my favorite beauty products.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

let's talk about beauty products, girls!  

disclosure: i'm in no way an expert.  like at all.  but i do like looking nice.  sue me!  i'm also not a products hoarder.  i buy one thing, use it until it's gone or long past its expiration (or, in the case of mascara, add a drop of water to it, mix it up, and try to get a few (hundred) more swipes out o' the tube), and then... i go and buy more.  i know there are gals who try new things all the time but i just like to know what works and stick with it.  i do not like wasting my money in this arena.  i went through a period where bad gal lash was the only mascara i would use and then, upon closer inspection, was like, "mmm.... is this really worth the $20 price tag?  are my lashes really falling under the "bad gal" category?"  i moved on to the generic drug store variety and have felt every bit as bad gal as i did when i used "bad gal lash."  it is what it is.

so basically, either i use something and like/love it and keep buying it over and over.  or i get a really strong recommendation from someone who i deem smarter than me in the "beauty products category" (which all of you and your mothers fall under) and then i go and buy that.  simple!

here are some things i've really come to love.  but please read till the end because i need some advice.

1. nars pigalle.  it's a great every single day lipstick (for my skin tone anyway).  you don't look like you're going to the club (i so respect women who can wear red lips to the grocery store and think nothing of it but i'm certain that everyone's staring at me when i do so.  but!  i went to a party this weekend and wore my red lips and did not look back.  who's a big girl?!  i am, i am!).  also, nars, in my humble opinion, actually is worth its price tag.  particularly their mattes.  they truly stay on.  at the same time, i'm not a lipstick expert so maybe cover girl/maybelline's do too?  spill the deets.  other favorite lipsticks are nars red lizard and this mac nude who's label has since worn off (and sometimes i combine that with the pigalle--soooo fancy).  i have sooo much to offer here.

my questions: do you have an orange you love?  i want an orange.  do you have a lipstick you love in general?

2. anastasia brow wiz.  this is like the greatest addition to my beauty routine ever.  i had invisible eyebrows (evidence: yesterday's post) and now i don't and, guess what, eyebrows you can see are actually quite lovely and really add something to a face.  who'd have known?  i added this about a year and a half ago and am on my second pencil and it's sort of a must for me.  don't let yourself fall victim to the invisible eyebrow.

3. this expensive hair dryer.  hear me out.  it's going on probably ten years under my tutelage and still works great.  dries faster and better than any other hair dryer i've used, so cost per use is like... a penny at this point.  

my questions: a really good brush?  that helps the blowdrying/styling??

4. oribe dry texturizing spray.  i just started using this so technically it has no business being in this round up until i've seen the real fruits of its labor.  i will say though--it smells really nice.  i catch whiffs of my hair in the breeze and am like, "damn what's that delightful smell?  oh!  just me!"  and the reviews on amazon were all really, really positive.  i'm a sucker for good reviews.  will i continue buying it at its hefty (for dry shampoo) price tag?  TBD.  

my questions (these are some of the most important of the whole post): do you have a dry shampoo you can't live without?  (i've used suave too.)  or a make-hair-more-voluminous-and-amazing-without-showering routine???  cause that's really what i'm going for.  more volume, less showering.  please tell me what to do.  also!  my ceramic curler thing is on the fritz (i have to hold the on button really hard for at least ten minutes to have it remain on.  this is going on a year or so.  my thumbs are numb by the time it's hot.  it's time to replace it.).  do you have a curling iron you love?????  link me!  please!

5. sephora liquid eyeliner.  when i want to be extra fancy and glam i put this on and, let me tell you, it does the trick.  i really love using it and probably do so about once a week.  small victories for this SAHM!  way less glam, though, when my eyes water, i rub them, and then rub this all over my face too.  and here's a better tutorial than any i'd attempt to do.

so, i guess that's all i have to add to the beauty regime conversation.  really valuable, right???  oh, i really, really love cherry chapstick too.  that should have been number one.

what are some tried and true products/tips/tricks that i should know about????  word-of-mouth recommendations are my favorite.  

Do you feel like you missed out on your twenties?

Monday, October 20, 2014

picture from Switzerland a few days after getting engaged!

I was posed this question by one of my readers in this post a few weeks ago.  A fair question, indeed, and one that I thought could have a post of its own.  Do I feel like I missed out on my twenties having started dating Steve-with-the-four-kids at the ripe young age of 21 years, a college junior.  You should know that, even as I type that sentence which is about me and my life, it's still shocking.  To both of us really.  Did I think that would ever have been my life?  Did he ever think it would be his?  No to both.  But alas it was and is and let's dive in.

I've written out our love story.  I think I'd write it differently now, were I to do it again, but I'm keeping it as is because that's how I (actually we!  Steve has a chapter too.) wrote it at the time so that's how it'll stay.  Anyhow, the love story ended and life continued on and now here I sit as a 29-year old, pregnant with my second (but Steve's number six), and set to turn 30 in a few short weeks.  30!  That's crazy to me.

To make a long story short, do I feel like I missed out on my twenties?  The quick answer: yes and no.  The long answer: I do distinctly remember browsing Facebook and seeing my friends going to bars, trips to NYC, everything in their lives seemingly footloose and fancy-free.  I remember being jealous.  None of my friends were married then, and they certainly didn't have four children.  We were in very different places.  While that was probably a low point--comparing myself to them and feeling crappy about it--it certainly did happen.  Emotional maturity, the kind that you can't sprout overnight but that comes with life experience in all its glory from pain to joy, has taught me that everyone has their battles and that finances and job woes and heartbreak and singleness and dating can have its share of dark and lonely times.  And I skipped over not all, but a lot of that.  The characteristic "twenties" is not my story to tell.  I guess here's where I would say so what?  Everyone's life is different.  Do I feel like there's some unwritten chapter of mine that's just begging to be put on paper and interrupting my sleep at night until I do?  Not really (at all).  I also didn't walk in my college graduation and had people tell me, "Oh you will regret that one day!"  I haven't thought about it again until this very moment.  Do I suspect that I'll have some midlife crisis and Steve will find me at the local bar doing shots of SoCo and lime with my shirt off?  No.  My twenties simply looked different from yours.  

My twenties were spent falling really hard and fast for a handsome man who I absolutely could not have parted ways with simply because the cards were stacked up against us, because it would've made my life take a very drastic turn, because a lot would be expected of me, because he had children, because he was older.  Those things seemed crazy to me then, no doubt, but it seemed crazier to walk away because of them.  I would not have been okay with that at all.  He was it for me, and that's all there was to it.  My twenties were spent getting to know my best friend.  My twenties were spent learning how to be a mother to his four children.  They were spent learning my place in this family of five, each person with a unique personality, each person still grieving the loss of their mother (or wife) in different ways.  They were full of trial and error both in the kitchen, in the laundry, in life.  They were spent getting mad--at him, at them, at myself, at life, and then finding forgiveness and grace and picking up and moving on and realizing that I would do that again and again and again.  They were spent learning to love them, learning how to be loved by them.  They were spent having a ton of fun going camping as a family, to the Jersey shore, to Switzerland (and coming home with a ring!), and yes even to some NYC bars where I did have more than my share of SoCo and lime.  In my twenties I learned so much about myself and my strengths and weaknesses and how they fit (or didn't fit) into my marriage and my family.  My twenties were really, really hard but really, really good too.  

Man, did I learn a lot through my twenties.

So did you, most likely.  We just learned different things, and some the same.  I think that's okay.

taking stock / 04

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Parker playing hard to get

Making: this soup, huge batch, to last us all weekend; i'm sort of obsessed with making huge batches of things lately; also hoping the cabbage (doesn't call for it, but I put it in!) helps the acid reflux I just discovered I have!
Drinking: apple cider (it's so delicious; sweet drinks are one of my Achilles' heels during pregnancy)
Reading: A mix of Vanity Fair, Wild, and Real Simple
Wanting: to get Lindsey this jacket (in black) for Christmas; the price can't be beat (and it covers the butt which is necessary for Massachusetts' winters) -- extra 30% off if you use the code YAY30 too.  I love me a discount code.
Watching: Nashville, Parenthood, and a little Daniel Tiger too (and finding that I have Daniel Tiger jingles in my head all the livelong day)
Listening: to a new birth soundtrack I'm starting to put together.  Baby clothes are still MIA but AS LONG AS I HAVE MY BIRTH PLAYLIST.  It's coming along...
Eating: Pumpkin chocolate chip muffins (Thanks Hilary!)
Smelling: this dry shampoo spray which I finally bought after debating it for a good month.  It's expensive!  But I heard it's also awesome.  TBD (I only used it once, and then put my hair up, so I can't be the judge yet.)
Wishing: that the news media would share good news more often; I find their fear-mongering to be bordering on evil and... I could go on and on about this topic.  Another time?
Enjoying: these fall walks Steve and I (Parker too) have been taking; one yesterday was at least three hours long (he had the day off) and it was so nice.  The weather was just right and it was beautiful.  My left butt cheek hurt by the end though and I really had to pee.  I need a chiropractic adjustment.
Loving: this toggle coat detail (it is sooooo beautiful), but thinking it is definitely too expensive to make its way into my closet 
Hoping: that this gorgeous fall weather stays.  It's been awesome.  
Needing: To organize, to organize, to organize!  
Feeling: excited to meet this baby boy, but also wondering how life will look once he's here.  Normal?
Wearing: these slippers, always and forever (they're so old, but still holding up--and post Christmas, they go on sale!  I found them half off a few years ago.)
Noticing: that when my computer requires an update, I hit "Remind me later" no less than twenty times before I actually do it.
Bookmarking: these cookies that Cup of Jo shared yesterday.  The idea of putting everything in a bowl somehow makes them seem soooo much more doable than the whole two separate bowls thing.  Pathetic.

32 weeks.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

 {hat: forever 21}
{shirt: h&m}
{maternity jeans: c/o emoi emoi}
{shoes: c/o minnetonka}

when i said no more waistbands, i underestimated the perfect maternity jean.  these may be it.  they feel like leggings...

but aren't.  


things that also should not be underestimated: foot rubs when pregnant, fig newmans (not a typo--the newmans ones are delicious), getting sucked into a new tv show (so sue me, it's nice to shut off my brain at the end of the night.  the affair maaaay be the latest.), uniball pens, snail mail, fruity teas on ice, paninis in almost any form, trees changing color in the fall, organizing + decorating, a dirty diaper that doesn't smell absolutely horrible (potty training, we'll nail you one of these days!), fire pits on chilly nights, kids getting along, comfortable slippers, the right lipstick, a bra that doesn't lose its shape, a good night's sleep, and a cold glass of water with lemon, a croissant with egg and cheese.  yep.  those are just some of the things.

caramel apple slices.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I'm not really the crafting type, and I'm especially not the crafting where sugar is involved type so when I brought home a huge bag of Brach's caramels that William and Lindsey unearthed while they were helping me unload groceries they were like, "WHAT ARE THESE FOR?"  (See also: has Mom lost her mind?  Did someone accidentally throw these into her cart and she missed it and now their loss is our corn-syrupy-goodness gain?!)

It was no accident.  

"CARAMEL APPLES,"  I replied.

They sat on the shelf for a few days until the long weekend came, and then we got to work.  We all unanimously decided that caramel apples are too hard (and too big?) to eat (especially William with his braces) so slices were decided on.  I thought green apples would be best--more tart and sour then their sweeter red relatives--and some mini chips and almond slices to dip them in.  

I don't have a double-broiler so I put a pot with the caramels (and a few tablespoons of water--key to getting the caramel really smooth and melty) into another pot with the boiling water.  Within fifteen minutes we had the caramel melted and we had our apples sliced and skewered (I used these) and we were ready to dip.

It was a fun fall activity (I can imagine spicing it up a whole lot with tons of bowls of toppings from coconut to crushed peanuts and having a veritable caramel-apple-dipping party) and while I considered saving a few for book club dessert that night, we pretty much ate them all (sorry ladies).  My favorite thing to dip them in was the almonds.  They're pretty delicious plain too.

Weekend notes.

Friday, October 10, 2014

How about some links to take us into this three day weekend?!  Then we'll call it a day.

// This song.  It's a new fave.  

// I've said before that the Middle East sort of fascinates me (this book is a good starter to the region) so this clip was really interesting to me.  In a nutshell: Ben Affleck and Bill Maher go head-to-head on the Muslim religion + stereotyping.

Let's unpack this.  For the next hundred years.

// Related to the above: Cornel West weighs in on the subject.  

// On a much lighter note: This clip.  Fast forward to 2:20.  Also, he's a great dancer.  

// I shared my beauty routine with Parents Magazine.  If you come away with anything, let it be this: eyebrow pencils are an invisible-eyebrowed-gal's (that's me; I just didn't know it) best friend.  Kate's over there too, and much funnier.

// This flannel (order a size up!  The roomier the better for those.) and this sweatshirt-that's-not-a-sweatshirt (to be worn every other day).  And $23 slippers, folks!  

// So far three people I know, or sort of know, or very loosely know have gone into labor early since I've been pregnant.  I'm 32 weeks next week and we have nothing ready.  Car seat is in storage, baby clothes are where??, and Parker is in the crib half the time (in our bedroom).  I would really like to go to my due date.

// I typically go to the library with Parker without any plan.  And he, willy-nilly, fills this reusable bag that we bring with books that he's pulled off the shelf at his level.  As it's nearing full I say, "Okay!  One more!"  You maybe already know this, but there are a lot of bad children's books out there.  Half of them we like, half of them we read once and then they get plopped in the return pile, and sometimes there's one that's a real keeper.  No Pirates Allowed! is one of the keepers from this week's library trip.  Nicely done, Parker.  Actually, we really liked A Walk in London too.  Any keepers in your recent library trip?

// Thank you for your answers and questions on this post.  I loved reading them.  I'll respond to the questions soon!

31 weeks.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

the obligatory belly-clutch!  you saw it here first, folks!

{dress: target}
{shoes: old navy}

// the other day when i was getting the boden pictures i asked steve to get these of vain me, myself, and i.  because, 31 weeks needs documenting?  yes it does.  so does this very, very comfortable dress.  again with nary a waistband in sight!  ten points target!
// i already walk in this semi turned out position and even as i'm doing it i can feel that it's not my normal walk and i will myself to stop but i swear it, my hips are actually turned out and i have no choice but to walk like i'm pretending to be a ballerina.  
// if cold weather weren't imminent/already here, i think this would be my permanent outfit and i'd just avoid seeing the same people each week.  
// let's just end it now with this creepy gif.  that smirk?  it's a wonder kids don't run from me on the playground these days.  i'll regret it later.  but if we're being honest sometimes i throw a similar dance together for steve and act as though he should find it sexy and that i'm surprised he doesn't???

mini boden! johnnie b! boden! and my kids looking really, really cute!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

we really love boden.  or, i should say, as shopper-for-the-clothes, i love boden.  boden clothes have been speaking my language for a long time now.  especially, but not limited to, their johnnie b and mini boden lines.  i get their catalog and ooh and aah over their mini line every single time it lands in my mailbox.  and, hand on my heart, the quality cannot be beat.  wash after wash, tumble after tumble, their stuff holds up so well.  the aesthetic is spot on too.  their shaggy lined hoodies have been a favorite of mine for ages and the winters when i've splurged for one for the kids i've never regretted it.  (plus, they have sales all the time.)  they're so thick, they're practically a jacket.  until we reach the seriously cold temps, anyway.  and their johnnie b line is adorable (and not at all teeny-bopper, so actually, i'd suggest to you petite ones, check it out for yourself).  basically, their cotton is simply superior and the designers behind their stuff just nail it every time.  so quality + cute?  home run, boden!

the hardest part about boden really is narrowing down your shopping cart.

though, perhaps it'll be a little easier since they're running a sale right now!  
up to 40% off, ya'll.

on william: shirt and pants // on lindsey: shirt and pants // on parker: shirt and pants

this post is sponsored by boden.  thanks for reading!

parker at 38 months (or 3 years and 2 months).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


i used to be a much better record-keeper of all of your various traits, both quirky and otherwise (evidence here!), but the past few months some of that (a lot of that) has gotten away from me.  as you were running around the playground today, however, i thought i will do this again!  or at the very least... i will do this tomorrow!  so, here we are.

and since i'm in the business of remembering quirky things about you right now, i should mention that you were running around the playground sideways?  as though your shoulder were leading instead of your chest and i think you felt very, very cool while doing so.  

you like to collect acorns and we talk about the squirrels a lot.  you can see squirrels in our yard from your place at the dinner table and so, you're always announcing their passing to the rest of us!

you had a pretty wonky few days full of mischievousness a few weeks ago (we're making it sound endearing by calling it that, k?) but since then you've been a total gem.  everything is a phase, i know.  i'm sure the mischief is right around the corner again.  is it?  is it?!?  

you came down wearing some of my makeup the other day.  namely, brown lipstick.  you also got some on my comforter.  nevertheless, i told you you looked beautiful because that's what moms do.  i also suggested you do your makeup with me in the future.

you also love wearing costumes--well, they're not costumes to you, of course.  they're the real deal.  the cowboy costume is the latest, this house being full of them.  you take on a different persona when you have one on.  your face is serious, your hands on your hips, you are parker the cowboy.  we do not mess with you.

i got my face close to yours in boston the other day and you rubbed our noses together and said, "mugga mugga."  you do enjoy the occasional daniel tiger episode.  oh, and, we were doing renditions of green eggs and ham the other day and behind me in your carseat you said, like you were truly exhausted in face and tone, "sam.  if you will let me be.  i will try them.  you will see."  we laughed about it afterwards.
you are legitimately funny and already get my sarcasm which i find so great.  i suppose i should keep sarcasm to a minimum but i come by it so darn naturally that it just slips out.  no matter, cause you get it!  you're keeping up!  and you really are funny.

you love playgrounds and we visit them often.  just this past sunday you were on a sort of rope structure that was a bit on the older side for you.  nevertheless, you were doing great.  a tightrope walker! i called you.  dad was right there assisting you and for a moment he thought you were going to fall.  his reaction scared you and you just crumbled exclaiming, "me can't do it!"  it made us both so sad.  you were so sad too.  you can do it, you were doing it, and you can do most anything.

you are very sensitive and very affectionate.  i love this about you.  "cuggle me!" you request each night at bed.  

you love to help.  at the grocery store you help me unload the cart.  at home, you help lindsey unload the dishwasher.  you help me make smoothies and you feed gracie.  if you are offered the opportunity to help, you take it.

you seem to have an ongoing reel of les miserables songs running through your head.  namely this one: "blood!  angry men!  blood!  angry men!"  and you sing it aloud as you play with army men in the backyard.  it's a little troubling to those unfamiliar with the les mis soundtrack, i'd imagine.

you love sports and we relish in the fact that your hand-eye coordination is soooooooo advanced for a three year old.  namely, your dad relishes in it and when he does i remind him that you got it all from me.  yes me, the girl whose two sports were running and swimming.  i'd love to sign you up for soccer or baseball this spring.

you're suddenly interested in your baby brother's kicks and sometimes if we're just sitting next to each other, you'll have your hand on my belly which makes me quite happy because for awhile there i was sure you were more interested in dropkicking him than in bringing him under your wing.  progress!

you make me happy every day and i tell you this every day.  it's true, you do, and i'll love you forever and ever and ever.

love, mom (you dropped "a" so now i'm just mom instead of mama which sounds so darn mature of you but i think it's cause that's what william and lindsey call me and you want to be basically just like them, so that's okay.)

happy birthday steve!

Monday, October 6, 2014

we love you so much.
thanks for being there for all of us (and there are a lot of us).

(and thanks for letting me check my camera settings by taking pictures of you.)

happy birthday to my one and only.


Corn Chowder or the greatest soup of all time.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Corn chowder is something like a sweet manna from heaven after a long, blustery fall day.  It's soooooo damn good.  Especially if that recipe calls for a generous splash of cream at the end of it and especially if it suggests you reserve some of that bacon fat for the soup.

"Well okay!  But only because you insisted!"

I didn't grow up eating a lot of corn chowder so I can't tell you for sure how this stacks up next to your mother or grandmothers variety.  I have had it at a few restaurants in my adult life, however, and can honestly say this one is gooooood.  Six o's.  I could've done many, many more.

Once again, it's my friend Ryan's recipe and at this point I should just bring him on as a food contributor because I've shared his recipes for sweet potato burritos and tortilla soup and that's only what's coming to mind right now.

He makes really, really good food.

Let's get right to it.

Corn Chowder
from The Victory Garden Cookbook

serves about 4 (I always double)

4 ounces bacon (recipe calls for salt pork, but I've never used it; feel free, however!)
1 medium onion
2 cups potato chunks (I use Yukon Gold)
2 cups combination chicken broth and water (I use more chicken broth than water)
salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups scraped corn
1 cup corn kernels
1/2 cup heavy cream (or half and half)

Cook bacon till crispy.  I reserve virtually all of the fat here but you can get rid of some if you're looking for fewer calories.  Remove bacon.  Chop onion and cook in bacon fat until softened and golden.  Add potatoes, broth and water, one teaspoon salt, and scraped corn.  (For scraped corn, it suggests that you run a knife down the kernels on an actual ear of corn over and over to achieve the scraped/pulpy corn.  No.  I have never used anything but the organic frozen bags of corn from Trader Joes for this recipe.  So, what I do for the "scraped corn" is put a bunch of it (frozen) into the Cuisinart and chop it up a bit.  Gives the broth some thickness.  I'm sure my friend Ryan is shaking his head right now.)  Bring to a boil, lower heat, and cook, partially covered until potatoes are tender.  Stir in whole corn kernels and cook five minutes longer.  Add heavy cream (since I always have half and half, I end up using that more often).  Cook until heated through.  Season with salt, pepper, and the crumbled bacon you cooked in the beginning!  Do not forget that!

Enjoy.  There really isn't another choice.


Parker and I (along with our friends Lux and Rachael) went to Sportello in the city to meet Barbara Lynch and attend a toddler cooking class a few weeks ago!  We made chicken meatballs from scratch, and ate bowls of hot soup.  (Or, at least, some of us ate our soup while others of us played with it a bit.)  It was a promo event for a Ben's Rice contest you can check out here.  Parker's pretty obsessed with the apron he got to bring home.
After all the suggestions over here, I ran to the library to grab this one.  They actually had it in stock--I think the only one--when I called.  I was thrilled.  This weather is making me crave a good book (I am not a good "sit down and turn on the TV and browse till you find something" person.).  So at nights, unless Parenthood or Nashville is on, boooooredom.
Low-key decorating this year.  Mini pumpkins in orange and white scattered about my house, a few mums on the front steps, and a pumpkin candle that makes the house smell very cozy.
An early Saturday morning cross country meet to watch big brother William.  This meet was at a beautiful spot, high on a hill where you could see gorgeous farm land all around.  Only one of the many reasons why cross country rules.  William did so well this meet too.  
I've passed this island on the lake so many times but never taken a picture.  Now I can look at it and loathe the lucky folk who live there any time I want so taking a picture was a really wise idea.
The green cruiser lives on!
This toddler snack was a huge hit.  Actually, calling it a toddler snack is short-selling it.  William and Lindsey's eyes grew when I put it in front of Parker, so we made more and basically all made a meal of it.  It's apple slices cored, peanut butter, and granola.  And in the time it took me to write this caption, Parker came over and is now hanging on my shoulder saying, "Me want to eat that now.  Can we do that Mom??"  I'm avoiding eye contact.  
Target dressing room.  Is there a more instagrammed thing than this?  Maybe lattes and the 'ol feet and fall leaves thing (mmm... guilty... just yesterday).  Anyhow, I was there for some maternity clothes.  Came away with a few tops, no bottoms.  And Parker came away with those paint dabbers which he loves so far.  (And the whole kiosk with the Kid Made Modern stuff at Target???  I want to bring it all home.  For myself.)  Also, his hair is getting messy-teenager-long.  I need to give it a trim.

That's the happenings here lately.  You were dying to know.


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