I’m a Skincare Product Hoarder. There I said it.

My long rant about my skincare routine.

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Cocokind Chlorophyll Mask

My mom definitely held skincare as a priority for us girls. She told me prevention was better than trying to fix it later so I really can’t take all the credit here.

Thanks to mom, I wash my face morning and night without fail. I cannot sleep unless my face is clean. I also never forget my skincare!

I’ve tried SO many products and this is probably my top 3 most asked question so I guess this blog is overdue!

I went through a phase in 2013 where for an entire year I only used products from my kitchen on my skin and hair. I washed my hair with baking soda, moisturized with coconut oil, put olive oil under my eyes at night and did hair masks with eggs. It worked for me but then I got sick of putting food on my face so…there’s that.

And speaking of food: #realtalk what you put in your body definitely reflects on the surface. If you eat junk and throw your body out of whack-your skin takes a toll. Ever notice when you don’t sleep well or drink water your skin looks a little sad?

If you don’t drink water, you deprive your skin.

If you eat a ton of sugar, you’re more prone to breakouts.

If you never wash your face, that is pretty gross.

Long sciency story short: consuming too much sugar will result in enzymes which break down collagen and create inflammation. That is NOT GOOD news for your mug. And your skin is made of cells which consist of water. When there is a lack of hydration, your skin will turn dry and yucky.

So anyways, back to my explanation of my eclectic skincare routine: I also lived in Korea for a few years and only used Korean skincare during that time (I still use Korean rice water face wash by Body Shop).

Korean skincare includes many brightening products. I liked “snail mucin” by COSRX. This is an added step in skincare called “essence” which is applied after toner but before moisturizer. I also picked up on using seaweed masks there which I still do from time to time.

I change my skincare products often. I joke that I like to “sneak attack” my skin by using a product then changing it up often. I typically go back and forth between 2 products at a time. For example, right now I’m using Beautycounter moisturizer during the day some days and also a Peter Thomas Roth one. At night I’ve been using Strivectin anti-wrinkle cream and an eye serum by Biossance.

It all really depends on your age and individual skin needs. Everyone needs added moisture under their eyes since that skin is different than the rest and everyone needs to keep their skin protected and moisturized.

I read an article once saying that if you have oily skin it’s best to use an oil because your body will adjust and stop making so much oil when your supplying it with enough. That made sense to me so I always keep my skin very hydrated no matter what. Now that I’m not a teenager anymore, my skin can be kind of dry unless I keep it moisturized so, there’s that.

You also have to hydrate from the inside out. Like we talked about, keeping sugar consumption to a minimum and drinking plenty of water is important for healthy skin.

That being said I’m going to legit be a hypocrite and say how important exercise is to healthy skin. I’ve been seriously slacking on hitting the gym lately but when I do, my skin always looks better. Why you ask? Because when you sweat you give your pores a chance to clear out and it also increases blood circulation which is good too. This is also why people go to the sauna. It helps your skin to detoxify.

Exfoliate! Our skin cells don’t regenerate like they used to. For real! Ever notice how kids have beautiful skin? It’s because their skin cells turnover so fast. #jealous

Ours are slower so they need help. That’s where a gentle exfoliating wash comes in. I probably exfoliate my face a few times a week. I also dry brush my entire body before I shower. You can get a dry brush at most grocery stores. Simply stand in your shower and brush your skin upward toward your heart for increased circulation and exfoliation.

Oh and I use sunscreen like a boss. Seriously, especially during the summertime you’ll never see me without a hat on or sunscreen. The sun can be very damaging to your skin if overexposed so you have to be mindful of that.

The trademark Guac hat didn’t start for no reason-I keep my face out of those rays!

So basically, NEVER go to bed without washing your face, ALWAYS moisturize, exfoliate away the old, SPF, and stop frowning or you’ll get wrinkles!

and I do have wrinkles btw. My skin does occasionally breakout thanks to hormones. (Which I use tea tree oil for and it works miracles!) I just try to treat my skin as nicely as possible and hope it gradually eases into my 30’s!

So now that I’ve ranted here’s the deal-my rules of skincare:

  1. ALWAYS wash your face in the morning and at night. Maybe even in between if you need to. DON’T TOUCH YOUR FACE especially with the phone. germs guys. Your skin needs to breathe. Give it some space.
  2.  Protect it from the sun and elements. SPF, hats, lotion, etc. The world is a tough place, your skin would like some barriers.
  3. Drink alot of water (Okay, I’m terrible at this. I rationalize that coffee is made with water…so….)
  4. SWEAT! Yes. Workout. Go to the sauna-just sweat all the toxins out of your pores! Sweat naturally clears your skin. Sweat now…glow later. That’s my motto! (Or it would be if I hit the gym more…but hey, work in progress)
  5. TAKE A LAYER OFF-exfoliate. Get rid of those dead skin cells and remind your skin that we haven’t given up hope! Theres a variety of exfoliating face washes out there or you could always use some nifty products which I will list below.
  6.  PLAY FAVORITES-treat your eyes as more special than anything else. Why? because your skin around your eyes is different. It’s extremely thin and lacks oil glands so you need to be very gentle with it and moisturize it. Eye creams are lighter and less greasy for your delicate under eye area.
  7.  HANDLE WITH CARE-breakouts that is. Do NOT pick at your face. First off, your hands are filthy. Second, you don’t want to make it worse or scar yourself and have to deal with a long term mark.
  8. Don’t neglect your NECK! Your neck needs care too. Moisturize it with whatever you’re using on  your face.
  9. DRINK COLLAGEN like a boss. I noticed a huge difference in my skin when I started drinking collagen regularly. It gave me back that youthful plump skin that I was pretty sure I lost with my 4 years of sleep deprivation that motherhood gifted me.
  10. DO NOT SCRUB. Don’t use a washcloth on your face you barbarian! If you are rough with your face you are unnecessarily pulling on  your skin and asking for it to give into gravity. I use my hands to gently wash my face and pat it dry. #benice
  11. CHAPSTICK-hydrate your lips too! Chapped lips are a sign of dehydration. We’re always taking and eating and ya know, breathing! a barrier of chapstick offers protection and hydration.
  12. Be DEDICATED to your skincare routine. My morning routine: wash my face, apply toner, essence, eye cream, then regular moisturizer. My nightly routine: remove makeup thoroughly, wash my face, eye cream, night time moisturizer, chapstick. Once or twice a week I exfoliate and I try to do a face mask (usually charcoal or coconut oil) once a week.

While I am slowly making a transition to all natural skincare, my list of products is not there yet. So, just know that the following list is not entirely organic/plantbased/etc. It’s just what I like and some of what I like still has some junk in it. I also change what I use as I find better products that work for me so please don’t take this as an end all be all of my skincare! haha

Suggested products (in no particular order other than what popped into my head that I love):

  1. Beautycounter cleansing balm. This stuff melts your makeup away yet it’s very gentle and moisturizing. I love it.
  2. Cocokind chlorophyll mask
  3. Biossance Eye Serum 
  4. Beautycounter Charcoal mask
  5. COSRX Snail Mucin Essence (that extra step!)
  6. Skinfood Rice Brightening Scrub Foam 
  7. StriVectin SD Wrinkle Cream (prevent and treat!)
  8. Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Face Moisturizer 
  9. Vital Proteins Collagen Powder
  10. StriVection Advanced Acid Resurface (another way to exfoliate!)

That’s all folks!

Ivey Artistry Microblading

Eyebrows…the one thing you can get in shape without exercising.

My eyebrows are naturally just thin. Thanks mom.

I have been filling them in since I was 18. First it was a little bit of dark eye shadow then I graduated to a pencil and then got all fancy with all the new eyebrow products out there but regardless of whats out there, I STILL had to fill them in and that gets old.

Are they even?

Is this a good color?

When I hug someone I hope it doesn’t mess up my hard work. LOL Okay you all know you’ve thought this.

When I heard about Microblading I was instantly interested. Microblading creates hair like strokes in your skin using a small blade that deposits ink. It is a method that is done by hand by a professional and typically lasts 12-18 months.

Having a ton of tattoos, the thought of doing something more permanent doesn’t really scare me. It was just a matter of finding someone who is very skilled since it’s going front and center on my face. I mean, I don’t want to end up looking angry all the time…or like a clown…now that I really consider it, eyebrows make a HUGE difference in your expression. I mean, look at emojis.

Back to the story:

After researching the best Microblading artists in North Carolina I landed on Jeanette Ivey of Ivey Artistry Brow & Beauty and I am so darn glad I did.

Have you ever met someone and their energy is just like, YES!

Well, that’s Jeanette.I walked into her studio and was greeted by this tiny ball of artistic energy. The vibe of the place was cool, modern, creative. It was one of those places that inspires you.

I wore my regular makeup to my appointment so I could show her how I typically do my eyebrows and what I like. Honestly though, I don’t know what I’m doing when I fill in my brows and I knew that she would know what to do with them.

First she cleaned off my makeup and then began to make some measurements and marks so everything would be even and the right angle. I could tell she was in her zone and knew exactly what to do to frame my face. We discussed the color too which she already had in mind and it was exactly what I wanted. The process was very reassuring.Then it was time to make the cuts. EEEEP. She uses what looks like a calligraphy pen that dispenses ink into your skin. It’s like a tiny blade that she  makes small cuts with.

I’m not gonna lie-I was SO NERVOUS for the first cut because I had no idea what to expect.

It was not bad. It doesn’t go as deep as I had imagined and it just feels like someone is being super annoying and scratching you. She did the first pass on both of my eyebrows and then put numbing stuff on me and let me relax. After about ten minutes she went back over them and added to them and that was pretty easy peasy since I wasn’t feeling  much.I was surprised how quick and simple the process is. Just a short appointment of Microblading saves me time in the morning doing my makeup and my eyebrows actually look natural. I love that she really fit them to my face and basically just enhanced what I already had. I think it takes a true artist to be able to make something look like it’s supposed to be there.

After the procedure I was a little bit swollen but nothing crazy. She gave me special wipes to use, an ointment, and a card showing what to expect through the healing process.

Top: Makeup Bottom: Microblading

The next morning when I woke up, I magically had the eyebrows of my dreams with no effort whatsoever. I wiped them down, put my ointment on, covered my “mom dark circles” with some concealer, did my eyeliner, and out the door I went! It was awesome.

So in 4-6 weeks I will go back for a touch-up appointment where she can add to them if I want since they will be healed by then and we will see the full result. The first session shapes your brows and the second session is called the “perfection” session. I already love them so, I can only imagine how epic they will be after the perfection session!

For anyone who has thin eyebrows or just wants to enhance watcha got, I definitely recommend doing this. It was SO worth it and Jeanette makes it such a fun experience. I went into it feeling nervous but I came out feeling like it was such an indulgence and a great time. Microblading gives you such a natural look versus the filled in look and it’s there regardless of whether you just woke up, washed your face, or sweating from dancing around your kitchen to We Didn’t Start the Fire. Whoever thought of this concept gets a gold star in my book.Thank you so much to Jeanette Ivey who graciously performed this service for the sake of me being able to share the experience with all of you.

Check her out on Instagram: @ivey_artistry and on her website www.iveyartistry.com

Dunny Acres Farm & Apothecary

That smell of lavender and sage gets me.I’ve been using handmade soap since I was a teenager. My sister used to make it for me. Even when I lived in Korea she would make it and ship it to me because she rocks.

I’ve always been an advocate of natural, handmade products so when I saw what Dunnyacres was cookin’ up, I was down to try it out!

First off-what she’s making is different. She’s putting things together I would’ve never thought of and it works.I told her she’s a mad scientist-mixing things and making it happen!

It turns out, she does have a background in science, she was a nurse! This impressive entrepreneur set her nursing career aside when her two beautiful children entered the world and one became ill.

She began to implement natural alternatives and it worked.

There’s a lot to be said about what comes from the earth guys.And wait for it… SHE’S HER OWN SUPPLIER!

That’s right. This rockstar mama grows herbs, makes them into essential oils and then turns around and makes all kinds of high quality products.

This business is a family effort. Her nephew helps her with business tasks and she lives on the farm with her family. Meeting the face behind the business definitely brings a new level of appreciation.I just love that the herbs and products are locally sourced and I know where my apothecary goods are coming from. How neat is that? She even grows her own loofah sponges and tea. What a freakin’ rockstar!I got to try out her bath soak, elderberry syrup, Roselle syrup, face mask, locally grown loofah sponge, lip balm, and white sage spray (yes smudging in a spray bottle-I know… I was totally Christmas morning excited over this!) She also makes headache balm and smudge candles which I find to be so innovative and cool! I’m ridiculously impressed with the variety and quality she offers. She’s a hard workin’ lady and I’m super proud of how she goes about her business.I was introduced to her products on the shelves of Leclair’s General Store. You can also find her doing pop-ups! Honestly, the education I got from talking to her was equally as impressive as her products and I feel much more confident about what I’m putting into my body so if you get a chance, pick her brain!

Holly Day Fair-It’s a thing

This was my very first year attending the 52nd Holly Day Fair at the Crown.

I was like WHOA.

In the parking lot.

Cause dude, it was madness! I didn’t know this was such a thing. But it really was.

Snagged a parking spot and skipped in the building to find the crown turned into a holiday shopping wonderland.

Vendors lined the entire place. I’m talking everything from woodworking to wine to Christmas ornaments. It was cool.

Honestly, I had so fun much hanging out with my friends and listening to the vendors stories about their businesses and products. It was such a social experience and I have a great appreciation for that.

I love love love supporting small businesses during the holidays.

Not only are you supporting someone’s dream and their family-but typically what you find at a small business is a lot cooler and more personable than a chain. I love finding unique gifts with a story to tell. Nobody wants another pair of socks, guys. Unless they’re cool like Proven by Ruben style. #letsbereal

Proven by Ruben

While this Holly Day Fair wrapped up on Sunday, it’ll be back next year and I definitely think everyone should go check it out. It got me in the holiday spirit and I got to check out some businesses that I didn’t know about!The place was hoppin’ and I’m glad I tried something new this holiday season!

Chill in Chilote

Chilote House Shoes

Made fair in Patagonia.These positive impact, sheep wool slippers are created to empower women. How awesome is that? Gosh I love a product with a good cause. This company gives women in Patagonia an opportunity to do what they know how to do (and love to do) to make a living.

So they’re made out of sheeps wool and get this-the bottoms are made of salmon leather. Salmon. Leather. How neat is that?Chilote sent me some House Shoes to try out and I have to say-they live up to the hype! They are soft, cozy, and warm. I love them! They’re also super cute and go with everything so I feel extra cool rockin’ around the house to Billy Joel.Each and every pair of slippers is made by artisan women that live in remote, rural areas of Patagonia. So, when you receive your slippers in the mail just know they were carefully handmade. I love that my slippers have such a story behind them.To add to the coolness. Each pair has a QR code on the tag that links to the specific artisan group that made them. It’s so interesting how personable this company is. You can even see photos of some of the women on their website based on the location in Patagonia they come from.Overall, a product that is made with pride, empowers women to be independent while doing what they love, and is super comfy, high quality, and cute scores an A+ in my book.

Check out Chilote House Slippers and their story at www.chiloteshoes.com

These would make an excellent gift for the holidays!

Waste Not, Want Not, Stuff Bought

“There’s trash on the ground! The earth’s going to get sick!”

My daughter even knows better.
I remember when I was little I used to tell my mom she couldn’t buy individual bottles of anything because it was a waste of plastic and filling our landfills. Yeah, I was that kid.
Now, I admit I don’t recycle like I should or go to great lengths to save the planet but, I’m taking small steps towards doing my part.
The first step was cloth diapering my babies. I really loved it so it wasn’t a big deal to me.
A few months ago I switched to stainless steel straws. I felt really good about this decision since my girls use straws everyday. They’re easy to wash and I don’t have to keep re-buying them. Then I thought hmm, I’m saving money, helping the planet, and still have the product I want and it works the same-what else could I switch? 

So I got the Google search intro to the “zero waste” movement.

Soon after, Jessica, the owner of KyMia, reached out to me and I was like BOOM! Meant to be.

KyMia Reusables is a local, eCommerce business. This husband/wife team sells sustainable, no-waste, environmentally conscious products and I totally dig them. 

Not only are the products super cute (fun fabrics and designs) but they’re also high quality and work extremely well! I don’t know why I didn’t switch over sooner.

The first products Jessica gave me to try were:
  • Unpaper Towels
  • Unsponges, and
  • Bamboo utensils

Jessica is amazing by the way. She is one of those people you feel like you’ve known forever right off the bat, super relatable, and a mama of 2 so she gets it! 

So here are my thoughts: 
Unpaper towels ROCK. First off, they’ve covered in avocados so, they were winning in my book before I even used them. Seriously though,  you pull a towel off the roll, use it until you feel like its dirty and then throw it in the laundry. No more buying paper towels, no more creating a ton of waste. I love it!
The Unsponges really got my attention. I was curious how these would do because I am for sure a person who throws away sponges as soon as they seem the slightest bit dingy. I have to say, I’m seriously impressed. They have an anti-microbial hypoallergenic foam core. So, you use the sponge and then throw it in the washing machine and it comes out like new! Jessica even showed me examples of how she cut one in half and how clean it was after being used. So now I don’t have to buy paper towels or sponges anymore?Okay…this is cool. 
The bamboo utensils are pretty epic too. Instead of using plastic utensils when you’re out and about at restaurants you can carry these beauties in your purse, use them, and wash them to reuse again and again. You get to eliminate plastic utensil waste and look adorable when you break these out in public! #winning
So I was hooked…and then I ran into her booth at the Dogwood Festival…
Beeswax food wrap though. Okay guys so literally I’ve been in a bind for months now because I moved and don’t have alot of Tupperware (and don’t want to keep buying it) but I’m also not a fan of aluminum foil. I cook alot so I really need food storage options. Beeswax food wrap is this epic pliable cotton covered in beeswax and jojoba oil. She let me play with it and cover a mason jar. It seals right over the opening and the best part is, you can take it off, rinse it, throw it in a drawer, and keep reusing it! I much prefer this to annoying cling wrap, aluminum foil, or Tupperware. Now I can use my natural, eco-friendly beeswax covered cloth to cover my casserole dishes and mason jars and I feel great about it. Plus it’s cute.
The icing on the cake is that I’m supporting a small business and a lovely family! 
Oh, and I love this bag: I truly recommend checking out what they have to offer. They have more products than just the ones I spoke of and I intend to slowly build my no-waste stash of products over the next few months.  I love that I don’t have to keep buying these items, I’m eliminating toxins in my home, and I’m making environmentally friendly decisions. Plus, I made a new friend!

Maryland Crab Soup

Growing up in Southeastern Pennsylvania, seafood from the Chesapeake was a norm.

One of my favorite recipes is Maryland Crab Soup cause I LOVE Old Bay anything and this is basically Old Bay soup. YAS.

Now, I am not a chef guys…I just cook things and eat them with no exact measurements or professional training…so bear with me as I share my ridiculous ways.

Okay so you’ll need a big pot cause you’ll want leftovers. It’s always better the next day, right?

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of small red potatoes (cubed)
  • Lima beans
  • Corn
  • Green Beans
  • Cooked carrots (chopped up)
  • Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 cans of crab meat (feel free to mix in claw meat or whatever you want)
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes
  • 2 cups of beef broth
  • Chopped onion
  • Worcestershire
  • Salt & Pepper

1. Cut up the potatoes and boil them until you can pierce them with a fork easily. While they are boiling-chop up the onion and saute it with some avocado oil until soft.

2. In a large pot (remember you want leftovers) bring your crushed & stewed tomatoes, beef broth, a splash of Worcestershire, and water to a boil. Now, here’s where I’m no help because I totally eyeball how much water and taste test as I go. Add some Old Bay in there too (I add it throughout the entire process in excess) Once it’s all nice and mixed up turn it down to a simmer.

3. Add your onions, corn, green beans, cooked carrots, lima beans,and potatoes. I add the crab meat last and gentle stir so it doesn’t get totally shredded in the mix.

4. Lastly, add Old Bay to taste, salt, and pepper. I literally add so much Old Bay it is unreal. So, if you want my measurement probably about half the can? #notsorry

I recommend eating it with bread 👌🏻