This Year Is Half Done: My June Recap

Father’s Day with my family.

In some ways, it’s hard to believe we’re over halfway through 2020. It doesn’t feel like that long ago that I was getting emails that started with “Happy New Year!” instead of “I hope you’re safe and healthy.” But at the same, it feels like we’ve lived through an entire year in the last three months alone.

Either way, it’s six months down, six to go with the first year of this decade. June was not a great month for the U.S., but I don’t think you need a recap of current events from me. I know that the tension, arguing and ignorance isn’t unique to my Facebook feed, but Jesus Christ. Can we get a little more empathy and a little less defensiveness? In June, I did a lot of crying and had several “Can I shake some sense into this person? I’ll wear a mask while doing it!” moments.

It feels quite selfish to talk about my personal stuff, but that’s what I’ve done in past recaps, and I’m a sucker for consistency. So, here we go.

In the now rare “good news for my business” category, hair services became allowed again in RI in early June. We’ve been able to do hair-only trials since June 1, so finally my hair stylists at least were able to get back to doing some work. 2021 wedding inquiries started to pick up at the end of June, which is a good sign.

I stopped running The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors Facebook group in June because, as a microcosm of the country, the group was getting divisive about issues within and outside of the wedding industry. I passed off my admin duties to another member and I’m still in the group, but my days of news station interviews and speaking with state reps are over.

Personally, I got to (safely) see some family and friends in June, and each one of those visits was a highlight of my month. I wish I could have a big party where I hug everyone and we all sew our masks together to make a “COVID Is Over” quilt, but we’re not there yet. In the meantime, I’ll take whatever I can safely get.

Some things improved in June (at least in RI), but I’m hoping July brings more improvements and progress.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

How To Support Black-Owned Businesses

The last couple weeks have been heavy. I’ve cried almost every day, sad not only for what people of color have been going through since this country was started/taken, but for the inability of some people to grasp that. Social media is a nasty place right now, and if I didn’t own a business, I’d be taking a break from it.

I’ve been listening and learning, and know that one of the actionable steps we can to support the Black community is to buy products and services from Black-owned businesses. Here’s a roundup of resources that will point you in the right direction.

Black-Owned Beauty BusinessesΒ 

Black-Owned Bookstores

Black-Owned Etsy Shops

Black-Owned Clothing Brands

Black-Owned Food & Drink Businesses

Business Owners I Personally Know

Reidy Creative

Brittanny Taylor Photography

MAW Beauty Hair & Makeup Studio

A List Compiled By My Friend Tiffanni Reidy of Reidy Creative

 

This is by no means a complete list, but I thought it was a good starting point. I know money is tight for a lot of people right now, so if you can’t buy anything at the moment, maybe some social media love would be appreciated.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

Things Are Looking Up: The May Recap

I’ve been trying on dresses from my closet in anticipation of going somewhere where I can wear them. That’s optimism.

I know May isn’t over yet, but it’s close enough! So let me have this one.

In comparison to April, May really flew by. I don’t know if was because restrictions started to loosen up in my state, or because I got to (safely) see my immediate family and two friends, or because I received some grant and loan money or because May is my birthday month, but May kicked April’s ass, as far as I’m concerned. I felt much more optimistic this month, and other than my mid-May eardrum rupture that put me in the (very empty) ER, I’ve physically felt good too. The vestibular/balance issues I’ve been battling for over a year and a half have been good more days than they’ve been bad in this Taurus-Gemini month, and I’m in the low end of my weight range, which always brings me joy πŸ™‚

A lot of 2020 AB Beauty brides sadly had to postpone their weddings this month, but we’ve still been able to accommodate 100% of our reschedules, which I am SO HAPPY about. We’ve booked work with some new brides too, which the whole team is grateful for. We cannot wait to get back to weddings, whenever that may be.

I’ve been busy with The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors, and I’ve come up with a new business idea that you may hear more about in 2021. Even though I had no makeup clients or shoots this month and our next wedding isn’t until mid-July (if we’re lucky), I’ve been a busy little birthday girl.

This summer is going to be a lot different in several ways, but I’m still looking forward to it. The weather will get warmer, restrictions will loosen, and I’m going to be an Auntie for the first time in July! To me–and I realize I’m lucky in many ways–this was the best May could possibly be, all things considered. I’m looking forward to life continuing to get better over the next few months, and I hope life improves for you too.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

Time Killers: The Comedy Edition

I think many of us are watching TV/Netflix/Prime/Hulu, etc. a little more than normal. Do you agree? Sure you do.

As you may know, I love to laugh, and laughing feels extra needed right now. So if you’re like me and looking for something funny to watch, take a little looksee through this list.

YouTube Shows & Clips

I have Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime for comedy shows and standup specials, but there’s also a lot of comedy gold to be found on YouTube.

Lights Out with David Spade. I love David Spade but you don’t even need to to like this show because each episode features different comedian or comedic actor guests. It originally only ran on Comedy Central, then they started posting full episodes on YouTube. Once corona hit, David began doing episodes from home and video chatting with guests. Comedy Central recently canceled the show for the next season, but it may end up on Netflix or somewhere else where the decision makers understand good comedy. This was one of the great pre-COVID episodes, and here’s what things are looking like now.

Something’s Burning. This show is hosted by comic Bert Kreischer, who has two comedian guests on each episode as they attempt different recipes. I thought the funniest episodes were with Theo Von and Andrew Santino, Chris D’Elia and Bobby Lee, and Colin Quinn and Nick DiPaolo.

Jake & Amir. This show from the College Humor YouTube channel ended a while back, but I still sometimes watch episodes. The two coworkers have often absurd conversations mostly due to Amir’s ridiculous character. The episodes are usually three or four minutes long, so the perfect amount of time if you just want a quick break.

Good Talk with Anthony Jeselnik. There are clips from this Comedy Central show on YouTube, which is the only way I can watch it since I haven’t had a TV since the early aughts. Anthony is one of my favorite comics, so watching him with other comics I love–like Tig Notaro, Kumail Nanjiani, Natasha Leggero, David Spade and Nick Kroll–is enough to make me happy. It’s worth a try, especially if you’ve never seen a deadpan-off.

Under a RockΒ with Tig Notaro. Tig is another one of my all-time favorite comics. She’s been in the industry for a long time, but has almost no pop culture knowledge or ability to recognize most celebrities. On this show, Tig meets and questions celebrities she doesn’t recognize to try to figure out who they are. If that premise sounds funny to you, give it a shot with this Tony Shaloub episode.

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard on Taste Buds. In this Ellen segment, two celebrities are blindfolded and one is supposed to describe what the food they are eating is to the other. I don’t remember any of the other people who have been on this segment, but this Kristen and Dax one makes me cry laughing every time.

YouTube Video Podcasts

I only ever watch video podcasts (you won’t find me just listening, unless that’s the only option) and I also only mess with podcasts hosted by or featuring comedians. Especially with certain comedians, facial expressions are part of what makes me laugh, so why would I just listen if I can also watch?

Congratulations with Chris D’Elia. Hands down my favorite comedy podcast. I’ve never missed an episode and I truly look forward to each one being released. If I were you, I would start with Episode 1 and work your way up (they turn into video podcasts starting at episode 33), because there are a lot of jokes and kind of a language that you’ll only understand if you start it from the beginning.Β  I’ll help you out: click here.

This Past Weekend with Theo Von. There’s something about a funny person who also has a Southern accent that makes me laugh extra hard. Theo is naturally funny, and the way that man’s brain works is unreal. I especially love the episodes where he has guests on (like this one with Sebastian Maniscalco), as Theo interacts with people like no other. And his Anthrax Challenge videos–where he opens gifts from fans and hopes they don’t contain anthrax–are hilarious. I would start here and then work your way up to Anthrax Challenge #10, which just came out.

Tiger Belly with Bobby Lee and Khalyla. I’ve loved Bobby since his days on Mad TV, and he makes me laugh just as much on this podcast he does with his girlfriend, Khalyla. I especially like this episode with comic Brent Morin.

Netflix Shows

Thank God forΒ  Netflix, right? From comedy series to sketch shows to standup, they’ve got a solid selection.

The Fix. I don’t know how this show is not more popular! I’ve watched the entire season three times so far. The panel show, hosted by comic Jimmy Carr, features D.L. Hughley, Katherine Ryan and two rotating comedian guests each episode. They talk about serious issues–like gun control, global warming and the wealth gap–and then try to to fix those issues with solutions that will make you laugh, but sometimes think “Could some of that actually work?”

Grace & Frankie. Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda star in this series about two women who are brought together when they discover that their husbands are in love with each other. I’ve laughed out loud at every single episode, and I’m sad the series is done after the next season. Lily Tomlin is, in my opinion, one of the funniest people in Hollywood.

Parks & Recreation. If you haven’t watched this, get on it! This is a classic for a reason. It’s the kind of show where you can go back and watch any episode and it’s still funny.Β  You’ll fall in love with the characters and when you finish the series, if you’re like me, you’ll cry because it’s over. Still worth it.

The Office. Please see: everything I just said about Parks & Rec.

The Good Place. Such great writing on this show about a group of people in the afterlife. I found Ted Danson’s character, Michael, to be especially hilarious. This show is too easy to binge.

Netflix Standup Specials

I’m just going to name the comic, as some of them have several Netflix specials and I don’t have all day here.

Amy Schumer

Anthony Jeselnik

Bill Burr

Brent Morin

Chris D’Elia

Christina Pazsitsky

Craig Ferguson

Daniel Tosh

Demetri Martin

Donald Glover

Fortune Feimster

Hannah Gadsby

Hannibal Buress

Hari Kondabolu

Hasan Minhaj

Jim Gaffigan

Jimmy Carr

John Mulaney

Kumail Nanjiani

Maria Bamford

Marc Maron

Michelle Wolf

Mike Birbiglia

Moshe Kasher (also has a special with his wife, Natasha Leggero)

Nate Bargatze

Nikki Glaser

Patton Oswalt

Ricky Gervais

Ryan Hamilton

Ryan Sloss

Lucas Brothers

Theo Von

Tig Notaro

Todd Barry

Todd Glass

Tom Papa

Tom Segura

Trevor Noah

Sarah Silverman

Wanda Sykes

Zack Galifianakis

Hulu

I’m new to Hulu (started my free one month membership in February then decided to do a paid membership once that was up), but I’ve been making my way through it.

The Mindy Project. This show created by and starring Mindy Kaling was originally on Fox, then was picked by Hulu after Fox cancelled it. This is a cult favorite type of show that really deserves more widespread recognition. The writing, the characters, the storyline, the acting–everything is as good as it gets. I still think about certain lines of dialogue and start laughing, even months after I finished the series.

Community. The six season series about a group of friends at a community college is the most recent series I watched, and one of the funniest. The actors on this show–including Joel McHale, Donald Glover, Chevy Chase, Alison Brie and Ken Jeong, among others–are so good. I find it hard to picture anyone else playing their roles, because they were so perfect for each one. If you watch this series–and I really recommend that you do–please comment with your favorite scene with the dean, because I have one that I think about pretty regularly and it makes me laugh out loud, by myself.

I could keep going, but I have to end this post somewhere. If you’re in need of a laugh, hopefully this helped. I know it can feel easier to cry than to laugh lately, but you can’t be sad while you’re laughing–which is exactly why we need comedy.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

April Showers Were The Least of Our Worries: Last Month’s Recap

Anytime I left the house in April.

By late March, I was dreading April. I knew we were looking at a full month of quarantine, and my close-contact business was not allowed to operate (in terms of in-person appointments, anyway). The first half of April went by painfully slow for me. I was having a hard time dealing with being alone 24/7 while also trying to keep my business afloat as more and more summer weddings rescheduled.

On April 17, I created The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors Facebook group, and everything changed. I now have a purpose–helping my fellow vendors as we work through issues related to losing (currently) a minimum of four and half months of income due to rescheduled weddings.

Other than that, I’ve been crazy busy with said wedding reschedules, applying for unemployment (success!), applying for loans (more success!) and talking to my attorney, accountant and others who I’ve consulted with about my business. I have had no real in person socialization for 6.5 weeks, which is hard for my Gemini side (the Taurus in me is fine just touching soft things, and you’ll get that joke if you’re into astrology).

By the end of March, I knew April was going to be tough, but I didn’t know I would be interviewed by local news channels four times. I didn’t expect that weddings as far out as August would reschedule. And I had no idea I would be as busy I normally am this time of year, but that my job would not be what it normally is.

I’m so glad April is behind us. I know I’m biased because my birthday is in May, but I’ve always found May to be a great month. It’s probably because where I live this time of year, the weather starts to get warmer and town starts to get busy as we move towards our summer season. That won’t be the case this May, but our state’s stay-at-home order could be lifted this month, so at least we have that to potentially look forward to.

I hope that there will never again be a month like April 2020, which was a bad month for so many of this planet’s inhabitants. I’m looking forward to things getting better, and that’s what I will focus on as much as I can.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors

It’s been a whirlwind eight days! I’ll tell you how it started.

I got back to Newport on March 18, prepared for the fact that AB Beauty would not have work during the rest of March and all of April due to stay at home orders, group size restrictions and the closure of close-contact business. I also knew that I would not be leaving my house much for that whole time and wouldn’t be able to socialize with anyone in person.

I braced for it, but by mid-April, I buckled. I felt really hopeless and was crying a lot. Like, a lot, a lot. All of our shoots for the foreseeable future were cancelled, and most March, all April and some May bridal trials had been cancelled or rescheduled (RI mandate currently prohibits the operation of close contact businesses, which applies to everyone in the beauty industry, until at least May 8). Not only had March, April and early May weddings been rescheduled, but the remainder of May, most June and some July weddings had rescheduled, many of which to 2021 (and hardly any new inquiries were coming in for 2020 or 2021). Having the majority of our revenue delayed for two or three months was one thing, but having the majority of it delayed for a year plus? That can kill a business.

I was really struggling emotionally and my financial future wasn’t looking too bright either. I had been checking in with my wedding vendor friends to see how they were doing, and on 4/16, I spent an hour on a call with a wedding planner I love and work with frequently. We vented, cried and talked about how hard we were being hit as an industry and how we needed help. Later that day, I talked to my father, who got me laughing for the first time in days. He also suggested doing something to make the state aware of the impact COVID-19 is having on the wedding industry. I spun those two conversations around in my brain and decided to email a very intelligent friend who has worked in politics to see if he thought a letter or petition could be effective. He suggested a letter signed by as many RI wedding vendors as possible and sent to all state representatives.

I figured a Facebook group would not only help me collect signatures for the letter, but it would serve as a forum for those RI wedding vendors looking for guidance, input or wanting to share something they learned. So I started The Rhode Island Coalition of Wedding Vendors on 4/17. I invited the 35 or so wedding vendors in my Facebook friends and encouraged them to do the same. Eight days and 555 members later, we are a force. With the help of my intelligent friend, a second intelligent attorney friend and my mother (who has written letters to many a state representative), I came up with a letter that I then shared with the group. Whoever wanted to sign it could do so. I sent emailed that letter individually to all 75 state reps, our governor, the head of the Department of Health and some senators. Due to the connections of Intelligent Friend #1 and two group members, three local news channels interviewed myself and some other members of the group and ran stories on the impact of COVID-19 on the wedding industry. I was also part of a conference call with a RI senator yesterday to discuss what is being done on a federal level.

We are still very much hurting as an industry, with little to no revenue coming in and weddings as far out as October being rescheduled. Many of us don’t qualify or aren’t getting approved for the business loans–big or small–out there, no to mention that those funds have been getting depleted very quickly. Some of us have been able to get unemployment, but the payments are a small percentage of what we would normally bring in during our busy season, yet many of our expenses remain the same. That math doesn’t work out.

I realize that we’re not the only industry being affected, and I know that those of us who have our health and our loved ones are very lucky. But for now, other than staying home and following all state mandates, the only thing I can do is try to help my industry (which of course helps my business as well–that is not lost on me). So that’s what I’ll continue to do. It’s given me a purpose and made me so busy that between that and the daily wedding reschedules or back up date checks, I’m as busy as I would normally be this time of year!

And now, back to it. I’ve got emails to read, new wedding contracts to send and maybe, if I’m lucky, an episode or two of something funny to watch.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

 

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Monster: The March Recap

I’m sorry, the post title isn’t accurate. The beginning of March was great for me. I was still in Charleston, having a grand ol’ time with my friends. My parents were in town the first week of March, and we had lots of delicious meals at Charleston restaurants. It was warm enough for me to wear open-toed shoes most days, and that’s one of my favorite things. So March was more “in like a golden retriever” for me.

Of course, things started to change around mid-March. I was supposed to leave Charleston on March 31, but due to the uncertainty of flight cancellations, I left on March 17. It’s heartbreaking for me to leave Charleston each year even when I’ve planned to, so cutting my winter short was really sad. However, it was the smart thing to do, and it’s nothing compared to what a lot of people are dealing with. I got a credit from my cancelled flight and I’m hoping to use that to make a late spring or early summer trip to Charleston once things are back to normal.

So, I’m two weeks into being back in Newport. I’m doing my part and staying home. I’m happy to be back in my awesome Newport apartment (which is 4x the size of the place I was living in in Charleston) and I’m grateful that I can run my business from home. I’ve been dealing with a lot of reschedules for spring weddings and man, do I feel for those couples, as well as for the couples who are holding out hope that they can still have their wedding as scheduled. We’ve been able to accommodate 100% of our wedding reschedule requests, and hopefully it will be the same case for our rescheduled corporate shoots. We’ll take some hits, as all small businesses will, but I do feel that we’re one of the lucky ones in comparison to many other small businesses.

It was quiet for a bit with new wedding inquiries for 2020, but fall inquiries are starting to trickle back in, as are 2021 inquiries. The wedding industry will recover, and those of us who are wedding vendors will likely have a very busy late summer, fall and winter!

There’s no denying that this is a shitty time in the world. But I refuse to believe it’s the end of civilization. So that means that each day is one day closer to things being back to normal, even if that normal is a little different than it has been. Businesses will re-open, postponed weddings and events will happen, and people smarter than me say that the stock market will eventually stabilize.

If you’re in the medical field, work at a grocery store, work for a delivery company or doing any other essential job, thank you for your dedication. This is a scary time to be interacting with the public, and I’m sorry that your job requires you to do so. If you or a loved one are sick, I hope that you recover soon. And if you’ve lost someone, I am truly sorry for your loss.

I’m looking forward to the day when things start to get better for everyone. Hopefully it will come by the time I do my April recap. Until then, I’ll be staying home, keeping as busy as possible and thinking about throwing a summertime combined birthday party for all of my spring baby friends whose birthdays got corona’d.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

The Shortest Month Recap

February went by in the blink of an eye, didn’t it? When I lived in New England year-round, I used to despise February. I thought it was the shortest yet cruelest month, with its dark, short days, cold temperatures and inevitable snowstorms. But now that February is the middle month of my Charleston winters, I wish it was longer. By like 30 days. At least I’ve got March, I guess…

February was the only month in 2020 with no weddings for AB Beauty, which is a weird feeling. But we made up for that with lots of trials, some corporate shoots and a healthy amount of wedding bookings. On the makeup front, I tried some new drugstore products, and a new lip product, all of which I’ll review soon. On the business front, I put a little more thought into some new ideas for AB Beauty and brainstormed with some entrepreneur friends.

Personally, I had a lot of fun in February. Brunches, Happy Hours, ghost tours–it was all very Charleston-y. I took some time to relax in the hopes that I could start to heal some health issues, and I think it helped. I finally got Hulu and made my way through several series (The Mindy Project, Shrill, Broad City, Harlots and High Fidelity) that I enjoyed.

February, I’m sorry I resented you for so long. In the right climate, you are really quite nice.

I hope y’all had a good second-month-of-this-decade too!

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

The First Month Recap

Some pretty houses in Charleston. I lived in the one on the left a few winters ago.

I started doing monthly recaps in June, then November came along and apparently I forgot. Samesies with December. My bad! Let’s pick it back up for January, okay?

The first month of this new decade was a good one for AB Beauty. We had two weddings, a bunch of corporate shoots and a ton of trials. We also welcomed hair stylist, Lauren Adamo, to the team. And girl, the amount of wedding inquiries we got was CRAZY! We booked several 2020 weddings, and the inquiries are still coming in strong. Thank you to everyone who booked with us or referred a bride! We really appreciate it.

I got to Charleston, SC on 12/30 for my fourth (working) snowbird winter. It’s been awesome, as always. I don’t really do makeup for any clients while I’m snowbirding, so my time is spent handling bookings, creating wedding schedules, coordinating trials, trying to keep up with the latest social media trends, working on growing the business, etc. Due to some health issues I’ve had for the last year and 13 months (but who’s counting?), I’ve been trying to get in a lot of rest and relaxation. That’s not easy for me, as I’ve got Guilt on one shoulder and Ambition on the other, but I’m trying to give my body and mind a break. Once I get back to Newport, things will get pretty intense, so I should probably take advantage of these shorter work weeks while I can.

I can do things like stroll through alleys in Charleston now that I have shorter workweeks!

January was a good month for me and for AB Beauty, and I hope it was for you, too.

Have a beautiful day πŸ™‚

 

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.Β  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 πŸ™‚