Happy Holidays!

As the holiday season comes to a close we’ll be taking this week to recover and prepare for the new year.  Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for all the support for this lil’ blog.  We truly appreciate each and every one of you, and can’t wait to see where 2017 will bring….  we’re so excited to take you with us!


Jess, Lyn and Pamela

PS.  We’re dying to know what your favorite gift was this holiday – either received or given, beauty related or otherwise!  Share with us!


My love affair with a bold, red lip began in the winter of 2010. I was down. General winter blahs.  Feeling sorry for myself and just not in the best head space. I knew something had to change, but I wasn’t sure where to start. One day, I put a red lip on. I can’t even remember the occasion,  probably a meeting for work. But the response was immediate. I carried myself differently. People complimented me.  I heard “I wish I could pull off a red lip” multiple times and I’d answer back “but you can!” Because apparently, I was pulling it off even though I didn’t feel particularly confident or interested in drawing any attention.

And so wearing red lipstick became a thing for me. I decided to wear it every day that winter—my interpretation of the old “fake it ‘til you make it” advice. And you know what? It worked. I actually started feeling better. It became my shield against the negative thoughts I was having in my head. It made me feel like in some small way, I was trying. And something about that red lip seemed to brighten people’s day, too. It created a reaction—both in me and in others—I felt better to have it on.

Over the years, I’ve tried—and have acquired a lot of reds. Let’s be honest—I have a lot of lipsticks—period. But honestly, for as often as I wear red, I have fewer reds than other colors. I think it’s because I do have favorites that I reach for pretty consistently and have stayed loyal to throughout the years.


What makes the perfect red for me? It needs to wear well—if not hydrating, at least not drying—it needs to stay in place and not transfer all over my face or teeth, and it needs to have strong color payoff. When I wear red, I like to really wear red.

With these requirements, here are my favorites:


Tarte LipSurgence™ matte lip tint in Fiery: this is my holy grail red lipstick. It was the first matte lipstick I owned and I’ve always found the finish and color to be perfection. It’s a crayon application, but the texture is soft and it lasts a long time. I love how it feels and its slight peppermint scent. It is a real red. Not too bright or pink. Not too dark or brown. It’s just right. I have several of these stashed everywhere in my life. I had a huge scare over the summer that Tarte was going to discontinue this line—and maybe that’s still the plan?—but they are still available on their website and I cannot recommend this formula and color strongly enough. Totally worth the $24 price tag.


Urban Decay, Mrs. Mia Wallace: Thank you, UD for putting this fantastic red into your Vice permanent collection! Launched as a limited edition for Pulp Fiction’s 10th anniversary, this deep red cream lipstick quickly became a favorite. It is not matte, but not overly shiny. It also wears for a long time and creates a perfect stain. I can’t remember our history with this lipstick, but Jess and I have been obsessed since it came out. I still have my old school tube, but now I can restock it for only $17. (PS: Urban Decay knows what they are doing with a red lipstick—F-Bomb, Spiderweb, Rock Steady, Zealot are all in my collection and in heavy rotation. It really just depends on the finish and color you’re going for that day.)


Jeffree Star Velour Liquid Lipstick, REDRUM: So I’m slow—Jess had to explain the name to me—but there is nothing scary about this lipstick except for how great it is! Seriously—how did I live without Jeffree Star liquid lips?! It’s the best $18 plus shipping you’ll spend on lip products. This one is a matte finish, cool toned red and it will last and last. It doesn’t dry your lips, applies evenly and dries quickly. You can really just put it on and forget about it. This red is my favorite, but I’m also totally smitten with Rich Blood—it makes your teeth look ridiculously white!— Designer Blood (a plummy red) and Unicorn Blood (a brown red). The only thing I don’t like about them is their names…


Rimmel Lasting Finish by Kate Matte in Kiss of Life, 111: Yes—I totally bought this one because of Kate Moss. But I repurchased it because it’s awesome.  It only $4.99 but it’s better than most lip products 5x the price.  This one is definitely matte and definitely red. But it feels good and it lasts.


Colourpop Lippie Stix in Bichette: We really don’t give enough love to Colourpop or their incredible Lippie Stix. They are $5 and come in a huge range of colors—or should I say colours? I got this one from Pamela and it’s my favorite when I’m looking for a darker red with a smooth finish. If you are in the market for a red lip pencil, the Bichette Pencil is much better than anything you’ll get at the MAC counter and way cheaper.


Giorgio Armani Beauty Lip Maestro, 400: Okay–this one is stupid expensive–but I’m including it because you can sometimes get it as a 100 point sample or a free sample with purchase on Sephora which is how I happened upon it.  I’ll tell you, it’s totally worth the crazy price tag. It feels like velvet. For real. And the color is so fancy. You will feel like a million bucks when you wear it–probably because you’ve spent close to that much to get one!

I understand why people can get a little nervous about wearing a red lip. You do have to sell it. You have to stand a little straighter to make a bold lip work. But that’s the magic. A red lip makes you believe in yourself.  And makes others take notice.

I promise there is a red lipstick out there for you. Perhaps you already found it—please share in the comments if you have! But it exists. I hope these suggestions helps you find it. I have a sneaky suspicion we might all be feeling like we need a little extra something, something this winter…

All photos were obtained from the product websites and all products were purchased by me. Boy, were they ever!

Christmas cookies and stout!

Tis the season for Christmas cookies!  I love Cookies.  I also love beer.  And in December I love the two together.  This Christmas cookies and stout thing wasn’t my idea, I wish it had been because I think it’s one of the greatest ideas ever.  It is actually the idea of one of our best (in my opinion) local bars here in Appleton, Fox River House.  They have been hosting a Christmas cookies and stout night for the past four years and it’s a night we look forward to very much.  It’s really quite brilliant.  Anyone can participate in the cookie eating and stout drinking, and if you’re a superstar you can bake cookies to bring thus entering yourself into the cookie contest with a chance to win a bar tab.  The yearly entries are no joke.  People take their cookies pretty seriously.  The stand out for me this year was the third place winner (he got robbed!) which was a creme brulee cookie.  Take 10 seconds to imagine how good that would taste.  I bet you gained at least a pound thinking about it.  I surely gained a few eating them while drinking stout.


Why is this idea brilliant?  Personally I tend to gravitate to a stout beer in the colder months.  Call me crazy, but I just don’t want a stout when it’s 90 degrees in the middle of summer.  A good stout is wonderful on it’s own, but add some sugary sweet Christmas cookies to offset the heavy and sometimes bitterness and you have a match made in heaven.  Here are some recommendations if you’re looking for a stout to enjoy this holiday season….. with or without Christmas cookies!

Founders Breakfast Stout – This is probably hands down my favorite stout. It has everything….  brewed with chocolate, oats and coffee, it’s super smooth and so delicious. It’s 8:45am and -6 degrees outside on a Sunday and I really would consider having one right now…. for breakfast…. don’t judge.

Bells Java Stout –  Another stout brewed with coffee, this is an easy drinking, smooth stout. Heavy on the coffee and slightly sweet.

Central Waters Bourbon Barrel Stout – Brewers Reserve Series – If you find this (our Woodman’s currently has it), it’ll be pricey, but worth every penny.  Aged in oak bourbon barrels it’s a little boozy. Drink this one slow and enjoy the love that surely has gone into brewing it.

And if beer isn’t your thing, try Luna Cafe’s Stout Blend coffee.  Luna is a small batch coffee roaster out of De Pere, Wisconsin and their stout blend is the coffee used to brew Hinterland’s Luna Coffee Stout (yet another coffee stout I love).  Luna Cafe coffee is our favorite and the Stout blend is always my first choice.  I pretty much have a meltdown when our Woodman’s is out of it.  Purchase it directly from Luna to avoid previously mentioned meltdown.

Do you have any favorite stouts, Christmas cookies or other awesome holiday traditions?  We would love you to share with us!

Current Obsessions (That Might Make Nice Gifts?)

Happy holidays!! If you’re like me, you are a) stressing out about what to give as gifts and b) simultaneously really good at buying things for yourself. I mean, I feel like I just want to get high fives for being such a good shopper for myself. So here is a list of things that I have that are making me really happy right now- maybe something will inspire you! (No judgement if you just buy it for yourself.)

A really decent travel mug

As much as I prefer to have time to lounge in my pajamas, drinking coffee while I peruse the news of the morning, most of the time I need to take my coffee to go. I love this mug from OXO because it seriously keeps things hot- if I have a client right away in the morning, sometimes I don’t get to drink my coffee until an hour after I’ve poured it, and this mug is like “ok I will wait!”. Also, it does a good job of being leak proof- recently, in a really typical move for me, I was carrying too many things and in a hurry, bobbled my full cup of coffee around while wearing a white shirt, and everything turned out ok. Whew! Paired with some nice tea, this would be welcome under any tree.

Something that smells awesome (and is locally made!)

Real talk: I haven’t really been excited about “natural” deodorants. They mean well, but rarely keep me confident. Enter American Provenance, a local company that is killing it in the personal care game. The labels are designed by a tattoo artist, which is what drew me in to the display at Hy-Vee, and then I was delighted by the scents available, and then double delighted by the ingredients they use (and leave out). Based on glowing reviews, I decided to give the deodorant a whirl, and I am officially converted and crazy obsessed with it! Even after a tough workout, I am way less offensive than my former commercial products left me. If it’s too weird to give someone deodorant, because, it kind of is, they also make awesome body sprays, soaps, beard balms… give them a try!!

Things to keep you warm

One of the best gifts Pamela ever gave me (and trust me, she gives good gift) is a pair of Smartwool socks. It sounds like a total old person thing to give, but come on- it’s something you don’t want to buy for yourself (they are a little pricey), but on days like we’ve been having lately (it “feels like” -13 degrees today), I am happy to find them in my drawer- they are truly life saving. They come in cute colors, wash easily, and last forever.

I also love and rely on my Yea.Nice knit hat. One of the founders of this brand is from Wisconsin (yay!) and they donate a fleece hat to a homeless shelter for every hat purchased. Sweet. They have a ton of great styles and fit like you want a beanie to fit- perfectly slouchy while keeping your head warm.

Reliable beauty

I have had my original Urban Decay Naked palette for easily 5 years, and it is one that I consistently go back to. I use the matte shades almost daily, and the golds and shimmers are perfect for special occasions. Ok, Sin is a perfect shadow all the time, always. And really, if I wasn’t trying to show myself tremendous restraint, I would be all about the Ultimate Basics palette: this would also be an ace gift, especially if you think the shimmers are too much. (*cough cough buy it for me*)

Makeup brushes also make a great gift, since they take the pressure off picking colors, and you can never have too many (amirite?!?!). I grabbed this little gift set at Target recently and it is so great- I use all three of these every day! Real Techniques makes really decent, affordable brushes, and these are super fab additions to their line.

… And Murder!

Ok ok ok… this is NOT a gift (wait! Is it my gift to you??) but it is my current total obsession: the My Favorite Murder podcast. I would consider myself medium-interested in true crime on a normal day, but I have been listening to this podcast pretty much non-stop. It is hilarious, interesting, and makes me feel like I’m hanging out with my similarly warped friends. Maybe you could listen to it while wrapping gifts? (Any other murderinos out there??)

Cheers to you and yours this holiday season! Do you have any tried and true gifts to give? Who is stumping you the most this year? Can’t we just buy things for ourselves and drink champagne?!? Tell me about a great podcast!!


Drink It Like It’s Hot….

Well, it’s finally winter. Snow is on the ground, icy air is obnoxiously slapping us in the face, the humidifier has been employed in the bedroom, and fashion is reduced to “but is it warm??” Also, it’s dark out at 4:30. It’s basically midnight before Wheel of Fortune is on. So, to save our sanity, we are reaching for warm, cozy beverages… like tea! It’s a hug in a cup! What’s in our tea cupboards??


I would have to say that my favorite tea is earl grey. I sometimes feel like there isn’t a brand that I haven’t tried their earl grey (of course this is not true, but you see where I’m going…. I’ve tried a lot.)  One of my favorite places to pick up tea is TJ Maxx, which is where I have picked up and am often able repurchase Clipper organic earl grey. I feel like it has the perfect amount of bergamot, is really smooth, and with a splash of milk, pretty much perfection.

Say Celestial Seasonings and sleepy time and lemon zinger tea is what I think of – I’ve honestly never been a fan. Which is why I was surprised to find they have a slightly more posh range within their line now. I stumbled upon the Dirty Chai at Target, and decided to impulse purchase it. It’s a masala chai tea with espresso. Do you remember General Foods International coffees? With a little milk and honey, this tastes just like that. It satisfies my caffeine needs when I can’t choose if I’d rather have tea or have coffee and is pretty good, actually!

With a name like Teapigs, even without trying any of their teas, how can you not already love them? Having tried several of their teas through the pick and mix sample box, there’s not one I don’t like. The herbal teas they offer are particularly great. I love the Super Fruit at night, when I don’t want any caffeine, but I want something sweet. It’s delicious on it’s own and even better with milk.


Real talk: I’m a coffee girl, first and foremost. But in the past 5-10 years, I can only deal with coffee in the morning. Granted, it is ESSENTIAL in the morning, but come 10:30 or 11:00am, and I enjoy it less and less. If I have coffee after noon, forget it- I just want to chew my face off, and then I won’t fall asleep until 2am. BEING OLD IS THE WORST.

Before I got old and lazy, I used to be a super tea person. Like, I would buy bulk, whole leaf loose tea, I had a dedicated tea infuser, knew all the temperatures and steeping times for my teas… it was pretty great really. I loved a company called SpecialTeas, which is now Teavana (uuugh. read: Starbucks). Green tea was my jam (straight up Dragonwell is delightful!), and Pamela got me hooked on the Earl Grey Creme, which is a softer, less astringent version of an Earl Grey. These are, in fact, special teas, so I don’t reach for them as often as I would like to, but they are around if I have some time and want a treat (and need a little non-coffee boost in the afternoon).

While technically not actually tea, per se, I always keep some kind (any kind!) of peppermint tea on hand. It’s not caffeinated, so it’s a great after-dinner digestive. Also, it saved my (future) marriage when I had my wisdom teeth removed, and was forbidden from brushing my teeth for several days (DAYS!!!). Also also, it’s great to have on had if you have a crum tum.

Have you ever had a hot toddy? Like, for realsies? It’s honey, lemon, and ginger diluted in hot water. It’s like a hug that punches you in the face, but it’s perfect if you’re feeling a bit under the weather, which is likely this time of year. Our local co-op makes an AMAZING hot toddy (non-alcoholic) in their coffee/juice bar- here is the recipe– it’s probably amazing (and even more medicinal) with a little sploosh of rum or whiskey. 😉


I do not drink coffee. It’s a constant battle because I drive long, long distances late at night and sometimes drinking coffee would be a good idea–but I get crabby about the caffeine and the taste–so I don’t. But tea? I’m crazy for tea. Pamela and I bonded over our tea obsession when we were first introduced by Jess. In fact–buried in my tea collection is the Teapigs sample box Pamela mentioned above–which is a super fun way to try a bunch of new varieties.


Most of the teas from my desk drawer. Yeah–it’s a problem.

I drink tea all day long. As much of it as I drink, unlike Jess, I don’t know any of the metrics of making tea. Nor do I have a tea making process. I just fill my mug with hot water from the dispenser and put a tea bag in. And then I refill it throughout the day until I’m basically drinking hot water. At some point, I’ll start over with a new tea bag and begin the process again. Very fancy.


My “Baby I’m a Star” original mug–painted by yours truly in the Dells a million years ago–with my signature lipstick stain.

But I start every day at the office the same way–with my favorite tea of all time–Harney and Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice Tea. I am straight up addicted. In fact–half of my office is now, too–even my tea averse business partner is converted. This tea is exactly as the name says–it’s very cinnamony–and makes you feel all warm–with spicy kick. I’ve tried a ton of other teas to try and find an appropriate dup, and I can’t. I’m not sure what makes it so special. But it is. Nothing I have tried even comes close. It is a black tea–so it does have some caffeine–but the decaffeinated version is still really good. I have both and will sometimes just switch to the decaf in the afternoon. It is pricey for a tea–but soooo worth it. (Honorable mention in the Harney and Sons line is their Paris tea.)

Almost every aspect of my life uses my voice: talking at work (and life), teaching dance, singing in choir (or in the car or at a concert). So my voice takes a beating. I don’t know what I would do without the classic Traditional Medicinal Throat Coat Tea. I love black licorice so I have no issues with the flavor of the tea and it works wonders on giving your voice life again. If you like licorice, the Yogi Eqyptian Licorice is wonderful, but not as medicinal.

At night, my favorite tea to unwind with is the get some zzz’s from The Republic of Tea. I have a lot of their teas and really love the canister presentation. I have a bunch of them just because I’m a sucker for the packaging and love trying them. But I find this nighttime tea perfect to relieve stress and get ready for bed.

Are you more tea or coffee? Do you have any favorites that we need to put in our cupboard or desk drawer? Please comment below! And hey–stay warm out there, folks!

Like all things, we have purchased these teas with our own money and are not being paid for our drinking habits.


Lyn’s 50 Favorite Songs of 2016

I love lists. I make lists for everything. I’m one of those people that adds something to a list—even after it’s finished—just so I can cross it off.

I love making lists. I love reading list.

And of all the lists I make during the year–this one is my favorite. Reviewing music in preparation for compiling this list gives me an opportunity to revisit periods of the year tied to that music. Like listening to Blonde for the first time in my hotel room in Tokyo. Running through a village in Denmark and hearing Usher’s surprise turn on Yuna’s song, Crush. Ending my dance class with a cooldown to All My Friends. Checking out A Moon Shaped Pool on my drive back from Eaux Claires festival and being moved to tears by the closer, True Love Waits.

Festivals are often a source for my favorite music experiences of the year. And no one reminds me of this summer’s festival season like Chance the Rapper and his surprise appearances at Lollapalooza and Pitchfork. (Sadly, I missed him at Eaux Claires.) No Problem will always remind me of #summer16. He is the only artist that appears on three tracks on this year’s list.

Each year’s list tends to be a mix of old favorites and new finds—and there’s something extra special when a song brings both together. One of my musical highlights of 2016 is Craig David’s comeback and one of my great finds was the Kaytranada album. (I discovered it by Shazamming the pre-show music at the BØRNS’ concert.) So of course–the Kaytranada track Got It Good FEATURING Craig David was gonna make my list. Other mixes of old and new can be found on D.R.A.M’s duet with the incomparable, Erykah Badu on the sexy WiFi and Anderson Paak and Schoolboy Q’s perfection, Am I Wrong?

Or sometimes, two favorites come together like the Waves remix, with Miguel and Tame Impala—both artists on my 2015 mix—creating a track that still freaks me and it dropped in January. And of course, my favorite couple of 2016 (and 2010, 2012…)—and sadly just #summer16—Drake and Rihanna’s track, Too Good.  

My list runs from November 1, 2015-October 31, 2016. I want to have time to give things a proper listen (thus why Missy Elliot’s WTF is on my list this year, even though it appeared on most 2015 year-end lists). But sometimes you have to make an exception. After four different friends asked me if I’d checked out the new A Tribe Called Quest album, I knew I needed to stop and give it a listen. I’m glad I did and We the People…is included on this year’s list.

Then there’s Beyoncé. Like everyone else, Lemonade was it for me this year. It only took one listen to know it would be my favorite album of the year–and it’s only gotten better and better with time. And no song blew my mind like Formation making it my favorite song of the year.

It’s no coincidence I call the list my “favorites” and not the best. These are the songs I returned to again and again throughout the year. I could’ve easily made this list 100 songs long–but figured that’s obnoxious.  I could make the case that any song on David Bowie’s album is one of the best of the year. It’s just too hard for me to listen to them. Similarly, this year will always be remembered as the year we lost Prince. I debated adding a Prince song in memorial, but I still struggle to listen to anything from his catalog and have yet to make it through Purple Rain without crying. So I didn’t.

Finally, this year will also be remembered as the year music listening got incredibly fractured and complicated. For example, the only complete list with all my top 50 favorite songs appears on Tidal. Spotify is close, but is missing Formation, making the list feel incomplete. I can’t purchase my favorite Car Seat Headrest song or Kanye West’s Ultralight Beam on Itunes so my CDs have holes. And YouTube doesn’t have four of the songs: Ivy, Too Good, Got it Good or The Ballad of Costa Concordia (Car Seat Headrest is making it incredibly difficult for you to hear this epic track.)

But I want you to have the chance to give my list a listen, so I’ve created three different playlists on three different platforms based on what’s available—and I am always willing to get you CD old school-style—just ask! Hopefully, one of these options will work for you.

And remember—while I love making lists—I love reading them. I will spend the next few months checking out everyone else’s lists—including yours. So please post your favorite songs from 2016 below so I can give them a spin!

I hope you find some new tracks or artists on this list that become your new favorites, too. Or maybe they bring back good memories from this year. I know this year has been hard, but it’s also been one of the best in music that I can remember in a long time.

Can’t wait to hear your feedback on my list and start checking out your favorites, too!









Fuschia. FUUUUSSSCCCHIA. Ok- hot pink.

We know that Pamela rocks the nudes. Soon we will learn about Lyn’s favorite reds. But for me, I can’t resist the siren call of a solid fuschia.

It all started a few years ago- I was having dinner with my dear friend Nico, and afterward we popped into Macy’s to check out the MAC counter. Feeling bold after a few cocktails, I tried on a limited edition shade called Rare Exotic. I loved it, but worried I might look crazy with such a bold color. Nico insisted that I buy it. She’s a really good friend. Right after that I dropped a cupcake on the ground, ate it anyway, and she never told anyone. But this, friends, is where my fuschia addiction began.

MAC Mattene Lipstick in Rare Exotic. Photo via Temptalia.com

MAC Mattene Lipstick in Rare Exotic. Photo via Temptalia.com

The heartbreak in this story is those fatal words: limited edition. See, not only is this color the perfect hot pink with blue undertones, the formula is perfection. It’s a satin matte finish, doesn’t dry out your lips, and one swipe lasts the whole night. I have about a half an inch of product left, and weep a little every time I use it.

Never fear: I have some other fuschias that can carry me through. My closest backup is Urban Decay‘s Menace (comfort matte), or it’s sister Anarchy (cream). Both of them are bright, in your face fuschias with a blue undertone, which is my favorite type of fuschia. Urban Decay knocks it out of the park on their matte formulas- they are richly pigmented, don’t dry out your lips (especially if you use a lipliner or primer underneath), and the colors pack a punch all night long. The cream formulas are also aces, though slightly less long-wearing, but good to carry in your purse for touch ups.

Anarchy, photo via Urban Decay

Anarchy, photo via Urban Decay

Menace, photo via Urban Decay

Menace, photo via Urban Decay

On the drugstore end of the spectrum, I usually have a stick (tube?) of Revlon’s Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in my purse or car for emergencies. It’s a nice sheer hot pink, so it’s a little easier/daytime wearable, plus the formula is moisturizing, leaving a subtle wash of color behind. This is under $10 and an easy gateway product into the world of bold lips. Plus, it’s kinda minty!

Smitten, photo via Revlon

Smitten, photo via Revlon

The last pink that I reach for regularly is a surprise to me- I recently grabbed the Sephora Collection Color Last Lipstick in Forever Fuschia (obviously)- it’s actually a really great dupe for Urban Decay’s Jilted, which is also a favorite, but this is a little cheaper. Oddly, it smells like Jolly Ranchers, but it fades after a little bit. The formula wears nicely, is bold but not super crazy bold, and is great for touch ups.

Forever Fuschia, photo via Sephora.com

Forever Fuschia, photo via Sephora.com

As usual, I compulsively buy hot pink lipstick with my own money. I have a whole drawer of them. It’s fine. What are your go-to hot pinks?? Also, there seems to be some debate on how to spell “fuschia”, but this is how Alexa told me to spell it.