I Saw My 1st London Rat & I Was Really Disappointed In My Reaction

KEEP CALM

I knew that city living would come with many new experiences and at some point I would cross paths with the worst kind of city dweller, rats. I had a plan that when this inevitable experience would occur I would have a cool, calm, and city girl collected reaction. The English are known for their ability to refrain from showing any kind of emotion and maintain composure in all situations. I was determined that I would assimilate into the English culture with my reaction to my first meeting with my fellow city dweller.

What I didn’t expect was that first rat and I would see each other on the 2nd night in my new flat, in a very dark hallway. My reaction couldn’t have been further from cool, calm and collected. Once the rat and I locked eyes a sound came from my mouth that I didn’t know I could create. A squeal doesn’t adequately describe it because it was higher pitched and more pathetic sounding than I know was possible.  My body flung itself into the air in the most ungraceful like position. Arms flailing, legs like they were trying to swim in the air and if I could look in the mirror I am sure that my facial expression was something that only a mother could love.  I’d like to think it was the eye contact that really got me. That rat looked at me like he knew it was my first time and he was going to savor the moment.

After I rationalized with myself that just like a shark, they are more afraid of you than you are of them, I ran up the stairs as quickly as possible and blocked the bottom of my door with a towel.

I was determined never to have that reaction again, so my strategy when entering my flat building after dark became to alert the rat of my presence as early as possible to give him enough time to relocate to his territory. This meant slamming the front door, turning on all the lights (aka turning on the flashlight function on my phone) and stomping in place for a solid 30 seconds. I then proceeded to stomp my way up the two flights of stairs as quickly as possible until I found refuge behind my door. As you can guess, the neighbors love me.

My strategy worked until one night when the rat decided to mix things up.

Every time we saw each other he was roaming the ground floor and with my booming entrance, he would obediently find his way into that little hole in the wall he called home.  Just as I thought I had the cool, calm, city girl reaction down…he appeared on the 1st floor landing in clear defiance of the unspoken agreement of the territory lines that had been drawn.  I squealed like a little girl, nearly fell backward down the narrow flight of stairs and then lost all decency that I had gained from my previous redemption.

It was at this point that I realized I will never be cool enough to have a stoic reaction when I see that long tail and beady eyes, moving around unpredictably across my path.

Of course, once I had come to terms with the fact that every entrance into my flat building at night would include an embarrassing squeal emitting from my mouth, the rat disappeared. I think that once the element of surprise left our interactions he became unsatisfied and left to find a new unsuspecting victim.

To that person, I hope that you find your reaction to meeting my hallway rat is a tiny bit more dignified than mine. To the rat, I hope you never come back again.

 

 

 

It’s Lonely In London

london tower bridgeLondon is pretty lonely.

When I came to London in November, I was living with one of my best friends.

When I came back after the holidays in January, my best friend had moved to Sydney, but I had my dog, Meyer, with me. (I know she is not a person, but she was excited to see me every time I walked through the door and that counts for a lot.)

Now I am back again and I had to leave Meyer back in Florida (she is living a lux life of retirement in FL w/my parents). 

I really am alone and I am lonely.

 

When I walk by a cafe and see a group of girls having a glass of wine, I am flooded with jealousy. I consider approaching them and asking if I can join them. There would probably be a 50% chance that they would welcome me with open arms or a 50% chance that would look at me like I am crazy and intrusive.

The pubs in England overflow into the streets at any day or time of the week. I am so tempted to walk up to a group and say “I love a great beer and watching a good game, can I join you?”, but I just keep walking.

I live on a really popular street for bars, restaurants, and markets. I can hear the world of socialization through my windows as it passes me by, while I stay in on a Friday night.

There is so much to do in London. I wake up each day and there is a flood of ideas of things that I could possibly do. Sometimes I go do them on my own. Sometimes I am lucky to find someone to join me, but my pool of options is pretty small (about 3 people), so I am typically left with the choice between on my own or not at all.

More often than not I feel like I am wasting this opportunity that I have in front of me and it riddles me with guilt and sadness.

 

Making new friendships is hard. I know some people compare it to dating, but I think it is more like job hunting.

First, you have to find the elusive potential friend who wants to make new friends. There are the typical suggestions of where these potential friends are hiding: alumni groups, mutual connections, meet up groups, blah blah blah. I have heard them all at this point, but just because there are 10,000 jobs posted on LinkedIn, doesn’t mean they are looking for you or that you are the right fit.

If you are lucky enough to find a potential friend, cross your fingers that you make it past the initial interview. Do they like you? Do you like them? Are they willing to welcome you into their social calendar?

If they are, you have made it to the 2nd round interview. Now you have to try to convince potential friend that you deserve the job. You might get the temp job, just a surface level friend who gets invited out for drinks or light socializing every once and awhile. But, when you have no friends, you are hoping you get the real friend job and have found someone you can get past the surface level and really be yourself. Without a real friend in this city, you can feel completely isolated and alone.

 

Friend hunting is exhausting. You are constantly trying to find new friends, work your network and get interviews.  When you chase down a potential lead only to have it not come through as you had hoped, you are left disappointed in the time you spent and in yourself.

If the process of making friends wasn’t hard enough, just getting the guts to put yourself out there is a feat in itself. It can take nerves of steel to walk into a room alone, meet a stranger, or do something on your own.

Living with depression, my mind instinctively tells me that I should isolate myself from others. If I hide away then I won’t burden anyone around me with my depression and I can relieve myself of the stress of trying to fake it when I am around people. When the depression is loud, it is a struggle to walk out the front door, but when it is quiet, I tend to forget that it is still there and something that I am feeling is not a flaw, but a symptom.

Right now, I am trying really hard not to give in and hide away from the world even though that is what my head is telling me to do. I am trying to win the friend hunt and create as many opportunities for success as possible and I know that eventually the probability will land in my favor and I will get the job.

 

 

 

*Disclaimer: I hate to follow my last post with another one that is on the less rainbows and sunshine side of this experience, but it is what is at the top of my mind at the moment. I promise, I have many informative and entertaining posts to come about my life in London.

London Is Kicking My Ass

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London is kind of kicking my ass and last night, it literally kicked my ass.  While walking home on a high street in Hyde Park a man bodychecked me and then yelled “I AM GOD” as I fell to the ground.

Thankfully I was with a friend because I can only imagine how embarrassed and scared I would have felt if I was alone. He is pretty sure that the guy who knocked me down was on drugs, so it wasn’t personal, but it is definitely symbolic of my experience in London thus far.

When I came over in November I was beyond lucky to stay with friends until I got on my feet. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get on my feet and when I flew home for Christmas I felt as if I had failed. I hadn’t secured a place to live or taken any significant steps in the job hunt.

At the moment, I am staying in a long term type apartment. Apartment is a generous word, it’s a room with a bed, couch, and kitchenette. The flat search has been tough because I am battling a few criteria that are proving tough to meet.

  • I am unemployed, which means I will need to put out 3+ months of rent up front.
  • Budget (yes, what they say is true, London is expensive)
  • Pet-friendly (Meyer came back with me after the holidays)
  • A short-term lease (I can’t sign anything more than 6 months bc of my tourist visa)
  • Location (my only requirement is a part of town where I won’t be afraid to walk home at night)

But the biggest restriction I have run into is my own ego and fear.

EGO. My ego has been talking a little too loudly when I look at a flat. One of the reasons I decided to move was to shed the materialism and false idols of “success” in my life. I think both of these feed your ego and inhibit growth. Ridding my life of materialism has been easy. I find freedom in knowing that everything I own can fit into 4 bags. I think that many people believe your home is a reflection of you and your success in life. I have always been a bit of a nester. I like to make my home and comfortable and welcoming place where I can gather with friends.

I think that many people believe your home is a reflection of you and your success in life. I have always been a bit of a nester. I like to make my home and comfortable and welcoming place where I can gather with friends. Problem is that life in London, at this point, is not conducive to my previous ideas of how I create a home. I need to lower my standards and accept that the only thing I need right now is a roof over my head, in a safe place, that allows me to chase the experience and adventure that I came to London for.

FEAR. This kind of goes without saying, but I am just a little bit terrified of how this experience will turn out. The fear of failure is overwhelming. If I find a flat, sign a lease, then this is real and if it is real, the chance that I fail is real. The fear is silent and sometimes invisible, but it is clearly holding me back.

What I need more of is faith. I need more faith in myself that I will find a way to overcome any obstacle. Faith that there is no failure in this experience because having the experience is the success in itself. Faith to remind myself that every time I fall down (literally and figuratively), I always get back up.

 

 

Instead of Getting Married…I’m Moving to London

IMG_7051What do you do when the “plan” you had for your life isn’t unfolding as you expected?

I have always seen my life laid out in front of me like a book. Each chapter is a defining stage of life: childhood, high school, college, early adulthood ( pretending to be an adult) and adulthood. I had read through all these chapters with ease and in general, had positive experiences. I thought the next chapters in my life would be an engagement, marriage, and children. That was the way this book is supposed to read, right?

Time started passing by, but the pages in my book were not turning to the next chapter. Everyone around me seemed to be reading ahead. At first, just one chapter, but soon two and three chapters ahead and still, my pages didn’t turn. I thought if I just stayed still, then the page would turn. I had all the right pieces in place, I just needed to wait for it to happen.

Soon that stillness changed into paralysis. I grew envious and impatient. I started to believe that I was inadequate in some way. I knew all these thoughts were illogical, but the more time that passed, the more I started to believe them.

I had a trip planned to Europe in May and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. I was terrified that my feelings would ruin my trip. The paralysis was debilitating and my depression was pulling me even further down, but I didn’t have a choice, this trip was forcing me to move.

FullSizeRenderI have always said that when I travel, my soul feels fulfilled. On this trip, I spent my time in Sweden, England, and Italy traveling with friends.  For the last 3 days of my trip, I hiked Cinque Terre on my own. The time alone (and the very long, grueling hike) provided a lot of time to reflect on the experiences of my trip, as well as my life back home. I realized that I felt alive. I felt like my true self. I felt more comfortable in my skin and self than I could remember feeling in a very long time.

I thought about what my life looked like and recognized how deeply unhappy I was waiting for the page to turn. Finally, I realized that wasn’t falling behind as everyone read ahead….I was reading the wrong book.

The feeling of relief at my realization was overwhelming. The self-criticism went away and was replaced with self-empowerment. It is time to pick up my book and turn the page myself.

The next chapter in my life is not marriage and kids.

The next chapter in my book is an adventure.

I have silently envied those who quit their jobs, travel the world and reinvent their life. I have always wanted to live abroad, but anytime I considered it, I only saw barriers ahead of me.

  • I don’t have a job.
  • I don’t have a visa.
  • I don’t have enough money.

What I didn’t see was the barriers that did not exist for me. I do not have a husband, children, or house to consider in my decisions. I do not have major responsibilities holding me in this place. All the reasons I was holding myself back, could be overcome. Instead of looking at barriers to my adventure, I was looking at an opportunity that I couldn’t let pass me by.

When I got home from my trip, I did what every good daughter does, I called my Mother.

I said, “I need to talk to you about something”.

She responded, “What city is it?”

She knew what I was going to tell her. I don’t know how Moms know, but they always do.

I said, “It’s London. I am moving to London.”

I don’t have a solution to the barriers that I listed. I know that they will not necessarily be easy to overcome, but I know it is not impossible.

The point of this chapter in my book is not to succeed, but to try.

I may never find a job. I may run out of money. I may get kicked out of the country. It doesn’t matter what happens because at the end of this chapter, I did it. I went on the adventure. The experience is more valuable than the dollars in my savings account, the break in my resume or the fear of failure.

So, I have quit my job, I am breaking my apartment lease, selling my car, selling or storing 99% of everything I own, and getting on a plane to London. I don’t have answers to all the questions of how I am going to make it all work. I have a place to stay when I arrive (can’t wait to be roomies, Mandi & Stu!) and I will figure out the rest along the way.

I have never been more confident in any decision I have made. I know where I am going and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

So, here I come, London. Let’s do this.*

 

  • “This” will occur in October. Until then, I’ll be knocking down those barriers.

Three Goals for Kicking Off 2015

It is a New Year, so it’s time for the stereotypical blog post about reflecting on the year past and resolutions.  I enjoy reading about how people want to better themselves in the new year. It provides a behind the scenes look at other’s insecurities and areas that they want to improve on, while reminding you that we are all traveling the same path of self improvement and acceptance.  I have been pretty open about my struggles and areas that I want to improve in my life, but I think taking a moment to focus on where I am at and where I want to go is cathartic and helps hold you accountable when you know you anyone on the internet can read your thoughts, so let’s do this!

Reflections on 2014

This past year was like any other with highs and lows. Unfortunately, I saw more lows and they lasted a lot longer than I wanted. My last episode of depression started in late 2013 and plagued me until July of 2014. I look back on this period of time and see all the ways that my depression negatively effected myself and those around me and I just want to bury my head in the sand. I would want to forget that 2014 ever happened if it hadn’t been for the complete turn around that I made in July. I brought my entire life to a screeching halt and it is the only thing that saved me. I took a leave of absence from work and focused on healing my depression. Once I did that, everything changed. I found a new job that I couldn’t be happier in and it led to my career getting back on the path that I have always wanted to be at this age. I took control of my finances and stopped hiding from my financial mistakes and illiteracy. I embraced turning thirty and it really wasn’t scary at all.  I am proud to say that I am acting like an adult in more ways than I am not, which is really all I expect from myself at thirty.

I won’t say that I don’t live with any regrets. I really do wish I could change some things about 2014, but I learned more about myself than the year before and I moved forward in my life, instead of back, so I have really have nothing to complain about and a lot to be proud of.

Looking to 2015

On that first day when I took my leave of absence from work, I wrote all of the things that I wanted to change on my wall and I started to check them off one by one. I knew that I couldn’t tackle them all at once, so I organized that list by priority.

Here is the priority list I created on 6/26/2014:

  1. Mental Health
  2. Career
  3. Financial Health
  4. Physical Health/Weight
  5. Love

Here is where I am at today:

  1. Mental Health
  2. Career
  3. Financial Health
  4. Physical Health/Weight
  5. Love

 

I have two major hurdles to tackle and they are ones that I think are most personal. It might seem odd, but I have been more anxious about revealing my goals in weight loss and relationships than I was to reveal my struggle with depression.  How crazy is that? But being thirty, single and over weight feels shameful and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to be “public” with my struggle. Nothing removes the sting of feeling shame than being 100% authentic and in my case, sharing my story on my blog, so let’s do this!

Goal #1: Feel comfortable and confident in my body

Depression takes a toll on your body and I feel as if I am literally carrying the results of my depression on my body.  I don’t know if I am brave enough to reveal the actual numbers, but lets just say when I got on that scale for the first time it was jaw dropping. So to start 2015 I am going to be a cliché resolutioner at the gym. I started tackling this goal right before Thanksgiving by joining Weight Watchers (I will write a post on my WW experience soon, promise). My friend Kerry was using Weight Watchers and having amazing results (and blogging about them, check her out) and I knew that I was ready to take on this challenge. I didn’t want to put it off until the new year, so I started my diet at the hardest time of the year, the week of Thanksgiving and I can proudly say that I lost 7 pounds during the holidays.  This was a great jump start to the new year and I am excited to see what the future brings for this new challenge.

Goal #2: Open myself up to relationships

When you are depressed dating is the last thing that you want to do, so meeting someone new has not been on my radar in the past year. I think the idea that when you are happy and confident, you attract others around you who are as well is completely true. I have not been happy with myself and my body and that has really shown when I am out and about. I am not ready to date right now. I am still a work in progress and I know that I always will be in some way, but until I am feel comfortable and confident with myself, there is no way I can focus on making someone else happy. So, I have no immediate plans to tackle this goal, but stay turned!

Goal #3: Be kind to myself

My last goal may sound really simple, but it makes the biggest impact.  Depression has kicked my self-esteems ass over the past year. It says the nastiest things in your head and a key in maintaining my mental health is being kind to myself. Whether I am suffering from an episode of depression or not, I am going to be my biggest fan, instead of my worst critic. No more comparing myself to everyone else. No two journeys in life are the same, so it is time to stop comparing them. No more beating myself up when I make a mistake. It is not my first and certainly won’t be my last. No more worrying about what other people think of me.  The more time I waste wondering what they think, the less time I am spending building up my own self-esteem.

Instead, this year I am going to treat myself how I try to treat my friends and family, with kindness and respect.

2014 showed me the power that I have to create change in my life and I am pretty pumped to see what I am going to do with that in 2015.

Is this depression or am I just sad?

Depression is a sneaky little bitch. Pardon my language, but that is the best phrase I can think of to describe it. When you are depressed, the narrative that depression plays in your head is so convincing that you are the reason for all of your problems that the lines between reality and the depression become completely blurred.  The depression can’t figure out if you feel this way because of depression or are you just sad?  To make matters worse, the longer that the depression narrative plays, the worse the depressive episode gets and the harder it is to get out of.

Sometimes the way you are feeling it is not because of depression, sometimes life just kind of sucks and you are sad. But how do you determine if life or depression is to blame? If it isn’t just life and it is depression, the sooner you can identify it, the less time it can steal from you. The only way to learn if what you are feeling is a result of depression is to become keenly aware of your personal symptoms.

Symptoms of depression can be unique to each person but generally fall into the same categories.

  • Feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. A bleak outlook—nothing will ever get better and there’s nothing you can do to improve your situation.
  • Loss of interest in daily activities. No interest in former hobbies, pastimes, social activities, or sex. You’ve lost your ability to feel joy and pleasure.
  • Appetite or weight changes. Significant weight loss or weight gain—a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month.
  • Sleep changes. Either insomnia, especially waking in the early hours of the morning, or oversleeping (also known as hypersomnia).
  • Anger or irritability. Feeling agitated, restless, or even violent. Your tolerance level is low, your temper short, and everything and everyone gets on your nerves.
  • Loss of energy. Feeling fatigued, sluggish, and physically drained. Your whole body may feel heavy, and even small tasks are exhausting or take longer to complete.
  • Self-loathing. Strong feelings of worthlessness or guilt. You harshly criticize yourself for perceived faults and mistakes.
  • Reckless behavior. You engage in escapist behavior such as substance abuse, compulsive gambling, reckless driving, or dangerous sports.
  • Concentration problems. Trouble focusing, making decisions, or remembering things.
  • Unexplained aches and pains. An increase in physical complaints such as headaches, back pain, aching muscles, and stomach pain.

Many of the symptoms described can be attributed to normal lows of life, but the severity and length of the symptoms is what indicates that someone is suffering from depression versus general sadness. If someone is feeling a combination of the symptoms listed above for 2-3 weeks or longer, it is recommended to seek medical consultation as it can be an indication of depression.  For someone who suffers from reoccurring depression, becoming familiar with your indicative symptoms can help identify and prevent an episode of depression before it becomes too serious. Unfortunately, it takes suffering through a few episodes of depression to learn your personal symptoms or signs.  See what I mean about depression being a sneaky little bitch? You have to suffer through it a few times before you can really learn to fight back.

I recently made a change in my medication to finally wean myself off an old drug, Effexor (the story of the actual withdrawal process is one I will share another time) and this change in medication has led me to that crossroad of thinking “is this depression or am I just sad?” After a week or two of “this is just life and I am sad” I took an inventory of my symptoms and realized this wasn’t life, this was that sneaky bitch (depression) rearing her ugly head again.

The first symptom that I notice is a lack of concentration. Knocking out projects at work becomes tedious and I can’t seem to get anything done.  This symptom doesn’t raise many red flags, because who doesn’t have a hard time concentrating from time to time? Next I notice that I have an extreme loss of interest in doing anything social. I bail out of every social event with any excuse I can think of just so I can spend my time in solitary confinement on my couch. This past weekend I stayed on my couch, weeping at the drop of a hat and feeling an extreme sense of loneliness. My head was telling me this was all my fault.  I wasn’t worthy of having people love me which was why I was so lonely. Realistically, I know this is not true, but depression is so convincing that I believe it to be true and the message becomes so convincing that it causes me to ignore the huge red flag that my depression was coming back.

For some reason, it is the change to my morning routine that finally caught my attention and made me start realizing that the depression was back. When I am depressed getting out of bed in the morning is a monumental feat. This isn’t your typical lazy mornings, this is feelings of immense exhaustion and hopelessness of the morning.  Now when this first starts happening I beat myself up for being so damn lazy. I think “you are 30 years old, grow up and get out of bed on time”. My whole day starts off on a negative thought and it tends to go downhill from there. The self-loathing narrative churns in my head all day and by the time I get home at night I am so exhausted from trying to fight back against the depression script running in my head that I have no energy to take care of normal activities like cooking dinner, doing laundry or cleaning the house. The exhaustion then leads to heading off to bed where I toss and turn all night and start the entire cycle over the next morning. Today I noticed that I was going on day 8 of the cycle and it was this fact that finally let me see that red flag flying and realized that the depression was coming back.

My first thought was how angry I was to be depressed now.  At this time of year, when you just want to have a warm and happy time celebrating with friends and family, I don’t want depression to ruin it. And let’s be honest, that idyllic happy time with family that we all wish for is usually a mess of uncomfortable situations and never lives up to the dream that a Publix holiday commercial portrays (if you don’t know what I am referring to, YouTube one of their commercials and I guarantee you will cry).  Adding depression to an already stressful time of the year is just dreadful and makes me want to curl up in a ball and sleep right through the holidays.

So what did I do? I called my Mother. Having a Mom who also suffers from depression means that she truly understands what I am going through and just having someone say “I understand how you feel” makes all the difference in the world. My next call was to my doctor so we can re-examine my medication and find the next solution. Then I came back here.  Sharing my experiences and my thoughts allows me to accept myself and there is something about putting my reality out into the world that feels like a relief.  I am grateful for those of you who listen, even more grateful for those of you who reach out with your words of encouragement and I hope that sharing my experience can help someone hear that “I understand how you feel”. 

The Best Cyber Monday Beauty Deals

I tried my best, but my self control has absolutely failed on this Cyber Monday and several items are on their merry way to my house right now. Some of these deals were just too good to pass up and so I had to pass them along as well. The day is not over so there is plenty of time to scoop these bargains up!

Sigma Brushes – 20% off your entire purchase

I have been meaning to do a post dedicated to my favorite make-up brushes, but while you anxiously await my post, you should go check out Sigma’s sale. A good brush does make SUCH a difference in how your make-up applies.

A few of my “can’t live without” brushes from Sigma are:

  • F80 Flat Kabuki Foundation Brush
  • F86 Tapered Kabuki Brush – I use this for concealer under the eyes and LOVE it
  • E25 Blending – Perfect for buffing color into your crease
  • E40 Tapered Blending – Must have for blending out colors on the lid

Use coupon code: CM2014

Tarte Cosmetics

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Tarte is offering some great deals on their most popular products. I picked up the Lights, Cameras Lashes mascara that I loved in a sample size. Full price is $19 and the sale for $10 was a nice steal. Their popular Amazonian Clay Blushes are down from $26 to $20 as well.

No code necessary.

NARS Cosmetics – 20% off Site Wide

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20% off site wide with coupon code TAKE20

They are well known for many of their products like the iconic Orgasm Blush and Laguna bronzer. I love their Sheer Glow foundation and just picked up the Radiant Creamy Concealer, which I have heard rave reviews about and am excited to put to the test. Some great gift ideas are the Modern Roman Holiday Lip, Cheek and Nail set (pictured above) or

Lorac – Pro Palette

This palette is a fan favorite and is 25% off today, bringing it down from $41 to $31.50.  There are lots of great neutral warm tones in this palette that I find easy to create a variety of looks with.

Please share any great Cyber Monday beauty deals that you found today in the comments below!

What’s in my Travel Make-Up Bag?

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With everyone traveling for the holidays I thought I would share my must have products in my travel make-up bag.  Since you have limited space when packing, only the tried and true products that you are know are not going to let you down will make the cut. My favorite products can really vary by the event or look I am trying to acheive so I like to make sure that the products I do bring will be multi-purpose as well.

Foundation: Loreal True Match Lumi 

When I am traveling I don’t want to take the risk of bringing a $40-$50 foundation only to have it break in my bag, so I like to take a tried and true drugstore foundation that I know I won’t freak out if it breaks. The Loreal True Match Lumi has medium coverage and more of a dewy finish, which I prefer. It works great for everyday light coverage or I can build it up for fuller coverage, so it makes a great travel foundation.

Concealer: Laura Gellar The Real Deal Concealer 

I have yet to find the perfect undereye concealer but this one is my current favorite. The color match is perfect for my skin and it easily blends under the eyes (and does not crease) as well as works to cover up any blemishes or redness. It has been a win-win for me so I have no complaints.

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Powder: Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder palette 

Alright, so this isn’t 100% necessary, but I just love this palette so much I couldn’t leave it behind. If you aren’t familar with the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders they are very fine powders that give you a smooth and perfect finish. They are meant to make it look as if you are glowing from within and I just love it. I use one color to set my undereye concealer and another as a really light bronzer to warm up my cheeks and temples. I definitely took a risk traveling with this one (if it broke I would cry), but I just couldn’t imagine leaving it at home.

Highlighter: Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick in Beige 

Some people can’t live without a bronzer in their make-up routine, but I can’t live without a highlighter. Winter leaves my skin dull and I love adding a slight glow that just catches the light perfectly.Bobbi Brown is known for her shimmer brick and the Beige Brick gives me the perfect highlight (withouth looking glittery) to complete any look.  You can swirl the colors together for a highlighter or also use them individually for eye shawdows. Another dual purpose product!

Blush: Milani in Luminoso 

I am a big fan of Milani blushes. They are super cheap (you can find them in the drugstore) and have great pigment. Luminoso is a perfect peachy pink color that gives just the perfect amount of flush.

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Eyeshadow: Chocolate Bar palette by Too Faced 

I won’t lie, I have lots of eye shadow palettes and love each of them in different ways. I tend to gravitate towards champagne lids and warm browns in my crease, so the Chocolate Bar palette is perfect to acheive this look or I can deepen the colors and create a smoky night out. Plus, this palette smells like chocolate, who doesn’t love that?

Eyebrow Pencil: Anastasia Brow Wiz 

There is no question that this is my holy grail of eyebrow pencils. Anastasia knows what she is doing when it comes to brows. The Brow Wiz makes it so a total novice at brows (myself) can figure out how to put in some definition and shape. You can use this pencil for a full out defined brow or just a quick fill in, it is really versitile and it has a built in spool brush as well. If you don’t have the Brow Wiz I would recommend you add it to your collection ASAP.

Eyeliner: Urban Decay 24/7 Velvet Glide On in Black Velvet 

I bounce back and forth between a liquid eyeliner and kohl pencil, but if I have to choose I bring my 24/7 Velvet pencil with me because it is versitle enough to create any look, goes on super creamy and lasts all day. I got this one as a sample in Birchbox and am down to my last bits but I will definitely be repurchasing it.

Mascara: Bobbi Brown’s Smokey Eye 

This mascara was another item that I got as a sample for free and have kind of fallen in love with. I typically wouldn’t shop Bobbi Brown for her mascaras but this version gives my lashes lift, curl and definition so it made the cut for my last trip.

Perfume: Elizabeth & James Nirvana White 

Okay, so perfume is technically not make-up but the Elizabeth and James Nirvana White is just too good to leave home. I have both the Nirvana White and Nirvana Black and I love them both (I also love them layered over one another). Nirvana White is describe as a mix of peoney and musk and I love it. Rollerballs are the easiest way to travel with perfume and also a really cheap way to try out a fragrance without making the financial investment.

 

What are your must have items in your travel make-up bag?

Share in the comments below!

 

 

Friday Favorites

Friday Favorites

Oversized Plaid Scarf 

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I found this little gem for only $16.99 at Target (if you go now it is currently on sale for 20% off) and I just love it.

 

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It is the perfect scarf to pair with my go-to winter outfit: a chambray top with a black quilted vest. It is soft and a bit oversized, which are my two requirements in a scarf.

 

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Warning: if you happen to throw this scarf on the couch a small dog may use it as a blanket.

 

Lush’s Lip Scrub: Mint Julip 

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The cold weather is here which means that my lips will be in a constant state of disarray. I go through Chapstick like an addict through the drier winter months but one item that helps keep me sane is Lush’s Lip Scrub.

 

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Lush’s Lip Scrub is a perfectly sweet cocktail of sugar and essential oils to help exfoliate your lips from their terribly chapped state. I use it once or twice a week to help keep my lips soft and smooth. Another benefit is that you will notice lipstick/gloss/balm/stain applying more evenly and lasting longer.

 

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Like all Lush Cosmetics products, their Lip Scrub is all natural, preservative free and handmade. I love the Mint Julips flavor because it tastes like mint chocolate chip ice cream, but you can also find Bubblegum, Popcorn, or holiday versions.

Of course, if you want to get crafty, you can make your own version at home: DIY Lip Scrub. 

US Department of the Interior Instagram

 

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If you are not following the US Department of the Interior on Instagram, I highly recommend that you go start following them now. They are posting breathtaking photos of our great nation that make you smile with a little more pride about the beautiful land that we call home.

 

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Each picture makes me add another spot on to my list of places I want to see.

 

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Or sometimes they just make a laugh. I mean, who doesn’t love a funny animal picture?

 

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And you may spot a photo that reminds you of home like this one did for me. Growing up the Everglades has always been my backyard and this gorgeous shot had me feeling a bit more excited to get home for the holidays.

What is something that you were loving this week?  

 

 

Tip Tuesday: How to get FREE Make Up

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My last Tip Tuesday was all about how to return make up for a FULL refund. This week I want you to take advantage of all the free make up samples that are available and get FREE make up! Brands know that you are more likely to buy their product if you try it and stores love to use loyalty points programs to keep you coming back.

I would say that at this moment about 1/4 of my make up is either a sample or a result of a sample product. That is the problem with make up, we are always on the hunt for a product that is going to be better and samples are a great way to  A sample size of mascara can last me several weeks, which is more than enough time to figure out if the formula works for me and if it doesn’t, it saves me from taking the time to return the product.

Sephora

Sephora makes it SO easy to get free make up samples (they also make it really easy to throw $100 away in less than 10 minutes).  First step is to sign up for the Sephora Beauty Insider account. You can do it in store or online. I also love that they just need my phone number when I shop in store to link to my account (I hate carrying all those cards around). Once you sign up, every purchase you make will go towards your Point Perks and your Beauty Insider status.

If you spend $350 at Sephora in a year, you become a VIB, which gets you access to their twice a year sale where EVERYTHING is 20% off!

Sephora Point Perks

Whether you shop in store or online you are depositing points into your Sephora Beauty Insider Account. Once you earn 100 points you are eligible for your first reward and there are some great products available. Here are the current 100 Point Samples:

100 points

There are some great items up for grabs!  The next level of samples is at 250 points are typically a little bit higher in value, here are some of the 250 point samples:

250 points

I had a rollerball for a new perfume (Elizabeth and James Nirvana Black) in my shopping cart for $28 and when I went to check out I noticed that a deluxe sample size of the same perfume was available as a points sample. I put that $28 rollerball back and  I am still using that sample after several months!

Point Perks typically change out each week to two weeks so I like to keep an eye on them in case there is a product I really want to try out.

Sephora Online Orders: 3 Free Samples

To get the biggest bang for your buck at Sephora I recommend that you always shop online. When you shop online you always get to add 3 free samples to your shipment.  These samples are usually a one time use sample but they still give you a preview of the product and let you try it before you buy it.

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Samples can range from fragrance, foundation, hair care to skin care. I always spot at least one sample that I am interested in trying and if nothing catches my eye, I still grab my 3 free samples for a jar that I let guests use when they stay over.

Sephora Promo Codes

Another great reason why I recommend shopping online with Sephora is that you can take advantage of promo codes and more deluxe samples that you wouldn’t receive in store. There are typically requirements like a minimum purchase, but come on, it is not tough to spend at least $25 at Sephora.  These samples rotate weekly as well, here is an example of what you could get this week:

weekly promo codes

From time to time you will get promotions for Sample Bags, which are typically a combination of one-time samples and deluxe samples. These are a great value!

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If you shop at Sephora online, with just one order you can receive:

  • A Deluxe Sample from Points
  • 3 Free Samples
  • Deluxe Sample from Promo Code/Weekly Special

Ulta Point Perks

Ulta has a similar point program but instead of redeeming your points for samples, you earn money back towards a future purchase. You can sign up for Ulta Rewards in store or online and for each $100 spent you earn $3 off a purchase. I know this seems a bit measly, but these discounts don’t have any limitations (which Ulta is notorious for having on their coupons) and something is better than nothing!

ulta rewards

Ask the Cashier

Being polite goes a long way and you will be surprised at what you can get by just asking. Cashiers at Ulta and Sephora often have tons of samples behind the counter and are happy to distribute them (because that is the whole point of having samples) so don’t be afraid to ask.

A few of my favorite products I discovered from free samples and there is no reason to let the perks of your spending go unused! Go grab your free make up with your next purchase!

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