FriYAY feels!

at the rally for teachers and students in downtown raleigh this week! #redfored

Friyay! This week, I joined 20,000+ teachers, parents, students, and supporters in the march downtown to demand more funding for students and classrooms, more resources for mental health, class size changes, and better working conditions. It was cool to be part of something bigger than me, and to come together with thousands towards one common goal.

This weekend, my sister is having a graduation party and I can’t wait! I’m so proud of her for busting her butt the last 3 years to become a Nurse Practitioner. She’s going to be amazing! Andrew and I also have an end of the year party at one of our friend’s houses from school, so it will be really fun to kick back and celebrate!

I said I would report back on my Tula skincare purchase. I ordered the discovery kit to see what I thought – and once it was empty, I re-ordered the full size face wash, this exfoliating mask to try, and the pro-glycolic resurfacing gel toner. In hindsight, I would swap out the face mask for the probiotic day &  night cream next time – the moisturizer is amazing, but I didn’t order it because I still have my Murad moisturizer from my Spring FabFitFun box that I love! The face wash goes a long way and it cleans my makeup off really well without a lot of scrubbing or effort on my part. I can’t say that my breakouts have cleared up 100% because that’s just my luck in life, but I do love the way it makes my skin look and feel. We’ll see how it continues to go!

Still loving these slides and wearing them at least twice a week. SO comfortable.

This week I got to the gym as many times as I said I would! Huge feat for me. I feel great, sore, and ready to keep this up! My wedding dress should be here soon, so I want to feel my best when I get it on!

New favorite affordable mascara (still holding onto this one as my other all time favorite) and the lip I’ve been rocking constantly (in the color Baci). I’ve loved the Stila stay all day liquid lipsticks since my college years, but this color is so good.

I’ve been stacking this necklace stamped with our wedding date lately, with this “A” necklace that I always wear (Andrew got me the “J” necklace for Christmas last year, and it broke one morning at school. I ordered the A thinking I could slide on the J charm with it, and I couldn’t get the J back on due to the clasps…so now I wear his initial instead!).

my necklaces!

I got to meet my friend Kelly’s little man Jacob last Sunday. He is only a week and a half old and he is perfect! He came a few weeks early but he is healthy and doing great. I am so happy to have another friend with a baby – my other friend Kelly had her baby Kate in December. So many baby snuggles in my future!

Two things I’ve been practicing with for wedding events and the actual wedding day after INTENSE research and review reading:  This sunless tanner (use the application mitt!) and some hair extensions so my thin hair can be on fleek. No shame. My legs are white, white, white and until I can lay by the pool (with SPF, of course), I’m trying to look a little bronzed in my white dresses for showers and events surrounding the wedding. I don’t think I’ll use it for the big day because I would hate to risk being streaky and I would never forgive myself if I stained my dress! But it has been working really well so far! The extensions are real hair, high quality, and matched my  hair really well. They are just a few inches longer than my real hair. They just give it some life and fullness, and whatever I decide for my wedding hair, my hair stylist suggested them to just give me a little more oomph! I ordered them from Bellami Hair in the ash blonde color.

I ordered this tote way back in April (it was a definite splurge, a treat yoself item I bought when I finally got approved for my Master’s degree extra pay!). It was on backorder because I got the petal pink color – I guess it’s all the rage this season! I have had my eye on this bag since about a year ago, but couldn’t bite the bullet. My best friend Whitney got one for Christmas and I decided I just had to have it. I haven’t gotten a purse since this bad boy last summer which I’m still carrying, and I haven’t gotten myself a NICE purse in……..ever? So it arrived yesterday and I’m just delighted.

That’s it for me! Everyone enjoy the weekend 🙂

FabFitFun // Spring box

It’s here! The Spring FabFitFun box got to me about a week ago, and I am so excited. I mentioned this subscription service when I got my Winter box – it is such a fun treat to look forward to every few months!

This box was FULL of goodies – I don’t think there was even one item in it that I wasn’t excited about! Total value of this box was $347 so it feels like such a deal when you just pay your subscription price of $49.99! The picture below breaks down what each of the items was in this spring box:

I LOVE the Murad face lotion – it is so smooth, and I really feel like I can already see a difference in my skin tone and texture already. It smells good, too! I have been using it every day. My only complaint about it would be that it doesn’t contain an SPF, so you’d still have to follow with that. I am excited to try the Free People cooling face mask, although face masks kind of give me anxiety. Is that weird?! I just feel like they’re closing in on me when I wear them! But I have several friends who swear by them, and I’m going to give it a try for puffiness and relaxation – if it’s not for the entire night, maybe my brain will feel less weird wearing it. They’re sold out right now, so they must be good!

The Rachel Pally clutch is SO cute, reversible, and just in time for spring! Maybe my favorite thing in the box next to the face lotion, just because I can get so much use out of it, and since it’s reversible, it’s even better!

When I opened the box, I immediately wanted to light the Anderson Lilley candle, because the fragrance was already filling up my room and it smelled SO good. Plus, I love the copper holder. Perfect for taking a bath or just relaxing at home.

I’ve been using the ISH lip palette every day for my lip color, and I love the variety of colors and how smoothly they each go on. Definitely a bonus! I have also been using the massage roller a ton this week – it is amazing. Andrew likes it, too! I can’t find the link to the actual roller – but I would definitely purchase it for myself just because of how great it feels! I haven’t tried any of the other items, but like I said, every part of this box was exciting to me!


my two favorite items from the box!

My favorite part about the FabFitFun subscription is that it is full of goodies that I normally wouldn’t spend full price on – this way, I get to try and use all of these full-sized products without breaking the bank! Win-win. My least favorite part of the subscription is the side-eyed judgement looks I get from my dogs while I’m taking photos for blog posts – haha!

catching judgement from the doggies

The Yellow Bird

I am always looking for new products to try out and write about, and I’ve mentioned several times that I love to support local/small businesses. Whitney is always thinking of ideas for me, and a while back she had told me about The Yellow Bird and how she had met the owner at one of her networking meetings for local creatives and business owners. I started following on Instagram and got a feel for the products and the vibes from the company. I loved everything I saw, especially that it is a family owned business, so finally I reached out to one of the owners of the company to see what her suggestions would be for products to try! I love to read reviews and take trusted recommendations from people who know what they’re talking about. She suggested several items including their face oil set, but I had just started using another face oil so I had to try something else. I ended up ordering the activated charcoal soap that comes with the face oil set, and I ordered two of their new bath bombs and this foot cream.

I was so impressed with how fast this shipped and got to me, even over the weekend! When I opened the box, the most divine smells filled my room almost immediately. Andrew walked in and asked if I had sprayed some smelly stuff in the room! I loved the scents of the bath bombs. I also love that the charcoal soap has lemongrass and lavender, two of my favorite relaxing scents. When I use it, my face feels squeaky clean, soft, and all my makeup comes off really easily. And I love the smell! You can’t go wrong with a bath bomb, but these are so pretty, fragrant, and left my skin feeling so smooth and soft when I got out of the bath.

The foot cream is the real MVP. It’s winter, and my skin is dry everywhere, but my feet and hands tend to suffer the most! This foot cream not only smells so fresh, but I woke up with baby feet that were so soft! It’s not a cream like a lotion – it’s more like an oil or a vaseline type of consistency. I slathered it all over my feet and put on my socks before bed. Wonderful results! And with eucalyptus, lavender, tea tree oil, and peppermint, you can’t go wrong!

This post was not sponsored and I truly just love to share trusted recommendations for anyone out there who can benefit from them. The owner of this company was so incredibly kind through our messaging, plus she used to be a teacher too! If you’re in the market for some all natural, made with care skincare and bath products that will help support a family, this is a wonderful non-corporate option. Treat yoself, get a nice gift for someone else, stock up on your bath supplies or skin care items, and support a small business owner! I am dying to try the charcoal salt & sugar scrub next, and when my current face oil runs out I’ll give theirs a try!

Daily face

I get a lot of compliments on my makeup (granted, it’s mostly from my 15-year-old students). I’m always a little bit surprised when I get compliments because I literally do the same makeup routine every single day. I am a creature of habit. I love makeup and beauty products, but once I find something I like, I tend to stick with it. I’m loyal; what can I say?! I did recently start using the Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue, which I mentioned in this post. Now it’s in my daily face rotation!

My friend Abbie asked for the post on the Complexion Rescue, but she also said she needed a whole new makeup routine, so I thought I’d write this post to highlight the products that I wear every single day.

the entire daily face, makeup-stained and all

First, I moisturize and prime my face. I’ve used this moisturizer since high school, and I love this green NYX primer to cancel out redness and set me up for a smooth finish.

Lately, I’ve been using a combination of Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue tinted moisturizer + my all-time favorite powder, the Lorac POREfection baked perfecting powder. For the tinted moisturizer, I dab it with a damp beauty blender or just use my fingers and rub it in like a moisturizer. After the complexion rescue comes the underage concealer triangle phenomenon.

A NOTE ABOUT CONCEALER:  You want to conceal after you put on your foundation or tinted moisturizer base so that you can set it with powder afterward, and because you are basically wasting your time if you go rubbing something on top of all the concealer you just carefully placed! I use this NYX concealer because it was listed somewhere a long time ago with great reviews. I’m still on the hunt for a great concealer, but this isn’t bad. I use my ring finger to dot in on and around whatever I need to hide. I don’t always do under eye concealer, but if I really want to brighten things up, I’ll use the IT Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye and spread in a triangle under my eyes. I blend that concealer in with a tiny damp beauty blender.

this is what you should look like after the under-eye concealer…scary.

Then use a brush to blend powder in all over your face, dabbing on top of the concealer rather than brushing back and forth. I use this bronzer in the hollows of my cheeks, temples, and along my jaw line (think of a 3 shape). I use this blush in “achiote”on the apples of my cheeks, and this highlighter in “sin” on my cheekbones and down the bridge of my nose. Those three are all pretty pricey, but they last FOREVER. They are all really pigmented, so a little goes a long way.

For eyes, I typically go for a delicate cat eye with my Stila stay all day waterproof eyeliner. Nothing too crazy for a daily look, but I like to have a little tail from the corner of my lids, and I find that I can be messier with my mascara because the eyeliner covers it up (can I get an amen?!). A basic tutorial and step-by-step for how I do my eyeliner is in this post.

After eyeliner, I apply my eyebrow pencil in shade 2 – you literally can’t mess it up and it’s so perfect. Then on to mascara. I have mentioned before that I have naturally long lashes, but they are also naturally blonde, so when I don’t wear mascara I have such a baby face and you can’t see my eyelashes at all. I love to splurge on fancy mascaras like Tarte lash paint or Urban Decay’s perversion, but you can typically just find me sporting my long-time favorite CoverGirl Full Lash Bloom mascara (in the hot pink tube!). I honestly don’t notice much of a difference when using the higher end mascaras. I think it just makes me feel fancier to have the nicer ones!

bronzer, blush, highlighter, and eyes

And that’s it! I always finish with my lipstick, and I like to change that up every day – usually a bright pink, dark red, or plum color for this time of year (I recently purchased this in “baci” and have added it in the mix! Pictured in these photos). If I was going out for an event or something where I was planning on photographs, I’d do a more finished and full face by adding a golden smokey eye, more dramatic mascara and eyeliner, and I would use foundation instead of the tinted moisturizer (still my current favorite).

What are your can’t-live-withouts for makeup? I’ll cry the day they discontinue my favorite Lorac powder, but hopefully it’s good enough to stick around!

FabFitFun Box!

A couple months ago, my friend Meghan gave me a beautiful dark red lipstick from her FabFitFun box, and I loved it! I told her I had always wanted to subscribe, but had never pulled the trigger, and that week I purchased my first one for December!

My box arrived a couple weeks ago, and it’s full of so many goodies! If you don’t know about the service, it’s a subscription service that has full-sized beauty products and you get them all for $50! My first box’s value is $395 – that is an enormous deal, if you ask me! I subscribed to a seasonal box, so four times a year I will get a box full of products! You take a quiz to streamline what types of items you’d like in your box.

Here’s the breakdown of what I got in this box!

I am loving the skin/hair care items in here, and I can’t wait to try out the eyeshadow palette. There were three different mugs; the one I got is different from the one pictured! I’m not really a poncho gal, but I gave mine to my sister because she’s stylin’ and profilin’ and I know she can rock it! With the poncho, socks, coffee mug, and hydration products, this box had a cozy winter vibe!

The Kate Somerville exfoliating treatment has RAVE reviews, so I’m delighted to give that a whirl! I’m also excited to see if the pillow spray works. I am a really light sleeper and would love to get some better sleep at night and fall asleep more quickly! I may ask my BFF Whitney if she wants to try out some of this stuff together on our annual Christmas BFF day! It’s always fun to pamper yourself and relax.

This is another one of those treat yo’self items. We all have our little things we do for ourselves, and this kind of thing is mine! That and getting my nails done. But that’s just good hygiene and grooming, right?! You basically have to do that! Anyway, I love the anticipation of a new box arriving every few months with surprise items inside that I know I will love! Thanks Meghan for finally pushing me over the edge, in a good way!

Target beauty box

Have you tried the Target Beauty Box yet? It’s not a subscription service, but it’s kind of like Birchbox or Ipsy in that you get trial-sized samples of items that you can buy later if you like them, but only for $7, and you only commit to buying one at a time!

My friend Kelly first told me about the Target beauty box and I kept meaning to try it, but kept forgetting. For my birthday, she gave me a beauty box and I was so excited about it that I finally ordered one for myself! This month, I ordered the November beauty box. For seven dollars, you really can’t do much better! I received 6 different items. Here’s the breakdown of my box this month:

Dove Dermacare 2-in-1 Shampoo & Conditioner:  Scalp formula for dandruff and moisture. I don’t have a problem with dandruff but I’ll try it out anyway!
Skinfix Ultra Rich Hand Cream:  Supposed to be an amazing and award-winning hand cream. When I put it on, my hands immediately felt relief and felt sooo smooth and silky. My hands get really dry and cracked in the fall and winter, so I’m always looking for a new secret weapon that isn’t greasy.
MISSHA Snail Hydro-Gel Mask:  Anti-aging, healing and hydrating mask with SNAIL SLIME! This was a cool and strange experience. I was super freaked out to do this mask, but also intrigued, so I put this on and let it sit for the recommended 20-40 minutes (I did 25). I have sensitive skin, but when this came off, my face looked super hydrated, soft, and dewy! I patted in the rest, like the packaging said. I felt a little weird about that, but it makes sense not to rinse it off if you want it to soak in! But can we all agree it’s super weird to put snail slime on your face?! I guess it’s a thing?! I’d do it again!
Tom’s of Maine Creamy Coconut Bar Soap:  Gentle and moisturizing. I have really sensitive skin so it’s nice using something new that you can trust.
Maybelline Great Lash Mascara:  Always a favorite and a classic. One of the first mascaras I ever used back in high school, and it’s still kicking years and years later!
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Facial Cleanser:  This face wash didn’t foam up when I used it and there’s nothing I love more than a nice foam on a face wash, body wash, or shampoo. It kind of felt like rubbing lotion all over my face mixed with water; not for me. But this way, I know what I think about it without having to buy the whole bottle!

Overall, I’m hooked! The snail mask alone made the box worth the $7 (with free shipping!) It was a full use mask and in the store it costs $6.00 alone! So the price of the box was totally worth it. If you want to buy any full-sized items from your box, you could obviously head out to your nearest Target, or you can shop the box items. Usually nothing is more than $15.00 full price! AND, you get a $3 off coupon for any beauty product purchase of $15 or more!

I’ll definitely be purchasing the Target beauty boxes for the coming months. A fun and exciting gift idea, too! My favorites from this box were the snail mask and the hand cream, but I’ll be happy to have some of the other samples for when I travel and need small-sized toiletry items!

My 8 favorite hair products


I’ve mentioned before that I have thin, lifeless hair, and I never used product on it at all until a couple of years ago. Even when I would get my hair done, I’d ask my stylist not to use anything on it. But since I’ve let my hair grow long again and since I’ve been styling it regularly with heat for a few years now, I’ve tried some different products – some winners, some failures.

I can’t use anything too heavy because it makes my  hair look greasy and weighs it down. My arsenal of favorite products for styling my hair is below – most are under the $15 range, because you know I’m always ballin’ on a budget, but I have included a couple of splurges, too. These products are all light, smell delicious, and leave my hair looking – and staying – much more full and polished.

1. Living Proof Perfect Hair Day Dry Shampoo:  There is no match for this dry shampoo. I LOVE it and I ration it because it is a little pricier than I’d like to pay for dry ‘poo. I usually use this one for my daily use and use the Living Proof for weekends or special events. It smells so good and it makes your hair completely free of oil without residue. It’s the only dry shampoo I’ve used that actually makes me feel like I re-washed my hair.
2. Dove Curl Defining Mousse:  I have been using this for years, and it comes in at under $5! To make my hair wavy, I scrunch it using this. No conditioner, no brush or comb, just shampoo and scrunch with a ping pong ball size of this! Andrew calls it “squishing” my hair. Perfect for days when I’m running late!
3. Ouai Memory Mist:  Whitney got this for my birthday this year, and it’s so good. It smells incredibly floral-y and it helps protect your hair from heat while “remembering” your hair’s style so you can make your hair last extra days. I have loved using it and love the way it makes my hair feel and smell.
4. Marrakesh Oil Hair Styling Elixir:  This is my #1 can’t live without after combing my hair when I get out of the shower. I got it in a birch box or as a sample at some point, and I loved it so much I’ve kept buying it! It is very light and moisturizing. I only put it on my ends and then very lightly run my fingers through my hair a couple inches away from the roots.
5. Tresemme Heat Protector Spray: I’ve mentioned this one before. It’s inexpensive, and I spray it on my hair after the oil, before blow drying. Easy and doesn’t add any extra weight or residue to my hair.
6. Big Sexy Hair Root Pump Volumizing Spray Mousse  or Aquage Uplifting Foam:  I only use these for special occasions because it takes a little time and effort, but both smell great and work about the same for my hair. I section off my hair and spray these right onto the part line back and forth. Then, I massage it all around the roots and spend time actually blow drying my hair with my round brush. It really helps give some lift at the roots and helps my hair hold on to any curl.
7. Amika Obliphica Un.Done Texture Spray:  I use this when I need more life and lift. I lift my hair after styling and spray up under my hair as it falls back down. It gives some grit and hold, but the volume and smell are nice side effects!
8. Kenra Volume Spray 25 Hair Spray:  The best hair spray I’ve used, ever. This doesn’t make my hair crunchy, and it gives a strong flexible hold. I love it!

Most days I just use the Marrakesh oil when my hair is wet, heat protector spray before blow drying, and then the Ouai memory mist before curling. I don’t use a lot of product daily because I am trying to protect these thin locks! But when I’m trying to really style and need some extra help, the others are a dream, and the dry shampoo reallllllly can’t be beat!

What are everyone else’s favorite hair products?!

photo by j parker photography

Back to life, back to reality

horseshoe bend, arizona 

I am back from Arizona! The trip was absolutely amazing, and I’ll write up a post about it soon – I have to sort through my hundreds (and hundreds) of pictures first! I feel like I need a vacation from my vacation. We landed late Sunday night, and I had to wake up at 5am to teach! So I’ve also had to do laundry, unpack, get back in the swing of things with school, and try to catch up from the three hour time difference!

I have a super busy week ahead of me, like always! There is a lot of stuff going on at school this week, meetings after school, work on Wednesday at the pub, and I’m trying to get back on track with cooking meals and packing lunches since I was mostly gone last week and eating only salads indulging with my mom!

Fall is (pretty much, almost, basically) here! I am in the mood for a nice deep berry color like this for my next manicure, or if I’m feeling froggy, a nice dark blue (colors are “raisin’ the bar” and “less is norse – dark ice blue.” Is anyone else obsessed with color names like me? Someone has that job!) I love this lip paint in “Fomo” or “Manbun” for fall, and I can’t wait to start shopping for some tall boots to wear with leggings and cozy sweaters! Call me basic if you will, but it’s time for those cozy fall favorites. Some year-round favorites I’m hoping to re-stock soon include my Philosophy Amazing Grace lotion, my Benefit Hoola Bronzer, and my splurge mascara (I missed it when it was on sale for $10 and I am kicking myself!). I also do not need another bag – I repeat – I do not need another bag – but if I did, I’d get this one in gray! I mean, it’s not even really a bag, right? It’s a clutch…totally different?!

I hope everyone has a great week & makes it through to Friday the 13th without any spooky and strange happenings! 😉 Before you know it, we’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving and Christmas. It always feels like it comes faster each year!

FriYAY feels!

source

I am so glad it’s the weekend because that means I am THAT much closer to my trip to Arizona next week with my mom!

This week was happy but went by quickly, especially since I missed work on Monday for my 30th! My week at school was full of paperwork and to-do items that really had to be accomplished, so it felt good to knock some of those out and get them checked off of my constant, ongoing to-do list!

I am so obsessed lately with everything this color.

I scooped up this little number yesterday afternoon and it looked so good on. I always try things on with an attitude of, “It probably won’t fit right, but it doesn’t hurt to try!” But this dress looked so flattering. I love the colors and the gold button detailing on the back. The length is great for work or play, too! And I love anything that covers my arms, because that’s one of the areas I’m least comfortable with on myself. I’m dreaming of wearing it in the fall with booties or heels, in the classroom or out to dinners or weekend events!

For my trip to AZ, I picked up some travel items. I love to buy travel-sized items for trips. Of course the miniature sized items are cute, but I think what I really enjoy is the idea of feeling like I’m jetting off somewhere that I need a few smaller items to save space in my luggage! And I also think I like the fact that I can try new things without committing to an expensive item. For this trip, I got travel sizes of this shampoo and conditioner, this cleansing water that I’m really excited to try, and this body wash. I also picked up some travel size face cleansing wipes for my mom and me to use. I’ll take my all-time favorite face wash in its sample size container. I know I’m not looking for anything new in that department! Temperatures are going to be over 100 degrees while we’re there, and we’re doing a lot of hiking, so I am just going to pack light:  Workout clothes (including my favorite leggings ever), a couple of fun outfits for dinners out, and a few athleisure outfits for beboppin’ around town with my mom. I got this backpack for hiking. It rolls up into itself and will hold water, snacks, and sunscreen.

Have a happy FriYAY! Andrew and I are off to another date night tonight. We’re so hip.

Four days until I’m in the desert!!!

Date night dress, two ways

dress, necklace, similar sweater, booties, similar clutch

Andrew and I don’t always go out for fancy date nights; typically, we have dates at casual places for dinner or we just stay in and hang with the dogs and cook something at home. Time together is what’s most important to us! But we do love to go out to a nice dinner every once in a while so we still feel hip and get to see each other all dressed up! Tell me we’re not the only boring couple out there…?! But we recently did have a date night out and I wore this dress for the first time and loved it!

quay sunglasses

I’ll admit it, I do have a little bit of a “safe” style when it comes to clothes. You know my motto:  Classic with a twist! But I do like to throw in a good surprise twist here and there. This dress is perfect for that! I love the color and the fact that it isn’t too low cut or too short. It’s from Tobi, an online boutique for women. A lot of their clothes are a little more edgy or bold than what I would usually go for, but they have so many options that you can easily find some more basic items if you’re a more classic with a twist girl like me! I loved the way this dress fit, which is something I’m hugely picky about, and it also has a cute strappy T-strap back. My necklace and earrings were a gift from my dear friend Abbie for my birthday – everyone knows I’m obsessed with Elisabeth Ashlie.

My sister made me try the dress with her faux leather moto jacket and scarf from Swoon, one of our favorite boutiques! She is an expert stylist and definitely knows a thing or two about fashion. Even though it is still wayyy too hot here in NC for the jacket and scarf, it was great to know that I have a different way to style this dress as the weather gets more crisp!

looking for stuff on the ground like kylie jenner

For makeup, I went for a full face with my new favorite Bare Minerals BarePro liquid foundation, my favorite powder of all time, this Too Faced Natural Eyes eyeshadow palette, and always, my Stila stay all day liquid liner. I used two of my sister’s lipstick shades to get this one here – a nude and an electric purple. I loved this date night outfit (I went with the white sweater to beat the heat). As for Andrew? He says I always look pretty, but he likes me best in my soft clothes. He’s a keeper!

photos are of course by my talented and beautiful best friend at j parker photography