Bonkers products I love!

Right now, it seems like I have a variety of kinda bonkers products that at first blush seem ridiculous, but have become staples for me.

One of these even has pretty bad reviews on Sephora, but I love it still!

So here are some oddball favorites that perhaps you’ve considered–and been scared off–or didn’t even know you needed!

Ouai, Dry Shampoo Foam


Let’s start with the one with the poor reviews. On Sephora.com this doesn’t even have a full three stars, which is pretty bleak. But let me tell you why I love it and why it’s perfect for a specific situation. I have thick, wavy hair. I don’t always want to wash my hair every day, but when I wake up in the morning, it looks insane. And the only way to start over is to get it wet and calm it down. And I feel like if I’m going to have to blow dry it anyway, I might as well just wash it. Enter this amazing time saver! Because it’s a foam, it’s a little damp so I can put it on my crazy bedhead hair and I can get it back under control. It’s a foam, like an old fashioned mousse, and you just give it a shake and then start with a golf ball size or bigger mound and work it through the roots. It doesn’t make you hair sticky or weird like a true mousse would, but it does make it manageable and gives it some texture. I have disliked the scent of Ouai products in the past, but this one doesn’t bother me. I feel like I need to stock up on it in case it gets discontinued–that’s how much I like it!

 

Peter Thomas Roth, Acne-Clear Invisible Dots

I mentioned these in my most recent “empties” post, but I feel like they are so strange, they are worth another mention. Thankfully, my skin hasn’t been a complete disaster that much lately, but I do get the random breakouts here and there. And when I do, I reach for these. One of my issues with acne treatments is I always felt like they mainly just got on your pillow at night and never really were able to work. That’s why these dots are incredible! They are basically stickers that come in two sizes, big and small, and you peel them off a sheet and put them over the problem spot. They are clear, so they don’t look like you have chicken pox or anything. There is a slight problem of finding them again when you go to take them off, because they are clear, they can be missed! But if you pop one of these on a spot early, they have been very effective for me to clear them up before they take over my face. My sister just got me a Korean dupe version that is much cheaper, so I’ll be giving those a try, but even at the high price, I think they are worth it.

Living Proof, Perfect Hair Day In-Shower Styler

Another hair product! I’ve talked in the past how my hair makes me crazy, so I’m always looking for things that make me feel slightly better about it. Couple that with any excuse to stay in the shower for a few more minutes, and I’m sold! This product is very strange, but it accomplishes both goals: better hair and extra shower time. Basically, it’s like a third step after conditioning your hair. You put the same amount of this product through your hair, but then you don’t rinse it completely off. And the balance of how much product vs how much to rinse can seem a little challenging. But I feel like after a couple uses, I could just FEEL when the balance was right. It’s a nice time saver too, you can just either let your hair air dry, which is what I’ve been doing this summer, or it’s ready for blowdrying without having to add anything to the mix. Again–this might just be specifically great for my hair type–but if you’ve got wavyish or curly hair, this might be good for you, too!

YUNI, SHOWER SHEETS Large Body Wipes

Okay–these might seem completely silly because you can just use baby wipes or something that’s not $1 a sheet–but let me explain. I teach dance on Friday nights and class gets done at 6:45pm. Ofter after class–I go out somewhere. And while the Mario Badusco has been a savior, these actually make me feel slightly more confident to go out without a proper shower. They are basically big, body sized baby wipes! They smell good and they are big enough to really feel like you got all your bits covered and are good to go. I feel like it’s $1 well spent!

Do you have any bonkers products you love? Or products other dislike but work for you? I wanna know!!

All products purchased by me. All photos from the product websites. All opinions my own!

seasonal slowdown.

I love summer.  It really is my favorite.  And we probably can all agree, it’s more than a little busy as far as seasons go.  Wisconsinites have only three (if we’re lucky maybe a little more) fleeting months to cram such a huge amount of summer living in – work slows a bit for me and I’m more focused on getting outdoors and doing/going to any of the tons of summer events that are being held, and camping.  But as much as I love summer, I do look forward to fall being a time to get back into routine and chill out.  The daylight gets shorter, the nights get cooler and I find myself inside more than outside.  Work gets busier too. It’s a tough transition, but at the same time, it is welcome.  So in these months of transition what do I do to calm the panic of summer ending, and bridge the time knowing a darker and colder landscape will soon be here?  

Bake something. 

I love to bake, but in the summer when it’s hot and sunny, who wants to be inside and  turn on a hot oven? With the cool of fall coming, and the harvest of apples and other garden bounty, fall seems like the perfect time to bake. Maybe an apple pie, maybe some savory squash dish. It’s comforting to me, and taking the time to find and follow a recipe is soothing and slows me down. Also, the results are delicious!

Listen to a record from start to finish.

I feel a certain amount of music ADD in the summer. There’s tons of new music, live outdoor shows abound, and summer jams are plentiful.  It’s hard to focus on one artist with summer mixes on repeat.  But I do love to listen completely to an album, and with some great music coming out this fall, I look forward to having a sit (or a dance party) and really listen to a full record.  I feel like it often makes more sense to listen to songs in the order of how the artist wanted them to be heard, as if you’re listen to them tell a story.  I like it.  In fact, I am probably the only weirdo you know who still buys cds to do just that, in my truck.  I love to listen to cds in my truck.  And records – we’ll buy our very favorite albums on vinyl.

Take a walk.

Crisp air and warm sun.  One of the best fall feelings. What more is there to say about that?

Fall clean out.

As mentioned in our post earlier this week, I am indeed on a spending freeze when it comes to cosmetics (I cry a little inside each time I force myself to skip the cosmetics department when I visit Target.)  It is a great time of year to get to cleaning up my massive product arsenal, as what I am using on my skin currently, will also change with the season too. Wardrobe is no exception to this. Switching over my drawers and closet from summer to fall/winter comes with another purge of things I maybe didn’t wear at all this summer or that just need to be retired.

None of this is super ritualistic, it happens gradually… like summer to fall.  But it all helps me to start to slow down after a summer of go, go, go.  What things do you do that are specific to the change of seasons?

Cheap Thrills

It seems to be a common theme around here that the three of us are choosing a more minimalist approach to makeup and skin during the summer months- sunscreen is a must, then maybe bronzer and a quick swipe of mascara? Also, many of the premium brand summer releases have been kind of underwhelming, so none of us have really contributed much to our Sephora or Ulta points in a bit. It hasn’t been a total drought, though, and we have a few things from the drugstore (yay cheap!) that are impressing us:

Lyn:

L’Oréal® Paris Voluminous Lash Paradise

I’ve been binge watching old episodes of The Office this summer (so nerdy, i know!) so I’ve watched hardly any YouTube makeup videos in months. But before I got sucked back into Scranton, PA and Dunder Mifflin, I saw the L’Oreal Lash Paradise mascara featured unilaterally on basically every channel I follow as a must-have new product. But I couldn’t find it anywhere to see for myself. So I kinda forgot about it. But there it was at the Hilldale Target when I made a quick stop on August 15th (dumbest shopping trip decision ever. seriously–don’t go there until October.) Even though I REALLY dislike Too Faced Better Than Sex–which it’s supposedly a dupe–I decided I was still curious enough to pay the $8.50 to give it a try. And I’m glad I did. I like it SOOOO much better than it’s predecessor and I think it really packs a punch. My only drawback is I accidentally purchased the waterproof option and it is SUPER hard to remove. But if you are looking for a new waterproof mascara, this one is legit.

Studio 35 Mint Julep Mask

Back in the spring, we shared our favorite mud masks. In the comments, Heidi suggested the Studio 35 Mint Julep Mask. Soon after, I saw it at Walgreens, so I picked it up. It has been a perfect summer mask. The mint feels really refreshing especially on the few hot days we’ve had this summer. I also feel like my skin looks smooth and clear after using it. And for $3.99, it’s a cheap treat and a great way to wake up your face in the morning!

Jess:

NYX Matte Finish Makeup Setting Spray

My husband and I have a side hustle- we are wedding DJ’s- which means most Saturdays I have to put on a full face of makeup early in the day (say, 1:00) that needs to last until midnight. In the past, I have relied on Urban Decay’s All Nighter Setting Spray, which I considered to be Holy Grail status. And then I ran out. And then I didn’t want to spend $32 on a new bottle. So I took a chance on this $8 dupe, by NYX. You guys. This is good stuff! The mist is super fine (I’m always worried about sprays being to shooty or have heavy drops) and it seems to do the trick, even at sweaty barn weddings. I might be converting to this as my go-to from now on!

L’oreal Infallible Paints Eyeshadow Metallics

Clearly, we are weak at Walgreens and L’oreal is killing it. I picked this guy up on a whim (probably to disguise the fact that I really just wanted to buy ice cream or something) in the color Caged- I’ve been liking a more taupe/pewter smokey eye lately. I was surprised and impressed with an initial swatch- it is super pigmented and delightfully shiny without being glittery. Applied with a fluffy brush, the effect is a little more diffuse and blendable, then it stays put all day without transferring or creasing. I may have thought about buying all 5 shades. I haven’t. Yet.

Pamela:

…. is on a spending break! It’s ok. It’s a good time of year to use up what we have and clean things out!

xo

Is there anything you’ve been digging from the drugstore lately? Maybe a great eye makeup remover to help Lyn get that mascara off? Let us know in the comments!

 

Ipsy vs. Birchbox

This post is the one I’ve gotten requested the most: “what do you think about Ipsy/Birchbox” and “which one do you prefer?”

The question comes at the right time. I’ve started to think maybe it’s time to let one–or both–of the subscriptions go.

I am overrun with samples. I have a giant box in my bathroom filled with sample sized products waiting for me to try them. Between the two subscription services, Sephora often has special sized samples with purchase and I’m a total sucker for the Sephora Favorite boxes that come out seasonally with different products to try. All these samples really add up.

And the weird thing is–I’ve actually found a bunch of products I really like–so it’s hard to play facial product roulette with untested potions that could lead to magically perfect skin, or nasty breakouts.

So my willingness to test out products has been decreasing recently or maybe I just feel so overwhelmed with mini products, I can’t focus on them long enough to give them a try.

To determine my thoughts on each option, I reviewed them on a number of areas. Here are my findings:

Our relationship

I’ve really given both of them a long run. I started Birchbox in January 2012 when a Ms. Jess Boggs gave me a gift subscription for Christmas. (we’ve been pushing product on each other for a long time!) I added Ipsy in January 2013, presumably a Christmas present to myself.

Each subscription is $10/month and gives an assortment of products, but generally five sample sizes. Rarely do you receive a full-sized option. (side note: i had a brief flirtation with Boxycharm, which is $21/month but you get full-sized options. i hated it. i rarely used the products and i felt worst getting rid of full-sized products than samples. i got rid of it after a few months.)

The Container

the boxes are super cute, just not needed by me

Birchbox comes in a box that you could collect and reuse. I do not. So the box basically makes me feel bad every time I throw it in the recycling–which is immediately after I receive my box.

this month’s bag

Ipsy comes in a bag that range from really cute, to kinda janky. But I use the bags. Mostly for packing up samples to give to friends, but sometimes for travel. I have a lot of them though.

The Brands

Regarding the brands each site carries, Birchbox offers more well-known medium to high end brands. Ipsy tends to have more independent brands that are new to me.

What’s in the box/bag?

In my mind, I’ve always viewed Birchbox as more skincare and Ipsy as makeup. I did a quick tally of the products I received through each subscription the past six months. Ipsy does seem to have more makeup samples including brushes, which is one of my favorite things to receive. Birchbox has way more hair care products. I received zero hair products through Ipsy and nine from Birchbox. But otherwise, they seems pretty evenly split between their offerings.

this month i got the curated box–i already have the stila lip AND the purlisse mask, but i wanted the hair mask and lotion.

Birchbox has also added curated boxes. Now there are three options for your box. You can either chose a box that’s curated and you can see what’s in there in advance, you can select one particular sample out of three options but the rest will be surprises or the entire box is a surprise. I’ve done all three and I don’t really have a preference. Sometimes the curated box is great, sometimes I already have many of the samples in it already. I’ve gone with the surprise boxes and had good success and also misses.

this month’s ipsy contents

Ipsy is still a surprise each month.

Both services have a quiz you take at the start of the relationship that sets the type of products you will receive. I haven’t played with the quizzes recently to see if it would change what I receive, but they do seem to be pretty close to what I have said are my makeup and skin care preferences.

The online presence

Birchbox.com is designed as an online retailer with sample sizes of its main product lines.

Ipsy is more of a product hub with links to the retailers’ websites.

Discounts

One of the benefits I have found using Birchbox is you can get discounts more frequently on quality products that are rarely discounted through Ulta or Sephora aside from the few sales they offer during the year.

Ipsy offers discounts to the brands during the month their products are featured in the bags. It’s a little clunkier to transition over to the product site and use the discount codes than to just order direct from the service website. But, this also means you can get a discount on the brand’s entire product line and not just select products which can be nice.

Points

One of the best benefits of Birchbox was its review program. Each month, you were given the opportunity to review the products to receive points. Those points added up to actual cash. So it wasn’t difficult to rack up $10 off every few months from reviews.

They recently discontinued this program. Instead, you get points for purchasing products. It’s still something, but it’s less enticing for me to stay on the service when it’s harder for me to collect points i.e. product credits. But those points still add up to actual cash off you can use on your order total. I much prefer getting cash back than points for MORE product.

Ipsy still gives points for submitting reviews. But the points are used toward select products and you need a lot of points to get anything good. I don’t bother with it.

Special deals

Birchbox has gift with purchase options that are always available, but honestly, I rarely use them. I generally order through Birchbox when they offer a percentage off–and you can only use one code per purchase–so I go for the cash, not the samples.

In addition to the retailer discount codes, Ipsy also offers discounted bundles each month. I have mixed feelings on these bundles. They are very cheap–but not always very good. I’ve ordered a few things and then I rarely reach for them. They also sell out quickly, so you have to be on top of things if there is something for a line your really like. Higher end bundles especially sell out fast.

The products

I guess it really comes down to the products. And sadly, I’m split.

I looked at the last six months and the products I’ve tried that I liked–and tbh–there are many, many products I haven’t tried yet.

Here are the ones from Ipsy that I made the grade: Skone Blending Brush, Josie Maran Face Butter, Glamour Dolls Angle Blush Brush, Jesse’s Girl Liquid Eyeliner, Royal and Langnickel brush, SKYN Iceland Face Wash, So Susan brush. (lots of brushes. lots.)

And the Birchbox winners: Benefit They’re Real Double Lip Lipstick, Schmidt’s Deodorant Stick, Davines Hair and Body Wash, Benefit Rollerlash, Number 4 Sugar Texturizing Spray, R + Co shampoo/conditioner and Moisture and Shine Cream.

I also did a quick look to see what products I discovered from Birchbox and Ipsy over the years that have become go-to options. I discovered the Oribe Texturizing Spray through Birchbox. My favorite exfoliating was from Juara was a Birchbox sample and I’ve recently discovered that my first impression of the Benefit Rollerlash was wrong and it’s actually really good.

From Ipsy, I really like the It Cosmetics Superhero mascara, Benefit Gimme Brow and the Balanced Guru No Frizz Hair Oil is my everyday finishing touch on my hair–and I love it!

Final conclusion

Ugh–it’s hard. The best thing about both services is the anticipation when the package arrives and you open it to see what you get. That 2 minutes is like Christmas morning every month and it would be hard to give that up. Even when it’s not that great–it’s always so exciting to see what’s inside.

But that said, it would save me $20/month to cancel them AND tons of space in my bathroom.

Soo…I don’t know. I think I should cancel them both, but it feels like an end of an era. I’ve really come to look forward to those pink boxes and bags each month. It’s been a constant source of optimism for the past four and five years, respectively. It makes me sad to think I won’t get fun mail each month.

usually it’s a pink box, but there’s always a cute salutation

this bag is ALWAYS hot pink–except this month when i take a picture. :/ i would miss ripping into it each month.

This is a very Gemini moment for me, I’m having a hard time deciding!

What do you think? Get out of the relationship or focus on the benefits and stay? Do you get a subscription service? How do you like it?

I pay for each subscription myself. If you feel like trying one of them, I do have invite codes you can choose to use if you want for Ipsy and Birchbox.

So…makeup?

After the November election, I bought an online subscription to the Washington “Democracy Dies in Darkness” Post. The app is easy to use and I routinely start my morning scrolling through the headlines, if admittedly, not taking the time to actually read the articles. I have this anxiety about what has happened while I was sleeping so a quick flip through the top stories gives me a general briefing for the start of my day.

With today’s headlines, I can tell my current mood of despair, sadness and confusion will not be lifted easily. Along with the anticipated deconstructions of our President’s alarming, though not unexpected, response to Charlottesville, I found these signs of the times:

  • “Factory workers are quitting, many would rather find other jobs”
  • “Why your pet is fat, hint: every nutrition tip you’ve heard is probably wrong”
  • “Volcanoes under melting ice, climate change could trigger eruptions in Antarctica”
  • “ESPN apologizes for player ‘auction'”
  • “There’s plague in Arizona, authorities warn of fleas that can infect people and pets
  • “Don’t want nude pics from strangers? Change this iPhone setting.”
  • “What do you do if your child sides with neo-Nazis?
  • “Trump reverses climate-change order, construction projects will no longer need to consider flood risk”
  • “More than 18,000 died on US roadways in the first six months of 2017”
  • “A Swiss hotel singles out Jews” “asking ‘Jewish guests’ to shower before using the swimming pool.

Good morning to you.

Well, it turns out that people are leaving factory work because the unemployment rate is low and people are betting they can find better, less physically taxing jobs in the market now which is somewhat optimistic, pets don’t need a grain-free diet and it’s a marketing ploy (my industry can be jerks), and traffic deaths are actually down from a year ago.

But the rest of it? It’s just as the headlines make them sound. Bleak. A massive flea outbreak seem to be the least of our concerns.

To top it off, last night I went and saw the not very good, but still thought-provoking movie, “An Inconvenient Sequel”–the Al Gore follow-up to the 2006 Oscar winner, “An Inconvenient Truth.” I learned that of course it’s raining more, all the melting ice cap water is evaporating–and what goes up, must come down–in the form of rain. And lots of it.

With all this heaviness on my mind, it feels slightly disingenuous–and possibly tone deaf?–to post my much delayed and highly anticipated “Ipsy vs. Birchbox” post that was scheduled for today.

At the same time, though all of this is on my mind. I’m still not sure what to say. And even less sure of what to do.

I was at a meeting up in Northern Wisconsin on Monday and a client–who I view as a friend–made an impassioned plea that at our next meeting, we are going to be the one committee that stops talking about an issue that’s on multiple organizations’ agendas, and actually make some kind of decision and movement on it.

Yes!!! I wanted to jump out of my seat and do cartwheels! I like discussion as much as the next person but I want action!

And yet–here I am with the news all around me and I am at a loss of what to do about it. Completely inaction. It seems like so many plates are spinning around me and all of them are slowing down at the same time and I’m just looking at them while they crash around me.

And that’s just thinking about national issues, not the personal ones that feel much more immediate and have my attention. I find those plates first and rarely go back to the others.

Because I can. I will be the first to admit that I don’t HAVE to do anything about all the headlines I read. I am in a position of privilege, so I can just go day-to-day and allow it to be someone else’s fight to take up. Of course, it will eventually become my problem–what happened in Charlottesville could happen anywhere–my hometown, and yours. But no one is waiting for Lyn Pilch to save the day. So I could just hang tight.

Or I can do the minimum, jump on social media and share all the posts and memes and midnight musings on how I will fight the power (not unlike what I’m doing now–though a post would be shorter…) but right now that feels a bit hollow to me. And confusing. I’d like to say I can do it, and will do it, or would do it, but right now I don’t know how to do it. But perhaps just seeing that I care and I’m paying attention will show some support to friends who are finding their very existence marginalized again in new and terrifying ways. But it also might make me feel like I did something when really–I just added my hand to the huddle before the break: “Go Team!”–and then sat back down on the bench.

Instead, I feel like just admitting–I’m in!–but I don’t know what that means. I don’t know what rally to attend. I don’t know what that thing is I can do that will feel like I’m not just having a discussion, but taking action.

And truth be told, I am incredibly cynical after the Act 10 protests that seemed to accomplish nothing but divide our state even more. I thought showing up en masse would demand attention. It would get family and friends who voted for the Governor to see how passionately opposed we were to the dismantling of this crucial institution and at least listen to why we so vehemently disagreed. And it didn’t. It made people just yell at each other, if they talked at all.

I am a positive person. My job is to go to communities and find all the great things about them and why people would want to take their hard earned money and time to visit those locations. Sometimes, I’ve been one of the only people in a room full of locals–in a place I’m unfamiliar with–to believe we could find something positive about that place. And we always do. I like finding the silver lining in situations. I have been called naive, and delusional, and too nice. And I’ve been okay with this.

But now I’m struggling. And maybe you’re struggling, too.

I don’t want to just go to a rally and listen to people talk. I don’t want to march around the Capitol. I don’t want to do the things I’ve done in the past and found no change at the other end.

A couple years ago, I saw Diane Nash speak on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day about how the lunch counter sit-ins were planned and the philosophy used to make social action happen. It drove home all the reasons our Act 10 protests accomplished so little even though so many people were engaged and energized. I recall back to that talk and I keeping wanting Diane Nash to walk in and tell me what to do now.

I want a leader. I want someone to tell me what to do. I want a goal. I want a plan. I want something to hang on to, something tangible.

More and more, I’m starting to feel like that leader is me. And that leader is you. But we won’t be doing that work from behind our computers. We are going to go somewhere and not march in circles, but find purposeful steps that make change.

Diane Nash worked with Martin Luther King Jr. from 1961–1965. In reading more on Nash after that speech, this one quote has stuck with me “I never considered Dr. King my leader. I always considered myself at his side and I considered him at my side. I was going to do what the spirit told me to do. So If I had a leader, that was my leader.”

I don’t know where to set my feet right now, but maybe you do. And if you do–I’m in.

But if you’re struggling like me, perhaps we can listen to the spirit together and uncover the path to action.

I’m optimistic we can find it.

So…makeup? We will get to that tomorrow.

oh, baby.

My middle sister is having a baby today and it’s a wonderful, super exciting day and time for her and my whole family.  My baby sister has two boys, ages 5 and 3 and I love them to pieces and miss their little faces every day.  I think they, my sisters, are both so brave and special to bring little people into this world with all of the challenges and rewards of being a parent.  Me, I’ve never felt the maternal urge to have a baby – it’s just not something I’ve ever felt was for me, or as being my path.   Even today as I held my new, perfect niece and had nothing but immediate and unconditional love for this sweet little babe, I still knew it was not for me.  I am a stepmom, and I do get to experience all of the challenges that come with co-parenting a teenage daughter….  at times it feels so rewarding and at times it feels like being dragged through hell and back.  I’m guessing that my sisters, and most moms I know, get all of those feelings as well – as parents.  So, when someone tried to explain to me this past weekend, while they also tried to convince me that I needed to have a baby, that I will never truly know what it’s like to be a mother or a parent unless I have my own child….  it really kind of pissed me off.  

This is really a thing that women still do to other women?  Judge them for their choice to not have children.  And maybe “judge” isn’t even exactly the word I’m looking for, but I find It can definitely be interpreted as a tone of superiority – like they hold some secret that unless you have children you’ll never be let in on – or worse, you’ll never know true love or be complete.  It is truly mind boggling to me, especially in todays landscape of conversation about women’s rights:  my body = my choices.  Yet if I decide to not have a baby I am somehow deficient having made that choice?  Society in general often does not help childless women, with judgments of selfishness, or cold and un-nurturing, or not liking kids, or broken/barren.  And I’m certainly not writing this piece to explain my and my husbands reasons to not have children – that’s our business, nor am I writing it for sympathy or to claim I feel that I am a victim of anybody who would try to tell me that I will never know what it’s like to be a real mother.  But I would like to understand why this is still a thing women do to one another.  It’s 2017 for crying out loud!   Why should I be told I am missing out? Why do I feel I need an explanation as to why I’m not having children? Why do women continue to judge and shame other women for their choices?

And I don’t mean to make this solely about my decision to not have children, I feel like it’s a two way street.  I’m sure some of my friends, who are now in their 40’s and just starting families are judged similarly for their choices to have children and start their families later in life, which I imagine to be an equally difficult place to be in.  My sister is choosing to have a baby on her own, surely there will be judgement and opinion about that sometime in her future. But really at some point this conversation becomes less about the choices we make, whether not to have or to have children, and more about respect.  At the end of the day, are we not all the same?  We all work hard at our lives, no matter how they look.  We all have to make our own choices and sometimes even sacrifices that shape the lives we lead.  We all have different stories.  We all have the capacity to love and care for others – to have empathy.  So can we just stop judging one another and try to celebrate our differences and the choices we make? Because at the end of the day we are all women – strong women making choices and being the best that we can be at our lives, whether that includes children or not.  I love and respect all of you, for your bravery to make the choices that shape you and your life – because you are all damn amazing women.

Get Up Already!! (A Challenge…. I’m Scared)

I am about to embark on a personal challenge, and, if I’m being honest with myself, I am terrified.

Remember a few weeks ago when Lyn told us how she struggles with going to bed? Well, most of the time I’m pretty good at that part (though I am super guilty of dicking around on the interwebs for way too long doing nothing at all). My challenge is the getting up part.

For many of you, this might not be hard at all. Pamela, for example, is a professional morning person. Even on vacation!! But I am nowhere near. I am basically Garfield when it comes to mornings.

The Struggle

I have a few things working against me in life. For one, my work schedule is consistently inconsistent. I work at a clinic three days a week, each shift starting at a different time. At my private office, sometimes I start in the morning, sometimes I start around noon, sometimes I have awkward gaps in my day. See? I’m already off on the wrong foot.

I hate waking up early so much that I tell myself I get to sleep in on the days I don’t need to be anywhere right away. I never make it past 8:30, so it’s not like I’m a college student snoozing until afternoon, but it does give me an excuse to waste the morning, drinking coffee, watching TV, because “I don’t get to be lazy ever”. But I do. Like, all the time. And I’m pretty sure this wibbly wobbly sleep schedule is doing me absolutely no favors.

And what is this: somehow, in the 20 minutes before I need to get up, this is when I find the perfect, most comfortable Goldilocks position. Sleep becomes the best thing ever. Angels sing. All my good intentions and pep talks get squashed by a voice saying “NO!! YOU WILL NEVER FIND COMFORT LIKE THIS AGAIN!!”, and I can’t break free of it. I’m really good at snooze button math, and will give up a fair amount of logic (like how long it takes me to actually get ready) to keep sleeping.

The thing is, I actually really like mornings. Sure, the getting up part sucks- for some reason it takes me a while to shift into gear- but mornings have a bit of magic to them. It’s nice to get started on your day. One of my favorite things in the world is to walk through a city on a crisp morning, the day starting fresh, the smell of concrete warming up, the sun coming up over the buildings, and a world of possibilities. Lyn and I used to get together once or twice a week at early o’clock and catch a yoga class or go for a run. Every single time, I would wish to wake up to a text saying “never mind! Can’t go today!” so I could curl back up in bed, but honestly those early morning workouts (and the delicious juice/coffee/gossip to follow) were the best. We got it out of the way before we even knew it was happening, and set the rest of the day up to win.

The Challenge

So, I’m trying to recapture this magic and get myself on a better schedule overall. I have been working hard this past year on my goal of getting to the gym to lift, consistently, three times a week, and I’m too the point where I start to feel twitchy if I’m going to miss a workout. Yay! Goal achieved! Thing is, sometimes I go at 2:00 on a Tuesday, then 9:00 on a Wednesday, then maybe I can catch a Friday afternoon but if I’m booked with appointments I’ll probably talk myself out of going because I’m hungry and/or tired so hopefully I can grab a Saturday morning deadlift session.

As my husband put it, “damn, I don’t think I could do it without a strict schedule”.

You know what? He’s right. Also handsome. So I’m going to take his advice and stick to a schedule. And, wouldn’t you know it, the time I have open almost every single day during the week? 7:00 in the damn morning.

Starting tomorrow (Tuesday, so hopefully I haven’t failed already by the time you read this!) I am going to get up at 6:30 and my ass to the gym by 7:00. In the morning. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.

It’s going to be painful, but I think, overall, it will be a good thing.

The Plan

I’ve come up with a few strategies to try to overpower my strong gravitational pull to my pillow in the morning, and the first is coffee. If I have to tear myself from the grasp of sleeps, then the sweet sweet sounds and smells of coffee brewing away is going to be the thing to do it. Seriously, is there anything better than having hot coffee just ready and waiting for you? (Yes, there is, and that is someone bringing coffee to you while you stay in bed, but I’ll save that for Sundays.) I just have to be on top of prepping it at night and setting the timer. Easy! I’ve already checked this one off the list for tomorrow.

Next, I will work to convince myself that even though I’m getting up earlier than I historically have, I’m still getting a solid 8 hours of sleep. This means I have to go to bed by 10:30, which is pretty normal for me most weeknights. I discovered that a new feature in the iPhone’s clock app is “bedtime”, where you can set yourself, um, a bedtime on days that you choose, and it will sing a cute little lullaby and remind you to go to bed. Adorable! Lyn, you should probably look into this, too.

On the same tip, I have also disabled the snooze option on my alarms (much to the delight of my husband), which I have set for 6:15 and 6:30. I figure the first one will piss me off, but then I’ll be happy when I realize that I can sleep another 15 minutes before I really for reals have to get out of bed.

I will not be sleeping in my workout clothes, as so many “become a morning exerciser!” articles advise. Come on now. No one should sleep in compression leggings. But I will put a pile of my clothes in the bathroom the night before so I just have to stumble to the bathroom, brush my teeth, change, stumble downstairs, down some coffee and peanut butter toast or a banana, and be out the door.

So, ok you guys, I feel really good about this. Scared AF, but positive. I’m trying to remind myself how good I will feel to get it done, every day, and how having a schedule will be good for me. Plus, this will free up my random afternoon blocks of time for things I’ve been skipping in favor of the gym, like pedicures and getting my oil changed.

And naps.

So, pray for me. I’m already late for bed.

xo

Are you a morning person? How? Why?? Help!

Summer, We’re Not Over You Yet

Summer is the only season that has a distinct beginning and end, and the weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day zip by entirely too fast! We are scrambling here, as we enter August, to squeeze every last drop out of the remaining dog days of summer. Here’s what’s left on our lists:

Pamela:

How is it already August??!!! While I admit that I do look forward to back to school at our house, to get everyone back into our routines, summer is flying by way too fast. There is a lot I still want to do! Starting with Mile of Music, which is Appleton’s very own music festival in it’s 5th year, and it starts tomorrow! 70 music venues with 900 live music sets. Sound overwhelming? Yeah, it is. Luckily they have an app for the whole thing that conveniently lets you plan out your itinerary if that’s how you roll…. or if you are more of the wandering type, there is literally music everywhere…. If you don’t dig an artist at one venue, there is someone playing next door that you probably will!

Almost every year we get to a county fair, and this year won’t be an exception. I want to eat corndog and a giant ice cream cone, look at some poultry and cows and if we can make it happen, see some monster trucks. I’d settle for a demolition derby or some tractor pulls, but definitely would prefer a monster truck show!

Labor day is my favorite holiday. What’s not to love about a three day weekend? Sure, it’s slightly bittersweet as it signals the end of summer in many ways, but I prefer to think of it as the last hurrah! The last summer holiday to soak in the sun! My requirements for this holiday are a lake to swim in, some cold beverages, burgers on the grill with a campfire and s’mores to follow. We will be camping with friends this Labor day weekend and it should be pretty awesome.

Lastly, the thing that should probably be firstly – I really need to refigure my budget. In April I moved into my own studio space to practice aesthetics and massage out of, after working for someone else for 12 years. Being on my own and working independently has been so great so far…. some days can’t believe how much happier I am. But having said that, I am having to watch my spending much closer now, and in the past few months with having acquired new business expenses as well as some new personal expenses, I really do need to have a sit and recalculate my budget so I have a very clear idea of what’s to come as I head into the rest of the year.

Lyn:

August is the month that causes me panic. All the glorious dreams of hot days by the water and warm nights…also by the water start to feel like missed opportunities. But not this year–I am committed to ending the summer with a bang–or at least a splash.

I haven’t been standup paddleboarding yet. That must change. Jess and I tried to get up on the water at the start of summer but the wind had other ideas. But all is not lost and I will make it on a SUP sometime this month. (jess—what’s your schedule look like in august?)

I have two nieces that I adore and one of my favorite things to do is take them swimming which hasn’t happened, but it still can. I will be poolside at least one time before this month is over, if not more.

Speaking of said nieces, I took my eldest niece to a drive-in movie two years ago and we had a blast! I was super bummed that it didn’t work out last year. I wasn’t going to make the same mistake this summer and yet, we still haven’t gone. Mosquitoes be damned, I am going to the drive-in this summer!

As weird as it sounds, I want one day to just walk around Madison this summer, without any plans and enjoy all the things I love about the city. I’ve only done the market once this year. I’ve been out to the terrace but you can never go too much. I haven’t put on my headphones and set off seeing where the day takes me. I want this to happen. And it will. Soon.

Jess:

At the beginning of summer, I was ready. June started out solid, and I had a few great pool days, some long morning walks, an amazing NYC weekend, and a lot of rosé. Then it got cold. Then July was crazy stormy. Lately, I feel like I am just going from one freezing cold air-conditioned building to the next. So here we go- full stop, let’s reclaim summer with the following:

Just like Lyn, I need more time on the water. I even bought a membership at a nearby boathouse this year, thinking it would give me a “no excuses” outlook on running over to paddle around randomly throughout the week. Well, turns out I am not that person, but I still need at least one (or two?) good, solid hours paddling and/or floating around on a lake. In previous years, we’ve also done a day trip kayaking down the Wisconsin River- I don’t know if that’s in the cards for us this year, but I hope we can figure it out! (ps- I’d also like to join Lyn on that meandering walk!)

I have not been to the Memorial Union Terrace AT ALL this summer, and that is a mistake!! I could go for a Sunday afternoon with nowhere to be, hanging out with a pitcher of Spotted Cow, lively conversation, and maybe some card games. Who wants to join me??

Just in general, I feel like I need to slow. down. Summers are notoriously busy for me, so it’s easy for it to slip on by. I need more bike rides around the arboretum, visits to the zoo, ice cream stops, and street festivals. Basically, I need to take a month off work! 😉

What’s your favorite season? Do you have any musts left on your list for summer?? Tell us in the comments!!

 

“Empties” reviews: lip treatments, natural deodorant, Tati recommendations and more

I have really accumulated a lot of products. My bathroom is completely ridiculous with samples spilling out all over the place. So I’ve been really trying to use stuff up before I buy too many new items. I’m looking to make a small dent in the abundance of hope and miracles I’ve collected.

that’s a lot of stuff.

And I’ve been pretty successful with a very full bag of empties! So let’s get into it:

Sol de Janeiro Brazilian 4 Play Moisturizing Shower Cream-Gel and Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Kiss Cupuacu Lip Butter: I’m definitely on record for LOVING the notorious Bum Bum Cream.  I picked up a holiday gift pack that included these two products. It took me a while to work–I have a ton of shower and lip products I switch between–neither got my full attention. Which says something. The shower cream-gel smells like the lotion, but for some reason, I didn’t love it in the shower. I prefer something…cleaner smelling. Jess recently discussed her go-to shower options–and like her–I like a minty or citrusy scent to start my morning. This one was too sweet. It did lather nicely and was definitely moisturizing. I would maybe consider repurchasing in the winter–but probably not. As for the lip butter, it was fine. But I have others I like way better…

Bite Beauty Agave Lip Balm: like this one. Ugh. I love this stuff. It’s my new go-to nighttime lip treatment. I’m going to describe it to you and it’s going to sound terrible. It’s very sticky. Like whoa. It has a super weird scent. It’s supposed to be agave and vanilla but not really. It’s not comfortable. And I completely disagree with everything they say in the description. It’s not for day use and it’s NOT a lip primer. So why do I love it? It completely heals my lips overnight. I wake up and the stuff is still on. This winter was the best my lips lasted and I’m cautious to use anything else. I have already repurchased a new tube and I’ll do it again!

Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Lip Treatment: In fact–the Bite replaces this one–my previous nighttime lip treatment holy grail product. I do still love it. It’s all the things the Bite one isn’t, but it’s also almost $10 more. I think the Bite one does a better job and is cheaper. But it will always have a place in my heart–if not a place in my current bedtime routine.

Schmidt’s™ Deodorant Stick, Lavender + Sage: I got this in my Birchbox a few month back–and when my regular deodorant/antiperspirant ran out–I gave it a go. It was my first real attempt to use a natural deodorant–and I was super nervous–but I think I’m converted! For me the weirdest part is just feeling stickier than I’m used to with the 24 hour+ antiperspirants. But thankfully, I didn’t really notice too much of a scent issue. (but tell me if you did!) This one is a little pricey at $9 a stick–and I used it up really fast–probably putting on too much to overcompensate. So I  switched to the American Provenance one Jess likes, in the scent Horseshoes & Hand Grenandes, because I love the bergamot scent and I kinda like the band it’s named after!  (i bet Pamela does, too!) We’ll see how it goes.

 

derma e Face and Body Wash, Tea Tree and E: Let’s go back to the shower for a moment. I recently finished this one and it took so long they have changed the packaging! (it might also be discontinued since a google search doesn’t come up with the usual suspects.) I bought it on a trip, found it kinda medicine smelling and didn’t reach for it much. But it was really good at clearing up any spots I had during the summer which was originally why I bought it. And the price was decent. So–it was ok–but I won’t go out of my way to get it again.

Soap & Glory, The Scrub Of Your Life: Ugh. I included this one just to say how much I hated it. The scent really bugs me and I didn’t like the beads in it. I’ll stick to my favorite shower scrub, thank you. (maybe you’d like it, jess. 😉 ) End of the shower products!

Mario Badescu, Facial Spray With Aloe, Herb and Rosewater: Seriously. What do you think? Of course, repurchased!

Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Invisible Dots: How’s this for a random new product? Stickers that you put over zits to make them go away. And guess what? I love them! The dots come in two sizes, big and little. They aren’t great on pimples that have been around a while, but on ones still forming, they do alright.  Just cover them at bed time and wake up hoping to find them gone! And usually I would! The dots don’t move or fall off–in fact–I’ve forgotten I have them on–and they apply fairly easy. Not only have I repurchased, I buy the 72 pack not the 24 one.

Maybelline Volum’ Express The Colossal Big Shot Mascara: Nah. Pretty forgettable.

Peter Thomas Roth, Irish Moor Mud Mask and Origins Clear Improvement® Active Charcoal Mask to Clear Pores:I liked both of these, maybe even giving the edge to the PTR. But at $30 more for a full size, if I did repurchase, I’d stick with the old faithful, Origins mud mask.

Philosophy Miracle Worker Eye Cream: This one remains my favorite eye cream. I just love how it feels and how easy it is to apply. I love that it’s a pump and not a pot. And I really think it does a good job. I’m working through some samples and my drugstore option, but I will return to this one soon.

(seriously–i need to do these posts more often–this is too long! get a refill on water and come back for round two.)

Jergens Natural Glow Daily Firming Moisturizer: I use this stuff up so quickly in the spring and summer. I love it. I went to repurchase it at Ulta and ended up getting this BB Cream option since it was on sale. But I have bought this multiple times and will do so again.

belif Hungarian Water Essence: I’ve gotten a few samples of this and it really lasts a long time considering it has a watery texture. It feels kinda slimy applying it, but it does spread pretty easily and dries fairly quickly. I don’t notice that it makes me oily or shiny during the day. In fact, I don’t really notice it at all. Which I guess is a good thing? But would I purchase a full size replacement? Probably not. I just don’t love it–and for $42–there are others I like more.

Tatcha Polished Gentle Rice Enzyme Powder: These powder cleansers are sorta bonkers. It’s like doing a science experiment before cleaning your face. A little precious, too. But it did make my skin feel great after using it. I got this as a sample with purchase–I can’t justify the $65 price tag. Plus, I found an exfoliating powder I LOVE!!! (thanks, pamela!!)

shu uemura eyelash curler: I can’t admit how old this thing was. Just trust me–it’s old. Like one of my first internet purchases old. I bought a replacement for it two years ago when I first visited Japan and the OG has finally bit the dust. Not only did I repurchase it–I walked around Tokyo to find a Shu Uemura store just to get a new one!

Nurse Jamie EGF Stem Cell Complex and Beenigma All in One Face Cream: Both of these purchases can be attributed to late night viewings of Tati Westbrook videos. She’s one of the few beauty YouTubers that I still occasionally watch–and when she went crazy for these products–I decided to give them a try. (seriously. if you made it this far, check out these videos to see how persuasive she can be. especially when you’re over tired and maybe have your credit card number memorized.) The Nurse Jamie product was actually pretty good. I liked how it felt. I wore it both at night and in the morning as a serum under a moisturizer and I thought it made my face look and feel good. But it’s wicked expensive. There are other products I like more, so I doubt I’ll be repurchasing it. The Beenigma was straight up crazy. It actually did sting to wear it. It was very sticky–honey, hello!–and was hard to apply. I didn’t even finish the jar. It got moldy before I could use it up. So–no. That was enough for me. And I’m glad I didn’t pay full price. I got it on Birchbox during a sale and using points. Birchbox doesn’t even carry it anymore.
Did you read this whole thing? My goodness. It’s too much. I’m sorry. (and it gives you some idea of the disaster that is my bathroom!) What do you think? Have you tried any of these products? Do you like them more or less than me? Do you want me to stop collecting my trash and writing about it? Do I smell bad? Seriously. I want to know. Leave your comments below.
Sadly, I have spent too much of my own money to fill an empties post so completely. *hangs head in shame*