Top Social

Reading FOMO: Spring 2018 - Books I'm Afraid to Read

30 March 2018
My first round of Reading FOMO is complete. I managed to read two out of the three books that I committed to read. (Beartown and This is How it Always Is) I do solemnly swear to read Hum if You Don't Know the Words by the end of 2018.

As I look forward to the next 3 months I have decided to pick out 3 books I have been afraid to read. Yes, you read that right. Despite numerous recommendations, I have been avoiding these three books because I am afraid of them. 

Why do these books scare me?

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah - 

I read Hannah's Winter Garden a few years ago and it still haunts me. I don't think I have ever cried so much or have ever been so annoyed with an ending. I did, however, love that it presented a perspective I hadn't really seen before. I'm terrified that this book will destroy me like that book did.

Luckily, the sun is coming out more these days so my seasonal depression seems just about over. Will there be enough sun though? I'm really starting to doubt my life choices right now. Should I wait until summer for this book?

The Martian by Andy Weir -

I should probably let you know that I did see the movie version of this. I should also let you know that I didn't particularly enjoy it. I don't really enjoy space exploration movies, but they say the book is better than the movie. Hopefully that will be the same for this. 

I'm afraid of this book because I'm worried that I won't get through it. I'm worried that it's going to be too technical for me and go over my head. With that said I've seen lots of different people read and love this book, so I think I should at least give it a try because it really seems that I'm concerned most about my own pride.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini -

Both this and A Thousand Splendid Suns have been recommended to me by so many different people and they are both rated highly. The fear I have for both books is similar, but only one is currently taking up some valuable shelf space.

In regards to that fear, I think what I'm most afraid of is that this is another emotionally taxing read. I like emotionally taxing reads because that usually indicates that the writing was good and I connected with the story. I also hate reads like that because it also usually ends with me feeling depressed and in a weird funk that takes a bit to shake.

Have you read any of these? 
Are my fears valid? 
What books are you afraid of?

5 Tips to Help You Better Curate Your Dream Closet

28 March 2018
Build your dream closet

During my last pregnancy I found myself suddenly obsessed with curating my closet. Something about being in my late twenties with two children made me realize that I'm not in college anymore and I don't want to dress like I am.

I spent hours on all of the sites, saving outfits that I thought were "my style," which is honestly still very much in progress. A few months after he was born I started purchasing items to make my fashion Pinterest dreams come true and a weird thing happened.

These outfits that I had envisioned for myself that I now owned? I didn't wear them and found myself not wanting to wear them.

I have spent some time reflecting on the mistakes I made by trying to follow fashion bloggers and have a few tips for you to avoid those same errors and really make your Pinterest dreams come true.

1 | Pay attention to the body that is wearing the outfit, you think that you want. 

This seems so obvious to me now, but when I was in the thick of it and saw an outfit I liked I just pinned it without much examination. Then when I actually owned the outfit, it didn't look right.

Turns out that some of the women who were inspiring my outfits are significantly smaller in weight and stature than myself. If I had taken the time to do some digging then I would have realized that.

The moral of the story is that what looks good on this blogger or instagramer may not look good on me because we may be two very different body types. Spend some time to find someone who is built more like you and you will be more likely to find shapes of clothing that will fit similarly.

2 | Figure out which colors you look good in!

Some people can really pull off neons and pastels. I like those colors, but I am not one of those people who looks great in any of the above.

One of the best things that I did was to sit down and figure out what colors I am attracted to and what "season" I think I might be. If you're interested in playing around with seasons then I really like this chart

I'm fairly certain that I'm a Soft Autumn and a Soft Summer, (neutral skin tone ya'll!) but I still love me some black. I'm a firm believer that you should ultimately wear the colors that you feel the best in. Black makes me feel like a grown up so I'm not leaving it behind, however, knowing what colors flatter me influences the rest of my outfit. I try to work in those colors in my completer pieces (cardigans, jackets), accessories and shoes. 

3 | Try out different sizes.

If you find something you like then try it out in your size and one size larger and smaller. I originally started doing this because I saw a picture a blogger somewhere posted showing the differences in each size. I wish I could find it! She was normally one size in shirts, but the fit of the smaller size looked so much more polished on her.

Sizing between brands and even within brands is not super consistent. You may just find that you prefer the look of the larger or smaller size. In the past I would have just written off the item as not for me, but maybe it could have worked!

4 | Don't be afraid to think outside the box.

You do not have to buy the exact same pieces that someone else is wearing. When trying to recreate an outfit try to figure out what it is that you like about the outfit. That is what you should be trying to recreate.

For example this pin, this pin, and then this pin made me examine my closet and put together this outfit:

What I liked about the first pin was that is felt kind of edgy and cool to me. What I liked about the second pin was the monochromatic color scheme with a random burst of color in the accessories. What I like about the last pin was the mixing of patterns. I took all of those things I liked in those three outfits and created an outfit I feel pretty awesome in. By the way, my shoes were green. 

5 | Take pictures.

When you are wearing an outfit you love have someone take a picture of you. When you are wearing something that you don't quite feel right in, have someone take a picture. 

When you do this you can start to actually see what it is that makes the outfit work and what can be done to improve it. You start to realize what colors and silhouettes make you look awesome.

 On the flip-side when you are wearing something that doesn't feel quite right and you aren't quite sure why you can compare it with those outfits that make you feel like a boss. Many times you can quickly figure out what the issue is. For example:

There are so many issues with this outfit. The shoes are just the beginning! There is no structure to the top, cardigan combo. I should have at least done some sort of tucking with that top. I needed a longer necklace to make it interesting. 

Some things you can't see that I have since realized about myself? I hate sweaters with buttons. This sweater is also super itchy, so I feel uncomfortable. That shirt was tight in the shoulders. Also, it turns out I prefer infinity scarves. 

I still have this sweater, because I like the color, but as soon as I find a similarly hued cardigan it's out of here. All of this to say that you may feel silly taking pictures of yourself in clothes, but with time you will feel more sure of yourself and your style.

I like to think that in the long run doing all of these things will save me some serious time and money, but that's still just a theory that is yet to be officially proven at this point.

Sharing my top 5 tips for curating your dream wardrobe so that you will have clothing that makes you feel confident and classy.

What I Learned From Broken Arch

26 March 2018
On our way to Broken Arch

Last weekend I took my pregnant self, my two-year-old, my husband and his buddy to Arches National Park. It was a truly magnificent place with some of the most beautiful sunsets and scenery I have ever seen. I don't know how many of you have been hiking with a super pregnant person and a two-year-old, but between potty breaks and sudden interest in a random dirt patch, we definitely slowed things down. 

I enjoyed many of our hikes, but, to be honest, I was so focused on making myself go just one more step that I didn't really take the time to truly appreciate the journey, until we reached Broken Arch. 

The walk to the arch itself seemed like it would never end.You walk across this huge meadow that has zero shade and my constant thought was, "Are we there yet?" It's the moment that we reached the arch that became exciting. 

If you look into the arch you can see some rocks and behind those rocks is a rock face you can walk up to see what is on the other side and continue on the trail. There is some distance between the rock face and the ground, but there is a log at the base you can use to boost you up. The rock face also looks quite steep from the ground. I can't even begin to tell you how much I wanted to see what was waiting on the other side. 

Base of Broken Arch

I'll  admit that when I got to the rock face, my  initial reaction was that I couldn't do it. I physically would not be able to make it up. For one, I can't bring my knees up to my chest due to my enormous belly. Secondly, surely I would tumble down this rock face and I didn't even know where the nearest hospital was. I told Tom to go up ahead and take a picture of the view while I waited with little e. This way I would at least get some idea of, what I was certain was a magnificent view. 

He climbed up ahead and yelled down to me that I needed to see this view for myself. He claimed the climb looked much worse than it actually was, but my husband is practically part mountain goat so this claim meant very little to me. All of a sudden I thought about a book I had listened to just a few weeks before. The book had to do with women in the workplace, but it turns out it also has thoughts that can apply to Broken Arch. 

As I stood there debating with myself, Sheryl Sandberg's question popped into my head, “What would you do if you weren't afraid?” My inner debate ceased and I realized I would stop placing limitations on myself.  I would see what was on the other side for myself. Why not at least try? 

My whole little family made it up that rock face and the view did not disappoint.

View from the arch

After this climb, little e and I found some shade at the base of Broken Arch so that Tom and his buddy could explore further. While sitting there I was able to observe no less that forty different people as they approached the arch. As I observed I noticed a trend. Everyone seemed to want to know what was beyond the arch, but not all thought it was something they could do. 

Almost every man I saw went straight to the rock face and climbed up. There were a few women who did the same, but for the most part they gave up before they even tried. For those women I spoke up, and told them that it looked much harder than it actually was. I let them know about the reward waiting at the top of that brief climb, the magnificent view. As a result, many of them ended up going up the the face to see it for themselves. After all, as Sandberg says, “We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.” 

There was one particular woman though who did not. I could see how much she wanted to see the other side. She walked over to the base no less than three times, but could never muster up the courage to just do it. She needed to, "shift from thinking, 'I'm not ready to do that' to thinking 'I want to do that- and I'll learn by doing it." Even though she will likely never find it, this post is mainly for her. You need to know that you are much stronger and more capable than you know. Stop doubting and holding yourself back, because you're missing the view. 

Lean In by Sheryl SandbergBook Mentioned in this Post:
Author: Sheryl Sandberg

*This post was originally posted in October 2016, but as March is Women's History Month it seems fitting to repost. 

The Skincare Routine that Makes Me Feel Luxurious on the Daily

05 March 2018
Sharing my experience with the 10 step Korean routine for skincare and my take on the routine.

*This post is going to be a long one, so brace yourselves. Also, affiliate links because I want to keep trying all the things!*

I am just so, so excited today, because I think I'm finally on the right path for my skin. You guys this is huge. Before we get into what path I'm currently on and the products that are changing my skin, let me give you a little background information.

My Battle Against Acne

When I was 18 I spent a lot of time complaining about the little hormonal acne I would get. My Oxy pads didn't seem to fight them hard enough and those damn Proactiv commericals were just so very convincing, so I switched over to Proactiv right before I left for college. 

I'm sure there were numerous factors that led to my sudden case of cystic acne. I was depressed. My diet was kind of all over the place. I do feel though that Proactiv didn't help my skin at all. Either way I had painful cystic acne all over my face. It was embarrassing and seriously messed with my self-esteem. 

Since that time I have tried so many over-the-counter and prescription products. I have been on Accutane, it was awful. I have been on Spironolactone, which, by the way, has a rare side-effect of causing vision loss. That was fun. I tried out Doxycycline, the same drug that you use for Malaria and Lyme disease. I tried Tea Tree Oil and Crude oil. I took dairy out of my diet. I mean, you name it and I've probably tried it at least once over the last decade.

Some of those things did make a positive difference, but none of those things made a difference that would last. None of those things really improved the overall quality of my skin. All of the things have felt like a chore. 

Korean Skincare

I started getting interested in Korean skincare and beauty quite a few years ago, but at the time the products I wanted to try weren't accessible and were very expensive. The thing that interested me the most is that it seemed to be doing that exact opposite of both my dermatologists (I've seen 5)  and beauty magazines had been advising and prescribing. 

Instead of stripping my oily, now sensitive, skin with harsh chemicals the steps in Korean skincare routines seemed to focus on adding more moisture. Going on 2 months ago I looked into at least trying to replicate the process with whatever similar products I could find, because literally nothing else had worked, so really what did I have to lose?

Much to my surprise the world has become even smaller and products have become more accessible thanks to and, my personal favorite, Amazon. I got to work slowly using up products I had and introducing new products to the mix, with the overall goal of my own 10-step routine day and night. 

I know it sounds like a lot, but it's actually not bad. I'm not going to get super into what the thought is behind all of the steps, but will instead just show you the products I am using and sharing my thoughts. If you want to learn more about the process there is some great information here or you can check out The Little Book of Skin Care by Charlotte Cho. Both have been such a help!

Here is a little before and after, after following a 10-step process for about a month. Granted, the lighting is a little different, as is my hair color, but I think you can see a reduction in fine lines, scarring and an increase in overall brightness.

My skin before I started and about a month after.

My Skincare Routine

This is a work in progress and I actually have some more products on their way.  I'll keep you posted on those. 

I'm currently using a mixture of western products and Korean. Some of these things I will probably be switching out. Unless otherwise stated, I use these products both in the morning when I wake up and in the evening before bed.

1 | Makeup Remover & Oil Cleanser

I didn't realize that I needed these to be two separate things until today. I had just been using Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleansing Water for this step and it does a pretty decent job removing makeup, but it's obviously not oil based. I plan on modifying this step by using Banila CO Clean It Zero (Purifying) when it gets here on Tuesday.

2 | Water-Based Cleanser

I have been using Skinfood Egg White Pore Foam and I really like this product. There are a lot of different cleansers out there, but this one is very affordable and works well.

3 | Exfoliator

I use my chemical exfolitator twice a week. Right now I'm using AHA+, which is leftover from my journey using the system. I may look into some other options, but have a decent amount of this to work through first. 

4 | Toner

I've been using Dickinson's Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner, but have since learned that it's actually pretty harsh on your skin. I'm still in the process of researching toners, but will let you know when I find one to replace this.

5 | Essence

Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence for the win! I pump a little bit out and gently tap it into my skin. If you could only buy one thing to add to your skincare routine I think that this should be it. 

6 | Treatments

Right now I am only using Skinmiso Pore Minimizing Serum. I have definitely noticed a difference in my pore size, so it seems to work. It also smells really good. I simply tap it into the affected areas until it's soaked in.

I just ordered Klairs Vitamin C Serum to use in addition to the above. This is supposed to help minimize pores, but it is also supposed to really help with acne, scarring and hyperpigmentation. It has good reviews, so I have high hopes.

7 | Sheet Masks

I only do this twice a week on the same nights that I exfoliate and this is probably my favorite part of the whole thing. I have been using the Dermal Korea Collagen Essence Masks. It's a variety pack and it's the least expensive option I have found. 

So far my least favorite mask has been Gold, smelled like a motel room to me. My favorite is probably the Snake Venom. It made my face feel all tingly, so you know it did something

It's recommended that you rub the excess all over your hands, neck and your face. Don't let it go to waste!

8 | Eye Cream

I received a sample of Origins Plantscription Anti-Aging Power Eye Cream and that stuff is amazing. It definitely works, but I'm not entirely sure that I want to pay $47 to continue using it.

I plan on finishing up that sample, but have already purchased LilyAna Eye Cream Moisturizer. It's not a Korean product, but the reviews and the pictures are very promising. It's also significantly less in price.

When you are applying eye cream, you are supposed to use your pinky finger to tap it in all over the orbital bone. Don't get too close to the lash line though!

9 | Moisturizer 

I was originally using Neutrongena Hydro Boost Water Gel and LOVED it, however, I found myself going through the container fairly quickly which was adding up financially. No bueno.

I'm cheap and wanted to explore less expensive options. Costco had an Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculping Cream coupon and everyone and my Grandma seems to swear by this stuff, so I took the bait. 

While this Cream has some similar ingredients to the Gel I had used before and I appreciate that I seem able to use less, I am finding that it seems to be clogging up my pores a bit. It's manageable for now, but I'll be exploring my options further.

I've changed my approach to how I apply my moisturizer and that has also made a big difference. Bye bye puffy morning eyes! Here is a video showing you what to do. It feels amazing and I do it every single time I do my moisturizer.

It's also recommended that you do a sleeping mask on occasion. I have Birch Juice Hydro Sleeping Pack on its way and will report back. 

10 | Sunscreen

This step is only in the morning. It's suggested that you reapply your sunscreen throughout the day, so I am leaning towards purchasing the Missha All-Around Safe Block as it looks like it would be easy to add over any makeup.

Do you remember when everyone was crazy about BB Creams? I'm telling you right now that the BB creams in America are subpar. Missha M Perfect Cover is a freaking miracle. I've linked to the shade I have been using, but you can click around and check out if you think you may want a different shade.

TL;DR If you only have the money to add one thing to your skincare I would start with sheet masks! It feels luxurious, adds hydration, and plumps up your skin. I would also suggest putting on your moisturizer while also giving yourself a lymphatic massage. Again, it feels luxurious, is free, and eliminates so much puffiness!

Sharing my experience with the 10 step Korean routine for skincare and my take on the routine.