April 2015 Favorites ☼

It’s beginning to look like spring here! We finally got up into the 50s and low 60s this week, so I’ve been able to ditch my wool socks and parka in favor of my Birkenstocks and spring jacket.

April has been a fun month for me, beauty wise. I got a box full of fun goodies from my good friend Jordan in North Carolina (thanks boo!):

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I have to play with the Urban Decay Electric Palette and Stila Lip Glazes more, and will make a separate post reviewing these products, but one of them actually made it to my April faves!

1. Too Faced Melted Lipstick in Melted Candy ($21 at Too Faced) – This is a bright, punchy fuchsia that’s perfect for spring! I’ve been wanting to try one of these lippies for a long time, but $21 is a little steep for me, so I was planning on splurging for my birthday. I’m really thankful that Jordan gifted me one so that I could try it sooner! The formula is super creamy and smooth – absolutely no tugging. It has a sponge-tip applicator, which I didn’t think I would like since sponge-tips are not the most precise applicators, but I actually really like it with this product and I think the applicator is what facilitates such a smooth and even application. I would recommend using a lip liner with this product to prevent bleeding, but the first time I used it, I used it sans liner and had minimal issues. This is an extremely long-wearing lip color because it stains your lips. I actually used my Clarisonic on my lips to scrub off the remaining color at the end of the night! It doesn’t really ever “set” on your lips, so the creamy product itself will smear or rub off, despite the stain staying behind. That could be a disadvantage to some, but I didn’t really mind. A way around that is to blot immediately after applying, which would also give you a more matte finish; the finish is satin/glossy when first applied and demi-matte after about an hour. Will I repurchase? Yes! I plan on splurging on Jelly Donut and Fig sometime this year.

2. OGX Nourishing Coconut Milk Shampoo ($8 at Ulta, cheaper at Walmart) – I usually spend around $4 on shampoo. I’m willing to spend more on a nice conditioner, but I’ve never found any benefit to spending $15 on shampoo versus 79 cent Alberto V05. My favorite staple shampoo is the Pantene Aqua Light shampoo (seriously love that stuff!), but I recently ran out and was not able to find it at my local Walmart, and picked this up instead. I’ve seen OGX products all over at Ulta, and heard good things, but never felt like shelling out almost ten bucks just for shampoo. I love the scent of this shampoo – it smells lightly of coconut, but faintly of creamy vanilla as well. The scent of the shampoo does not stay in my hair; the smell of my conditioner either overpowers it, or it just doesn’t stick. It lathers pretty well (bad for your hair? yes, but I’ve tried no ‘poo and I just can’t) and leaves my hair feeling clean and soft without feeling stripped down. I use it in combo with the Pantene Nature Fusion Conditioner w/avocado oil (all-time favorite drugstore conditioner – the stuff gets 5 star reviews for a reason) and my hair is soft, full, and silky. I don’t have frizz or split ends, so I can’t comment on this shampoo’s effect on those, but I will probably repurchase this!

3. Bath & Body Works Morocco Orchid & Pink Amber body spray (Discontinued, but available on eBay) – This is 100% not my typical fragrance, and I rarely set foot inside B&BW. In fact, I bought this at the semi-annual sale for 75% off, and it was the first time I’d been inside a B&BW in probably 5 years. It’s not a long-lasting scent at all – I get maybe 2 or 3 hours out of it. I actually kind of like that, because I can spritz it on in between my classes during the day and easily switch my fragrance up for nighttime if I want. Some have described this scent as fruity, but on me it’s pretty much all sandalwood, amber, and vanilla. I like it and get compliments on it when I wear it. Will I repurchase? It’s discontinued, but even if it weren’t I probably wouldn’t repurchase it. The bottle will last me forever, and I’m not a big body spray or B&BW kind of person.

4. NuMe Classic 19mm Curling Wand in Pink ($139 at NuMe) – I actually purchased this wand in December, and I got it for $20 with shipping (can you say steal?) This website is constantly having sales and deals, so I would recommend waiting to buy with a code. This wand arrived in some sleek, pretty packaging on my doorstep 4 days after I bought it. It comes with a heat-protecting glove, which I don’t use because I think it makes it hard to pick out sections of my hair while wearing it. It does not have a temperature-control, which some may find as a turn off. There is an on/off switch, and that’s it. It heats up to 410 degrees within a minute or two, and is perfect for creating waves and curls. My favorite thing about this wand is that my curls don’t fall out. I have naturally straight hair, so my hair tends to straighten out within a few hours when using other curling irons or wands. With this particular wand, my hair stays curled even the next day. Love!

5. Sally Hansen Miracle Gel Top Coat ($10 at CVS) – I’ve heard terrible things about using this top coat in combo with the Sally Hansen Miracle Gel polishes, but fantastic things about the top coat with other polishes. I currently have this top coat on top of OPI Do You Lilac It? and after 3 days have noticed NO signs of chipping or wear on any of my nails! I’m pretty hard on my nails, and I type all day, so usually polish lasts 1-2 days on me, even with top coats like Essie Good to Go and Seche Vite. I just took off acrylic nails and my natural nails are very thin, so I’m really impressed with how this top coat hardened on my nails. Highly recommend!

6. L’Oreal Lineur Intense Liquid Eyeliner ($9 at Ulta) – This eyeliner actually has a felt tip, despite what the description on Ulta says. This stuff is sooo black, and does not smear on my lids. I wish I could combine the blackness and ease of application of this liner with the preciseness of the Jordana Cat Eye liquid liner. I will still probably repurchase this, though! The applicator tip is long so it’s easy to lay flat across your lid for a fluid line.

7. Philosophy Christmas Cookie shower gel ($17 at Macy’s, currently unavailable) – It’s April, and I already miss Christmastime. I love everything about getting together with family, watching Elf 35 times, celebrating Christmas, and making sugar cookies! I bought this 3-in-1 shower gel in November, and have just been storing it with my backup shower products in my bathroom. Recently, I’ve started using it again. I love the smell. Full disclosure, sometimes I just stand in the shower and smell it, because it really does smell like 100 yummy Christmas cookies in a bottle. I do sometimes use this on my hair as shampoo, but I mostly use it as body wash. I have not had the opportunity to use it for a bubble bath yet. A little goes a long way, and I find it lathers best on a loofah. The bottle will easily last me several months, and I will definitely repurchase this and other Philosophy shower gels in the future!

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8. Okay, this one isn’t actually a beauty favorite. But it’s the International Delight Iced Coffee in Light Mocha ($3-ish at Target) – I love iced coffee, but it gets expensive at McDonald’s, and living with roommates means I have limited freezer space for coffee cubes (to keep my coffee from getting watery) and it takes too much time and effort to regularly brew large batches of coffee and then store it in my fridge to cool down. So, I stumbled upon this premade iced coffee at Target, and decided to try it out. It’s got 90cals/cup & 14g sugar, so it’s not nearly as bad as Starbucks (80 cals without creamer, but has 20g sugar) or McDonald’s (a small has 140 cals & 22g sugar). I still love black coffee, so I don’t drink it every day, but at the price I purchased it at, it comes out to 38 cents/cup, and that’s pretty awesome. It has artificial sweeteners, so one day I might actually stop being lazy make my own iced coffee at home, but for right now, this will work. I will definitely repurchase this!

That concludes my April favorites, everyone! Let me know your favorites in the comments below – I’d like to try them out and see if they make the cut for my May favorites 🙂

xx

Shelbie

March 2015 Faves

This post is super overdue. Practically a month overdue.  My B. But let’s talk about my beauty faves of March 2015!

March is one of my least favorite months, because in Wisconsin, March = slush, false hopes for spring, and the realization that your favorite shoes have been irreparably ruined by road salt. The plus side to March is Ulta’s 21 Days of Beauty, which is the greatest 3 weeks of beauty sales on Planet Earth. Unfortunately, my focus for March was on saving money for my trip to visit Alex, so I did not buy any goodies from the sale, but I did salivate over the Too Faced Sweethearts blushes from afar.

I did, however, pick up a few small goodies this month, three of which ended up here on my favorites list!

1. Maybelline Dream Wonder pressed powder ($9 at Ulta, cheaper at Target/Walmart) – I have yet to find a pressed powder that I love more than this one, and I’m shocked that it has such low reviews on Ulta and Makeup Alley.  It’s so creamy, smooth, and leaves my face looking like it’s been airbrushed to perfection. It does darken my foundation, but it is not a translucent powder so that’s to be expected. I’ve actually found that using a foundation shade that’s about a shade too light in combination with this powder gives me the perfect look. I’ve repurchased this a few times, and plan to do so in the future. It does not expressly claim to control oily skin, but I think it actually does a pretty good job; I would say it keeps me matte as long as the Rimmel Stay Matte powder does (5-ish hours). When my luggage arrived late and I didn’t have any of my regular makeup, I used this as a powder foundation and was actually able to build it up to a sheer/medium coverage.

2. Wet n Wild Color Icon blush in Pearlescent Pink (2.99 at Walgreens & Walmart) – I swear I’ve talked about this on Wisconsin Whimsy before, but in case I haven’t, you need this blush.It’s so pigmented, and gives a bright, punchy glow that’s perfect for giving your cheeks a springy pop of color. In real life, it looks a little more like a coral-pink, and it does have shimmer in the pan, however I think it comes across as a satin finish on the skin. The price can’t be beat on these blushes, and they are more pigmented than my ever-loved MAC blush. I apply this blush with a light hand and a stippling brush. Love!

3. Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter in Tutti Frutti ($8.49 at Ulta) – I actually scored this on clearance at the MCX for $2.99! I have several other shades of the Lip Butters: Pink Lemonade, Wild Watermelon, Sorbet, and Creme Brulee. I don’t own any orange lip shades, and Alex thought it was cute, so I went ahead and bought it thinking that it’d be one of those lippies you never wear but keep around anyway. I was wrong! It’s a bright tangerine, but the formula of these lipsticks is semi-sheer, so you can build up the color. It is perfect for spring, and I love to wear it when I’m wearing neutrals or black and white for a fun color pop. I also really like that it doesn’t snag on my dry lips and moisturizes them. Love!

4. Mario Badescu Soothing & Healing Mask (full size $20 at Mario Badescu) – This is a sample that I received from Mario Badescu after taking their skin profile questionnaire. I’m always wary of introducing new skin care products into my routine since I have such sensitive and breakout-prone skin, but decided to give the products a go due to their reputation. I used this in combo with my sample of the Drying Cream, and liked that I could still enjoy the results of the drying cream without the aftermath of redness and flaky skin. I actually found that this was effective on its own at treating my cystic acne. I did not follow the directions and instead of washing it off after 20 minutes, left it on my bumps overnight as a spot treatment and washed it off with my Clarisonic the next morning and was amazed at the difference I saw! I’m thinking about purchasing the full size of this towards the end of summer so that I have it for the fall and winter months when my skin is really suffering.

5. L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation ($14.99 at Ulta) – I paid $11 at the MCX for this, and you can also probably get it cheaper at Walmart or Target, however I haven’t seen it at either of those stores locally. This is a medium-coverage liquid foundation. I like this for days that I’m not going all-out in my makeup routine, because I can quickly buff it in with a flat top buki. This is definitely only medium coverage, which I was a little disappointed by at first, and several of the shades are slightly orange, however I was able to find a shade that works for me (sun beige) and if I want full coverage, I mix it with my Covergirl 3-in-1 foundation and apply with my Real Techniques sponge. I wore this foundation in my engagement photos, and I think it looked totally flawless. It lasted for at least 7 hours, kept me matte (I didn’t touch it up), and didn’t oxidize. If you have minimal redness and few blemishes, I highly recommend this foundation. I think it’ll be a perfect summertime foundation, so I’m excited for the warmer weather to get here!

6. Vaseline Intensive Therapy Cocoa Butter body lotion ($6 at Walmart) – I was in the market for a new body lotion, and I needed something that absorbed quickly, didn’t have a strong smell, and actually moisturized my skin. I love this lotion because it leaves my skin feeling smooth and soft, and the barrier it creates helps my skin from drying out. It smells warm and soft like cocoa butter, but it’s not strong enough that it interferes with my perfume. I like to use this in between self-tanning sessions so that my tan fades evenly, and I like that it’s affordable. I will definitely repurchase this again when I run out!

That concludes my March 2015 favorites! What were your favorites? Tell me in the comments below!

This is a written promise to post my April 2015 favorites within the same decade 😉

Blessed Are Those Who Have Not Seen and Yet Believe

A couple Sundays ago, I went to church alone. As much as I love the experience and fellowship of going to church with my friends, I also love going to church solo. I’m free from distraction and able to really focus on the message. This particular Sunday was  the Second Sunday of Easter, and per usual, the message was the Gospel of John 20:19-31.

In summary, Jesus had been resurrected and 11 of the 12 disciples saw him and rejoiced in his presence. The twelfth disciple, Thomas, was not present when Jesus came to see the other disciples, and when he heard the news, Thomas demanded that he see and feel the wounds in Jesus’ hands and side before believing that Jesus had really been resurrected. Although there are many important lessons and points of discussion in this passage, I’ll be focusing on John 20:29 (ESV),which says:

Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.”

It is 2015. It is the Age of Information and we have the world at our fingertips.Google has billions of answers, just two seconds away. We fact check everything. We are suspicious of homeless people on the streets, of our government, of our neighbors, of our policemen, our friends, our children, our news stations…and we’re skeptical of God, too.

Let me write this disclaimer right here in nice pretty bold letters: This post is not meant to convince you that you are right or wrong for believing or not believing in God. Even as a Christian, I am a firm believer that everyone has the right and ability to make decisions for themselves and I respect those decisions. Also, this post uses generalizations. It does not apply to every single person in the world.

Moving on. I am guilty of the skepticism. I’m probably the biggest skeptic out there. My mom calls me her “little researcher” because I’ve been known to stay up until the wee hours of the morning researching trivial things that come up throughout the day as well as heavily researching every little (and big) purchase I make. If I’m having a casual conversation with someone and they say something that even remotely catches my interest as unfamiliar, grandiose, or simply too good to be true, you can bet that I’ll be on my phone scouring the internet for the truth once they walk away. I’m self-admitted a control freak. I love to know, and I love to be correct.

There are a lot of times – and I really mean a lot of times – that I have found myself questioning my faith. *gasp* Yes, I question my faith. All the time. “Why does God allow suffering?” “Is the Bible really inerrant? Because it was written by people, not God, and people make mistakes all the time.” “If God loves everyone and Jesus died for everyone’s sin, why do I see my brothers and sisters in Christ judging the sin around them?” “If God is so awesome, why does he need us to praise him all the time?” I am a wanna-be know-it-all to a fault, and not having all the answers regularly challenges my faith.

I have a criticism of the Christian community, and it’s that too often we shut out people with questions. We write them off. We tell them God has the answers. We call them non-believers, sinners (newsflash, we are too!), and more. We get frustrated. And why? Because we don’t know. We don’t have the answers. And why can’t we just say that? Why can’t we be honest? Why do we feel the audacity to tell people what God wants and what God needs when we. do. not. know. what He really wants because we’re not Him?!

Christians believe what we believe for a whole host of different reasons, but at the end of the day it’s a belief. And maybe it’s a fault that I think that way – some will jump on this post to let me know it’s “not just a belief” and yes, to some degree that is correct, but at its most simplest, purest form, it is a belief. And I’d rather be honest and tell my friends that, you know what, yeah I really do believe that Jesus Christ was crucified and was resurrected, and yeah, you know what, it does sound pretty darn crazy and I can’t tell you that I know for 100% fact that it happened, but I believe it anyway. But for some reason that’s looked down upon. Christians are scared of that. We are scared of the fact that it might not be true.

I saw a quote that said,

Faith begins where human power ends.

And I find it relevant. It is not within human power to rise from the grave. And that’s where my faith begins. I believe in what I have not seen, and I can’t tell you exactly why. I can tell you that sometimes I doubt and that I often have internal struggles with what I find to be injustices, inconsistencies, and unrealistic. And yet I believe. Some days I’m Thomas. Some days I’m not. I am not perfect. In fact, I am inherently flawed in the most beautiful way.

What I’ve learned is that sometimes, having a Thomas kind of day can actually really strengthen your faith and give you a renewed perspective. We frown on poor Thomas and his doubting ways, but we are all Thomas at times. And even though we have not seen Christ Jesus or the face of God, we still believe. I have faith in an unfailing love and redemption. I also have doubts, even after immeasurable prayers, weeks of Bible camp, and church sermons galore. And rather than lying to myself, feeling ashamed, and suppressing those doubts, I turn them into opportunities to explore my relationship with Christ. I struggle with not having all the answers, but to this day, I have yet to find myself a non-believer. Every day I learn something new about my faith, and oftentimes, those lessons come from my doubts. So I challenge you to challenge yourself. Challenge your faith and what you think you know. You might learn something new.

Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.

I’m Getting Married at 22 and Apparently That Upsets People on the Internet

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Photography courtesy of Caitlin Skinner Photography.

A few years ago, I was in a pretty low place. Like, Garth Brooks kind of low place. I was your average college student, facing the stress and rigor of attending school full-time, working, attempting to be social, and trying to swim my way out of an abusive relationship. I was stuck there, in a relationship with someone who I thought I was in love with, who I thought was my soul mate, who I thought would one day tie our daughter’s shoes on her first day of school. I was so convinced that he was the source of my happiness, the one person who really understood me, and the person I would be with forever, that I was blind to his constant manipulation and made excuses for his aggression. One day – and to this day I’m still lost as to how or why – I woke up feeling strong and empowered, so I walked away. I walked away from the mental and physical pain that accompanied that relationship, I prayed to God for the strength to never look back, and I healed. (The healing part was not a one-day process)

I don’t know why things happen the way that they happen, but I like to think that there’s a greater reasoning behind it than simply “because.” What I do know, is that oftentimes, when we let go, stop searching, and leave behind the anchors of pain and despair, we stumble upon what John Green so eloquently describes as “The Great Perhaps.” When I walked away from all of the pain and baggage that I was carrying from my previous relationship, God opened a door for me. He opened a door to a journey that led me to my Great Perhaps.

Facebook is littered with blog posts titled, “10 Reasons Your 20s Are Meant for Exploration,” “23 Things I’d Rather Do Than Get Married at 23,” “Why I Don’t Need to Be Completed by My Significant Other,” et cetera. Relationships are a hot topic among millenials, and social media has exacerbated the desire for user-generated content that makes 20-somethings feel validated in whatever current relationship status they’re in. What I’ve also noticed throughout this sea of viral Facebook posts is also more and more 20-somethings getting engaged and married. This isn’t a new concept – most of us have parents or grandparents who got married young; the difference is, social media and the internet have given everyone the opportunity to voice their opinions on the topic.

Right now, I’m 21, I’m engaged, and I’ll be married at 22 years old. To some people, it’s like “leaving the party at 9pm,” it’s too young, it’s rushing things, it’s [insert other negative comment here]. Those “some people” are internet strangers and my parents. My parents have a right to be concerned about my life choices and future, and I understand their concerns and am thankful to have parents who love me so much that they want the best and happiest life possible. However, I stand by my commitment and I’m not going to change my mind. I’ve read articles that say you can’t possibly know what you want out of life at 21, and that your life experience has not yet prepared you to make wedding vows. Let’s look at traditional wedding vows:

For better or for worse – I think we can all agree that loving people is pretty easy during the “better” part, and it’s when the “worse” comes around that things get tough. Alex and I have seen each other at some pretty low points (details not necessary). Will I see him at worse? Probably. But I have an idea of how he acts when he’s at his lowest, and it’s helped me to understand him better emotionally, so hopefully whenever we face disaster, grief, stress, and pain in the future, I can love him in the best way that I can.

For richer or for poorer – About a year ago, I had $30 to my name, I drained my savings account to pay my rent, and I was attending free lunch and dinner at a neighborhood church twice a week because I genuinely could not afford to buy groceries. The financial stress I was under seriously affected my mental and physical health, and I was in a constant state of panic and anxiety over making sure my bills got paid. Who did I turn to? Alex. He helped me look for a second job, he listened to me cry, he bought me groceries for Valentine’s Day. This period of time really brought us closer as a couple because we didn’t let the misery tear us apart. Conversely, when I was making a lot more money, Alex brought me back down to earth and if I was spending a lot of money, he let me know that he noticed I was spending a lot more and maybe I needed to slow down.

In sickness and in health – Also about a year ago, I was extremely ill. I will spare you the details, but I have never felt so helpless over my own body. I was constantly up in the early hours of the morning writhing in pain on my bathroom floor, and Alex somehow managed to wake up and answer my sobbing phone calls and comfort me on his already limited sleep schedule. He sent me medicine and positive messages, listened to me when I just needed to vent and cry, and supported me through doctor visits. He was there.

To love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part – I promised this a long time ago, and have no intentions of ever going back on it.

I know that people always say I’m at the age where I think I know everything, but I don’t think that changes as you get older. I think people in their 30s and 40s think they know everything as well, and we all learn as we get older. People get divorced in their 20s? People get divorced when they’re 50 too. It’s smarter to save up and be financially sound before you make any commitments? I’m going to be relatively poor at 22 whether I’m married or not. I’d rather spend those years with someone who makes the misery just a little less miserable. Getting married to Alex is going to make me happy, even through the inevitable petty arguments, Ramen Noodle diets, and toilet seats left up. And I would think it’s pretty selfish for anyone to not want me to experience that happiness just because I’m not living my life in the order they think I should live it in, getting married at the age they think I should get married at, or getting married to the person they think I should marry. I’m not going to live my life in fear of divorce or poverty or anything else for the sake of other people, because at the end of the day, it’s my life, my love, my happiness, and I deserve to be in control of those emotions and face the adversity that comes with it on my own.

I don’t need Alex to complete me, I don’t need to backpack through Europe to “find myself,” and I don’t need to date 20 more people to make sure he’s the one. I don’t need to spend the next 5 years getting to know him better. I’ve known him since I was 13 years old, and I get to know him more every day. Being married allows me to get to know him on another level that 5 years of unmarried life won’t give me.

If getting married at 22 is like leaving the party at 9pm, at least I get to go home, put on yogas, plop down on the couch with Alex and watch two hours of Game of Thrones before bed. We’re going to travel together. We’re going to grow together. We’re going to love each other more, and the reasons for which we love each other are going to change over time. We’re going to build a life together. We don’t have any unrealistic beliefs or expectations that marriage is going to be sunshine and rainbows or easy, but so far none of our relationship has been, and it’s made us stronger.Our love alone will not make our marriage successful, but our commitments to each other and our willingness to be a lifelong team will. And I have yet to figure out why that is so offensive to everyone else. If you don’t want to get married until you’re 30 – don’t! If you don’t want to get married ever, then don’t! I think it’s admirable to admit that you’re at a point in your life where you aren’t ready to settle down and you don’t know what you want out of life – or maybe you do know what you want and marriage isn’t it. Better to be honest with yourself and save yourself and others from heartbreak than to commit to something you know you’re not ready for. However, I’m at a point in my life where I’ve decided (after much thought and prayer) that I am ready to make this commitment, and I couldn’t be more excited to do so. And if that upsets you, well then, I’m sorry – sorry that my future marriage is the most pressing thing in your life that you have to be upset over. I will never apologize for my happiness.

xx