Tuesday, December 31, 2013

No Loyalty

Correction: I am a loyal person, I just have no brand loyalty.

Every time I buy shampoo, or shaving cream, nail polish or body wash I try something new.
"Oh! Look, mango and papaya with moisturizing beads!"
"A matte dark brown nail polish! I need this! Hmm, think it's worth $18?"
One of my recent $18 nail polish purchases
And, as embarrassing as it was to type - I seriously think those things when deciding which beauty product I want to try next.

Wandering the aisles of Target or Sephora is seriously so much fun for me. (Although it drives Homeboy crazy.) He is a one brand only kind of guy - Axe body wash and shampoo. Boring.

Someone told me once to alternate a salon brand shampoo/conditioner with a cheap one from Target. And although I cannot tell you who shared this advice, I still stand by this rule. Hair care professionals, is this legit?

Because I'm always game for a beauty experiment, what are your favorite brands? Please share in the comments below.

And because we're talking about "beauty secrets" today. I'll share one of my favorites with you - Murad.

I am a faithful, loyal user of the Murad Acne line. I wouldn't say I have bad acne at all, but I do tend to break out around my chin and nose a few times a month. I use all four of the products featured above - every single day, even when I travel.
  1. Clarifying Cleanser
  2. Exfoliating Acne Treatment Gel
  3. Acne Spot Treatment
  4. Skin Perfecting Lotion
I have purchased it online from Murad directly. But I usually prefer to buy Murad products from Sephora, and gaze (drool) at all of the other stuff in their store or online. I love make-up and nail polish and being girly. Sadly, my usual daily companion, Cougar, doesn't care one way or the other.

Until next time,

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

No, I'm Not Engaged Yet.

A friend and I were recently having a friendly dialogue about an article we read from The Huffington Post entitled, "Let's Ban Weddings and, While We're at It, Baby Showers Too."

The author, Valerie Alexander, talks about the ridiculous pressure young women are put under to have successful jobs, marriages and babies.

Alexander asks her friends (many of them now divorced), "Hey, can I have back the thousands of dollars I spent being in your weddings? Because the wedding really is the problem, or more precisely, the desire for a wedding."

Image courtesy of The Huffington Post.

Weddings are expensive and full of (ridiculous) fanfare. And, coincidentally every girl dreams about their wedding, starting in preschool. Now thanks to Pinterest ... every little girl's "dream" is turned into a full-on circus with matching DIY chair signs, enormous centerpieces filled with flowers imported from Thailand and lace aisle runners hand-tatted by nuns in France.

And for some reason, I still want to get married. I haven't started the planning process yet, but I don't think I'll need imported flowers or out of control extras. I want to have a simple ceremony and a fun reception, where we can celebrate with all of our friends and family. But in the mean time, what if I just want to enjoy being Homeboy's girlfriend for a little while longer? Let us decide when we should get married. Graduating college came first, and luckily I have the diploma to prove it.

Earning that said diploma hanging on my wall was the hardest thing I've done to date. After graduation, I got a job and am using my degree working for a company I really believe in. Shouldn't that act be celebrated rather than minimized by you looking at my bare left hand and shaking your head or clucking your tongue?

Alexander brings up a good point, "And what if, as a society, we celebrated other milestones instead? Wouldn't it be amazing if college graduations were given the wedding treatment? If the commencement ceremony included a $3,000 dress and a $70-a-plate dinner for friends and family who came in from all over the country? Photographers, flowers, dancing, a band? "You've got to see my graduation video. It was so beautiful!" What would be the outcome if little girls had 32 television shows to watch about that? Would that give them something else to aspire to? To dream about?"

Homeboy and me on our recent trip to Maine.
And for some reason, I still want to get married. But you (yes, you well-meaning family members and friends) asking about when I'm getting an engagement ring isn't speeding the process along. I am 23 years old, and I don't think it needs to go any faster. When we are ready, and Homeboy wants to ask, he will.

I've had people ask me on Facebook, in person, on the phone and in the grocery store when I'm getting engaged. The answer is ... I don't know and I don't want to know! I am a planner through and through, but for this one (big, huge, important, monumental) moment, I'm going to trust my boyfriend to handle it. Call me old fashioned, but I want to be surprised and I want the moment to be special.

Here is what I'm asking --- censor yourself. In a recent article, "Think Before You Post? 5 Reasons People Self-Censor on Facebook," NBC News shares results from a recent Facebook survey.

According to the survey, people censored their posts for 5 reasons -
  1. People didn't want to "instigate or continue an argument," because fighting on Facebook isn't fun for anybody.
  2. Users also didn't want to "offend others," which is why people are always sharing cat videos, not their political manifestos. That, the study said, usually results in users sharing "content for the 'lowest common denominator' — content that would be appropriate for any of the user's distinct social circles."
  3. People didn't want to "bore" their friends.
  4. Also, they were hesistant to "post content that they believed might be inconsistent with their self-representations." Yes, we're talking to you, PhD student who secretly wants to post about "Duck Dynasty."
  5. Users neglected to post "due to technological constraints," for example, getting frustrated when trying to post with the mobile app.
Now, I have conflicting views about Facebook in general. Homeboy thinks people share too much, and on most levels, I agree. But, I still post something on my wall - usually daily.

I have censored my posts based on all of the above reasons. I'm sure all of my "cow" posts and Cougar Fleming pictures bore some people, but I have friends all over the country and I enjoy sharing a little part of my day with them, but not everything.

Here's the kicker people - what if we censored our live, human conversations with the same integrity? According to the article, "Overall, 33 percent of all posts written during the 17-day study were self-censored." Imagine, if you didn't say 33% of the things you've started to say.

You might not realize - but when you're asking me when I'm getting engaged, you're making me terribly self-conscious. What is wrong with me that I'm not engaged yet? When you ask someone when they're going to have a baby, maybe they've been trying for months to no avail. Why can't we get pregnant? They're asking themselves that everyday. When you ask someone how the job searching is going, you're really just rubbing salt in the wound. Finding a job is hard, and sometimes even with a great resume and people skills - it takes a while, trust me.

I'm not asking you to not get married or have a baby or ask about your friends' lives, but maybe just put yourself in their shoes when you ask really personal questions?

Not everyone gets to go to a job they enjoy, be in a loving relationship and have an awesome pet dog like I do. And I get that! For right now, that's enough. That's all I need in my life. One day, I will get married. One day, I'll have a kid that's not covered in golden fur. But for now, I've got a job I enjoy, a boyfriend I love, and a cute house in the country that is warm and functional.

And for some reason, I still want to get married - SOMEDAY. But please don't snub your nose at me (or anyone else) who hasn't done those things in a particular order based on your imaginary time schedule.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Instant Gratification

Okay, everyone ... I know I've been struggling in the blogging department. But today's post covers two important topics in my life right now and they both revolve around my need for instant gratification.

Hattan Home includes darling notes in all of your packages :)
1. Online Shopping. I have a serious problem. I want everything I see! And when I see something I want (most likely a gift for someone, as Christmas is 13 days away) ... I have to buy it.

I need to get better at online shopping. Don't get me wrong, I've found some pretty great deals. But, I should research more ... the Internet is a wide, vast, amazing place and I'll just bet that sometimes I could buy things cheaper if I just did some searching. What are you secrets for finding the best prices? Please share your knowledge!

In my defense, I pride myself on being a great gift giver ... and I won't divulge anyone's gifts here because I don't want to ruin the surprise. So maybe what I lack in savings, I make up for in awesomeness?

I don't know, but these are some of my favorite places to shop online right now.

2.  Snacks. Working at home, three steps from your kitchen is a dangerous thing.
Oh, you're thirsty? Go get some water. Oh, coffee! CAFFEINE, yes! Have some yogurt. Want something sweet? Pepsi, chocolate, apple, juice.
It's weird that you only eat the seeds of a pomegranate.
You get the point, anytime I get the inkling to eat or drink, I can just easily get it. I keep a pretty stocked kitchen (thanks for the tip, Mom), so I have a hard time telling myself no.

Luckily, lately I've found a pretty yummy and healthy substitute for my hefty chocolate craving - dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds.

I found these in the snack aisle at Target (another dangerous store) and will be going back for more! The dark chocolate is full of antioxidants, and according to Wikipedia, pomegranates have Vitamin C, Vitamin K and a good amount of dietary fiber. Woo hoo! Healthy choice for Robin!

But, I still need to work on my control. Tell me friends, how do you control your snacking urges, even if you don't work at home like I do.

I hope you're all gearing up for the holidays. Also - stay warm this weekend! We're expecting 5+" of snow here ... ick!


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Homemade Gifts

I love the holidays, that's no secret.

Check out my recent Facebook status -

But, like most of you, I am trying to be responsible with my spending. Somehow (aka every single time I set food in the store) Target always gets the best of me and I buy way too much.

One way I am trying to be responsible is to give more homemade gifts. But, let's get real here ... I am not very crafty. But I can handle a wooden spoon and oven with ease!

Last year, I made cookie trays, truffles and cranberry vodka for a few of our friends and family.

Instagram pic of last year's vodka gifts. To follow me, click here.

Some of the recipes I used for these aforementioned gifts include -
  1.  White Chocolate Toffee Crunch Cookies from The Little Kitchen.
  2. The Perfect Chewy Sugar Cookie from Catch My Party
  3. Easy Dark Chocolate Truffles from NaomiCakes
  4. Cranberry Lime Vodka from Fancy Napkin
White Chocolate Toffee Crunch Cookies. Photo courtesy of www.thelittlekitchen.net

This year I plan to add to my repertoire.

Beer Mustard ... yum! Photo courtesy of Williams-Sonoma.
I'm thinking about these Salted Whiskey Caramels from So ... How Does it Taste?, Sweetie Pie Pops from Our Best Bites and maybe this Beer Mustard from Williams Sonoma. But these are just thoughts for now, until I get my gifts wrapped and Christmas cards sent out...

If you need even more options, check out my Pinterest boards Holiday Trimmings, Christmas Treats & nom.nom.nom.

Do you make homemade gifts? A friend of mine is making homemade vanilla extract - how cool?!

 Please share your ideas and/or recipes below!

Until next time,