Sunday, November 3, 2013

Happy November!

Wow, is it really November?! Each year seems to fly by faster than the one before. The good news is that my spending hiatus is over (credit card companies, rejoice!) and the other good news is that it's time to think of a new goal for the month. 

As mentioned in a previous post, I have been doing CrossFit since June. It's hard but challenging and I am loving it! However, I felt like I needed to do something to supplement the CrossFit workouts which leads us to November's goals:

Run 10 miles/week - Since October 14th I have started a new goal of running 10 miles a week. I can definitely tell a change in my body since throwing in the running, which makes me muy happy. I can also tell a change in my endurance since CrossFitting - I can now run a couple miles in about 18 minutes (I am still breathing like a walrus, but at least I can run it all without stopping!) 

Eat 80/20 Paleo  - being mostly vegetarian (I eat fish) it is really hard to follow the paleo diet 100%. However, thanks to Pinterest, I am finding a ton of new recipes to try! Some of my favs are: cauliflower stir fry, paleo chocolate chip cookies, brownies, sweet potato and cauliflower soup. 

Non-CrossFit goals for November: 
start crossing off the items on my short list! The weeks left in the year are rapidly decreasing and I still have lots of checking off to do! I also need to start thinking about next year's short list. 

Art lesson a week: On my Pinterest page, I posted a bunch of art tutorials. Since I will probably not be able to take an art class this year I can just practice drawing and painting in the comfort of my home (and while in PJ's)




Friday, October 4, 2013

October - aka the Month My Credit Card Companies Cried

I decided to do a little self challenge for the month of October. It's going to be a tough one, and one that requires a lot of self discipline and possibly at some point, restraints. I have decided that.. <Insert big dramatic sigh>.. I am not going to spend any money for the entire month of October. I know.. what!? I will keep my credit cards and checkbook tucked away in my new Tory Burch purse (said purse is part of the reason for my financial lock-down). 

Some people may not think this challenge would be that difficult. I applaud those people, and secretly despise them a little bit (kidding..sort of). I decided on this challenge because for the past few months I was spending money like it was going out of style. We went to Chicago a couple weeks ago, bought a lot (damn you, IKEA!) and ate out a lot. I also have a horrible compulsive shopping problem. I think I “need” things such as hair product, nail polish, makeup, etc when I have probably 10 years’ worth at home. What I really ‘need’ is this challenge to force me to stop spending money – even if it’s a few dollars here and there.  

This is much harder than I thought it was going to be. I work in an area that houses just about any store you could imagine. I feel like my lunch hour turns into a one-hour race of “how much you can buy”. I joke about power shopping, but it’s very real – and I am freaking awesome at it. However, my money isn't just being spent on ‘stuff’; there are also a lot of really good restaurants around work too. It makes turning down a lunch offer very difficult. The first day on my challenge I found myself daydreaming of where I would go for lunch – should I buy the new OPI nail polish? What about those new gym shoes? I opted for lunch in my car and I started reading a book that has been on my short list. Success. Day 2, same situation – knew I had to get my dad a present for his birthday (see fine print below) and thought that maybe I would pick up this hair stuff, I mean…what’s an extra $6? But, I fought the urge, bought the present only (not even a gift bag). Yay me. It’s Day 4 and well, lets just say there's been a few temptations   Yesterday, I caught myself thinking ‘what can I buy on November 1 as a reward for completing this?” Clearly I still have to grasp the meaning behind this challenge :) 



Okay, so the fine print: I get to still buy groceries and gas for my car (duh. I am not looking to waste away or lose my job here). There are also a few things that will require money, which I've already committed to this month. Those events have been grandfathered in to my challenge, but shouldn't exceed a total of $100. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Florida Fun!

As mentioned in my birthday post, I recently got back from a trip to Florida. The main reason for the trip was our annual work conference, but since it was in Orlando I thought pairing it with a family vacation would be fun! 
My mom, brother, sister, 3 year old niece (Brooke) and I piled into our rented mini van to drive the 18ish hours from IL to FL (MapQuest says it takes 14.5 hours..big, fat LIE) It was a long ride, as in Painful, as in never again. We made it into FL on Sunday afternoon and met my dad at the hotel (he flew - smart man). We headed to Disney the following day. First of all, can I just say that Disney is SO freaking expensive! For an adult 1-day ticket it is $95. That part made me sad, how could an average family of 4 even afford to go? That's almost $400 in tickets, not to mention airfare, then you have food, etc. Anyway, I digress. 

To be honest, I wasn't sure how I would feel going to Disney, being a thirty-something childless woman hanging out at the Magical Kingdom seemed a little odd but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised!! Of course, my favorite part was seeing Brooke's reaction to everything. Brooke was able to meet Mickey and some of her favorite princesses, which was super cute. We went to Cinderella's castle, rode as many rides as possible, and of course shopped in the gift stores. My family and I enjoyed the boat rides; It's a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Ariel's Adventure. My sister and I braved Space Mountain (and I confirmed that I am a total chicken). We had great weather, although it did rain for about an hour pretty heavily, but during that time we just went back to the hotel and relaxed for a bit.  My mom, sister, niece and I all went back to the park after the rainstorm and stayed for the fireworks and parade. The following day I had to leave the family to attend my work conference (which was also a lot of fun) and the family did some more touristy-stuff. However, if you ask my niece what her favorite part of the trip was she'll say the Beach. Hmm..go figure..the one free attraction they went to :) Gotta love kids. It's a trip I know that I will remember forever, and hopefully one the rest of the family will cherish as well.


We made it!

Disney parade
The Fam (minus my sister)



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Happy Birthday to ME!

It feels like my birthday comes quicker every year! This year on September 1st, I turned 36 (I actually cringed when typing that) and I have to admit that officially being in my late 30's is a hard concept for me to accept. However, as much as I am going to bitch and moan about my age I am also very thankful that I am healthy. Recently, I got some routine lab work done to check vitamin levels and such and everything came back perfect! I also did some bio metric testing at our work conference last week and everything came back great on that as well. I attribute this to an active lifestyle (although I feel I could always do more and my weight is never where I want it.. :/ ) and a mostly healthy, mainly plant-based diet. 

Because it was my birthday (or close enough) I splurged and bought this Tory Burch Dena Bag!  I was in Florida for work last week and they happen to have a great outlet mall nearby so I headed there as soon as I could and bought her. Isn't she pretty?! 

My birthday present! To: Me.. Love, Me

The store was giving away free iPhone cases with the purchase of a purse, so I was happy about that since my old one had a crack in it. The purse is a very soft black leather with the gold TB logo on it. You can fold the top half down and remove the strap to use it as a clutch, or keep the strap on and use it as a fold-over cross body. My favorite look is using it as a longer bag (i.e. not folded..not sure what the technical term is? Bucket? it is what is shown in the picture)
I didn't have a new purse on my short list, and I still have a few big-ticket items I'd like to buy this year but I thought this was a good find. Also, it was about $65 less than the retail price..and the fact that you can carry it 3 ways makes it even more worth the price (look, I have to justify it somehow, OK?) 

More about my FL trip in a separate post, but when I got home from the trip, the H suggested we go to the Animal Protective Association (APA) in Missouri to look at this cat I had my eye on. So..needless to say we came home with our newest 4-legged family member, Pierre! I really wish I could take credit for his name, but it was given to him at the shelter. He is the sweetest cat ever and so far he is fitting in nicely with the other animals. 

Me.Ow.

He's so cultured


All in all, it was a great birthday, even if I am now in my late thirties (groan). I look forward to the next 36 years! 

-AJ

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Um.. yikes...

Wow..it's been over 2 months since posting on the blog. I really have no good excuse other than the fact I am getting really frustrated with not being able to design this the way I want. I know it is going to take some time and some trial and error, but damn.. it can't be this hard! I have an IT background, for crying out loud! I have Googled, YouTubed and read countless articles/videos/etc on this but still can't get it to do what I want. 
I should just sit down one day and really dig into HTML, or really take the time to learn it. OR, perhaps I should just hire someone to design the look for me? I am way too stubborn to do that - after all, I love this stuff, right? Sigh.. 

Aside from blog design woes, I have been busy with my new fitness obsession..Crossfit! I've heard a lot about this fitness phenomenon so when a Groupon popped up in my area my friends and I jumped at the chance to check it out. At first, I'll admit I wasn't totally on-board with the idea...I mean, in the classes we flipped tires, we lift really heavy weights, we tear up our hands doing pull-ups and climbing ropes! But then something changed, and it became "Hey - guess what? I flipped a 300lb tire...10 times!" or, "look at how torn up my hands are from climbing the rope!"  I wear the bruises, cuts, callouses proudly like battle wounds. I can't wait to get into the "box" and give it all I have, then I enjoy the high at the end of the workout while telling myself, wow..you really just did that! I know it sounds corny but seriously, I have learned a lot about myself in the month or so since beginning the classes. I look forward to the day where we are pulling trucks with ropes (and we've been forewarned that is coming) 




-AJ


Sunday, June 9, 2013

May Birchbox Review


Once again, I am posting a bit late on the May Birchbox. Upon opening this box, I was excited to see some brands that I have been wanting to try. 

Below are the contents that I received in the box for May: 






K√©rastase Bain Chroma Captive - this shampoo states that it will offer protection to color-treated hair while keeping the color radiant. This was very timely, as I just got my hair colored and wanted to make sure I kept the color looking good as long as possible. I have been wanting to try this brand for some time, now but the products are a bit on the pricey side. I would say that I do really like this shampoo - it didn't give me Jennifer Anniston's locks or anything, but it did make my hair feel more smooth. The jury is still out on whether I'll purchase the full-sized version. K√©rastase makes tons of other products so maybe I'll check out another line instead. 

Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel - This organic line has been on my 'must try' list for a while now. I like the idea of using organic products and I've read good things about this brand. This peel is an alpha and beta hydroxy acid complex with apple, lemon, grape, raw sugar and willow bark. 
I really loved this peel! It goes on creamy like a moisturizer, and tingles a bit (which I love..makes me feel like it's working). You leave it on for 15 minutes and then wash it off. It left my skin feeling really smooth and tight. I am looking forward to doing it again (probably tonight!) I would like to buy the full-sized sample but it runs around $45 so I'll use up some of my other products first. This was definitely my favorite item in the box! 

Cargo Water Resistant Blush in Los Cabos- I wish I would have taken the picture with the cap off to show the color but it's a deep coral and very pretty. I have used it a few times, but it tends to go on a bit darker than I'd like so I have to rub some off after applying. There's a slight sparkle to it, but it's not too bad - you won't walk around looking like someone threw glitter on your face :) 

Coola Organic Sunscreen SPF 30 - I have my HG sunscreen (Elta) that I use, but I have used this a couple times so far - it smells delicious, like cucumbers. It goes on smooth and isn't greasy at all. I like the fact it is organic, but I love my Elta so much that it would take a lot for me to use something else. 

Hail Merry Macaroons - These vegan, gluten-free and raw treats came in the chocolate almond flavor. I love anything that is chocolate, and these were pretty good for being so healthy. :) I just had an actual macaroon for the first time (in Paris!) and they were like little pastel colored bites of heaven. These weren't bad, I guess I was just expecting something sweeter. I do like that these are vegan and gluten-free - if I had a bag of these at home I would totally eat them but I don't think I would buy them. 

So far, my three favorite products have been the Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel, Macadamia Oil Deep Repair Mask (I just bought the full-size from Ulta last week!) and the Marcelle BB Cream I reviewed in the March post. I should also mention that I received my first issue of Women's Health magazine that was offered in April's box and it was such a great issue! I'm really looking forward to my June box, which should arrive this week..whoot! 

-A








Thursday, May 16, 2013

2013 Short List Update

We are almost 1/2 way through 2013 already...EEK! Where did the time GO? As I often do, I blame the weather...winter seemed to last well into the spring months which is going to lead us directly into the hot, humid summers of the midwest which is making the year just fly by. 

I thought I would do a quick update on my 2013 Short List.  Unfortunately, I am not making as much progress as I would have hoped at this point but I still have 6 months, right?

There are a couple items that I have started on (that counts!) Let's start with those and then finish with the ones I've actually completed. That will make me feel a bit better about myself. 

Items started: 

#4 Create a blog header I like: So, if you look at my blog header you might be thinking "is she for real?" Yes, I am. I like the simplicity of my header so far. What I don't like are the stupid buttons across the top that aren't evenly spaced and just plain boring. So..it's still a work in progress. I'm getting there, though. 

#13 Get a chemical peel: well,  I didn't exactly do this but I found a new dermatologist and she recommended a few things. I've been using these brightening pads on my face every night to try and help with the melasma (I think it's working). Then she also prescribed a Retin-A for the scars (and it also helps with wrinkles..holla!) She told me that if I wasn't happy by the fall then we can do some chemical peels

#21 Do the Color Run: This was a semi-fail because I waited too long to sign up (did I mention I am a horrible procrastinator?) but it worked out because I did the March of Dimes walk instead. I was able to support a friend of mine, and to be part of a very wonderful and touching event.  

#23 Eat brunch at Lola's: My friends and I went to Lola's last Saturday, the 11th. We had been talking about it for a while and were so excited to eat there. We walked in the door only to find out it was closed that day for a private party..WHAT?! We were floored... it ended up well because we had lunch at a nearby place called Blondie's that had the most AH-mazing banana french toast. 

Items Completed (YEAH!)

#19 Be introduced to something new every month: In March my friends and I had the best sushi ever at Tsunami in Baton Rouge, LA. Definitely a first for all of us! In April, I read a book called "Greyhound" by Stephan Piper. This book was a wonderful, feel-good story about a young boy who sent to live with his grandparents. His mom puts him on a Greyhound from CA to PA (his mom is definitely not mother of the year material). Along the way he befriends a young ex-con, and together they encounter a lot of interesting experiences in their journey together. It is an easy read, and one that had me hooked from the first page. I can now cross that off my list of books to read! In May we went to Blondie's for brunch (was supposed to be Lola's) still yummy nonetheless.

#20 Finish the Couch to 5K program: this was HUGE for me..beyond huge, actually. I am not a runner. In fact, I really dislike running - especially running for extended periods of time (which is anything over 3 minutes). However, I completed the program and ended by running 30 minutes straight! I didn't stop one time! I was so proud of myself. Do my legs still hurt from that run last week? Yep. It was worth it, though. Oh, and guess what? Running isn't so bad after all! I think I will continue with it at least a couple days a week. It does really help to clear your mind.

#26 Do Brazil Butt Lift - completed this program. By the end, I was so DONE. Not because it was hard, but I got so sick of doing the same 4 or 5 workouts over and over. It is a fun program and a good one, but I was burnt out. I had been doing P90X, Insanity, Chalene, TurboFire, so i was ready to be free for a bit. 

#28 Take a Les Mills Body Pump Class - My friend and I bought a 5-class card for this class and I love it! It's hard, but I am happy to be incorporating weights into my routine again. I like the class so much that I am looking into being a BP instructor. We'll see -- at this point it might be lip service but I would like to follow through with it if possible. 

So much for the "quick" update :) I feel pretty happy/proud of the progress I am making. It's funny because the things I would like to complete the most (the artsy stuff) are the things I haven't started on. Interesting. Hopefully by the next update that will change! 

-A

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

April Birchbox Review

I'm a bit behind on this post, but I wanted to make sure to do a review for April's Birchbox. As mentioned in a previous post, I subscribed to Birchbox back in March as a way to get a monthly gift of makeup, skincare and hair products (because who doesn't love getting 'fun' mail?). So far, I would say the small $10 per month price tag has been worth it. I do have to admit that I have been bad about using the products that I get but I am trying to get better at that so I can report back on what I liked/didn't like.

Below are the contents that I received for April: 




Caudalie Divine Oil - I feel like I am up to my eyeballs in different types of oils. I use olive oil to remove eye makeup, coconut oil for my lashes/eye area, Josie Moran oil on my hair so I have to admit that I haven't used this oil too much. When I have used it, it's been on my hair which is super dry and wouldn't look smooth even in if poured a whole bottle of oil on my head. Nothing miraculous happened after applying, unfortunately. However, I will keep using it in my rotation because it does have a good smell and is light enough where it doesn't make me feel greasy.

Nexxus Youth Renewal - I love hair products...maybe a bit too much. As mentioned above, my hair is super dry from all of the heating tools, coloring,  products, etc. This product is a shine-boosting serum that will revive dry hair and fight against the aging of your hair. I have to admit, I was really excited to get this sample because I've had some good luck with Nexxus products lately. This was just mediocre at best.. I did not see any difference in the way my hair looked or the amount of shine. :( However, I will see the sample out until it's gone.

Youngblood Mineral Cosmetics Anti-Shine Mattifier - It wouldn't be fair for me to say anything about this product since I've never used it. My face tends to be on the drier side than shiny, so for now it's in one of my makeup drawers waiting to be used. 

StriVectin Eye Concentrate for Wrinkles - I do like StriVectin's products, and I especially love any product that is going to promise the reduction of fine lines and puffy circles. I have used this a few times, it goes on smooth and isn't too thick - I can't really vouch for the diminishing of fine lines and wrinkles yet but I'll keep at it. The sample is a good size that should last quite a while! 

Welda Body Lotion - I'm not a huge body lotion fan (I know) so I haven't opened these yet. I am pretty intrigued by the different scents and I bet they smell really good. In my box I received Pomegranate  Wild Rose and Sea Buckthorn. 

Women's Health Magazine - I think in the April box, I was most excited to get this! It's a free year subscription to the magazine. I love magazines, although a lot of mine seem to go unread for a while. :) I especially love Women's Health so I'm anxious to get my first issue! 

As you can probably tell from my "meh" reviews, this wasn't my favorite box so far. I actually just received my May box yesterday (I said I was behind) and I was excited about the contents, so I am looking forward to that post which hopefully will be coming up soon! 

Update on a product received in the March box: 
I used the Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Mask and it is AWESOME. It makes your hair feel so soft and silky, not to mention the smell is like a vacation. I will definitely be purchasing the full size of this product! 

-A

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Smoothie Challenge

On April 1st I started a Smoothie Challenge (no joke). The challenge was to replace at least one, perhaps two meals per day with a healthy smoothie that consisted mainly of veggies and fruits. Since I have been drinking my Shakeology religiously every morning I thought it would a good transition to try something new. Don't get me wrong - I love  Shakeology but a change of pace is always a good thing. 
The Simple Green Smoothie challenge was started by two friends who wanted to incorporate REAL food into their diets. I've been pretty inspired just reading about them on their website - what a cool concept and they have acquired quite the following! 
I heard about them through a friend who completed the smoothie challenge at the beginning of 2013. She would rave about the recipes and the way she would feel by drinking at least one smoothie a day. I made the decision to commit to 30 days of at least 1 yummy fruit/veggie smoothie a day (i know, sounds rough doesn't it?) :) 
I am now on week 3 of the challenge, so I only have one more week to go but I will certainly continue keeping on keeping on with this smoothie trend. I have mixed things together that I never thought would taste 'kinda' good let alone awesomely good. 

Also, these gals make the challenge super easy - every Friday they send out an email that contains recipes and a grocery list. I typically pick a few recipes from the list and head out to my local Trader Joe's to pick up the items. Also, another thing I've been doing is adding a tablespoon of coconut oil to every smoothie I make. This is just my personal preference, I love coconut oil and have been trying to incorporate it into everything lately! I will also sub water for coconut water, or almond milk for rice milk but for the most part I don't stray from the recipes provided. Below is a pic of one of my favorite smoothies: 


spinach, almond milk, blueberries, strawberries, banana and almonds..Yum!


As far as the benefits go, I do feel pretty energized! I also feel full in the morning and I'm not staring down the clock until 10:00am hits (when I have my mid-morning snack). Additionally, my skin is looking good - i have been trying out some new stuff from my dermatologist but I am positive all the goodness I am drinking is helping too! As far as weight loss, I haven't been weighing myself so I don't know if it is helping in that area or not. I don't think so, but then again this is to be healthier, not necessarily to drop the lbs quickly. 

I hope you check out the website because smoothies are a great way to incorporate the nutrients our bodies need! And if you are wondering how spinach and mangoes can taste good blended together,  just trust me..these drinks are are De-LISH. 

Cheers! 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

March Birchbox Review

As a self-proclaimed product junkie, I am always interested in getting samples and trying new hair care, makeup and skin products. Enter Birchbox! For those who don't know about Birchbox (I didn't until last month) it is a monthly subscription where you get to sample products from high-end brands. The monthly charge is $10 but the value of what you receive is much more! 

Late March, my first Birchbox arrived *excited squeal*. I thought the packaging was very simple but also very nicely done: 


I was so excited to see what was inside! I've never subscribed to anything like this and was really hoping that it wasn't just a bunch of junk (i.e. neon eye shadow) that would sit unused in a drawer. Here is what I found when I opened the box: 



A brief breakdown and review (when applicable) of the contents: 

Macadamia Nut morrocian oil - I am a huge fan of the Josie Maran Argan Oil and wasn't sure how I would like this oil in comparison. I should also confess that I cannot stand the Morrocian Oil brand - IMO it stinks really bad and doesn't do much for my hair so I was really hoping this oil would at least smell better. The Macadamia oil reminds me of the patchouli smell so I don't mind it too much because it's not overbearing. It works nicely in my hair, it doesn't feel heavy or make my hair feel greasy. For now, I think I will stay with the Josie Maran oil, but just because it would be really hard for me to like another brand more.

Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Mask - I haven't used this yet, but I am really looking forward to doing the mask. My hair is really damaged and dry due to years of coloring and using a blow dryer/straightener almost daily. I am so jealous of people who naturally have smooth and beautiful hair...hopefully this mask will help with making my hair look more healthy.

Marcelle  BB Cream in Golden Glow - this is my favorite product so far. I received a .5oz tube and have been using it every day. It has just enough coverage to hide imperfections but it isn't too heavy and doesn't look cakey. Sometimes I put it on with a brush, and other times just with my fingers. In both cases it goes on smooth and easy. A full size version is 1.6 oz and costs $27. While it is a bit pricey for BB cream, I would definitely purchase it in the future.

Stella Cadente Miss Me perfume - I am not a big fan of perfume at all and if I do wear perfume I am super picky about what it is. Usually in the fall/winter months I'll wear Michael Kors or Burberry London. In the spring/summer I will wear my new favorite scent, Jo Malone's French Lime Blossom. I also like Bobbi Brown's Beach for the summer. This perfume by Stella Cadente is a bit too strong and floral for me. I liked it at first sniff but it is the type that I would quickly dislike after wearing it for a couple hours. The scent itself is nice, it's just not my style.

Supergoop Everyday Face/Body lotion SPF 30 - this is a nice lotion with a good amount of SPF in it. However, because I just bought a fabulous sunscreen from Elta (recommended by my derm) so I haven't used the Supergoop yet. According to my dermatologist you should use sunscreen with Zinc and Titanium in it, Elta has both.

Maxwell Emery Board - this was the extra in the Birchbox for March. It has a pretty floral design, and I like it because I seem to go through emery boards faster than I know what to do with them.

Overall, I was pretty happy to see the contents in the box, I am going to give this a few months to decide if I am going to keep the subscription or not. If you are interested in subscribing, click here to sign up. As mentioned above, it's only $10 and you can cancel at anytime.

Monday, March 18, 2013

N'Awlins - Part Two

Last week I returned from another trip to Louisiana. This time, a few friends and I decided to drive (yes, the entire 10.5 hours from STL to LA) so we could spend some much needed girl time in New Orleans. Because I had to go for work, we started out in Baton Rouge - I was pretty much dedicated to work obligations and didn't hang out too much. However, on the last night in BR when I was done with work stuff was done we went out for the most AMAZING sushi dinner at a restaurant called Tsunami. As you can see from the picture, we got a pretty good spread of sushi including some fried oyster sushi (yum), and gator sushi (I passed on that one). It was seriously the best sushi we'd ever had, hands down! 

Best.Sushi.EVER.

After Baton Rouge we headed to New Orleans, where we rented an awesome condo right off of Bourbon Street. As you can imagine, 4 girls + New Orleans = crazy and fun times. Even though we were technically in New Orleans only for two days (which trust me, was plenty of time!), we have so many funny stories and great memories that we'll be talking about for years to come. I feel very lucky to have an amazing group of friends that I have a blast with! 


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

N'Awlins

As you may recall, one of the items on my short list this year is to do something different each month. It doesn't have to be anything huge, but perhaps listen to a new band, try a new restaurant or in this case, travel to a new state. 

I was sent to Louisiana for a recruiting effort at LSU in Baton Rouge. I was pretty stoked because I had never been to Louisiana before, and i knew it was going to be warm (when temps were in the teens in St. Louis) and I would finish out the trip in New Orleans with one of my good friends, Brian! 
My trip to Baton Rouge was so pleasant and everything went very smoothly. I loved the people (southern people are just so damn NICE!) and the food was excellent. I stopped for some sushi at a place called The Drunken Fish on my way to LSU. I got a California roll, and a shrimp tempura roll - both were amazing as was the salad with a creamy ginger dressing. De-lish!  
For dinner, a coworker and I went to an amazing seafood restaurant called Parrain's where I ordered the special, Mahi-Mahi with fried oysters on top and a side of asparagus. This was honestly one of the best meals I've ever eaten! I have never been a fan of oysters but told myself I was going to like them when I was in Louisiana...and I did! 

Drunken Fish sushi
After my work duties were complete, I headed to New Orleans to meet my friend Brian. Our plan was to not have a plan, but rather walk around the French Quarter and do what we wanted to do. I have to say, walking around a city and people watching is one of my all-time favorite things in the world to do. I hate having a schedule and I hate being rushed. Brian and I had a very relaxing stroll around the streets, stopping in places to try a drink (or two). We even stopped for oysters and seafood cheesecake (sounds gross, but it's really good). I loved this city - we were there on a Monday night and it was so alive with people and activity (it helped the Superbowl was the coming weekend, and Mardi Gras is right around the corner). Below are some pics from the night: 

St. Louis representing in NOLA!

Pat O'Brien's Hurricanes


Oysters at Crescent City Brewery - I can't believe I ate these suckers.

I head back to Louisiana in a week for work again, and will once again spend a couple days in NOLA...I can't wait! 

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

2013 Short List Update

It's already mid-February so I thought I would post a quick 2013 Short List update! So far, I am making some decent progress on my list although there's still a lot to cover this year. Below are some of my updates: 

#2 Complete Insanity Asylum - Today (2/13/13) is the LAST day of Asylum!!! I am so excited I can hardly stand it. It was a great (and hard) program but I am ready to be finished. I have spent a lot of quality time with Shaun T, since I just got done with Insanity then moved right along to Asylum so I am ready for a new program (and a break from that man). My next Beachbody program will be Brazil Butt Lift, which I will start March 10. 

#6 Take a drawing class - signing up for Drawing: Beginner/Intermediate through St. Louis Community College. The class will start in April, and will last for 6 weeks (I think). Drawing is something I've always loved to do growing up, and I've lost the technique behind it so I am hoping to gain that from this class. 

#7 Play one song (well) on the guitar - Unfortunately, I am not musically inclined. When I was younger I played the violin, and not to brag but I was pretty good. My music teacher told my dad that I should keep up with it because my fingers moved like lightening..ha. Then, I decided (much against my dad's wishes) to play the saxophone  I hated it..it was big, bulky, it squeaked..ugh. One of my regrets is that I didn't stick with the violin because I lost any musical ability that I had. Anyway, I signed up for online guitar lessons so we'll see how this goes. It could be a total train wreck or maybe I'll be the next (female) Jimi Hendrix..lol. 

#19 Be introduced to something new every month. In January, I had to go to Baton Rouge, LA for work. I fell in LOVE with that place! After leaving BR I went to New Orleans to hang out with my good friend, Brian. That was such an amazing time that I can't wait to go back (which will be March..yeah!!). I am in the middle of writing a post about my trip...it's coming soon! 

Those are the updates for now...I feel like I am making some good progress. 4 items out of 28 isn't too bad. For those math lovers, 14% of my list has been completed! I am continually adding to it and trying to not change existing items too much (although I did change the due date of paying my Limited credit card off...shhh) 

-A

Friday, February 1, 2013

2012 Product Review

Confession: I am a bit of a product-holic. I love makeup, skincare, and hair care products. One of my very favorite pastimes is to scour some of my favorite bloggers to see what they recommend, then review some more online, finally i go to Sephora and get samples to try them myself.I am not sure when this obsession with products started, since growing up and through my teen years I don't think I owned a bottle of foundation or knew how to properly apply eyeshadow (still struggle with this, by the way!) 
I was introduced to a lot of great products in 2012, some most of which have become staples in my makeup/skincare routine and I thought I would share (and yes, I realize this post is a bit late as we are already in February): 






                1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 

1. Clairsonic Mia 2
It took me a while to jump on the whole Clairsonic bandwagon. I just couldn't justify the cost of purchasing a device that a washcloth or $3 face brush could do. One day after talking with a friend about how much she loved hers I decided to at least do a bit of research. I have never been a stickler for washing my face at night (I know, I know...) and when I did I was sure that it wasn't as long or as deep of a clean as it should be. Nordstrom was having a sale one day and I broke down and bought it. I do love how I feel like my face gets a deep clean every time I use it. Have I noticed any miraculous transformations in my skin? Not anything drastic and I've been using it for at least 6 months. Because I do like how clean it makes my face feel, I thought it was list-worthy. 

2. Cover Girl Lash Blast Mascara
if there are two products I love to buy, it would be mascara and lip gloss. I have an obsession with both and I'm constantly looking for the holy grail product that I'll use forever and ever. I would say this mascara has been a staple of mine for some time now, not to mention that it is a drugstore brand and retails for about $7 (holla!)

3. Make up Forever Aqua Rouge (in #2 Rosewood)
I love this lip stain/gloss combo. My friend in Austin let me try hers when I was there visiting and complimented me on how it looked so much that I was starting to get uncomfortable. ha..But for reals, this color will stay on your lips forever - I can put it on the am, drink my coffee on the way to work, drink water throughout the day - maybe put on another coat at lunch and it's still there when I get home from work. The gloss part does wear off a lot quicker, but that's OK. This has been my 'go to' for lip color since at least November of 2012. 

4. NARS blush - Orgasm
I finally gave in and bought this cult favorite! So glad I did, too because it is the perfect peachy/pink color and gives you that flushed, healthy glow. I was hesitant to spend over $20 on a blush (I've never been a big blush gal) but I think this one has turned me around and I can honestly say that I will be buying it again. 

5. Benefit's They're Real Mascara
See #2 above about the products I'm obsessed with. Normally, I don't like to buy pricey mascaras because (a) I feel like the drugstore brands are just as good, if not better and (b) you should throw mascaras out in like 6 months so why spend a lot of money on them?  This is a mascara also introduced to me by my Austin friend - she's a bad influence. Although, in her defense I am the one who introduced her to the magical kingdom of makeup known as Sephora... anyway, I digress... I love the way this mascara makes my lashes look longer and fuller. I am noticing that as I age my lashes are becoming more sparse so I will use just about anything to thicken those puppies up! 

6. Josie Moran's Argan Cleansing Oil
I've commented before on Josie Moran's products (specifically the argan oil I use on my hair) so when I saw oil for the face my first thought was, "oil? for your face? wouldn't that break me out?" the answer is yes, oil on your face is amazing. No, it will not break you out. This oil has such a hydrating texture and the best smell (although bitter taste if you accidentally get some on your lips..be careful!). I use it at night, just putting a small amount on my fingers then rubbing it into my skin. I then use my clairsonic to scrub my face and voila! Smooth, hydrated skin is yours. 

7. Butter London Nail Polish - Yummy Mummy
One day, when I was at Nordstrom minding my own business a sales lady came up to me and asked if she could get my opinion (whaa? this is a switch, but whatever) She asked which nail polish color I liked best on her - i guess these are the perks when you work in the cosmetic department. I was drawn to one color in particular because it was such a nice, neutral shade with just a hint of glimmer. Perfect for summer, but also great for fall/winter too. Anyway, I bought it that day and have been wearing it ever since. I will say that during the winter months I like to wear darker colors (OPI - You don't know Jaquues is a fav, as well as OPI Chocolate Mousse) so I don't break out the Yummy Mummy as often but it still remains on my 'list'! 

8. Philosophy Miracle Worker
Just to be totally honest and transparent, I have only been using this product for about 2 weeks now so I can't do a full review on it just yet. I bought it because I had been looking for a product with retinol in it to help with dullness and fine lines (and acne scars). So far, I like it OK. You use this particular product at night and just wipe the pad over your face. Easy peasy. I've read that it could make your face worse before it gets better, but since my face is pretty used to a lot of product and skin treatments it didn't do that for me. So far, i don't see any huge differences but I've been using it for a short while. Another thing to note, don't use it in conjunction with a glycolic face wash/product. Apparently the retinol and glycolic counteract each other...I typically use the Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic face wash so this was an important piece of info especially since neither product is cheap! 

Well, there you have it..my favorite products! However, since creating this list I did think of a couple other products that I have been using religiously and really like. Because of that, they deserve an honorable mention: 

Honorable Mention #1: organic extra virgin olive oil - yep..olive oil, like the kind you cook with. This stuff takes off eye makeup better than anything you'll ever use. Give it a try! Also, it is awesome because it is natural and cheap. I bought a huge bottle at Trader Joe's for like $6. You don't need a lot, just dab a corner of a cotton ball into the oil (I have a container I put some oil in) and swipe it across your eyes - you'll be amazed at how easy makeup comes off! 

Honorable Mention #2: organic coconut oil (are you thinking, "what is with this girl and her oils??") I've read about the benefits of coconut oil for some time - it does wonders for the skin, hair, nails, etc. I will do a coconut oil mask for my hair about once every couple weeks but I use it nightly on my eyelashes. I put some of the oil in a small container and every night i just rub them on my lashes. I read that it makes them grow and I think it really does! Even my coworker made the comment about how my lashes looked fuller! Also natural and cheap - a jar at Trader Joe's was almost $5. 

This was probably the longest post in all of blogging history! I hope this was helpful if you are trying to pick out some new products for 2013!