Saturday, November 30, 2013


I meant to write this post on Thanksgiving Day. But then there was cleaning the house and making pie and setting the table and friends and family and before I knew it, it was 11pm, I had a full belly and a sink full of dishes and my feet were tired. 

Then I was going to write it yesterday, but there was early morning shopping and trying to find parking at the mall and then a much needed nap and leftovers and before I knew it, it was 11pm again and I was in bed. 

So here I am, breaking all the rules and writing my Thanksgiving post two days after Thanksgiving. I'm thankful for your patience. 

I think it's the impending move and all the transition coming up and the past year of deployment and family sadness, but I feel more overwhelmed than ever with a grateful heart. 

So, in no particular order, I am so thankful for my friends and my family and for the cell phone technology that makes them seem not so far away. I'm thankful for my good health and theirs. I'm thankful for my Navy friends who have become like family and, even though it's tough to say goodbye to them, I'm glad to have made new friends that will be just a phone call away. I'm thankful for our home here; thankful for a roof over our heads and a full fridge, and even more thankful for our new home in Florida! I'm thankful for quiet mornings to write and chilly nights to curl up and watch TV, and a sweet brown dog to curl up next to me. I'm thankful for leftovers and pumpkin pie for breakfast. Even though we're basically going to be living out of a suitcase until the end of December, I'm thankful for friends and family to stay with in every state we'll travel to. I'm thankful for the Navy, giving us the opportunity to move again and have another adventure, meet new friends who we will come to love like family, and to see just a little more of the world. 

And I'm thankful for my husband, who I get to do it all with. Last year this time, he was around the world and I am so very thankful that today, he is just in the other room. (And I'm thankful for other people's spouses and sons and daughters and brothers and sisters who are around the world right now.) I'm thankful that he's a good friend and a good listener and that he's very even-keeled. He is the best part of a life I am very thankful for. 

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving as well and you're heart is overwhelmed with gratitude well beyond this holiday. 

(Wish us luck as we spend the next week putting our life into boxes and handing in our keys here in Virginia. After that, we're going to be crashing on a few couches from Florida to Wisconsin until after Christmas, when we can finally move into our brand new house! I'll see you where the wifi is good!)

Saturday, November 23, 2013

and they call it puppy love.

Sometimes Beau goes to the dog sitter's. 

Our dog sitter is named Kay and she is the sweetest person I have ever met. At Grandma Kay's, as she calls her home, she treats every dog like they are her own. The dogs can run around in her beautiful backyard garden and lay in the cool liriope plants on hot days. If they stay overnight, the pups are allowed to sleep with Kay in bed and she gladly snuggles up with three or four big dogs sometimes. Beau loves it there. As soon as we make the turn on to her street, he knows where we are and can't wait to get out and greet everyone. 

But the real reason Beau loves going to Kay's is for Bonnie. 

Kay has two Collies, Bonnie and Chesley, pictured above. All the other dogs love Bonnie, too. Kay jokes that she has her suitors; there's Halsey, the white Golden Retriever and Beauregard, the tiny designer breed, who, even at only ten pounds, tries to guard her from all the other big dogs. There's a Weimaraner, a Boxer, and a hound mix that love her, too. She the most popular Collie around. 

But she loves Beau. 

When we get into the gate, Beau runs past all the other dogs and finds Bonnie first. They wrestle and play all day, chasing each other around the garden, rolling each other in the dirt. She even hides on the other side of their pool and when Beau breaks the rules and runs across the pool cover to find her and gets yelled at, she comes out of hiding to take the heat with him. They share rope toys and bones and finally, when they're all tired out, they make sure to fall asleep right next to each other. 

It's really the sweetest romance you've ever seen. Kay, with all her warmth and hospitality, is one of the people I am going to miss the most when we move and I know Beau will be missing his sweet Bonnie as well. 

Lucky for Beau, however, his best buddy isn't deploying any time soon, so he'll have someone to console him when he's missing his girl. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

little beauties.

I've never written a post like this before and for the life of me I can't figure out why. I'm going to share with you some of my little beauty favorites. Because that's what girls do sometimes. One girl says to the other, "I love that lip gloss/haircut/top/nail polish! Where did you get it?" And then the other girl says, "Thanks! Let me tell you..." and boom! This is how beauty secrets are shared the world over. This is how I discover my favorite products and I think it's high time I share some love here. 

[Fun fact: If you ask a Milwaukee girl where she got her lip gloss/haircut/top/nail polish, she will proudly tell you how much she bought if for, too. We can't help it, but us Milwaukee girls love a bargain. And the only thing better than a bargain is making sure someone knows that you are fabulous AND you don't spend a lot on being fabulous. This has been proven in independent studies conducted by me.] 

So first up are the lips. I try and hide this from people, (namely my husband who really cannot understand the complexity of this issue) but I have a serious lip product addiction. The sampling pictured above are (literally) only a few of the lip products I have floating around in the black hole that is my purse. It feels a little freeing to admit this in a public place. But this is good news for you, because it means I try everything I can report back about the real winners. And take my word on these: 

Vaseline Rosy Lips: I am Chapstick devotee. I have sticks of the blue kind hiding in every nook and cranny I frequent because I hate to be without it. But recently I have discovered that Vaseline does the same thing for my lips when I don't want color, just moisture, but it gives the nicest little shine. I have a little tub in my purse (I'm not joking when I say I have errythang in there. If you need something to put on your little lips, you will be glad you asked me. It's like a Sephora shelf in there.) So I was pumped when I found this Rosy Lips at Target the other day. It is so perfect if you don't like gloss, but you want a little shine and moisture and just the most subtle hint of pink. I imagine this is a super complementary color on every skin tone because it's just so barely-there. Seriously, go get this. 

Benefit Coralista: I really love Benefit products. This gloss in an indulgent buy, but it's so worth it. Okay, girls, when I say "sticky lip gloss" everyone knows what I mean? That tacky, thick gloss that gets stuck in anything that touches it and you can't wear in even the slightest breeze because your hair will be glued to it? Can I get a witness? This is the opposite of that. It's so slick and the color is a sheer coral that layers perfectly over other colors or nothing. I really can't recommend this gloss enough because of the texture. And it comes in a bunch of colors

Bare Minerals Moxie in 'Show Off': On the other end of the spectrum, this gloss is definitely more on the traditional sticky side, but what it lacks in texture it makes up for in color. It's a baby pink that gives me a perfect nude lip to pair with smokier eyes. And the stickyness isn't all bad; as long as I'm not eating or, like I said, standing in a breeze where I'm constantly pulling my hair out of my lip gloss (Seriously, does anyone else have this issue? It might have something to do with the fact that my hair is usually a hot mess, but I mean, really...) it lasts a really long time. 

Clinique Almost Lipstick in 'Shy Honey' and 'Black Honey': Okay, I didn't take the caps off these in the picture because if I did, you would have seen the Black Honey and said, "Whaaat? Is this girl trying to bring back the dark hoochie lip circa late 90's?" And I don't want you to say that because this dark raisin lip color is actually so subtle with only one coat, it gives just the right touch, and I didn't want you to be scared away. Rumor has it (on Pinterest) that this shade really is perfect for every skin tone from pale to deep browns. Plus it has like a million reviews. The Shy Honey color is a baby pink. The whole line of Almost Lipsticks are super buttery smooth like lip balm but have good pigmentation like a lipstick. 

Moving on to the nails. Now I'm not one of those fabulous girls that gets her nails did, but every once in a while I like to pretend like I've got it together and paint my nails. These are my current cold weather faves. 

1. These are just polish remover pads. I don't really think it matters what brand you get or anything, but I just like to throw it out there that they are super helpful to have when you travel. Because if you're anything like me, if you go on vacation you're like, "I'm gonna paint my nails so people think I'm fashionable and put together!" Then two days into vacay they're chipping and you're like, "Aw man! Now I look like a 7th grader with these chipped up nails!" So these are just nice to have when that mani starts looking rough. I didn't take a picture of it but in between colors I like to use OPI Nail Envy. This stuff is super pricey but it is legit strengthener and I can see and feel a difference in my nails after even using it once. I've been using it for years and my nails are really healthy looking and feeling. 

2. Nicole in 'Kourt is Red-y for a Pedi': Yes it's a Kardashian color (kolor?) but it's a really saturated, gorgeous red. Red is my go to nail color and this is my current fave. Any one got any reds that I should try out though? There is room in my heart for more reds. 

3. Nicole in 'Paparazzi Don't Preach': I'm ashamed to admit I have not one, but two Kardashian nail polishes. They were on sale, okay? Don't throw stones. This is a great pinky nude that is perfect for when I want something subtle, but I don't want to go bare. I also love nudes for my toes and, unless its summer and I'm opting for a bright Barbie pink, this is almost always when I use for my pedi. Just please don't let the Kardashian's know that I helped grow their empire in any way... 

4. and 5. E.L.F in 'Purple Pleaser' and 'Gold Star': I got these in a set of four for $5! (See what I mean about us Milwaukee girls and our bargains?) These are great colors for the holidays and, I'm not sure if it's tired yet, but I still love the 'accent nail' trend and the gold is great for that. I think you can only buy E.L.F. nail polishes in sets and right now at Target they have tons of them for very cheap. 

6. Clinique in 'Black Honey': I got this in a set with the Almost Lipstick and Black Honey lip gloss. This is the prefect deep, dark purple for winter. I adore edgy, dark nails and I think this purple is the right balance of edgy and sophisticated. 

My nail dilemma now is finding the perfect top coat. As you can see, I have a mix of cheap and nicer polishes, and I think both can last a long time with the right top coat. But alas, my search continues. If you have any tips or recommendations, pretty please tell me because these are the things that keep me up nights. (Not really. But I wish I lived the kind of life where top coats kept me awake at night. Maybe that problem happens to the Kardashian clan (klan?). 

Okay, this picture could really be a post of it's own. If you know me in real life, you might know of my deep and consuming love for all things Lush. This is just a sampling of my favorites from my bathroom, but I really could go on and on about this brand and how much I love their stuff. I would love this stuff just for the smells and for how well it works, but the cherry on top is their use of fresh, organic, and vegan ingredients where they can, no preservatives and fillers, and they reduce landfill waste by using no packaging or recycled packaging. But even if you hate Mother Earth and love synthetics in your products, (to each their own) you will love this stuff because it all smells amazing. Okay, so on to the goods. 

Body: Pictured here are two of their body washes. 'Twilight' is only available online now, but has the most intoxicating lavender scent. 'It's Raining Men' is a honey body wash that smells like honey and toffee and the scent lingers for hours. My only complaint about either of these is that there are no body lotions in these scents as well. Seriously, so so good. I have a couple other body washes, but these are my favorites. R even uses a Lush body wash for men that smells minty and clean and oh so handsome. The thing about all their washes is that they are really concentrated and they aren't made with a lot of water, so they're small bottles, but they last a long time. 

Hair: Okay, this really is where I get fanatical about recommending products. I love Lush hair products more than I love lip gloss, and that's serious love. Pictured here are 'Big' and 'Rehab', two shampoos and 'American Cream', a conditioner. Once upon a time I used all different kinds of shampoo and nothing seemed to do good things to my head. Pantene, Garnier, Aveda, Bumble and Bumble; nothing gave me good lather and clean rinse and felt clean after my hair was dry. The worst was Pantene, which gave me a waxy feeling and felt heavy. Then I started using Lush and my world was a better place. I don't know if it's because they have good, real ingredients or if it's just that my hair likes it more, but it is seriously good stuff. I started out using their solid shampoos (of which I can recommend a few if you are curious) but recently discovered 'Rehab' so I've been using that lately. But nothing compares to the lather you get from those solid shampoos. Then 'Big', which is a little pricey but lasts me a good long time, is my in-between shampoo. This shampoo feels like a salt scrub and lathers like crazy. My hair feels so squeaky clean and shiny afterwards. It's a perfect 'every other wash' shampoo if you use a lot of product or just a clarifying wash. I have heard that if you color your hair, the salt and lemon might not be ideal for frequent use. I just got my hair trimmed the other day and the stylist couldn't stop commenting on how healthy my hair was. I think I owe it all to Lush.

Pamper: Lush is famous for it's bath products; bath bombs, bubble bars, soaps, and lots of other fun things like massage bars and foot scrubs. Pictured here is a bath bomb called 'Avobath'. Made with lemongrass and avacados, you just plop it in the tub and it fizzes and dissolves into sweet, soft, scented water to soak in. I've used a bunch of different "flavors" and they are so luxurious. If there's a Lush store near you, it's fun to just go pick out ones that smell good, but the online store has good descriptions as well. The bubble bars are basically the same, only they make bubbles, too. (Aren't you glad I'm here to help decode these things for you?) I know not everyone is a bath person, (I think a comedian once called baths "dirty person soup") but if you are, these are so perfect. The other thing pictured is 'Mint Julips' lip scrub. It's made with sugar and you just rub it all over your lips to slough off dead skin. I mean, a lip gloss fanatic like me has got to have a good lip exfoliator. 

Okay, if you're still reading after all my long winded beauty picks, I've saved a special treat for you as a reward for sticking it through to the end. 

Pictured above is my favorite thing in my whole makeup drawer: E.L.F. Mineral Eyeshadow Primer. Let's start with the basics; if you've never used primer, then go get some. Primer is exactly what is sounds like- it's a base layer to prime your makeup. Foundation primers help smooth out your complexion and keep your foundation put all day. Eye and lip primers do the same thing and can also help keep shadows from creasing and lipsticks from feathering and fading. They are wonderful tools and virtually every makeup line from the cheapest to the most luxe have their version. I used to only use primers when I was doing dramatic makeup for a night out, but I've seen the error of my ways and use an eye primer for every day makeup because it means my eye makeup looks fresh for 12+ hours. (If I'm being honest, I usually have to touch up my eyeliner a bit if I'm going from day to night, but shadows stay put and look good for the long haul.) 

Now, just like Lush, I can probably write a whole post about on E.L.F. makeup because I love love love it and it's ridiculously cheap, but for now I will just introduce you to this little holy grail of eye primers. For only THREE measly little dollars, it does what much more expensive primers do and keeps your shadow fresh and unmoving all day. How do I know? Because I bought this a few years ago and was impressed with it's staying power, but I figured if this little cheapie did so well, then the name brands must be better right? With only one exception it is just as good if not better than several name brands I've sampled. The E.L.F. is definitely my top pick for a cheap, every day primer that you can stock up on. The exception? When I am doing formal makeup for a night out or for low lighting and need more dramatic eyes, I prefer Bare Minerals Prime Time. It's a little more tacky (in a good way) and just holds the deeper shades and the black liner a little better. But for every day? Definitely the E.L.F. hands down. Love this stuff and you really can't beat $3. 

So that's it! My current beauty faves and obsessions. 

What about you? What are the products you can't live without and can't stop recommending? I'd love to try out something new! 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

goodbye rent.

We've been keeping a little secret over here. 

I didn't want to say anything until it was 100% official. It's almost 100%, but I just couldn't keep it in any longer over here...

We bought a house! 

Our loan approval is almost complete and we close next month, so I figured I could go ahead and spill the beans. Let me tell you the story of this little house that will soon be ours...

Once upon a time we found out we were moving to Florida. So we started house hunting. Actually, I started house hunting, and by house hunting, I mean stalking real estate listings. We knew which part of the city we wanted to live in so that narrowed it down a lot. Which was good.

One day we found a great little house right around the neighborhood we wanted and lo and behold, it was a new construction! Which is good because that means no one else has lived in it and dirtied up and gotten their all dead skin cells all ground into the carpet. (Feel free to get grossed out about that for a few minutes. Seriously. Look at your carpet and just think about all those dead skin cells. I bet you never even thought of them before and now that's all you can think about. You're welcome.) So here we were, looking at this brand new, not even finished house, right smack dab in the neighborhood we wanted, and it was dead skin cell free. 

But it wasn't for rent. It was for sale. 

Pause for dramatic effect. 

We're not buyers! We're renters! We love renting and paying someone else's mortgage and replacing someone else's flooring that our dog chewed up back when he first got out of doggy prison and keeping someone else's appliances in good working order and walking around on someone else's carpet with someone else's dead skin cells in them (Seriously, it's kind of an issue for me...). Who doesn't love renting?!

Even though we love it so much, all it took was a little sweet talking from the realtor to convince us that buying might not be a terrible move. (She was smooth.) We weighed our options, prayed about it, and finally decided that maybe if we just saw the house itself, we could make a decision. So we drove down to Jax to check out the house and it just seemed perfect for us! 

Three bedroom, two bath, fenced in yard for Beau. Some more of my favorite touches? 

-Bathroom in the master bedroom; perfect for not cleaning when guests come over. Come on, who doesn't just love knowing that when people come over, there's a room in your house you can just hide all your dirty clothes and towels and not clean out the toothpaste from the sink? 
-Covered front  porch with a porch swing! How quaint and Southern! 
-Screened in pack porch with a ceiling fan. Also quaint and Southern and perfect for drinking outside on hot summer nights without getting assaulted by mosquitoes. 

This is really the only good picture of the house so far because it's still a baby house. When it's finished next month, I will make sure to get it decorated as soon as possible and get some pictures up! It's a very exciting and grown up step for us and we couldn't be more excited to move in!