Skincare staples at almost 40

This post probably feels random for most of you, but bear with me.

One of the things I decided to do when I turned 30 was take better care of my skin. I noticed it was changing, and it was only going to change more as I aged. Drugstore products worked mostly well, so I started using a retinol to counteract the crow’s feet and laugh lines. I used scrubs, foaming washes, whatever was on sale. For most of my teen and adult years, using “whatever was on sale” worked.

However, when I turned 35, my hormones threw a party. As someone who never dealt with acne as a teenager, minus a spot here and there, I was appalled and offended that at 35 years old my face had lost its mind. It wasn’t even regular, run-of-the-mill acne. It was cystic acne, that painful, deep-rooted, takes-a-week-to-surface acne that flanked the sides of my face. It was painful and ugly, and I didn’t know how to fix it.

Fast forward five years and my skin feels normal again. I still get a spot now and again, but not only have I learned how to take care of my skin, I’ve also learned how to prevent more spots (so far).

Part of it, I believe, is diet and general healthcare. I drink a lot of water. I try not to eat a lot of sugar. I don’t touch my face a lot. I exercise, get enough sleep, and so on. Basic healthy things.

The other part of it is skin care. The first thing I did when I switched up my skin care routine was stop exfoliating. No more scrubbing and scratching my face because I needed it to CALM THE HECK DOWN. I also needed an antibacterial component to attack the acne, so I started using Cetaphil and I haven’t looked back.

[Not pictured is the Cetaphil antibacterial bar soap I use in the shower.] I use the foam wash morning and night at the sink, followed by the unscented lotion to moisturize. If I need to use makeup remover, I do that first, but I’m not using anything else to actually wash my face. Cetaphil is amazing and it’s enough.

Each morning after washing my face, I apply Mario Badescu’s Glycolic Eye Cream underneath and around my eyes, even above and between my eyebrows. If I’m going somewhere right away and want to apply makeup, I skip the eye cream and use It Cosmetics Feel the Moment Primer Serum all over my face instead.

At night, I use the Peptide Renewal Serum in the same places, as well as my neck. If I feel an acne spot starting to form, I use the Drying Lotion. If you catch the spot early enough, it will never surface. It’s weird magic.

These products are small but mighty. A little goes a long way, so while I normally wouldn’t spend $45 on a tiny dropper bottle of something, I can tell you honestly that I used the same Peptide Renewal Serum from July 2017 to mid-January 2018.

To help combat the dark scarring (thanks cystic acne!), I’ve used Murad’s Spot Serum with a lot of success. (This is a travel size. I’ve never bought the full size.)

Finally, I recently discovered a makeup product that I love, love, love. NARS tinted moisturizer is the ideal answer for someone who doesn’t want full-coverage foundation but prefers a little “veil of color.” Added bonus – it has sunscreen in it. It works like a BB Cream, but it’s actually a moisturizer.

I recognize that my skin is likely to change even further after I turn 40, but right now, it’s holding up. Minimal fuss with a little attention to trouble spots seems to do the trick. 

Favorite Thing: Gaiam Yoga Mat

In early December, I purchased my very first yoga mat. This was after doing a year of yoga on the bedroom or living room carpet watching Yoga with Adriene videos. Not once did I think I needed a mat because 1) why spend the money when 2) the carpet is soft enough.

And then I signed up for a Yoga for Advent class at church and actually needed a mat so I wouldn’t be on the linoleum floor.

With Kohl’s cash and coupons in hand, I perused the modest exercise section of the store and found this beautiful gem:

The original retail price was $35, which is what you’d pay on the Gaiam website. While that isn’t the price I paid in Kohls, I would have no problem paying full price for this mat.

This particular mat, I just learned, is called the Serenity Reversible Yoga Mat and I don’t think I could’ve come up with a better name. As soon as I roll it out, I feel calm, eager to stretch, ready to slow down. Yoga has become a mainstay in my exercise routine and the addition of a yoga mat upped my game.

Honestly, I didn’t realize the grip feature was important, but it is! So much better than carpet! No slipping and sliding, which are counter-productive to proper yoga practice.

Additionally, the extra cushion does a make a difference, particularly as I try new positions and poses, as I attempt new practices that I finally feel confident enough to try.

That mat is reversible, but the chevron pattern isn’t as serene as the peacock feather.

Three things I love:
1. The grip of the mat was a feature I didn’t realize I needed, and not just in comparison to the carpet. As I’ve examined other mats in other stores, I’m glad I bought the Gaiam 5mm mat, as the grip bubbles and cushion depth are high quality.
2. The graphic print is a pleaser. This could be a petty perk, but I enjoy seeing the colorful feather every time I roll out the mat. Every single time.
3. Bringing out the mat readies my mind for the practice. It’s a feeling I didn’t have when I practiced on the carpet, when I’d pull up a video and begin. Now, when I place my bare feet on the mat, with the video set up in front of me, my body is signaled.  I’m in a specific zone. The air is different, and since yoga is a practice I value for not only for my physical health but also for my mental health, the air needs to be different.


Favorite Thing: Lenny and Larry’s Complete Cookie

Earlier this year Chuck introduced me to a cookie. I was hesitant at first because I can bake perfectly delicious cookies on my own. Aside from Oreos, I take care of my own cookies.

No, really, he insisted. Try these cookies. 


The packaging is thorough. It tells you all the things that aren’t in the cookies – eggs, dairy, soy, artificial sweeteners – and also tells you that the cookies are kosher, vegan, and non-GMO. High in protein (16 grams) and fiber (8 grams), the cookies sound like lumps of cardboard and chiseled glass.

But no. Lenny and Larry’s Complete Cookies are delicious, and they’ve become a staple in my diet.

The cookies aren’t dessert (though I suppose they could be). I eat one for breakfast, or maybe half of one, or I’ll eat one for lunch or for a snack if it’s one of those days that I don’t have a proper meal.


By far my favorite flavor is the Chocolate Chip, with the Snickerdoodle and Double Chocolate Chip tied for second. Because each full cookie boasts nearly 400 calories, half a cookie can do the trick. The uneaten portion keeps nicely in a ziplock bag.

Not all flavors are favorite. The White Chocolate Macadamia Nut isn’t as good as I’d hoped and the Chocolate Peanut Butter was a touch dry, but for the cookies’ ingredients and purpose (meal replacement, pre-workout boost), they hit the mark.


So far the cheapest I’ve found them is at Walmart – $6 for a box of four. When you half them, the price is easier to swallow.

They travel well, too!

Favorite Thing: Yoga with Adriene

My relationship with Yoga is long and sordid. We’ve been on-again, off-again for years. I’ve tried to make it work. I’ve put in extra effort, and I’ve half-assed it. I dabble, then I quit. Yoga and I are just so complicated, so combative. Yoga’s all, “Come on, try me again,” and I’m all, “No. You suck.”

And then I found Adriene.

Yoga with Adriene

Some random day during a random week in 2015, a Yoga with Adriene video popped up in my YouTube feed. She looked warm and friendly, like we could chat in the grocery line and realize we were meant to be friends. I clicked on the video. Her voice was sobering. I watched a few poses, then I tried them.

It’s fair to say that Yoga and I are working steadily on our relationship again. For the first time, I have hope.

Unlike my small collection of yoga DVDs, Adriene takes it down a notch. Not the intensity or creativity of her workouts, but rather the fancy-pants language of the yoga practice. Yes, she occasionally throws Sanskrit here and there, but she talks us through each step. She explains what each body part is supposed to be doing, how it’s supposed to feel, and modifies the poses for those who are less or more experienced. She doesn’t assume you know everything, and yet, even if you do know everything, you don’t feel like you’re in a beginner’s class.

Adriene is just so… easy. Mind you, yoga is NOT easy. It is not just a bunch of stretching. It is a string of positions that pulls your muscles to full tension and opens up joints to their capacity. Not all yoga instructors are easy to follow or even easy to watch, but following Adriene’s instructions are so calming and encouraging. She is constantly praising us, telling us how great we’re doing. For me, that’s huge.

It would be easier to stop trying yoga and stick to running and lifting at the gym, but the practice is always worth it in the end. My joints feel looser, more flexible. My posture gets a little straighter and my core gets a little tighter. It’s the sort of strength training you cannot achieve with weights. I push myself a little harder each time, and sure enough, it pays off afterward.

Adriene in namaste

If you’ve tried and failed at a regular relationship with Yoga, consider Adriene. Here’s three things I love:

  1. Her YouTube channel makes it easy peasy. All you need is WiFi and some floor space. No gym membership, no equipment needed. I don’t even have a yoga mat. (However, I do encourage you to wear tight-fitting clothes – tank tops and leggings or something similar. Loose clothing and yoga are not companions.)
  2. Her video variety is wide. Beginners to experts, 20 minutes to an hour, yoga for weight loss, yoga for relaxation, yoga for certain times of the month, etc. If you can’t find a video to suit your needs, you’re too needy.
  3. Adriene provides exactly what you need, nothing more, nothing less. In the beginning I used to skip the warm up/cool down breathing, but then I realized I was short-changing myself. The prep work really is necessary for an effective workout, and the cool down is a peaceful way to wind down. Unlike my yoga DVDs and other online yogis I’ve tried, the warm up/cool down time isn’t lengthy. It’s just enough to get you started and get you finished.

Favorite Thing: States of Undress

Chuck and I have been watching a lot of VICELAND lately, the new cable channel from VICE. Its documentary-style format and controversial topics keep our attention. We often hit the pause button to discuss whatever the subject matter is.

Though I’ve only seen four of the six scheduled episodes, I’m comfortable telling you that States of Undress is one you should watch. Model and actress Hailey Gates travels to war-torn, tumultuous countries – like Pakistan, Russia, Congo – to investigate the role fashion plays in various cultures.

Hailey Gates

But this show is much, much more than fashion. It peels away the layers of societal roles, the power of the government, how natives explore (or can’t explore) self-expression, and how the world responds to each culture’s norms. So far, the episode with Hailey in Pakistan is the most intriguing. One minute she’s at Karachi Fashion Week, the next she’s in a burka talking to a religious leader with strong ties to Al-Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. (Currently, this episode is free to watch online.)

Three Things I Love:

  1. It explores the role and impact of self-expression in diverse cultures. And by “diverse,” I mean cultures that are vastly different from my own. I spent much of the Russia episode with my jaw to the floor.
  2. The span of topics within one episode is wide and there is always a history lesson. For example, in the Russia episode, we get a recap of how regimes shifted from Yeltsin to Putin and how the generations have responded to the change in value systems. Again, jaw to the floor.
  3. Hailey Gates is a natural. She’s a pleasure to watch.

A second show we enjoy watching is Balls Deep. Nothing is off limits for Thomas Morton, which means it’s mostly definitely not a show for kids.  (If you can, watch episode #3 when Thomas joins a Muslim family in Michigan to celebrate the holy month of Ramadan. It’s fascinating.)

Favorite Thing: Oh No Ross and Carrie podcast

They show up so we don’t have to.

In other words, if you’ve ever been curious about Scientology, Ross and Carrie already went through the personality tests and classes and events so you don’t have to go! They share their experiences with as much objectivity as they can muster, though sometimes it’s just an impossibility to take some of this stuff seriously.

Oh No Ross and CarrieThe topics they explore fall under the umbrella of fringe science (oil pulling, Electrical Muscle Stimulation, cryotherapy, essential oils, Reiki, juicing, Myers-Briggs), the paranormal (ghost hunting on the Queen Mary, the Ouija board, tarot readings), and religions/spirituality that fall outside the major Catholic and Protestant denominations (Christian Science, Kabbalah, Scientology, Mormonism).

Not every topic is super interesting to me, but a lot of them are, and I always appreciate Ross and Carrie’s good sportsmanship when it comes to trying something new and unusual for the sake of reporting their experience back to listeners. They have good banter between them and, even though they attempt to take their investigations seriously, sometimes they wind up in situations that are just too funny not to laugh.

Though they seem to upload a new podcast once a month or so, there are at least four years of podcasts backlogged for our enjoyment. Their first podcast aired in 2011.

Three Things I Love:

  1. The show feeds my curious nature. I’ve been waiting for them to explore Scientology and it’s probably my favorite series of podcasts to date. They’ve posted two so far, with promises for a third, which tells me that they invested a fair amount of time exploring the ideology to have a foundational grasp of its public operation.
  2. It makes me laugh. Two words: Colon cleansing. It’s good entertainment for an hour on the elliptical.
  3. It’s fascinating and a little scary. There is so much bizarro stuff in the world. And worse? These are real people believing in this stuff. The people who are ardent members of Tony Alamo’s Christian Church are real and the people who think 9/11 was orchestrated by the United States government are real. And the people who follow Rael, the creator of a UFO religion? Totally real. And friend, I bet all of them vote.

You can listen to Oh No Ross & Carrie through their website, through Maximum Fun, and on iTunes. Enjoy!

Favorite Thing: Slate’s Audio Book Club Podcast

For more than a year now I’ve been enjoying Slate’s monthly Audio Book Club podcast. The hosts rotate slightly, but not enough so that you can’t identify who’s speaking. (I particularly enjoy podcasts with Hanna Rosin, Dan Kois, and Meghan O’Rourke. The host I enjoy the least is Katy Waldman, but that’s only on account of her vocal fry. Her contribution to the conversation is great otherwise.) All of the hosts are educated, well-spoken writers, editors, and critics, but they are also just a bunch of avid readers who like to talk about books.

Slate ABCEach month Slate’s ABC brings together two or three writers to discuss a book of the moment. Sometimes they choose classic fiction or occasionally a non-fiction book, but they mostly choose current fiction bestsellers or books suggested by their listeners. The thing to know is this: their conversations aren’t spoiler-free. They expect that you’ve read the book so you can follow their discussion.

To date, they’ve discussed books such as The Martian, Go Set a Watchman, All the Light We Cannot See, Station Eleven, How to be Both, The Girl on the Train (which I’m waiting to listen to), Redeployment, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Wild, Slaughterhouse Five, The Goldfinch, and so on. Book club discussions go back as far as 2007, though they weren’t on a monthly routine until 2008. There are currently 100 podcasts available for free.

Three Things I Love:

  1. The podcast is a perfect companion to the treadmill. Discussions are about an hour long, sometimes more, sometimes a little less, and they are engaging enough to help me ignore the time.
  2. They offer food for thought. Whether it’s a book I thoroughly enjoyed (The Goldfinch) or one I didn’t enjoy (The Good Mother), ABC hosts bring up themes and topics that might not have occurred to me otherwise. They indulge the part of me that wants to go beyond the book.
  3. Pure entertainment. I didn’t read 50 Shades of Grey beyond the first 30 pages (free on iBook) because it was drivel, but the discussion on 50 Shades had me belly laughing until I was out of breath on the elliptical trainer. I was dying. It was perfect.

I listen to the podcasts on iTunes, but they are also available through their website here. (Note: not all podcasts are child-friendly.) Enjoy and you’re welcome!

Favorite Thing: Chromebook

A few months ago I used Facebook to crowdsource opinions about the Chromebook as a means for writing only. No gaming, no designing, no uploading photos for editing. My iMac takes care of the big stuff but I wanted a laptop for portable writing and researching, and it seemed like a Chromebook was a logical, inexpensive option.

The feedback was mixed, which I expected. Why buy a laptop that does so little? And what about the graphics? How unexciting.

I bought one anyway and I love it.

blue chrome

Low frills? Yes, but also a low price. It goes with me almost everywhere and has allowed me to write in a myriad of settings. The only thing I need is WiFi.

That may sound like a hitch to you, but I was going to need WiFi anyway no matter the laptop I bought. If WiFi isn’t available, I can still write offline and have my work saved to the small hard drive. Once I reconnect, my Google Drive syncs and all is well.

chromebook keyboard

It would’ve been nice to buy a MacBook or a fancy touch-screen thingy that detaches and re-attaches and has all the cool stuff, but that’s really not what I needed. It’s likely that I could get distracted on higher-end laptops, which would defeat the purpose entirely. Lastly, I didn’t have $1,000 to blow on a new toy.

It’s important to note that this is a Google product, which means it’s only compatible with Google applications. That might be a deterrent for some, but since I already used Google Drive and do all of my internet work on Chrome, I didn’t have to change what I was already doing. In fact, I wrote all 50,000+ words of NaNoWriMo 2015 on the Chromebook. It was super handy.

Three Things I Love:

  1. Lightweight and portable. I bought the Asus 13-inch HD Chromebook. It weighs a little more than the iPad 2, so it’s nothing to carry in my purse.
  2. Reliable. As soon as I open it, the machine is on and ready. No start-up, no loading, no spinning wheel of anxiety. It just goes! Everything saves immediately, so there’s little room for error. BUT, if for some reason I’m nervous about something not saving, the Chromebook I bought has a USB port for a jump drive.
  3. Inexpensive. I could’ve bought the Chromebook for the standard $200, but I spent an extra $20 for the pretty turquoise shell. Included in the price was 100GB towards my Drive account, which has come in handy on the iMac for uploading images from photography sessions. Overall, you can’t beat the price.

Favorite thing: Pumpkin and Pinecones Candle

I light candles around my house all the time, and not just because I live with all boys. Some scents are better than others, but some are downright favorites. This season, I’m loving Pumpkin & Pinecones by Better Homes and Gardens.

Pumpkin and pinecone candle

Unlike many autumnal candles that have cinnamon and other potent spices as a dominate fragrance, Pumpkin & Pinecones is all about warmth. It is the perfect marriage of freshly baked pumpkin pie and the faintest hint of a pine tree.

Three Things I Love:

  1. It’s homey. It doesn’t smell like a faux spicy, fruity candle. It smells like I’ve busied myself in the kitchen baking with the windows open to let in fresh, cool air.
  2. It’s inexpensive. It costs less than $5 at Walmart.
  3. It’s long-lasting. I’ve just recently purchased my second Pumpkin & Pinecones candle after burning the first one about five hours per day (or longer) since the beginning of November. I’m still working on the first one, but when it goes out, I’ve got one waiting in the wings.

Favorite thing: Soap & Glory’s The Righteous Butter

Some body butters leave me feeling like a big ball of grease, so much that I’m afraid to sit on furniture on account of leaving behind a leg stain. But there’s something different about Soap & Glory, and that makes it worth mentioning.

Soap and Glory The Righteous Butter

Full disclosure: I didn’t buy this. It came free with an online order from Ulta, and after it arrived I tossed it in a drawer to inspect later. Fast forward a few weeks, I remembered it existed. When I twisted open the container, something beautiful and fragrant came wafting up, filling the bathroom with the most lovely and clean aroma. I’d just washed my hands so I took a small amount of the body butter and rubbed it all over my fingers, palms, then wrists, and all the way up to my elbows. A little goes a really long way.

Three things I love: 

1. It’s not greasy. I glides on silky smooth and leaves my skin feeling hydrated and soft. I can’t say the same about other body butters I’ve tried.

2. Soap & Glory’s “Original Pink” fragrance is delectable. I want it in other forms – soap, shampoo, perfume, laundry detergent, air freshener…

3. Price. This 1.69 fl. oz. container was free, but a full 10 oz. is only $15. Because so little is needed with each application, those 10 oz. would last a long time.

Blog Challenge Day 30: Comfort food

What is my favorite comfort food?

If I were in the deepest need of comfort of the provisional kind, I would make a large batch of carbonara and a double chocolate cake. I mentioned carbonara in my favorite foods post, and it’s truly that good. It takes about 20 minutes to make and it’s incredibly cheap if you substitute regular bacon for pancetta.

Pasta Carbonara

1 lb. rigatoni
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 lb. pancetta (Italian bacon), chopped
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
5 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine (I always use a Pinot Grigio)
3 large egg yolks
Two handfuls freshly grated Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste (go easy on the salt, or omit it entirely)

1. Boil a large pot of water for the rigatoni. Add a liberal amount of salt. Cook the pasta to al dente.

2. At the same time, warm up a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and brown the pancetta for a few minutes. Add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Cook together for two minutes. Be watchful not to burn the garlic.

3. Deglaze the pan with the wine and stir up all the drippings. Turn down the temperature so the sauce simmers.

4. In a separate bowl, beat the egg yolks and add one ladleful of starchy cooking water from the pasta pot. Temper the water – pour it slowly into the eggs as to not cook them. Drip by drip, whisk the hot water and egg yolks together.

5. Drain the rigatoni and add it to the pancetta and oil. Remove from heat entirely. Toss the pasta so the noodles are coated. Next, rapidly toss the egg mixture with the pasta. Finally, toss in the cheese and add pepper. (Taste it before you add salt. Between the cheese and wine, you may be good to go.)

homemade carbonara

Favorite thing: BBC’s Broadchurch

This isn’t a new show, but it might be new to you. I’m always looking for TV show recommendations, so here’s my recommendation for you.


Filmed in Somerset and Dorset, but set in the fictional town of Broadchurch, Detective Inspector Alec Hardy is brought to the sleepy seaside town to investigate the murder of 11-year-old Danny Latimer. From the looks of things, Danny jumped off a cliff to his death, but evidence soon transpires that Danny was not alone the night he died. DI Hardy is paired with Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller, also a close family friend to the Latimers, to investigate the murder. The two have impeccable chemistry on screen (unromantic, I might add).

Season 1 of Broadchurch is entirely about Danny’s murder. Each of the eight episodes takes a closer look at a possible suspect: the sketchy convenient store owner, the attractive hotel manager, the town vicar, etc. At the end of the season, someone is finally arrested in what seems like a lock-tight case.

Then comes Season 2 when said suspect pleads not guilty and everything gets unearthed – including Danny’s body. Also in Season 2 is a re-examination of one of DI Hardy’s former cases, the one that went awry and left him on the brink of exhaustion and delusion. Both Danny’s murder case and the disappearance of two girls in Sandbrook draw to a close at the end.

Three things I love:favorites logo

  1. Binge quality. It’s infinitely difficult to watch one episode and not press play on the next one because the cliffhangers are unreal.
  2. On top of keeping viewers on edge, the filming of this show caused “The Broadchurch Effect” in southwestern England. So beautiful is the cinematography that people want to travel there and see the cliffs for themselves. 
  3. True suspense. Until the very end, you have no clue who killed Danny. Even my former police officer husband didn’t piece the whole thing together until the end – and that’s saying something. This is the guy who ruins almost every mystery movie I’ve seen because he figures it out in the first five minutes.

Broadchurch is currently available on Amazon and some OnDemand cable/satellite plans.

Favorite thing: Criminal, a podcast

After letting go of Serial, I had some strange yearning to listen to crime stories. I wanted to hear about murder and robbery and weird crap that has nothing to do with my circle of influence.

Criminal feeds that curiosity. It’s not a gratuitous, vulgar unboxing of random evidence but rather succinct synopsis of a crime – bloody and not bloody – with either the people involved or experts on the case. In addition, the host and guest rehash lessons learned and the glaring hindsight that shows up afterward.

criminal podcast

For an extra-creepy listen, try Episode 25: The Portrait.

Three things I love: favorites logo

  1. Great audio. The host, Phoebe Judge, has a voice that’s so easy to listen to. Some podcasts do not have this quality, so when a podcast has fluid audio and a female voice with no vocal fry, it’s all good.
  2. Diverse stories.  It’s not just obscure murders or weirdo tales. There’s white-collar crime, multi-generational crime, and more. If you don’t like the bloody stuff, there are other stories for you.
  3. Short and sweet. Some podcasts require an hour or more from you, but many of Criminal’s stories hover around 20 minutes. Perfect for folks with a short attention span.

Favorite thing: It Cosmetics Feel the Moment primer serum

I became a fan of It Cosmetics last year after discovering its matte eye shadow palette, its luminizing creme stick, and a CC cream I really love. Earlier this summer I perused the It Cosmetics aisle at Ulta and found this primer serum. I’m always on the lookout for a good skin product that will fight the signs of aging and keeping my skin looking fresh. I tested the serum on the back of my hand and noticed how little product it took to spread around a large area. It smelled divine. If it really nourishes, hydrates, preps, and primes my skin, then it’s worth a try.

It Cosmetics Feel the Moment

This photo was taken about two months into using the first bottle of serum and you can see I was just a little over halfway through it. (I’m on my second bottle now.) That makes me feel a little better about the $38 price tag. (On the website it’s being sold with a second primer, but I bought it by itself in Ulta.)

Three things I love:favorites logo

1. It feels amazing. After washing and drying my face each morning and evening, I apply a very small pump of the serum and spread it around my face. It’s like weightless silk. Not oily at all.

2. Because so little is needed for one application, one bottle lasts a long time, even applying twice a day.

3. My skin isn’t oily first thing in the morning, which is something that other night creams have caused. With other products I’d wake up and look like I’d just dipped my face in a pool of olive oil. With this serum, my skin still looks clean and fresh first thing in the morning.

Though this is advertised as a primer under makeup, it’s wonderful as a stand-alone product. I use it twice daily in conjunction with a retinol eye cream.

Favorite Thing: My Modern Met

You’ve probably seen My Modern Met posts on Facebook, especially if you and are I FB friends. I repost their blogs all the time because I’m forever and ever inspired by the folks who are showcased for their talents. Artists, photographers, activists, everyday people – they’re always doing something unique, something I desperately need to see.

My Modern Met was started in 2008 to highlight the magnificent things regular folks are doing to send a message, to inspire others, or simply to release the creative energy inside them.

Like the person who carved intricate sculptures out of old books:

Book Surgeon

And Paddington, the calm and delightful Shar Pei who doesn’t mind playing dress up:

Paddington the Shar Pei

And the Grandmother (and Holocaust survivor) who was depressed, so her grandson suggested they do a fun photo shoot to boost her spirits:
Superhero grandma

And the artist who created a clear 3D shell for a friendly hermit crab:

Crystal Hermit Crab

And the artist who mixes cartography with illustration to create portraits:


Three things I love about My Modern Met: favorites logo

  1. It embraces creatives, even the weird ones.
  2. It teaches us that art has no limits.
  3. It gives artists and designers a boost in a tough industry where everything is subjective. Once you make it on My Modern Met, you get noticed.

Bookmark it! 

Favorite thing: LUSH Big Sea Salt Shampoo

We don’t have a LUSH store where I live, which is probably for the best.

LUSH Big Sea Salt Shampoo

Last November, when we went to Chicago for Thanksgiving, I introduced my sister to LUSH. I obsessively sniffed every fizzy bath bomb in the store and tried stuff and daydreamed about how much I could buy if I had a ba-zillion dollars. It’s not the most expensive stuff in the world, but they aren’t at Walmart prices either.

For those of you unfamiliar with LUSH, they are known for cruelty-free, all natural hair and body products made of ingredients we can all pronounce. Some products are so fresh that you have to keep them refrigerated or they spoil. LUSH began thirty years ago (or so) with offering a handful of products through The Body Shop. Now it’s its own thing and people go nuts over their stuff.

My sister kept a mental note about LUSH, so when my birthday came around, she splurged on something I probably wouldn’t buy myself: the Big Sea Salt Shampoo. It has all kinds of natural ingredients like seaweed, lemon juice, coconut oil, and orange oil, along with the big chunks of sea salt. You pull out a small amount and massage it into your scalp, thereby producing a surprising amount of lather from a couple of kitchen ingredients.

Inside LUSH Big shampoo

The real magic happens after I dry my hair. It’s legitimately more voluminous, which was a wonderful surprise.

Three things I love:

favorites logo1. The fragrance is unlike anything I’ve smelled in other products, and that’s a compliment. It’s noticeably un-chemical-y. It smells like I made it in my kitchen and added a few drops of essential oils for a bonus.

2. A little goes a long way. The first time I used it I wasn’t sure how much was necessary for my hair length, so I definitely used more than needed. By the second, third, and finally fourth time, I was down to a dime-size amount and it was sufficient. I’m making this thing last.

3. LUSH quality and commitment. Though I prefer cruelty-free products as a whole, I can’t always afford to be picky. Granted, you get what you pay for. I can spend $4 on an all-chemical shampoo made in mass at a factory that works decently, or I can spend $25 on something handmade with ingredients that are so fresh that they have an expiration date. I like the principle of using LUSH, and if I were able to justify incorporating their products into my budget, I’d totally do it. Until then, it’s only a treat.

A blog challenge and a new blog series

A while ago – and I mean a long while ago – I saved a 31 Day Blog Challenge list with the intent to do it in one of the earlier months. You know, January, February, March. So I’m doing it in October! It starts tomorrow.

blog challenge

Secondly, I’m also starting a new series of posts designed to share with you the things I’m loving. These things could be beauty and skin care products, apps, TV shows, podcasts, whatever – just stuff I’m really enjoying and think you may enjoy too. Keep your eyes peeled. It’s starting soon.

Tomorrow is October 1 and that means I’m almost officially allowed to eat candy corn in whatever amounts I deem necessary. I’ll start carrying around small baggies of candy corn in my purse, hiding baggies in my car, and keeping tubs of candy corn hidden from my family. This is what I call “the storing of winter fat.” The pumpkins are my favorite.