. Your body is stretched and pushed to limits it never has before, and it’s going to take a while for things to get back to normal – and that’s ok! It only makes sense – it took 9 months for you body to get into the shape it’s in now. It’s not going to get back to normal overnight, or even in a month for that matter.

To help you along the way, here a few things I think are essential to help your downstairs heal as quickly and easily as possible.

First, go to Target and get yourself a cute little basket to fit in your bathroom, and fill it with the following goodies.

Tucks Pads. Tucks Pads. Tucks Pads.

I was a naive little girl and thought to myself “It can’t be that bad, I’m not going to spend my money on those.” WRONG. SO WRONG. I tore pretty badly in two places, and tucks pads were my best friend. I didn’t have any prior to giving birth, so needless to say we stopped on our way home from the hospital to pick some up. I think by the end of it all, I went through at least 4 jars of them. There are tons of posts about creating your own tucks pads and keeping them in the freezer, but let me tell you. The absolute last thing on my mind was pouring witch hazel and aloe on a pad, and sticking it in the freezer. I was more than happy to spend $5 on that little jar of relief.

Your Handy Dandy Peri Bottle

The hospital will more than likely give you one during your stay and let you take it home. If not, be sure to buy one and treasure it – keep it close to your heart.  Before every bathroom trip, fill it up with warm water and your potty breaks will be so much easier. Be sure to keep it clean and germ free, you don’t need to expose your already sensitive parts to more bacteria!

Baby Wipes

Steal a pack of wipes from your little ones nursery, and keep them in your basket. It can take a few weeks for things to calm down in the blood department and toilet paper will not be your friend for a while. Baby wipes may not even be your friend for a while to be honest. You can however use them to clean surrounding areas, and freshen up in between showers.

Super Soaker XL Pads

Whether you choose to use disposable underwear or regular pads, stock up on them. Buy what you think you will need, and they buy one more box. It’s also important to note, many women find the material of their pads to be very important. Soft cotton materials are much more sensitive on your lady parts, and tend to tug less if you have any stitches. I usually use Always pads, but after having my daughter I switched to Kotex ones. I found them to be much softer and was never afraid of them getting stuck *ouch*.

Granny Pannies

You know what I’m talking about. That pack of bright pink and purple Fruit of the Loom underwear your mom used to buy from Wal-Mart? Girl, go get you some. Personally, I’d buy them a size up from what you usually wear. Things are swollen, you’re stuffing them with pads and tucks pads, you’ll want the extra room. And if they get sacrificed to the postpartum war gods, you won’t feel bad about throwing them away.

Keep all of these items on your bathroom counter, right beside the toilet within arms reach. You may be like me and think you won’t need any of the items, and while that may be true, I bet you’ll benefit from at least one of them. It is so much nicer if you’re already stocked at home instead of sending your husband out to the feminine care aisle. In the meantime, I promise – you will pee like a normal human again. But until then, keep your arsenal stocked.

Alright momma, go forth and raise you babies. We are all in this motherhood thing together, and know that I am here for you! Motherhood is a crazy ride, and we need to grab our fellow moms and hold tight. Let’s get to know each other! Share your childbirth stories below!

A Millenial Mom’s Postpartum Survival Guide

*This post is rated PG-13 for graphic real life content and tons of TMI’s. You have been warned.*Congratulations! That sweet little bundle of joy you have been oh so anxiously waiting for has finally arrived after nine long months. You are on cloud nine, pure bliss, nothing can kill the natural high you are experiencing. Until you’re discharged from the hospital and on your own. You walk (more like waddle) into your living room and are suddenly hit with the reality of postpartum. Not only are you now responsible for keeping that tiny little squish alive, but your body is recovering from one of the most grueling experiences it can go through. The emotional aspects of postpartum recovery can be even more taxing than the physical ones, but we’re going to save those for another post. In order to make your postpartum recovery as easy as possible, here are a few things you should have in your arsenal before coming home from the hospital.

An Extension Cord

Even if you are lucky enough to be able to sleep in your bed at first, you’re probably going to be spending a good amount of time in your living room. And if you’re living room is anything like mine, outlets are placed in the most inconvenient places possible. To keep from having to awkwardly bend over while your phone is charging, do yourself a favor and have an extension cord ready for action.

The Big Comfy Couch

No, not the classic 90s TV show with Lunette and Molly. A pillow fort worthy couch. If you’re a super human woman, ignore this one. My tiny 5 foot nothing body birthed a 7 1/2 pound baby – AKA – I stretched and swelled up in places I didn’t know were possible. Add this to our humongous bed frame that comes up to my chest – and I couldn’t even think about launching myself into bed. My husband and I camped out on the couch for the first 5 or 6 days we were home with Em because I literally couldn’t get up into the bed. I made sure to cover the couch with blankets I didn’t mind ruining, and propped up with lots of comfy pillows. Em slept in her pack n play right in the middle of our sectional, and I was SO much comfier.

A Warzone Kit for your Bathroom

I feel that this is so important – I dedicated an entire post to creating your warzone kit. Whether you deliver vaginally, or have a C-Section, you likely have a long and uncomfortable road to recovery ahead of you. Within my first few days home after having my daughter, I had accumulated several staple items that I just left in a pile on my bathroom counter. Check out my post here to find out what I kept at arms reach.

A Cute Reusable Cup

It is no secret that breastfeeding can be incredibly difficult. In those early days it’s best you stay as hydrated as you can, and replenish your body! Personally, I found that the reusable cups with lids and straws worked perfect for me. I would rotate between two, constantly filling and refilling them with water and juice throughout the day. Keep it sitting beside you at all times, and let it be a constant reminder to you to stay hydrated!

Drugs and a Timer/Alarm

Don’t be like me ya’ll. Fill that prescription for your extra strength pain killers, and buy a bottle of laxatives. Even if you don’t end up using them, it’s better to have them on hand instead of wishing you did. I cannot stress the laxatives enough. When you think you’re finally back to normal and don’t need them anymore – keep taking them for another day or so. Your booty will thank you. Keep whatever medicine you’re taking on your coffee table, and set a timer on your phone to remind you of your next doses.

 

Now I know what you’re thinking. If you haven’t had children yet, or are expecting your first, you’re probably terrified. Recovering from childbirth may be one of the most uncomfortably difficult things you go through, but I promise you will get through it. I’m simply sharing these things with you in hopes of making your transition into motherhood a little easier!

What was one item you couldn’t live without those first few weeks after giving birth?