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.
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.
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 🙂
I’m a goal chaser. I like setting them, I like achieving them and I like looking back and assessing my progress. One of my goals in 2018 was to publish one blog post a week. I checked that off the list, then decided to do it in 2019 as well. Since we’re now in the last full week of 2019 (what? how?), this seems like a good time to do a roundup of each month’s most popular blog posts. In case you missed any of those gems, here they are:
Per Request: My Skincare Routine. This could use an update, as I’ve made some changes to my skincare routine recently, but I still stand by my advice and suggestions.
It would make me so happy to know that you liked any of my 2019 posts! I try to make them informative, entertaining and easy to read. I hope I’ve achieved–or even partially achieved–that goal. If there’s anything you want me to post about, holla at me.
I know, I know–this is a beauty blog with some shots of entrepreneurship posts. Maybe I have no place writing about travel, but here’s the thing about me: I like to be a good helper. And when I have info that I think could help someone, I have to share it.
I recently spent nine days in Ireland, the country of my maternal grandfather’s ancestors (until 23andMe tells me otherwise). I traveled with a friend, hitting up six different cities/towns with no real itinerary. We decided to “wing it,” which goes against the core of my very being, but I surprisingly ended up being totally okay with it. We started in Dublin, then went to Galway, then to Doolin, followed by Killarney, then Dingle, then Kilkenny and finally back to Dublin. I learned a lot while I was there, and since Ireland seems to be a popular travel destination lately, I thought I’d pass on what I learned.
Cash Money. I planned on primarily using my credit card while I was there, but I wanted to have some cash on me when I arrived (to avoid hefty ATM fees). I ordered 250 euro from my bank, and I came back after my trip with 10, so I think I got the right amount for me. There were a couple of tours we did (Cliffs of Moher and Killarney National Park) that did not accept credit cards, so I think it’s good to have euros on hand for those kinds of things, as well as for tolls if you are driving.
Euro Euro Bills, Y’All. When you pay by credit card, the merchant will ask you if you want the charge to be in euros or dollars. I’d learned beforehand that the financially wise answer is “euros,” so I stuck with that. There’s no way I can explain the reasoning to you in a way that makes sense, so just read this.
Gettin’ Tip-sy. They say there’s not a strong “tipping culture” in Ireland, and that certainly was the case from what I observed. There was no gratuity option for most of the credit card transactions I made. I tipped the tour guides, a taxi driver, some restaurants, the Dublin hair stylist who gave me a great blowout and my friend and I left one or two euros at some pubs where we could see others had done the same (seemed cheap but that’s what others were doing). I was a little confused about who to tip and how much to tip. As an over-tipper in the US, it felt so weird not to tip or to leave a smaller tip than I would normally leave, but I tried looking it up beforehand and seeing what others were doing. If I screwed anyone over, I’m sorry!
Where You Rest At? Out of our eight nights in Ireland, we stayed in B&Bs for all but three of the nights. Our first one, which was also our second night in Ireland, was in Galway. My friend had researched some the night before but we didn’t book anything. We walked in, asked them if they had a room, and luckily they did. WINGIN’ ITTTTTTTTTTT! Our first and last nights were in Dublin and I had booked hotels there before we left (I figured we wouldn’t want to deal with a potential hassle of finding accommodations on travel days), but other than Dublin and Galway, we booked the rest of the places the night before we got there. I think this worked because it was off season, but I’m not sure it would be as easy during peak season. We heard that B&Bs–not Airbnbs–were the way to go, and I have to agree with that. We had breakfast options at the B&Bs and our hosts were all very nice, plus the rooms were very affordable (again, likely off season perks). If I were to go to Ireland again, I would definitely stay in B&Bs.
Bed Time. When booking a B&B or hotel in Ireland, you’ll be asked to choose whether you want a twin or double room. A twin room has two beds, which are sometimes twin beds, sometimes doubles. (In one hotel room in Dingle, there was one twin bed and one double bed, which my friend and I played rock, paper, scissors for. I slept very well and spaciously that night.) A double room has one bed, and it’s usually a king or queen. My friend and I got twin rooms everywhere we went, and most of the time, the rooms had two twin beds. And FYI, twin beds in Ireland are roughly thee inches smaller (less wide) than American twin beds. Even I felt like they were small, and I’m referred to as “tiny” on a regular basis.
Be Adaptable. You know they have different outlets over there, right? I was bringing a laptop and phone with me so I knew I’d need to charge them each day. Someone had suggested this three pack of adapters, and they worked great for me. If you’re going to buy adapters, just be aware of the voltage of the thing(s) you’ll need to plug in so you can choose the right adapters.
Switch It Up. I think all of the outlets I saw in Ireland had a little switch on them to be turned on or off for power. My jet lagged brain didn’t even see the switch my first night there, so I woke up to an almost dead laptop. My friend nicely pointed out the switch, and I made sure to turn the outlets on going forward. Easy peasy.
It All Comes Out In The Wash. I had heard that a lot of hotels and B&Bs in Ireland don’t have wash cloths–and this makeup ain’t coming off without one–so I brought some with me. I knew I would just use them and leave them there, so I bought some cheap ones instead of bringing the ones from my house. Some of the hotels and B&Bs did have white wash cloths but along with those were signs saying they were not to be used for makeup removal, so I think I made the right choice.
Pack Rat. The type of clothing you pack for Ireland depends on where you’re going and what you’ll be doing. If you’re an outdoor adventure traveler, it doesn’t really make sense for you to bring three dresses now, does it? But if you only ever wear dresses and you don’t plan on hiking anytime this millennium, do you. I brought mostly casual clothes, saving my dressiest options for Dublin. But actually, Killarney is where I saw the most fancy folk. I don’t even remember seeing any women in heels until we got to Killarney, which–and this might have been due to the bank holiday long weekend–was full of dressed up people, some in what I could consider club clothes. Other than that, I didn’t feel out of place in my casual clothes.
Minimalist Tendencies. I overpacked, no doubt about it. I was in Ireland for pretty much eight full days (got in around 8:00am the first day), and then a half day there the day we left. For some reason, I had in my head that I needed 12 days worth of outfits. I’ma get real detailed here because I know some of you want that. I brought four pairs of Topshop skinny jeans (denim, light gray, dark gray and black). Three or even two pairs would have been enough. I wore one of them only once. I brought four pairs of leggings (two thin, one thick and one fleece-lined). One thin and the fleece-lined (which did come in handy) would have been enough. I brought three fleeces (knowing I’d wear one or two over my pajamas), but two would have plenty. I packed 12 shirts and didn’t wear three of them. I bought four pairs of shoes–flat boots, wedge boots, hiking boots and sneakers. I could have done without the sneakers, as I mainly wore the flat boots. I brought too many pairs of underwear and socks, but I don’t regret that because they didn’t take up much room. But I definitely could have done without some of the pants, shirts and the sneakers. Ooops.
Weather Through It. I thought I was going to need to buy a raincoat when I got to Ireland, but that would have been unnecessary. It didn’t even rain all of the days that we were there, which I had expected it would. (But it was also implied several times that we were there in a good weather stretch.) A few people told us that you can experience all four seasons in a day in Ireland, but I never felt summer. It was in the 40s and 50s while we were there, but high 50s and sunny does feel like spring, so I’ll give ’em that. We got hailed on–twice–while on The Cliffs of Moher, and there was a cold, windy day in Dingle. If you want to travel somewhere for consistently warm, sunny weather, Ireland is probably not the best option. But if you hit a nice stretch like we did, it’s really not bad (and that’s coming from someone who flees to the South to escape New England winters).
PUBS & RESTAURANTS
Ready, Freddy? Have your drink order ready when you go to the bar. Cocktail menus were scarce (which I’m fine with, but I know others expect them), and it became clear early on that you’re expected to you know what you want when the bartender comes over to you. We didn’t encounter any small talk from bartenders anywhere we went. Usually we got a “Hiya” or “Hello,” followed by a stare, which I learned meant “Order your drink now or I’m walking away” at most places. This could have just been the places we went to, but it’s worth passing along anyway.
DIY Style. If you order a mixed drink–like a vodka soda–you will be given the vodka in a glass, then your club soda in a bottle, and you become your own bartender. I liked this, as the majority of mixed drinks I’ve gotten in Newport lately have not even been given a half-assed stir, so I’m used to doing that part myself anyway. And since I often drink tequila with club soda and either grapefruit or pineapple juice, I like my mixer proportions a specific way, which only myself and most Charleston bartenders can get right. Maybe it’s my control issues speaking, but this was one of my favorite parts of the Irish pub experience.
H2 Oh No. Contrary to what the last paragraph may imply, I’m not a big drinker. That’s due to a variety of boring reasons, so let’s gloss right over that and skip to the fact that I sometimes just order a water, or have one drink then a water. Apparently this is a weird request in Ireland. I also like to have a glass of water with a drink because I’ve repeatedly read and now wholeheartedly believe that helps with hangovers (which are probably unlikely after one drink anyway). I love a bar that automatically gives you a water with your drink, but you won’t find that on The Emerald Isle. So go ahead, order some aqua, but don’t be surprised if the reaction is a weird look.
What’s Your Number? If you’re traveling to Ireland and you have a food allergy, you’re in luck…kind of. Every menu I saw had a list of allergens (did you know celery is one?) with a corresponding number, and that number would be listed next to any menu item that contained it. I have a gluten allergy, which was number 1, so I scanned menus for 1s then made my selection. The problem is that sometimes I only had one or two meals to choose from. It was fine though, as I’m about as big of an eater as I am a drinker. If you have a food allergy (like sulfites, which they also included on the list), you’ll probably feel safe eating at pubs and restaurants in Ireland. But depending on your allergy (mustard is another one!), you might not feel like you have a ton of options. I think a lot of us with food allergies feel that way anyway, so maybe it isn’t an issue. But I like to be thorough in my travel guides.
Speak Up. Being obviously done with with your drink or meal doesn’t mean you’ll be asked if you want another drink or if you want the check. If you want another drink, it’s up to you to get the bartender’s attention and ask for it. Pushing your empty glass to away from you means nothing in Ireland (whereas if you do that in some places in the U.S., you’ll hear a “Can I get another drink?” as you’re taking the list sip of your current one). When you’re done with a meal, you may be asked if you want dessert or anything else, but saying “No thanks. We’re all set,” will not get you your check. If you don’t ask for it, you’ll be sitting there all night. So ignore No Doubt and actually do speak if you’re trying to get another drink or settle up.
The Terror. Driving on the left side of the road is scary as hell, and I didn’t even drive in Ireland. My friend very generously did all of the driving (she had volunteered to several months ago) because I didn’t think I’d be able to do it. Now having been in it, that was an accurate assessment. I was the copilot and I took my job very seriously, but Irish countryside roads are insanely narrow, so it was anxiety-inducing. My friend did an awesome job driving and she said it really wasn’t that bad, but I’m tensing up just thinking about it.
Roundabout Central. Ireland has so many roundabouts. And there are often several in a row. It’s enough to make a copilot dizzy! The good news is, they are pretty easy ones and we only got off track once in a roundabout when the GPS lied to us. They’re no Kelley Square (a famous Worcester roundabout about that’s so ridiculous that I know someone who pulls over, calls her Worcester native husband and has him come pick her up if she finds herself coming up on it) roundabouts, so you really don’t need to stress about these.
Get Low. Or rather, look low if you’re trying to find a traffic light. In Dublin, let’s say we almost went through a couple of red lights because the traffic lights were lower than we are used to so we didn’t see them. I don’t remember that being an issue outside of Dublin, but that may be because we learned our lesson on Day 2. Now that you know what to look for, just keep your eyes peeled and you’ll be fine.
I Saw The Sign. Dublin may seem like a city with no street names until you look on the buildings where they hide the street signs. It’s like an extra challenge when you’re already in a foreign country driving on the left side of the road, so just embrace it.
Taxicab Confessions. There are no Ubers or Lyfts in Ireland, so get ready to go old school if you’re not driving, taking public transportation or walking somewhere. We only had to do this once, getting from a bar we ended up in outside of Doolin (it’s a great story) back to our B&B in Doolin. I thought my friend and I should go outside five minutes before the cab arrived so we could watch for it, which prompted someone I met to say my favorite comment of the trip: “You’re too organized for Ireland.” I guess I’m Type A in any country, huh?
Early Bird Special. I realize it can vary slightly by airline, but I think the general suggestion is to get to the airport three hours before your flight for international travel. My friend and I did just that, and it worked out well. In Boston, it gave us enough time to check our bags, go through security, have dinner at Wahlburgers then hit up Hudson News. It didn’t feel like we had a long wait at our gate after that. For our return flight from Dublin, we budgeted three and a half hours because we had to return our rental car first. That process was a bit of a mess, so I’m glad we added the extra half hour. It did take some time to do everything we needed to do at the airport and while it didn’t take three hours, I’m glad we had the time because we did have to wait in several long lines. If you’re a risk taker, you could probably cut the time down to two and a half or maybe even two hours, but I personally wouldn’t. I’ve been early for everything, including the day I was born, so of course I’m not going to cut it close for an international flight.
Get Customized. At some of the airports in Ireland (including Dublin and Shannon), you can do pre-clearance there so you don’t have to go through customs when you get back to the US. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather do something before boarding than after landing when I just want to get home. We had to wait in three separate lines to get through pre-clearance, so having the padding of the three hours kept it from getting stressful. No worrying that we were going to miss our flight and have to run through the airport like maniacs.
PHONE & WIFI
A Cell Phone’s A Celly. I have a Samsung Galaxy (keep your comments to yourself, please) and have Sprint. I had checked with Sprint before I left and they said as long I switched my phone into international roaming mode, I could use it regularly. That wasn’t quite the case, but I was okay with that. If you want to be able to fully use your phone while you are there, maybe just read this. (And if you caught my Big L reference, know that I consider you a friend.)
Stay Connected. I had zero problems getting and staying connected to WiFi networks in Ireland. I was a little concerned about not having consistent WiFi before I left for my trip, but it turns out I didn’t need to be worried. Lesson learned.
Whoa. I’m including this section because hey, this is still a beauty blog. My friend and I noticed that many women in Ireland–particularly those in their 20s and 30s–wear a lot of makeup. Like beauty guru levels. Heavy foundation, contour, eye makeup, lips–just full on. I noticed lash extensions on 90% of the younger women I saw. I’m not knocking it, just making an observation.
WHAT I LIKED BEST ABOUT EACH PLACE
Dublin. Let me first say, I’m not a big city person. So I didn’t expect to like Dublin, but since it made sense to be there on travel days, I was fine with it. There were less people than I expected, which I loved. And I got a great blowout at Dry & Fly on Wicklow Street. It was also cool seeing Trinity College and the Temple Bar area (where we stayed both times).
Galway. We spent time primarily in the Latin Quarter, an area of Galway with structures that date back to medieval time. I’m happy in any cobblestone street areas where vehicles aren’t allowed, so I was into it. There was a comedy festival happening in Galway, so my friend and I went to a show the night we were there. Now I can say I’ve been to comedy festivals in three countries, so that’s something.
Doolin. Ah, Doolin. This was my favorite part of the trip. We stayed for two nights at O’Connor’s Guesthouse in huge room with a bathroom at least twice the size of the bathrooms any of our other rooms had. We had a great breakfast there one morning before we went on what they call a “walk” but is really more of a “hike” with local farmer Pat Sweeney. This walk-hike was one of the best parts of our trip. It was a four hour, off the beaten path tour that gave us information and views we couldn’t have gotten on any other tour. Pat suggested to my friend and I that we go to McGann’s Pub, where we ended up making friends with some locals. Doolin is an adorable little town and the first place I would go to if I went back to Ireland.
Killarney. We were in Killarney on the Sunday of a long weekend, so it was pretty busy. One of our new friends from Doolin had recommended we take a carriage ride, so we did that. (The carriages are stationed across from the Killarney Plaza Hotel, where we also had good dinner.) We took a ride through the Killarney National Park with our wonderful guide, John, and his horse, Suzy. Like we did everywhere we went, we stayed in the main/downtown part of town so we could walk everywhere. We wanted to see Ross Castle, but it closed before we were able to get there. We did see it from a distance during our carriage ride, so that half counts, right?
Dingle. The seaside town of Dingle reminded me of Newport. Water, boats, a million shops and restaurants–you know the drill. We went to the famed Murphy’s Ice Cream, where even a gluten-free gal like me had options. Instead of a B&B, we went with the Dingle Benners Hotel, which was nicest hotel we stayed at. (FYI, the parking lot is behind the hotel, you have to circle around the hotel through side streets to access it.) We found some very friendly people in Dingle, and I would say it was my second favorite place. Much like Newport, I bet it’s packed during the summer months but I think it would be fun to go there then.
Kilkenny. This medieval city looked and felt different than anywhere else we had been. I was determined to see a castle in Ireland, and we finally got to one in Kilkenny. We did a (self-guided) tour of Kilkenny Castle, and I pretended I was a queen while I was walking down one of the staircases. I had my favorite meal of the trip–a perfect burger with no bun, obviously–at Butcher. We didn’t do a ton of exploring in Kilkenny, but I’m glad we went.
If you’re traveling to Ireland and this post helped you even a little, I’ll be pleased as punch. If anyone has Ireland recommendations, I’d love for you to share them in the comments.
It’s that time! New(ish) season, (mostly) new favorites.
Very Cherry Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm. You know I love Green Clean, so I had to try the limited edition cherry version. I went to Sephora one day to buy Green Clean, smelled Very Cherry and loved it, but for some reason left with just the Green Clean. I couldn’t stop thinking about how good Very Cherry smelled, so I went back to Sephora the next day and bought the last Very Cherry they had in stock. I absolutely love it and I’m hoping Farmacy makes this a permanent part of their line.
Nurse Jackie. I know, I’m like 10 years late to the party. My mom and I started watching Nurse Jackie on Netflix in September, and I’m so glad we did (good, call Beensa). It’s made me laugh, cry and be even more scared of the potential medical issues that can happen to a person. I was sad when I finished the series earlier this month. So I started on…
Fleabag. I’m a little less late to this party. This British television series is about a woman in her early 30s who is dealing with grief, family issues and love. It’s funny, touching and binge watch-inducing. With only two seasons on Amazon Prime, you can watch the whole series in a day if you’re determined. The possibility of Season 3 is up in the air at this time, so fingers crossed.
Shore Soap Co. Coconut Bikini Body Wash. I was a Mermaid Kisses Body Wash gal for years, but when Coconut Bikini came out, I knew I’d be making the switch. What can I say? I like things that remind me of the beach and sunshine when it’s 50 degrees and rainy. This body wash smells of coconut, vanilla and musk–a combination that keeps it from smelling sickly sweet. Good job, Shore Soap Co.!
Prosecco. Prosecco was an old fave that came back into my life. I’ve been a tequila drinker for a few years now, but it’s been hard to get a good tequila drink in Newport lately, so I was forced to switch to something a bartender can’t fuck up. Sorry for the cursing, but it’s necessary. Prosecco gives me a lighter buzz than tequila, which I like. And there’s something about watching the bubbles in the glass, right? Prosecco makes me think of The Great Gatsby, and since I’m convinced I lived a past life in the 1920s, I consider it nostalgic.
Glossier Mint Balm Dotcom. I love the Balm Dotcoms, but did not think I was going to like Mint. I held off trying this flavor for so long, but I finally caved in because I had tried all of the other flavors, so it only seemed fair. Surprisingly, I like it! A lot. It smells like a candy cane, not like mint gum, which I was expecting. It makes my lips feel just as hydrated as the other Balm Dotcoms that I know and love. Glossier has done it (for me) again.
Sunflower Seed Butter. I used to love peanut butter, until it started to make my stomach hurt. I moved on to almond butter, and we had a good run until I noticed it made my tongue itchy. I recently tried Once Again Sunflower Seed Butter, and so far, my body has not rejected it. The individual packs are great for me, as a lot of my eating is done in the car on the way to or back from jobs. Sunflower seed butter makes my tastebuds happy and the 200 calorie portions are enough to fill me up for a while. Props to the person who realized sunflower seeds would taste good.
That’s all, folks! I hope you’ve found some of your own favorites this fall, but if not, feel free to bite my style. I’ll never know.
Let’s be clear–most of September was technically summer. There are Fall Pushers out there, and I don’t appreciate it. I’ve still been wearing sandals most days, because it’s warm enough to in Rhode Island, so why would I constrict my feet before I need to?
But, it is truly fall now, and has been since September 23. I can’t deny it. So, here we are. The Falling Into Fall Recap for September.
September was the second busiest weddings month of 2019 for AB Beauty. We had 23 wedding and events, loads of trials and several more 2020 weddings booked. We once again got to work with a ton of great brides, bridesmaids, mothers of the bride and groom and grandmothers, as well as with some of our favorite photographers and wedding planners. (Thanks to all of the wonderful brides I personally worked with this month–Brie, Erin, Alison, Emma, Alexis, Michelle and Beth!) The last two makeup artists I was training finished in early September, which made us all happy. And I started working on some new business ideas, which I’m not going to say anything about for a while. Sorry, not sorry.
Personally, it was a good month for me. I saw a lot of friends and family, made some good progress in Physical Therapy with this inner ear/balance disorder I’ve had since last October and hung out with a new friend. (I love making new friends!) My chiropractor fixed an ankle injury I had, so I was able to get back to running. And I got even more excited for my October Ireland trip. September was basically the emotional pre-gaming for my trip, so I’m ready now.
Truth be told, there were a lot of ups and downs for me in September (why relive the downs, though?). But I came out of this dual season month feeling physically better, with some potentially breakthrough business ideas, a new friend and two more makeup artists on the team. I’ll call it a win.
I know, I know, not all people born in August are Leo’s, but doesn’t it kind of feel like it? And that’s the way they would want it. (That’s a joke for the astrology crowd.) I’ve got a lot of Leo’s in my life and we tend to get along well, so I’ve got nothin’ but love for my lions. In tribute to them, I am calling this August recap “The Leo Month Recap.”
In August, Allison Barbera Beauty celebrated 11 years in business. I have a pre-teen! That’s crazy. We had 15 weddings, a bunch of trials and some corporate shoots. All of the brides I personally worked with this month were awesome awesome awesome. Jamie, Caroline, Taylor, Victoria and Kate–you rock! Thank you for being so great to work with.
We also booked a lot of 2020 weddings, which I’m psyched about. Next year is going to be BANANAS busy, y’all. We ready.
I tried the Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder Foundation (which Sam from Pixiwoos raves about), but I got a lighter shade that I needed so I’ve just been using that on the center of my face with my regular MAC Face & Body that matches me on the rest of my face. I need to get the right shade of Light Wonder to use on my whole face so I can really review it. I also tried her Legendary Lashes Volume 2, which I liked a lot.
On the personal front, I had some fun times with friends old and new. I had a party with several friends and relatives to celebrate 11 years in business and we had a blast. I dragged my mom to a bunch of stores to help me find more furniture and decor for my apartment, and we were successful even though she pointed out the SAME EXACT CHAIR I told her I didn’t want, thrice. I took my father to Animal Adventures in Bolton, MA for a private guided tour (his Father’s Day present) and he had the best damn time.
I started physical therapy for this (the doctors think) vestibular disorder I’ve had since last October. It messes with my balance and I’ve tried a lot of things to fix it, but PT is the first thing that seems to be helping. I’m still not totally out of the woods, but I can’t tell you how much of a relief is it have found something that is helping.
August was overall a good month. It maybe didn’t feel as balanced as July, but it didn’t bury me as much as June did. Now we are in September, the second busiest month of the year for AB Beauty. It’s September 5th, and we’ve already done four weddings with two more happening tomorrow and four more on Saturday. That’s 10 in seven days, if you’re counting.
And that means I should probably go to bed. I’ve got two great brides this weekend, and they deserve a well-rested makeup artist.
I did a June recap, so it only seems right to do one for July. Don’t you think?
July is always the slowest weddings month, for reasons I’m still not sure of. (People going on vacation? Too-hot weather, even though August is usually hotter? Couples not wanting to share their anniversary month with America?) June 2019 was the busiest month in the history of AB Beauty, so I was ready for a little break in July. Joke was on me, though! While July had a lot less weddings than June, we booked a ton of weddings for 2019 and 2020, which kept me busy. We also did a lot of trials–I personally did seven times as many as I did in June–and I started training two new makeup artists. We broke our all-time yearly weddings booking record which was set in 2018, which I’m psyched about. We also had a new hair stylist finish training and I’m in talks with two more potential new hair stylists. I worked with some wonderful new clients and left all of my jobs smiling. I ended up being way busier than I thought, but I had a little more of a breather some days.
On the personal side, it was a marvelous month. It started off with a Southern Charm binge watching night with my friend Julie, then a fun Fourth of July day out (notice I didn’t say “night out,” because I’m 37) with my girl, Kristin. My father had a big cookout the first weekend of July, so I got to see a lot of family and some friends there. My college friend, Caroline and my Charleston friend, Arryn, were in town the following week, and I was so happy to spend time with them. I made a new friend with someone who has been in to makeup model for makeup artist training sessions, and we had a fun first-time hangout. I went to see Nick Kroll in Providence with my newlywed friends Greta and Chris, and I always have a blast with them.
At the end of the month, I went up to Montreal for the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival for my second year in a row. I went with my aunt Michelle and her friend/business associate, Christine. They run the Women In Comedy Festival in Boston, and they are awesome. JFL was fantastic. I saw a ton of great comics and went to a bunch of panels about different shows and topics. I saw people give television show pitches to major networks and I went to two live recording comedy podcasts. I went to a “Boast Rattle,” where comics tried to out-compliment each other. I saw some of my favorite comics and added a few more to my list. I’m already excited to go back next year.
I can’t claim that I had a balanced month, because contrary to the length of the previous paragraphs, I worked way more than I played. Except for when I was in Montreal, 12 – 14 hour workdays were the norm. But hey, that’s the life of a business owner in the wedding industry this time of year, you know?
We have more than twice as many weddings booked for August as we did for July. On top of that, August will be busy because September is our second busiest month this year (and could potentially beat out June as our all-time busiest month), and the month before the busiest month is also always crazy. I’ve got a lot of makeup artist trainings on top of that, plus some trials. In August, AB Beauty will celebrate 11 years in business. That’s bananas, right? I can’t believe I have a pre-teen.
And now, work time. I’ll be back with an August recap before you know it.
I was recently hanging out with a college friend, you know, talking for about five hours straight as I do with my friends. She told me how she was out with the regular group she goes out with and a friend who didn’t usually hang out with them joined and couldn’t believe how much they complimented each other. My friend and I were talking about how we both do that a lot (she’s better at it than I am, especially because I sometimes say compliments in my head and forget to say them out loud).
I’ve been thinking about that conversation and how I often do compliment people–friends, grocery store cashiers, doctor’s office receptionists, whoever–on their makeup, hair and nails. If I see a pretty lipstick color, the compliment is out of my mouth before I know it, followed by “I’m a makeup artist,” I guess to justify it (totally unnecessary). When I compliment people I know, it might be a physical compliment like “I love your new haircut” or “That blue shirt looks great on you,” or something about their personality like “You’re always so patient with things. How?” or “You’re a great listener.”
I also compliment pretty much every client who sits in my chair, because I do think everyone has at least one beautiful feature. It can be eye color, eye shape, lashes, skin, lips, bone structure, etc. I think complimenting clients helps put them at ease, but that’s not why I do it. I genuinely mean every compliment I give.
This has all made me think of how much I have appreciated compliments people have given me. Some of those verbal gifts have stuck with me, and those are the ones I want to share now. I appreciated those compliments when they were given, and I appreciate them again whenever I think of them. Because of that, we have ourselves a blog post.
Here we go.
“You’re the only one who knows how to treat the people who work for them.” Someone who works for me said this to me when she was having a tough time at her day job. She had a series of bosses who were mean or didn’t appreciate her, which blows my mind because she is an incredibly hard worker, professional and really a dream employee (or Independent Contractor, in my case). I try my best to make AB Beauty the kind of company hair stylists and makeup artists want to work at, so her compliment meant a lot.
“You look exotic.” A guy I briefly dated in college said this to me when we first met. I don’t know what made him think that–I suspect maybe it was because in comparison to the more preppy styles around me, I looked different–but I took it as a compliment.
“You should do standup!/”Do you do standup?”/”I can’t wait until your Netflix special!” I gave the Maid of Honor speech at my brother and sister-in-law’s wedding in 2017, and it was one of my favorite things I’ve ever done. I started writing the ten minute speech (turned into 12 minutes with laughter breaks, so what’s up) a year and a half before the wedding, and decided to memorize it. I know I could make my brother and sister-in-law laugh, and maybe my parents and few friends, but I did not expect the reaction I got during the speech and the dozens of people who came up to me after the speech to tell me how funny it was. Granted, my “audience” was a group of wedding guests who knew the subjects of my speech and didn’t have the comedy expectations you would watching a comic, but I still won’t forget all of the compliments.
“How many men have you killed with those eyes?” This pickup line–my favorite one ever–was given to me (at me?) a few years ago. This gentleman kept telling me my eyes were the most gorgeous eyes he had ever seen, which I attribute to some black waterline eyeliner and the tequila he was drinking. Still though, I chose to take it as a compliment.
“Allie is the busiest person I know, and she still makes the time to visit us.” When it comes to visiting friends, I feel like I should get an F. The nine-ish months a year I live in New England are also the busiest months for my business, and it’s rare that I have more than a couple hours twice a week to hang out. So if a friend lives an hour away and I’ve only got maybe three hours max, with the drive time, it’ tough to pull off. I still try to visit though, and the friend who said this (my friend’s husband, but I am friends with them both) lives a couple hours away. They used to live an hour away so I was able to visit them and their kids a few times a year, which was when he said it. Anyway, I always feel like I don’t visit my people half as much as I would like to because of my career, and I have some major guilt about that, so this compliment made me feel a million times better.
“I need to check your hair.” Said to me by a TSA agent at I forget which airport (either Boston, Charleston or Nashville). I had my hair up in a ponytail with the shorter front layers pinned back then pushed up a little because I HATE flat hair on me. (I’d go full 1960s Priscilla Presley every day if I could.) Apparently my hair looked big enough to be hiding something in it, so the TSA agent had to pat it down. I took that as the ultimate hair compliment.
“You two have the most expressive eyes! You look like anime characters.” This was said to actress Dominique Swain and I by an actor on the set of a Lifetime movie I did the makeup for. I feel like I have very few expressions, so it was a huge compliment to be lumped in with an actress whose expressive eyes are part of what makes her great at her job.
“You are the most organized person I’ve ever met.” A bride said this to me at a trial last week, so this is a fresh one. I don’t know if she’d say the same if she saw my house, but I certainly try my best to be organized when it comes to my business. When a client tells me that and how it makes the bridal beauty process easier for them, it really means a lot.
“You read too fast!” Something my father says every time we watch Jeopardy. I am a fast reader, and although it makes my father mad because I can read and answer a clue before he’s halfway through reading it, I think it’s a good thing. Right?
“Damn, white girl can dance!” Said by a fellow club goer in Ft. Lauderdale, 2006. This was the era of “droppin’ it,” which pre-dated twerking, and as someone who is already close to the floor, droppin’ it was not hard. I’m not a good dancer but apparently this man thought so, and that brings me great joy.
“We’re going to need to use the small blood pressure cuff on you.” Said to me at a recent doctor’s appointment. I feel like my upper arms are bigger than they should be, but my primary care implied otherwise. I’ll take it as a win.
All of these compliments have made me feel good, and I hope I’ve done the same for others with compliments I’ve given. The conversation with my friend–and writing this post–has made me want to consciously give more compliments. Not in a fake way, but when I notice or realize something positive or flattering about someone I should make sure to say it out loud. For me at least, sometimes a compliment can turn a bad day (or bordeline bad day) around. Wouldn’t it be nice to possibly do that for someone else, just with a few simple words? I think so.
I’m experiencing major writer’s block right now. I’m not even sure what the rest of this sentence is going to look like. I usually have several ideas for blog posts, but I’m coming up blank. Maybe it’s because we just finished the busiest month in the history of AB Beauty? 26 weddings, two groups of wedding guests, one hair and makeup for a re-shoot of some 2018 wedding photos and 12 trials, five corporate shoots and four makeup artists training sessions. Hundreds of email, non-stop texts and phone calls on the daily. We are just about to smash our all time record of 108 weddings, and the year is only a little over halfway done.
I cried a few times, felt like collapsing regularly and caught a virus that still hasn’t gone away because I haven’t had much time to rest. But I also worked with a lot of brides who I love, met some cool people who came in to model for makeup artist training sessions, got two new makeup artist trained and two new ones who are starting their training now and booked several 2020 weddings. I got to see my family once, had a few fun friend visits and a classic Newport Summer day with a local friend, and saw Hannah Gadsby perform in Boston (she was AWESOME). So as rough as the June workload was, I’m choosing to look back on it as a good month.
It’s not that I dislike my job. Quite the contrary, actually. This is my dream job! My makeup artist work itself is great. I genuinely like my clients and I have fun talking with them at trials, weddings and shoots. The business side of my job–client communication, scheduling, invoicing, coordinating social media, etc.–is not super hard, it’s just a lot in combination with my makeup artist job, recruiting and training new makeup artists and growing the company. The makeup artist training program is intense, but I do enjoy teaching and getting people ready for a career in makeup artistry. It’s just when it’s all happening at once with no time to breathe that I feel a little buried. And that was June.
July is much quieter with weddings, but busy with trials and trainings. Even so, it feels lighter and I’m able to get a bit more balance. I have a good friend coming to town for Fourth of July (you’re damn right we’re wearing red, white and blue), my father’s big pool party/cookout this weekend, a Charleston friend visit next week, I’m going to see comic Nick Kroll in mid-July, then off to the Just For Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal at the end of the month. There will still be long days, but I’ve got great clients and a rockstar team, so it’ll be a good month.
That’s all I got, friends. My brain is stopping me from writing anymore.
We’ve got a few different starts to the summer where I live in Newport, RI. The first one is Memorial Day Weekend, the official start of the summer season in Newport. The second is June 1, which I think most New Englanders consider to be the start of summer, even though most of the month is technically spring. Then we’ve got June 21, the actual first day of summer.
So I think it’s time to do my Summer Favorites blog post, right? Now is as good of a time as any.
Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm. My cousin, Saint Maria, sent me this cleanser and man, do I love it. It’s a cleansing balm, so you use the spatula they provide to scrape some out, then you apply it to dry skin, add water, massage it in, then rinse off. It melts my makeup right off, smells divine, does not leave a sticky film and makes my skin feel so soft after. The scent of cleanser is really important to me. I tried a Drunk Elephant one recently that worked fine but smelled like drywall, and I can’t get past that. Cleanser texture is also very important to me, and the Green Clean texture feels luxurious. The best way I can come up with to describe it is a whipped or light sorbet texture that melts onto your skin. This is a fantastic cleanser that works on all skin types. You can get it at Sephora.
The AB Beauty Team. These rockstars are always my favorites, but it’s time they made an appearance in one of these Favorites posts. I am so grateful to each hair stylist and makeup artist on the team. Not only are they crazy talented, but I truly like each person and enjoy working with them. I’m lucky to have 17-and-counting hair stylists and makeup artists who do work for AB Beauty. Thank you, Alex, Ann, Ana, Candie, Chantal, Denissa, Ellie, Emily, Emma, Jen, Katie, Kaydee, Kerri, Kristin, Liz, Liza and Paige! And looking forward to starting training with Shaina and Hayden later this month. Y’all are the best.
Spicy V8 Bloody Marias. It’s a well known fact that I’m a tequila drinker. One of my go-to drinks is a Bloody Maria (a Bloody Mary with tequila instead of vodka). My mother makes the best Bloody mix, and the second best is the Charleston Mix. That’s my opinion, but it’s also correct. I keep forgetting to order some Charleston Mix and I don’t always have my mom’s mix, so I’ve been using Spicy V8s (a suggestion I got from the mother of an AB Beauty bride–thanks, Ellen!). The V8 consistency is not as thick as the other Bloody mixes I like, but it is far superior to the bullshit watery ones some restaurants and bars serve. If you’re a Bloody drinker or want to be, give it a try!
Decorating My Apartment. I moved into the best apartment I’ve ever lived in in April, and I’ve been on a mission to make it look the way I want it to look since. I’ve historically put my money and effort into my company, and that’s still where those things will go if I have to choose. But right now, I can do both, so my crib is getting some love. So far, I’ve gotten a living room rug, a bookshelf, two vintage chairs, throw pillows, a bed frame, a dresser, a bedroom rug, bedroom curtains and curtain rods and real plants. I’ve had pictures and artwork hung up on my walls, and my bedroom was painted peach (to compliment the white, gold and marble elements I’m incorporating). I LOVE making my already beautiful, spacious and bright apartment look better. Each thing I buy makes me more excited to live in my ocean-views top floor apartment. I’m sure this will go on well past the summer, but I think this will be when I make the biggest dent in my “To Decorate” list.
Secret Outlast Xtend Invisible Solid Deodorant. I know some people skip deodorant, but that’s not my jam. Especially in the summer, you know? I go for runs, I log in several miles a week walking to errands, I’m rushing up and down flights of stairs into my studio and apartment–you know, being active. I’ve tried other deodorants that I felt wore off quickly, made me itchy or had a sickly sweet smell. Secret Outlast Xtend Invisible Solid is the longest-lasting deodorant I’ve tried and it doesn’t make me itchy. I have the Completely Clean scent which isn’t overpowering. I don’t think it’s 100% invisible, but the white color does fade after a bit. I haven’t tried wearing it for 48 hours because, hi, I’m going to shower twice in 48 hours, so I’ll just take their word for that.
Big Berkey Countertop Water Filter System. I find the taste of water to be utterly boring, but I know it’s a necessary evil (and, all jokes aside, something I’m lucky to have access to in comparison with a lot of the world). I’ve been trying to drink more of it, mostly because my body seems to go into instant bloat mode if I have any salt, and I can not stand when my face looks fuller than it already is. Last month, my face looked puffy for days and I had gained weight seemingly overnight. I forced myself to drink a full gallon of water one day, and the next day and I was down two pounds and my face looked normal again. Now I’m sold on the stuff. I go through a few gallons a week, so my brother recommended the Big Berkey. It’s not only better for the environment, and more cost effective in the long run, but the water it purifies is a lot better too. The assembly instructions seemed very complicated, so I convinced my friends Dan and Natasha to put it together for me (thanks, guys!). It’s a big ol’ thing, so you’ll need some good counter space if you get one.
Having Parties. My dope new apartment is the perfect party spot. The layout, the space, the deck, the bay window that overlooks a busy part of town so guests can have fun people watching and yelling out the window–it all works perfectly. I’ve had a couple small parties since I’ve moved in, and I’ve loved it. I don’t cook, but I’m great at buying chips and salsa, cheese and crackers, veggie platters, etc. I have a lot of friends who I would like to see more often, but it’s tough for me to make plans with a bunch of people during wedding season. I can usually only pull off one hangout a week, but when I have a party, I can hang out with several people at once. I’ve always hosted one or two pub crawl type parties each year, but I’m liking these house parties better for now. I love that my friends from different groups meet each other at my parties and become friends. All of my friends are great so hanging out with them all together in one place is the best.
Glossier Mango Balm Dotcom. It’s no secret that I love the Balm Dotcoms. I’ve tried every one except mint, so of course when the new Mango Balm Dotcom came out, I thought, Gotsta have it. It has more of mango candy scent than a real mango, but I’m into it. It is just as hydrating as their original Balm Dotcom, and I love subtle coral tint it gives. I haven’t felt this way about all of the Balm Dotcoms, but I’ll definitely buy this one again.
Dead To Me. If you haven’t watched this Netflix series yet, get to it! Christina Applegate and Linda Cardellini are two national treasures, and they are great together. Christina plays Jen, the widow of a man killed in a hit in run, and she is befriended by Linda’s character. There’s some dark humor, lots of twists and a scene in which the actor playing one of Jen’s sons is wearing a Biggie shirt. That did not go unnoticed by me. I usually only like to watch comedies, but I like the two main actresses enough to watch this series, and I’m glad I did. Can’t wait for Season 2.
You know what else I love this summer? SUMMER. In my world, life is better in dresses and sandals. 8:30pm sunsets beat 4:00pm sunsets any day, and you’ll never have to scrape sunshine of your windshield, so how bad can your day be?