Saturday, February 28, 2015

Week 8: Winter Returns!

(ISO 200 f/2.2 SS 1/200 w/shadows brightened in Lightroom)
We've been having such Spring-like weather, but Winter has returned with a vengeance.  This is basically what our backdoor/deck looks like all the time.

I hope it's warm where you are :)  Have a great weekend!

ps--this was almost my photo of the week:


It's Joe teaching Townes how the missiles shoot from his new Lego set with Kate successfully completing her first photo bomb....such a silly goose.

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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Vanity Organization: Using What You Have

(Warning: You are about to see what a not-updated, 1980/90s bathroom looks like...striped wallpaper, and all.  We'll renovate some day.  It's in the 5-year-plan.)

I'm somewhat embarrassed to show you this picture (and not just because it's not updated), but I have to admit that this is what my vanity looks like far too often:

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It's a disaster!  And I can't even blame half of it on Joe--his vanity is on the other side of the bathroom.

I wasn't planning on showing this on the blog, but I walked in the other night and told myself, "enough is enough!"  I couldn't walk by or use this vanity any longer.  I knew I was going to do more than just tidy up, so I decided to grab my camera and take a few before and after shots.

Despite my messy ways, I truly strive for and appreciate order and organization in my life.  But, it's a daily struggle.  As you can see from these pictures:

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I'm a self-described "stuffer".  For example, when I take something out of the fridge, I stuff if back in wherever there is an open space.  Even after I clean and organize it and it's looking perfect, with labels for different zones, I still struggle to keep it organized.  If I take out a few things for lunch or dinner, I have to really focus when I put everything back in to make sure they go where they belong.  Otherwise, I just stuff everything back in with no rhyme or reason.

It makes zero sense for preparing myself for the next time I need something out of the fridge, but it's kind of a mindless thing I do when I'm cleaning the kitchen.  I have to really pay attention to keep it all in order.  The same approach goes for the vanity.  I usually use a product and just stick it back anywhere, including in my "organized" drawers:

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It's such a bad habit!

So once I snapped some pictures for evidence, I got down to business.  I put everything into categories (nothing too earth shattering..just hair, skincare, brushes, etc.) and came up with a plan.  I grabbed a few things that were not being used from the bar downstairs and put them to good use on the vanity.  They really helped spiff the space up:


The brass cake stand was a hand-me-down from my mother-in- law.  I've used it in a couple of spots in past homes (mainly in the living room), but it works perfectly here for my hair products and odds and ends.

I love using decorative items that lift everything off of the counter, giving the illusion of space.  The brass bowl is from a past Nate Berkus Target line and works perfectly with the other brass elements.  The small white cake stand is from Home Goods and the orange and white bowl is from Anthropologie.

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I should mention that I obviously don't use each of these products on a daily basis.  Many of the items are products I'm trying out or that I weave into the routine just so they don't go to waste.

The drawer has plenty of items that aren't used on a daily basis, but products that I might want to use on any given day.  I reorganized it by creating zones: eyes, cheeks (I stashed my concealer here, too) and lips/miscellaneous.

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This system has worked so much better.  I'm not digging around in my drawer looking for my eyebrow pencil, or my bobbi pins.

I'm a huge believer in having ANY system and actually using it.  I don't think there is any one system that works for everyone.  As long as you train yourself to put back the product where you got it, you can stay organized.  There has to be a designated place for everything.

Also, I typically keep my hair tools out on the counter (lazy!) and getting everything off of the counters allows me to do that easily and neatly.

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So there you have it!  A quick and easy, 30 minute vanity organization session.   And I'm happy to report that it has stayed relatively clean like this.  When it feels like things are getting out of control (sometimes I'm in a hurry in the morning...shocker), I remind myself to stay proactive and put everything back in its place.  It's like a little gift to myself for the next time I get ready.

It's amazing what a calm feeling I get when I walk by or use the vanity now.  Plus, I get ready faster because I'm not looking around for a product at any given moment.  I'm just working my system (ANY SYSTEM WILL DO--this isn't a post about some new and magical organizing hack).

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So tell me, are you a stuffer?  Or are you super regimented about returning things to their "home".
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Aesop Parsley Seed Mask

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I know, I know.  Another mask review?  I was planning on doing a review on some new foundations I've been trying, but life seemed to get in the way these past few days.  Plus, I'm in painting mode again and when I get motivated to paint, I kind of have blinders on.  I had this post sitting in my drafts, so I figured now was as good a time as any!

I was never a big mask person before a couple of years ago.  I always thought they were "frou frou" or something a facialist would apply at a spa.  Now, I think they are an essential part of a good, at-home skin care routine.

The Aesop Parsley Seed Mask ($39) is a clay mask designed to deeply, yet gently, cleanse your skin.  Clay is a popular ingredient in skin care as it has "drawing properties".  It pulls the impurities out from deep inside your pores.  That is exactly what this mask does.

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It's a cool, easy to apply formula that is good for sensitive skin and dry skin types, alike.  It is also anti-oxidant rich.  Which with all of the environmental attacks our skin takes on a daily basis, it's nice to beef up your skin's protective outer layer.

To use this clay mask, you apply a thin layer all over your face (or you can use it in a specific area) with your fingers or a foundation brush.  I use my fingers because I'm too lazy to wash brushes!  After about 10 minutes (or up to 15 minutes) rinse with luke warm water (I usually use a wet, super soft wash cloth or baby wipe to help release the mask).

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This mask can be used on any skin type about twice per week and reveals fresh, clean skin.

The only negative is that I cannot stand the smell of this mask.  I don't know if it's the parsley seed, or just something else in the ingredients, but it's not pleasant. Some people love it, but I really don't care for it.  And I think the Origins Out of Trouble mask does a better job at clearing me up when I'm having some trouble spots.  Plus, the Aesop mask is a little more expensive.  And I'm as cheap as I'm lazy ;)

Aesop is an Australian company founded in 1987.  They create products using plant-based and man-made, scientifically proven ingredients.  This surprised me--everything about them screams "all-natural" and "organic".  But the company believes in a mix of plant-based ingredients combined with the best that science has to offer.  And they not only don't shy away from this, they brag about it.

In addition to their Parsley Seed line of products, they offer a wide range of skin/body care products as well as hair care products.  They are known for their minimalistic packaging (they want the product inside to outshine the packaging) and lack of marketing, both of which helped earn them "cult following".  Their followers must have deep pockets because the products aren't cheap.  But then, if they do what they say, it's hard to argue with the price.

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