Friday, May 31, 2013

When Your Heart Hurts

I spend a lot of time trying to encourage other women to be confident and believe in themselves, but, if I can be perfectly honest, the past few days have really shaken my confidence. I've struggled with Sean. I've lost a couple of jewelry shows. I've been picked on (twice!) on the internets. I've just kinda wanted to throw in the towel all week. 

How do you encourage others' confidence when yours is fading fast? Sometimes my knee-jerk reaction is to get angry and defensive. Oh, hell, who am I kidding? That's always my initial reaction. But as I get older, I realize how useless that is. Getting angry and using up all of your energy in negative, unhelpful ways is such a waste of time.

Instead, I've focused on building others up. When we are unsure of ourselves, it is so easy and tempting to tear others down. To make them feel bad. To put them on the same unhappy level that we are dwelling on. But to take the time to spread love and tell others how awesome they are? Well, in turn, it just makes you feel better.

Anyway, this wasn't a pity party post, I promise. I was just trying to process some things, so I can move own. The dress below is like three years old- I got in from Old Navy and it is entirely too short now to wear anywhere during the school year. Why is it so hard to find plain, simple dresses like this? Old Navy has some, and I've bought a few, but they are nearly see through and shoddily made. Last year I bought a few at Wal-Mart, but they aren't carrying anything similar. It's become a real frustration.

I've long loved bronze and gold jewelry (I think one of my very first posts talked about  my obsession). These pieces from Premier just make me happy. I feel like some Earth Mama hippie in them. It also shows how easily jewelry can dress up a cheap cotton dress!

Anyway, I love you all, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Beaded Necklace- Wild at Heart
Bronze Necklace- Shake It Up
Bronze Pendant- Baroque
Bronze Earrings- Old World
All Premier

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Catching Up!

OK, take a deep breath! I have a lot to share and only a little time to share it! Sean is staying home with me this summer and he is already kicking my butt! I've always had mad respect for stay-at-home moms and the last couple of days have plainly shown me why I would never cut it as a SAHM! So I only have a few minutes before I am summoned to pour juice or play Super Mario Brothers. Here we go!

First up, you only have a few more days to enter the  $100 Ulta Beauty gift card giveaway! It's super easy to enter (no hoop jumping, I promise!) and can you imagine how awesome it would be to win $100 to go shopping at Ulta? Um, totally awesome- that's how much!

Secondly, I had another article posted on XOVain yesterday about inner thigh chafing (AKA "Chub Rub"). I was feeling pretty "funny", so I'd love for you to check it! And below for your viewing pleasure is an outtake from the "photo shoot" for the article. I felt it looked a little too much like I was giving birth to a bag of ice, and now you will have that burned in your minds- FOREVER! You are welcome! ;)

Finally, I posted Monday about my new side job... Thanks for the response and support. I am so ready to further my mission of making women feel beautiful about themselves. I really feel like I am getting into a niche. Do you ever just feel so strongly about something that seems kinda ridiculous? That's kinda how I feel right now!

Monday, May 27, 2013

On the Side

Ah, sweet summer. After months of toil and trouble, I find myself free of work responsibilities! Each summer I have had the best intentions. I will be productive with my days- clean floors, folded clothes, warm dinner. However, the past four years have shown me that I am lazy and that I get easily bored and lonely. This summer I vowed to do something different, so I am taking steps to fulfill that promise to myself.

I am keeping Sean home with me. I am excited to have such a cool kid to keep me company, and I am already filling our days with fun and educational activities. I also decided to take on a part-time job. It's not unusual for teachers to get summer jobs, but I knew it would be impossible to both work and keep Sean home. I didn't have much hope of making any extra money.

Then opportunity fell into my lap. It's not the first time that I have found myself with a solution I never knew I was looking for- it happened with teaching and blogging too. I am no stranger to following my gut and listening to myself. I am now selling Premier Designs Jewelry. PD is a direct sales company- something that I am not particularly fond of to be perfectly honest- and their focus on home shows immediately turned me off. 

But I couldn't stop thinking about it. I tried, I swear. I thought the jewelry was beautiful. I thought the company's philosophy was genuine. I thought it would be a good opportunity for me to continue my own personal mission- to make women feel beautiful and have confidence in themselves. So now I find myself with a nice little part-time job. Something to keep me busy during my downtime over the next few months.

Kiyonna Dress c/o Gwynnie Bee
Zebra Heels- Cato's (similar)
Jewelry- Premier Designs

Saturday I had my training show with the company. It was a chance for me to watch my sponsor in action and practice my people skills (oh, how they are lacking!). I had so much fun at the show- my time as a teacher has prepared me for teaching women about fashion. Anyway, I promise I am not going to spend the entire summer begging you to buy my jewelry. If I am wearing a piece, I will link to it. If you are interested, you can contact me. No pressure, I promise!

I knew I wanted to look my best for this first show, so I turned to Gwynnie Bee (of course!) and Kiyonna. My first Kiyonna piece was the Harlow Faux Wrap dress in red, so when I saw this beautiful jade number, I knew it was the one!

You have a few days left to entire Gwynnie Bee's contest to win a free month of services! All you have to do is write three reviews on the website. Check out all the details here and don't forget to enter!

Friday, May 24, 2013

New Post on XOVain

You guys, things have been crazy over here. It always is the last week of school. However, I didn't want to leave you empty-handed for our long weekend. Recently, I started freelancing with XOVain, a beauty website. Today they are featuring my article on OCM- Oil Cleansing Method for the non-initiated out there!

Check it out here!

This is what I clean my face with!

Monday, May 20, 2013

In a Cinch: What to Wear to a Graduation

I have blogged about Kiyonna's Ciara Cinch dress recently and loved it, so when I saw that Gwynnie Bee had it in a beautiful teal color, I knew exactly what I was going to wear to Sean's Pre-K Graduation Friday night. The dress looked great as I crawled around on my knees looking for the best place to catch a glimpse of my proud graduate (of course, the total opposite side from where I was originally sitting!) and it was perfectly fresh and unwrinkled for family photos after the ceremony.

Ciara Cinch Dress- Kiyonna c/o Gwynnie Bee

I promised I wouldn't cry, that I would remain stoic, but as "Pomp and Circumstance" started up and the kids made their way out, smiling widely in their crisp white robes, searching and waving at family, I felt a little weepy. Then they showed a 7-minute collection of photos from the past year set to sad country songs and I couldn't help but cry!

Sean was very concerned that we wouldn't be able to identify him in the crowd of white robes, so during the day he concocted a plan. He told my mother to tell the entire family that we would be able to find him because he would hold up the letter "L" in sign language, a.k.a. the "Loser" sign to anyone who lived through the nineties. My mom tried to dissuade him, but he was adamant- "You will know it's me because I will be doing this", proudly thrusting the universal sign for loser proudly above his head. So it was on.

The kids lined up and as we searched the crowd for Sean, he found us, and "losered" us and the rest of the audience for a solid 3 minutes. We, appropriately so, held up our own loser Ls for him, as the crowd tittered. My sister-in-law leaned over and whispered, "I feel like we are tributes in the Hunger Games!" That automatically made it way cooler!

The weekend ended with Sean losing his very first tooth, as if I needed more evidence that he is growing up way too fast! He spent the night Saturday with his grandmother and when we picked him up Sunday, we didn't even get to the front door before he rushed out to show us. Of course, I had no fancy tooth fairy magic a la Pinterest, but since he swallowed the tooth during breakfast, I don't think he will mind if he just gets cold hard cash without a lot of glittery fairy dust ;)

Friday, May 17, 2013

Today is a Milestone

Just like I can't emotionally steel myself to watch the last Harry Potter movie (hey, Brynn!), I also couldn't bring myself to write about Sean's graduation from preschool tonight. He woke up an hour earlier than usual and keeps walking around saying he can't believe it's finally his graduation.

I am bittersweet- I am excited to see him grow and learn. Every day he becomes more of a person with attitudes and beliefs and likes and dislikes. I cannot wait to see him flourish in a classroom. But at the same time, I want to freeze this moment... or at least play the rest of my life in slow-motion.

Curtis (the real writer in the family) shared a post this morning that expresses the way I feel better than I could. I hope you will hop over and read Baby Steps and share some love with the best dad and husband in the world!

Sean and I both started school in August of 2008.
This is the picture we took for our first day of school.
I've never taken another first day of school picture.
I need to.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Love Your Hair? Now You Will!

The Event
I've been on a real hair kick lately, so when ULTA Beauty and BlogHer asked me to participate in the "Love Your Hair" campaign, I couldn't resist! Having a good hair day, as shallow as it seems, can make a woman feel beautiful and confident, yet so many of us hate our hair. We resort to wearing it the same way every day or hiding it in a messy ponytail.  From May 12 until June 1, ULTA Beauty store locations and online are celebrating hair for 21 days. Each day they will feature one or more Beauty Steals™ - three WEEKS of amazing hair products and styling tools. I had the opportunity to review these products early and today I am going to share my favorites with you!

The Products
I am always looking for new products for styling my sassy pixie cut. With gravity-defying swoops and faux-hawks, I need something with strong hold. Add to that the heat of living in the South, I also need products that will resist humidity! I started by washing my hair with Sebastian Drench Shampoo and Conditioner (just a tiny dab!). Because my hair is so short, shampoo and conditioner is really a non-issue; However, I still like to make sure I am keeping my scalp and roots healthy. Drench is intensely moisturizing, and I could tell that my hair felt smoother after using it. It's specifically formulated to rehydrate coarse and color-treated hair, and since my hair fits the bill in both instances, I knew it would be a good choice.

The next morning I woke up and used the Hot Tools Nano Ceramic flat iron. It has super tiny 1/2" plates, so it was perfect for even my shortest layers. And because my hair is so coarse, I need super high heats to smooth and straighten my hair. This little baby can reach heats up to 450 degrees, which is more than enough :) One of my FAVORITE beauty products for my hair is any kind of volumizing and texturizing dust/powder. If you have thin hair, flat hair, short hair, long hair, straight hair, or curly hair, I'm telling you, this product can be a game changer.

ULTA Beauty provided Osis + Mattifying Powder, and while I wasn't familiar with it, it did work very similarly to other powders I've tried in the past. You simply sprinkle a tiny amount of the powder at your roots, tousle your hair, and voila - perfect hair. I use it right at my crown to give the spiky layers right there extra lift and definition. Usually that's all I use for styling my hair - it is truly that awesome - and Osis + was no exception. It creates very full, texturized hair with a very strong hold.

I hardly ever use hairspray, but since I had so many to choose from and it was super rainy, I decided to use Kenra Volume Spray 25. It can be used two different ways. You can use it to build up volume between your layers, by spraying it in quick bursts. You can also use it as an all-over finishing spray.

Just as a point of reference, my hair photos were taken after working all day and being out in the rain, so I am definitely impressed.

The Pledge
As a part of ULTA's Love Your Hair campaign, they are encouraging women to pledge to love the hair they have and maybe even win free blowouts for the rest of the year! Now, my hair's too short to bother with blowouts, but joining the movement (and entering to win) is simple. Just tweet your hair pledge with the hashtag #ULTAHairPledge and you're entered to win.

The Prize
Here's the best part. I have a $100 ULTA Beauty gift card to give to one lucky winner! Yes! To enter, simply tell me about your hair pledge. A winner will be announced during the first week in June.
No duplicate comments. 
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: "#SweepstakesEntry"; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

c) Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 5/15/13-6/1/13.
Be sure to visit the the ULTA Beauty page on where you can read other bloggers’ reviews and find more chances to win!

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sick Day: 6 Weeks Post-Sinus Surgery

It has happened. Six weeks after having major surgery on all parts of my nose, I am sick with a sinus infection. Exactly what the surgery was supposed to help me with.... To say I'm disappointed is an understatement. I know the surgery wasn't a guarantee that I'd never get sick again, but, technically, I'm still in the recovery phase. I would have liked to have stayed well a little longer than six weeks (especially since three of those weeks I was taking antibiotics). Ugh. I'm trying to power through, but right now everything is a struggle! Hope the rest of you are having awesome Mondays!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dreamsicle-Shades of Summery Orange

I read another teacher blog yesterday and she made a great point about May and the life of a teacher. She said May is a month of Fridays, and I'm inclined to agree. Summer vacation is right around the corner- you can literally feel the energy in the air. It's this undercurrent and a pulsing of "summer, summer, summer". The students are antsy; they can't believe I'm making them do work for the next few weeks. Really, I'm beginning to agree, but don't tell them!

White Pants (similar, similar)
Top- Coldwater Creek c/o Gwynnie Bee
Wedges (similar, similar)

For me the word summer conjures up images of playing in the pool as a child and eating ice cream from the ice cream truck roaming the neighborhood. This top from Gwynnie Bee initially reminded me of the classic Push-Up frozen treat, but that title didn't sound as pretty as Dreamsicle. I'm super excited that the bright coral and orange shades will still be "in" this spring and summer because I love them and have several pieces from last spring that I can wear again.

I was also really excited that this particular top had the white strips in the pattern because I love pairing a brightly colored sleeveless top with wide-leg white pants. Many plus-size women are insecure about baring their upper arms, so I think the pants really balance out that feeling of showing "too much skin". Plus wide leg pants can really keep you cool in the warmer months because air can circulate throughout (it's about time to be packing up those super constraining skinny jeans!). So what are you looking forward to as summer rapidly approaches?

Monday, May 6, 2013

Yellow Pants: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

 I know no one cares about the weather really, but I celebrated Cinco de Mayo in pants and a long-sleeved chambray top... this is nearly unheard of in the deep South. The entire weekend was a gross, rainy mess- perfect for napping and lazing around. Our town doesn't serve alcohol on Sundays, so there were no margaritas for us. Just grocery shopping and nasty Chinese buffet food. Sad day.

Top- Men's Old Navy (similar)
Jeans- Gap Always Skinny (similar)
Moccasin- Minnetonka
Necklace- Here

I did brighten things up with my sunny yellow skinny jeans, however. I've had them for a while now, but I hadn't worn them because of my issues with pairing tops with bright pants. Since it was cold enough for pants, I know it would be perfect for my chambray top.

You know what else is perfect with chambray button-ups? Pearls. I got this necklace last week, and I have literally worn it with everything. It is so versatile.

And don't judge me if it's still raining this morning and I pretty much wore the exact same outfit again, ok?

Friday, May 3, 2013

Floral Denim: Plus Size Edition

I'm not sticking my tongue out at you, I promise! Just my photographer for making fun of my posing.
Top- Target (exact- only $10!)
Printed Denim- Target (exact plus size- Only $11.48!)
Reader-friends (like sister-wives... I hate just calling you readers, but I can't stomach to call you "lovies" or "darlings" or whatever) often ask about my camera and photographer. One of the reasons I talked my husband into a DSL camera was with the promise I'd be able to use a remote and tripod to take all my photos and then I wouldn't have to bother him, or anyone else for that matter.

Well, like most things involving technology, it has proven difficult for me. I'm not particularly good at photography, nor am I particularly patient enough to  learn to be good. So over a year later, my sweet, sometimes aggravating husbands takes probably 90% of my pictures. In the past 1 1/2 years of blogging, I've taken more photos of myself than I did in the previous 29 years of my life. It can get awkward. I figure since my husband has seen me give birth, he can handle some fashion blogging awkwardness a couple of times a week!

I was late to jump on the floral print denim craze of the last year because I didn't want to spend the money on something that I figured would look awful. However, Target has this pair on sale for under $12, so I figured it was time to take the plunge. I'm still not sure what top to pair with them, so if you and a blogger you read have posted floral jeans, please leave the link in the comments below!

Sandals- Target- last summer
Similar Style
Similar Color
Don't you love awkward photos of awkward feet... second shot this week! You're welcome :)
Happy Friday and have a great weekend!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Kindergarten Blues... and a Floral Dress

Yesterday after school I enrolled my baby in kindergarten for next year. It was a moment I had been dreading for about two years, but I knew he was excited. So it was a bittersweet time. When we pulled up to the elementary school he closely inspected their TWO (!) playgrounds with pleasure. However, he wasn't so sure about the school itself. He kept asking if I was taking him to the dentist (I guess the outside resembles his dentist office a little bit?!)!

Forever 21 Plus Dress- still available!

While I filled out enough paperwork to buy another house, or sell my child to the public education system for at least the next 13 years, he played happily in the school library with some of the other new students. I decided to wear this super cute Forever 21+ dress again because I can't get enough of its bright pattern. To pull out the subtle gold details, I knotted a green and gold belt and wore green and gold shoes. Sean wore a Super Mario Bros. muscle shirt. I did not get any pictures of that ;)

Belt- exact from Target
Shoes- similar, similar

So does it get any easier? Last night I let Sean sleep with us. It's a habit we are trying to break, but last night I just wanted my baby in the bed with me. This morning I woke up and felt his hair- it's so coarse and thick now but he used to have the sweetest blond curls- and his tiny shoulder blades- like a bird under my fingertips, so delicate and small- and I wished I could hold on to that moment forever. I thought to myself, "I wish I could freeze time and keep him 5 forever." Then he farted and rolled away from me. Oh well.
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