June 28, 2013

Photo Ready skin with a BB Cream? Yes please.




I've always been a fan of full-coverage makeup. My fair skin, uneven tones, and dark under-eye circles all show through really light makeup, so liquid foundation is what I always gravitate to. 

BB creams took the retail markets by storm a few years ago, and lots of women were raving about how nice the lightness of the product was, while still delivering a fair amount of color. Plus, BB Creams offered a primer, hydration, spf, and sometimes other important skin benefits.

I, of course, jumped right on board but I couldn't find one that would last all day, and offer enough coverage that I felt comfortable with. For simple makeup days, I would love the option of going a little lighter on the makeup, without feeling like I'm totally naked-faced.

I tried Revlon PhotoReady BB Cream™ Skin Perfector, and wow, was I impressed. Of all the BB cream's I've tried thus far, this one delivered the most amount of coverage, while still being light and feeling breathable. I could smell the SPF, which is a good thing, and it melted into my skin beautifully. The only thing I used to set this BB cream with was a light dusting of powder. And I didn't need to touch up for the rest of the day. It's an "ever so slightly" luminous cream that doesn't look too shiny or dewy. 


I used the lightest formula (there are four in total), but I think a combination of light and light/medium would be perfect for my skin color right now. And if I manage to get any sort of tan this summer, grabbing the darker of the two shades will be perfect. It's good to avoid heavy makeup if you have a tan anyway, as it can sometimes look "grey" on darker skin.

I love that I have found an option for the days where my makeup is lighter. 

Summer is all about keeping it simple and light. The humidity and blazing sun rays will inevitably melt both my hair and makeup, so finding alternatives that will last all day without looking too heavy is high on my priority list! 

Would you like to enter a giveaway for a $50 Visa gift card? You can use it on whatever you would like, but I'd recommend using it to pick up a tube of this PhotoReady BB Cream Skin Perfector.
Enter by answering this question in the comments below:
What is your best kept beauty secret?
Leave an answer (with your email!) in the comments below and you'll automatically be entered into a drawing to win!  

You can learn more about this and other Revlon products by going to their website or Facebook page. 


Sweepstakes Rules:
 No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: "#SweepstakesEntry"; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 6/28/2013-7/22/2013.
Be sure to visit the Revlon brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

June 27, 2013

27


I had a wonderful birthday. Thank you for all the birthday wishes on facebook & twitter

I started the day off without any morning sickness, which was an absolute delight, and accompanied my husband to the gym. 

In the early afternoon, my sister and I headed to the mall. I wanted to check out the Gap Maternity section and possibly pop in to Destination Maternity (my mother-in-law gave me a giftcard to Destination Maternity for my birthday!). I also had this idea of picking out a new lip color from MAC as a "birthday treat". 

I'm at this awkward part of my pregnancy (15 weeks) where my bump is still pretty small, but it's big enough that my regular pants are getting uncomfortable. By the end of the day I was unbuttoned and unzipped. So instead of buying "tweener" pants, pants that will fit in the "in-between" time, I decided to hunt for some stretch maternity pants that I can grow with.

As I walked into the tiny maternity corner of Gap, I was less than impressed. A few collared shirts, a few t-shirts that I'm not quite big enough for, and some jean shorts. Then I spotted the jeans on the back wall. I grabbed a pair of Sexy Boot jeans and a pair of Ankle Skinny Jeans. The Sexy Boot had a full panel, and the Skinny Jeans had a smaller panel. Both were a size 6, which is a pretty regular size for me. I typically very between 4 and 6 from store to store, and found that the 6's at Gap fit well and left a little room for growth. 

I was very, very happy to finally have some comfortable jeans! 

We continued to shop around a bit, had lunch at Chipotle, and then I had Lauren help me pick out my new lipstick! We decided on LoveLorn by MAC. 

Here is an awkward car selfie that I took to show you the color:



We popped in Destination Maternity before we headed home just so I could browse around. I really didn't know what to expect as I have never been in that store before, but my mother-in-law bought me a gift card and I've been known to spend those as if they have an expiration date of 1 week.

I found several things that I loved. My sister was my personal shopper, and kept bringing cute tops into my dressing room. I ended up leaving with 3 tops that I love, including this lace one below. It fits true to size (I'm wearing a small).  


I picked up my sis and we headed to meet Dorothy and Carrie for dinner + bowling at Sparians! Our friend Sam met us later for bowling. 
Sparians was really cool. The food prices were a little high, but the service was great and it was nice to just be in one place all evening. Especially since we were having terrible weather. 

After dinner, I opened my gifts. Each gift was so thoughtful and fun! My sister bought me the Naked2 Palette that I have been dying for. I cannot wait to try out the shades. Carrie gave me a beautiful necklace from her shop, nail polish and some other goodies and Dorothy gave me really cute baby onesies and a maternity top from Target! I truly felt loved by these girls. 

Dorothy also whipped up some cupcakes for us after I pseudo-pressured her to:



Our socks were glowing in the black light. You can't really tell in these photos but you are just going to have to trust me on this one.



So I completely lost at bowling. As in, came in dead last. Carrie actually was pretty terrible during the first round but made an incredible comeback in the second game and doubled my total score. She's a shiesty one I tell you.
Dorothy had fancy footwork, Sam had her signature throw (the Sam Slam) and Lauren was the throwing them on the edge but managed a handful of spares along the way.

I just suffered. It was a true depiction of one that should never bowl. But I happen to really enjoy bowling and I'm sure I'll be back for more. 






 To wrap up, I'll end with with shot of Grits photobombing my attempt at a bump shot.


He's used to my attention 100% of the time, so we are in for quite the roller coaster come December. 

I've got much in store for my 27th year, and I'm very thankful and excited for all of it. 

June 26, 2013

Summer Blush and Bronzer



I've always been a big fan of blush. And lipstick. They are what I tend to shop for most, and what I find I'm most creative with, as far as my makeup goes.

Finding the right blush, in my opinion, is an absolute makeup essential.

If you are new to wearing blush, start off more neutral, and as you become more comfortable, start experiementing with brighter colors. 

As far as bronzer goes, that is much harder to find than blush. Oftentimes, I've tried numerous different bronzers on in a store, wore it for a day to see how it "wore" and ended up not purchasing the product. Bronzer that looks orange is a huge mistake. And as pale as I am, I have to find the right balance of color and warmth without the oranginess. 

I love the Bare Escentuals The Skinny Dip bronzer. I picked it up at Ulta a few weeks ago, and have been wearing it almost daily since then. It's buildable, and never turns into a weird color by the end of the day. I'd highly recommend it.

Tarte blushes are my absolute favorite. I've had both of these for months and I've barely made a dent in either of them. These will last me years. The color payoff is fantastic. And they apply evenly and don't budge once you've applied. Cannot say enough great things about these blushes. I also love wearing them together. I've applied a light amount of Peaceful and added a touch of Dollface to the apples of my cheeks. They look great together.

This Nars blush is highly talked about in the beauty world. I had been debating purchasing it for a while. I finally bit the bullet and bought it a few weeks ago. Overall, I could live without it(am I alone in this?). The color is okay, it's quite pink in my opinion, but I find that it isn't as pigmented as I would have hoped. It's one of those types of products that you can apply and apply and apply without seeing anything and then suddenly you are wearing way too much. It isn't shimmery like I feared, but it's just kind of "meh". Don't get me wrong, I like it, but I'd take my Tarte blushes over this Nars one any day. 

Do you have a go-to blush, or do you like to change it up each time you buy a new one?


June 25, 2013

Big stuff is happening around here!

If you follow on facebook or twitter, you may have seen that Justin and I had our offer accepted on a home last night! This is our first house, and we are very excited to finally be home owners.

And we have already been dreaming some upgrades/changes we'd like to make.

Other than decorative/esthetic changes, we'd really like to install granite/quartz, build some built-ins next to the fireplace, and build a built-it area in the "mudroom", right when you enter through the garage. 

These are some of my favorite "pins" of home ideas. You can follow the Home board here if you are interested.

source unknown. please comment if you know.





I'm also really glad we'll be able to fully decorate the nursery since we'll be moved in before the baby gets here!

Speaking of the baby, I had my third appointment this morning.I'm 15 weeks. The NP used a doppler to look for the heartbeat. She warned me that it may take a little while since the baby is so little right now. And truly, I wasn't worried about it. I was laying on the table, and as she swiveled the doppler around we would hear a thrash or movement from the baby. She said it seemed like I had quite the active little baby in there! She finally found the heartbeat, and that sounded great. 

I'm still continually amazed that 1. God made this all possible and 2. That our baby is thrashing around inside me. I haven't felt any movement yet, it's still quite early, but I look forward to that day.

I'm extremely thankful that I haven't been burdened with worry or anxiety about the baby. I remember lying in bed one night, I think it was prior to my first appointment, just worrying about everything that could go wrong. And as I worked my heart rate up and began to spiral into this world of fear, I stopped and prayed that God would simply take away my fear. All of it. This baby is His, and I am very aware that He chose everything about how this pregnancy would happen, when it would happen, and He knows what will happen from here on out.

And I can honestly say that was the last night I worried about this baby. 

We are all set to find out the gender on July 26th (which should also be the day we close on our house!)! I've had a few people mention that "there are so few surprises in life. . .you should wait until the day you have the baby to find out!" And I think while that sounds fun, since this is our first and there is already going to be an onslaught of emotion and unknown that day, I'd like to already know whether I'm seeing our son or daughter for the first time. Plus, it will be a surprise anyway when we found out in July! 

Well that's all I've got in big news from yesterday! 

Join me later this evening 7:00p EST for another Blog Chat

June 24, 2013

Casual Falling Braid Tutorial


I've been braiding like crazy these days. I think it's a combination of "casual summer time" and getting my hair off my face in the heat. Either way, braids are cool and this style is much more simple than you may think.

All you need is a clear elastic or two, a few duckbill clips, and maybe a bobby pin or two for  any stray hairs.






dress: Gap Outlet

June 21, 2013

High Five For Friday!

Whew. Busy week!
Like usual these days.

Let's go ahead and start chatting about the top 5 things of the week. I have a feeling this is going to be a chatty one. Also, my nails are drying as I type, so the longer I type the less likely I'm going to have touch up a dent. 

1. First off: Overall, I'd say I'm feeling better. I'm in my 14th week of pregnancy, and I'd say my energy has returned nicely, however I'm still fighting some morning sickness/ all day nausea. I seriously don't know what I would do without Zofran. I call it my Zo-friend
Also, as I was getting sick in the bathroom the other morning (tmi? just keeping it real folks) MY CAT GRAVY started vomiting all over the carpet. So, that was an absolute blast. Sympathy sickness I guess. 
"if she's puking, I'll puke" he thought.

I swear, if Grits started too I'd think they were conspiring against me.

2. My pregnancy dreams have been straight crazy. So far my Dad has been trippin' on acid, I watched Justin fall off a mountain to his inevitable death, I had hair like Shakira (or Shaki, as we call her in our household), and have birthed and held "our future son". If it's a girl in there, we're going to be stunned. I'm obviously aware there is a 50% chance that it is a girl, it's just so funny to me that I have this deep feeling it's a boy. (We are going to find out next month what it is and I'll tell you guys.) (but if it's a girl, we're back to the drawing board since "North" is already taken by Kim K & Kanye. #ikid #enoughwiththenorthjokesalreadyamiright?) 

3. A sweet client brought me my very first pack of diapers yesterday. It really melted my heart. <--sappy much? (also that is such a CarolineG thing to say. I've been hanging around her too much. ALSO, aren't we all glad she doesn't sell strings? Imagine her social media handles. . . instead of CarolineGshop it would be. . . {did you fill it in in your head?})


It was fun to take them home and see them sitting on the counter. Kind of wild to think we'll have a baby that will need those in 6 short months. (My due date is December 18th, for those who have asked)
I ALSO had a client who brought me a new Oribe product to try out! What a sweet gesture. We talked about how much I like Oribe at our last appointment, and she remembered and brought me a brand new product. So sweet.




4. I got my new growth touched up on Monday! I love a fresh highlight and lowlight. (questions about my color? click here


My personal stance on hair coloring while pregnant: I think it's okay especially if you are having your hair colored in foils. That way, no color should touch your scalp. You should also be in a well-ventilated room, pregnant or not. A lot of doctors say it's okay to color your hair (even on the scalp) throughout your pregnancy, so in general : It's up to you and your doctor. I think this goes without saying, but it's a personal decision. Do what your little heart desires.

5. Apples, fro yo, caesar salads from Panera (with safe dressing AKA w/out raw egg), cereal, chocolate milk, and fruit smoothies have been quite tasty these days. I haven't had any obscure cravings, or completely random distastes, so I'm actually looking forward to the first "oh em gee I have to have _____ right now." Unless it's Mr. Softee*. That would be a problem. Although, Justin and I are thinking about hitting up NYC sometime this fall so perhaps I can indulge while I'm there. And by perhaps I mean definitely. 

In other news, I'm thinking about doing another "live blog chat" on monday. Somewhere in the 5-8p EST time frame. NOT for 3 hours, just somewhere in there. So, ya know, pencil it in if you feel like it. I'll announce on facebook and twitter, but probably not here on the blog itself. 

Have any big plans for the weekend?



June 20, 2013

Tips for Shampoo and Conditioner Shopping

[ a few shampoo and conditioner duo's that I've enjoyed]
1  /  2  /  3  /  4  /  5  /  6

Have you stood in the store, staring at the shelves, wondering,"what in the world should I be looking for in a shampoo and conditioner?"

You probably aren't alone.

It's a never-ending cycle of new products, specialty products, products that make strong claims, simple products, etc.

These are a few tips to consider when shopping for shampoo and conditioner.
1. Your shampoo and conditioner is very, very important. It's how you prep your hair for styling, and what can maintain health and strength in your hair. I would argue that it's one of the most important products you can use on your hair.
2. Consider what your stylist recommends. Your stylist probably has more than just you as a client, and has seen plenty of different hair textures, colors, wave patterns, etc., and he/she should be able to recommend a good set based on your hair. Trust her judgement. 
3. Know your hair. Does it feel like straw? Does the color fade quicker than normal? Are your ends extremely knotty and your roots oily? Diagnosing any hair issues can help you narrow down where to begin the search.
4. Trial and Error. Purchase products at a store that allows returns. You have no idea how your hair will respond to a new duo, so you may want to return it if it's not the right fit. 
5. Don't feel locked in to matching the shampoo with conditioner. For a long time, I shampoo'd with a volumizing conditioner, and conditioned with a hydrating conditioner. I wanted lift in my hair, but needed the moisture. Mix and match based on your needs.



June 19, 2013

Battle of the Boxes. Ipsy versus Birchbox


The time has come. 

Let's have a real chat about Birchbox and Ipsy.

This all started a few months ago when I kept hearing from readers, in the comments of my Birchbox posts, that Ipsy is so much better than Birchbox. I did a little research and signed up to receive it.

I am almost positive that Ipsy is the new name for the initial company called "Glam Bag". And all I read about Glam Bag reviews is that they were awful. Shipping issues, duplicating payments, etc. So I stayed far, far away from Glam Bag when it first launched.
However, if Ipsy is the new rendition of the original Glam Bag, I'd say they got their mess together. I've been recieving my Ipsy bag for 3 months and haven't had a single issue.  

A little background info before we begin:
I've been receiving a monthly Birchbox for about 2 years now. At the time my blog was becoming increasingly popular, so were my monthly Birchbox posts. Birchbox began to hear about this mysterious Small Things Blogger who would write up a review of their product each month. They noticed some traffic coming from my blog to their site. 

They reached out, thanked me, and asked if I was interested in being a guest blogger on their blog! I was thrilled, accepted, and so began an ongoing working relationship. I've worked on some other cool projects with Birchbox and even visited the headquarters when I was in New York City last year.

I've never been paid by Birchbox, I don't receive my boxes for free, but I every once in awhile they will send me a special sample, or a limited edition box to review on the blog. I'm very grateful that we have a good relationship!

So, while my love for Birchbox runs deeper than my love for Ipsy, I'm going to truly review these two boxes from a Kate point of view, not a Small Things Blogger who has been talking about Birchbox for years. Are you with me? 

Similarities:
-both at $10.00/month
-both send 4-5 products, typically sample sized but sometimes full size
-both are personalized based on your beauty profile

Differences: 
-Birchbox leans towards the skincare/body care end of things while Ipsy leans almost entirely on the makeup end of the spectrum
-Ipsy arrives in a mailer, with a bag inside
-Birchbox arrives in a box

Here is a peek at my June Ipsy bag:


1. The bag is not my style, however I like the concept that I get a new tiny bag each month.
2. This is a gel liner, with a brush included (at the top). It's a charcoal color, and I liked it just fine.
3. These eyeshadows are too sparkly for me, and look cheap.
4. A nude lip liner that is slightly too brown, but may work better on other skin tones.
5. Believe it or not, this is blush. It's brown. It's weird. I will not be using it. You can find the NYX line at Ulta, by the way.
6. This liner is great for brightening up your waterline! I liked it a lot!

It's clear from this bag, and other bags I've recieved, that Ipsy does send more makeup products than Birchbox. But here is the thing: makeup is such a personal thing, and it's really important to buy flattering shades/products that work for your skin tone. So it's much more of a challenge to send makeup that will *hopefully* work for you. 
I've found that I've tossed more items that come in my Ipsy bag than I have from my Birchboxes.

And here is a peek at my June Birchbox:


1. A lovely dry shampoo. Can't get enough of these--they are fantastic to throw in my travel bag. 
2. An exfoliating, foaming cleanser.
3. A cute twistband (again, love stocking up on these. I stash them in different places so I always have one accessible.)
4. The white polish from the Birchbox + ColorClub collaboration. I don't wear white nail polish, but it would be good for a french manicure.
5. A really bright pink lipstick. Fun for summer, maybe a little bright for me though.
6. Cute postcards! I'm not much of a snail mail kind of gal, HOWEVER these are cute to even use as a card for a gift. 

So, contrasting this box to Ipsy, there is really only 1 makeup product. The rest is more skin/body care or "lifestyle". I've found, based on my beauty profile, my Birchbox often contains hair prodcuts, skin care, and only a bit of makeup. And I really like it that way. I find that I'm more experimental with those sorts of things than makeup.

The conclusion:
Each month varies, and depending on your beauty profile the contents in your box will vary. It seems like if you are more interested in skincare, bodycare, hair products, and a few lifestyle products, Birchbox is the way to go. If you are more interested in makeup, maybe try out Ipsy.

As far as I'm concerned, I plan to cancel Ipsy in the coming months. Like I've said, I've found that the makeup just doesn't fit my style, and I haven't been excited about a bag yet. I also feel like it's geared toward a younger market, but maybe that's just me. 

So, I declare Birchbox the winner in my book. 

Do you subscribe to both? Which is your favorite?

June 18, 2013

10 quick steps to a smoky eye


The smoky eye may be the most common makeup look for nights out in a little black dress. It creates drama, definition, and plays up the eyes beautifully. 

It's my go-to when I have an event to attend and want more impact with my eye makeup.

I created this smoky eye with a handful of CoverGirl products. I really enjoyed playing around with the shadows and shadow pencils, and could not be more pleased with the final look!

The eyeshadow pots are a perfect size for filling up your brush with product. They are really pigmented, so you won't have to keep reapplying for color. The Flamed Out Shadow pencils are a gel formula (and actually feel a little cool as you apply them), and go on like a dream. 

I've been using a few Cover Girl products for ages. Lash Blast is my favorite mascara of all time, and their Tapestry Taupe eyeshadow is probably the most universally flattering shade I've ever tried. I'm a big Cover Girl fan.

I created two different kinds of tutorials so you can learn how to create this look on yourself! 


1. Start with a bit of lid primer to make sure your smoky eye lasts all night.
3. Apply CoverGirl Flamed Out shadow Molten Black to crease and outer corners. Be generous as you apply this dark shadow as this is what is going to give you the depth and darkness!
4. Using liquid liner, draw a dramatic cat eye.
6. Line lower lash line with CoverGirl Flamed Out Shadow Pencil in Ashen Glow Flame.
7. Highlight brow bone (and blend with finger) with CoverGirl Flamed Out Shadow Pencil in Crystal Flame.
8. Generously apply CoverGirl Flamed Out mascara in Very Black to lashes.
9. Apply the same mascara to lower lashes.
10. For extra impact, line inner waterline with black eyeliner.

If you have an Ulta Beauty near you, that is the best place to stock up on these products! I always save the coupons I get the Ulta Beauty catalog so I can get the products on sale!
For a limited time, CoverGirl Eye is Buy One get one 50% Off at Ulta Beauty. This offer is valid from Sunday, June 9ththrough Friday, June 28th.

If you are more of a video type of gal, you can watch me create this look below!






If you are feeling extra brave, you can try out some of the other shades included in the line. Pink, who may be the perfect model for this look, is rocking some dramatic eyes!



Have you mastered the smoky eye? I'd say the hardest part of this tutorial may be the cat eye, but with a steady arm and practice, I'm sure you can master it eventually. The trick is making small strokes and starting very thin. You can always build on it, but it's pretty much impossible to take liquid liner "away". 

I received these Cover Girl products for free. The tutorial (photo and video) were created by me.

June 17, 2013

June FAQ Video

Grits makes several cameos in this video. But the finale he shows us at the end will never happen again. Can't believe I caught that on video at the perfect timing.

In this video I'll answer the following questions and chat a little bit about baby stuff at the end! 




1. How come my hair never feels the same when a stylist washes it versus when I wash it? Even if we use the same exactly products, it's not as smooth and shiny when I wash it.

2. What is your opinion on beach wave perms?

3. How can I get my hair to not flip at the back when I'm styling it straight?

4. What are some products I can use to keep my hair healthy and stylable with well water?
+ pool/beach hair care

Extra baby/pregnancy questions:
Do you have a name picked out?
Will you find out the gender?
Has your hair been different?

Questions about my makeup? I used my standard routine, but opted for Urban Decay Laced and Tease for my eyeshadow
I don't know my paint color in my room (we rent). My cat is a flame point siamese mix. My shirt is 3 years old from J.Crew Factory. My lip color is Bobbi Brown Bright Pink gloss.

Look at me, being all proactive and on top of things. Nice, huh? 
I try to provide as many answers as I can. :)

June 14, 2013

High Five for Friday

Yet again, Friday is here. And it's glorious.

I have had a busy week. Lots to do. Extra projects popping up everywhere. But, I have a relatively free weekend ahead to tie up all the loose ends. . .so that's good. And by tie up loose ends, I mean relax and not work on anything productive of course.

Here are my top 5 highlights of the week!

1. Did you get a chance to check out the RealSimple.com feature? I'm so grateful that I was given a second opportunity to create three bridal DIY hairstyles for them again. And seeing my name and face on their website is so cool. 

2. We had quite a dramatic storm blow in yesterday. We were warned about it all day, the weather service issued alerts, etc., so I was expecting a major storm. It arrived with a crazy wind and intimidating dark clouds, but then blew over relatively quickly in about 30 minutes. It knocked over some trees, but I don't think anyone suffered any major damage. 
Every once in awhile I enjoy a good summer thunderstorm. As long as no one gets hurt, or no trees fall on houses, there is something cozy about being inside without power while the lightning flashes outside.

(no filter) 
(also, in case you are familiar w/ my neighborhood, please don't speculate on where I live in the comments.)


I always thought the storms would be much worse in North Carolina than the midwest (where I grew up), but as it turns out we haven't had a lot of major thunderstorms. I experienced many more, and much worse ones, in Illinois as a kid.

3. Since I mentioned last week that I was going to embark on a mission to make Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls with my friend Allyson, I thought I'd follow up to let you know how it went.
First, don't make them on an empty stomach. They take 3-4 hours total. Other than sticking your finger in the butter, sugar, cinnamon mixture and licking that, there is no cinnamon roll goodness for a long time.
The amount of butter Ree calls you to pour on the rolled out dough is crazy. I know she's the butter queen and all that, but it was so much that as we rolled, it created a tidal wave of buttery sugary cinnamon goodness that was seeping out of the roll. And then the dough was too "wet" to hold together. 
Chilling the dough it majorly important. Almost essential.

So, if I were to make them again, and I probably will because they are delicious, I would half the amount of butter poured on the dough, pre-roll, and then once the rolls are sliced and placed in the pan, I'd drizzle the extra butter on top (prior to baking and icing).

(pre-bake)

4. I also mentioned a week or so ago and I was so excited for the Summer Movie series to start up at the Museum of Art (and Koka Booth--although I heard that location isn't as good as MofArt) and tonight they are showing Life of Pi. 
AT 9:00PM. 
WHAT. 
If I see the any time in the nine o'clock hour on a clock, I whine about "it being sooooo late. oh my gosh it's soooooo late." Ideally, I'd like to be in bed by 8:30p, and asleep by 9:00p. 
Party. Animal.
And I was even like this before I got pregnant.

Plus, Life of Pi looks. . . .weird. I read the book in high school and can't remember if I liked it or not. Probably because I was sketching out hairstyles in my notebook while I was in classes all day.

5. Finally, if there is one thing that I hope you can tell about my personality through this computer screen, it's that I like to laugh. I've mentioned Essie, and YouTube-r, before as one of my favorite beauty gals to watch on YouTube, and at about minute 01:10 -- 02:16 of her latest video is SO funny.
I was overcome with laughter. I don't know why, it just struck me as so funny. And I think it's the whole "I feel like I know her since I watch her videos so she's kind of a friend and I like her because she's funny and she keeps it real" sort of thing too. But man. I died. 


Finally, if you need more to read this morning, may I recommend the following:
Sweat-proof your makeup
Get that summer glow
Pink lipstick anyone?


(linking up with Lauren Elizabeth for HF4F)

June 13, 2013

High-low Summer Dress



dress: A-thread.com
lace top: Loft
belt: unsure, very old
shoes: Target

I have to admit, I'm fairly behind on this high-low hem trend. I've seen it done really severely, which I'm not a fan of, but the hem on this dress is just right. It adds a little interest and fun to the dress without getting to "out there". 

A-thread has become one of my favorite places to shop online. Their jewelry collection is amazing, and  I've spent plenty of time perusing their dresses and tops as well. 

Today, A-thread is giving away a $75.00 gift card to one lucky winner! Enter the giveaway by using the tool below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

June 12, 2013

Finding out

The word "shocked" doesn't even come close to how I was feeling when I saw two little lines on the pregnancy test.

Just like most things in life, finding out that I was pregnant did not go anything like I imagined it would.

Justin and I have been trying for a little while. When we started, I would buy the "tells you 6 days sooner" pregnancy tests and take them even though I wasn't even close to my period date. Naively, I thought it would happen right away. Why wouldn't it? 

Many months in to the trying, and facing the reality month after month that we did not conceive, I stopped buying pregnancy test. I did not give up on getting pregnant, but I had to stop teasing myself  with the little glimmer of hope that a plastic stick could give us.

Justin and I went to an unhelpful "infertility*" consultation appointment with my gynecologist in January. She immediately suggested I get on Clomid, which I was relatively apprehensive about, and didn't have much else to offer besides that. We left wondering why there wasn't going to be a little bit more investigation into both Justin and I before I started taking a medication to help me ovulate. What if Justin is sterile? Or it isn't an ovulation issue with me? 
(*I use the word infertility here only because that is what the appointment was called. Even before finding out that I'm pregnant, I would not classify Justin and I as "infertile". It just took 14 months to conceive.)

I heard a lot of negative things about Clomid, but I also heard that it worked for a lot of people. Based on an awful experience with a hormonal birth control, I was very nervous about taking something that would alter my hormones again. I had two horrible migraines the month I was trying birth control, many years ago, and I wasn't sure if that would happen again on Clomid. 

I told that doctor that I would follow up, which I never did, and decided to purchase ovulation sticks from Amazon to see if I could track down when/if I was ovulating. THEN we could move forward. I needed a little bit more information before I started taking anything.

I happened to be traveling almost every weekend in March for both business and pleasure, so I decided to start tracking my ovulation in April. 

My period had been arriving a few days late every month, which made it hard to know when to expect it. So, as the days passed in April, I waited for the 13th to arrive--which should have been when my period began. Well, it was late. And I thought it was rude. I remember telling Justin, "My stupid period is late. This is so annoying. I just want it to get here already so I can stop thinking about it."

Well, it didn't come. And I did not wonder if I was pregnant. I was gone for so much of March, the odds of us concieving were less than any other month we had been trying. It truly didn't even cross my mind.

Monday morning, April 15th, I fished out a pregnancy test that came with my ovulation kit.

I read the instructions, which told me I needed to dip this test in a cup instead of doing the traditional "pee on a stick" method and I decided there was no way I was going to go through that hassle just for a negative test. I used the "wrong" method (for this test), set it on the counter, and returned to my home office to continue working. 

A few minutes later I had forgotten about that test, and I hopped up to go "confirm the negative" result. 

I walked in the bathroom and saw two pink lines. 

"Huh. Weird. These tests are opposite from the store-bought ones. Usually two lines mean positive but it must mean negative on these. . ."

I picked up the instructions and saw that two lines meant positive. 

And I stood there. Heart pounding. Praying, "Lord, protect my heart please. This has to be wrong." 

I checked the test about 56 times, making sure there were, in fact, two lines. And then I was annoyed that I hadn't even taken the test correctly! (irony at it's finest)

So I conclude that it was probably a false positive, and I need to get my heart rate down by taking a Clear Blue Easy test. So I guzzle as much water as I can, run out to the drugstore, come home, and take that test following every rule I possibly could. 

As it was processing, I continued to pray. "Lord. Please protect my heart. I know this isn't real. It's never positive."

As the plus sign began to form on the Clear Blue Easy test, I put my hand on my heart and looked at myself in the mirror. 

"I might be pregnant."

I took a third test just for extra confirmation and that was positive too.

So there I stood, with my cats snoozing on our bed in utter ignorance of what was happening, with this realization that everything just changed. Forever. 

I sat on my bed and thought, "What on earth do I do next?" It's such a strange feeling to learn you are pregnant, but notice that nothing in your day to day changes at all. Justin was at work. I had blog work to do. Justin had homework to do later.

But everything was different.

So I begin to think of a way to tell Justin, and get that ready. His birthday was just days away, so I went out and bought a card for him as an "early birthday gift".

The day crawled. 

I decided to tell Justin later that evening, closer to bedtime, since he had homework to do that evening. I couldn't exactly bombard him with the information that our lives are forever changed and then say, "okay, have fun studying!"

He walks in the door, and I'm in the kitchen making dinner.

"How was your day?" He asks.

"Fine. You know, the usual. Blog stuff. . ." I reply. I'm a pretty good liar.

We continue to chat as usual over dinner, and then he gets ready to do his work. I had a meeting with a friend that night, so I kept that on the schedule so nothing looked suspicious.

I returned home, ran upstairs to grab the card, and as I walked down the stairs my heart started pounding.

I paused for a distinct moment to thank the Lord for this moment.

I handed him the card, and sat there almost in tears. He opens it slowly, suspecting nothing, and starts to read it.

The front of it said, "For your birthday I'd like to give you the world. . ."
And the inside read, "But my heart will have to do." I crossed out "my heart" and wrote "our baby" beneath it and followed that with "I'm pregnant! Oh my gosh! I love you! Happy Birthday!"

He looks up at me quickly with his face full of shock and emotion.

I said, "I'm pregnant!"

We hugged, I cried, and he got up from the couch to go sit on the stairs (because that makes sense. . . right?).

He looks up at me and says, "We have so much to do!"

"We've got 9 months. We have plenty of time!"

The rest of the evening we just smiled, looked at each other, and sat in silence as both of our minds raced. We'd chat a little bit about how crazy it is to find out this news. How we are the only two people in the world who know. Such a strange, but special, feeling.

The next day we told both sets of parents and our families. Everyone was thrilled for us, and it was such a gift to hear their reactions.


And now, already into the second trimester, I can still remember that night like it was yesterday. I feel immeasurably blessed by God that we were able to conceive naturally. Through the year of trying, I heard from more women than I could imagine who were unable to conceive without outside help, and knowing that has truly magnified what a gift this really is. 


*I'm aware that many people have differing opinions on using outside help to conceive. This can be a tough subject to talk about, so all I'd ask of you is to be sensitive and considerate in the comments.

Edit Update: Just to clear up any possible confusion, we did not stop trying in March. I was traveling a lot, so we just were not able to try as often as we did other months. I don't believe in the "just relax and you'll get pregnant right away" theory. I believe in God's timing.