21 Things I Learned in 2021

Have you missed me? I haven’t posted for over a year, but don’t get excited–I’m not planning on making this a consistent thing. My friend Mairin, founder of Solivagant Legal, wrote this blog post about 28 things she learned in 2021. That inspired me to write my own post, but I’m only going to do 21 things because, well, I’m not as wise as Mairin!

Some of the things I learned last year were more general, while others were more life lessons for me. You might read some of them and think “Really, Allison? You didn’t know that?!?!,” but give me break. I might find it absurd that you don’t know DMX’s Christian name or have no idea what tightlining is, so let’s just agree that we all have our own areas of expertise.

Ready, boo?

  1. When you rent, your landlord can turn your world upside down with little notice. Of course I knew theoretically that there’s no guarantee that a renter doesn’t always get the option to renew an apartment or business location, but I’d never experienced that until 2021. I’d always been the one to initiate the breakup, you know? Last summer, I ended up in this situation with both my apartment and my business location after the company I was renting my office from was bought out. and my landlord put my apartment building on the market. It was a trying time for me–and part of the reason I signed a two year lease for my new office space–and now I’m a little skittish. Sure, I’m decorating my new apartment and I really love it, but I’m not buying any big pieces of furniture, and I saved all my moving boxes. I’ve got my guard up!
  2. It’s easy for a family to become obsessed with a new family member. My niece was born during deep COVID in 2020 and even though we were instantly in love with her, we understandably didn’t get to see her a ton in the early-ish pandemic days. 2021 gave us many more opportunities to see her perfect little face, which made my parents and I so happy. When my parents first started babysitting her, I’d drive an hour and a half to be part of the new Babysitters’ Club, and if I couldn’t make it, I’d call my mom after to ask her to recap. I wanted to know every new sound and move our little queen made, and I’d get lots of pictures and videos that I could look at/watch a million times. My parents were and still are the same way. We love this little girl so so so much.
  3. Decaf coffee contains caffeine. I might have known this before 2021, but it didn’t affect me until this year, so I’ll taking it as a lesson. I have a rare vestibular disorder and my vestibular attacks are triggered by several things, including caffeine. I’d been drinking decaf coffee since late 2018 when I realized caffeine was a culprit, but decaf didn’t bother me. This year though, I could feel the caffeine and my health was suffering because of it, so I had to cut out decaf. That was a sad day, but I’ve recently found a replacement which–don’t worry–I’ll tell you about soon.
  4. Hot water opens stuck jar and bottle lids. Okay, okay–I might have heard this one before too. God knows my mother has been telling me for long enough! But I’ve actually listened lately and have successfully opened two items that I thought would be sealed forever. Thanks, Mom!
  5. I can have a totally different relationship with someone over text than in person. Can we all agree that texting is not an ideal form of communication? Tone, responsiveness and length of a reply can all make a conversation (or lack thereof) seem totally different than intended. A “K” or thumbs up can seem rude, which may not have been someone’s intent. A crazy late response can make it seem like the recipient doesn’t care about what you texted. And when someone leaves you on “read” when you expected a response? That will make a girl like me livid. When text mishaps repeatedly happen with the same person, especially when they’re someone I don’t see in IRL often, they feed into how I view my relationship with them. Then I see them and realize it’s not at all like that! In the future, I’m going to try to avoid concocting a negative story based around a flawed communication medium. How’s that for a New Year’s resolution?
  6. The Law of Attraction requires thoughts and feelings to work. I’m no stranger to manifestation and the Law of Attraction, but I hadn’t thought too much about it in recent years. I got back into it this fall and learned something new (or maybe something I’d forgotten along the way). The Law of Attraction doesn’t just require you to think positively and visualize the things/future you want if you want it to work. It requires you to feel good too. From what I understand, everything is made of energy and things vibrate at different frequencies. If you want good things to manifest for you, you need to get on that feel-good frequency to attract them. It’s certainly easier said than done, at least in my experience, but it makes sense to me that feeling is as important as thinking. I’ve been putting a lot of effort into focusing on the things that make me feel happy so I can tune into that feel-good frequency and I have noticed a difference.
  7. You should always check your credit card for cashback rewards. I’m big on credit card miles. I haven’t paid full price for a flight in a longggggg time. But I’m guilty of neglecting to check my credit cards to see what that current cashback rewards are available too. In 2021, I learned to start doing that more often and it’s helped. Who doesn’t love a little cash back?
  8. Moving to a new, non-bordering state is a bitch. My snowbird move each year was never a walk in the park, but it was usually more annoying than difficult. Moving full-time to a whole new state though? Different ballgame. I was lucky enough to have a lot of help from friends and family with booking a moving company, physically moving items out of my apartment, meeting my movers at my new apartment when I couldn’t be there, and everything in between. And even then, it was time-consuming, expensive and stressful. I’m still in the settling in process in my new apartment and am eager to cross all the new resident stuff off my list, but this phase is much easier than the move itself. I’m so glad that part is over.
  9. Ignoring the news and social media is a gamechanger. Getting off social media wasn’t something I thought about until one day when I said to myself, Enough!. The catalyst was the amount of COVID-related articles and posts, because at this point, I just don’t want to think about the pandemic any more than I already do. I was also sick of the negativity, divisiveness and obsession with celebrities in our society and realized I didn’t need to subject myself to it. I haven’t had a television for almost 20 years and I don’t get any newspapers. If I could figure out how to make the new alerts on my laptop toolbar and my phone stop popping up, I would! My goal is not to truly understand the “ignorance is bliss” way of life, but to stop giving my attention to things that don’t make me feel good (see Lesson #6) or don’t have any value to me (Pete Davidson is hilarious, but I don’t care who he’s dating). I still do business Facebook and Instagram posts but I haven’t looked at anything besides the first post in my personal Facebook feed (because I see it when I go to check messages) since before Christmas. I’ve scrolled a little on my Instagram–which is a business account–and watched a handful of stories, but Insta was never really my thing. I have to keep a personal Facebook account to run my business pages, and I wouldn’t delete any business FB or Insta accounts, but I’m good with keeping things as is. When it comes to news, maybe my head is in the sand a little, but that’s great for exfoliation.
  10. Salt candles will sweat in humid climates. Of course it makes sense, but I’ve had the same Himalayan pink salt candle for years, often in top floor apartments that felt like hell’s kitchen during the summer months, and it never started sweating until I brought it to Charleston! It’s been under 60 degrees for days, and the damn thing is still molting its salt skin.
  11. To flatten out turned up ends of an area rug, roll it in the opposite direction. My father taught me this during this fall’s move into a new AB Beauty location. It really works!
  12. Trentinoin can be topped with petroleum jelly to make a souped up eye cream. I heard about this in a few YouTube videos from estheticians and dermatologists, and I ran it by my own derm last month. She gave me the okay, so I’ve been applying a thin layer of Vaseline over my undereye Trentinoin. I’m surprised I can even use Trentinoin under my eyes, as a lot of people find that too irritating and I’m historically a sensitive little entrepreneur, but I’ve never had an issue with it. The idea behind this layered eye cream is that because petroleum jelly is an occlusive, meaning it basically locks in what’s beneath it, it helps the Trentinoin absorb better. This isn’t a good option for people prone to milia, those with sensitive eyes or anyone who’s just started on Trentinoin, but may otherwise be a great eye cream alternative. If you have questions, feel free to comment and I’ll try to help.
  13. Golden Milk is a good alternative to coffee and tea. I like warm drinks, but as mentioned, I can’t have even decaf coffee. Hot chocolate is also out, due to the caffeine, as are caffeinated teas. Un-caffeinated teas make me crazy nauseous, so also not an option. For the longest time, the only other warm drink I could think of was hot apple cider. I like it enough to drink it once in a great while, but not as an every day thing. I did some research and discovered Golden Milk, which you can make with several different ingredients, as long as it includes the golden-hue providing turmeric. I use turmeric, cinnamon, a dash of black pepper and agave nectar. It tastes great and supposedly has some good health benefits, so I’m happy to have found it.
  14. Scripting works. I went down a rabbit hole of manifestation videos on YouTube last fall and came across a few on scripting. I hadn’t heard of it before, but it’s right up my alley. Scripting is when you write a letter/email from your future self to whoever you’d like, but you don’t actually send it. In this email, you write from whatever point in the near future you want, and you talk about something you presently don’t have but want. Vying for a promotion at work? Write (but don’t send) an email to your sister as if you’d been given that promotion, and how happy you are about it. Ready to meet your dream guy or gal? Write (but don’t send) an email to your best friend about how you met your partner and how great it feels to be with them. You get the point. There are various recommendations about how often you should read the email, but most say you should stop after a month, as you need to cross over from asking for what you want (which is what you’re doing via the email) and being in the accepting mode. I scripted the new apartment I wanted, read it daily for about a month then pretty much forgot about it. I went and read it again recently–after I found my apartment–and I shit you not, so much of it “came true.” I’d completely forgotten about the details I’d scripted and when I looked back, I couldn’t believe how many were exactly what I had scripted! I’ve tried this again for some other areas of my life and I look forward to seeing how the scripting magic works for those.
  15. Being quad dominant is a thing. I have naturally muscular legs, which I haven’t always loved on my petite frame, but you can’t fight genetics, baby. I lost some weight this year and didn’t like that my best ASS-et was looking smaller, so I started doing a lot of lunges and squats. Unfortunately all that did was make my already big quads look huge. I did some (panicked) research and realized I was what they call “quad dominant.” I found some glutes exercises that don’t build the quad muscles and they’ve been making a difference. Once I stopped the squats and lunges, my quads thankfully went back to a size that looks more proportionate on me. Phew!
  16. Most people aren’t going to live up to my expectations (professionally). Sounds harsh, but hear me out. I’m not referring to anyone who works for me. I’m talking about the people I’ve hired or gone to in the past for personal things, like cleaning services, medical appointments, property management, etc. It’s not that I think I could do everyone’s job better, but in my opinion–I’m sorry, in my experience–it’s not difficult to answer a direct question in an email, be prepared, or show up on time for a job. I came up with something I call the Barbera Principle, and it is this–70% of people are bad at their jobs. Go ahead and try to change my mind.
  17. Packing paper trumps bubble wrap. My friend Carol, who could really be a moving consultant, told me this during my recent move. I’d always been a bubble wrap kind of gal, but Carol said packing paper was the way to go. And right she was! My stuff was moved from my RI apartment into a UHaul, unloaded and moved into a trailer which was driven to SC, unloaded in SC and loaded into a moving truck, then brought into my new apartment–and nothing broke! Carol is a smart woman.
  18. I’m old because I wear a side part and skinny jeans. I’ve never been into trends, and a bunch of people born between 1997 – 2012 are not about to change my mind. You think I’m going to do a middle part with this bone structure? Get the hell outta here! And bootleg jeans? Already did those in the 90s, honey. I’m a staunch believer in wearing things in a way that flatters you personally, not what’s en vogue. So I’ll continue to do what I want, as per usual πŸ˜‰
  19. This technique to make downturned lips look better. Lisa Eldridge is a genius. I’ve been doing makeup for almost 14 years and I wasn’t aware of this technique until 2021. It makes total sense!
  20. A handheld lemon squeezer is really the way to go. A temporary character in my 2021 world gave me flak for using bottled lime juice in my tequila, and he was right. Fresh lime juice, courtesy of one of those handy dandy squeezers, is much better. If only fresh fruit juice could heal Peter Pan Syndrome, that temporary character could have been more permanent…
  21. I love being around people. I’ve long considered myself an ambivert, meaning I equally enjoy alone time and being around others. I don’t know if it was the decrease of socialization due to COVID or the years of working alone that caught up with me, but last year, I realized I’m definitely happier around people. Even having a conversation with a nice grocery store cashier instantly gives me an energy boost. This recent discovery works well with my 2022 goal of having more fun.

I know there are so many things I’ve already learned and forgotten, but I’m happy with this list. 2021 had its chaos, sadness and rough days for me, but there are always lessons to be learned.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

It’s All Over

No, not COVID. But 2020 is. And so are my weekly blog posts. I think the weekly posts have come to their natural end. I made it a goal to do one blog post a week in 2018, then I renewed that goal in 2019 and again in 2020. It was a real struggle to make that happen this year, and not just because of the pandemic. I’ve run out of advice to give, so I feel like I should shut up for a bit.

If there’s something I think would be helpful or if I feel like writing, I’ll pop back on here. But the weekly posts are not going to be a part of my 2021.

I’m a big believer that things WILL get better in 2021. I hope that’s the case for the world collectively and for you individually, dear reader.

Have a beautiful year πŸ™‚

This Year Is Finally Almost Done: The December Wrap Up

*THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE POSTED ON 12/26, BUT GOT STUCK IN DRAFTS. DON’T YA HATE THAT?*

December was a quiet month for AB Beauty. All of our weddings postponed, trials were scarce and corporate shoots are still on pause. We’re getting a lot of inquiries for fall 2021 and early winter 2022 though, so I’m grateful for that.

I got to (safely) see my immediate family this month, which was the best part of December for me. I’m off to Charleston for the winter very soon, so I think about that, oh, only every five minutes. I’m very ready for warmer weather, my Lowcountry friends, and grits.

December is the time to look back, right? And although much of this year has been absolute dogshit, there was some good there in my life. My niece was born in the summer, and she is the center of my family’s world now. I met some new friends in Charleston In January and February and strengthened my friendships with some New England friends. I connected with a lot of Rhode Island wedding vendors and got my business through a year that could have crushed us.

I realize things won’t automatically get better as soon as we usher in 2021, but I do think things will improve as the year goes on. I have a good feeling about that, and I will not be swayed.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Youthful Looking Makeup Tips

There’s nothing wrong with aging, looking your age or not wearing makeup. We need to stop shaming people for that.

There’s also nothing wrong with not wanting to look older than you are, and that’s where I can help. These seven makeup tips are here for you if you’re interested in a more youthful makeup look.

Skip The Bottom-Lash-Only Liner. Applying eyeliner at the bottom lashline only gives the appearance that the eye is drooping. Using liner at both the top and bottom lashlines provides balance and definition to the eye, and can even make the eye look lifted. That being said, a thinner, diffused liner at the bottom lashline–whether it’s done with pencil or eyeshadow–is generally more flattering than a thick line.

Powder Minimally. If you have any type of texture on your skin–fine lines, wrinkles, acne scarring, large pores, etc.–product can settle into those lines and magnify them. Powder is especially good at highlighting texture, so I use it very sparingly (if at all) on those areas. If lines, pitted acne scars or large pores are a concern, you can also use a pore minimizer on those areas before applying any other face makeup. Pore minimizer temporarily fills in those areas, allowing for a smoother application of face makeup.

Add Some Blush. What’s more youthful than rosy cheeks? Many people had a natural pink or red flush on their cheeks as children and teens, and blush can be used to mimic that natural flush that may have once been there. Cream blush works especially well on those with dry skin or texture on their cheeks, as it doesn’t settle into lines or grab onto dry patches as easily as powder blush does.

Think Twice About Contour. Contour products are made to help emphasize bone structure, or give the illusion of a different structure that some may find more flattering. A lot of people automatically contour under the cheekbones, which isn’t the most complementary look on some face shapes. As we age, we lose some of the fat and collagen in our faces, specifically from the cheeks. This gives a more naturally contoured cheekbone appearance on some people, and adding a contour product on top of that can cause a face to look gaunt. If you’ve found that your face has gotten a lot thinner as you’ve aged, I’d suggest skipping cheekbone contour.

Fill In Those Brows. Eyebrows tend to thin out on a lot of people as they age, so filling in the brows can be a flattering, youthful look. I don’t suggest going for a heavy brow, but filling in your brows to make them look more like your natural shape from 10 or 15 years ago turns the clock back a little and helps frame your face.

Consider Lipliner. Lips also tend to get thinner as we age and can lose the plumpness that helps give them their shape. Lipliner can help you bring back that shape. It also helps lipstick stay put so it doesn’t feather out into any fine lines that may be visible around the lips.

Double Up The Mascara. Lashes also–you guessed it–tend to get thinner and more sparse as we age. Sure, you can fix that with lash extensions or false lashes, but those can a little too high maintenance or tricky for some. In that case, there’s always good ol’ mascara. Try an extra coat or two to see if you like how that looks.

I hope that’s helped, if any of this was a concern to you. You already look great!

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Mascara Tips & Tricks

We’re seeing a lot of peoples’ eyes, and not so much of the rest of their faces, in this masked up world. So it makes sense to help you with eye makeup techniques, right? And when it come to eye makeup, I think a lot of people would agree that mascara is an essential.

So let’s talk about that, shall we?

Pump Up The Volume. Thick, full lashes can really emphasize the eyes. Sure, you can get there with false lashes or lash extensions, but those aren’t doable for everyone. A good, volumizing mascara makes a big difference though, and it’s more user-friendly and wallet friendly than falsies and extensions. My go-to for years has been Dior Diorshow Mascara. To get the biggest payoff, I wiggle the wand at the lash roots to really coat the lashes with the thickening formula.

Go To Any Length. Most people benefit from the look of both full and long eyelashes, which is why I double up. I get my volume on first with Diorshow, then I use a lengthening mascara like Clinque High Impact Mascara over that. For the lengthening portion of my mascara application, I hold the wand at the midway point of my lashes and blink into it, which coats them from mid-lash to tip.

Smudge Proof. You’re going to think I’m crazy, but I use a third mascara on my bottom lashes. My bottom lashes will hit my undereye area and smudge if I use a regular mascara there, but I don’t like waterproof for everyday use (more on that next). To prevent that from happening, I use Blinc Tubing Mascara. The beauty tube technology makes the product water resistant, but also easy to remove without causing lash damage.

Say No To Waterproof. Waterproof mascara is great for an occasion that may include crying (like a wedding, funeral or when watching Queer Eye), but it’s not good for everyday use. It takes more work to remove waterproof mascara, causing wear and tear on the lashes. Repeated wear and tear will eventually cause lash breakage, and no one wants that.

Keep ‘Em Separated. You can use the best mascaras with all the right techniques, but clumpy lashes will ruin your hard work. I won’t tell you what I use to separate my own lashes because it’s semi-dangerous, but I use a clean spooly on clients. Lash combs work well too.

The Three Month Rule. Mascara is no good after three months. By that point, that product has likely started to dry out, which will cause it to flake off and smudge. Also, by three months, the tube is filled with bacteria from wand-to-lash contamination, and that bacteria can cause eye irritation and infection. So after 90 days, it’s time to get rid of it.

Toss The Tissues. I know some people blot their mascara wand on a tissue to remove excess product before applying, but I can’t condone that. Tissue fibers will stick to the wand and either get painted onto your lashes, causing uneven texture, or fall into your eyes. If you must blot, use a paper towel.

I hope this has helped you with your mascara woes, if you have them.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

20 More Things About Me

Back in 2016, there was a popular “Things About Me” type of post going around for bloggers. I jumped on that because, hey, your girl basically has a PhD in Introspection.

Now it’s four years later, and it’s time for the sequel. So let’s dooooooooooooooo this!

  1. I’m quasi-ambidexterous. I write with my left hand, type with my right hand, do makeup with both hands and use whatever hand is closest to the item I want to pick up to do so. This is my superpower.
  2. I can’t parallel park. I’ve made it this far in life without that skill, so take that, driver’s license tests!
  3. I’m an HSP. Just read this.
  4. I’m a speed reader. This bothers the hell out of my father because I can read and answer the Jeopardy clues I know the answer to before he’s halfway through reading the clue, which makes me love it even more.
  5. I’ve never seen The Notebook. And I never will. Romantic movies are not my thing.
  6. I have a rare nervous system disorder. Don’t worry–I’m fine! I’ve been working on a blog post about it for a year, so maybe I’ll finally finish it in 2021.
  7. I don’t cook. Other than scrambled eggs, I don’t cook anything. Domestic goddess I am not.
  8. I never know what day it is. And this was even in the pre-COVID days! Google Calendar gets me where I need to be.
  9. I have lip balm with me at all times. Purse, nightstand, kitchen–I’m never far from some pucker hydration. Glossier Balm Dotcom Original and Mango are my faves.
  10. I have a horrible singing voice. I was part of an Italian singing and dancing group when I was 14, but even though I learned every song in Italian, they made me lip sync because my voice was so bad.
  11. My nail beds are the size of a ten year old’s. No nail art for me!
  12. I’m bad with numbers. If we’re out to eat together, you might want to figure out the tip.
  13. I love taking silly quizzes. I’m looking at you, Buzzfeed.
  14. I’m an ambivert. I need equal parts alone time and socialization to be my best self.
  15. I like washing dishes. Weird, I know. But there’s something that I find relaxing about it, and I do thoroughly enjoy a productive task.
  16. I have a very detailed plan for what I’d do if I won the lottery, but I rarely play. Go figure.
  17. I learned how to ride a bike and stopped riding a bike within the same six months. Unusual for a child, but I never said I was normal.
  18. If the wrong dΓ©cor colors are next to each other, I get uncomfortable. I used to have an office I couldn’t work in because there were gray curtains too close to glass table that had copper legs.
  19. I’m not competitive with others. With myself and my past accomplishments, yes, but not with other people.
  20. Sometimes I write irrelevant blog posts when I’m out of content. Case in point.

And now you can continue your day knowing that if you ever had to take a quiz about me, you’d probably ace it.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

The End of The 2020 Wedding Season: The November Recap

Keeping with the spirit of gratitude that I associate with Thanksgiving, I’ll start by saying I’m grateful for the awesome–if shortened–wedding season we had this year. There was a point early on when I was afraid we wouldn’t get to do any 2020 weddings from March on, but that luckily wasn’t the case.

We had a few weddings this month, as well as several trials, new 2021 wedding bookings and 2022 wedding inquiries. I hired a new hair stylist, LuWayne DeMoranville, and I’m so excited to have her on the team.

Personally, I’ve been laying low socially, but am very much looking forward to my Charleston winter, which starts after Christmas. I’ll be ringing in the new year in my favorite city. (Not that I’ll be going out, but at least I’ll be in a place where grits and Southern accents are never too far away.)

I don’t love November in Rhode Island, with its bare trees, cooler temps and short ass days. But at least I have my family, my business and my Newport/Charleston life. For that, I am truly grateful.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Maasai Jewelry

This is my cousin Brooke (pictured below with two of the jewelry makers). We’re more like sisters than cousins. She is extremely intelligent, caring and generous.

This is Brooke’s husband, Sam (pictured below with Brooke). He’s like my brother. Everyone who meets Sam loves him. He was born in Kenya and is part of the Maasai tribe.

Sam and Brooke took a trip to Kenya in 2019 and had an amazing time. That was Brooke’s first time there, and she fell in love with Kenya.

Sam and Brooke brought back a bunch of jewelry handmade by Maasai women. They gave me this bracelet, which I love and wear all the time. Whenever Brooke, Sam and I wear our Maasai jewelry, we get compliments on it.

Several months ago, I told Brooke and Sam that I bet other people would be interested in buying the jewelry, and they said they’d been thinking the same thing. They decided they’d like to sell it and give all of the profits to the jewelry makers in Kenya.

So, that’s what they’re doing. I’m helping by posting photos of this gorgeous jewelry. It’s a great way to support Kenyan artisans and also own or gift something with a cool story. Enough with Amazon and big businesses! I’d personally rather give my money to hardworking, talented people who actually need it than multi-millionaires and billionaires who don’t.

The new WordPress format that I hate is not letting me insert photos where I want to, so they’re all below.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

PRICING

Bangles

$15 for one bangle

$24 for two bangles

$10 each when you buy three or more bangles

Earrings

$10 each

Suggestions Welcome

In 2018, I committed to publishing one blog post each week for the entire year. I met my goal that year, then thought, Why not continue it for 2019? I repeated that thought process for 2020, too. This is not an unusual way of thinking for me, and is how I made Dean’s List every semester in college. That’s not a brag! It’s an example of how my mind likes things to be categorized and consistent and how I figure if I can achieve a goal one time, I can do it again.

But when it comes to blog post ideas, the well has run dry. Starting in 2021, I’m either going to write one post a month, or maybe even bring it back to the pre-2018 days when I posted sporadically.

So you tell me, what do you want to read more of? Skincare tips? Makeup tips? Product reviews? Business stuff? Let ya girl know!

Thanks in advance.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚