“I Can’t Wait Until Tomorrow”

How many times have you heard someone utter the words, “I can’t wait until tomorrow,” “I can’t wait until Friday,” or “I hate Mondays?” I find myself saying this on days I feel sick, lonely, or even just bored.

Somehow the future is always more bright, beautiful, and easier than today. Nobody warned us that there would still be trials, loss, and unplanned twists and turns where you least expect them. That being said, why do we still always hope for tomorrow to come, even when we have so many blessings today? I think a big part of it has to do with boredom. It’s hard to sit still and have a mundane schedule and so much easier to “live for today” when today is exciting and great.

Getting sick with POTS really opened my eyes to the harder parts of life. One of the most difficult lessons I’ve learned is that the future isn’t promised, and some dreams may never come true. You know what else I learned from these lessons, though? That this is all okay! I learned that you have the opportunity to grow and learn from trials, and that you can always handle so much more than you realize. I learned that sometimes the hardest thing you have to go through can turn into the biggest blessing you’ve ever had, and that God’s plan for you is even better than what you have planned for yourself. Finally, I learned that sometimes all you can do is take life one day at a time, and focusing too much on the future can actually be harmful when you are dealing with a particularly difficult trial.

Instead, on the harder days I try my best to list my blessings. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ve surely seen my “Five Blessings” posts. This was the most recent one:

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Instead of having the mindset that life is going to be better tomorrow, count the blessings you have today. Don’t get me wrong; it can be really hard sometimes, but if you can find even just one thing to be grateful for, life quickly feels a little bit easier. Sometimes you need to just take baby steps, even if it’s just counting your blessings — one day at a time.


Update: Still trying to change my domain to KristaLauren.com, but it’s taking forever because I need technical help and it hasn’t been the biggest priority on my list. Keep in mind this site will be changing, though!

My Superpower

Seeing women supporting women is one of my favorite things in the world.

Something that has made my heart so incredibly full has been all the incredible support I have gotten from friends and family since announcing my new business with Rodan + Fields. I haven’t been able to work since I got sick with POTS right after graduating college, so having a job is a really exciting thing for me. I’m stoked to have something really productive and fun to do with my time, and I want to use this business to change the world. I know how ridiculous that may sound, but as someone who as suffered with pretty bad acne for years I know just how great it is when you are able to stop focusing on that and feeling confident in your own skin. Clearing my skin might not have changed the world at all, but it changed my world and the way I looked at myself.

The greatest joy my heart feels is when I’m able to help someone feel confident, strong, and like they are a really valuable human being. One of my superpowers is seeing the beauty and strength in others, and I want everyone I meet to know that they have something beautifully unique to offer the world. I do think that each person on this earth can add some sort of value that others cannot, and people often fail to see just how amazing their potential is.

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Seeing the amazing results from the skincare was what got me interested in Rodan + Fields, but learning about the great opportunity with the business has been life-changing for me.

Now that I have a job that is all about lifting others up I am so excited to see what the future has in store for me and my friends. All are welcome on my team, and I want to create a special little nook of women to cheer each other on, support one another, and be there for each other. I like to think of Rodan + Fields as my own personal team of friends who are there for fellowship and to help make the world a better place by helping one person at a time. I want to build people’s confidence by giving them beautiful skin, but even more than that I want to help people build opportunities that will make their lives better.

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I can’t have a normal 9-5 job because of my POTS being so finicky, so I’m so excited to be working from home…
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Or from the tables of fun little restaurants and coffee shops with friends when I’m feeling up to it!

I still think my purpose God gave me in the world is to be a cheerleader to everyone I form a bond with. I have a heart that loves to see others succeed, and even though my life changed drastically and I haven’t been able to pursue my own dreams of becoming a journalist, I have been so happy seeing my friends chase and surpass their own dreams. For as long as I live I know my heart is going to keep beating fast for others, and no matter how hard things may get I will always get joy from watching people figure out why they are so important to the world.

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If you’re interested in hearing more about joining my team shoot me a message on Facebook or email me at Krista.germanis@gmail.com. All are welcome, and I am excited to be able to spoil and lift up all of my business partners as we go on this journey together.

What’s In My [Makeup] Bag?

Okay, so it’s been forever since I told y’all I was moving to cruelty-free beauty products, but I finally feel like I’ve tried enough to actually share some reviews. I have subscribed to a few different beauty boxes — ipsy, Birchbox, and FabFitFun — and am a VIP member at Sephora now that I have been in so many times to switch up my beauty routine.

I decided to do my review in a similar manner some of the subscription boxes do, by showing off one of my favorite makeup bags with 5 products I recommend. The reason I’m linking everything to Sephora’s website is because I joined their beauty program that lets you pay just $10 for free shipping on any order for a year. What?!

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A big “Thank You” to my good friend Jenni for the Macy-inspired makeup bag!

Without further ado, here are a few of my “Must Have” cruelty-free staples:

Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes Mascara
Let me start off by saying I love Tarte cosmetics. Every product I have tried I’ve really enjoyed, but this mascara is thebomb.com. Not only does it give my lashes volume, but it lengthens them and gives them a beautifully full look. I really could not say enough great things about this mascara, and between the cruelty-free testing and incredible product, Tarte has a new lifetime customer.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion
I didn’t know the power of primer until I started using this baby. Currently I am kind of obsessed with bronze and gold eyeshadows, so I use my Naked palette or Pure Cosmetics shadows over the primer to create a fun everyday look. The Urban Decay eyeshadow primer makes these colors so much more pigmented than they would be on your naked eye, and sets a really nice foundation to add eyeliner to if desired.

Edward Bess Deep Shine Lipgloss
Oh my gosh. The way this lipgloss smells combined with its stay-power is amazing. It takes a little bit of getting used to, as it’s a stickier formula than I’m used to, but after just a couple of wears I have become a loyal fan.

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-on Eye Pencil
It’s safe to say UD is one of my favorite makeup brands, (Along with Tarte and Jane Iredale) and I was so relieved to hear that they are also cruelty-free. My favorite eyeliner color is “Perversion,” as it’s a super-basic black that can go with any kind of look. I would say it’s a bit on the heavier side, though, so use it sparingly!

Zoya Nailpolish
Anyone who knows me will vouch that I always have some sort of fun polish on my nails. Needless to say I was devistated when I found out that OPI does, in fact, test on animals, and that my enormous polish collection had to be done away with. Thankfully, though, my last FabFitFun box had a beautiful subtle pink shade of cruelty-free brand Zoya nailpolish. I am in love with this brand now, and can’t wait to try other colors. It’s really reasonably priced and has incredibly trendy colors. Horray for loving animals and beauty!


What cruelty-free products do you think should be a staple in my beauty bag? I would love more recommendations, so sound off in the comments!

Feature Friday: Capturing Beauty

“Tilt your head, you are gorgeous when you look at the camera like that!”

I laugh as my best friend cheers me on from behind the camera. It’s so ironic that she is a photographer; Audrey is one of the most beautiful girls I have ever known, and it’s funny that she found a passion to showcase others’ beauty. After doing two photoshoots with her I decided I had to take a picture or two of her every time we went out; after all, she should totally be in front of the camera too!

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Audrey is blessed to be outwardly beautiful, but it’s her heart I love most. She is one of my very best friends, and that has absolutely nothing to do with looks and everything to do with character. Audrey is someone who has been a fiercely loyal friend since I met her, and even though we both want to do similar things in the world, we support each other and push each other to be better, rather than choosing to compete. I can always count on her to make me laugh when I want to cry, and be a great friend even when she has a million other things going on.

I have so many different stories I could write about Audrey, but today I wanted to focus a little on her journey to DC and how she has handled being a grounded twentysomething.

Krista:
You moved to DC without having a set plan or a job lined up, but everything worked out. This is a great example of your faith in God providing for our needs. How did you feel when you made such a big step?

Audrey:
At the time I decided to move to Washington I was attending college in a really tiny, snowy college town. I’m from Las Vegas so even just the idea of being cold is so upsetting to me — I don’t do snow! I remember thinking, “I would absolutely love to get out of here, but don’t see how that’s a possibility right now.” The thought of a few semesters left in my little college town also seemed a little daunting to this solar-powered girl.

I can’t describe why, but I sincerely just felt so good about moving. I had no plan, so even though I felt direction-less I applied for three internships — one in Texas, one in California, and one in DC. It was November and I was somehow hoping to score a last-minute winter internship. I have always been a firm believer that in life, we get what we are willing to work for. I think a lot of the time we sit back and wait for signs in life or big things to happen when really God is saying, “What are you waiting for? If you want it, go for it!” He can’t guide us if we aren’t willing to take that first step in the dark.

I was in class one day and got a call from a man who was the owner of a pretty prestigious company I had applied to in Washington, DC. He didn’t hesitate to tell me how under qualified he felt like I was for the position, and needless to say it was pretty intimidating. Nevertheless, he agreed to meet with me in person and two weeks later I found myself driving across the country.  Needless to say, that door closed and the next six weeks I felt like I was totally in the dark, but I kept applying, networking, and most importantly, I never stopped praying. I am now working at a job that is so perfect for me at this time in my life and I am tremendously grateful the internship didn’t work out. It is amazing how when a door closes it is often a blessing in disguise, and I think God blesses us when we keep our faith even if we can’t see the bigger picture at the time.

K:
Are you still happy with your decision to move here?

A:
I am so happy! And I mean, I get “Krista time” so what is not to love about that?! I think happiness is something we create, not something we magically find. Although I would be happy anywhere, the way things fell into place once I got here has seriously been so inspired. Since moving back I have had people come into my life in such incredible ways that I couldn’t imagine life without.

K:
What is your favorite thing about the DC area?

A:
I am from Nevada so growing up if we wanted to go to another state it was often an all day road trip. I love that I can get in my car or catch a train and in just a couple of hours I can be somewhere else entirely. DC also has such a contagious energy about it that I love but it also transforms at night and is so peaceful. You can spend a lot of money and go to an elaborate show and dinner or spend absolutely nothing at all walking around the monuments or in a museum and still have such a rewarding experience. The history and diversity here never cease to amaze me.

K:
You are someone I really love because you’ve never let a relationship, a job, or a busy schedule get in the way of your friendships. Have you always been like that? What advice would you give to girls trying to juggle a busy life?

A:
For me, life is all about finding the balance. I think in this area especially, everyone is busy but some people wear it as a badge of honor and I am just so not that way. I try to give everyone the best of me throughout the day and put my best face forward but then there are times when I just need to unwind and be with girlfriends and unwind over Godiva Chocolate Cheesecake Factory over a good vent sesh 😉 Ya feel me?

K:
Umm, of course I do!

We haven’t ever really been single at the same time, but our interactions never change when either of us gets a boyfriend. Do you think there’s a reason for this? What makes you value “girl time” as well as quality time with your boyfriend?

A:
Growing up my family didn’t communicate a ton. I was raised with a single mom who worked so hard to make a living for my brothers and I, but she was spread thin so my girl friends became my closest confidants. I think a lot of girls lose their identity in their boyfriends. A lot of the time people see relationships as the whole cake instead of the icing on the cake of life. Having a relationship with someone you love and trust is a beautiful thing, but you are both still individuals. At the end of the day most people are likely to go through a couple of relationships before they end up with the person they will marry, and when those relationships end you shouldn’t be calling up your girl friends like, “Hey… Remember me?” I think it is totally healthy to spend some time apart in relationships — it keeps you both satisfied and allows you to miss each other instead of having to do everything together. I also have the most fiercely loyal, hilarious, and loving friends in my life that just seem to get me. Who wouldn’t want girl time with friends like that!?

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K:
Something I find really cool about our relationship is that we both want similar things in life, but build each other up and share successes, rather than competing. What advice would you give to others in remaining supportive of their friends, rather than competing with them?

A:
When I was in high school I was really insecure. I had this small mindset that I needed to prove myself, but the only person I wasn’t good enough for was myself. As I got older I realized that I was really self destructive and then embarked on a journey where I was trying to be more self-aware. Once I shifted that way of thinking I learned that I not only found joy in my own accomplishments but also the accomplishments of those around me. Someone else’s success doesn’t diminish your own and I wish more women understood that. I remember having froyo “girl time” dates with you all the way back to my first year in college and we always wanted the same things, but I was always so impressed with this about you as well! Having humble but accomplished women in my life makes me want to be better — not bitter — and I wasted a lot of years being the latter. I would tell girls that felt this way to learn to genuinely be comfortable in their own skin and then start vocalizing to others things you genuinely admire about them instead of trying to lead with your own accomplishments. I am so uncomfortable around women who constantly try to make themselves look better than others. None of my girl friends are this way. It’s a shallow and small way to live. If you are threatened by someone else, look inside yourself. What is it about them that you are intimidated by and what is really triggering these emotions of insecurity and jealousy in you? Be honest with yourself and then face that head on.

K:
As I mentioned in your introduction, I always think it’s funny doing photoshoots with you because you are clearly someone who cameras just adore! What got you interested in photography?

A:
Haha oh man, I don’t see it that way, I just genuinely love doing it! I have always wanted to photograph people’s love stories and when I was little I remember looking through bridal magazines and being at weddings thinking how that would be my dream job — to capture those beautiful moments. I still have a long way to go but luckily we live in an era where you can learn absolutely anything and thanks to YouTube it is a lot easier to get a head start in something you don’t know a lot about.

K:
What is your favorite thing about photography?

A:
It is so fun to live in the moment but then that moment is gone and photography is something that helps us remember some of life’s sweetest moments forever. I wanted to be able to create something people can hold on to — whether that is a candid moment of two people dancing or a picture someone can look at that makes them smile because they feel beautiful or see themselves in a new light. I love creating that!

K:
If you could choose anyone in the world to photograph who would it be, and why?

A:
My nephew because he is such a sassy little stud. He’s like Bieber and is a little high maintenance about his crazy paparazzi aunt these days! I am not the kind of person to get starstruck or anything like that, so that’s a tough one. I seriously can’t think of a single celebrity I would really want to photograph over one of my friends or family members, but that’s just my personality. A couple of months ago I was doing a woman’s hair and makeup who was a single mom and had never really been pampered like that before. Afterward she looked in the mirror and got teary eyed and couldn’t stop smiling. I seriously live for moments like that with hair/makeup/and photography where I can help someone feel beautiful and see what I already see in them. I don’t see being a girly girl as something shallow or worldly but rather as something I have a knack for that I can use to help others smile and I love that.

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This is one of many times Audrey did my hair and makeup for a little photoshoot. I am one spoiled girl!

If you’re interested in getting a photographer for something in the DMV, shoot me a message and I’ll connect you with Audrey!


IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT: I’M MOVING!

In just a couple of weeks I will no longer be on this website. My dating life changed a loooong time ago, so I am finally taking the time to make some changes that reflect this and moving my site to KristaLauren.com (As I have mentioned before I would have done this a lot sooner, but I am technologically challenged and 10 times out of 10 prefer to write instead of work on my site). Make sure you sign up to receive emails for my posts, like my Facebook page, or bookmark my new site if you want to stay a part of my Single in The Suburbs family. 🙂

Midweek Mystery: Allergic To Girlfriend?

I have the strangest story, but I also think it’s kind of hilarious and worth a small blog post.

Lately whenever I go over to Robert’s place we have a nice time for awhile, but then he starts to complain about being incredibly itchy. At first I thought it was a little funny — Robert is one of those people who kind of jokes around when he complains about stuff, so his complaints don’t always feel as real right off the bat. Anyway, he started joking that he was allergic to me because he only noticed the itchiness when I was around. After a few times, though, I started feeling a little annoyed. Why was it that he only noticed the itchiness when I was around? What if he really was allergic to me? After all, Robert had shared a story with me recently about a woman who is allergic to her husband. Maybe this was a sign that I’m setting him off and need to find a solution… Fast!

I always say I’m not superstitious, but I actually think I am in some ways. I sometimes feel like I “jinx” myself and I do think things can come up in your life for a reason. The older I am getting, though, the more I am realizing there are just a lot of coincidences in life that seem to be signs, but are just more notable than other mundane things.

Anyway, I started thinking about new products I’ve been using, because obviously he didn’t become allergic to me overnight. I get a few different makeup boxes with samples, so am always using something new. I felt really fed up when I started noticing that I was kind of itchy too. I realized that the chronic pain I have had been masking it, but I was definitely a little itchy too. I still couldn’t think of anything I was using that would make someone itchy, though. Especially someone else…

Until I took a shower and prepped my hair for my mom to blowdry it.* As I was running my fingers through my wet hair to put some product in it, I stopped and looked at the sample size container of the heat protection I had just put on my hands. Could it be?! 

I flipped the product around to read the back of the bottle and I kid you not, I had a real life Slumdog-Millionaire-style flashback when I saw the word “Rose Hips” on the description.

Holy crap, this is it! I knew without a doubt that this once-amazing, now-stupid hair product was the culprit. Rose hips, after all, are used in ITCHING POWDER. I knew this because back when I was a young prankster one of my friends and I used itching powder** on her brother (Yes, some of my teenage pranks are my biggest regrets, haha). 13-year-old me was curious about what caused the itching, though, and to this day I have remembered that “rose hips” were the main ingredient in itching powder.

Why the heck would a company use something that could potentially be so itchy in their product?! My fingers moved swiftly over my phone screen as I Googled two simple words,

“Itching powder”

The top result you could click on was “Rose Hips.” I smiled, smugly. Look at you, Sherlock, I thought to myself. You’ve done it again.

I couldn’t change the fact that I had already put the product in my hair, but I threw it in a drawer and locked it away so I wouldn’t go on autopilot and use it again. Ever since I’ve given up this product neither of us have been itchy. It’s official: I, like the Olsen twins, can solve any crime by dinnertime.

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Credit: Dualstar Productions

*My mom often dries my hair for me, as I have chronic pain in my arms and can’t hold a hairdryer up too long without hurting myself. She is such an angel!

**As an adult I realize this is incredibly immature and mean, but as a young teen it seemed like a hilarious, harmless prank. In all honesty I don’t know whether or not it worked, as it was one of the pranks you could buy from “Five Below,” but I still encourage you to think about others before planning out a prank. Yes, pranks are hilarious (With the right people who think it’s funny too), but only if nobody gets hurt — physically or emotionally — and everyone involved will enjoy what’s going on. Robert and I both love pranks, so I don’t usually mind when he plays a joke on me, and he is always up for a funny joke at his expense too.

Secret Santa Grinch

Oh my gosh guys, I am so embarrassed (side note: how many blog posts have I started with this introduction now? I’m having a serious case of Déjà vu).

I made such a silly mistake that made me seem like the biggest jerk ever.

So basically my good friend Kalika and I decided to set up a snail mail secret Santa. Sounds fun, right?! It’s the same a regular one — you draw a name and that’s the person you’re giving a gift to, except it’s all done by mail! She and I both love care packages and snail mail, so it’s perfect. You’re welcome, USPS.

Anyway, Kalika found a cool website called DrawNames.com that does all the organizing for you. You set up a profile in your little group, which includes your first and last name, address, and who you are supposed to send a gift to.

I’m not necessarily technologically challenged, but I also wouldn’t say technology and I are absolute BFFs. I’d say we’re really good friends because he’s super cool and entertaining and a generally good guy, but he sometimes decides to stab me in the back… So I should just be extra-alert when we’re hanging out.

Anyway, I was really confused when I got a package from Amazon in the mail.

What the heck did I order? I wondered to myself.

I’ve been doing some shopping for friends online lately, but I couldn’t remember purchasing anything from Amazon. Especially an item that would come in a slim envelope like the one sitting on my porch! The only thing I could really reason was that Petzi, the present Robert had sent me from Amazon, had forgotten something in my first package.

I went to the kitchen and opened it, only to find this note and Amazon gift card enclosed:

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What in the world?! I thought to myself. Who could have possibly known I would want a Kylie lip kit? Yes, I have been more into makeup lately — especially lip products — but I don’t remember talking to anyone about this particular item.

My first thought was Robert, as he’s always great at giving gifts randomly, and even better at reading my mind (As you will see in my next post!). I thought about it a little more, though, and there were too many things that didn’t add up. First, he wouldn’t have a clue what kind of makeup things were “trendy” right now. These lip kits are kind of for makeup (Or KUWTK) fanatics. Second, he’s probably never in his life purchased any sort of lip products, so wouldn’t realize that some of these kits can get very expensive compared to others. Third, how the heck would he ever pick out a color for me?! Girls would know that I’d be into the “Candy K” or “Kristin” shade, but Robert might think trying something risky like “Dead of the Night” or worse — “Trick” would be cool. Yikes.

I sat down and thought really hard. Then it all hit me at once.

Oh my gosh, my brain went into panic mode as I rushed to my laptop. My fingers thought faster than my mind, and swiftly typed “Gmail” into the browser. Then I searched, “Secret Santa” and clicked on the last email link we had been sent. It took me to the group page and I clicked the blue “Krista.” This is what I was met with:

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Everything clicked all at once as I had a flashback.

The day we created this page I was offered to “create a wishlist” for what I wanted. I remember thinking how stupid this option was, as you shouldn’t ask your Secret Santa for exactly what you want. What’s the point if you’re just going to request something? I still clicked the link, though, because the “Kylie Lip Kit” suggestion caught my eye. I scrolled through the page of recommendations, and clicked out of the page, never to give it a second thought.

Until now.

I seemed like such a jerk to some girl I don’t even know! Everyone in the Secret Santa group ended up being Kalika’s friends, most of whom I hadn’t met. I immediately felt like a moron, as any of my friends would understand this was just another goofy “Krista story,” but this person just had the impression that I demanded Kylie lip kits right and left. I looked back at the incredibly sweet note she had included and felt even worse. Most people would be so annoyed at someone demanding something that was more than twice the amount we were supposed to spend for this gift exchange, but this girl was so sweet and genuine about her gift that I really felt bad. I quickly texted Kalika with a rant about how embarrassed I was, and sent this message to the Secret Santa group:

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Luckily the person who gave me this sent me a message and was so kind about the misunderstanding, but it was still lightly traumatic for me. I hate being high maintenance or making other people feel uncomfortable, which is so unfortunate considering the person I am and how often I make goofy mistakes.

Today’s lesson: I should not be allowed to try new technologies — at least if they can affect another person!

Fall Date Prep

The air is crisp and it’s perfect sweater weather. I skip joyfully to my closet to select a top. My eyes graze past the dresses hung neatly on the left over to the warmer options. I pretend that I’m going to make a decision, even though my mind is already made up. I touch the new ballerina pink sweater I had purchased a few weeks prior and wonder whether that will be cozy enough for a night of movies and snuggling. I reach to the back of the closet where I had shoved my soft gray v-neck sweater. It pairs well with leggings and kicks, or jeans and ankle boots for an edgier look.

I smile as I slip into my trusty favorite. It’s only a matter of time until my date will pull up to my house in his truck. I hurry to the bathroom to put on my makeup. Taylor Swift is already blasting, and I feel fierce in my oversized sweater and Calvin’s. I am still not fully ready to go out, but right now I’m all about my girly music, makeup, and pretending to be a runway model. Nobody is there to watch, so I can kill it on the bathroom dance floor just like the rest of the Bad Blood squad on my iPhone screen. The best thing about getting ready is that you can be whoever you want to be, even if you have terrible dance moves like myself.

I try to do a sultry cat-eye like Taylor’s, but quickly realize I need to leave my runway fantasy a daydream. It looks a lot more like I had been in the boxing ring with Muhammad Ali and got two mismatched black eyes than the fun look I had been going for.

Makeup remover.

Much better. I hurry to reapply a light layer of foundation, skip the eyeliner all together and opt for a swipe of mascara on my upper and lower lashes. I recognize my inability to paint my face and decide against the brightly colored lipstick in my makeup bag. Tonight I’ll do a natural look which — for a new date — includes foundation, concealer, bronzer, blush, mascara, and a light pink shade of lipstick and liner to match… And to think guys sometimes think I’m not wearing makeup when I go with this look. Sigh, it takes a good 20 minutes to put all of this together! I’d at least like to be awarded a compliment for using my paint and brushes from Sephora so effectively.

The finishing touches are made — black jeans and a bracelet with my birthstone  surrounded by diamonds — and a new bright smile is added as the doorbell rings.

My heart skips a beat as I open the door, and I forget everything about the past hour of getting ready. The night is just beginning, and I get to spend the rest of it with my new favorite person.

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This is a decent example of how I would do a more natural look for a first date. Y’all can clearly tell I am wearing makeup, right?!

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Cyber Monday Shopping Tips

I love a good deal. Having a chronic illness is expensive — especially since it doesn’t give me enough time (Or energy. Or strength.) to have a real job. My catch 22 to this is that I absolutely love buying people presents.

I’ve found a few great money saving hacks for my fellow college and grad students, high schoolers, and whoever likes to save a little money. I figure even if I was rich I would try to save money here and there, as that leaves more to donate or have to spend on little treats that I don’t need!

First, let’s talk cashback. Cashback websites are all about paying you to shop. Yes, that sounds too good to be true, but no, it’s not sketchy. Here’s the lowdown: stores pay these companies to advertise. These companies keep part of that money, and pay you the other part. This kind of advertising actually works really well because even I’ve found myself going to sites that are offering a special cashback deal to see if there’s anything worth spending money on. Here are my favorite sites (And if you decide to sign up, use my links, as we each get bonus sign-ups for the referral!):

Top Cashback: This website is almost always the best one for cashback percentages. They’ll give you money into a Paypal account, Amazon gift card, or American Express rewards card. I usually use the Paypal option, as I just use it again for other online purchases.

Ebates: This website offers great referral bonuses, and they send you a check in the mail instead of the options Top Cashback uses, and often offers bonus offers along with the cashback (Such as a $5 or $15 incentive to shop at a specific store).

Who Should Use These Sites?
Just about anyone who does a decent amount of shopping online or if you’re purchasing something big like a computer, an iPhone, or a television! The purchases really add up, and the way I see it, these checks I get back can go into the “TREAT YO SELF” shopping fund.

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This picture kind of cracked me up because of how hard they tried to hide the numbers on this terrible looking credit card, haha!

Moving on.

Rewards and Subscriptions and Shipping — Oh my!

As I’ve mentioned before, I love giving presents… But I also love getting them, too! There are a few places I really love being a rewards member of, but I would encourage you to ask about any of your frequented shops having a program you could join.

Let’s talk Sephora. Ahh, how I love makeup. I have very high expectations for Sephora’s cyber Monday sale, despite them hardly doing anything for Black Friday (Online at least!). If you plan on shopping at Sephora more than twice this year, you have to join their Flash 2 day shipping. This is such a great secret on their website, and I don’t know how it isn’t really the talk of the town. Basically you pay $10 for free 2 day shipping for a year. A YEAR!!! Like, how could I not sign up?! I have purchased things as little as an eyeliner and gotten it shipped to my house quickly with the free samples they let you choose with any purchase. It’s seriously so amazing. This is the main reason I choose Sephora over Ulta now.

I’m not done with our Sephora conversation, though. Join their beauty rewards program ASAP! Not only do you earn free products, but you also get a gift on your birthday… And they’re usually really nice! This year I believe I will get a Marc Jacobs lipstick and eyeliner. I’m excited to try them out since his makeup is cruelty-free! My birthday is December 3rd, so I’ll definitely be back to talk about that if I love it.

Ulta does have a great rewards program too, as I feel like I’m always getting coupons in the mail. Sign up with the link above or in stores, and they will also give you a birthday gift during the month of your special day. This year I’ll be getting an Urban Decay eyeshadow, which is also a cruelty-free brand… Hooray!

FabFitFun is a new favorite subscription box of mine. I have some exciting news regarding this, but I’ll be sharing that a little bit down the road. Use this referral link to get $10 off your first box (so it is only $39.99), which is going to be kind of amazing. The thing I am most excited about is the Modcloth blanket scarf, which is going to be great to have all winter long. Robert’s family lives up in Massachusetts where it is absolutely freezing (though he assures me it’s “only a few degrees” colder than DC. A few degrees in the winter make all the difference!), so I’m definitely stocking up on some warm clothes for my visit this winter.

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Everyone will get a blanket scarf, necklace, and mug, along with a bunch of other full-sized products!

Not so into makeup or girly subscription boxes? A billion other places have reward programs, but I figured I would just touch on another favorite of mine — Starbucks! I love their mobile app, and get rewarded for all of my purchases. Not only do you get free coffee just for drinking coffee (Or peppermint hot chocolate if you’re a kid at heart like me), but you also get a free birthday drink and random deals Starbucks decides to send your way.

Lastly, my friend Robin has a company that works to help animals in need. She’s offering $5 off your purchase of $30 or more today only, so check out her website here! My favorite item is definitely the anchor toy for pups.

That’s all I’ll touch on today, as I feel like I kind of rambled, but these are some of my very favorite sites I use all the time. Feel free to let me know about others in the comments, or ask any specific questions and I’ll do my best to answer! 🙂

Going Cruelty Free

I love animals. I always have and grew up having a bunch of different pets. We fostered 2 dogs when I was really young — a Golden Retriever, then a German Shepherd, and then welcomed Gracie, our sweet Boston Terrier, into our home. She lived with us until she went to doggie heaven at 17 years old. We rescued 2 cats off the street — “Kitty” and “Spider Man” (ha!), and even though I am not the biggest fan of cats I loved that we were able to give creatures who needed a home a warm place to sleep… And they grew on me quickly, even though they maybe didn’t love me as much back.

I’ve never had a pet fish before, but we’ve had lizards, hermit crabs, hamsters, (Until I realized being so ticklish was kind of dangerous, so gave him to my best friend) frogs, and just about anything with legs. I have always wanted a pet snake, but that’s where my mom — the biggest animal lover I know — draws the line.

My mother raised me from a really young age to be kind to everyone I meet — and that includes animals. After all, they are God’s little creatures too, and they deserve to be treated with respect. I have watched her save countless animals throughout my life. We didn’t only take pets into our home to care for, but my mom has always been the person to go into the street of our neighborhood when we see a turtle and put it safely on the side of the road it was trying to get to.* She has saved injured birds, found lost dogs, and even helped me move a snake from the road when I was adamant that I didn’t want him to get squished. My mom is hands-down the kindest and most selfless person I have ever met, and I think she is such an angel.

Anyway, it was recently brought to my attention that my favorite Covergirl mascara was tested on animals, which got me thinking more about what other products I might use that could be harming innocent little creatures. Guys, there are so many things in my beauty routine that are tested on animals.

One thing I want to start focusing more on writing about is small little things we can do to help change the world. Yes, I know it’s maybe a little naive of me to think I can change the world by doing something as small as redoing my beauty routine, but that’s why I want to use my writing to encourage others to do the same. I have some ideas of what I will be focusing on in weeks to come, but in the meantime if you want to join me and stop buying products (shampoos, conditioners, makeup, lotion, the list goes on!) that test on animals, Cruelty-Cutter is a great app to use when purchasing something to see whether or not it is an item you should purchase or cut from your collection. I am currently trying several new products that I’ll be doing reviews on soon, but in the meantime I encourage you to be aware of how what you use affects others.

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Macy is excited about making a change too! Yorkies have hair instead of fur, so they’re all about their beauty products… She will be switching to an animal friendly hair care routine as well.
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My sweet angel, Gracie

*Just an FYI, when you do move a turtle, always put him onto the side of the street he was originally going to. They are determined little fellas who know what they want, and will just put themselves into harm’s way again to cross the road to his ultimate destination.