Friday, November 21, 2014

Grown Up Coloring


A few weeks back when I was cleaning out some closets, I came across my colored pencils. It was kind of weird timing, but a friend from High School had posted pics on her Instagram of her stress-relief coloring AND Huffington post came out with an article about coloring as an adult. The main thing I got out of the article was the link for this coloring book, The Secret Garden.



I loved it so much I also picked up the book of postcards- who doesn't love snail mail, let alone snail mail for them to COLOR!




This is also an excellent item to keep in your desk at work in the event a conference call is just too long and drawn out. Or you just need a mental break. There is something so calming about coloring. I pop on Pandora, bust out my colored pencils and hand sharpener, and just zone out. Oh, and let me tell you how cool and retro I felt looking for a hand pencil sharpener! Even growing up I preferred the hand sharpener for colored pencils to the electrical sharpener, don't really know why though.


I bought these retractable colored pencils about two years ago when I went through a journaling phase-don't waste your money on them. They can't be sharpened, any pressure used coloring makes it retract, and they are a weird wax texture, all making it difficult to use.  Go with the real thing. They're under $10, and honestly don't Crayola Colored Pencils take you back to elementary school?


Another favorite coloring book/doodle book of mine is My Wonderful World of Fashion, a chance to color, doodle, design, and dream. I highly recommend this book- makes a great gift for the fashionista of any age in your life!


I've recently seen a lot of free printable coloring pages and prints on Pinterest too. The beauty of Pinterest is talented graphic designers get to share their amazing talent with us for FREE!

Do you color?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Manicure Musts: OPI Nail Envy

 
 
I was looking back at some of my first nail photographs, and thinking about when my nail polish went from a few dried up bottles of old polish to what it is now. Getting from being a casual nail enthusiast to the freak I am now, took a lot of research, blogs, trial and error, and mostly time. I realized I need to start sharing what I've learned-from treatments to top coats to basic nail care. 
 
This is by far my favorite of the 'treatments' category, OPI Nail Envy. This comes in a couple different formulas: Dry & Brittle Nails, Soft & Thin, Sensitive & Peeling, and Matte. By far the Original is the best and yields the best results. 
 
 
 
In my opinion, the Dry & Brittle, Sensitive & Peeling, etc are just ways for OPI to boost their sales, because frankly the Original does what all of them claim to do. When my nails have been damaged from too much polish, gel remover, or just a tear that makes me cut them back significantly, I apply this and within a week my nails are back to healthy!
 
 
Above is a before and after one week- the growth is the most significant part, but trust me when I tell you they are so much healthier and stronger!
 
 
 
You can pick this up at Target ($16-17), CVS ($16-17), Ulta ($14-15), but I recommend either Amazon ($11-12) or eBay ($9-11.)
 
I'm looking forward to sharing more of the tips and tricks with you. 


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Creamy French Dressing


Hi, my name is Amy and I am a salad dressing snob. Bottled salad dressings just don't do it for me, with the exception of Marie's Thousand Island, and a Poppy Seed dressing my sister Abbe always has (the brand currently slips my mind.)

At any given time I have a bottle of this vinaigrette in my fridge, one of my absolute favorite balsamic vinaigrettes. Yes, it's a Pioneer Woman recipe- she's annoying as anything, but she makes good food!

This dressing...it's just out of this world delicious. Use it on a salad, dip chicken in it, dip fries in it! One warning- it does make a LOT of dressing. Well, 3 cups is a lot of dressing in my house when I'm the only one eating it. Split it with someone, or just cut the recipe in half.

Creamy French Dressing

Source: Serious Eats
Yields: 3 cups
Prep Time: 10 mins


Ingredients
  • 2/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil

Directions- Combine all ingredients except vegetable oil in blender. Once onion is chopped entirely, slowly add oil while blending. Cover air tight and store in fridge for up to 2 weeks.




Thursday, November 6, 2014

Autumn Ruffian Manicure


I've been painting my nails once a week recently, sticking to the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel colors due to sheer laziness, but decided I needed a change up. I've become kinda lazy with my nail art recently, throwing an accent nail out there in place of taking the time to do something a little different.

I've done a few ruffian manicures before, experimenting with different colors and textures. I prefer the first coat to be a metallic, with a darker color on top. The nails still look polished, but where it appears your manicure is growing out sparkles with gold or silver.  Here is another ruffian manicure I did in spring colors, experimenting with the finishes, matte and shiny. 

The gold is Sally Hansen Golden-I, a favorite of mine that comes with a reasonable price! I've gotten a lot of use out of it. It doesn't stamp well ( I prefer Essie's Good As Gold,) but has excellent coverage with one coat. The 2nd color is Shag by Butter London, and can be see on it's own here.


I freehanded this manicure, and trust me my dominant (right) hand does not look nearly as good. The trick is to follow the curve of your natural cuticle- this helps when painting on the top color. I wish there was an easier way to accomplish this manicure other than freehand, but I can't think of a way. I guess you could do the top color first and use binder stickers as guides to do the bottom color? Maybe?

I had to google ruffian manicure to make sure I was using the right terminology, and highly recommend doing it! Yes, some of them are a hot mess, but the majority of them just look so cool!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Reason For My Absence

One of my most favorite places on earth, cabin 91.

I lost my job in June, and it was just downhill from there. You see, I didn't deserve to lose my job. I was GOOD at my job, like really good.  That's what made it so awful, so unbearable, and wrong. I couldn't get out of bed, seriously what was the point? My husband was working 15 hour days, I had no purpose. I woke up with the weight of an elephant on my chest, with dread of the next 12+ hours until I could go to bed again. I didn't think it could get worse.

But then it did.
In the middle of a Friday night in August, I awoke with severe side pains on my right side that just wouldn't go away. I suffered in silence going back and forth from the bathroom to my office chair so I wouldn't wake up my husband, he'd been working so hard.
I'd had these severe cramps before, but they always went away. Not this time, this time they intensified. We went to the hospital and sat for almost 3 hours waiting for the physician on staff to see us. All the while we were pacing to stay awake, to calm the dread that was causing me to practically lose my mind.
The doctor decided due to the fact I am healthy, never go to the doctor, and that I flinched everywhere he pressed in my abdomen, ordered a CT Scan. He figured it was kidney stones, I still kinda imagine his surprise when he got the scans back. Turns out I had a mass in my abdomen, so large that no organs could be seen. So large that it made me look 12 months pregnant with triplets. So large that it was pushing back into my spine, taking what precious space was left from vital organs. Then he dropped the c-bomb. He told me there were no signs of cancer in my blood levels, but they would not be 100% sure the tumor was benign until it was removed. That this was an ovarian tumor and could be ovarian cancer. Oh, and then I was discharged. 7am on a Saturday morning and I was sent home to go to sleep. How does one sleep after that news? Yes, they found something, all the issues over the years were because of this monster growing in my belly...but it could be cancer. I think I managed about 15 minutes of sleep when we got home.
The next three weeks were pretty much a blur- doctors’ appointments, family visits, and lots of movies and trashy tv. After seeing my gynecologist who would be performing the surgery, he informed me he was pretty sure it was a mucinous cystadenoma ovary, that started out as a cyst on my ovary and grew into a tumor the size of a watermelon.
I was informed it was one of 3 types of tumors- mucinous cystadenoma which is benign, a second type that if it was malignant would not require chemo/radiation, and then a malignant tumor that was spreading and would require chemo and radiation. Upon visiting the oncologist I learned that this is more common than you'd think, and that she performs them regularly.
The night before surgery I decided I didn't want the surgeons operating on me to deal with hairy legs and attempted shaving my legs alone in the shower.  BIG mistake. After straightening up from bending over my legs I was engulfed with the most horrid pain of my life. I knew it was the tumor- I honestly thought I burst it.
Back to the ER. I will take this time to apologize to everyone in or near the ER that night for my obnoxious screaming and vomiting, you didn't deserve to hear that. The pain was so awful, I was screaming obscenities at the nurses who wouldn't give me any medication without a doctor seeing me. Three doses of DELAUDEN (sp?) and an ultrasound later I was sent home, none the wiser as to the source of my agony.
The morning of my surgery I somehow made it to the car from the chair I had been sleeping in for weeks, held my husband’s hand on the way to the hospital and tried not to think about not waking up. You can't imagine the thoughts that go through your head at times like this. All I kept thinking was what if I didn't wake up?  People die on the operating table ALL the time. This tumor could burst when they were attempting to remove it- that is why I have a 16" vertical incision down my chest. These tumors can't be removed laproscopically as bursting and leaking back into the body cavity would pretty much be terminal. Still in pain from the night before, I kissed my husband, sent him off to the waiting room to sit with his sister and dad, and I drifted off.
Waking up from surgery
The next 24 hours are hazy, but I remember my sister Lyn coming to my room, my sister in law telling me I could have babies, and intense pain. I remember specifically telling a nurse I shouldn't be in this much pain the day of surgery, that I expected one full day of feeling nothing.
My two best buds: husband and sister
The surgeons did not have to remove the other ovary, saved my uterus, and took out my appendix, the tumor, and a layer of fat to biopsy from my stomach. I later learned in the pathology report that I had appendicitis- ha! I guess it was all good timing.  I was also told the tumor turned on it's blood supply the night before surgery, thus the source of the excruciating pain.
Totally fell in love with a pillow my mom sent me!
I spent 3 nights in the hospital and was discharged home to my inlaws. Looking back I don't know what I would have done without them, specifically my mother in law. I call her Nurse Ratchet (an inside joke of course!)
Fast forward 8 weeks to today. I am almost back to 100%- I can sleep on my sides, back, stomach, I can eat anything I want, I can sit up on my own, and my mood has evened out. Turns out when your ovary which is supposed to be the size of a walnut is the size of a watermelon, your hormones really mess you up- the intense depression really was chemical, not something I could have kicked on my own. I'm not saying it has been a night and day change-apparently my hormones will be up and down for a while until my body adjusts, and my other ovary can get up and running. I still ache when I cough, sneeze, blow my nose and sit for long periods of time, but overall I feel good. I tire easily and turn cranky, but I'm alive. And cancer free. The tumor and all surrounding areas were benign, the appendicitis is gone.
3 Week Post-Op trip to the beach
This has been such a nightmare, I won't sugar coat it. Well, that being said I sugar coated a lot of what happened, leaving out details too embarrassing to share publically. The complications and side effects have been the worst part- the incision itself is healing nicely, I'm hoping the daily applications of Maderma will help with that.
All these years I suffered what I thought were normal aches and pains, I thought my large, hard, and protruding stomach was just belly fat. I'd lose weight and it wouldn't go away, my stomach stayed the size of a full term pregnant woman. How did I not know this was in me?
I wanted to share my story in the event someone googles “mucinous cystadenoma ovary” and needs someone to talk to about it, someone facing a laparotomy, someone with no one to talk to. You see, I had an angel who reached out to me when I announced it on facebook, an angel I went to high school with and haven’t spoken to in 13 years. Of all the doctors, specialists, nurses, family, friends, etc- she was the only one who could put my fears to rest. To know someone who has gone through this battle before and come out victorious means more than any doctor.
One important thing I learned through this and want to pass along to you, my readers and friends- if you feel that something is wrong in you, get it checked out. I learned that in your 20s-early 30s you shouldn’t be in pain, depressed, sick, nauseous, hormonal—that’s not normal.  What I had accepted as “normal” was a 25lb sickness growing in me, pushing my organs around, stealing blood and nutrients, and slowly killing me.
Before and After Surgery
Going through this the last few months it was hard to see the light, hard to see the finish line, but it’s so close now and I am excited for the future.  I was numb through most of the process, but now that I have been given that diagnoses of benign, I get to start over. And that’s exactly what I plan on doing, going on a quest to find myself again.
Shameless bathroom selfie to show I now have a waist:
 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Ciate: Flower Manicure


After not painting my nails for 2 months, I figured it would be good to come back with a real whiz-bang! I picked up this kit a month or so ago on a trip to TJMaxx for $9.99. The set retails for $25, and considering it was the only thing I walked out of there with, not a bad price.  Ciate is coming out with more and more fun manicure kits like this one, denim, feathers, foil, and neons to name a few! Oh, and with the exception of denim and neons, I have since picked them up for $7.99 at Ross. Go now and get you some.


Albeit a fun manicure to do with some downtime, this really isn't a "practical" manicure. And by not practical I mean it has a texture to it, the flowers definitely stick up as you can see, and irritate the you know what out of me. As gorgeous as it is, if it lasts the night I'll be impressed. Oh, and application took a bit of time too.




After applying the flowers to my left hand- for photographing obvs, I almost removed the manicure entirely. And by almost, I was in the bathroom reaching for cotton balls and remover. Then I decided I had nothing better to do, why not do the other hand and enjoy the manicure, it is absolutely gorgeous after all! I was dreading doing my dominant hand (my right,) but decided to follow the directions this time and use the enclosed nail file to shape the flowers. Omigosh, so much better than trying to trim them shakily with cuticle nippers! The mini polish itself is gooping, streaky, and overall a bad formula. It took 3 coats to get uniform coverage.

Going forward I will definitely use this for accent nails, but will forego the full manicure. Although it's stunning, like I said before, too much work and slightly annoying. As I type this, I'm thinking it would make a BEAUTIFUL pedicure...

You can pick it up full price here for $25, or look for it in Ross or TJMaxx. Here are the others I have since picked up- which should I try next?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

BareMinerals: BareSkin


I never really struggled with bad skin, acne, etc as a teenager and young adult, but I feel that since I've passed 30, my skin has backtracked. I am now seeing more imperfections, pimples, blackheads, red bumps, etc than I did at 16- seriously WTF. I will be honest with you and say I have been extremely blessed with pretty clear skin- a combination skin, neither oily or overly dry. That being said, ever since I started wearing makeup, blush would be the only product I applied on my skin, I rarely wore foundation, powder, etc due to my complexion.

Now that I'm getting older, I'm finding I'm not comfortable in my skin and would like some kind of coverage, light, but strong enough to even out the redness. My sister in law Megan hooked me to Bare Minerals 4-5 years ago, but honestly never finished the products I have. Come to think of it, I should throw them out, I'm sure the shelf life on them is not 5 years...

I then graduated to BB Creams, all the hype 2-3 years back. BB Creams have now accelerated to DD creams, but wasn't enough coverage for my liking. I wanted essentially what BB Creams promised- moisturizer with light coverage, but was totally disappointed each time.

I first saw this in an Ulta catalog, and with my interest piqued, set out to look at some reviews on a few of my favorite beauty blogs.  From everything I read and saw, this is exactly what I was looking for. I did ask for help in choosing a shade as well as application, and I HIGHLY recommend you do. I consider myself somewhat knowledgeable when it comes to beauty products, but was close to tears in Ulta trying to figure out the shade I needed.  Ok, maybe the tears were due to it being my last day at my job, but it didn't help matters that I couldn't pick a shade!

BareSkin is promoted with an application brush that is not included, which I did purchase. If that is not in your budget, you should be fine applying the foundation with a makeup wedge from the drugstore.


As with the majority of BareMineral's products, less is more. The sales associate who demonstrated and applied the makeup to me advised me to start out with 2 small drops on the brush (after shaking!) Since coming home and adjusting to applying this myself, I have since started using 3 small drops, but I advise starting off with 2.

Here is the before picture- In these photos I only have Aveeno lotion on my face after a shower.


And immediately after:


Pale girls unite! I am wearing shade: 01 Bare Porcelain, the lightest of the shades. The sales associate told me that the 01 and 02 are the most popular shades, if that helps when you go to sample!

Here I am all finished up, ready for dinner and a movie:


Overall I am quite happy with the product and highly recommend it if you're looking for a lighter coverage. It is a little steep, and if I wasn't out on a retail therapy trip, I might not have picked it up. The foundation is $29 and the brush is $28.

Although $60 is a lot for face makeup, I kinda regret all the $$ I invested in BB Creams and other failed products!

Have you tried BareSkin?
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