My Five Minute Face

When I'm not traveling for a meeting or tradeshow, I'm fortunate enough to be able to work out of my home office. This transition occurred within the last six months, and while it has overall been a wonderful change, there are just a few drawbacks. Namely, the grooming situation. When all of my professional interactions take place via web-ex or conference call, it's easy to justify spending all day in my fuzzy yellow robe with my hair in the same state I slept in, and zero makeup on my grubby little face. Hawt, right?

Over the past month, I've tried to make more an effort in this regard, including getting dressed and pulling myself together a bit (before noon), but still wanting to relish in the joy of having some relief from heels, blazers, and lipstick.

Here's my regimen for sprucing up my mug in less time than it takes to brew a carafe of coffee. (Mmmm...coffee.) 

1. Rinse face. I don't wash my face in the morning because my combo skin tends to dry out from a twice daily wash. My night cream is a mixture of YL essential oils, grapeseed, and coconut oil, so there's nothing heavy or medicinal that needs to be washed away. Just a splash of water and a quick spritz of my morning serum (YL's Lavender and Joy EOs mixed with grapeseed oil and filtered water), and I'm spanky clean.

2. Balance the skin tone: 
3. Define the eyes:
  • Rimmel's Exaggerate Eye Definer in Noir - Total steal for the price point. Applied just along the outer corners of the upper lashes to create an awake, fresh look. (If you have lighter coloring, I love the Origins Automagically Liner in Mushroom when I want a softer look.)
  • It Cosmetics Universal Brow Powder Pencil - One of my fave new finds because it provides coverage without being too dramatic, and has a spooly on the other end to finish the application with a nice, natural flourish. This may be a step you're tempted to skip, but attended-to brows can make a huge difference in looking well groomed.
  • Maybelline Great Lash in Blackest Black - Two coats, separated with a metal lash comb, and I apply to the upper lashes only for a clean look. (If you have lighter coloring, a dark brown or navy mascara would be lovely.)
4. Conceal yo'self*:
  • It Cosmetics Dual Airbrush Concealer Brush - Game changer.
  • It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye in Light - Under eye concealer is not an option for me...lest folks suspect I'm strung out or moonlighting as a boxer. This is a recent addition to my arsenal, and I love the texture and longevity of this stuff. I apply with the aforementioned brush in an upside down triangle pattern under my eye, blend out with the fluffy end of the brush, and use whatever is leftover on the brush to conceal around my nose and redness on my chin.
5. Blush and glow:
  • Jane Iredale Dome Brush
  • MAC powder blush in Peaches - Applied to the apples and swept up toward the temples.
  • NARS powder blush in Orgasm - Yes, two blushes. The combo of these two colors is absolutely perfect, and I love the matte, bright color of the MAC blush, while the subtle illumination of Orgasm (teehee) gives a lovely glow and really makes you look refreshed.
  • (MAC Mineralize Skinfinish in Dark - If I'm wearing my hair down, I like to add a quick swipe of this bronzer to the hollows of my cheek, my temples, and just under my chin line for subtle definition. Takes a few extra seconds, but it gives some depth that makes a big difference.)
6. A little lip:
  • Stila Lip Glaze in Loganberry - I suspect this color was a limited edition since I received it in a gift set, so I'm rationing what I have left since it's an awesome shade. But this lip glaze creates a nice shimmer (without looking like you've just ate a glitter sandwich), stays put, and the brush is firm enough to allow for a precise application (to avoid toddler-meets-popsicle mouth).
And there you have it! I'd venture to guess that it took you longer to read this than it would take to accomplish this look. So whether you're looking for a no-fuss work look, spending the day chasing around kiddos, or just want to shorten your time in front of the mirror before enjoying a low-key weekend, know that you can enhance your natural loveliness in whatever time you can spare by covering these basics.

*Side note: I never used to do concealer after my eye makeup since it struck me as a prep-your-mug kinda task, but when a gal at Ulta told me to try it, it made such a huge difference that I have been doing it ever since. 


Favorite Essential Oils for Pre- and Post-Workout

Whether it's hours of yard work ahead or hitting the gym for a good sweat sesh, essential oils can make a huge difference in both your physical performance and your recovery. I want to share with y'all some of my favorite Young Living Essential Oils for pre- and post-workout/activity...

Aroma Siez - We received this oil in a Promo a few months back, and I am so thankful it came into our lives! It's great for muscle pain, and my go-to pain reliever is a roll-on M made with a combo of Aroma Siez, Wintergreen, and V-6. I use this cocktail almost daily to help with sore shoulder muscles from sitting at a desk all day, but I also use liberally right after a workout, targeting the muscle groups I worked that day.

Wintergreen - I am not a huge Peppermint* fan (though I have benefitted from the therapeutic effects of the oil more times that I care to count), so Hubs suggested we grab some wintergreen for pain relief and inflammation. This oil not only has analgesic properties (for after the burn), but is also highly anti-inflammatory and can increase respiratory capacity (looking at you, cardio). I go nuts with this oil before I even put on my workout gear.

Joy* - This lovely blend makes a daily appearance as my perfume, but I add an extra drop to my chest (right over my heart) before heading to the gym or outside to work in the garden. It instantly boosts my mood, inspires confidence, and it makes me smell much better when I start sweating like a pig glowing.

Valor* - They don't call this stuff "an adjustment in a bottle" for nothing. My back frequently feels of out sorts (a weak core takes its toll on more than just pant size, yo), and I also have a lot of knee problems (thanks to over a decade of dancing during my formative years). I apply a drop of valor to my upper back/neck (on my spine), a drop to my lower back, and a drop under each knee cap to give me some extra strength. 

Lemongrass - M read that this oil does more than just ward off feisty insects, so he recommended I try it to help with joint support. I've seen a lot of improvement with applying lemongrass to the backs of both knees before and after activity. It also improves circulation and aids torn ligaments/muscles, and its anti-fungal properties might inspire you to apply liberally on feet before putting on socks and in gym sneakers...or wherever else you need to combat funk. 

Lemon* - Too many benefits to mention, but this one pulls double duty for flavoring my water while also helping me detox, so I am all the more inspired to guzzle as much as I can before, during, and after my workout. I've also put a little of my lemon water on a towel to sanitize the weight machines at the gym.

PanAway* - If I really overdid it (which for me most commonly occurs when working in my own backyard, pulling weeds or landscaping), I reach for the PanAway. It has an Icy-Hot-like sensation, and it is a very powerful relief oil (one of the  main ingredients in this blend is wintergreen, by the way). In fact, when we first got our Everyday Oils, I had injured my back really, really badly the day before (like I had to shift in my chair about a thousand times during the EO class we attended), so this was actually the first oil I ever used. To say that I was sold on Young Living oils after a vast improvement just a day later is an understatement.

*Oils marked with an asterisk are included in the Everyday Oils Collection, FYI.

I'd love to hear what natural remedies you've used to help stay on track with your own active lives! Any favorites?

This is not a sponsored post, nor is the information in this post intended to provide medical advice or supersede information provided by a medical professional. Any information provided in this post pertains only to Young Living's therapeutic-grade essential oils. If you have any questions about Young Living Essential Oils, please don't hesitate to reach out via the Contact tab. To join my incredible group, you can sign up here.

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Registry Favorites for the Kitchen

When M and I registered for our wedding a few years ago, we had to seriously rein it in on the kitchen gadgets and accessories. We both really enjoy cooking, yet we had a hard time imagining all the items we'd need long-term, but would likely never purchase for ourselves (which, is pretty much the definition of a registry). So we tried to strike a happy medium between uber practical and swoon-worthy lust items.

Having used every single item purchased by our sweet wedding guests within six months of marriage, we were quite pleased with our registry choices. We also felt accomplished for bringing everything out to play, especially some of the fancier goods, like our china (pictured in our tablescape to the left here) and the heavier serviceware. We didn't want to treat anything as "too special," relegating beautiful items to a lifetime tucked away in the dark (though we obviously take care to ensure that guests aren't afraid to actually use said items...which I equate to how I feel about putting out white guest towels, but that's for another post.).

So I wanted to share some of my favorite, must-have kitchen items from our registries (as well as their respective price points for reference), that have stood the test of time and continue to be in regular rotation in our home...

Acacia Salad Bowl and Serving Hands ($50 and $13) - I probably use this set at least once a week...twice, if I really think about it. It's so pretty and lightweight, which if you've ever had to schlep a heavy-as-bricks salad bowl, you hear me on that one. I wasn't sure how a natural material would last with that much use, but it still looks great.

NutriBullet ($100) - This is one of those items that M really wanted, but we both have enjoyed using this handy gadget to make smoothies and other healthy beverages (as well as assisting with other dishes here and there that don't warrant pulling out the big ol' blender). M's Mom & Dad also let us borrow their copy of the NutriBullet Healing Foods Book, which gave us some awesome new ideas when I burned myself out on my beloved soy milk-spinach-almond-strawberry-blueberry concoction. 

Sur La Table Blanc Rectangular Serving Platter ($6-$13) - This item probably seems really simple (and it is relatively inexpensive, which I've found is good practice: to pepper your registry with all price points, especially if you're having multiple showers before the wedding), but I don't go a week without using these sleek platters. I registered for two, but could easily make use of three or four. Bonus: they're dishwasher safe. Even a simple weeknight meal looks like something special served on these platters.

Luna Serving Set (via Pottery Barn)
PB Luna Serving Set ($45) - These match the flatware we picked out to match our china (Waterford's Padova), so this service set was an obvious choice. But given we entertain on an almost-weekly basis, they make an appearance as often. They're lovely and perfectly sized, and I just love the weight of them. Elegant enough to feature on a lavish tablescape, yet equally appropriate for noshing around the coffee table with family and friends.

Breville Smart Oven ($250) - So this was an item we almost didn't include on our registry because of the price, but we knew our kitchen needed this. We use this oven daily, be it to toast, bake, reheat, or broil, and especially on these triple-digit days in the Texas summer, I can't imagine not having this puppy to save us from heating up the whole house with the big oven or sweating like a banshee in front of the grill. 

Reidel Decanter ($50) - Confession: I use this beautiful crystal decanter equally as often as a vase as I do a decanter. (To our wine-drinking guests: I swear, I wash it really, really well!) I think that nothing elevates a delightful pairing like taking the time to properly decant a good bottle of wine and letting it come to room temp (we store our reds in a wine fridge).

Breville YouBrew Coffee Maker ($250) - (OK, I promise, this post wasn't sponsored by Breville, but they make some quality stuff, y'all.) We are quite picky when it comes to our coffee gadgets, and this was a big item for us. (Again, almost didn't include it on the registry, but I about did a backflip in my ladylike lace dress when I opened this package.) It's awesome...built-in burr grinder, single cup and carafe brew settings, pre-infusion, and can be programmed to auto-start. Haven't regretted this selection one day in the past (almost) two years.

Now it's your turn... What are your favorite registry items, or simply your splurge purchases for the kitchen/dining room that you can't imagine being without?


Essential Oils...Essentials: My Must-Haves for Getting the Most Out of EOs

A little over 3 months ago, M and I started using Young Living Essential Oils, having been introduced to them via a class we were invited to by a gal from church (who has since become a good friend, a lovely perk of this oily deal). We've been absolutely amazed at what these oils have done in our lives...heal, balance, calm, uplift, you name it!

While we were fortunate to be able to attend an in-depth class in-person before we got our oils--which isn't a prerequisite to using the oils, of course, but certainly helps from our experience--I found myself wishing there was a list of the essentials to accompany our Everyday Oils set. You know, those items that would take the "starter set" to another level and better equip you to respond to all the basics needs of your family. (These are basically the tools to have on hand to make your oil stash truly capable of taking the place of your old, OTC medicine cabinet staples, most of which we haven't touched since mid-March.)

My must-have items for getting the most out of our Young Living Essential Oils:

1.) Diffuser - It's amazing that a few drops of oil and some water can make such a huge difference, but whether I've found myself in full blown meltdown mode due to work stress, or fighting back an epic headache, diffusing has been the best remedy more than once. We fortunately received a fantastic diffuser in our Starter Kit, but Abundant Health also has some good ones that don't heat the oils and are safe for use with YL therapeutic grade oils. This is a great approach for freshening up your home and helping your kiddos stay/get well, too.

2.) Capsules - OK, let's be honest, some of the best oils are stanky.  (Valerian, I'm looking at you, dude.) And if you're using oils to fight nausea or stomach issues, the smell alone of the best tummy aids might make you want to hurl. Enter: veggie capsules. These empty capsules allow you to ingest the oils without tasting them (not all oils are recommended for ingestion, mind you), and can provide lightening-fast relief. I had a wicked stomach virus that took me out for 36 hours, and between diffusing PanAway and taking capsules full of DiGize, Ginger, and Peppermint every 8 hours or so, I was able to get enough support for my body to fight whatever was giving it grief (with no other meds or intervention needed). We order the Size 0 caps from Abundant Health, but you can find these in local health food stores as well.

3.) Good Coconut Oil - Carrier oils (such as olive, jojoba, sesame, etc.) are important to have on hand for diluting  your oils for certain applications (especially with kiddos). But given the other benefits of coconut oil, that has been my go-to, and I love the way the texture works with the EOs. A carrier also helps yours oils go further, but given the quality of YL oils, it's important that you spring for organic, virgin coconut oil. (If you're wanting to make some roll-on blends of your own, I've heard great things about jojoba oil. Coconut oil is solid at room temp, so we actually use YL's V-6 complex, but again, quality is key with whatever carrier you choose.)

4.) E.O.P.R. - The Essential Oils Pocket Reference has been the single most important tool (well, tied for first with the incredible support and resources of the Baby Steps Team) for utilizing our oils on a regular basis, which ultimately saved us from being totally gung-ho for about a week and then fizzling out. This guide allows you to focus on specific oils and their use (as well as history, properties, etc.), or target certain conditions/ailments. We also regularly reference the Vita Flex foot chart to better target where we want to apply oils on our feet...especially the stinky guys I mentioned before.

5.) Glass water bottle - We fell in love at first sip when we tried a drop of lemon EO in our water...and that was before we even heard all the benefits of ingesting lemon oil (or lime, orange, peppermint, etc.). But having a glass bottle is key to avoid the oils leeching the plastic into your water, which is sort of the opposite effect one hopes for when trying to detox. We tried a few before we finally found Lifefactory bottles, but now M and I rarely travel without our respective roadies.

Have you tried essential oils yet? If so, what are your must-haves?

This is not a sponsored post, nor is the information in this post intended to provide medical advice or supersede information provided by a medical professional. Any information provided in this post pertains only to Young Living's therapeutic-grade essential oils. If you have any questions about Young Living Essential Oils, I am a huge fan and super passionate about them, so please don't hesitate to reach out via the Contact tab or order here!


His Love Never Fails

On February 14th (and leading up to it), we are flooded with messages containing the words "love," "affection," "care," "adoration," etc. And while I think most of us are wise enough these day to identify the marketing ploy at play, it can still be a rough day for many.
I'm not just talking about singles, either. I think about all the guys and gals who are in committed relationships, who in the throes of expectations and misguided needs end up feeling let down and damaged in the wake of the "day of love."
A wise counselor (who also happens to be my mother-in-love) has reminded me several times that love is not an emotion or a feeling. It is a choice. It's an act of obedience. Doesn't sound very sexy, does it? Put that on a Hallmark card, right? Haha.
But it is correct. Subject to our moods and circumstances, love could never last if we had the option to check out and cash in our chips when things got ugly. (And y'all, they always get ugly. Life...ain't pretty.) Love is a commitment, it is a choice and a discipline, one which will yield great fruit when poured out from a heart that is whole and complete in Christ. Not self-sufficient, not armed with every self-help book under the sun, not subject to the ebbs and flows of another's response to their love. We only need one book to guide the way, one example to follow.

You and I are ugly. We're a hot mess. We strive, we struggle, we sin, and we fail. But Christ loves you. And Christ loves me. Loves us so much, I can't even tell you. Loves us in spite of how we behave, loves us regardless of our performance, loves us so completely that He sacrificed the only perfect man who ever graced the Earth's surface. He did so out of love. Because He hates sin, because He hated to see us perish and toil, and because He is the loving Father who stood in the gap--and conquered it once and for all--for you. And for me.
There is so much to celebrate, indeed. The great news? It's not limited to a day. You don't need a red envelope or pink roses to participate. You don't have to be cleaned up and have it all together. And no one can ever, ever take it away. It's a promise you can stand on for the rest of your days, that you can renew yourself in daily--moment by moment, even--and you will be filled with love and joy that cannot be shaken, and is not fleeting.
If you haven't already, I encourage you to make this the day that you bow your head and seek Love: Love personified, Love that will never leave nor forsake you, Love that will bestow hope and faith, Love that will reveal true joy. Call out to Him by name: Christ. He is Love that will change everything. Everything.
Much love, friends-


Mashed Potato and Chive Waffles

Savory waffles? Y'all, if you haven't tried them, you simply must!

We made these for brunch a while back while we were house sitting for M's parents (read: relishing an excuse to hunker down in a quiet home with a fireplace, dogs, and the kind of coziness that only mamas can bring to a space). The recipe seemed complex, but it ended up being very straightforward (and even quicker if you already have leftover mashed potatoes, which we actually prepared the night before) and accurate. (Joy the Baker never disappoints!)

Get the recipe here! (Give traffic where traffic is due, knowhatimean?)

We did make a few adjustments...

I didn't have buttermilk, nor did I want to buy that stinky shiz for just a 1/4 cup worth. I used a substitute of lemon juice and regular milk, and it worked just fine.

We also opted for a creamy goat cheese to top our waffles (which we kept warming in the toaster oven after they cooled on the rack, since our iron only makes two at a time and this recipe yields 8 waffles), and we preferred the tangy brightness of the goat cheese (compared to the cheddar, which we did try later). I'm sure it had nothing to do with the fact that is was almost like eating a sour cream-topped baked potato for breakfast... Nom, nom, nom. And they chives are key. Don't skip those.

We froze the leftovers, and they warmed up brilliantly in the toaster oven (think Eggo waffles...but amazingsauce). Next time I'd seriously considering doubling the recipe because they're SO good and freeze really well.



Finding a New Normal this holiday season...

When Mom was sick, we often used the phrase "New Normal" to help ourselves adjust to the changes that were happening. Things were changing for good, and we knew that (whether that's a blessing or curse, hard to say, but I tend to lean toward the former), so we had to remind ourselves that clinging to things of the past would only bring frustration and heartache, and would make pushing forward feel insurmountable. (Visions of full blown, grown woman hissy fits convinced us that we best put on our big girl panties and deal.)

This time of year, it can be tough to feel peace and joy if you're in the midst of settling in to your own New Normal. What I've found interesting is that each year, each new season and ebb and flow, brings its own newness on which to stand. And while looking back can bring sadness, for what's lost or what once was, I remember that this life isn't meant to be static, it isn't mean to coddle or comfort us. If we bank on that, we will have a really, really difficult time feeling like anything more than a buoy that is constantly at odds with the changing tides. There is stability, and there is a foundation that is unchanging...like, from the beginning.

Wherever this season finds your heart, be encouraged that you're not alone. Amidst the twinkling lights and gilded decor, you may feel lonely, sad, anxious, or worse, numb. Those feelings are real, but they're from your flesh. As hard as it is to slow down, do it. (And I am speaking to myself as much as anyone on this.) Step away, quiet yourself, and seek the Lord. Bring yourself to Him, in exactly the condition you're in right this moment, and lay it down. Let Him hold you, hear His promises, and stand on those. Let that Truth be your Steadfast Normal.