I am what you would call a morning person.
I wake up each morning…much earlier than is ever necessary.
I can literally hear life and all of its chores and all of its adventures whispering in my ear…telling me that I’m missing out, I’m running out of time to accomplish all of the things I want to accomplish.
Usually, this spurs me to action.
I leave my husband to sleep and I go to the gym, I start the laundry, I start a craft, I run out for coffee, I get to work early or I begin the repetitive task of cleaning every inch of my house.
This morning it was different.
My mind was working much slower than usual…there is a good chance it had something to do with the spirits I indulged in last night or the fact that it was a cool, cloudy, Sunday morning…regardless, I told life to shut up and shove it.
I rolled over and over in attempt to find a position that wouldn’t make my head pound, it was a futile attempt and when I finally gave up I found my eyes resting on my sleeping husband.
I have woken to his sleeping face for the majority of the last 5 years.
Long perfect lashes, eye brows in dissaray, lines and impressions on his face from too much time spent against a pillow and that mouth perfectly pouting as though someone in dreamland just gave him some bad news. I’ll never get tired of it. I’ll never lose the rush of pleasure that accompanies the reminder that he is mine and mine to keep.
Those first confusing moments in the morning are my favorite. Utterly beautiful and painful, as your brain works to catch you up and remind you who you are and what your life is. All of your memories, decisions, accomplishments, mistakes, blessings, love and hurt and loss are shoved into the tiniest of moments…and you’re given another day.
Andrew and I had a terrific weekend.
We spent most of it prepping for our Halloween party on Saturday and the remainder of it recovering from said Halloween party.
I love planning things…I really do. All week long I felt like I was on this little adventure! Of course, it helps that I have a wonderful husband who enjoys planning right along with me…and somehow manages not to get exasperated with all of my (sometimes crazy) ideas!
I wanted to add a unique element to our party this year…beyond the drinking games and usual shenanigans. Because Photo Booths are nestled comfortable in my top 10 favorite things on the planet, I decided I just had to have one of my own….because I also don’t have a spare $500 sitting around…renting one was out of the question!
So, I made my own!
I realize that Halloween has now been tossed aside and buried beneath all things Christmas…but I figure a homemade photo booth would make the perfect addition to any Holiday Party!
Find a space in your house with plenty of room and you are halfway to making your own photo booth!
What you will need:
1. A backdrop:: depending on what you are celebrating this can be any number of things! It can be as cheap and simple or as expensive and intricate as you want it to be! I stuck with a black shower curtain from Target. Affordable and simple!
2. Decorations:: I bordered mine with a string of lights in purple and orange. In retrospect, I should have used more or used bigger lights! They disappeared in the flash!
3. A significant source of light:: direct light shining on the backdrop and location for photos will be best. Overhead light won’t work as well. If you have a spotlight or something similar…that’s perfect! I got creative and used a lamp! 🙂
4. Props! Since our guests arrived to the Halloween party in costumes…I used minimal props. You could have a lot of fun with this though! Imagine the cute things you could gather for a Christmas party or New Years Eve celebration?? A cute little chalkboard or homemade sign detailing what you are celebrating and the year will make for some awesome memories!
5. A camera:: I think any camera will do, I used the DSLR camera I invested in a couple of years ago, but I think if you are creative enough you could make anything work!
6. A tripod:: not a necessity but definitely handy! It allowed people to take pictures without someone having to know how to operate the camera! Plus, we all got to get in on the fun!
So much fun!!
I don’t understand pumpkins.
How does something that unappealing (those innards are seriously gross people) contribute to the wonder that is pumpkin spice, pumpkin pie, pumpkin bars, pumpkin pudding, pumpkin beer… Seriously, pumpkin never fails.
Usually, by this time of year I have blown entire paychecks on pumpkin spice lattes, I have dove head first into a pan of pumpkin bars, I have made special trips to Village Inn for a slice (okay, sometimes an entire pie) of Pumpkin Cream pie.
Unfortunately, this year is different…I Hayley Ann Grade, have been on a diet.
Pumpkin season is the very worst time to go on a diet….you heard it here first.
But, I do currently weigh less than I did Junior year of high school….so I can’t bitch too much! 😉
Instead of eating my body weight in pumpkin flavored goodness I have turned to Pinterest….there I can lust after mind blowing recipes, pin them and pretend like I have the option to actually make and ingest them.
Since I don’t, I thought maybe my wonderful readers might….you’ve got like a month left before your pumpkin obsession makes you weird…so get started! 😉
::5 of the Best Pumpkin Recipes on Pinterest::
1. Pumpkin Oreo Cheesecake by Inside BruCrew Life
(image via Inside BruCrew Life)
You realize what just happened here, right? Three of the most amazing things on earth came together to create a gift from God. I could cry.
2. Pumpkin Cupcakes by 58 Day Dreams
(image via 58 Day Dreams)
Look how moist and gooey they look!!
3. Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies by Ellen in the Kitchen
(image via Ellen in the Kitchen)
This recipe gives me hope…that if I combine my favorite thing (Pumpkin!! Duh.) and Andrew’s favorite thing, Chocolate Chip Cookies then we could finally have the perfect treat! Unfortunately, my husband finds it extremely entertaining to loathe all of my favorite foods.
4. Pumpkin Bread with Pumpkin Buttercream by NancyCreative
(image via NancyCreative)
You guys….buttercream! PUMPKIN BUTTERCREAM.
5. Pumpkin Spice Buddies by The Recipe Critic
(image via The Recipe Critic)
Muddy buddies or what I like to call…Puppy Chow, is toward the top of my favorite things list! Adding Pumpkin…makes it a winner! I used to make Puppy Chow in college pretty much weekly…and I would eat…all of it. Probably has something to do with the reason I am on a diet now! 😉
Let me know if you try any of these, take a few extra bites just for me! 🙂
One week ago, I was writing about battling and (mostly) conquering my debilitating insecurities and desperate need for approval…and today, after a work meeting in which I was handed my new tasks and duties I was also handed a whole lot of “productive” criticism.
To be fair, I directed the conversation toward “respect”, how to earn it and how to keep it.
I guess, I was expecting a “work more hours, step up more often and finish tasks more quickly” kind of pep-talk. I work hard, but I will be the first to admit that I can work harder. Can’t we all?
Instead, I was given two pieces of very startling advice…
Be careful what questions you ask in meetings with your peers, if a topic or term is mentioned that you are unfamiliar with or you don’t have any knowledge of, wait until the meeting is over and ask your direct report for the answer in private.
So, hey, mom & dad, high school teacher, college professor and personal trainer….I have a spoiler alert for you::
Apparently, there is such a thing as a stupid question.
You work in an industry in which you cannot be taken seriously when you wear **”short”** skirts, feminine tops and makeup to accentuate your looks. Sometimes being “too striking” can work against you and people won’t take you seriously. Dressing more transgender will give you the opportunity for respect.
**I would like to define my version of short:: I wear skirts and dresses that are above my knee, yes, but they would pass my very strict high school uniform dress code, these are by no means mini-skirt, booty hugging outfits that I am flaunting at work. Instead, they are pleated, fashionable and respectable ensembles.**
This, is the perfect example of an outfit I might wear to work:
I’m not writing this post just to vent…I did that on Facebook yesterday…thanks for the support ya’ll! 😉
Instead, I wanted to flaunt some of this new-found respect and admiration that I have finally found for yours truly.
In all honestly…post criticism….I wanted to crumble, I wanted to bawl, I want a really big glass of wine and a box of Mac n Cheese….but after about 45 minutes of stewing and pouting in my office you know what I decided?
Because I am a woman in the corporate world, a young one at that, I am expected to act and dress differently?
You know what?
I will ask whatever the hell I want to in meetings involving my peers, the people I work with. I refuse to keep my mouth shut and pretend to know what organization, law or standard that AVBWG might stand for or not pipe up about a policy change or employee change in the company that I was unaware of because someone else failed to communicate that to me.
I refuse to nod along in a conversation that I might have something damn important to contribute to just because I need a bit of clarification.
If someone wants to roll their eyes because I just asked a question and also happen to be a blonde who did her hair and makeup this morning…go for it. I love a good eye roll.
The fact is, I am an intelligent, competent and ambitious young woman and I belong in those meetings, as do my input, my thoughts, my suggestions and yes….even my questions. I could sit in a meeting for an hour spouting off a vocabulary so extensive no one can follow my thoughts…but that does not make me impressive.
Communicating, fostering an open and positive work environment and promoting discussions…that, is impressive and that is inspiring.
Wanna know what else?
I will not cloak my 26-year-old figure in polyester pant suits because being feminine and well groomed is distracting to my credibility.
If you like pant suits, awesome, you rock those pant suits. But I don’t, maybe next year.
As far as I’m concerned, I dress appropriately, my breasts are neatly tucked away, my blouses fit with room and my work skirts and dresses are an acceptable length and fit. I am more than meeting the “business casual” dress code.
I don’t dress for anyone.
Waking up, exercising, showering, styling my hair, applying my makeup and picking out an outfit is for me. I feel good, I feel ready for the day and I feel well represented.
I work hard, I show up, I complete my projects in a timely and professional way and I come to work clean, prepared and well dressed. That is where my responsibility for respect ends and the responsibility for others to give respect begins.
I could be angry at the individual who gave me this pep-talk minus the pep, but the truth is, she is just as much a victim of these ridiculous ideas as I am.
Only, she bought in.
People, don’t buy in.
I don’t care what industry you are in and I don’t care how male dominated/female dominated it might be. I don’t care how you are directed to act, dress, talk, write, etc. If for one minute you don’t feel genuine & comfortable…you’re off track. And you will only suffer because of it.
This title…with no words attached to it has been sitting in my drafts for a couple of weeks…its been taunting me. Daring me to write something honest and vulnerable and a little bit ugly.
I guess I could never find the beginning which is technically the past and not a place I like to reside…so I will just start with the now and see where I end up.
I’m sitting at my dining room table, with the window open because I like the cold…and I have a blanket on my lap, a cup of sleepy time tea in an adorable mug, a playlist that consists of calm yet inspiring music (think Sigur Ros & Explosions in the Sky).
I am happy.
I am content.
I can imagine the mumbles and the whispers of the people reading this.
“She’s so lucky.”
“Why can’t I have that? Why can’t I have that moment?”
“What kind of drugs is this girl on?”
Your response to the statement:
Is directly related to the relationship you have with your own contentment.
Mine has been one of epic despair.
Peacefulness, mindfulness and contentment has never come easy to me; I used to be unable to remember a time in my life in which I was perfectly happy with where I was, who I was with and with what I was doing. The more blessed my life became the more things seemed to spiral out of control.
I was loved and I was in love.
I had friendships with depth and sincerity.
I had work and I had dreams.
I had a home and I had things.
I had a family who’s dysfunction could not overcome our love.
I had so much more than most.
And it wasn’t enough.
Almost 2 years ago…my insecurities, my restlessness and my desire for more began swallowing me whole.
My life, my emotions and my self worth became fully dependent on my worth to those around me. Criticism, no matter how small, could send me to my knees. I lost weight, I bought clothes, I spent $100’s of dollars on makeup and skin care products. I lived my life consumed with
“when I get this”
“when I weigh this much”,
“when I can afford to do this”,
“when this person says this”
…only to find out that when one of those things happened I didn’t find the peace I so desperately sought.
I placed my heart and my trust in the hands of people who didn’t deserve it and instead took advantage of my weakness.
I did and said things I wasn’t proud of.
I convinced people I was the opposite of insecure, even if cost me my own grace.
I know it probably sounds dramatic. People suffer from much worse than a constant sense of unworthiness but that kind of thought only brought about more self loathing.
How can I be so unhappy when there are people fighting much larger battles?
The truth is…the way I was living, it could have been detrimental
to my future
to my relationships
to my physical health.
So, how did I get here? How am I so pleased with a Wednesday night at home, alone, a cup of tea and an excellent playlist?
It started on the day that my mom woke up and decided to start fighting a battle against something I was sure was going to take her life.
The details of her story are not yet mine to tell, but I watched her change right before my eyes. I found strength in her struggle and hope in the glow that was slowly returning to her eyes. I thought she would die and here she was more alive than ever.
And so, one year ago, my journey to find wholeness began.
This is the part in a movie when a really upbeat Sara Bareilles song would begin playing and I would be all fixed by the end of it.
The first thing I did after realizing how much of my life I’ve wasted in this head of mine was take a really hot bath, play some really sad songs and cry until the water had gone cold. I waited for the water heater to fill up and then I filled that tub up again.
This probably went on for about a week. The water bill was insane.
And then, I went to church (cliche, yes, but extremely effective!!) I spent hours in Barnes and Noble searching for books about happiness and finding it, I researched, I ran….I ran so much. I read a lot of Hannah Brencher blogs. I wore a rubber band around my wrist and snapped it every time I had a thought filled with self-loathing or insecurity (I wouldn’t recommend that.) I journaled and I prayed…a lot. I made my thoughts and my control over them a priority over every other thing in my life. I made an effort to stop my negative thoughts before they were complete and finishing them with positive ones.
I decided if I could give this change in myself, everything I had for 30 days straight, then it would get easier. And when 30 days was up I promised myself 30 more.
After 3 months…
I did more.
I eliminated the people in my life who antagonized these kind of negative thoughts.
I analyzed my actions and the reasons behind them.
I leaned into my significant other and I let his kind words and compliments settle into my heart instead of dismissing them as a product of his love.
I began doing things and making decisions based on the way they made me feel, not on the reactions of others.
I eat healthy and I exercise because living feels better that way.
I seek out work that inspires me and creates passion instead of basing my work on where it will get me.
I look to makeup as a passion and something I love instead of a mask.
I do nice things for my friends, for my family, for my love…because I want to, not because I am searching for their praise and validation.
It’s not always as inspiring as it may seem written neatly on your screen.
There are still tears, struggles, setbacks…
“Why do you even love me?”
Come tumbling recklessly out of my mouth, but I don’t invite those thoughts to stay. I don’t soak myself in them and I don’t abuse myself with them.
I have learned to channel some of the adoration and love I’m so quick to hand over to others into myself as well.
The hardest step of all….was learning to love who I was in the past. Lost and vain and naively needy as that girl was…she meant well, and instead of regretting the years in which this journey almost swallowed me up…I’ve learned to love them. I look back on them fondly and I’m grateful for the time I spent so utterly lost and even more…I am grateful for the people that contributed to the misery.
Without them, without those years I would have no idea how wonderful it is to sit here, drinking tea, listening to melodies, watching my breath appear barely visible in my cold dining room and just being.
I’m a bit under the weather and feeling blue this evening….so I put together a playlist full of inspiration and cheerfulness!
Thought I would share!
A Little Bit Inspiring, A Little Bit Powerful and A Lot Happy
I wish I had a reality show (doesn’t everyone?).
My life is pretty much an epic mixture of blunders, mistakes and horrible decisions…mixed with good intentions and lots of good luck that somehow all comes together to make a pretty spectacular existence. I feel like that could be fun to watch, I mean, my husband finds me incredibly entertaining.
I say this because…my blog mentor recently suggest I write a quick post with some “Beauty Do’s & Don’ts”, my response? I giggled. Suddenly every bad beauty related decision I have ever made (there are a lot) was front and center in this busy head of mine.
Because every “do” I might have learned as stemmed from the result of an epic “don’t”…I thought maybe I should just start there.
::5 Beauty Don’ts…Seriously, Don’t::
1. Don’t make a drastic hair change without a lot of research, let me reiterate several weeks of research. I do not care how confident you might be, how well you think you can pull of anything or how little you care what others think. I don’t care if you just got dumped, divorced, moved to a new city….blah, blah, blah. Don’t.
This is your hair, its on top of your head. Why are you messing with that shit?
When I was 22-years-old, I was dealing with some weight gain, an imminent break-up and an all around lonely life. And then I saw a picture of Gwyneth Paltrow’s long bob cut and I decided I had to have it. I was sure this bob (a bit longer in the front than in the back) was the key to my happiness.
Spoiler alert:: I didn’t suddenly look like Gwyneth Paltrow and I definitely didn’t feel any better about my miserable life.
I didn’t do a lick of research, I didn’t pause to contemplate exactly how my face (after a 30 lb weight gain) would carry a cut such as this and I certainly didn’t consider the fact that I wouldn’t even be able to pull my hair into a decent pony while I sobbed about my horrible hair cutting decision.
Oh, and it cost me a ridiculous amount of money.
2. Don’t skip the instructions. I know, we are all adults and we feel like we have a general idea of how most products work…like who is going to stop and check the label on a tube of toothpaste? Me. I do. After my experience I’ve started reading the label on a bottle of water.
I know I have previously expressed my love for face masks. I buy them on the regular and I get downright giddy to try a new one.
I brought home a new one from Ulta one night and considering myself a “face mask expert” I slathered it on, jamming to music and acting half of my age.
Feeling extra confident and adorable I even took a selfie to send my to my Andrew.
Moments after hitting send I grabbed the tube wondering if this was a 15 minute mask (most range from 15-20 minutes) and discovered the following::
Warning: Keep away from my eyes, eye lashes and eye brows! Hair removal likely.
Did I mention this was a mere two weeks before my wedding?? I think you can see from the photo that my eye brows were good and slathered…
Luckily, my eyebrows were spared.
3. Don’t forget to check the mirror. A full-length one, with plenty of light, preferably sunlight. Full length mirrors give you the whole story people and you really shouldn’t be leaving the house without the full story.
I was once banished to my office for a day of work because my nude dress was putting my not so nude undies on display for the world. They weren’t even cute. It was a disaster.
And you don’t get a picture of that one.
4. Don’t get handsy with the Moroccan Oil. I mean, they did leave “oil” in the name…you would think that would be my sign.
When I first discovered Pinterest, this stuff was all the rage…and so, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the stuff. The first morning I used it I couldn’t wait to have shiny, smooth and lustrous hair.
You guys, I looked like a 7th grader after P.E.
It was bad and literally not fixable without jumping in the shower and starting all over again.
5. Don’t pick. Don’t even touch it. You know what I’m talking about…that blemish that has suddenly appeared just to the left your mouth. No one else can see it…but you can feel it and you are positive that you can pick the damn thing away.
But, when you get done picking manically it will be 3 times larger and last 3 days longer. So, just don’t.
My motto….when in it comes to beauty:: when in doubt, don’t. And if you do, make sure you have the time, resources or confidence to pull of a major blunder! 😉
The only thing better than a spring thunderstorm is….a fall thunderstorm!
I’m pretty sure there is nothing more romantic than curling up with your significant other, putting on a movie and hearing the rumble of thunder in the background. I adore it.
But, enough about me…here are some of my favorite internet finds of the week!
This chick is cray.
I wish my mother could text….if she could there would be a very successful website dedicated to “Shit Deb Says.” Because she can’t I love finding other parental text failures! This post had me laughing so hard I thought I was going to cry! Here’s just one of many.
3. Favorite quote:
Life is resilient. I think I will make this my mantra!
Just look at this….what is there not to love?? I am on a mission to duplicate this outfit this weekend….I can’t actually afford a single article of clothing that makes up this outfit, but I vow to find the knockoffs!! 🙂
(Image via Gal Meets Glam)
5. Favorite drink recipe:
1.5 oz of Pear Grey Goose Vodka, 6 oz of apple cider, and a splash of Ginger Ale.
This was found on Pinterest and unfortunately did not have a link attached…so if anyone knows who to give the credit, I would be happy to!
Happy Friday!! Enjoy your weekend!! I will be uber busy this weekend but I will have so much to share next week!! <3
I don’t want to brag…but it is kind of a well known fact that I have one of the most beautiful groups of friends…ever! I know I may be biased…but it’s true! Family, co-workers, pseudo strangers stalking my Facebook profile…lots of different people have brought it to my attention and I have to agree…I just have an extremely attractive set of gal pals.
This is good news for me because one of them asked me to do their makeup for a wedding she was attending and because she is so damn pretty it makes me look like I might actually have some talent! 😉
This is Lindsay. She’s beautiful. And this is before she had even an ounce of makeup on her face!!
So, as you can see, I have a lot to work with here!
I took into consideration the event Lindsay would be attending: afternoon wedding reception, technically it’s fall but its not quite ready for a fall palette but it’s too late in the season for a summer one and she was planning on knowing very few people at this event.
I wanted her to look good, without being overdone. I wanted a day time look that could carry into evening. And I wanted to find a way to represent the seasonal transition into fall.
This, is what I came up with.
I was just so pleased with the way it all turned out!!
She arrived with an already flawless complexion so I decided to mix a bit of foundation with one of my favorite BB creams, to give her just a bit more coverage without making it feel too heavy.
I stuck with the classic bronze colors to bring out her very blue eyes and because I am not a fan of falsies I stayed away from those and plumped up her lashes with my favorite mascara instead!
Can we talk about those lips? They are perfectly shaped!!! It only took a quick swipe of lip gloss to accentuate those.
**I’ve included a full list of the products I used below….but, first, a couple more!!**
Oh, and I caught her cracking up while saying, “I’m not a model!!”
What I Used::
3. Bahama Mama bronzing powder to contour.
4. Anastasia Brow Genius Kit to fill in her brows just a bit!
5. Urban Decay Eye Shadow Primer Potion
6. Naked Palette: “Sin” on the inside of the lid and on the brow bone. “Toasted on the outside of the lid and up into the upper crease. “Hustle” in the outer corner and blended tight into the crease. “Creep” as a eye liner base.
7. Urban Decay 24/7 Glide on Eye Pencil in “Zero” for some added eye liner dimension.
8. Benefit They’re Real Mascara. Obviously 😉
9. SmashBox Halo Long wear blush in “Passion”
10. Buxom Full-On Lip Cream in “Cherry Flip”.
Hope you guys like it!!