Friday, November 30, 2012

The GDE: In Conclusion

It is official: the Great Dating Experiment has come to an end.


These last two months were filled with a few highs and and an overwhelming amount of lows. But I will say that it was a significant growth opportunity. Truly, I learned a lot about myself, dating and men, some of which I wish I could unlearn.

Before I share my take-aways with you, I must first give a HUGE thanks to my friends who spent countless hours scouring all that the internet has to offer and setting me up with those who seemed the least creepy. Thank you for being my filter. I owe you, big time.

So here are my lessons learned about online dating:

1. I get nervous. I get nervous emailing, texting, calling and meeting guys. I thought I would be over this by now, but no.

2. If you have the editing abilities to make yourself look normal online yet still come off as a potential serial killer, you should not be on a dating website. In fact, you should not be free to roam the earth.

3. Some men like to sign up for dating websites but still have no interest in actually dating. Perhaps their mothers put them up to it or maybe they are just on the cyber prowl, but regardless, do not say you are interested in finding "the one" if you are still looking for "the next one."

4. I will always prefer face-to-face meetings. Using the internet as a medium in which to meet people does not feel entirely normal to me. Even though there is very little difference in having someone set me up on a blind date as opposed to having a friend find someone online for me, getting rid of the computer screens makes all the difference.

5. My favorite trait in a man is confidence, whether in the real world or cyber world.

6. It takes a lot of time and energy to try to correspond with seven guys all at once. You must keep your facts straight, otherwise it could get very embarrassing. Not that I would know or anything.

7. I still don't understand how people actually meet and fall in love and get married. How does this work? I am firm believer that this is one of God's greatest miracles. On our own, the world would be full of very awkward single people who say things like "I want to swim in your eyes."

8. My perception of online dating was wrong. It is not as weird as I thought it would be nor is it a desperate act or last resort. Everyone is online so if you are wanting to find someone, it would make sense to look there too. It is not my first choice but it doesn't have to be my last.

9. I am not opposed to trying it again. I know, I am shocked too! I will probably wait a little while just because trying to do it over the holidays brings way too many expectations about gifts and family and schedules. That is like dating suicide. But perhaps I will give it a whirl in the new year sometime.

10. Ignore #9.

So, thanks. Thanks for your encouragement. If it weren't for the internet, I wouldn't have all of you cheering me on. It takes an online village, people.

And if you have any online dating tips, stories or warnings, please feel free to pass those along.

Happy Friday, peeps.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Carb Coma and Counter-terrorism

I am pretty sure I am still in a state of carbohydrate overload. Between the noodles and the dressing and the hot rolls and the pie, I may very well have tripled my blood sugar levels to a point where they may never come back down.

But oh, it was worth it.

Our Thanksgiving was magical. My dad arrived in the early evening on Thanksgiving day and from that moment forward, it was a mandatory stretchy pants dress code. Sam, Noah, Claire and Carr spent the night and for the first time ever, the seven of us were under one roof for more than a couple hours. And on Friday, I ate five pieces of pie.

Don't judge.

So now, as I try to figure out how many hours on the treadmill I need to spend between now and Christmas just to balance out, I am in the middle of our bi-annual week of meetings where we discuss everything from budgets to international security. (FYI: terrorism reeks havoc on our plans.) My mind is a bit sluggish from all the information (and carbohydrates) but I am determined to not be the only one who votes for a nap time.

After all, I am a professional.

SIDE NOTE: Anytime any one ever says they are "a professional," I immediately think of the valet attendant in Ferris Bueller's Day Off . So classic.

Anyway, I hope you are rebounding well from the long weekend and finding a plethora of good bargains. I am trying to slip in a little online shopping during our meetings, I am on the hunt for a food processor. Try not to be overwhelmed by the glamour that is my life. But I must also stay focused because they are paying me to be here.

I am just counting down the minutes until our pie break. That is a thing, trust me.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?


Guess who gets to eat all the turkey and pie he wants??

Guess who gets to sleep in his own bed and take a nap on his couch??

Guess who gets to rake his leaves and change the oil in my his car??

Guess who gets to break the chains of injustice and experience freedom for 48 hours??

This guy:

That's right, my dad gets to come home for Thanksgiving this year!

No more cramming pecan pie in my pocket and smuggling it into Camp Alamosa. He has earned enough points for him to be allowed 48 hours of leave every month. As in he gets to get on a plane and fly to Denver all by himself and spend two whole days in his very own home!

Our justice system truly boggles the mind.

I can hardly wait for him to get here. I can hardly wait for us to experience 48 hours of normalcy. I can hardly wait to hear the familiar sound of his footsteps on the stairs and see his face at the dinner table.


Happy, happy Thanksgiving, my friends. It is going to be a good one.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pouring in Portland

Did you know that my favorite movie of all time is The Goonies? I saw it in the movie theater with my brother, my aunt Marge and my cousin Lori. I thought everything Lori did was absolute magic so when I was invited to see The Goonies with her, I was pretty sure I had hit the coolness jack pot.

Until Sam came along and I immediately resorted to being Ferris's little sister again. Punk.

(Don't you love how I combined references from two different movies? I am a fount of useless knowledge.)

I am mere miles from where that movie was filmed and it is killing me that I won't have time to visit. However, I am planning a trip there next summer and I am going to buy every single souvenir I can find. Maybe even an ORV with bullet holes.

So, I am now tucked into my hotel bed in Porltand, listening to the (wait for it...) rain outside. Our meetings went well and were extremely productive but even though I am an extrovert, I am overdue for some down time. Tomorrow we have back to back to back meetings and finally arrive back in to Denver at midnight. It's a brutal schedule but so worth it. I love when work trips actually accomplish something great.

I won't have time to explore Portland, but like the rest of the northwest, I will just have to return and drink all the organic coffee I can find. This place has a very cool, very wet vibe to it.

Even though I am suddenly craving Rocky Road, I think I will call it a night and wish you a very happy Thanksgiving eve eve. The big carb-fest is a mere two days away so I hope you have been training. I know I have been, one Baby Ruth at a time.

Man, I love that movie.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Sleepy in Seattle

Hello world!

I am in Seattle for approximately 17 hours!

My colleagues and I flew in late this afternoon for two full days of meetings. I will be in Seattle tonight and Portland, OR tomorrow. Tonight is the calm before the storm. And I am celebrating this calm by surrounding myself with ginormous hotel pillows and watching Dexter, which may or may not be the best choice for a single girl to watch in a strange hotel room in a new city. But I am nothing if not a risk taker.

SIDE NOTE: I am not a risk taker.

I also just ate a bowl of corn and crab chowder that I know will make me a better person. I already feel nicer.

I have never been to Seattle but I am happy to report that it is raining. And it is suppose to rain for the next three days. I have heard so many amazing things about this place that I hope I can get a glimpse of it before I go, or at least get a really good cup of Starbucks. Does Starbucks taste better here? I believe with my whole heart that it should.

Until then, however, I am going to put in my mouth guard and go to sleep. The rain has a way of sucking the energy right out of you. I bet napping is really popular here. I could totally get into that.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Big Bang Flash Mob

Along with my many other TV addictions, I am also a huge fan of the Big Bang Theory. You can find it on approximately 29 channels at any point during the day or night and every single episode is hilarious.

So, when I heard that the cast and crew did a flash mob for their live audience, I thought: "Well, doesn't that sound like a hoot and a holler?!"

So, I summoned up The Google and found it for you:


Thursday, November 15, 2012

An Escape Tattoo

So I have been watching Prison Break lately. The entire series is on Hulu and I am now into the second season. And let me tell you, I am totally, completely hooked.

Granted, the show is a bit violent and gag-worthy at times, but I am watching it for three primary reasons:

1. It is about an innocent man who is sent to prison. I can kind of relate to that.

2. Wentworth Miller who plays Michael Scofield.

3. Michael Scofield played by Wentworth Miller

Have you seen Wentworth?

Um, you should.

Because, dang.

Why can't he be online? I guarantee I wouldn't mind 150 texts from him.

Anyway, while I was hanging out with my dad on Saturday, I mentioned the show to him and how Michael Scofield purposely goes to prison to help his innocent brother escape from death row. In order to do this, he covers his body in tattoos that include the escape route out of prison along with many other helpful things to allow him to live a life on the run. It is a totally brilliant, albeit crazy, concept!

So I said, "Hey Dad. I should get a tattoo and hide your escape route in it. I bet we would be 100% successful."

"Sarah, I live in an apartment. All you would need to get is a tattoo of my front door."

"Oh. Good point."

And thus the conversation ended.

However, I decided out of solidarity and boredom that I would get one anyway. Behold:

Totally fail proof.

I consider this his early Christmas present.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Waiting by the Door

On Saturday, my mom and I went to see my dad in Alamosa. We came bearing gifts:

There is always a tension when I go to Alamosa. It is the battle between trying to be as normal as possible while knowing that this is the farthest from normal I have ever been. There are times when I look at my dad and I still cannot believe this is happening. How is it that 13 months have come and gone and he is still there and we are still here?

Many times my mom and I have discussed how much we wrestle with all of this. It is a fine line between hating the sin that caused this and being disappointed in a God that allowed it to happen.

Sometimes that line becomes very blurred. Often, actually.

The other day, while I sat there blubbering and all of my mascara ran off of my chin, I shared with a group of people how I feel like my family is similar to Noah's (the ark guy, not my nephew). We had been studying him and I was particularly struck by the ark's door. With His hand, God closed the door of the ark, with Noah and his family tucked inside, while the most destructive, cataclysmic event to ever hit the earth raged on around them.

God was protecting them. He had set them apart for this very challenge.

Yet, I wonder if Noah thought God had left them. I wonder if in the midst of rain and thunder and death, if Noah ever thought that he and his family would be stuck in that boat forever. I wonder if he thought God's protection and favor felt more like a curse.

And when they did hit dry ground, when the raven left and the dove never returned, when Noah thought the worst may be over, that door that God had so carefully shut, still remained closed.

I wonder if he cried out, "How much longer, God? This place stinks! When will you open that door to your newness, to your goodness, to a time of hope? When will we see the sun and feel its heat?"

How long, indeed. Did you know they were in the ark for over a year? In my mind I had only thought 40 days and 40 nights. But that was just the rain. It took 11 more months for everything to dry out and for God to prepare a place for them to live again.

And then it hit me: He had been working all along. Even though the door was closed and they couldn't see out, He was still working. And He had them in mind all along.

So that is where I am, I am waiting on God to fling open that door and let the sun warm us again. I am waiting to see what He has been working on all this time. And I am trusting that He has had my dad, my family, in mind all along.

In the meantime, I will try to not kick down the door.

I will just eat doughnuts in the dark.

Monday, November 12, 2012

So Very Grateful

This year, we get two days to celebrate our veterans.

But in reality, they need to be celebrated every day.

To my grandpas, my uncles, my cousins, my brother-in-law, and my dad: I am so very grateful.

And yes, I am totally crying on my keyboard.

The GDE: Gourd

This was the latest gem I found in my inbox:

"Well aren't you just as cute as a pumpkin seed."

Well, dang.

I was hoping for sesame, or sunflower, at least.

The Great Dating Experiment rages on.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Top Ten: Sarah and Melissa's Favorite Beauty Products

It is Friday of Beauty Week and today I present to you the top 10 products that Melissa and I adore!

Are you ready for this? I am sure you are.

1. Burt's Bees Chapstick
Chapstick is a must this time of year, especially if you live in the high desert (I almost wrote "dessert," which could apply as well) of Colorado. Burt's Bees is a favorite of mine and we all know that Melissa does not leave home without it!

2. Aveeno Positively Radiant Daily Cleansing Pads
I have been using these cleansing pads for nearly two years and I can honestly say they clean my face better than any other product I have used. They have two sides, one smooth and one with an exfoliating texture, and they leave my face feeling totally clean and refreshed. For the best deal, I get mine at Walmart.

3. Sally Hansen Nail Polish
Melissa and I both agree that you get more bang for your buck with Sally! Of course Essie and O.P.I. are stocked with fabulous colors, but they can run $8.00 per bottle! Sally Hansen has a plethora of colors and finishes and start as low as $2.50. Their "Insta-Dri" is currently my favorite, the brush is angled so it goes on super smooth. You can find them at almost every store that sells beauty products.

4. Bare Minerals SPF 15 Foundation Powder
My mom introduced me to Bare Minerals about five years ago and I haven't looked back since! I love how light it feels and I think it does a great job of giving you a smooth, balanced canvas for the rest of your make-up. I also love that it is natural and has sun protection included. This is a bit on the pricey side at $27.00 per jar, but I can stretch mine out to last 9-12 months. Totally worth the investment!

5. Mary Kay Moisturizer
Even though Mary Kay may seem like it is only for people over 50 or who were born and raised in Texas, I know plenty of hip women who swear by it! Melissa loves the Mary Kay skincare line and uses it daily. Having grown up in Oklahoma, I am very familiar with their products and agree that they are fabulous! Melissa uses this day and night and she says it keeps her face hydrated and radiant. I have seen her face and I totally agree. If you need a Mary Kay consultant, feel free to let me know and I can hook you up with Melissa.

6. Aquaphor
Prepare to be amazed: Melissa uses Aquaphor for under eye cream at night! After our discussion on Sunday, I decided to give it a try and so far, I am loving it! Essentially, it is a thick vaseline that I dab under my eye and around the ends. By the morning, I feel like my eyes look more refreshed and the skin around them appears more hydrated. I am so thankful for this new tip, not only is it easy to find but it is super cheap compared to expensive eye creams!

7. Revlon Grow-Lucious Fabulash Mascara
I am constantly trying out new mascaras. I can never seem to find just the right formula to make my lashes long, thick and non-clumpy. Currently, this is my new favorite! It has an old-school brush on it, not one of those weird rubbery ones, and the formula is smooth. I throw mine out every three months just to prevent clumping. The $7.99 is totally worth 90 days of long lashes!

8. BIOTERA Shampoo and Conditioner
In case you didn't notice, Melissa has amazing naturally curly hair. Truly, it is a masterpiece on her head! She uses Biotera products and loves all of them! And she doesn't even use those for curly hair. I trust curly-headed people when it comes to hair products. I mean, how can you not? I can't wait to try this!

9. Big Sexy Hairspray
First, I love the name. It is a goal in my lifetime to have big, sexy hair. Second, this stuff works wonders. It runs $17.99 per can but it can last for-e-ver. No need to mess around with other products. This stuff rocks.

10. Maybeline Unstoppable Eye Liner
I adore eyeliner, and the blacker the better! I have tried a bazillion different brands but I am loving Maybeline right now. It stays on, it doesn't smudge and you don't have to sharpen the end. I try to avoid sharp objects around my eyes, especially knowing my lack of coordination.


Dollar Store Mouthguards
Confession: Both Melissa and I have to wear mouthguards at night because we grind our teeth. (I cannot wait to introduce my future husband to this, I am sure it is every man's dream to sleep next to a football player.) Currently, I use one that my insurance covered from my dentist's office, but Melissa gets hers from the Dollar Store. She loves them and says they are really comfortable! If mine is every eaten by my brother's dog or if I somehow leave it in a foreign country, I am definitely getting my at the Dollar Store, because, you know, it will only cost A DOLLAR. That is so brilliant.

Okay fabulous friends, thus concludes Beauty Week! Thanks for following along and if you have any products that you love, feel free to share.

Happy, happy Friday.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Hair Tricks

It's Day 4 of Beauty Week and today is all about hair!

I don't know about you, but I easily get bored with my hair. For most of my life, I have kept my hair long with long layers and long bangs. During graduate school, I cut it all off and kept it short and choppy, a lot like my sister's hair now. I loved it because it was so easy! But somehow my desire to grow it won out and I haven't had short hair since.

SIDE NOTE: I think in my mind I envision myself like a Victoria's Secret Angel, with amazing wind-blown hair and thighs that don't touch. The wind-blown part isn't really the problem.

In a quest to not be bored, I am always looking for new ways to style my hair. Currently, this is my hair inspiration:

I got this cut back in August and I love it! Now, I just need ways to style it when I don't want to keep it down.

The Messy Bun:
Here is one of my favorite trends, the messy bun. It looks fabulous with collared shirts, turtlenecks and blazers. Plus, it is elegant and fresh at the same time!

It doesn't take a lot of time, but you will need a curling iron, hair spray, ponytail holder and bobby pins for this to stay in place.

Here are the steps:
1. Add a little wave by curling your hair with a large curling iron and spray lightly with hair spray
2. Back-comb the crown of your head to add height and volume
3. Pull your hair back into a ponytail in the middle of the back of your head
4. Pin sections of hair around the pony tail
5. Pull down loose sections and either keep them down or repin loosely
6. Spray with hairspray

The messier it looks, the better!

Beachy Waves:
Another super great trick I learned was from Pinterest. This is how to get those beachy curls that were the rave this summer. Since I am approximately 2,000 miles from a beach, faking it is the only way my hair will do it. Check out this awesome tutorial:

I totally think she and I could be friends.

Loose Side Braid
Another great trend is the loose, messy side braid.

This looks good with long or short bangs. And if your hair is on the shorter side, you can twist it around the back, pinning as you go, then braid it down the side. I have yet to master this but I will not give up. Braids will be in my future.

So,those are my top three for the season! I don't like to spend a lot of time on my hair in the mornings (mostly because I hit snooze at least 3 times), so having quick, go-to styles is a must for me. And of course, you can't beat a really great ponytail.

Here's wishing you are having a really great hair day!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Power of Lip Gloss

Today is dedicated to your lips. My beautiful, amazing, funny, lip-gloss addicted friend Melissa is here to share with you all that you need to know about lip gloss. It will blow your mind, my friends, BLOW YOUR MIND!

Here is Melissa.  Isn't she stunning? I love her to pieces. I also love her kids, which you can read about here.

Melissa was my inspiration to dedicate this week to all things beauty. She and I were having coffee on Sunday and suddenly she reached into her purse and pulled out a tube of lip gloss. I commented on how much I loved it and then she preceded to tell me that she carries seven different tubes with her at all times.


I was stunned. I felt like I had been left out of some very important shiny lip circle and I desperately wanted in. So I begged her to write about lip gloss and I snapped a few pictures of her collection (with a lovely Starbucks napkin as a backdrop).

So, without further ado...

Meet Melissa:
Every woman needs to have lip gloss on hand at all times. All ages of women at all times. The power of lip gloss is extremely underestimated. It can brighten a face with one stroke, takes a few seconds to apply, is cheap, and totally versatile. It’s like a secret weapon disguised in a small plastic tube. There are a few things to know that can amp your skill when it comes lip gloss. I tell you, if you do not normally wear lip gloss, start today.

First, let’s talk about shades. Subtle colors and neutral tones are great for daytime wear, but when it comes to dressing up, going to a party, or going downtown, nothing says celebration better than bright and sparkly gloss. Soft pinks or peaches (depending on your skin and lip tone) and sheer textures are ideal for warm weather; creamy dark wines and plums should be saved for winter. However, there are always exceptions. Bright berry tones can also look great with a fresh tan. Mild shades of brown are perfect for fall and early winter depending on your skin tone. If you have fair skin go with shades that carry an undertone of soft pink or warm peach. Dark skin is flattered by deep reds and deep reddish-browns. I’m not a pro, but if you have dark, rich skin tone I would steer you away from pinks and oranges. If you’re unsure about what shades might look best with your skin tone, go to a makeup counter or two in the mall and see what they advise.

Let’s talk about flavors. This is gonna be short. I don’t like flavored gloss. Period. I get sick of the flavor approximately halfway through the first application and if you’re over the age of 11, I would think cherry blast is not something you want to taste all day. I am going out on a limb here, but I’m guessing your boyfriend (or husband) is not going to want to taste it either. Bottom line: don’t buy flavored lip gloss.

There is rightful controversy about goopy lip gloss. “My hair always gets stuck to my lips.” “My boyfriend looks like he’s been attacked by the petroleum monster after we kiss.” Yes, well there are rules to follow, peeps. If you are going to wear the goop, wear it only for indoor events or if you’re hair is pulled back in a ponytail. And for crying out loud, no goop for the guy. 

Cheap vs. Expensive:
Is expensive lip gloss really that much better? From my experience, it’s not. About five years ago there was a significant difference, but now the generic brands have made significant strides. Go cheap.

The Frosted Controversy:
While we’re talking about it, NEVER buy frosted lip gloss. As in N.E.V.E.R. I have one friend, who will kindly remain anonymous, that orders her frosted lip gloss online because she can’t find it in stores. That’s like ordering tapered jeans online, because you can’t seem to find them at The Gap, Macy’s, or any other respectable store. Skip the frosted lip gloss and save yourself from looking like Katy:

Melissa's Stash:
So in total vulnerability, I feel like it’s only fair to share my personal buffet of lip glosses that I carry in my purse on a daily basis:

Let’s start on the left. 

This is called Carrot Kiss (don’t you love that name?) by Yes to Carrots.  It’s thinner than my other tinted glosses and is perfect if you’re going to be drinking or eating shortly after putting it on.  It’s easy to wipe off on a napkin and won’t leave a gross residue on your cup or fork.  Sitting in the parking lot and getting ready to meet a friend at Starbucks?  Go with this: a thin lip gloss that has a subtle tint. 

Next is Metallic Mocha by Bonnie Bell.  Okay, this one is my favorite for fall.  It has a discreet sparkle to it and is perfect if you’re applying lip gloss before you leave for dinner or if you’re getting ready to see a movie or shop at the mall. 

Then comes Juiced Berry (non-flavored lest there be any confusion) by Victoria’s Secret.  This was a gift to me which is the only reason I have lip gloss that is over $8 bucks and something from VS.  This is my favorite for summer and is the perfect splash of color and sparkle to complement a fresh tan. 

Then comes Peach Sorbet by Maybeline.  Every girl needs a solid sheer gloss.  It’s heavier with a little goop so just remember the rules about goop. 

Next in line is Tempting Toffee by Maybeline.  I recently got this and it became love at first application.  It has a berry undertone yet still wearable in the fall.  No sparkler or shimmer, but a solid staple. 

Finally, we have Grapefruit Pulp by Aveda which I also got for free.  In general, I love anything for free, but I hate everything related to pulp.  The thought of those small chunks of left over oranges in my juice makes me gag.’s definitely the pinkest shade I have and I enjoy wearing this in late summer, but it’s my least versatile.  Few skin tones can pull this shade off. Know thy skin tone, people.

And last but not least, a tinted balm: Burt’s Bees pomegranate. Everybody needs a balm.

So go forth, new friends, and gloss away!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

My Top Five for Bargain Shopping

It is Day 2 of Beauty Week and I am happy to report that I successfully contoured my face this morning without looking like I should guest star on Duck Dynasty.

It's the small victories that really keep us going, isn't it?

For today, let's talk about clothes shopping! Technically, clothes do not fall under the "beauty" heading, but clothes have a big impact on how beautiful I feel. So just for fun, I am including clothes into this week's theme.

Now, I am one of those girls who really loves to shop for a good bargain but also values high quality. When those two things collide, my outlook is much brighter and my closet is much fuller. Or in other words, there is harmony in my fashion world.

I have to confess that I have expensive taste. I naturally gravitate towards things that are WAY out of my budget, but since I work for a non-profit, that may not be saying much. However, I refuse to pay top dollar for anything because I can guarantee you that you can find it somewhere else for a fraction of the price.

Also, I am perpetually in a state of wanting to be more svelte, so the thought of spending wads of money on pants or jeans is hard for me to justify. Granted, I have been the same size for the last decade so you would think that logic would have changed. However, I am nothing if not goal oriented.

So, where do I find these expensive items that won't break the bank? Here are my top 5 favorite places to go:

TJ Maxx.
This is my #1 most favorite place to shop! My mama introduced me to this store at a very early age. Back then, I found very little to keep me entertained and instead spent all of my time crawling on the floor looking for loose sequins (virtual gold when you are six years old) or inside of the round clothes racks with Sam waiting to pounce on the next unsuspecting shopper. It's amazing we weren't adopted out.

But then I went to college and all of a sudden I had to buy my own clothes, shoes, dishes and towels. And there is no better store than TJ for all of these needs. Some of my most amazing pairs of shoes come from this store, not to mention seeing brands like Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors,Tahari and Dooney and Burke at a fraction of what the sell for in department stores. Most of what I own is not a recognized label but when I do want something that is high quality (or anything else, for that matter), this is the first place I go. I also buy all of my baby shower gifts, cupcake liners, running socks and bath soap here as well. It is my shopping heaven.

Oh, how I adore Target. This is my second wardrobe staple. They have everything from designer labels to super cheap t-shirts, plus you can buy your toilet paper and favorite nail polish at the same time. Their prices are awesome and they bring in trendy pieces that add so much to your wardrobe. And my latest find? Jeans. They have a brand made by Levi's that fit me perfectly. And at $27.99 a pair, I can totally justify buying them.

If I had to guess, 85% of my closet is from TJ and Target. Obviously they are doing something right.

I am hooked on eBay! I do not do a lot of my shopping on eBay, but when there is a specific item that is usually over my budget, I look to eBay first. Last year I found my favorite pair of Banana Republic jeans, brand new and in my size, for $29.00. They usually run $79.00, so I consider that a huge success! You don't always find what you want right away, but if you have a little time and patience, it can pay off big. I buy everything from DVDs to jeans to handbags to shoes on eBay. And if you find a seller who throws in free shipping, total bonus!

I am new to the JCPenney world. I used to think of it as a place that only grandmas shopped, but lately it has a younger, fresher feel. This is an excellent place to shop for staples, like black dress pants, pencil skirts or a basic blazer. The quality isn't perfect, but it will work in a pinch or for a season or two. They also have fantastic dresses, including a purple one that I wore to my friend's wedding two years ago. Currently, I am coveting this dress, which I think is perfect for the holidays:

 And guess how much it is: $35.00. I KNOW!! Ridiculous.

Banana Republic.
Yes, I know this is not a cheap store but it is my go-to for work. They have UH-MAZING sales, especially right before Thanksgiving and after Christmas. I only shop there during a sale and I usually find a piece or two that is perfect for dressier events or for meetings at work. The cuts are always classic so you can have the pieces for years. Investing in quality staples is a must for me but I always wait until they are marked down.

So, there you have it! Those are my top five. What are yours? For the love of my future wardrobe, please share.

Monday, November 5, 2012

A Week of Beauty: Contouring

Happy Monday morning to all of you!

I realize that sentiment may be an oxymoron, and on any other Monday I would have told myself to suck an egg, but that extra hour of sleep on Saturday night has revolutionized my life.


For example: I worked out this morning. As in I actually got out of bed and sweated. Before work.

And I liked it.


I don't even know who I am anymore.

I am pretty sure Daylight Savings is making me a better person.

So, with my new-found energy and overall zeal for life (granted, I may have to take a nap under my desk this afternoon), I have decided to dedicate this week to beauty techniques and products. My friend Melissa and I talked at length about this yesterday and we both decided that this was something that most of us have in common: we all want to look and feel our best but we don't want to spend half of our paychecks in the process.

I find that at this time of year everything begins to look dull. My skin is dry, my hair is limp and my make-up just isn't working its magic. However, sometimes all it takes is one little trick to feel peppy again! This week, we will tackle techniques, products and styles that I have either tried or come highly recommended. And if you have any ideas or suggestions, send them my way!

To begin, let's chat about contouring. Now, please believe me when I say that I am not an expert at this. I scour Pinterest to find the absolute best ways to put on make-up without looking like a mime. I have very fair skin and dark hair so I am already a walking contrast. Looking like a dewy sunkissed goddess or Elvira is a very thin line, my friends.

But, contouring has some definite benefits! It can emphasize your favorite parts and de-emphasize those that are not. And it can totally lighten you up, which is nice since we have fewer minutes of sunlight every day.

Recently, I took some pointers from my very best friend, Kim Kardashian. Love her or hate her, her face is freaking amazing, and it is only enhanced by contouring. Here is what her contouring looks like:

To be honest, this is way too complicated for me. I am pretty sure if I applied this method I would look like I have camouflage on my face. I do not spend precious minutes getting ready every morning just so I can go hunting.

However, I did find a website that breaks it down, making those who are make-up-challenged, like myself, learn how to contour properly. For example:

See how the the bronzer is applied just below the cheek bone and not on the cheek bone? This is amazing! How did I not know this? This nugget of information would have been very useful during my freshman year of high school.

Here are some more useful tips:
  • If you have a round face and want to make it look more oval: Apply a bronzer a shade or two darker than your skin tone in a "3" shape alongside your face: on your temples, the hollow of your cheeks, and your chin.
  • If you have a prominent forehead: Shade around the outer edge of your forehead along your hairline to minimize the area with bronzer.
  • If you have a flat or wide nose: Shade alongside your bridge starting from your inner brows. Then highlight right on the center of your nose.
  • If gravity is taking a toll and your cheeks are sagging: Apply a highlighter just above your cheekbone all the way to your temple. Use a blush directly on the cheekbone, then use a bronzer in the hollow of the cheek, underneath your bone.
My mind is officially blown.

In conclusion, contouring rocks! Learning how to do it may take some time but it can definitely brighten you up as we head into the cold winter months.

And if you are a contouring genius or have any pointers for those who aren't, be sure to leave a comment or two. It takes a beauty village, my friends.