Life in Mascara: 2016

Friday, June 10, 2016

FEED YOUR FREEZER: SAVE TIME & MONEY


It's not even about a dreaded case of the Monday's. It's more like time seems to get away from me in unexpected bursts. I can look at the clock and see that I have two hours until dinner time, blink (minor nap may or may not have happened), and the next thing I know husband and the kids are rolling in hungry as can be. 

I work a full time job, run this blog, and carry my home. As much as a planner as I am, things can and do get away from me. When I get home at the end of the day, sometimes cooking is the last thing that I want to do. It is literally go, go, go as soon as I get home because bedtime at our house is 8:30 p.m. for everyone. Yes, including me because I am up around 5 a.m. each day and I need to sleep to function. In order not to fall behind on all the other house and life duties, I started to think how I could save myself some time, hassle, and in the end money while attacking dinner since ordering out is just that easy. Here is what I came up with:

1. Meal Planning: Keep it simple. Yes we all love a grand meal but during the work week simple dishes work best. Save yourself the headache of using every pan you own to create your masterpiece. Instead, save it for the weekend when you have more time. Sometimes, I actually like to save it for date night. Husband and I will break out a bottle of wine and cook a delicious meal together. That way the work load is shared and we enjoy spending time together.

2. Crock-Pot: Now don't laugh but in order for this to work you actually have to plug in your crock-pot to turn it on. I can't tell you how many times I have set it to low and ran out the door only to come home to an uncooked meal. This will result in loss of money as this food is no longer safe to eat and chances are you will order out. There are a few full meals that I like to make but I also find it really helpful to make a batch of food that will later be used for a variety of things. For example, if I make a big batch of beans then I have them to accompany meals for the week. I also like to cook chicken and then shred it to make chicken salad, tacos, or soup. Be prepared though. Crock-pot cooking often leads to large batches of food which leads me to my next point. 

3. Feed Your Freezer: Take full advantage of those large crock pot meals and immediately set a side a dinner/lunch portion that you can freeze and enjoy later. When we make large batches of soup, I freeze half of it and then enjoy it a few weeks later. I can not tell you what a blessing they have become! I am so thankful that on nights when I just can't even think straight, dinner is literally sitting in my freezer waiting for me to be heated up. Plus it makes me feel good knowing I didn't waste any leftovers, I made this meal, and in nearly no time, we are all sitting around the dinner table as a family. Now remember they don't have to be crock pot meals. Like my friend says, "You can freeze anything." I don't think I need to mention that her lunches are the envy of the entire lunchroom.


Wednesday, June 8, 2016

SUMMER READING LIST


School is out and soon I will be too! As the kids headed out for their summer break, our librarian distributed to them a list for fun summer reading. It made me think what a great idea this would be for adults as well. I like to take on less serious books, easy reads if you will, during the summer. It just adds to the air of lightness that comes with everything fun in the sun. Here is a mix of books that have been on my to read list for a while and a new one coming out later this month:







What will you be reading this summer? Tag me on Twitter @lifeinmascara.

Friday, June 3, 2016

HOW I STAYED FINANCIALLY FIT IN 2016


I had this general idea to post an update on my New Year's Resolutions come the beginning of July. Almost like a check in to myself of where I stood. As I started to look back, I realized that while I may have shared bits and pieces of my goals this year, I never really actually shared them with you. Much less how I actually divided them into three parts (because one just isn't enough): Financial, Personal, and Business. Over the next month, I will be sharing with you what the goals were and where I actually stand. Right, let's get to is!

Finances

This is a topic that I am very passionate about. As I've mentioned before, I have a very heavy financial background. But I would like to point out that I am not exempt from financial mistakes. Let's take it back 12 years to college age Mayra (this hurts). I can remember being in class and my teacher telling us to take out as many student loans as we needed for our education because though our first job we would all be set to pay it off in no time. Call me naive but I did just that and maybe a tad bit more. I believed her. I thought it really would all be taken care of for me. Enter the recession and fast forward to present date, I am still paying on those student loans. The plan is in place and I hope to be done within the next three years if not sooner. Yet when I look back, I shudder thinking of how irresponsible I was with my finances. 

In talking with a member of Credit Card Insider, we were both saying how we were surprised that life finances aren't taught in school, whether it be high school or college. I personally know any kind of guidance at that age would have gone a long way. That is why I recommend getting started with Dave Ramsey The Total Money Makeover if you are at this point in your lives. I believe if we teach good financial habits at an early age, people are less likely to commit the mistakes one often does. Credit Card Insider, while also suggesting a variety of credit cards that may better suit your financial needs at this time, also offers financial education on help you understand credit and debt and how to use cards responsible. And whether you opt for the cash only way or the rewards points system, the bottom line is that you are educated enough to manage your money. Here is how I set out this year to become and stay financially fit:

Goal: Pay off my car.
I started this year by sending an extra $50 a month towards my car note. At this point I had about two years left on it and calculated that for every five payments I made, that would shave off a month off of my note. I had every intention to begin to send more towards the end of the year when I finished paying off other things. However, in March when husband received his last bonus from his previous company we sat down and reassessed our finances. By taking a portion of that bonus and paying off my car, that would actually free up the money that would now be coming out of my paycheck for medical insurance and still leave me a little wiggle room. Here is what I did with the "wiggle room"...

Goal: Build a savings account. 
I was notorious for building my savings account and then draining it when I came at a fork in the road. Once I really dove into my finances I really figured out a way to save wisely. I talked all about it here. I started with $0 in my long term savings account this year all because of loss of income. I was not prepared. We were not prepared. And I knew I did not want to live paycheck to paycheck. I have been successful so far in setting up automatic transfers from my checking out to my savings account and NOT touching it. I took that "wiggle room" and increased the amount of the monthly transfer. I didn't even feel the hit in my checkbook because I was already used to that amount of money coming out for my car payment. 

Goal: Create a retirement fund similar to a 401K.
Because I work in the school system, we are not offered a traditional 401K. We do have TRS (teacher retirement system) but we are not able to increase the amount taken nor does the district contribute to it. In the long run, this alone will not get me very far. I called the district and asked if there was something that they offered for its employees that I was not aware of. Sure enough, there was. It is basically the same as a 401K in that it is invested for you with the same structure of aggressive level and you can also select in which groups you want your money working in. It differs in that it is done by monetary amount instead of a percentage of your check and the District also does not match or contribute to it. Still it is something and I went ahead and enrolled. Again, a little bit as I can only do so much but have the option and plan to increase it come next school year. 

Goal: Don't go into next year with credit card debt. 
I shared here how husband and I payed for our wedding. I mentioned the use of two credit cards and our plan to pay them off. We completely paid one off and are well on out way towards paying off the second one. If we stay on course, we will not go into 2017 with any credit card debt. The only debt we will have is one car payment, my student loans, and our mortgage. 

Goal: Charity donation every quarter.
Regardless of any financial woes my family or I have gone through, I still consider myself and us to be very blessed. I have personally seen God's hand in resolving things for me that were completely out of my power . He provides for us on a daily basis and I in turn want to do my part to help those who need to see the light. I had plans to donate to a specific charity each time but God had other plans. There were two families in my life who needed help and I chose to direct our money towards that. It is not charity when you help a loved one. It is simply giving love in monetary form. And if that happens the next two quarters of the year, then my heart will be full knowing that I was able to help others just like countless times others have helped me.

Goal: Look into creating an IRA.
I shared here on how I will be taking this step at the end of the year. 

Goal: Buy stock.
When I worked retail, I would purchase stock all year and let it work. Come Christmas time, I would withdraw what I needed to purchase gifts. Basically I was using it as a savings account but in the long run this isn't smart. For one thing, you end up taking a hit when you sell it and then come tax time you have to declare it as income. Stock is purchased to work for you in the long run. I am hoping to get this going again before the end of the year. 

All in all I have been really conscious of my spending this year. Things such as meal planning, eliminating cable, and lowering our cell phone plan has really contributed to my savings. I thought it would be difficult at first, but now I am excited and less stressed. Watching my finances shift just a bit into the right direction has really given me hope for a financially fit life.  

*This post is not sponsored by Credit Card Insider, however, this post was created in reference to me having talked to them. 




Tuesday, May 31, 2016

HAVING A REAL LUMINOUS MOMENT AT SEPHORA


It has been a moment since I went wild at Sephora. It's not that I haven't wanted to. I mean, does anyone ever not want to? For me it was more that I did not really need anything and decided to really dig in and use my stash. Plus I felt my finances couldn't really take a hit at this time. So instead I opted to start putting money aside each paycheck until I was ready to pick up a few things. The day came and oh was it rewarding!

I wont be able to go into any kind of review on these products since I just picked them up but I will as I start using them. Apparently I had a theme going on as I picked up a lot of luminous products. I am hoping they make my dry skin look and feel more hydrated. 

I have heard so many good things about the Becca Backlight Primeing Filter that I am dying to try it. New in at Sephora was the Becca Aqua Luminous Perfecting Foundation. I want to try these two products together but wonder if instead of giving a radiant appearance I would just come out looking greasy. I guess we will just need to try and see. 

I also picked up the Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressend in Moonstone. I have raved before about how much I love this shade in the liquid formula and really enjoyed mixing it with my Bobbie Brown Skin Foundation. Now I can try its powder version as a highlight and even as an eye shadow. 

Another powder that I had been wanting to try is the Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder in Brilliant. This is the "yellow" shade of the four shades available. I am a HUGE fan of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Diffused Light to set my under eye area and my t-zone. Their powders are so sheer and light reflecting and really make your face look ethereal. I am wanting to try the strobe powder along my jawline not necessarily to bake, but to bring more dimension to the face without it being stark white. 

I'm pretty pale these days and felt like all my bronzers were a bit too strong. And while that might change with summer just around the corner, I still wanted something a bit cooler than what I have. I picked up a cult favorite in Too Faced Soleil Matte Bronzer in Milk Chocolate. I am a bit concerned about using it since it is very perfumed but I have not come across any negative reviews. I am willing to give it a go. 

Finally I picked up these two Sephora Collection lip glosses in Perfect Nude and Rose Petal. Any item that I have purchased from the Sephora Collection line has always exceeded my expectations. And since I had a real lip gloss clean out, I was in need of some new ones in classic shades.

Let me know if you have tried any of these items. I am eager to try them all out!

Friday, May 27, 2016

VACATION PLANNING ON A BUDGET


With the end of the school year just a couple of weeks away, my mind is in full vacation mode. Whether you like to travel solo, with friends/spouse, or a full on family affair, things can get a little bit pricey. But it doesn't always have to be this way. Here are a few tips on how you can plan that much needed away time while still being friendly to your wallet:

1. Groupon- Once you have decided where it is you are going to be heading off to on you vacation, look into Groupon. Change your city search to your destination and see what is available. There are hundreds of cities listed so chances are you will find the one you are looking for. Remember to read the find print such as how many must be in the party, expiration date, and lunch versus dinner. This will also help you find different restaurant options and tour events.

2. Entertainment BookThese books are normally sold as a fundraiser in schools but you can also purchase them off the website. What these books are is an overload of deals to local restaurants (they are sold by city), movie theaters, entertainment centers, bowling, among other things. They either offer a great discount or have some kind of BOGO. Either way this is a great way to save on outings and to get you to try new places as well.

3. City Website- Take a look and see what is happening in the community the days that you will be in town. Most city events are free or have a minimal charge and are family friendly.

4. Flexible dates- If you are in the early stages of planning your vacation and you are able to go at any time, take a look at the airlines flexible dates calendar. I have been able to save a pretty penny simply by changing my day of departure/arrival and my flight time as well.

5. Hotel: Lux versus Economy- Some people like to splurge on hotels as part of the vacation experience. Others could care less. For me it must meet these requirements: safe, clean (especially the bathroom), and remotely close to where I want to be. Otherwise you can end up spending more money on transportation to get to your actual destination. 

Take for example our trips to New York. We have stayed at The Roosevelt and at a place in Soho. While we loved our experience of being right in the center of the city and enjoyed the hotels ritzy bar, we also loved staying at a modern hotel in Soho with all the eclectic places around it. Yes we had to commute more but since we mostly did the subway, we didn't actually feel it. We ended up planning all our evening events in Soho so as to take the subway as close to our hotel as possible and then walk the few blocks over while there was still light out. 

So again, it comes down to preference. But if saving is the end goal, then look into staying at a place that will provide for your needs but will not break the bank. Chances are you will only be there to shower and sleep and no one really needs much for that.

6. Public Transportation- If you are fortunate enough to be  traveling to a city where public transportation is the norm, I suggest that you take full advantage of that. Save on a rental and parking fees because odds are there will be plenty of those if you are traveling to a place that relies primarily on public transportation. Subway, Lyft, Uber, buses, and taxis. Use them all. Look into downloading an app for the cities public systems. That way you know the schedule ahead of time. 

7. Shopping: Don't Do It- Ever shopped so much while on vacation that you had to shove everything in your bag just so it would close? Then you prayed to all the vacation gods that your luggage wouldn't be over the 50 lb limit? While the thrill of being on vacation will make you want to be spending money left and right buying all these keepsakes, you probably will not get any use out of them. You might even end up throwing them away. Instead, opt for one (yes one!) item that you will use primarily in your home many times. That way when you pull out that lovely item you will be reminded of the time you spent away. 

I hope this gets you geared up to planning your next getaway! I know I can't wait to get on that airplane!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

WHAT ELSE DID I READ THIS MONTH: MAY


Another month, another installment of 'What else did I read this month'. Let's take a look, shall we?

1. D is for Deadbeat- Another installment in the Kinsey Millhone series, Millhone has to deal with her client's dead body being found only a few days after hiring her. But the thing is, he has a very shady past and the list of people who want him dead seems to be growing by the minute. And to add to this she still has to finish the job that he hired her for, delivering a check to one of her clients victims who wants nothing to do with him.

2. E is for Evidence- In this part of the Kinsey Millhone series, Millhone is hired by her former employee to do a freelance job in insurance fraud inspection. Little does she know she is being set up to take the blame for the fire that took down the warehouse she was sent to investigate. Things get dark when she is seriously injured and her friend is killed. Millhone now must find out who is behind all of this. 

3. Eleanor & Park- Let me begin by saying that my soul was not ready for this book. All the feels guys. ALL OF THEM! The book takes place in 1986 in high school where two unlikely matched people meet. It is the story of a first love written just as a first love is: simple and with little fuss. I actually emailed my friend about it and said:

"Think The Fault in Our Stars without cancer, dying, the stupid poetry reading, and the give me my life back moments. But more like domestic abuse, intense bullying, body image, and comic books."

Clearly neither her nor I were big fans of The Fault in Our Stars. Please no one take offense to that. It just wasn't realistic to us. Anyways, this book will make you remember your first love and all the angst you felt during that time. It made me smile while I was reading. I even hugged it. I can't explain it. It has been a long time since I was moved in this way by a book. I think it was because it took me back to a time in my life that I remember with so much affection. A time I felt was cut short because I moved states and I was absolutely gutted at leaving my friends and my heart behind. 

What else did you read this month? Any book that I should add to my list?

Monday, May 23, 2016

DRY EYE RELIEF


Around the end of February, I started noticing some red bumps on my eye lids and my under eyes. I figured it was an allergic reaction and would soon go away. They did and in their absence, extreme dry skin to the point of flaking appeared. It can be a bit tender and red and while my regular doctor had no cause for concern I still went ahead and made an appointment with my dermatologist. Three months later, I am still pending that appointment as we both had to reschedule it once each. In the meantime, here is how I am treating it.

I went ahead and switched up my face oil to something more intense. I went back to my tried and true Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil. I am going in with a couple drops in the morning and a generous amount at night. I am careful not to get it in my eyes but I do rub it into my eyebrows, brow bone, and under eye area as well as my entire face and neck. I then apply Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil all over my eye lids and under eyes. I added this step weeks into my routine and noticed a stronger improvement in my dryness right away. I actually credit the coconut oil for almost healing it. I do this only at night as it can be a little greasy but give it a bit and it does sink into the skin. I actually put a tablespoon full in a little pot and keep it with my skincare items in the bathroom. This way I am not tempted to skip this step on sheer laziness to go to the kitchen and then back. Finally, I apply Boots Expert Sensitive Hydrating Eye Cream all over my eyes. The sensitive line from Boots is perfect for anyone who has any kind of sensitivity. It is so gentle and odor free. I have never had any irritation from any of their products. This cream seems to seep into my dry skin as I am rubbing it in. You will notice very little left behind but will soon sink in.

In order to not cause any further damage I am trying to be more conscious and use my sunglasses when I am outside and gulp down tons and tons of water to plump up my skin. While the irritation has calmed down significantly, it is still there. So far I feel like I am off to a good start. Let's see what the Doctor has to say.

Friday, May 20, 2016

ARMADA BOOK REVIEW


In April, I had the incredible opportunity to listen to Ernest Cline speak. It was a real nerd moment for me and goes down in history as one of the best events I have ever attended. It was for the launch of his paperback cover release for his second novel, Armada. Funny enough, husband and I had been listening to the audio tape the week before on our trip to Houston and were finishing it up on our way to Austin. The audio tape was like watching a movie without the visuals. The sound effects were amazing! You really felt like you were in the battle scenes. 

The story line of the book deals with Zack Lightman growing up with his mother after his father died at a very young age in an accident at work. He lives in a mundane city and attends high school not being very invested in it. He dreams of a better life, something that will take him away from the monotony of it all. Something more along the lines of the science-fiction books, movies, and games that he is so fond of. It is in one of these boring days at school better spent dreaming that he spots the space ship out the window. And it is not just any ship. It is a ship he recognizes well from one of his games, Armada, in which the players are protecting the earth from alien invaders. 

It is at this point that Zack's life changes. The ship comes for him armed with members of the Earth Defense Alliance. Zack, along with thousands of great gamers from around the world, are taken and asked to join their mission in saving man kind from the impending alien attack. Zack is ready to fulfill his destiny and play the hero. That is until he starts to see things that others don't seem to notice. No one questions the familiarity of climactic episodes they all seem to be caught in. Zack is left wondering how much of this real life movie is actually real or actually a movie?

Action packed from beginning to end, Armada will take you through various pop culture references, thrilling battle scenes, and a coming of age story with a modern twist to it. Enjoy being a part of the Earth Defense Alliance and help save Earth!

*Book was provided for review by Blogging for Books. As always, all opinions are my own.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Detoxifying Your Skin


When I was growing up, I suffered from acne. It wasn't a severe case by any means, but it was moderate and to the point that I asked my parents to please take me to a dermatologist. Years of treatment later, my acne has pretty much subsided with the occasional break out here and there but there was some irreversible damage left over from my at home antics. The area directly beneath my under eyes has been left with enlarged pores and redness that requires some extra attention in my skincare.

Washing my face with acne based products can be over drying to my already dry skin. Since my skin is still acne prone, I try to make sure that I thoroughly cleanse my skin so I don't leave dirt behind and clog my pores. One way that I am able to care for my needs is with appropriate face masks. I find that ones made with natural and organic ingredients are the best for my sensitive skin. One that I have been using twice a week is Valentia Skin Detoxifying Clay Mask

This mask contains key ingredients such as kaolin clay, hibiscus, and cranberry fibers. These help draw out impurities, improve skin tone, and tighten pores. The mask also works as a gentle exfoliater. When you are ready to remove it simply apply some water to your face and rub it in a circular motion and let the cranberry fibers remove the dead skin cells allowing for more smoother and even skin. The spirulina in it hydrates the skin and allows for tissue regeneration. My skin feel clean and refreshed after every use. 

If you want to try this mask or any of the amazing products over at Valentia, they were kind enough to offer us a discount code good until June 1. Get 35% off your entire purchase by using REFRESH35 at checkout. And don't forget to check out all that Valentia has to offer. Follow them on Instagram and on Facebook

*Samples for this post were provided by Valentia. As always, all opinions are my own. 


Thursday, May 12, 2016

The Difference Between An Emergency Fund And A Savings Account


More often than not I felt like I was building my savings account only to drain it at the first unforeseen expense. When I expressed my frustration to a friend of mine she told me that that is what savings were for. To use in times of crisis. While I agree with her to an extent, that seems to be more directed for an emergency fund rather than long term savings and can see how without proper monitoring, this could easily get out of hand and not know how much money you actually have. Once I took control of my finances and really dove into making my money work for me, I was able to separate my savings from my emergency fund. This allowed me to see how much money I really had, how prepared I was for an emergency, and how my future was shaping up to look. This is what each account means to me:

Emergency Fund- This fund is to be used when unexpected expenses occur that you could not have foreseen. For example, when our main water pipe collapsed the week before our wedding. Or when my dog took ill and was hospitalized for a week. The amount of money that you have in this account can vary depending on what your expenses are but I would rather have more than less. So here think in the range of $1000 and $1500 as your minimum. Another way of looking at it is what is your medical and/or home insurance deductible? Make that your starting point. More still total all of your monthly expenses and multiply that by three. That number is your goal. Once you have reached your financial goal here, I would suggest that you continue to save but you have the luxury of redirecting your savings towards building up your long term savings account or an immediate purchase. No one knows when disaster will strike or how much it will end up costing you in the long run so continue to build this account.

Savings- This is money set aside with a purpose for the future. This can be money that you are putting aside for your retirement, money to build so you can invest it later into an IRA or stocks, or even the purchase of a car. You can have various savings accounts set up designated for each specific item or you can keep it all in one and keep a ledger of how much money is set for each specific thing. Personally I have three: long time savings, immediate savings, and specific item saving

Long time savings for me is the money that I am setting aside for retirement. My job does not offer the traditional 401K that many do. I have a TRS account which is the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. Money is set aside for me out of each paycheck that my District has predetermined. I am not able to add more into it nor is my District matching my contribution. Still it is money set aside for me for one day. Since I never saw it to begin with, I never missed it. But I know that this will not be enough to guide me through retirement. I sat down and took my monthly income and subtracted every single expense that I have including money set aside for recreation. When I saw how much money I had left each month I then figured out what was the most I could transfer into my long term savings account each month without putting myself in a bind. Then I set the automatic transfer between accounts for each month on the same day. Do not be discouraged if at first it is not the amount of money that you want to be setting aside each month. I started out only being able to save $25. As your finances change, increase the amount of your transfer little by little and you will see how quickly it can build. Remember anything is better than $0. Stick to it. This is not for now; it is for you for later. By the end of this year my plans for this account will change. I will be taking a portion of this money and converting it into an IRA. Then I will continue to save as I did before and continue investing in my future.

Immediate Savings- This to me is like an extension of my emergency fund. If my unforeseen circumstances lasts longer than foreseen or prove to be more expensive than what I had set aside, then I have this account to back me up. In this account I like to deposit all the "extra income" that comes my way such as what I make with Ibotta. If you haven't already tried it, it is an easy way to make money while grocery shopping. You get instant rebates in cash deposited into your bank account. Nothing is easier than that. Join my team here. Other extra income can be items sold, baby sitting, or your #sidehustle. Again how much money you have in here depends on you but I feel comfortable having a minimum of $1000.

Specific Item Savings- This is the account that will have the most movement. Money moving in and money moving out. I like to think ahead at least three months in advance. From there I think what is coming up that will be a bigger expense for my family. For example, both boys have birthdays in the summer. I knew how much I was willing to spend on each birthday party and starting moving money aside with ample time to allow me to build up the savings and do the shopping so I wasn't running around the day before getting everything ready. You can also use this account when planning for a trip, scheduled tire purchase, or Christmas. It is also a great way to save for any purchase without feeling the immediate hit to your finances. 

While my accounts are very specific and I do not like to mix them up I will say that when faced with the loss of employment or long term chronic illness, I do see how it would be necessary to reach into both accounts to keep afloat. There is nothing wrong with that. You worked hard for your money. Now let your money work hard for you while you figure things out. Let that be the least of your worries. But always with the mindset that you will work again to rebuild each account once you are able to. 

At the end of the day money is just money. It is not the answer to everything but lets face it, it sure helps to have it. Instill in yourself the discipline to manage your money with your head and not your heart. Different situations will arise where your finances will be tapped into but know that you will be alright since you thought ahead and saved.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

EMPTIES #8


It sure has been a moment since I did an empties post. I am certain a few actually went into the trash because I know I went through some of my favorite body butters. But still here is a batch of beauty items that I went through since January:

1. Marc Jacob's  Marc'er Liquid Eyeliner Pen in Blacquer- This is my new eyeliner love. It makes the sharpest wing ever. I love how the ink flows completely to the end of the tip so you can get in right next to the corner of your eye. See complete review here

2. e.l.f. Cosmetics Pressed Mineral Powder- I picked this up last year on my trip to New York at the e.l.f. store. The color match was perfect for my yellow undertones and the coverage is amazing. It is really buildable and doesn't looked caked on. I buffed it onto the skin with this brush by e.l.f. making the application even. My only regret is not having purchased more as I am unable to find it on the website. I wonder if it is exclusive to the actual store front. One can only hope.

3. e.l.f. Cosmetics Makeup Mist and Set- One of those items that will probably appear in every empties post. But I did find out they have two new setting sprays, a matte and an illuminating one. I will need to give both a try. 

4. Sephora Collection Outrageous Curl- This mascara is no joke. The formula is thick, thick, thick. So if you are more of a natural mascara kind of girl, this is NOT the one for you. My only gripe is that they changed the brush and I favored the old one most. Still I like to use this mascara for a special night out. I did purchase the waterproof version and I will say I was not a fan. 

5. Anfora Rose Body Oil- This is such an inexpensive and lux product. You get a generous amount for what you pay for and it is really moisturizing on the skin. Plus the delicate rose smell is very pleasant and not old lady at all. 

6. Anastasia Brow Wiz- So far this is the only pencil I have been able to use that matches my black eyebrows. I am on the hunt for an alternative so please let me know if you know of any.

7. Estelle & Thild Night Cream- These products are so difficult to find but when you do they are so worth it. They are mostly organic and rich with nourishing ingredients. My skin just drinks it up. 

8. Perricone MD Face Finishing Moisturizer- This was such a treat as its price point is very high up there for me. But it came in a set during Christmas time and it was a full size tub. The cream is a medium texture leaning more towards the light side. A small amount was enough for my entire face as it blended beautifully. It sunk into the skin quickly and left my skin moisturized all day. It never felt heavy or noticed any breakout because of it. 

9. Josie Maran Pure Argan Milk- I am still on the fence about this product as I was about a year ago when I first tried it. I just don't get it. I see no visible benefits to it and the formula gets thick and dries out very quickly. Again this came in a gift set but I would not purchase it on its own.

10. Boots Botanics Organic Facial Oil- Another product that will probably always be in here. I think you guys have heard me go on and on about this product. I hope by now you have tried it as well. 

11. NYX HD Concealer- I got on fairly well with this product. It is not as creamy as say the NARS one or the e.l.f. one but it is very easily blended. It is slightly more on the dryer thicker side. The colors tend to run a tad lighter as well. The coverage was pretty high up there and lasted all day. It did cling to my dry patches though because as I mentioned it is a bit of a dry formula but it didn't do that anywhere else. This is still a great drug store alternative.

12. Perricone MD No Foundation Foundation- This is hands down my favorite foundation, or not foundation? I can't believe I haven't done a full review on this product. This is actually an anti ageing treatment that restores the youthful look to your skin. When I wear it I get so many compliments. Really. Every single time. It is perfect for every day wear. And while it can be a bit pricey, a little goes a long way. I would recommend this product to everyone.

Whew! That was a lengthy one. Congrats and a BIG thanks if you made it all the way through. Let me know if you have tried any of these products and what your thoughts are. 


Friday, April 29, 2016

HYDRATE YOUR SKIN WITH WHEN


Many people constantly remark that their skin gets very dry when they fly. I have never really experienced that as my skin is pretty much dry All. The. Time. But knowing that I was about to fly to Arizona, which is pretty much a dry dessert climate year round, for my cousins wedding I wanted to take extra precaution. After all, who doesn't want to look good at a wedding even if it is not your own?

The day I was set to fly out I still had to work a full day and then commute to the airport. Time was a factor but I knew that taking just a few minutes to love my skin would be in my best interest. I took the time to apply When Glamour Base sheet mask which actually takes no time at all. I first made sure that my face and my hands were clean and patted my skin dry. I removed the all natural bio-cellulose sheet and aligned the openings to the eyes and nose with mine. I pressed the center of it on my face and then smoothed the rest of it on. The sheet is actually made from coconuts and can hold essence 100 times its weight which is 10 times more than paper or fabric sheet masks. The serum infused mask felt cooling on the skin and stayed on without slipping. It can be an interesting feeling to have a serum infused sheet applied to your face but the end result is rewarding. I took the rest of the serum in the pouch and applied it liberally to my neck and hands and then went about finishing packing. 

Fifteen minutes later I was packed and my When mask had delivered natural hydration to my parched skin. At this point the mask had begun to dry but wasn't completely depleted of moisture. It was easy to remove and I went in with some hydrating serum afterwards to help extend the moisturizing effect of the mask. Off to work I went without makeup which is not the norm for me but I didn't want to have makeup on for about 20 hours as my day was set up to be. Throughout the day I still noticed how soft my skin was almost like I had just had a facial. At the end of my extremely long day I stood before the mirror ready to wash my face and go to bed. I could still feel the change in my skin as I splashed water over it. 

The wedding was the following day late in the evening and my skin was looking and feeling great. I noticed how smooth my makeup went on and the dry patches under my eyes were not as noticeable making the makeup not cling to it. I made a mental note to pick up a handful of these masks as they are the best pre-night out skincare routine. Quick and easy and out the door. But most of all, effective!

*Samples for this post were provided by When. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

WHAT ELSE DID I READ THIS MONTH: APRIL


This month was filled with fun family events including a quick trip to Arizona for my cousins wedding and a week long event in San Antonio called FIESTA which is basically an excuse to celebrate our heritage, eat yummy carnival food, and drink if that is your choice. It seemed like every weekend we had something planned and actually even during the week. Including a chance to see Ernest Cline talk about his books on the release day of the paper back version of Armada. *SQUEALS* That was a real big nerdy fan moment for me. I even got to take a picture with his DeLorean and with Cline himself. Of course I had to calm myself down long enough to ask him if a third book was coming soon and he said yes but wasn't allowed to talk about it. That was enough to throw me into a tizzy and reach into my purse to secure the location of my inhaler. I am just that cool.

Let's see what else I read:

1. Armada by Ernest Cline- Full review coming next week.

2. C is for Corpse- And the fun ensues with Kinsey Millhone. In this book Millhone is hired by Bobby Callahan to investigate who caused the accident that left him with severe memory loss. Callahan gives Millhone the few bits of memory that he has including an address book he believes he gave to someone to hide that may be of high importance. No sooner does Millhone start on the case when Callahan dies three days into the investigation in yet another car accident. This leaves Millhone shaken up and out to discover who, if in fact, killed Callahan.

3. Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter- Think Gone Girl and Girl on The Train with a touch of taboo. I listened to this book on my trip to Arizona this month. I was almost excited at my three hour layover in Phoenix so that I could get to spend some more uninterrupted time with this book. By the time my cousin picked me up in Yuma four hours later I was going on and on to her about how jaw dropping good this book was. Slaughter presents the story of a family torn apart early on after the disappearance of the older sister, Julia. The remaining two sisters, Claire and Lydia, no longer speak to each other after Lydia's claims of Paul, Claire's husband, trying to rape her. The sisters meet again after Paul dies and Claire finds some really disturbing information on his computer. Information that might actually lead them to finding out what happened to their sister long ago. I must tell you guys that this psychological thriller deals with some strong content that sad but true does occur out in the world. Many times I had to stop and close my eyes and just say 'Geez' and take a moment to gather myself. I gave it a five star rating on Goodreads (follow me here). It will lead you into a panic stricken battle till the end. 

So far I have read 21 books this year. Could this finally be the year that I reach my goal of 52? Crossing my fingers and toes!.,

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

E.L.F. ILLUMINATING PALETTE


Illuminating finishing powders have been having a real moment ever since Hourglass introduced Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder and changed our perception of powders forever. They come at a high price point so I have limited my collection of them to just one. So basically not a collection at all. I have been lusting for their Ambient Lighting Palette but I just cant bring myself to purchase it...yet. I was just gearing myself up for it when I came across the e.l.f. Illuminating Palette for only $6! I didn't even worry myself thinking if maybe the powders would be chalky or just sit on the skin as all of e.l.f. cosmetics have been of great quality.

This beautiful palette cases four shades that can be worn separate or mixed together to form your own custom soft-focus powder. They capture, diffuse, and soften light reflecting off your skin with the most natural radiance. I have been enjoying using the lightest shade under my eyes to set my concealer. Then I take the color next to it and the one diagonal from that one and use it as a highlight on my cheekbones, bridge of my nose, forehead, and cupids bow. Finally I take the bottom right shade and use it as sort of like a bronzer/blush on my cheeks and the edges of my hairline. The effect is so light but it makes you look like you have the best skin ever. Don't let this untouched pan picture fool you. This palette has been in constant rotation since I purchased it applying it with their ultimate blending brush

I am so satisfied with this purchase that I don't foresee myself purchasing the Hourglass version after all. Unless of course in the name of Science and Beauty Bloggers everywhere, you need a side by side comparison for dupe purposes. Then I could take one for the team!

Thursday, April 21, 2016

HOW YOU CAN STILL HAVE A SOCIAL LIFE WITHOUT BREAKING THE BANK


Years ago when husband and I started to date, I was instantly drawn to his sense of adventure. There wasn't anything that I brought up that he wasn't willing to go and try out. We went horse back riding, tried a bunch of new restaurants, and even went to the Renaissance Fair. We had a blast and I knew that he wasn't doing it just to please me, but rather because he wanted us to have a good time and genuinely thought we would. We had a lot of mutual friends going into this relationship and it was one of these friends that made a comment to me about how much we went out and how we could afford it. It didn't rub me the wrong way since both of us made really good money at the time and I didn't depend on him financially. We were dating. That is what you do. You go out. This same friend said that her and her husband didn't do anything like that because they felt it was wasting money. I saw it as investing in experiences.

The thing is I am a saver and I am a shopper. I love to splurge on things that make me happy and I like to save and take advantage of a deal. But with husband, we enjoy going out and we enjoy trying new things. Why not? I feel like this provides us with new experiences, opens us up mentally, and can always provide for a new story as in "Hey remember that time we went horseback riding and you DIDN'T tell me you were allergic to horses?". True story, that happened. Early on we designated Thursdays as our date night and four years into our relationship, it still holds strong. This doesn't mean, however, that we break the bank each week or try something new each time. There is always something so comforting about settling into the booth of your favorite restaurant that you have been to countless of times. Still we go out and I promise you can afford to as well.

Happy Hours- Whether you are a drinker or not, that is besides the point. Happy hours often come with a special menu where normally appetizers are half off or you can get a good deal on a meal. Husband and I regularly check out happy hour menus to different restaurants, especially ones that we have been wanting to try. That way we order a few appetizers, split them, and then decide whether it is worth going back for lunch or dinner. The cost isn't nearly as high as a regular sit down meal.

Entertainment Book- These books are normally sold as a fundraiser in schools but you can also purchase them off the website. If you wait a few months, they are actually cheaper than at the beginning of the year. What these books are is an overload of deals to local restaurants (they are sold by city), movie theaters, entertainment centers, bowling, among a bunch of other things. They either offer a great discount or have some kind of BOGO. Either way this is a great way to save on outings and to get you to try new places.

Groupon- This is quite possibly my not so secret weapon. Groupon features a revolving door of adventures and deals on restaurants. Here you are able to purchase a specific amount at a restaurant for less than what the actual voucher is worth. For example, you may purchase a deal for $20 at your local sushi place but in actuality, only pay $12. Every time that we want to try a new place I look here to see if there is a Groupon available. This is where I do the most digging when the weather starts to change as well. There is a paddle boarding deal that I have been wanting for oh so long. I think it is finally warm enough to try! Be sure to constantly look into it as deals change daily. 

Local City Events- There are many events that a city puts on for its people. These can range from carnivals, to food fairs, to art shows. Best thing of all, most are free admission and kid friendly. We constantly go to these with and without kids and have a blast. Check out your city website for more information.

Alternative Times- This will depend heavily on the flexibility of your schedule. A lot of places offer free admission or discounted prices depending on time of day or actual day of the week. For example, Thursday nights are free admission to one of the museums here in town while any other day you would pay full price. When a new exhibit hits that I want to see, I wait for a Thursday night when we are able to go for free and then either opt for dinner or drinks afterwards. Another is the movie theater. Matinees are so much less expensive than regular time showings. We also have a discount theater where we live and matinees there are a dollar while regular showings vary from $1.50 on Wednesday to $3.00 on weekends. Either way it is a deal if you are willing to wait a bit to see a movie.

Discounts- Military, Teacher, and Student discounts are some of the most common ones out there. But you can also call ahead to anywhere that you are going and ask what kind of discounts are offered. For example, I have received a discount at a couple of places simply because of the school district I work for. That being said, when I worked retail our company offered us a discount to several in town places as well. Check with your HR to see if your company offers anything like that. 

Rewards Programs- These are great to have if they are free. I don't feel like I should pay to become a part of some kind of loyalty program so in turn I can be rewarded for using their brand. The ones I use the most are associated with movie theaters. We go to the movies a lot and earn points for concession stand purchases as well as ticket purchases. In turn we redeem these points for drinks, snacks, and even tickets. It's a win win for me!

Coupons- Plain old cutting coupons is still one of the easiest ways to go. They generally arrive in the mail at my house and I store it away in my purse. That way when we are out and about and we decide we are hungry I can look in my purse and see what deal I have. Simple and efficient. 

Hosting- One of my favorite ways to get together with friends is to offer to host dinner at our house. Whether it is a married couple or a few groups of friends I make the main plate and they most often than not bring a side and/or a dessert. You don't have to dress up if you don't want to and you can lounge around in your comfy sofa. Plus you get to try other peoples cooking and swap recipes. Don't feel like you have to impress with an amazing dish. Most of the time I make some kind of pasta and everyone is full and content. 

Now get yourself ready for night out on the town and bask knowing that you got a deal doing so!




Tuesday, April 19, 2016

ANOTHER ITEM BORROWED FROM BABY


It is no secret that I am BIG on baby products for personal use. I have such sensitive skin that I find I am better suited using these products on a regular basis. After my best friend recommended this particular body lotion I went and took a look at the baby section to see what other new items had come out that I was not aware of.

That is where I found Cetaphil baby Ultra Moisturizing Wash. I have been a fan of Cetaphil for many, many years. I use their bar soap every day for my sensitive acne prone skin. I didn't think twice and snatched this bottle up right away.

The scent if heavenly. It's that unique baby scent that we all know and love. It lingers lightly on the skin all day. The formula is made with calming organic calendula, is paraben, colorant, and mineral oil free. It is hypoallergenic and dermatologist tested. All of which should be important for you whether you have a baby or have crazy sensitive skin like I do. It rinses clean and leaves my skin extremely moisturized until the next. My bottle is nearing its end but I already have plans to scoop up another this week. 

Thursday, April 14, 2016

5 EASY WAYS TO SAVE MONEY


I am constantly on the lookout for new ways to save money. I like knowing I got a deal on something; the most bang for my buck. But it isn't always about buying something that can lead to savings. Planning and actually putting money aside lead to this also. It is when we incorporate all three things that amount to the most efficient ways to save. This then becomes habit and the next thing you know money saving is a part of your routine. Let me show you five easy ways to save money:

1. Dollar Store- I talked about this in length here but I honestly believe that you need to pop into the dollar store prior to any other store. There are so many things you can find there for much less than you can find elsewhere. Of course there is a lot of junky things as well, but simply walk in and take it aisle per aisle. I promise you will find a multitude of things that you need or even forgot that you needed while you are there.

2. Ibotta/Meal Plan- This is quite possibly one of the most important things you can do for yourself or your family: meal plan. I got tired of so much food going to waste and one time even our entire fridge had to be thrown out. Those Texas storms are aggressive and we went all day without power. It killed me to see hundreds of dollars be carted off. Become a strict meal planner with wiggle room only for snacks or for that emergency meal you need to put together in case you didn't get to the grocery store the day you intended to. Write it down and stick to it. Refrain from impulse buys. You do not need 3 cartons of ice cream (yes I do) but these things add up to a very scary amount. I have been meal planning with Ibotta since January and I will never go back. Not only has meal planning become easier this way but I can also take advantage of their rebates and MAKE money using them. Is it so easy and quick that it becomes second nature to you. Join my team and let's unlock rebates together!

3. Make Your Own Coffee- It is so tempting (and delicious) to just pop into Starbucks or your local coffee shop and pick up coffee on your way to work. Just swipe that card and be on your way! Hit those breaks my friend! Let's do the math. Let's say your daily coffee is $3 and you stop in there 5 days a week. That is $15 that you are spending each week. That is $60 a month. And that is $780 a year! Who died a little bit inside? Now really think about what you pay for your fancy coffee. It is more like $4.50 right? Because you didn't just get regular coffee. You got a FANCY coffee with all the frills. At $4.50 that is $22.50 a week, $90 a month, and a whopping $1170 a year! I was crushed when I did the math years ago. I was a daily, sometimes twice daily, Starbucks junkie for years. I was addicted to say the least. Then one day I got transferred for work and there was no Starbucks in sight! I had to slowly ween myself off of it and that is no small quest my friends. Funny side effect though, I noticed more money in my bank account come pay day and in the long run. I couldn't figure it out at first. I even checked to see if I had received a small increase or something. I pulled my expense report and saw the drop off of Starbucks transactions now only limited to maybe on a weekend. That made me do the math and then realized how long I had been doing this. I was not happy with myself.

I recommend you take your hard earned cash and invest in a coffee machine. Don't go overboard as I can almost guarantee you if it has too many bells and whistles, you won't use it. Instead, purchase some really good coffee or a variety of them if you want. If flavored coffee is your thing, buy a bottle of your favorite syrup. Recently I bought husband a $20 bag of amazing coffee that he had tasted at a really nice restaurant we went to. While some of you may balk at the price point think about it this way. When compared to what a cup of coffee costs at the store, this bag payed off in five delicious mugs of coffee. Needless to say, that bag lasted about a month. 

4. Plan Your Errands- I pass by every single store you can imagine on my way home from work. I could literally get off the freeway 5 times and hit every major store that plays a part in my life. That is why during the week I make it a point NOT to run errands here and there. Instead I wait until Friday making my stops in consecutive order in turn saving gas, money, and time. No more running around town for me. I start at Dollar Tree and work my way down home. Plan out your next errand day and see how much faster this can go for you.

5. One Man's Junk Is Another Man's Treasure- Before purchasing a big ticket item, such as furniture, give research a go for a bit. Online garage sales through Facebook are great places to start with. Most are marked for a quick sale and you can see what the item looks like right away. Do you absolutely need to buy or can you borrow an item from a friend? Put it out there at work, send a mass text, put it on Facebook. Someone is bound to have what you are looking for and won't mind lending it to you. I can't tell you how many times this has worked for me. Even for my rehearsal dinner. I needed glass pitchers. I ended up borrowing them from a friend of a friend who did not mind at all. Then of course their is always a traditional garage sale, Goodwill, Ebay, and Craigslist among others. You would be surprised with what people are willing to part ways with. 

What do you do to save money on a daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis?