What's in my IPSY bag - October 2017

Fall is finally upon us! Nope...wait...spoke too soon... because it is still freaking 90+ degrees out in the middle of October!

But, I digress. Bring out the pumpkin spiced everything. I am SO ready for the colder weather months. The good news is, you don't have to wait for cooler weather to enjoy some moody fall makeup and new skin care products, which is why I am loving this month's IPSY glam bag.

This month's glam bag gives off a steampunk/dracula's bride vibe. The bat zipper detail adds that extra spooktackular dust on top. Adorable.

I am about to break out my happy dance because I feel like the IPSY fairies get me. I've been literally dying to try and/or have been needing every single product in this bag. Are they hiding out in my bathroom? Because, I seriously scored this month.

Here is what received:

1. Bye Bye Pores pressed translucent powder - IT cosmetics
2. Vitamin C All Day Eye Cream - Context
3. Water Luminous Jelly Cleanser - JM Solution
4. 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Perversion - Urban Decay
5. Gloss Couleur Intense in Kiss - Studio Makeup

Bye Bye Pores pressed translucent powder - IT cosmetics
I LOVE the Bye Bye Pores translucent powder by IT cosmetics. It is exactly what I was hoping that it would be and I will definitely be purchasing the full-sized version in the future. This powder blurs my fine lines and pores and truly gives an airbrushed finished to my makeup. Even with large pores and leftover texture from acne scarring (damn you adult acne!) adding this powder on top of foundation, makes my skin look incredibly smooth. It doesn't hurt that this powder has anti-aging peptides and collagen added in. Bonus! The powder is very lightweight. It will set your makeup without adding cake. Definite buy!

Vitamin C All Day Eye Cream - Context
My twenty-something former-self believed that a separate eye cream was not necessary and that regular night cream would suffice. My thirty-something current-self is now a believer. I was not prepared to one day look into the mirror and see bags and dark under eye circles (not hangover induced) that wouldn't go away even after drinking lots of water and a good night's rest. Let's be real though, I haven't had a good nights' rest in years thanks to a couple of mini humans. Still, my tired eyes are starting to reveal my true age and that just can't happen. I want to stay as fresh as Christie Brinkley, you know what I mean?

Now, while I did need eye cream, I cannot say that this one in particular changed my life. This is the first eye product I've used, so I really don't have anything to compare it to. So far, I like it. It has a cool gel-like texture that feels cold and tingly when applied to my under eye area. It is light enough to wear under makeup and it has Vitamin C, which I am hoping will work its magic. After this is finished, I think I may want to try a thicker formula just to compare. So I am still on the fence when it comes to this cream.

Water Luminous Jelly Cleanser - JM Solution
I wanted to add to a new cleanser to my routine and was very excited to find this little guy in my IPSY bag this month. My skin is typically normal-to-dry, so finding products that keep my skin feeling hydrated is very important to me. What immediately drew me to this cleanser was that it claims have hyaluronic acid, which - if you didn't already know - is making the rounds as the holy grail of anti-aging. Specifically, hyaluronic acid is naturally found in the skin and is crucial to maintaining collagen levels. Collagen is important to keep your skin nice and tight, so bring on the hyaluronic acid!

Overall, I liked this cleanser but was not prepared for the jelly texture. If you aren't careful, the gel will slide right off of your hand and into the sink before you have a chance to foam it up. I used this with my Clarisonic Mia and found that my skin felt clean and bouncy afterwards. Will I purchase the full-size? Mmm....maybe. I like it, but I'm not sure that I love it yet. Time will only tell.

24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Perversion - Urban Decay
I actually own the full-sized version of this eye pencil already but was very glad to receive another one because it is amazing. The color Perversion is a very dark black. It glides on like butter and definitely keeps it's color intensity throughout the day. This is a fantastic smoky eye pencil because it smudges like a dream. The flip side is that my lash and water line tend to be the oiliest part of my face - go figure. So, if I'm not trying for an intense smoky eye look, I need to set my eye area with powder to prevent turning into a panda. I highly recommend the urban decay 24/7 eye pencils in every color! I specifically love the green and purple which I use to bring out the different shades in my brown eyes and make them pop.

Gloss Couleur Intense in Kiss - Studio Makeup
Last, but not least, this lip gloss is the PERFECT fall shade! I have a terrible time matching my lip color to my skin tone. Nude lips tend to wash me out while the peachy and berry colors can sometimes leave me feeling a bit garish. But this color hit the mark for me. It gives off that moody burgundy berry fall look with that model perfect glossiness. My only wish is that the color would last longer! I found that the beautiful color disappears quickly leaving the glossiness behind. I suppose I could simply re-apply it to keep it fresh, but as a busy working mom, I just don't often have time to think about it. That said, this is the perfect fall date night lip gloss - just don't expect it to last through any make-out session.


AND, there you have it folks! My October IPSY bag reveal and product review. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this post. While you are here, I want to let you know that you are special and you deserve to look and feel your best. I hope that you remember to give yourself a pamper now and then and remember that you matter!

Please send me some love by leaving a comment to let me know what your go-to product is that makes you feel amazing! I love trying new things!


Recommended Read: The Wahls Protocol

If you are interested in healthy living and using food as medicine, then The Wahls Protocol by Dr. Terry Wahls is an excellent read. I discovered Dr. Wahls after stumbling upon her TedX talk "Minding your Mitochondria." You can watch it here{link}. After watching her Ted talk, I couldn't wait to learn more and her book does not disappoint. It is easy to read and will inspire you to make more conscious decisions about what you eat in order to maintain optimal health.

Dr. Wahls' Background

In 2000, Dr. Wahls was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), an autoimmune disease that attacks the brain and central nervous system. She received treatment from the top doctors at the Cleveland Clinic, but, despite the latest prescription drugs, by 2003 she was in a wheelchair.

A practicing medical doctor, Dr. Wahls researched the latest studies to find a way to slow down her disease. She began a series of self-experiments and lifestyle changes that was so successful, her symptoms actually reversed. After starting her protocol, Dr. Wahls went from a wheelchair to being able to walk, jog, and take a 20 mile bike ride! Her personal journey to health inspired her to write the Wahls Protocol to share her experience with others with the hope that they too could replicate her results.

In the Wahls' Protocol, Diet is Key!

While Dr. Wahls’ protocol is an overall lifestyle plan, the major component of the book is its diet.

There are three diet levels to Dr. Wahl's protocol: the Wahls Diet, Wahls Paleo, and Wahls Paleo Plus. Each level is increasingly more restrictive with the last being a ketogenic diet. Her basic diet is easy to remember: eat 9 cups of fruits and vegetables daily - 3 cups of leafy greens, 3 cups of bright colors, and 3 cup of sulfur rich vegetables. She recommends eating organic when possible, adding grass fed/wild meats and fish, and avoiding eggs and dairy.

Dr. Wahls' diet focuses on using nutrition (vs supplements) to protect the brain and specifically the mitochondria. MS is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and central nervous system. In MS, the brain begins to shrink over time, causing symptoms to worsen and become permanent. Dr. Wahls reviewed research in similar diseases that caused the brain to shrink. She noticed that in all of the cases, the mitochondria - the cell's energy centers - were not functioning well. Using successful studies in mice and functional medicine principles, Dr. Wahls identified various vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients that the mitochondria need to stay healthy and to protect the brain from shrinking. She believed that if she obtained the same nutrients through food, her body would not only better absorb it, but she might also receive the benefit of millions of other compounds that were not yet identified by science.

When creating her food plan, Dr. Wahls’ found that the Paleo diet provided the highest level of nutrients. She adapted the paleo diet into her protocol, adding foods in amounts that would provide the building blocks that she identified as critical to the developing healthy brain cells and mitochondria.

Thoughts on the Protocol

There is a lot of buzz lately around the paleo diet as a cure all. I am skeptical about fad diets in general, particularly ones that eliminate select food groups. However, here are the things that set Dr. Wahls’ protocol apart for me:

  1. She is a practicing medical doctor and bases her protocol on legitimate medical studies.
  2. She does not advocate eliminating traditional medicine or prescription medication in favor of natural or homeopathic cures. 
  3. She admits that the full scale scientific studies supporting her protocol are not complete, but many people -especially those with MS- don't necessarily have time to wait. 
  4. Her diet is balanced and nutrient dense.
  5. Her results speak for itself.

Dr. Wahl's book makes a lot of sense. In order to be healthy, you need to give your body the building blocks it needs to stay healthy. The best way to do this, is through food. It is not a secret that the American diet is seriously lacking in nutrients. Our lifestyle encourages us to reach for pre-made meals or quick and easy solutions. This leads to many people eating a lot of processed foods with little to no nutritional value but chock full of chemicals and additives. It is no wonder that food allergies, cancer, and autoimmune diseases are on the rise.

I, thankfully, do not have MS, but do have family members who have MS and Parkinson's disease. In my youth, I often took my health for granted. As I've gotten older, I realize how important it is to take care of my body now, and not wait for a terrible diagnosis to start. Dr. Wahls' book gave me hope that I can still repair whatever damage I have done in the past and take care of my cells going forward. Prevention is key!

What do you think of the Wahl's protocol?  Do you follow any specific diet that you find helpful? Or do you feel that the paleo or "food as medicine"  movement is a marketing ploy? I find that people have very polarized views on this subject and am interested in hearing your thoughts! Let me know what you think in the comments* below.

Thanks for stopping by!

xx, E

*Please keep it classy! Different views are accepted, but disrespectful, name-calling, and bullying comments will be deleted.

My first IPSY bag - Review

After thinking about whether or not to check out a new subscription based service, I decided to try out the IPSY glam bag for several reasons:

First, I adore Michelle Phan (IPSY's founder). She is the first online beauty guru that I followed religiously from Xanga to YouTube. She seems genuine in her recommendations so - even though there are similar companies out there - I trusted that any company of hers would be something that I could get on board with.

Second, it is a relatively low risk way to treat yourself every month and get your beauty self-care on. Compared to other subscription based type sites, like Stitch Fix (see my Stitch Fix review here), $10 per month is not a huge commitment.

Third and lastly, I've been binge watching YouTube makeup tutorials lately and wanted to try out some new looks without spending a fortune....mmmmkay? Some people like to slay on a budget.

Let's get on with the review...

The IPSY subscription process

I signed up for the IPSY service in July 2017.

When you first sign up, IPSY makes you take a quiz to determine the types of products you are looking for and your general style. Much like Stitch Fix, they try to tailor your particular beauty style, skin type and coloring to the samples they send you each month. Easy peasy. The hardest part about signing up with IPSY was trying to get off the waitlist! And while two months - in retrospect- isn't a terribly long wait, it is eerily similar to waiting for Christmas as a child and watching other people open their gifts, except, you don't get a gift and you don't know when Christmas is going to be for YOU.

Another dreadful part of this process was that IPSY offers an opportunity to get off the waitlist, BUT ONLY IF you share that you signed up for IPSY on your social media accounts. It seemed a little too much like the contrived and spammy MLM blasts in my social feeds. You know the ones that I am talking about. I don't like spamming my friends, especially not for a service that I have not actually tried, so I decided to wait it out.

My very first IPSY glam bag!

My first IPSY bag was September 2017.

It came in a cute pink envelope mailer. I received a total of six products: A highlight/blusher from Pixi by Petra, Photofinish primer "Radiance" by Smashbox, Pop goes the shadow eye shadow in Toasted, an angled eye shadow shading brush by Luxie, and two Korean face masks from Manefit - which was provided in partnership with a company called Soko Glam (an online Korean skincare retailer). The glam bag itself was cute and edgy and came with a pamphlet on the month's theme "LIKE A BOSS". I can dig it. The bag was small but made of a good quality.

Final thoughts on the IPSY service.

Based on the first bag alone, I think signing up for the IPSY service was worth the wait. The products sent definitely matched the types of products that I was hoping to receive. I am still testing out the individual products and will give a full review in a separate post. Overall, the value of what I received from IPSY seems worth the $10 monthly subscription fee. All of the samples were of a decent size and from recognized brands. I definitely have been having fun experimenting with my look over the last few days. Having an IPSY subscription is a great way to encourage monthly self-care for a reasonable price.

What about you? Have you tried IPSY recently? If so, what are your thoughts on the service? Has it met your expectations? What was your favorite product so far? I can't wait to hear your thoughts. Let me know in the comments below!


New Year's Resolution Themes for 2016

Photo Credit: Ashley Ella Design

Like many people, I look forward to the New Year as a fresh start.

In the past, my New Year’s resolutions would be a list of the specific things I wanted to be, do, or have within that year. While it is important to be specific when putting things out into the universe, sometimes my list would include things that were not for my highest good - a la the dreaded warning “be careful what you wish for” - and other times it would be a disappointment if there were too many items left on the list at the end of the year.

So, I began to organize my resolutions around three major themes or areas for self-improvement instead of creating a list of wants. I found that using this method increased my chance of succeeding in my goals - limiting my resolutions to self-improvement themes eliminated wasting time chasing fleeting desires, and sticking with only three major themes forced me to focus on the most important things that I wanted to improve on. At the end of the year, I will grade how well I did making choices that supported my themes for the year.  

After thinking long and hard, I decided that this will be the year that:

I will follow my curiosity.

For many reasons, I admire and am inspired by Elizabeth Gilbert. Recently, I came across her Super Soul Sunday talk about living a life by following your curiosity rather than pursuing a passion. Her message is exactly what I needed to hear. You see, I thought I had a passion for a career that I pursued and attained, but later realized that it wasn’t what I thought it would be. I found myself feeling lost and depressed. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t know how to live my life without passion and I didn’t know how to find a new passion.

But thanks to Ms. Gilbert’s message, it is liberating to know that it is OK if I don’t know what my burning passion is or if I don’t have one at all. Instead of doing nothing or trudging along until I find a passion, I am excited to try new things and live a curiosity-driven life. This blog is one of the ways that I am holding myself accountable to explore and try the things that I am curious about and to share what I’m learning with others.

I will learn how to take care of myself.

Jada Pinkett-Smith

Here is another video that really spoke to me. Until you raise a child, you cannot fully appreciate how exhausting life with little ones can be. I am the first to admit that I underestimated what it would cost me to become a mother. After all, how hard is it to feed, clothe, and play with kids day after day? As it turns out, INCREDIBLY HARD! And while it is also incredibly rewarding, if you aren’t careful, it is easy to burn out and lose yourself in the process. You go around taking care of little humans who need you for everything and by the end of the day you realize that you completely ignored your own needs. Just like Jada talks about in her video, if you focus only on the happiness of your children and husband, you will forget how to make yourself happy. Soon resentment sets in and you start holding your family responsible for the state of your own happiness. In other words, you turn into a guilt-mongering mommy martyr and that is not who I want to be.

This year, I intend to re-learn how to take care of myself so that I will have the necessary energy and resources required to take care of my family without turning into a mommy martyr.  

I will put my phone away and set aside time to focus on the kids.

This may be the hardest resolution to keep because checking my phone is often an unconscious habit.
Being with the little ones all day, I frequently use my phone as an escape to get some “me” time. It was way too easy to get sucked into the endless scrolling and constant updates on social media. Soon, I was checking my phone every minute like a crack addict without even thinking about it.

Recently, I imagined how I would feel if the teen-aged versions of my children were unable to peel their eyes away from a screen long enough to have a decent conversation with me. Needless to say, it was not a good feeling. In fact, it was an awful feeling.

I realize that despite my best efforts that scenario may happen anyway, but I should still strive to be a good role model and lead by example.

So, this year, I will set limits on when I use my phone so that I can be present and have meaningful interactions with my children while they still desperately want my attention.

And there you have it - my three themes for the New Year! To a blessed and successful 2016!

Creating a family schedule

I have the current good fortune to work part-time from home so that I can be the primary caretaker to our two young children. While there is no greater joy for me than being with my babies, taking care of young children all day long while trying to get any other work done is EXHAUSTING. 

Battle worn and over-caffeinated, I would often pose the question to other moms who I believed had some secret to surviving. Clearly, they must right? They had their children dressed, out the door by 9:00 am, and in bed by 7:00 pm every day. I was lucky to be out of my pajamas and the house before noon.

The secret, I was told, is to have a schedule and clear routines so that everyone knows what happens next. Sounds easy enough, but for someone who grew up winging it from day to day, I found myself rebelling against the idea of creating a "schedule." "That's no fun!" I thought. "Having a set schedule sounds too rigid and boring." 

So I continued winging it until I realized that I was quickly overwhelmed. Everything - work, kids, and household responsibilities - screamed for my attention all at once. I would often find myself feeling flustered and ineffective. Because I didn’t set aside time every day to work, I ran into the problem of pulling all-nighters in order to meet deadlines. In turn, I became a grumpy, impatient version of myself, and was not the parent that I wanted to be.

So, I decided to give this idea of having a daily schedule another look.


I figured there must be an ideal schedule on the internet that we could just copy. However, after spending way too much time on Google, it was apparent that there was no "perfect" schedule that would solve all of my problems. Every family is different, and I needed to create our own schedule to fit our needs. 

To start, I found this fantastic Daily Schedule {via Confessions of a Homeschooler} on Pinterest and decided to use it as my outline. It has the basic elements of everything that seemed ideal for our purposes. Next, I removed the daily curriculum and changed the flow of events to mirror the times and routines for lunch, physical activity, and naps set by a local Montessori preschool that we are interested in. For extra credit, I also created a morning and evening routine chart to help our toddler learn the basics of taking care of himself and his belongings on his own.

In the end, there is a lot of flexibility built into our schedule. Our son is still quite young and he has many years of formal education in the future. So, while I plan to introduce him to more of a structured play environment and various Montessori style activities, I don't expect that we will be focused on doing a set curriculum during the week (e.g., language activities on Mondays, math on Tuesdays, and so forth and so on). Rather, we use that time for activities or to attend play dates, etc. We also included limited screen time into the schedule, but only as a means to restrict when he is allowed to watch his favorite shows.


I originally thought that having a schedule would be stifling and boring. But, it is actually quite freeing. We are still open to changing things up for special circumstances, but it is nice to have a regular schedule to come back to that is comfortable and gets everyone on the same page again. Having a schedule and routines give me a feeling of being more in control of the day – as much as is humanly possible with two babies – instead of having the day control me.

So, what about your family? What kinds of routines and schedules do you have in place? Do you feel that you are able to maintain a schedule in your family or is it easier for you to play everything by ear? We want to hear – let us know!

My first Stitch Fix

*This is not an affiliate post. But, I honestly love this service so much and believe that my readers will too. Since I look forward to using this service again, this post does contain referral links that may provide me with a credit towards another "fix" in the future. Enjoy!

What is Stitch Fix?
Stitch Fix is an online shopping experience where a personal stylist will send you 5 items of clothing/accessories {a fix} based on your personal preferences. You are able to try everything on before you buy. Returning the items that you decide not to purchase is free and easy! The service charges only a $20 styling fee, which is absorbed into the total cost of any purchase you decide to make. If you buy all five items in your fix, you receive a 25% off discount on the entire order.

Why I love Stitch Fix.
Let me start by saying that this service is amazing! If you are an introvert who avoids the mall because you can't stand the crowds, if too many style options overwhelm you, or if you think shopping has turned into an Olympic event with two screaming children attached to your body, this service will change your life. I have had only one "fix" so far and I can't stop recommending Stitch Fix to my family and friends.

The top 3 reasons why Stitch Fix rocks:
1. You are able to try on the outfits in the comfort of your own home, on your own time and in realistic lighting conditions.
2. You avoid the mall craziness. No crowds, no fighting for parking, no screaming children to force you to abandon your shopping mission.
3. You have a personal stylist - an actual human, not just a robot - who selects clothes for you based on your personal profile and helps you to define your style. C'mon now, celebrities use personal stylists and now you can too!

How it works.
The process is easy!

First, create an account on Stitch Fix.

Second, take a quiz to determine your style profile. Your personal stylist will use this information to send you items based on your measurements and preferences. They will also choose items for you based on your Pinterest style board, so pin away! Building your Pinterest style board is like online "window shopping" and adds to the fun.

Third, schedule a fix. Choose a day that you want your items to arrive. You will only have three business days to look over your items, so don't schedule a fix during a time when you will be too busy to try things on or to remember to return what you do not want. When ordering a fix, you will have an opportunity to write a personal note to the stylist. I highly recommend that you take advantage of this opportunity and be very specific about what you expect. For example, in my fix, I asked for clothes that can take me from the end of summer through fall. I specifically requested that I wanted my fix to include two tops, two bottoms and a dress. It was exactly what I received.

My experience using Stitch Fix.
Receiving a box from Stitch Fix feels like Christmas! You know it's coming but you don't know what you are going to get. On fix day, I was so excited to check the mail and could not wait to get the kids to bed so that I could try everything on.

When I opened the box, the first thing I looked for was the styling card, which included a personal note from the stylist.

The note was a nice touch, but after checking out the styling suggestions, I'll admit that I was not impressed. It was almost disappointing, like being the kid who got the socks instead of the Red Ryder BB gun that they asked for. "You'll shoot your eye out, kid!"

It felt like the stylist didn't understand the look that I was going for.  But I tried the clothes on anyway and that is when things really turned around!

Here is the rundown of what I received:

 Hillway Button Front Tank - Keep

Colibri Plaid Printed Tab-Sleeve Shirt - Keep

Level 99 Sandy Boot Cut Jean - Keep

Pixley Darcy Weave Jersey T-Shirt Dress - Return

RD Style Rory Faux Leather Front Legging- Return

After trying everything on, I knew that I wanted to keep the tank, the shirt, and the jeans, but the 25% off discount was VERY tempting.

I was tired and weak. My inner shopaholic tried to convince me that if I bought the dress and the leggings too, I would be saving money. I would get the remaining two items - a value of over $100 - for only $35!

But in the end, I wasn't in love with the dress and the leggings didn't fit quite right. I texted my cousin for a second opinion and she talked sense into me - Don't buy clothes just because of a deal since you will probably never wear them. So the next day, I returned the items in the prepaid return envelope, used the online checkout process to provide Stitch Fix with feedback and Voila! I had a couple of new outfits that I desperately needed.

Besides, the money that I didn't spend buying the whole box can now be used towards my next fix...

So, if you are like me and could use a new outfit or two without the headache and hassle of finding clothes for yourself at the mall or online, by all means please Try Stitch Fix Here and let me know what you think!

A love letter to coffee.

After I became pregnant with Sister, I decided to go on a coffee fast. Why, you ask? Oh, I don't know. Maybe because I am a masochist. I'd like to believe that it was for the health of my unborn baby. To be completely honest - prenatal caffeine studies aside - I hoped that by eliminating coffee during pregnancy, perhaps Sister would sleep through the night early. It didn't work.

She developed colic at two weeks old, at approximately the same time that Brother had a sleep regression. To get through the day, I added caffeine back into my life. It started innocently enough with just a cup of black tea in the morning. Pretty soon a single cup turned into two. Before I knew it, I was having the second press of my husband's coffee. After all, the second press has less caffeine and is healthier than a decaf, right?

It wasn't until my daily third press of coffee that I realized I should just get the real thing. And so I did. The first sip was an ecstasy better than I could have ever imagined. All I could think about was how in love I felt with coffee. Not just any ordinary love, a full blown obsessive love. I was so overwhelmed with feelings that I literally wrote a love letter to coffee. Yes, you read that right. In a moment of caffeine-infused passion, I actually wrote a love letter to coffee. But if loving coffee is wrong, I don't want to be right. So for your entertainment, here it is:
Oh coffee, how I have missed you! When your silky smooth flavor hits my lips, you slowly release caffeine into my system and my day is instantly better. You are the first thing that I crave in the morning. At night, I can't wait until the next time that I taste your sweetness. You make me a better person! Without you, my days are spent in a total funk, sleep-walking through life with eyes half closed. With you, I am happily able to take on any challenge. Together, we power through any obstacle. As I drink you in from my cup, there is a smile on my face and caffeine coursing through my veins. Oh how I love you! Thank you for always being there. 

With my eternal love, an exhausted mother of two.
My husband is ready to check me into a coffee rehab any day now....