Drugstore Diva: Thrifty Beauty Finds

As you can see from my previous beauty posts (specifically, here and here) I am not loyal to any one brand.  To me beauty is something that should be fun and there’s nothing more exciting than testing new brands and trying out the latest products.  Of course this habit could get pretty pricey so the key is to stick to the drugstore brands when your experimenting with new formulas.  (For the higher end products, consider one of the sample subscriptions to discover new products without the commitment and cost.  Christine and I both subscribe to Birchbox!)  These three products are the latest additions to my vanity.

Revlon Nearly Naked Makeup

Revlon Nearly Naked - UltaWith this new foundation (yes, i know we all hate that word) the name really says it all.  I’m a huge proponent of the no-makeup makeup and this lovely liquid is perfection.  It’s got the coverage of tinted moisturizer without the extra hydration.  For an oily faced girl like me that’s the key.  Sheer coverage, hold the shine.  I can just apply with my fingers and it blends right in.  The thing I like best about this product is it honestly does look like my skin.  Most sheer formulas I’ve tried (Maybelline Fit Me comes to mind) have a kind of blurry finish which is just as obvious as heavier foundation when you have freckles like me.  Revlon Nearly Naked lets my freckles show through and somehow still evens out my complexion for a totally natural look.  As an added bonus, there’s a wider shade range than I expected; I use Vanilla for my light skin tone.

 

L’Oreal EveryStyle Alcohol-Free Volume Root Lifting Spray

L'Oreal EveryStyle - UltaI really do love my hair. I know it’s a crazy thing for a woman to say, but really I just enjoy playing with different styles.  I have a few go to root lifting products but I was curious about this alcohol-fee formula from L’Oreal.  I have to say I was impressed! My hair’s not stiff or sticky and it give me just enough oomph for everyday.  I also noticed that without the alcohol my hair looks more vibrant and shiny.  Both pluses in my book!

 

Maybelling Baby Lips Lip BalmMaybelline Baby Lips - Ulta

You already know from my Lip Service post that I’m obsessed with lip products.  The thing I’ve noticed about tinted balms is that they lack any real moisture.  Not the case with Baby Lips!  I’m amazed by how soft and smooth my lips feel.  I love the Cherry Me shade for a bit of a pinky red stain.  Looks like a just ate a popsicle. Yum!

Feel free to give one of these fabulous finds a try . . . although with their itty-bitty price tags why not try them all?  (Although, you may need to invest in a bigger makeup bag!)

Movies to Watch This Valentine’s Day

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With Valentine’s Day fast approaching…10 days!… we thought we would share some romantic movies that you can cozy up to… either with your gal pals or your significant other.  So check out the top movies for you to watch this Valentine’s Day!

With your man (or woman!)

1. The Notebook

This is the quintessential romance movie. The love between Noah and Allie is one for the ages and one which will not go away. This is the perfect movie for couple, new and old. And maybe you can recreate the famous kiss scene!

2. The Proposal

For those looking for something less serious but still romantic, Andrew and Margaret’s constant battle of wits and eventual love it great. Throw in a nutty grandma and a cute puppy and you’ve got a great romantic comedy for both genders!

3. Love Actually

This movie has a story for everyone. There is the lonely man in love with his best friend’s wife, the love sick middle schoolers, the heartbroken writer and his foreign housekeeper, and many more!

With you gal (or guy) pals!

1. Dirty Dancing

The original chick flick. Johnny. Baby. Dancing. A corner. Enough said.

2. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

The great thing about this movie is that most women can relate to something the spunky Andie Anderson does in her “fake” romance. This movie is great for a girls night in or for a friend going through a break up or perpetual singledom.

3. My Best Friend’s Wedding

The chick flick with a slight twist. All through the movie you want the crazy best friend as well as the annoying but sweet bride to end up with the groom. So when the groom decides at the end and ends the love triangle audiences are completely happy! Not an easy fete for most love triangles.

For other’s opinions and lists check out the websites below!

http://www.sheknows.com/living/articles/851981/top-5-romantic-movies-to-watch-with-your-gals

http://shine.yahoo.com/love-sex/top-5-romantic-movies-valentines-day-155600054.html

http://magazine.foxnews.com/love/5-romantic-movies-you-can-stream-tonight

Spicy Pulled Pork

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Super Bowl Sunday is just days away and I don’t know about you but I’m not looking forward to the standard chicken wings and nachos combo.  In the hunt for a not so typical recipe for game day I came across this fabulous recipe for pulled pork on The Pioneer Woman.  I did a test run just to make sure it would be a crowd pleaser and, I have to tell you, I’m sensing an obsession coming on.  This pulled pork is everything a good tailgating recipe should be: delicious, impressive, and, best of all, easy!  I made mine into tacos but it would be great for sliders or barbecue too.

Spicy Pulled Pork Tacos

Start by cutting an onion into big chunks and placing them in the bottom of the crockpot.  I always use red onions because I like the sweetness but you can use whatever you like.  bell peppers would also be a yummy fajita-like addition if you’re looking to add some color to the final product.

Onions

Next season both sides of the pork roast.  I used Cavender’s seasoning, but basic salt and pepper will be just fine since you’re about the add some overwhelming spice to the mix with some chipotle peppers.  (A not-so-small side note: I got the smallest roast I could, which was 9 pounds! Don’t worry about being exact with this recipe.  As long as you keep the proportions right you’ll have a great end result.)

Season Pork Roast

Top your seasoned roast with a big can of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.  I used the same size can The Pioneer Woman recipe calls for, because with the larger roast it was a little less spicy.  (If you’re making this for a crowd you may want to go this route so you don’t set too many mouths on fire!)

Chipotle Peppers

Now for the secret ingredient: Dr. Pepper!  I’m sure you’ve seen the variety of soda-based recipes on Pinterest but this combination of spicy and sweet is by far the most inventive I’ve come across.  The addition of Dr. Pepper results in a slightly sweet first taste followed by the chipotle heat.  SImply delicious!  The soda also ensures you have a juicy roast that falls apart once it’s cooked.

Dr Pepper - Secret Ingredient

My crockpot gets extremely hot so I left it on warm while I was out all day and it cooked perfectly.  You’ll know it’s done when the meat pulls apart easily.  all you have to do is shred the roast and put it back in the pot to keep warm.  (You can use forks to pull it apart but I found it easier to just do it by hand.)  I would suggest adding some of the juice, with or without the peppers, back in to keep everything nice and moist.

Spicy Pulled Pork6

All that’s left to do now is dig in . . . put together your tacos, sliders, whatever and enjoy!

Book Review: A Cottage by the Sea

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At last I’ve had time to post the book review for A Cottage by the Sea by Ciji Ware, which I mentioned in my earlier post. I honestly cannot remember when or why I picked this book up and decided I must buy it. However I do know that it has been sitting on my book shelf for months, if not a year. This isn’t because the book seemed awful, I bought it after all, but instead because it seemed so daunting at over 500 pages. A Cottage by the Sea

However I finally buckled down and read it, and boy am I glad I did!

To give a satisfying review of this book, I would need to spend pages upon pages to capture this vast story. So I’ll just give you the quick low-down.

The book follows Blythe Barton-Stowe as she escapes to secluded Cornwall, England to avoid the publicity of her very public, nasty divorce. While in Cornwall, Blythe stays in a small cottage, Painter’s Cottage, set on the a charming but rundown estate called Barton Hall (Coincidence? I think not!) owned by the brooding, charming, handsome Lucas Teague.

The main focus of the book is on Blythe as she tries to repair her broken heart and find herself after her marriage. Helping her along the way is her charming, brooding, British, landlord Lucas Teague, Lucas’ adorable 10 year-old son Richard Teague, and the motherly Housekeeper Mrs. Q. With the help of these lovely characters (and some others) Blythe stumbles upon an old family secret, comes to terms with a painful event from her past (I got teary eyed), and finds a business solution which involves not only her passion for gardening but also helps Lucas Teague and Barton Hall with their financial struggles.

Even though things seem to wrap up nicely for Blythe in the end, it takes a hard 500 pages to get there. The struggles, emotions, and confrontations which Blythe has to deal with are at times gut-wrenching and feel like she cannot catch a break. There were multiple times throughout the book where I needed to put it down, gather myself, and come back to deal with the trials which are Blythe’s life.

While Blythe Barton-Stowe is the main focus, another Blythe Barton from the 1700s also made a nice side story appearance. The story of the 1700 Blythe Barton provides a nice link to the modern Blythe as well as showing the sordid story of how Barton Hall passed from the Barton line of Blythe’s ancestors to the Teague line of Lucas’s ancestors.

My Opinion? I loved this book. It contained mystery, drama, romance, history, and a little bit of the otherworldly time travel. I loved Blythe’s spirit. Although she continued to get beaten down (her husband ran off with her sister!) she kept moving on with her life and trying to make it better. The mystery of how modern Blythe was connected to 1700 Blythe and what had occurred to 1700 Blythe keep me wondering until the end! And lastly, the history of Cornwall England from this time and the 1700 was pretty fantastic for this nerdy history buff.

So I will definitely be reading some of Ciji Ware’s other great sounding novels!

Midnight on Julia StreetA Light on the VerandaA Race to Splendor

Question of the Day

Have you read anything by Ciji War? Did you enjoy it?

How Do You Love?

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For me this year of inspiration is not just going to be about new DIYs for my home or motivation to get into shape.  I also want 2013 to be about building relationships, strengthening the bonds with my husband, my family, and my friends.  That’s why I’m so excited for the study we started in our newly/nearly married group at church based on Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages.5 Love Languages

As the title suggests, Chapman breaks down the way people receive love into 5 different categories.  The idea behind discovering each other’s “love language” is that it will help you to communicate your love to each other in a way that will deepen your relationship.  Once you’re aware of the different ways in which people it will just take practice to cater to their love language.

5 Love Languages - SinglesNow, don’t think The 5 Love Languages is just for couples.  Chapman has also released an edition that’s specifically for singles, Addressing the ways you can express your love for family, friends, co-workers, etc.  The 5 Love Languages and The 5 Love Languages Singles Edition are both based on the same languages they just break them down differently to be applied to you in your particular life stage, so here’s a quick overview of each language:

  • Quality Time -  If your love language is quality time you most value the company of those you love.  You’re happy just being near someone whether your watching movies, reading, or going out.  It’s not about what you’re doing or saying to each other but that you’re spending the time together.
  • Words of Affirmation – This group needs the verbal support of their loved ones to feel cared for.  Telling someone whose love language is words of affirmation how you feel about them means the most.  Words and tone really matter to this group, it’s not just what you say but how you say it.
  • Gifts -  Just because someone’s love language is gifts doesn’t mean they need to be spoiled.  These people appreciate the thought behind a token and can be sentimental about what they’re given because it’s a physical reminder of your love.  Gifts people also enjoy giving gifts to those they love so it goes both ways.
  • Acts of Service -  Those whose love language is acts of service are moved by the small things you do for them.  From unloading the dishwasher to making them a cup of tea when they’re sick, actions really do speak louder than words if this is your love language.
  • Physical Touch -  This love language is about more than just the bedroom.  If physical touch is your love language you really do like to feel love from other people.  A kiss goodbye in the morning, holding hands in the car, and a hug after a long day all show a physical tough person that you love them.

It’s amazing how straight-forward these languages and that’s the whole point.  Once your pin-point your spouse-parent-friend’s love language it becomes easier to show them how much you care about them.  Now, obviously if someone’s love language is acts of service it doesn’t mean you can’t ever tell them how you feel.  Everyone has a dominant love language but many are shall we say “multi-lingual.”  In the books Chapman dives into just how to communicate through each language to strengthen any bond and build prosperous relationships.  I encourage anyone to read whichever applies to you and see how it transforms the love in your life. (P.S. These would make awesome Valentine’s Day gifts next month!)

Book Review: Still Alice

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Still Alice - Lisa Genova

While I don’t read near as extensively as Christine has been known to do, every once in a while I come across a book I just can’t put down.  Still Alice by Lisa Genova was most definitely a page turner.  I’m always on the lookout for a novel that makes me think and this poignant story of memory and commitment caught my eye several times before I finally picked it up.  Still Alice is the story of Alice Howland, a Harvard Psychology professor, who is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.  The novel follows her through the progression of her disease.

In the beginning, the signs are small.  Losing her keys and getting lost on a run.  These could be everyday occurences for someone with too much on her plate, but the way Genova describes the moments makes it so much more.  She really allows the reader to experience Alice’s worry, and eventual fear, as her memory continues to fail her.  It also comes to light that as Alice’s awareness continues to decline, she is not holding on nearly as well as she believes.  The once revered educator is informed that she has repeated the same lectures and skipped others, eventually forcing her to resign.  The irony of a woman devoting her life to psychology slowly losing her ability to think and process is heartbreaking.  However, it also makes the book all the more interesting through the devices and plans she constructs to fight her disease.

What made this book so intriguing to me was the variety of perspective the author gives through Alice’s eyes.  For example, her children all must come to terms with the possibility that one day Alzheimer’s may be their own reality as well.  Do they want to do the testing to see if they hold the same gene marking their predisposition for the disease, knowing that even if it’s negative their futures are still uncertain? How does it change Alice’s daughter’s desire to have children she could pass it on to?  While the effect Alzheimer’s has on her children is hard to bear, Alice’s relationship with her husband becomes truly tragic.

As Alice comes to terms with the degeneration of her memory, her will to live falters.  She doesn’t want to be a burden to her family and can’t stand the thought that, one day, she won’t recognize any of them.  Her husband fights hard to keep the Alice he loves around and his anger is obvious as more of her is taken from him.  At first, I admit, I hated his character and thought he was inconsiderate and cruel to ALice. However, throughout the book it’s the little things he does that won me over as a reader.  There’s once moment in particular that made me put down the book and cry.  Alice falls asleep reading and when she wakes up she can’t find her book.  She tears apart the house looking for it and her husband leaves.  Now at first I was furious that he would take off while she’s so obviously frustrated, but he soon returns to the movie adaptations of the books she loves. It was at that point I realized that despite everything that was happening he still loved what was left of his wife.  I don’t want to give away the ending so I will just say that it his his love that saves Alice.

Yes, this book will make you cry.  It will also make you think.  You’ll notice the small things you do everyday that you may take for granted like making coffee, driving home, or even reading.  If you’re looking for a thought provoking and quick read curl up on the couch with a cup of tea, a box of tissues, and Still Alice.

Top 5 Shows on TV

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This week I really wanted to review the book A Cottage by the Sea by Ciji Ware. However, with a crazy work schedule I didn’t have time to finish it. So, instead of my book review, I decided to share with you some great (some inspiring) television shows you can watch.

1. The Biggest Loser

Monday, NBC, 8pm EST

I love this show. Reality t.v. usually annoys me. However this show is so inspiring and the emotions are so real that I cannot help but feel connected with the contestants. This season, Jillian Michaels is back and I could not be more excited. Also, this season they are tackling the growing epidemic of childhood obesity. This season is intense but also so inspiring!

2. Downton Abbey

Sunday, PBS, 9pm EST

This British import show has captured my interest fully. There are so many things to love about this show, the history, the setting ,the characters, the clothes, the family drama, but the best is Dame Maggie Smith. She steals her scenes with wit and comedic timing. If you have not scene this Masterpiece Classic, which is beginning Season 3 then I highly suggest you catch up with Season 1 and 2 on either Netflix or Amazon!

3. Once Upon a Time

Sunday, ABC, 8pm EST

Fairytales, adventure, pirates, magic, Evil Queens, and so much more. This show brings to life the characters of our childhood while adding fun, surprising twists and new storylines to our already beloved character. This show is half way through Season 2 and things are beginning to pick up. The Evil Queen Regina is no longer so evil however her even worse mother, Cora has come to town. What will happen to the fairytale characters of Storybrooke?

4. Psych

Wednesday, USA

The 7th season is not premiering until February 27th but I am already so excited for it. Even if you have missed the first 6 seasons, you can still watch season 7 and still enjoy Shawn the fake psychic detective, Gus his loyal sidekick, Juliet the love interest, and Lassie the annoying but you still love him cop. I’m eager to find out what will happen to Shawn and Juliet now that they have finally become a couple.

5. Revenge

Sunday, ABC, 9pm EST

Unlike Psych, this show you cannot pick up without watch the previous episodes. Based on The Count of Monte Cristo this show has so many twists, turns, and secrets, that viewer will continually be on his/her toes trying to figure out what the vengeful Emily Throne will do next.

Question of the Day

So, what do you think? Do you watch these shows? Or have you never heard of them before?

Have no fear, next week will be the book review for A Cottage by the Sea by Ciji Ware.

Handmade Christmas Present

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Even though Christmas is over, I want to share the homemade, handmade gift I made for Lauren. Since she is my co-author I figured it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if I posted it before I gave her the present during the ski vacation we took with our group of friends.

While I made this gift for Christmas, it would great for inspiration for a friend’s wedding gift or birthday!

For Lauren’s present I decided to make something to commemorate her new marriage.

P1010267

My first step was to buy a simple wooden “P” from the local craft store. Since I wanted the “P” to stand up, I also bought a simple wooden stand. I then had to make the “P” look nice!

1. I bought a couple pieces of scrapbook paper. Lauren has a pretty classic taste, so I went with paper which was an off-white with pretty calligraphy on it. I then had to apply the paper to the “P”

2. Using a can of Mod Podge paste, I applied cut pieces of scrapbook paper to the “P”. Since I am no where near an expert, the cutting of pieces to fit around the letter took awhile (P really isn’t the easiest letter!) However, after the paper was cut, I applied the Mod Podge to the back of the paper, then attached the paper to the “P”.

P1010263P1010262

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. After I had to paper attached the the “P” I waited 10-15 minutes while the “P” dried. The curves of letters may require you to use pressure to hold down the paper for a couple of seconds.

P.S. Don’t forget the back of the letter!

4. While the “P” dried, I cover the wooden block with the scrapbook paper as well. P1010264

5. Once both pieces were dry, I used my handy dandy (green) hot glue gun and attached the “P” to the wooden block.

6. I then needed to dress up the “P”. I decided to add purple fabric flowers to the base of the “P” since Lauren’s wedding color was purple. I again, used my handy dandy hot glue gun.

P1010266

To make it a bit more “artsy” I put the purple flowers a little off center and on the left side of the “P”

7. To dress the “P” up a little more I added cute, wedding scrapbook stickers. On top of the “P” I applied “Mr & Mrs” and next to the flowers, one which said “My Life Is Better With You In It”

P1010267

And ta-da! There is my fun, handmade, homemade Christmas gift. Hopefully it will inspire you to create your own fun, unique gifts!

Question of the Day

Do you make homemade gift for Christmas or birthdays?

Get Inspired!

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LightBulb

Wow! It’s 2013 . . . we hope you’re all as ready as we are to just right into the new year.  Now that we’re all rested up from our vacation – as rested as two people can be after a week of skiing – we’re excited to get going on our great blog ideas.  We’ve decided that 2013 is going to be all about inspiration.  From creative decorating tips and fresh fashion advice to fitness motivation and thought-provoking books, we’re inspired to kick 2013 off right and keep it going all year long.  Christine’s got some awesome crafts to share and is on top of all of the upcoming movies! I can’t wait to start some DIY projects around the house, plus I really want to make an effort to workout and get fit.  Here are just a few pieces of inspiration motivating me for the months to come.

Barre3 Workout

Barre3 - The Accomplished Women

Since getting married I’ve been the queen of “lazy girl” workouts.  Were talking calf raises while I’m doing the dishes and stretching my hamstrings while I dry my hair.  I’m ready to get out of the bum rut and really get into a good workout routine.  That’s why I’m so excited to try Barre3!  A good friend of ours turned me on to this blend of yoga, pilates, and ballet a while back and it seems right up my alley.  I’m not a power workout type person.  Christine loves P90X and Insanity but I just can’t get into the dynamic, high-energy routines.  I’m hoping this 28-day challenge will be great for improving my flexibility, muscle tone, and stress control.  Plus, at $28 for access to the online videos it’s not too much of an investment if it’s not for me.

Healthy Cooking, More Often

Healthy Crockpot Recipes - The Accomplished Women

It’s no secret that I love to cook but it’s been very easy to fall into the quick-fix dinnertime routine lately.  This year I’m ready to make more of an effort in the kitchen and I’ve been on the lookout for recipes to inspire a more healthy lifestyle for us.  My big plan right now is to experiment with healthy crockpot recipes.  Clean Eating Machine has some great suggestions for simple, good for you foods to fix and forget.  I’ve also got some ideas of my own like crockpot fajitas. Hope your hungry!

Home Renovations

Bathroom Renovation - The Accomplished Women

I’m also anxious to get started on some major changes to our home, especially in our master bath.  I’ll spare you the before picture for now but just for kicks picture gold fixtures with red and gold wallpaper.  Yeah, it’s slightly dated.  So, I’ve been looking for inspiration for a while and I love this bathroom I found on Pinterest.  Now, ideally I could have everything from the Potterybarn Newport Collection, but as I want to stay on budget we’ll see if I can work some upcycling in there instead.  I’m hoping with a little hard work my husband and I can conquer that fabulous 90s wallpapaer and make a little sanctuary for ourselves in 2013.

What inspiration have you, our readers, found to make the new year your best yet?

Books I Want to Read Before I See the Movie

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2013 seems to be the year of books turned movies. However, I want to read the books first!

1. Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

By Isaac Marion:Warm Bodies: A Novel [Hardcover]

When I saw the trailer for this movie I immediately wanted to see it! So for that reason I really want to read the book. Usually, I cannot stand anything related to zombies but this book seems so different, unique, and thoughtful. While on the surface it appears to be a zombie love story, it is more than that. It is the a look at humanity through a character who has seemingly lost his.

 

2. Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks

Safe Haven

Oh Nicholas Sparks. I have a love/hate relationship with all of his books. They are romantic, funny, sweet, depressing, and usually tragic. The range of emotions which one must go through to finish one of his books can be taxing. However, I gave The Lucky One  a chance and loved it. So, after seeing the trailer to this movie I have decided that I will give this book a chance too.

 

3. World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War

I know I said I don’t like zombies. And really I don’t. But I’m sure because I have two zombie related books on my list, you won’t believe me. However, like Warm Bodies this isn’t a typical zombie story. Instead, this book is a recorded testimony of the men, women, and children who have survived the Zombie War and are now trying to survive in the world which has been left behind.

 

4. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia

Beautiful Creatures

This is the first in a series of books following the tale of teenagers Lena Duchannes and Ethan Wate. The series involves mystery, family drama, the South, magic, and romance. I will admit though that I had never heard of the series until I saw the trailer. And like many things, it made me yearn to read the book and discover the mystery behind the story and characters!

 

5. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, Book 2)

Okay, so this is a bit of a cheat. I’ve already read the Hunger Games Trilogy. However, the trilogy was so good it is definitely worth a reread! The movie comes out in November so that will give me plenty of time to reread the series and spend some more time with Katniss, Peeta, Finnick, and Prim!

Question of the Day

Have you read any of these books? Are you excited for the movies? Do you want to read any of these books before you see the movies themselves?

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