Stacy B here! Happy New Year everyone! Fresh start, new year, better tomorrows. Hopefully.
The last two years have been a bit trying for my husband and I, for many reasons, including a rough pregnancy, the increased cost of two kids in daycare, a job change for my husband that turned out to be a terrible move thanks to some corporate decisions made just after he was hired that essentially changed not only his job, but his salary. Not good, and questionable business ethics if you ask me.
That's as much detail as I'll bore you with, but we are confident this new year will bring us much more happiness and good luck. We have healthy boys and a nice place to live so I shouldn't take that for granted, but a happy work environment for the hubby and a boost in our economic situation would be icing on the cake.
We're not big on resolutions at our house, I feel like they set you up to fail. They are always too big and a year is just too long to hold yourself to something that could be a major life change. I'm sticking with what I know and just vowing to stay on my healthy eating and gym workouts plan.
I was at the gym last night and saw a bunch of New Year's Resolutioners huffing and puffing on the treadmills in their new gym clothes looking like they were about to throw up. I admire them for taking that first step, but if you don't start out slow, you'll never made it past January. It took me 6 months to work up to 45 minutes of cardio and 25 mintues of weight training 4 nights a week and while it was frustratingly slow, in 6 months I lost 23 lbs and every ounce of baby weight I put on. I'm pretty proud of that and I know it was because I took it slow, didn't expect miracles and pushed myself just enough to see results without hurting myself or getting discouraged.
One thing that helped was taking walks during lunch at work. I have a gym right down the street and I can get there, walk on an incline for 30 minutes and get back to work in an hour. I don't over-exert, there's just no time for showering so I do just enough to get off my butt, burn some calories and boost my energy without sweating like a pig. Thank God for dry shampoo and makeup wipes! My favorite wipes are Neutrogena's Pink Grapefruit Oil Free Cleansing Wipes.
I have these in my gym bag and I love them. They smell so fresh and citrus-y. I use them when I'm changing to do a quick wipe down of my skin, especially around my hairline which does get a little sweaty, even though my workout is very low impact. They are also perfect for around the bands and straps of my sports bra that can also get a little sticky. Just a quick swipe and my skin is clean, sweet smelling and fresh.
I know these are primarily for your face, but they work everywhere else, too. They are not sticky at all, they wipe away clean, although it does take a minute or two for them to totally dry. I don't have time for a full moisturizing ritual after my workout but these are not drying at all. That's one of the reasons I like them so much, I can use them without feeling my skin tighten up and get cracked or itchy. And since it's 8 degrees today as I write this, the air is dry enough, I don't need a wipe sapping any more moisture from my skin.
Meg hair! You want to know what stinks? When you're five years old in a sandbox and everyone else in the group picture has cute ponytails and you have tufts on your head and your grandfather refers to you as "his little Ed Asner."
Being bald due to cancer must be terrible. I mean, you have cancer, so there are bigger issues. I never had cancer. I was just bald because God has a very good sense of humor and that's life.
Now, I have long, luscious hair. Amazing. It only took 10 orphans in a poor Indian village to get it. So, win? Win?
I can lie and tell you if you use this product your hair will grow. It doesn't. I spend the GDP of a poor nation on my tresses. Because I am on TV and I HAVE TO. Those long full locks with a slight curl on the end? Yes, they're as natural as my full C+ boobies and plump upper lip.
Jessica comes to my house after I've spent $300 on new, auburn Indian hair. She has to remove all of the old stuff. It gets ratty. I've got my extensions out and now she is coloring the remaining pieces I have in. She has to, we have to make the new hair perfectly match. It's step one in a process that will take hours and almost $1,000 a month. I think I'm JLo.
Full hair is sexy, full hair equates youth and health and vitality. Full hair has always eluded me, until I took the hit to my wallet and decided "full hair" was worth it.
Stacy B here! Merry Christmas! I hope you all had a great day celebrating with friends and family and way too many sweets. Don't worry, the collective diet starts Tuesday.
I was really lucky this year that my office closed on Christmas Eve so I had 3 days before Christmas Day to get fully prepared. We hosted about 15 people at our house for dinner so I had a lot to do! Luckily my mom and aunt have been doing Christmas dinner for years so they basically brought everything and just took over my oven. I made potatoes, corn and about 4 different types of cookies. With help from my son, of course. He's getting really good, especially at cracking eggs, which is his favorite thing to do. If there are no eggs in the recipe, I pretty much can count on him bailing on me. Luckily, every cookie and treat I made had eggs. Healthy stuff....really.
During a rare moment of down time Sunday afternoon I had time to do my nails. No fancy manicure, just a quick two coats while my youngest napped and my husband and older son ran some errands (last minute shopping, of course).
I went with a perfect Christmas shade from OPI called Speak For Your-Elf. How appropriate, and cute! It was a true red glitter polish but the glitter was red, too, and very fine so it wasn't chunky or flashy. Just a nice shimmery sparkle in the right light.
Just as the second coat was drying, my son woke up demanding lunch and mommy attention so I didn't get to do a top coat. I figured I'd get to it later....take a guess if that happened or not...
My only trick for time is to swipe a bit of polish across the tip of your nail. Hold the brush vertically and lightly swipe it across the edge of your nail, bonus points if you get a little on the under side of the nail. If you can't get in a top coat, this helps protect from chips.
I hardly expected this to last and anticipated some touch ups before the big day, or even a full replacement. But, OPI really came through. After two full days of craziness, I just had a little wear on a few tips, but no major chips. This polish made it though two baths for each kid, all the present wrapping, 4 different batches of cookies, assembly of the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse Farm set, two stockings stuffed, one Christmas Eve party, one champagne bottle popped, a full house clean, my own showers, one round of coloring Rudolph pictures and a sprinkling of reindeer food on the front lawn. With a very difficult top to open! Plus, opening all my own presents, and all presents for my 8 month old. He only wanted to chew on the paper.
Stacy B here! This is a pretty hard post for me to write, half of me still can't wrap my head around what happened in Newtown, CT and the other half of me is so excited for Christmas with a 4 year old that truly gets it this year and a 7 month old who is thrilled if you give him some wrapping paper to crinkle up. I'm torn right down the middle this week.
And where does make-up fit in to all of this?
Can I really write a light-hearted post about the bronzer I've been using lately when there are mothers out there that will never hug their babies again? But, can I allow something that didn't happen directly to me ruin the Christmas season for my kids who have no idea what happened? It's really difficult around here lately. Wanting to be happy and excited for Christmas with my family is totally normal. But so is being heart broken about these latest events. My son is in school this year, my Mom is a teacher. Any of those kids or teachers could have been them. And a friend from high school is the Sandy Hook Elementary gym teacher. She saved 37 kids. 37 KIDS. She ushered them into a storage closet and kept them safe, quiet, and alive. Too many things are too close to home on this one.
I just have to hug my kids and my mom, keep those babies and teachers in my thoughts and keep going. That's all we can do, just live our lives as best we can and look forward to the good things without forgetting the bad. Needless to say, I've had some sleepless nights lately. A teething 7 month old who MUST have a hollow leg is also keeping me up at night, so that's not helping. The kid eats more than I do and he's 20 lbs!
Waking up with a pale face is par for the course in the winter, but throw in some stress, some excitement, some rough nights and I look like a ghost. When your own mother tells you 'you look exhausted', and forces you to go take a nap while she watches the kids, you know it's bad.
My wallet's not all that fat lately either, so I needed something quick, easy and cheap. Thank you Wet n Wild for your Ultimate Minerals Bronzer. This stuff does the job. It brightened up my face with some color and a VERY light shimmer. Don't worry, there are no large glitter particles to cling to your face, it's just a very nice, light-catching shimmer that goes on evenly and stays smooth all day.
Stacy B here! It's getting Christmas-y around here. We are decorated and shopped and lit up and filled with sweet treats that my son loves to help me make. It's amazing I'm not gaining tons of weight right now with all the holiday food that's starting to make it's way around the home and office. Ask me if my clothes fit in 2 weeks, you might get a different answer!
This year, I'm going to have to ask Santa for some diet aids, or Spanx or miracle skin firming lotion or something! I've been in pre-baby pants for a few months now and I'm not going back!
I think the holidays mask us from what's really going on. The air is getting drier...hello static...the wind is getting colder....hello wind burned skin...the moisture is being sucked right out of us like a sponge...hello chapped lips.... It's not fun. I think Christmas, Thanksgiving, Hannukah, New Year's and anything else you celebrate is just a diversion from what's really happening. Maybe if you get enough presents you won't realize your face is cracking? Or, if you eat enough pie you won't realize your lips are about to bleed?
Well, it's not fooling me. I'm on serious beauty watch. My husband travels for work and occassionally goes out with friends so in the last 2 weeks, I've had a few nights to myself as soon as I get the kids to bed. My empty house turns into beauty central. The face masks come out, the nail polish goes on, the foot cream is opened, the chick flicks start rolling. This is really important this time of year. A mental break in all this holiday mayhem is much needed and a pampering session for your skin and hair is well deserved, too.
Along with some great skin care masks I've been using, I switched to a more natural face lotion from Nature's Gate. I had some success with their tanning lotion (yes, I've been more careful and my palms are now back to their original color) so I thought I'd try their Lemon Verbena Moisturizer.
This smelled really great, and was for normal to oily skin. My skin is not all that oily, but can get a bit slick in the winter when it works overtime to keep from cracking and falling off. Here's the best part...ready for some of the ingredients? White Tea, Olive, Aloe, Argan, Flaxseed, Vitamins C & E, essential fatty acids and antioxidants. All readable, all natural, and I actually have heard of every single thing.There are some other ones in there that are a bit more complicated, but there are no parabens, no animal based products, no nothing. Great, right?
Like the Glow Lotion, this did not moisturize as well as I hoped, but it wasn't bad. I felt great going to bed after using it, but woke up a little tight this morning. It is very thin, so it feels like a cross between a lotion and a serum and did take a few seconds to really soak in and dry enough so I could put my face on my pillow. The good part about that is you can use just a little bit, so this bottle will go a long way. My skin does feel soft and smooth today though. The scent is light and airy and doesn't linger too long. It almost felt...spring-y. A few days before the first day of winter, too! Maybe it was the light lemon scent. Citrus always makes me think of spring and summer.
Meg here and I don't know about this whole 12/12/12 thing but the sky in LA is totally grey and it loks like it's going to down pour any second. I hate this for a number of reasons. One, I think I suffer from Seasonal Depression. Whatever that is, the type of thing where a person gets down when it's gross outside. To help combat this ailment, I moved to sunny Los Angeles sixteen years ago. Now I just suffer from Body Dysmorphic Disorder, a slight case of anxiety and an extreme case of narcissism-the same as every other Los Angelino.
Since the sky is dark and eerie it may seem strange to speak about MDSOLAR SCIENCES Mineral Screen Tinted Gel. SPF 30+. It's not that far off, here's the deal. Even though Mr. Sunshine is not visible to you, harmful UV Rays are still shooting right through the clouds. People actually get a lot of sun damage this way because they're not expecting it.
Not to Bragg (Ha! See what I did there?!) Since my Apple Cider Vinegar routine my skin has been looking really nice. I do of course have a little uneven redness around my nose and chin. The ACV really helps but it's not photoshop in a bottle.
I am loving MDSOLARSCIENCES Mineral screen tinted gel SPF 30. It's so light but it provide enough coverage to even out my skin tone. It really feels like smooth silk going on, like a high end moisturizer. There is zero "cakeness" and it doesn't sit in my fine line or creases. Oh yeah, it's also protecting my from getting any new fine lines or creases and preventing the ones that I do have from getting worse. Thank you SPF 30+!
Sometimes, companies that use the SPF really concentrate on that and the almost medicinal aspect of their product and overlook the cosmetic end. This product feels more like a luxury cosmetic than a preventative one. Only a little is needed and it doesn't at all apply greasy. I'm reaching for this daily.
Meg here! OK, I'm going to try to do this again. I just wrote this all up and it was great! You would have laughed, you would have cried! This post would have changed your life. Then I accidentally closed the damn window before hitting "save" and I just finished calling myself every curse word I've ever learned. Yet, I trudge forward...
Maybe "change your life" is a bit strong, but you know what isn't? Change your skin. No B.S.
First off, Apple Cider Vinegar? You know it. I know it. I've heard the virtues of it for years. It's pretty vile. I mean, shots of apple cider vinegar? Ugh, and you know me, I'm not the type to shy away from a shot (or 3.) I mean, I dance so much better after a few and my date is so much better loooking after the third. But Apple Cider Vinegar? Come on. There are a lot of things in life that are unpleasant that I already have to do. I pay my parking tickets and the IRS, I get bikini waxed. Do I really need shots of this gag inducing liquid to make my skin better? In short, YES. You do too. I've done the research with Nick and here's the deal.
Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar, it will make your skin look a TON better. A TON. It's not "yummy" but you wont want to hurl after taking a shot. We've found it to go down the smoothest. Yes, it's a ritual that we started three weeks ago and I swear on all that is holy, my skin has NEVER LOOKED BETTER. EVER. After dinner we fill a shot glass, cheer and clink, then shoot it back. My cystic stuff has all but disappeared. Not only that but I'm getting the best gift in the world. The gift that makes my life worth living. The gift that fits every size, every gender, every age range and income bracket-I'M GETTING COMPLIMENTS!!
My friend Heather, my dermatologist, the butcher at Whole Foods "Your skin is looking really nice."
My skin? In my younger years, I never had a problem with acne. I did have extrememly thick eyeglasses, braces for three years and a spiral poodle perm though. So yeah, I was super hot.
Since becoming an adult, my teeth are straight, I have flowing, gorgeous long (Indian extension hair sewn into my head) and contact lenses. Since the Lord Giveth and Taketh Away (that's in The Bible-right?) I also started to get adult cystic acne. You know God, what a jokester sometimes.
I really stand by the Apple Cider Vinegar trick, that's helping me on the inside and showing through to the exterior. I'm also trying a new face wash and I'm loving it. These two bad boys together are really making my need for all over foundation a thing of the past. Seriously, that is quite a statement, I know, I'm just feeling really good about my current dermis situation right now. "Current dermis situation?" I know, spoken like a true beauty blogger and complete skin nerd.
The new face wash? Clarks Botanicals Skin Clearing Face and Body Wash. I am really loving this. My friend Heather that I mentioned above? Well, I recommended it to her. Let's see if I can get her to comment on it. As she said to me yesterday "You've never done me wrong with product suggestions." I went with her to buy some.
I'm loving that this "skin clearing wash" also includes "body" since my neck had also decided to turn against me. Oh neck, I count on you to keep my head held high in times like these! I see there is no loyalty, none. Damn you neck!
Stacy B here! Rough week ladies. Nothing bad happened, thankfully, but it's just another crazy week around here, with more coming. I guess I should remember that my family is healthy, I have a roof over my head, food in my fridge and heat in my vents but still. Hectic weeks are hectic, no matter how fortunate you are.
I've been overloaded with Christmas shopping, and having relatives in LA really puts the pressure on because those gifts need to be either bought, wrapped and shipped by next week, or shipped directly with hopes that the right person opens the box and can wrap everything before the wrong person sees! Every day I have boxes outside my door and my list is not close to being done. Throw in a teething 7-month old, a very smart 4-year-old who asks about 10 times a day "how many days until Christmas?! And can we make MORE Christmas cookies today?!?", a sick husband and 3 full days of required corporate in-house training (fun, I know) and this week was over before it started.
Oh, and tomorrow's our team Secret Santa at work because my manager is on maternity leave starting next week. Which means two things. 1. I will be shopping for my $10 or less gift at lunch tomorrow before the 3 pm party and 2. I can't answer her emails fast enough about what is done and what must be done before she is out. Crazy.
Did I mention I'm in charge of refreshments for the party? Thankfully it's on the company dime but I still have to order food and go pick it up! Is it 2013 yet??? I'm sure no one will notice if I get a mojito at the bar while waiting for our team appetizers, right? They don't itemize the receipts do they?
Guess what usually suffers when I get busy. Make-up and fashion. So sad. Well, that and sleep, but let's be honest, I have two kids, sleep is a luxury at this point. Now, I never give up entirely on my outward appearance but I am in 'multi-use product' mode. Soaps that moisturize, hair serums that dry straight and frizz-free so I don't have to use a flat iron, eye products that brighten and stay put for the entire whirlwind of a day so I don't have to reapply. Give me quality products that save me time and money and I can focus on what really matters: having enough red and green sprinkles for the Christmas cookies I seem to be making at an astonishing rate.
NYX to my rescue! Again! They have a great little shimmery eye shadow stick called the Slide On Eye Pencil. It's like a little sister to their jumbo eye shadow stick which I already love. These are much thinner and more precise though. It is so smooth and glides on so fast. I love their color selection, too, way beyond the typical eye liner colors.
Meg hair! A few months back I wrote about my visit to The fabulous Leonor Greyl Institute in Paris. Leonor Greyl is France's premier luxury hair care brand it is growing quickly here in the U.S.
I made my way to the Leonor Greyl Institue for one of their signature Hair Spa Treatments. I really don't understand why more salons here in the U.S. offer these relaxing (and the results! Woohoo!) experiences. I know we have a bunch of international readers so if you have something similar in your area, I'd love to hear!
If a picture says a thousand words then this YouTube will say a few million. It's really easy for me to describe how amazing my treatment was, but sometimes it is just easier to watch it for yourself.
The women in the beginning of the video is the wonderful Caroline Greyl. I'm sure you've put two and two together and figued it out, but that is Leonor's daughter. Caroline runs the ship over there and once you get a few glasses of wine in her, she's more fun than Disneyworld.
If you haven't had a chance to try these products-you must. I would suggest you start with the Holy Grail product Huile De Palme if oil isn't "your thing" you could always try Allure's Best In Beauty Winner Shampooing Reviviscence. All of their products are exceptional and find their way on the world's most famous manes. You know what's on tour right now with Madonna? I mean besides a hot 20 someting Latino? Yup, Leonor Greyl products. The list of celebrities that can't live without these items is a mile long. In fact, in this weeks issue of People Magazine, Emma Stone is styled to perfection with Leonor Greyl's cult Mousse au Lotus Volumatrice.
Stacy B here! I'm so embarrassed. I should be fired from writing on this site. I committed one of the cardinal sins of beauty.
I forgot to wash my hands after applying self tanner. For like 3 days in a row. So stupid of me! You know what happens, darker palms, orange spots between my fingers and weird splotches on the heels of my hand and wrists. I have been pretty annoyed for the past few days, everytime I look down I am reminded of my error.
I found a new natural tanner that I wanted to try, Nature's Gate Glow Lotion and I just dove right in. I guess I can state the obvious here...it works.
I think my mistake was trying it after getting out of the shower in the morning. We're like a well oiled machine in my house, my husband gets up and showers first, I get my younger son and lay him next to me for a few more minutes of sleep while we wait for my older son to get up. When I'm showering, he gets the kids dressed and fed and then when he leaves, I get them out the door and to wherever they are going that day.
Yes, you read that right, my husband does the breakfasts and outfits each morning. I am really lucky to have a very involved dad as a husband! I would be willing to bet he'd pass off the outfits to me if we had girls, but with two boys, it's not like you have to worry about accessorizing!
Adding a new step to my routine wasn't as easy as I thought. The first day my older son decided he wanted to dry his hair, too. I had to help him hold the hairdryer to keep him from dropping it because the air flow 'tickled his head'. The second day we were running late because both boys chose to sleep for about 15 minutes longer than normal and the third day, my younger son decided to flip himself over onto his belly and then scream in frustration because he was stuck like that. He's not quite strong enough to crawl but deparately wants to move. I had to rescue him.
Really, I'm just lucky that neither boy has tan handprints on them somewhere. Even if they did, it's a natural product so I wouldn't feel bad about chemicals on them!
This company has been around for 40 years and is based on botanical, herbal and floral products. I thought this was great when I read it on their site: "Our Certified Organic botanicals are farmed without the use of synthetic or inorganic chemicals, utilizing methods that naturally enhance soil structure, conserve water and mitigate climate change." Not only is it good for you, it's good for the planet!
The lotion has readable and recognization ingredients, like shea butter, apricot, almond and soybean oil and Vitamin E. I bet it's great for those of you with sensitive skin or allergies. It goes on very smoothly, is thick but not sticky, absorbs fast and smells great. Sort of a floral, citrus blend. Or as my husband said, "you smell like Key Lime Pie". Um, thanks?