Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday Secret Weapons

Alright, let's admit it. We all have those few things that we do every day that (we think) make just that much of a difference. They're our secret weapons.

This week, the topic of interest is makeup. Here are a few of mine and my best friends' secret weapons, when it comes to putting on our face.

1. Primer

There is a lot of back and forth about whether primer makes much of a difference at all. My favorite primer is Bare Minerals Prime Time Foundation Primer in Original. 

***UPDATE*** I like Smashbox Oil Free Primer just as much, if not more.

There are a few tricks with primer. First, LET IT DRY. Also, most of us have a combination of surfaces on our face; spots that get oily and other spots that are dry. Primer helps to make your face an even surface.

Bare Minerals Prime Time Foundation Primer in Original: $24.00 at Sephora

My good friend, Ester, has a trick that she loves. Let me just say, this girl knows her make-up and I'd trust her... She's known for always looking phenomenal. She uses Mary Kay Intense Moisturizing Cream as a two-fer. It takes the place of her moisturizer AND primer. This is what she says about it:

"It makes foundation and any other 'blemish' concealer go on super smooth and nice. It is also really great for the skin and doesn't clog pores like the other moisturizers I have tried."

You can buy the Mary-Kay moisturizer here:

2. Translucent Powder

This is another one of those products that receives a lot of flack. Lots of people feel like it's just one more unnecessary step. But this is what I think about it, and this is why I love it.

First off, I don't use my translucent powder over my make-up at all. I use it after my primer, before I put on any concealer or foundation (and a side note: I think foundation is gross, and if I can get away with just translucent powder and a little concealer, I will. Let's be real...nobody wants to look like they have lots of makeup, especially foundation, on.) This trick is awesome because it keeps your makeup in place and keeps your face from getting oily/greasy/shiny without having to re-apply makeup later. I've tried the Bare Minerals Mineral Veil in Translucent, and it's alright. But the Make-up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder is my favorite. It's expensive, but it works really well, and it's really good for your skin. The powder is extremely fine, so it doesn't feel heavy. In fact, it doesn't feel like you're wearing anything at all. My tip is to definitely use it under your foundation. My sister and I both swear by this, and my sister is gorgeous. (If you want a setting powder for on top of your makeup, go for a more yellow toned translucent powder. Otherwise, make sure you know what you're doing so that you don't end up with white streaks that you didn't notice while you were putting your makeup on.) 

Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder in Translucent: $34.00 at Sephora
You can buy this at Sephora, also. Or you can go online here:

3. Eye Shadow Primer

I love eye shadow. But nothing drives me more crazy than when it creases twenty minutes into your day. I've tried lots of eye primers, and although I love the Urban Decay Eye Potion Primer, I love the Mineral Eye Primer from ELF just as much, and it's a FRACTION of the cost. Literally.

I really like this primer, and I use it every single time I wear eye shadow. I am out the door by 9:00 am, and when I get home at about 8:00 at night, my eye shadow still looks like it did when I put it on. I also suggest putting it under your lower lash line as well. I never put eyeliner or mascara on my bottom lashes, but sometimes I'll still have mascara or eyeliner that ends up under my bottom lash line, just from blinking, etc. all day long. Putting a little primer under your eyes helps with that.

You can buy the Urban Decay primer at Sephora, but I'm all about saving a buck. So, I'd suggest checking out ELF.

Urban Decay Eye Potion Eyeshadow Primer: $20.00 at Sephora

ELF Mineral Eyeshadow Primer in Sheer: $3.00 (YES, THREE!!) at

4. No Makeup Makeup

My grandma Bonnie taught me a lot about makeup. She says that the point is to make what you already have just look a little better. Make it look like you don't even have any on. Look natural.

There are days when makeup just doesn't happen. Sometimes we need to give our faces a break, and let it breathe! I'm all for no makeup days, and that being said, I think that no matter how much you care about your make up, you should be recognizable when you step out of the shower fresh faced. Too much of anything is a bad thing, and too much makeup is THE WORST. I'd take a naked face over too much makeup any day of the week! Wouldn't you?? Rachel McAdams looks natural and gorgeous. And Christina Agulera looks like a train wreck.

On those days, when makeup is out of the question, eyelashes are still a quick go-to. Even if you're just smudging on a tiny bit of mascara, or if you're wearing eyelash extensions, it's amazing how much more "awake" and "alive" you look by just adding eyelashes.

My bestie, Diana, is a firm believer in eyelash extensions. She's the queen of looking naturally beautiful. She looks fresh faced but flawless all the time. Even when you can tell she doesn't have make up on, she looks stunning. She says, "I am in love with eyelash extensions! No fuss in the morning, throw a little eyeliner on and you're good to go..."

My mom often has eyelash extensions. My mom is really naturally beautiful, so whenever she has her eyelashes done, I am usually around her for a few hours before I even notice. That's the idea. You shouldn't be able to tell what it is that looks so beautiful, just that they look great.

Another thing I love when I'm going for the "No make up" make up look is Watts Up Highlighter by Benefit. It comes in a tube, kind of like a lipstick, and it's the perfect shade. It doesn't matter if you have super fair skin or dark, olive skin. This shade looks lovely on everyone. And another thing: it looks DIFFERENT on everyone. On days when all I do is smudge on mascara, I also smudge this on the inside corners of my eyes. It plays really well with the light and stays put, even though it is sort of a cream base.

Watts Up Highlighter by Benefit in Luminous Champagne: $30.00 at Sephora

You can buy it here:

5. Balance

My last secret weapon is less product and more tactic. I'm a girly-girl. No doubt about it. But I'm also not afraid to go to the store Au natural, or wear yoga pants and a top knot to run errands. I think that the fun part of it all is to just have balance. If you're going to throw your hair in a bun and run out the door in leggings and a baggy tunic, more power to ya! But put on some big, colorful sunglasses or embellished flats, and you're golden. If you're going to wear a bold, red lip, then I'm all for it. (my favorite is ELF lip stain in Crimson Crush. It's $2.00 on and it's beautiful. Check it out: But downplay it with a really simple eye and little or no blush. Same if you're doing a really colorful eye shadow. Don't wear dark lipstick. It's all about balance.

Diana made a really good point. She said, "The simple things in makeup are what make a difference. A light lip gloss and a pop of color on your eyes or cheeks!" She's absolutely right.

Ladies, obviously I love makeup. Share your favorite makeup secret weapons with me!! Also, if you try out mine, or my friends', let me know how they work for you! I'd love your feedback.

I have lots of Sunday Secret Weapon lists on the way, so stay tuned! Email me your secret weapons, and I'll be sure to send you the credit!! Send your tips to


Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Today is my mom's birthday.

She's thirty. Again.

One of my earliest memories is sneaking into her bathroom, opening up her makeup drawer, and sitting on the counter while I put on her lipstick. I would know the smell of Elizabeth Taylor White Diamond Perfume anywhere in the world, and I don't check out at the grocery store without seeing a Woman's World magazine and thinking of her.

I remember sitting and watching my mom put on her makeup or curl her hair and thinking that she was the most graceful, beautiful person in the world (even in the days of light blue eye shadow. This was the 90's, people), and I wanted to be just like her. I remember watching her get dressed for a party once, and she wore a black dress and black heels with little gold beads on the front center of them. I thought she looked like a movie star.

As I've grown, my view of my mother has changed a little bit here and there. My mom is still beautiful as ever. She's spunky without being crass and she's classy without being stuffy. But I've also seen sides of her, as I've become a mother myself, that show her humanity. As little girls, we see our mothers and we think that they're these perfect molds of happiness. They're effortlessly successful. As children, we don't see the sacrifices, the late nights, the odd jobs to make ends meet, the coupon clipping, the middle of the night grocery store runs, the meal planning, the savings account adding, the worrying and praying and loving that goes into being a mother. And if we don't really notice so much of that, it's because we have good mothers. As we grow, think back and remember, our adult minds start to put it together.

I love you for all of it, mom. I love you for Christmas Around the World. I love you for that playhouse that I know wasn't cheap. I love you for the sound of typing late at night, with piles of Hot Tamales. I love you for stolen sips of diet coke with "this much" cherry coke. I love you for the time you yelled at the lunch ladies. I love you for tea parties. I love you for that brief stint with flute lessons. I love you for braces. I love you for that one time, in 5th grade, with that mean know. I love you for cinnamon rolls. I love you for frozen waffles on the way to Tami's. I love you for swim meets. I love you for dance competitions. I love you for Graceland and choir tours. I love you for giving me the "sex talk" while you played solitaire on the computer (talk about nonchalant. haha!). I love you for donuts after Saturday chores. I love you for emergency Lunchables from Dairyland before field trips. I love you for making me walk home from the bus stop the "long way" because it was safer. I love you for blocking MTV on cable even though I still think that's super stupid. I love you for all of it, and more. I love you for the things I never knew, and I love you for the things I know that we both wish we could forget.

You did a good job. You're still doing a good job.

Happy birthday, mamma. I owe you everything.


The Way of the Bookstore

I spent a significant amount of time in Barnes and Noble today.

I'll be back on Friday, too. I have a lunch date there with my girl, M. She loves books as much, if not more than I do.

Side story: In fact, she made me cry when I walked into work at Christmastime (we also share an office) and a copy of  The Catcher in the Rye was waiting for me on my desk, wrapped in the most beautiful gold ribbon.

I walked out of the bookstore with three books today. Two nerdy school books, and one Maya Angelou classic. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it), it's just two days before payday. Thus, less than $30 escaped my wallet on this literary excursion. But I swooned over many-a readable copy, and I now have a mental list of books I just can't wait to read.

But, that's beside the point.

I was thinking, as I was driving home from the bookstore on this beautiful sunny day (it's a gorgeous 60+), with the sunroof open and the windows down, how my favorite bookstore might not be around too much longer.

Don't get me wrong, I love the blogging world. I love the idea of a quick, online read and obviously there is something to it if I'm taking the time to write this blog. But, there's just something about holding the book in your hand, flipping through the pages, folding down the corner of a page of a novel so you don't lose your spot, thumbing through a magazine while the kids play outside on a sunny day, tearing a page out of Vogue, Elle, Time or (don't judge me) People (Confession: I'm a magazine JUNKIE), or hunkering down with a paperback and a Dr. Pepper on a rainy afternoon. I'm not sure what that something  is, but I know it counts.

The tangibility is a treasure in and of itself, and we're letting go of it.

So, I decided that we were going to make a pit stop on the way home from B and N. And as we pulled into the library parking lot, I couldn't help but smile when my four year old piped up from the back seat, "Yay, mommy! We're going to the library to get books!" At least he knows what this place is, I thought.

An hour later, we left with a baker's dozen or so picture books in tow. (Maybe if my 16-month old were acting a little more becoming of a young lady, mommy would have had time to visit Mr. Hemingway or his buddy, Fitzgerald. But emotional breakdown 4.0 for the day decided to bust rank on my plans.)

You know, sometimes you just have to let things go (I'm not referring to my daughters tantrum, but I suppose that's relevant). The way my parents used to pour over the newspaper at the breakfast table, our generation now scrolls through our iPhones and checks out our Facebook feed. We have an innate need to stay connected and the variable is merely in our means by which to do it. I accept it. I'm a part of it.

But the way I reverently turn over my dads old Van Halen, Journey or Olivia Newton John (he had a small crush...) vinyl records, I hope my kids will lovingly smirk at the bookshelves full of classic lit that will/do line our walls. "The way of the bookstore" might be a phrase alluding to something on the verge of extinction, but it also alludes to nostalgia. And I can live with that.


And just for fun, here are a couple that will grace my summer reading wish-list (please add comments with suggestions!!!!!!): 

#1-Modoc by: Ralph Helfer

So I adore elephants. I have many reasons for loving them, but that's for a different post. That being said, anything from jewelry to art to (yep) books that have anything to do with an elephant will most likely catch my eye. But seriously, this (true) story looks, for lack of a better word, beautiful. Can't wait to read it. Check it out: 

#2- Z-A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by: Therese Anne Fowler

I'm loving The Paris Wife, and this seems similar, albeit by a different author. F. Scott Fitzgerald is a literary genius, and that means he was probably a lunatic. So it should be interesting. We'll see.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Ode Turned Tuesday Favorites

A few things ran through my mind today when considering what to write about. One such idea included a list of things that aggravate me. But we have not the time nor the energy for such a list.

In fact, I had a post completely written, but my computer turned itself off, and I don't want to traumatize anybody with gory details, but there was a casualty. Said casualty consisted of an ode to Carrie Bradshaw (I know my dad is glad to have dodged that bullet), but I guess it's okay...I'll take Steve Madden over Manolo's any day (they're beautiful, but I'll side with $70 over $700, thankyouverymuch).

Okay. I'll show some pictures. But then back to the task at hand:

Manolo Blahnik Black Ankle Strap Heels
These beauties are $695 at Saks:

Steve Madden Black Ankle Strap Heels
These gems are $80 on

Catching my drift?

Anyway, where were we?

Oh, right. Miss Bradshaw.
Now, I don't typically believe in "signs" and the whole "everything happens for a reason" thing makes me roll my eyes, but that's a different post (ahem), a different mindset entirely. That being said, maybe due to the loss of my previous post, Ode on a Manhattan Shoe Connoisseur just isn't meant for today. But, thinking about her gorgeous shoe collection, the mental image of that cloud of smoke surrounding her Mac computer (think: more Grace Kelly and less Anna Nicole Smith), and that infamous commentary about the Scrunchies, got me on the trail of "trademarks". 

I think it's sort of narcissistic awkward for one to decide one's own trademarks. That's like choosing your own nickname. We all know that guy. And none of us like him. 

But, I do know what some of my favorite, go-to things are. At least this week! So, here are three things that I'm loving on this lovely Tuesday:

Cadbury Mini Eggs
I've probably eaten fifteen thousand of these this month. Off the top of my head, I can literally think of 7 specific bags that have been purchased and consumed. It's a problem. Don't judge me.

Maybelline Baby Lips 
I have every single shade of these that can be found. And if I don't have it, I want it. I love these. I'm obsessed. I use them every single day. I've been buying them and giving them to my sister/friends just because I love them so much. 

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
And last, but not least, I'm officially loving on this book. I've been reading it on and off for the last few weeks, but haven't had time to REALLY read it. But I'm obsessed with Hemingway and this take on his life (from the point of view of his first wife, Hadley) is so interesting without feeling like you're reading a biography (it's a novel). It's tragic and beautiful and REAL. And even if you'd rather have the stomach flu than read Hemingway's staccato-like writing style, it's totally possible to pull yourself away from the idea that The Sun Also Rises (my favorite novel) was written at the time that this account of his life was taking place. It's really just a love story. And some love stories don't end "happily ever after". 

Well there you have it! You dodged the C. Bradshaw bullet, but escaping Manolo Blahnik entirely was a bit too much to ask. Don't get selfish.

What are some of your favorite things/latest obsessions? Maybe I'll give them a whirl and we'll have something better to write about than my obscene chocolate indulgence. Or we can stick with chocolate. I'm good with that...


Monday, March 25, 2013


The Searching Project is just that. I decided that the only thing that's constant in our lives is that we are always looking for something. When we stop looking, stop growing and stop changing, we stop living. We can't just cease to grow. Be it physically, mentally, emotionally or spiritually; growing is what sets humanity apart from the rest of existence. So... What, you might ask, is it that I'm searching for?

Ha. Hell if I know.

I decided to start this blog because I've always wanted to be a writer. I've had several blogs before:

I had the cliche "family" blog where I tried to make everyone think that it was a blog from my FAMILY. Get real, guys. You know it was just me, writing about my perspective on everything. I can call it The Family Blog but that's crap. It was The Mommy Blog.

I had the secret blog that nobody knew was me. It actually generated a few hundred followers and got a lot of traffic. But I made certain that nobody could link it back to me, and if they thought they could, they wouldn't ever be able to prove it (okay, unless there were creepy FBI profiling and IP address stalking going on). But that blog was a documentation of a sad time for leave it in the obscurity it was created for.

I had a blog I had to create for school. That one was lame.

But, here I am. Again. Creating a new blog. But this one, this one is different (no, really!!). Okay, well I hope it's different.

I had a hard time naming this blog. I wanted to come up with something that I knew would describe me presently, hold true to my past, and leave my future open for what I might become. This is no easy task, my friends. I'll let you in on a few of the runners-up for titles:

The Average Project: I like this one. I still like this one. I think that I decided against it because it was too...uninspiring. I'm fine with being average, don't get me wrong. But....booooring.

The Character Project: So I have this affinity for character-building experiences. But here's the thing-I only like them AFTER the fact. Nobody likes having to learn those life lessons (enter: dresses with jeans. WHY was that EVER cool? No! Not okay!). But I changed my mind when I realized that I'd have to eat my words if I wanted to vent one day or talk crap about something and my premise was this uptight "let's all build character and do the right thing". Meh. I'd rather talk crap sometimes, so I'm not going to set myself up for THAT criticism.

Which is why I decided on The Searching Project. Bottom line? Sometimes, I'm going to want to blog about life lessons. Sometimes, I'm going to stalk someone walking down the street because I love their outfit, and I'm gonna post about it. Sometimes, I'm going to want to talk about makeup and nail polish trends and my love affair with Steve Madden. Sometimes, I'm going to post about my kids and how damn cute they are or my family and where I come from.
Or my friends. They're cool.
Ooooooooh! Or food. We like food around here.

So, you get my drift. We're gonna go with the flow (something I'm not used to OR comfortable with in the least), but it will be an adventure. And all the while we'll be searching. We don't know what we'll find, but the fact of the matter is this:
Most of the time, we don't even know what we're looking for. And that's the fun of it. And the shame of it. And the irony of it. And the pain of it. It's nothing, really. Just nothing. Or everything, but we call it nothing. Just life. With a satirical, sarcastic, awkward spin on it by Yours Truly.

So, here goes nothing.