My Winter Wonders

I will NEVER be that happy about snow. Mark my words.

I live in a warm-ish climate for most of the winter, so I can’t say I hate winter like I did when I lived in New England year-round. In fact, winter is now probably my favorite season, since I spend it in a city I love and am able to cut my work weeks in half while I’m here. But I still appreciate discovering things I love each season, because who doesn’t want a little (drug-free) upper now and then?

Here’s what I’m feeling this winter:

NuFACE Mini. I started using this skincare device in November, but I have to include it in one of my Favorites blog posts because I love it so much. For more on this miracle worker, read this then this.

Day 2 of using the NuFACE Mini and Day 65 of using it. See why I love it?

The Great British Bakeoff. I don’t bake and other than Nailed It, I’ve never been interested in baking shows. Somehow I started watching this one on Netflix, and I got really into it. I love a British accent but more than that, I love a British person with a sense of humor, and this show has that. And as a creative person myself, I appreciate watching people create things they’re passionate about.

MILK MAKEUP Glow Oil Lip + Cheek. My new favorite makeup product! You can read all about it here.

That’s Halo on the left and Flare on the right.

Zarbee’s 99% Honey Cough Soothers Natural Cherry Flavor. I got sick right before Thanksgiving and the cough I had lasted an entire month. It was the worst cough I ever had, and it would hit me anytime I moved. My friend, Carol, gave me some Zarbee’s cough drops because she said they were the only thing that helped a nasty cough she had the month before. I went to get my own from CVS and they were out of the ones Carol gave me, so I bought these. They didn’t make my cough completely disappear, but if I popped one when I felt a coughing fit coming on, it seemed to help. They contain no processed sugars and they taste great, so bye bye Ludens and Ricola.

Michelle Wolf’s Joke Show. Michelle Wolf always makes me laugh, and her new Netflix special is solid. I laughed really hard several times, and that doesn’t always happen when I watch standup. We all have our own taste in comedy, and some people don’t like it at all (which I find baffling). But if you like to laugh, give this a try. I think Michelle Wolf is truly funny, smart and original and I was psyched to see this special come out. Disclaimer: If you’re easily offended, don’t watch this. Or any standup specials, really. I guess just stick to the news.

The Body Shop Mango Body Butter. Back in the 90s, I was obsessed with The Body Shop. I tried just about everything they made between 1994 – 1996. (Whatchu know about Satsuma?) I spent a lot of my allowance money on their selection of body butters. While I was in Galway, Ireland in October, my friend and I stopped in The Body Shop (as one does in Ireland). I smelled the Mango Body Butter again for the first time in probably a decade, and I was sold. Well, kind of sold. I couldn’t fit one more thing in my overpacked suitcase, so I told my mother I’d like it for Christmas if she was looking for gift ideas. I’ve been using it since, and I really love it. I remember the 90s version being more liquidy, but 20+ years later, it’s become a true body butter. The scent is the same, and it makes my skin soft without leaving a sticky film. I’m glad Mango Body Butter and I are back together again.

Hello, old friend.

Shia LaBeouf. When some asks me who my celebrity crush is, the best I can usually come up with is “a young Al Pacino.” But move out of the way, Michael Corleone. I’ve got a crush on Shia now. I’ve of course known who he was for a long time, but I hadn’t seen any interviews with him until this Hot Ones episode, which is when I fell in love. Then I saw this Burning Questions segment on Ellen, and fell more in love. Think Shia would date a stubborn, partially blue-haired entrepreneur snowbird?

Sally Hansen Miracle Gel. I love a gel manicure, but I only get a few a year because a) regular gel manicures would get costly and b) they tend to weaken my nails post-removal. At the same time, when I use regular nail polish, it doesn’t look as good and chips within two days. So I tried the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel set, which I got at CVS. Did it last longer than regular polish? Hell yeah. Did it last as long as a salon gel polish manicure? Hell no. It gave me 4 – 5 days of chip-free life, and I find that impressive for a non-salon gel manicure.

The Ensemble by Aja Gabel. This book was another Christmas gift from my parents. (What? I give them a list of things I would buy anyway, and say “Have at it, if you so desire.”) It’s a novel about four people who play in a quartet together, and how their lives become intertwined. It’s really well written and easy to read, and I felt like I really knew the characters. Also, I have to say, I love the cover of the book. I didn’t judge this book by it, but let’s not forget that I do like pretty things. If you’re the type who doesn’t trust book reviews from a beauty blogger, click here.

Tell me that’s not a gorgeous cover!

Pandora 50s Rock Station. I’ve been told that it’s not cool to listen to Pandora, but I’m about as interested in being cool as I am in watching sports.  I’m a Pandora gal, and I usually listen to the 90s Hip Hop, Hip Hop BBQ and assorted comedy stations. Something recently made me want to listen to some 1950s rock, and of course Pandora has a station for that. So now, that’s my go to. I think I’m an old soul.

These ten things have made my winter days a little brighter, prettier, more interesting, funnier or just better. (It doesn’t hurt that I’m also in my happy place–Charleston, SC–until spring.) I hope you’ve found some little rays of sunshine/new things you love this winter.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

 

Product Review: MILK Makeup Glow Oil Lip + Cheek

I used a lot of Halo on my cheeks this past New Year’s Eve, and I don’t regret it. The perfect flush!

I love a good cream blush. (And by cream, I mean a true cream blush as well as liquid, gel and stick formulations.) A quality cream blush will blend seamlessly onto bare skin or over foundation, and I find that cream blushes often give a more realistic flush than powder blushes on their on. I normally use a cream blush then a thin layer of setting powder, then either more cream blush (if the formulation blends well over powder) or powder blush in a similar color (if it does not).

There are some crappy cream blushes out there, but the MILK Makeup Glow Oil Lip + Cheek sticks are far from crappy.  I bought three of these little cuties upon recommendation from my friend, Ali, at the Newport Sephora. They might be my favorite cream blushes ever. I bought Flare (a coral shimmer), Halo (a bright pink shimmer) and Astro (a plum shimmer). Astro wasn’t that flattering on my skintone so I put it in my pro kit, but I had to keep Flare and Halo for myself (I’ll buy them for my pro kit as well, because my clients deserve all of the good stuff, too!). They also have Glimmer, a mauve shimmer which I will likely try and buy too.

I’ve been wearing Flare or Halo most days for about a month. They are both highly pigmented, and they glide onto the skin like a dream. The shimmer is very minimal and doesn’t settle into my, shall we call them, generously sized pores. The rice bran oil in these cream blushes make then super blendable, both over and under powder. I’ve used them on bare skin as well, and they haven’t let me down there either.

Some of Flare (on the left) got stuck to the cap. I didn’t gauge a piece out, and it’s important to me that you know that.

I’ve mostly used the Glow Oil Lip + Cheek sticks as cheek color, but I like the way they look on my lips, too. They’re comfortable to wear on the lips, and then look like more of a lip stain than a lipstick, which is good for you lipstick-phobes out there. I like using the same shade on my lips as I have on my cheeks, as I think that ties a look together nicely.

The packaging is modern and pretty without being frilly. The cap stays on well, and it’s easy to twist the bottom to get more product. Because Flare and Halo especially are so pigmented, one stick of this stuff should last you a while.

The Glow Oil Lip + Cheek sticks give a beautiful application and are pigmented enough to make them worth the price. If you like one of the four shades they currently offer, I would 100% recommend trying one. A believable, blendable flush or a pretty lip is worth $15, in my book.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

Home Work: Is Working From Home The Best Choice For You?

Thinking about a bed office? Then keep reading!

Working from home is the dream, right? (Or at least runner up to the not-having-to-work-because-you’re-rich dream.) No commute, no boss looking over your shoulder, no loud-chewing coworkers in earshot and everyone’s favorite part–you can roll out of bed and work in your pajamas! Or stay in bed and work from there if you want! And depending on your situation, working from home may give you flexible hours too. What’s not to love?

Well, like with anything else, there are negatives to working from home. Or let’s “re-frame” that, as my mother would say. There are things that you might find difficult or not like, or things that can sabotage your working-from-home productivity. I’ve been working from home since I opened my business in 2008. For a little while, it was part-time working from home, since I had full time jobs outside of AB Beauty. There was also the summer when I decided I didn’t need Internet at my house, since I had it at my studio a few blocks away, and that would force me to not be constantly working when I was at home. (I got around that one by going to my studio in the morning, stopping for a couple hours mid-afternoon to take care of personal stuff, then going back into my studio until 1:00am.)

Other than those instances, I’ve worked from home. I’ve learned a lot about what seems to work and what doesn’t, both from my own experience and from what other homers (coined it) have told me. How rude would it be for me to keep that to myself? You know I’m incapable of holding onto information that I think could be even the tiniest bit helpful to someone, so here we go.

Social Status. Even if you’re an introvert, you probably find that having a coworker who you’re friends with helps make your job better. Having someone you like who also understands the ins and outs of your job really does make things better. But unless your partner or roommate is a coworker and also works from home, you’re not going to get that socialization if your house is your office. And if you’re a solopreneur, there’s no chance of it at all. If you’re an extroverted person, working from home has the potential to drive you crazy. If that sounds like you, you might want to consider trying a co-working space or working from a coffee shop, even if just for a few days a week. If you’ve always been surrounded with coworkers and like that vibe, working from home with only your thoughts for company can be a big adjustment.

Now this looks like a group of coworkers the minute their boss left for vacation, if I remember office life correctly.

Wardrobe Change. Working from home in your pajamas/workout clothes/yoga pants and a Biggie tee (which you should have if you don’t already) can be awesome. Add in no need to do hair and/or makeup, and you’ve made things real easy. But, there’s something to be said for the sense of motivation that putting on work clothes can give you. It feels normal to plop down on the couch at 10:00am and watch HGTV when you’re in your pajamas, but if you put on work clothes and do that, things might feel off. If you know yourself to be someone who struggles with motivation or discipline, you might want to force yourself to put on work clothes every morning to get yourself into business mode. If you’re just starting out your work from home adventure, maybe try it both ways. If you are equally productive in sweats as you are in business casual, go for comfort. But if you can tell you slip into weekend mode if you’re in your pajamas, it might be time to change (literally). Both options are there for you, but make sure to choose wisely.

Office Space. It’s super important to dedicate some space in your home to work. Maybe you’re lucky enough to have an actual home office, but if you’re not, even the corner of a room can work. I used to work at a desk in my bedroom, then at my kitchen table, and now, lying down on my couch (which I wouldn’t recommend but I have a vestibular disorder than makes looking down at screens really difficult, so I have to lie down with a pillow on me and my laptop on that so I’m looking up). The one thing I’ve always tried to do though is make sure that whichever area my “office” is in is my only office. When I was able to work at a desk, I rarely did any work outside of that little corner. When I worked at my kitchen table, no work was done in my room or living room. And now with my couch office, not only have I never worked from any other part of my home, but I’ve never even moved to the other side of the couch! This dedicated work space area helps not only with focus, but it prevents your entire house or apartment from becoming your office, which is not good for work/life balance.

To Do List Battles. Even if you have a dedicated home office, it can be easy to get distracted by the household To Do list. You go the kitchen and refill your coffee cup and notice that sink seems to be draining slowly, so you should see if you can fix it or call the plumber. You take a bathroom break and remember how you’ve been meaning to clean out your medicine cabinet. You go to your room to grab a sweater and start thinking about donating all of those clothes you never wear. Those are all things that need to be addressed–but not while you’re working. Passive chores that allow you to take a 5 – 10 minute screen or phone call break–like running or emptying the dishwasher, doing laundry or throwing something in a Crockpot–are great. But organizing your closet, scouring your bathroom or baking a cake for the bake sale at your child’s school? I wouldn’t make stuff like that a habit if you want to be productive with your job.

No no, you don’t have time for that if your work To Do list is as long as I think it is.

Neighborly Love. If you live in a single family with no neighbors in sight, you luck out here. But you live in a busy neighborhood or a building with other units next to, above or below you, you will, inevitably, encounter some noise. Talking, yelling, laughing, footsteps, music, vacuuming, pictures being hung up and the dreaded construction and renovations noise pollution. If you’re the type who is bothered by that (I certainly am), you have to learn to ignore those sounds or block them out with music, white noise or noise canceling headphones. For a lot of people, noise distracts them from their work, but you really have to fight or figure out ways around distractions when you work from home. If you’ve come from an office where you’ve gotten used to the sound of phones ringing, copy machines copying and coworkers chattering, the different working-from-home sounds might throw you at first.

Keep ‘Em Separated. When you work from home, it’s easy to have no real end to your work day. I’m certainly guilty of this, as clients who have received 11:00pm emails from me can attest. But you have to draw the line somewhere when it comes to work/life separation. My advice is to try to end your workday at a certain predetermined time then put away work stuff, close  business-related tabs on your laptop and stop answering calls or texts. If your home office or work area is not in the same space in your home that you would hang out in after work, that helps. But if it’s all in the same space, you might really have use your willpower to end your workday. I believe in you.

If you want to be productive when you work from home, it really all comes down to discipline. You have to learn to block out or work around the distractions, while also not letting your whole home become your 24/7 office. It’s a balancing act, but if you can figure out the right balance for you, you’ll probably never want to step foot in a traditional work space again.

Have a beautiful day 🙂

NuFACE Mini: Two Months In

Some things (or people) seem so great at first, then they disappoint you and you think “Why did I even go on Bumble again?,” or whatever. I’ve tried many a beauty product that gave a fantastic first impression, then after a while, became kind of “eh” for me. When I do find a product I truly love–like MAC Studio Face & Body Foundation, Clarins Beauty Flash Balm or Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops–it becomes part of my beauty family. In order to receive that honor, it must do what it claims and do it well.

The NuFACE Mini has earned its spot in la famiglia, that’s for damn sure. I’ve been using it for a little over two months, and I continue to be as impressed as I was when I wrote my original review. I’m still using the second setting, but I’ve recently bumped my usage up to six days a week. After three months, I may go down to five or even four days a week, but I plan on graduating to the highest intensity level then.

As a reminder, here’s what I looked like on Day 2 and Day 30 of using the NuFACE Mini.

An undeniable improvement.

I didn’t take as many photos my during my second month of NuFACE Mini usage, but I’ll share what I have, just for you.

I completely forgot the Before on Day 39, but I never said I was perfect.

Then I remembered!

Day 40. The Before & Afters are less drastic now, because the cumulative effects have really kicked in. But if you look closely, you can see how much tighter my skin looks in the After, as well as the brow lift the NuFACE Mini gives me.

Ignore the outfit change and check out that glow! The texture of my skin has improved since November.

NuFLEECE on Day 45.

I might be aging backwards a little.

Day 59, with a full face of makeup.

And one more Before & After. The changes are more subtle as the weeks go on, but I can see the tightening happening on my cheeks and jawline.

 

Day 65. Taken in my winter home, which has garbage lighting compared to my Newport home. And full disclosure–I am wearing top lash mascara and undereye concealer in these pics.

And the final comparison. Day 2 and Day 65. My skin looks tighter, the lines around my mouth aren’t as deep, my brows look lifted and my skin looks less dull. Are you convinced yet?

Really reppin’ RI with my sweatshirt and tee shirt choices.

Again, I don’t work for NuFACE and this isn’t a sponsored post. But I’ve gotten a lot of questions about this device, and I know several people who gifted or received a NuFACE Mini over the holidays, so hopefully this helps. Why not start this decade off with tighter, glowy-er, prettier skin?

Have a beautiful day 🙂

2020 Game Plan

Me this past New Year’s Eve, contemplating my moves for the next decade (or watching people walk by in gorgeous gowns and suits).

The Roaring 20s are here! I don’t know if you can take the name from a previous decade, but I’d like to. I’ve always been very drawn to the 1920s. When I watched The Great Gatsby, Boardwalk Empire and even the flashback ballroom scenes from The Shining, it felt familiar to me. I love Art Deco decor, and a past AB Beauty logo was inspired by an Art Deco ring.

I did a 2018 Game Plan and now it’s time for a 2020 one. (I skipped 2019 because I apparently don’t like odd number years.) I have areas of my life I’d like to improve upon, but I don’t like to call them New Year’s Resolutions because…well, I like being different.

Let’s get to it.

Balancing Act. I’m not quite all work and no play, but I’m definitely more work than play. Usually by a lot. I don’t think true balance is realistic for an entrepreneur, but I’d like to tip the scale more towards the play side. I’m off to a good start in Charleston for the winter, where I don’t take clients and have shorter works days, but the challenge is keeping that up all year long. I will do my best!

A Different Kind of Makeover. I moved into my Newport apartment in April, and girl, do I love that place. I went crazy decorating and getting new furniture the first few months, then wedding season buried me and I left my HGTV mindset. I have a list of things I want to get/do to make the rooms in my little palace look more finished, so I’ll attack that when I return to RI this spring.

I’ve already gotten new bedding and a new lamp, but I need a headboard or something, right?

Biz Goals. I have a new offshoot business idea I want to work on, but it’s been stalled due to some health issues. Once I feel well enough to go after that, I will. Hopefully I’ll have something big to announce in 2020!

Well Read. I used to be what you might call an avid reader. I love books so much that I haven’t had a TV since 2003. I don’t know exactly when it happened, but at some point, I ran out of new books, didn’t have anything in my bookcase I felt like re-reading (for the 15th time) and apparently forgot about the library. I’ve been getting back into reading the last few weeks, and I plan to keep that up, like a good little bookworm.

Run, Forrest! I got sick before Thanksgiving and that stuck around for a few weeks, then things go too wintery for running (for me, anyway) in Newport. But now that I’m in Charleston, no virus in my system and no snow or ice in sight, I’m going to get back to my running. I’ll keep it going once I get back to RI, since there BETTER NOT BE SNOW ON THE GROUND WHEN I RETURN.

Patience Is A Virtue. Just not one I have. I’m painfully aware of how impatient I can be, and I’m not proud of it. I’ve been trying to do better with that lately, basically by telling myself to calm the hell down as soon as I feel impatience bubbling up. I’m not saying I’ll be all Zen by 2021, but my goal is to be less of a Joe Pesci character when something doesn’t happen at the speed I want it to.

This is what I imagine patient people to look like. Maybe I just need to close my eyes more…

Third Eye (Not) Blind. Even though I haven’t always listened to it (oh hey, every guy I dated in my 20s), I have good intuition. I also sometimes have premonitions about things that happen soon after. I think this little psychic-y part of me could be sharpened up, so I want tune into that more. I don’t know exactly how, as sometimes it seems to be stronger than other times for no apparent reason, but something tells me having more of a balanced life will help.

Help More. Years ago, I had an actual New Year’s Resolution to make one donation a month. I’ve kept that up since (not bragging). This might sound cheesy, but I think part of the reason we exist is to help other people by making their lives better in some way. I looked into volunteering at local hospitals and nursing homes a while back, but they understandably wanted a regular commitment, which is hard for me to give with my inconsistent schedule. I want to do something more than the donations, but I’m not sure what is realistic for me. I’m going to work on this in 2020. Suggestions welcome.

No More Guilt Trippin’. This ties into my life balance issues. I feel a lot of guilt when I’m not working. My guess is a lot of business owners feel the same way. I’ve been working on this, but it’s a tough one for me because there’s always work to be done. I think the only thing I can do is tell that little voice that says Why aren’t you updating your job tracking system?/Revising your templates?/Researching stuff for the new business idea? to shut up. I’ve worked my ass off for almost a dozen years now, so I know I deserve breaks and time off, sans guilt trip. I don’t know which part of my brain is attempting to sabotage that, but I’m trying so hard to quiet it.

So, that’s my 2020 game plan. Some of these areas are going to be easier to work on than others, but I’m ready to step up to the challenges.

I hope your year is everything you want it to be. Have a beautiful day 🙂