Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Beauty // What's Up in 2015

The beginning of a new year tends to lend itself to self evaluation. Am I happy? What am I doing right? What am I doing wrong? What can I do better?

While I don't do huge resolutions (they just don't motivate me), I do like to reevaluate and make changes that are important to me and also attainable. Attainable being the key word there. So lets start with something simple, not deep at all, yet important in the overall scheme of health & happiness-- The Skin & Hair Routine.

Over the Holidays I was battling a lot of germs-- basically a lot of gunk that the kids brought home from school. While I wasn't sick enough for a doctor's visit, I could tell my system was being tested-- Earaches, canker sores, achy joints, and the usual body-is-run-down ailments.  And boy did I look tired-- my eyes, my hair, everything… TIRED! Even after I recovered, I realized that something needed to be done.

I'm now approaching my mid-forties. Ack! Man, is it hard to type that. I don't always feel like I'm at that midlife point, but every now and then something happens, like looking at my tired ol' self in the mirror, and boy am I reminded that I am THERE.


I've been using Argan Oil for a few years now, but after my recent midlife revelation, I decided it was time to take it up a notch. After polling friends and checking out my favorite blogs for suggestions, I decided to try Kiehl's Midnight Recovery elixir (an oil-based serum). It's been a couple of weeks and I have to say I actually noticed a difference right away. My skin has a little "spring" to it and the flakey spots are gone. My skin looks glowy and that break-out thing that was starting to happen along my jawline has gone away. So far, so good. Really good, actually.

I also tried out Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Eye Concentrate, which goes along with the elixir mentioned above. I noticed almost immediately that the skin under my eyes is less-crepe-paper-like-- I hate that description, but that's pretty much what it looks like. The lines are still there, just less pronounced. My eyes also look less tired and the bags less noticeable. To be completely honest, I haven't used an under-eye cream in awhile. Everything that I've tried has either been too harsh-- causing rash/milia; Or I didn't notice a difference and just stopped using it. I have to say that this product has really impressed me. My only complaint? The tube is really small… However, I use very little and it covers well and is effective.

I still love and use Argan Oil daily. My skin was pretty soft with just the Argan Oil, but the texture seems better and firmer after I started using the Kiehl's products. I use Argan Oil on my skin during the day and use the Kiehl's products at night only. I'll report back if anything changes, but so far, these products have hit all the marks!


For my thick and heavy hair that manages to be greasy and prone to frizzies at the same time, I finally decided to bite the bullet and invest in a professional grade hair dryer and also try a new hair care approach.

The hair dryer upgrade is long overdue… It's been on my list for several years now. I'm pretty lazy when it comes to my hair so I'm prone to letting my hair air dry (hence the frizzies) and rely on oil products to keep it looking somewhat tame. Sometimes it looks good… Often times it ends up in a pony tail.

This hair dryer cuts my hairstyling time to under 5 minutes… I air dry it as long as possible, then finish it up with the dryer. Smooth, easy and done. My old, cheap hair dryer definitely couldn't do that. I use the attachment with the hair dryer on low/warm. It's plenty powerful and warm enough to style without drying out my ends. BTW, I was able to pick this up for @ $55 online at Macy's. Not the usual place that I would go to for hair care appliances, but it worked out since I had leftover holiday credit there. It was on sale and I also used a coupon-- Just putting it out there in case you like the deals (like yours truly). :)

I'm all about simplicity so I was happy to drop the oil, smoothing creams and other shine enhancing products from my hair care routine. I was able to simplify with the combo of a good hair dryer and also the WEN cleansing conditioner that I just started using. I was given 2 large bottles of this stuff, so nothing out-of-pocket for me… When I looked online, it is pretty pricey. However, if you're replacing shampoo, conditioner & shine serum with one product, it's not too bad. I've been happy with the results, but will have to reevaluate after those 2 bottles are gone.

There is a bit of a learning curve. For me, with my thick, grease-prone, long hair, making sure to thoroughly rinse-out the product is key. One positive is that I'm able to wash my hair every-other-day without grossing myself out-- I haven't been able to do that with a regular shampoo/conditioner. The only negative is that I don't care for the smell, but truthfully, I don't notice it too much when my hair is dry.

I found that the best way to get it to work (the product doesn't foam) is get your hair completely wet, flip your head upside down, start rubbing the product into the roots/scalp and work it out to the ends. Flip your hair back, add a little more water and suds it up as best as possible. Let it sit for the duration of your shower and rinse out the product thoroughly at the end. Make sure all of the product is rinsed from your scalp-- otherwise it'll look greasy… Don't rush the rinsing part. Trust me on this one. The end result is smooth, shiny hair with no additional products or flat ironing.


While I do love my cosmetics, I do know that it is just a small part of looking and feeling good. I subscribe to the inside-out theory-- If you eat well and are healthy, your skin and hair will reflect it. I can't say I'm strict about this and have been known to overdo the carbs and sweets, but I usually catch myself when I'm starting to not feel so great-- bloated, pudgy, just gross.. and get myself back on the right path.

Last year I added natto to my diet. If you're into eating healthy and you've never tried natto, you should. It's sold at Japanese & most Asian markets. It does have a distinct flavor, but now I crave the stuff. In a nutshell, it's fermented soybeans and has a sticky texture and an umami flavor-- earthy is how I usually describe it. I eat it over hot rice with tea, furikake (Japanese rice seasoning), and tsukemono (Japanese pickles). It is chock-full of all the good gut bacteria and nutrients for a healthy bod. So after the holiday goodies finally ran out (that box of See's nuts and chews is my downfall), I'm ready to get back to a healthy diet and start out 2015 on the right foot.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Party // Winter Wonderland Party

Last week I helped organize and throw a Winter Wonderland Party at my children's school.

sorry about the pink tinge, I went crazy with my VSCO phone app.

The main event? The dessert table and hot chocolate bar!

Considering that this party was for 100 elementary school kids and we pulled it off with 5 days of planning… I have to say that this party was a SUCCESS!

melted snowman :D

That said, I don't think I've ever been so happy to see a party over and done with. Phew!

fixings for the hot chocolate bar

And we did it all with a $300 budget. We came in under-budget actually… Not too bad!

build a snowman craft
 1) these edible markers worked great on the marshmallows;
2) the scarves were these fruit rollups that were left in their wax wrapper & cut into strips (don't use foot long);
3) to attach the "hat" we used these icing pouches with built-in tips. easy and no mess.;
4) these 6-inch long "cake pop" sticks were perfect for holding everything together.

Talk about stressing out though!  I guess I could've planned ahead and worked on it during Winter Break, but seriously, and I hate it when people say this but… "Who's got time for that!".

sensory snow tables

I started planning on Monday, hit the stores on Tuesday & Wednesday, prepped on Thursday, party on Friday.
other indoor activities - links can be found on my Pinterest Winter Wonderland Page
1) make snowflakes out of coffee filters
2) three sensory snow tables
3) marshmallow snowman craft
4) edible beads (fruit loop necklaces)
5) coloring table. we also let the kids color the walls since they were covered with white paper.

Thank goodness for the parents who ran the outdoor activities. Because 100 kids coming at you after ingesting a lot of sugar is just… trouble.

outdoor activities - 

"Build a Snowperson" activity (BIG HIT!!!). 
Snowball Relay Races with large spoons and this cool Snowball Fight set.
At the end, it was just a massive "snowball" fight.

We also had a bubble maker (it's uber cheap and still running after 5 years of abuse) for the younger kids. I turned it on and they chased bubbles. Also a Big Hit!

Done. And. Done.

sharing with…