My Summer Beauty Essentials

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I am so excited to share what items are going to get the most use this summer. 

+ Anastasia Beverly Hills Brush #12 and Dipbrow Pomade- We're past the TMI part of this blog, right? Ok. I sweat. A lot. So much, my eyeliner and eyebrows are gone by the end of the day. Dipbrow has stayed in tact. I've tested this at Disneyland, in the heat, during workouts and many teary nights. I use the brush to apply it to my brows and use it as gel eyeliner. 

+ Nail X Formula in Turbo. This nail polish means business. It's bright, lasts for a long time, and it can be applied with multiple coats to add more color. I've only finished one polish before, and I think I'll be finishing this one, too. 

+ Supergoop Sunscreen Eyecream. Just because I wear glasses and shield my eyes doesn't mean I shouldn't miss that part of my face for sunscreen. It's an anti-aging eye cream without the heavy paragons, sulfates, phthalates, safe for sensitive skin, and has stayed put. So on those days I decide to wear contacts, it doesn't burn my eyes. What I love best is it's surprisingly priced for an anti aging cream that actually works, under $50. 

+ Cover FX Natural Foundation. I recently switched foundations and there's no looking back. This foundation stays put, has less chemicals than the previous one I used, it's water resistant, anti-inflammatory, calms my redness, it's vegan, fragrance-free, and it's so much gentler on my sensitive skin but still covers my rosacea. A little goes a long way, too. It's thick but blends well. 

+ Marc Jacobs Beauty Lip Vinyl Gloss. This is the first lip gloss I've loved, I'll admit. I'll always go for the lipstick before I bother with lip gloss. Long hair and lip gloss are the worst combo, it gets stuck to my lips and rubs off on my face. Marc Jacobs Beauty has developed a lip gloss that avoids that color drag, my lips are in tact and there is no strange wine colored streak across my cheeks. 

+ Davines Vegetarian Miracle Conditioner. There's a reason "miracle" is in the name of this conditioner. A little goes a long way, my favorite part. My long thicker hair sucks up conditioner and it's constantly on my shopping list. This conditioner not only saves me money, but it works. I use it a deep conditioner by adding a cotton hot damp towel wrapped around my hair for a few minutes. I found it for $1 cheaper here

+ Sunscreen Bands. I'm recommending this product hoping the reader already uses sunblock. (My favorite is Alba's brand) When applying sunblock, rub a little on the band, wear it when you're out in the sun and when it's time to re-apply, it'll change colors to remind you. Unless you remember to always apply, these bands aren't needed. I get lost in time and end up with minor sunburns even when I apply sunblock. Plus, I paid $$$$ for my tattoos, I don't want to lose the color simply because I forgot to reapply. This is a great investment not just for your health. 

+ Soapwalla Deodorant Cream. Ok, so this is where things are getting real TMI. I'm totally comfortable in my sweat. However, I'm not comfortable around other people smelling it. This is an aluminum-free, organic, non-animal tested, vegan thick cream applied to your underarms instead of the conventional deodorant stick. Plus the idea of a chemical making you stop sweating completely, something our bodies are meant to do, sounds grosser to me than a smelly person. It's been tested under stress, the sun, heavy workouts, worn with black outfits and it doesn't rub off and you don't have to wait for it to dry unlike other natural deodorants. 

So those are my beauty summer essentials! If there's something I missed you can't live without, email me and let me know. I'd love to try it out. 

Healthy Eating + Snapchat

I know everyone has a different opinion for weight loss but I'm just sharing what I like so far. I should also clarify the obvious- I'm not a doctor, or a nutritionist, my snapchats aren't a weight loss program.

snapchat'ing my way to weight loss on ourcitylights.jpg

I love my body, I'm not ashamed of it but I want to lose the weight because I gained it when I carried a baby full term, my body is just another reminder and I'd love to move forward. I was inspired by my favorite Instagram foodie accounts- @eating_whole, @sometimessweaty, @livylovestorun, and @karalinaluna to name a few. I would love to do Instagram but I don't have time to keep up with another account. Snapchat is easy for me because I don't have to style a photo, there are no filters, no edits, just basic pure healthy food. I hope just like other's have inspired me it's inspired you. So far I've lost 7 lbs in one week. It's not just snapping a photo, it's an accountability for myself. With the mix of my new treadmill desk and doing Pure Barre 3x a week, I'm happy with the results so far. Some people just eat their food, I like to snapchat it! Find me under "ourcitylights". See you there! 

New (Makeshift) Treadmill Desk

It felt good taking almost a month off from blogging, I really missed it! It wasn't intentional- I got sick for a couple weeks, then I left a week for Palm Springs. Then I came home and my stepdad had a massive heart attack. He's fine, thankfully, and he's getting surgery. Please send good thoughts for a healthy recovery! Between taking care of my family, being away from home and prepping for weddings, and trying to take care of myself, something had to go and that was blogging.

I'm back now! And I'm blogging from my treadmill. Yep, a treadmill. I read this article it's been on my mind for some time. I've read hundreds of articles and endless info graphics on the dangers of sitting too much. Instead of buying an actual treadmill desk, I just went to Home Depot after I measured the size I needed, asked for a finished piece of wood. It's not secure, but since I'm not using it for sprinting or anything, it's secure enough to not fall over. I plan on using for running still and I want the option to take out the wood. Plus I don't want to drill anything in the treadmill. I'm sure I can tie something around it and drill holes in the wood, but I think it works great now. 

Also- I'm short. This size works for me. I think a regular sized treadmill desk would actually be too tall for me but this is perfect. I also got the Polar Watch with training data on it and I'll be updating how it's going. 

This is the perfect time to start walking and working, along with Pure Barre classes. When you watch one of your parents almost die from their poor eating habits, it makes me strive to be a better example to my family. 

Aline in Wonderland - An Alice in Wonderland Themed Bridal Party

Aline had her bridal shower and it was appropriately themed Alice in Wonderland or what we called it, Aline in Wonderland! 

There were mixed tea sets and tea pots, with different version of Lewis Carroll's book as decorations and there were tiny "drink me" notes tied to each cup, just to name a few of the details. The decorations were so well thought out, they were amazing and you can see them throughout the photos. The tassel was made by Tissue Paper Party on Etsy.

Grow

We're growing our own organic garden this year and hoping it'll cut back on our grocery bill next spring. The herbs and romaine I planted last year can't stop growing and are giving me so much, I've made herbs de provence with almost every dinner, and it's saved me money on my daily GG smoothies. So far we have mint, thyme, cilantro, rosemary, sage, and tarragon. I placed a couple of the herbs in their containers and kept forgetting to plant them but overtime, they grew roots on their own, and broke through the bottom of the container. In our dirt pods, we've planted cucumber, spinach, corn, beets, squash, cantaloupe, watermelon, and goji berries. We have a greenhouse (a small one we found on amazon and it works great), some dirt, seeds, and a little time and motivation, and we're hoping to reap the benefits next year. 


Unplugged for 40 Days

I don’t want the title to be misleading- I gave up TV for lent, not for good, and I still spent hours on the internet. I’m not scolding anyone for watching TV, just listing how awesome it was from my own personal experience. 

I've never participated in it but I didn’t know lent was something talked about until I read Jen's post. I thought it was like tithing- it’s personal. I wanted to share this because unlike tithing, something required, lent was a choice. I chose to challenge myself. The whole point of lent is to substitute whatever you're giving up to replace with acts of worship or something to get closer to God. I decided on TV because I love TV. I've never loved TV so much than I have at this moment of my life. I find comfort in it, I find humor in it, I find inspiration from it. If I want to tune out sad feelings, watching TV is a great alternative to feeling them. So I gave up the one thing I didn't want to give up. I decided to replace with worship music, and I made a playlist. The first hour was good, I felt inspired and ready to take on the next days. However, I barely made it through the first day. I had no idea how much terrible worship music was out there and it took me weeks to find something good. Once I got over my music tastes, I found out giving up TV was one of the better things I’ve ever done for myself- 

I ate cleaner. I didn’t watch commercials for food, or cooking or baking shows. I really believe in the out of sight, out of mind meaning. I didn’t see sweets or fatty foods, I didin’t crave them.

I moved more. I get bored. I get antsy. If I was sitting at my computer too long without the tv on, I got up, left the house, walked to the grocery store out of boredom, ran on the treadmill to listen to more music. 

Combine those both, and I lost weight. It was a mix of moving more, and eating better

I tweeted less. I didn’t realize how many tv-related tweets I had. Plus I didn’t want to read spoilers. 

I slept more. I didn’t have HGTV on at midnight. As soon as I was in bed, I was asleep a minute later. I’ve never experienced 8 hours of sleep since high school and according to my fitbit, I hit 7-8 hours every night. 

Less triggers. No baby commercials! To clarify, babies are NOT triggers for me (half my Instagram feed are babies, and I love and celebrate each one) but if I'm staring off into the TV, my mind goes into dark terrible places.  

I discovered new and loved music. I love music but over the years I’ve stopped listening to it as much because of TV. I pulled out old vinyl, and listened to over a hundred albums on my queue in rdio.  

Surprisingly I didn’t read much. I was in the middle of reading 7 by Jen Hatmaker, but I didn’t want to be influenced by her experience, I wanted to have my own so I put it down for lent. I read my Bible more, I felt more inspired without images, I blogged more, I had a cleaner home, we took up gardening to name a few. I dealt with issues that made a big step in going forward in my grief.  When we finally did watch TV, we weren't that impressed. Our DVR was filled and by the time lent was over, we had less than 2 hours of recording space. Today we just got rid of premium cable, deleted a bunch of TV shows, and are contemplating canceling netflix. I know it's only less than $10 a month but that money seems to steal me away from what I loved experiencing most- life! Like I mentioned, I loved TV more than most people and everything works in moderation, but there was no such thing for me. I hope this helps someone out there contemplating giving up TV, or even less of it. 

Turntable Kitchen!

Every year I get Ashley's birthday gift from Sephora, she's the beauty queen after all. I never expect anything in return, but this year, she outdid me by not only buying me a gift I love, but an experience! She introduced me to Turntable Kitchen with a one month gift subscription. Before you roll your eyes at another subscription box, this one is different. Turntable Kitchen has been a blog bringing together music and recipes. They were so successful at it, they introduced their blog to your doorstep, The Pairings Box. It's three recipes with a main ingredient and comes with a limited edition 7" vinyl from an up and coming indie band. Mine was turmeric as the main ingredient and I got IYES 7" with a limited edition cover of Beyonce's Crazy in Love with less than 150 copies made of the type of vinyl I got. 

I love cooking and always having music going, it seemed like such a natural concept and it's been executed beautifully. I cooked a turmeric chicken with mint orange salad, and served it with their jalapeño agave lemonade (I added mint to mine). I played it on my portable turntable and it's small enough to fit in the kitchen. The recipe cards come on high quality card stock, so if you get it a little messy, they'll survive. TK also carries a wooden box for their vinyls and recipe cards. The whole gift was wonderful- the discovery of new music on vinyl (it always sounds better on vinyl), the recipes, which were healthy and can easily be substituted if needed, and the discovery of new food, and my growing love for cooking. Thank you Ashley! Obviously I sent the thank you card too soon! Check out Turntable Kitchen and their subscriptions

March 2014 Favorites

Let's take a look back at favorites for March 2014

Favorite Instagram feed is brandivannevel. Brandi's photos are simple. They don't need much editing, and there are no heavy filtered photos to distract you from the photo. In the middle of a adorable baby photos, cute selfies, sophisticated florals and stylish OOTD's, Brandi's peaceful photo pop ups and it's like you're on a mini-vacation with her. 

Favorite purchase would be our vacation. Okay, so we get free hotel nights with points on our only credit card but they are worth saving up for. We splurged on healthier meal options at Whole Foods by our hotels instead of cheaper fast food. It was more romantic having a picnic on the beach than coming back to our hotel room bloated and moody. I also have a new appreciation for California, the beaches it has, and sunsets it offers.

Favorite moment was my birthday week. It was one big moment of awesome. I loved the surprises, whether it was the sunrise from a California beach (I'm a big cheese ball but so true), or flowers from Kaelah, texts from unexpected and long lost friends, to Instagram comments, I seriously took them all in and enjoyed them. Even those moments of sadness, I didn't take any tears for granted. 

Favorite book was re-reading The Outsiders. It's one of my favorite books. After this huge life changing moment I experienced, everything is seen with a new set of eyes, including books. I discovered what I loved about it all over again and caught new words formed together I believe SE Hinton wrote for just for me.

Favorite music is a tie between Twin Forks and Allison Weiss. Twin Forks is Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba's new project. When I listen to it, it sounds like Chris Carrabba grew up with his fans. While we all swooned with him over ex's, now we're singing about stable marriages and families. The music is indie, with kick-drum folky tune to it. Allison Weiss is a younger, newer (2009-ish) artist but just because she's newer doesn't mean she can't keep up with her own written indie music. I love pop-punk and with Allison's female vocals to lead the catchy music, it works. Listen to Allison Weiss on rdio or spotify. Listen to Twin Forks on rdio or spotify. 

Honorable mention- Favorite pinnner would be Vanessa Joie. Some people have a talent for knowing what’s going to be big and Vanessa has a great eye for this. Her taste is fun and her creative mind leaks through curated pins. 

Here's to April 2014! 

Birthday: In Context

I remember reading this article (NSFW) on the truth behind Instagram photos and while it was funny, it reminded us our life can't be judged in snapshots. Brandy, one of my favorite Canadians and bloggers, recently posted on what's the reality behind each snapshot. While I make it very clear my life isn't perfect on my blog, ultimately, people don't know the whole story. I thought I'd have fun with the idea and tell what the reality is behind these shots for my birthday. 

I'm in this weird dress size- not back to my old dress size but I'm swimming in my maternity clothes. It took me four dresses from Nordstrom and Amazon to find one. The day before, Janelle, a friend who doesn't have a Facebook, blog, Twitter, etc (bless you, Janelle) sent me this perfectly matching Betsey Johnson clutch not knowing the color I chose. 

We went to Lemonade for a light lunch. I looked so touristy taking a million shots on my DSLR. 

How meta is it to wear the sunglasses named after you? I'm out of my element here because I'm wearing pink and contacts. I also had no idea how awesome sunglasses were. They hide all the tears while still looking fab. 

Birthday scarf! I was a little bummed the salesgirl at Nordstrom totally dragged this on the way to the counter like a wet towel. 

After walking around Fashion Island, I went home to change. Pink is my favorite color but surprisingly that's the only pink pieces of clothing I own and I was so uncomfortable. I went back home to change and added my Audrey sunglasses before heading to Disney California Adventure. 

We went to Carthay Circle. The sodas were ROSE PETAL sodas. I love roses but not in my drink.

Birthday Disneyland Frap! I'm lactose intolerant so I don't have to tell you what happens behind this photo. 

I came home to a custom birthday cake. I loved it so much, I took a million shots of it and everyone was annoyed at how long I was taking. They don't understand the life of a blogger :P It was so beautiful, I'm devoting a full post to it later. 

Overall my birthday was great.  As I was doing these "in context" photos, I had a hard time finding the negative in them. When I post photos, even if they are styled, there's not much behind them. I see the positivity and beauty in my own real life, I don't think the life I display on my blog or Instagram is that much different. My life isn't perfect, but it's simple and what others would call boring. And that, for me, makes it perfect.

Pause

This week's Friday Darling's won't be going up, partially because I'm limited on wifi while I'm away and I had such a crazy fun birthday week, I completely forgot to organize a post for today.  For fun links, I recommend the following blogs

+ Sometimes Sweet

+ Aspen Summit

+ Chocolate Cream and Cake

+ The Clueless Girl

+ Oh So Pretty

+ Lauren Conrad

I'm relaxing, celebrating life, unplugging this weekend, posting the occasionally pic on Instagram and editing photos with this view below. I mean, work is hard sometimes but can you see why I can't concentrate much? The view from my hotel is so ugly :P  

A Beautiful Mess Actions at Disneyland

We went to Disneyland for a couple of hours yesterday. It was the first week we've been back and coincidentally, two years ago to the day we were in Disneyland Paris. It's been fun using the ABM photo presets. I also occasionally will use VSCO and both are great on their own, but I prefer ABM for my own photos. 

I used the Sun Flare 2 from the Fresh Collection. I mixed it up with Cleo and Penelope. 

I used the Sun Flare 2 from the Fresh Collection. I mixed it up with Cleo and Penelope. 

Elenor and Paris from the Fresh Collection with the Pomegranate Dip Dye

Elenor and Paris from the Fresh Collection with the Pomegranate Dip Dye

Imogen and Willis from the Folk Collection with Light Leak 2

Imogen and Willis from the Folk Collection with Light Leak 2

Merit, Lux and Color Pop from Signature Collection

Merit, Lux and Color Pop from Signature Collection

Flora, August and Light Leak 2

Flora, August and Light Leak 2

Gigi, olive color dip dye, Piper, Lennon, and white blur

Gigi, olive color dip dye, Piper, Lennon, and white blur

A churro is beautiful on it's own but it was fun playing with the textures. I used Aubra, Color Pop, and Spring 

A churro is beautiful on it's own but it was fun playing with the textures. I used Aubra, Color Pop, and Spring 

Dole Whips are vegan. I'm sure they are substituted with terrible chemicals but they're fun to enjoy once in awhile. I used Paris and Yellow Spot from Signature and Fresh Collection. 

Dole Whips are vegan. I'm sure they are substituted with terrible chemicals but they're fun to enjoy once in awhile. I used Paris and Yellow Spot from Signature and Fresh Collection. 

Eve with pomegranate dip dye, top glow and lavender spot

Eve with pomegranate dip dye, top glow and lavender spot

You can check out the other treatments I've used here. Next week I'm going with one of my film cameras and I can't wait to see how those turn out. Enjoy you weekend!

February 2014 Favorites

Let's take a look back at favorites for February 2014

feb 2014 favorites.jpg

Favorite Instagram feed is brittnimehlhoff. I love her vivid colors, creative DIY projects, and she shares her business travels and doings. You can tell she loves her job and when she posts, it's a punch of quirk and style. 

Favorite purchase is renewing my CSA. Organic food direct to your door? I forgot the luxury of it. If you sign up and use code 6164, you get $10 off your first order. 

Favorite moment was meeting Moorea Seal. I've known her for years (yes, I had to double check, it's been years). It was like catching up with an old friend, there were lots of tears, most from laughing. Her silly side goes as deep as her sensitive side.

Favorite book was Worth the Pain by Andy Marso. I normally would never pick up an inspirational book, they sometimes come off more pretentious than hopeful but I loved Andy's book. He's funny, honest about his anger, and with journalism degree under his belt, he's a natural story teller. He fought meningitis when he was supposed to die. He lost his hands and legs in the process, but he gained a new perspective. I loved the book so much, I finished it in one sitting. 

Favorite music is Owen's L' Ami De Peuple. Matt Kinsella does it again with his dreamy vocals and you can get lost in the speakers. I loved him in his Cap'n Jazz days but I've followed his career in Owen. The lyrics are earnest, the music is sweet, and he adds a little bit of country twang with electronic to his indie sound. He makes it work. 

Here's to March 2014! 

Yum! Creamy Black Bean Dip

This recipe is so easy, I thought I'd just make a quick snack and not bother bringing out my camera. I was so wrong. It's so delicious, my iPhone photo doesn't do it justice. 

1 can of black beans, drained, rinsed

1/2 cilantro leaves

1/4 cup of salsa

1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (or sub with chili powder)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 clove of garlic, minced

Put in a mini food processor and pulse until smooth. I served with organic blue corn tortillas, or serve on your next taco night. SO GOOD! This recipe was from e-meals, a paid service to bring me recipes each week for meal planning rather than hunting down the internet on what to eat. Thought I'd pass it along! 

January 2014 Favorites

Let's take a look back at favorites for January 2014

january 2014 favorites.jpg

Favorite Instagram feed is ahoymiss. Danielle's feed is fanciful! She doesn't post too often but when she does, it's so dreamy. 

Favorite purchase is the Tarte's Discover the Amazon 3-piece Kit. I wanted to try the maracuja oil. i've been using it for a few weeks and I love it. I've reviewed the foundation before but I can't wait to tell you about the oil.

Favorite moment was when I hit my 10 lb loss. I have a body that reminds me daily I carried a baby I don't have, so yes, I am going to do what I can to lose that weight. I'm documenting everything on myfitnesspal app, I'm open to more community and inspiration, let's be each other's motivator's and accountability. 

Favorite Book was Tell The Wolves I'm Home. I'll be reviewing this on Beca's blog, stay tuned! 

Here's to February 2014! 

Creative Life Interview with Kyla Roma

Kyla Roma, bloggess and motivational speaker (not technically but if you read her blog, you can attest). She has a great series, A Creative Life, and I'm so thankful I'm a part of the series who inspires me as a woman. I'm honored to be following some of my favorite bloggers, thank you, Kyla. Check it out! 

Image from kylaroma.com

Image from kylaroma.com

It was also a blessing to read it again, when I wrote I wrote it, it was later in my pregnancy. While I'm grieving Max, I felt like I was grieving who I used to be. When I re-read this, it reminded me I'm back to my old self (even if my old self has a few extra chips in my heart). 

I also wanted to say thank you to every reader who has stuck with me since October 2. You've seen me at my saddest, accepted my sad posts (I imagine it's hard to read as it was hard to write) but just like that Pinterest poster says, "If you can't have me at my worst, you can't have me at Beyonce". Much love!