A Beautiful Day Following the Snow

I was very unhappy with the snow that occurred this weekend. And even more unhappy trudging to work in the cold, scraping the ice off my car, and turning up the heater. I wasn’t prepared for the quick shift.

Luckily, today produced beautiful 70 degree weather, perfect for a late afternoon walk with the boyfriend. I skipped the gym after work in favor of enjoying a leisurely walk in the last hour or so of sunlight.

Rather than walking to Lincoln’s Sunken Gardens (just half a mile from our apartment), we ventured North towards Union Plaza, a bit more of a trek.

Union Plaza follows Rock Island Trail and covers quite a bit of ground. There are plenty of sidewalks and plenty of running water.

Since my blog has been a little inactive lately, I thought I’d just post a few of the images I captured in this beautiful venue.

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My Fave TV Show Right Now – And Yes, It’s Queer

Growing up I loved watching makeover shows. Whether people were being made over, houses were being made over. Whatever it was, I was into it.

As I grew up, however, I started straying away from those shows because something started putting me off, and I couldn’t really figure it out.

Finally, many years later, I’ve got it. But it took watching a completely different type of makeover show to really put it into perspective. Shows like What Not to Wear, for example, took people completely out of their comfort zone and made them into entirely different people. I found myself feeling bad for them as their favorite clothes were literally trashed and made fun of, and no one ever really tried to understand why they had those items or why they decided to dress that way. Those shows were so fixated on the aesthetics that it missed a lot of other extremely important areas of people’s lives.

Queer Eye, a 2018 TV reboot of the Bravo series Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, takes into account more than just aesthetics. The “Fab 5” dive into the life of someone who is struggling, one way or another. They are always extremely devoted in helping these people make the best of their situations, but they are also so respectful of their boundaries, beliefs, etc. It’s also very entertaining to watch a straight man (the shows typical focus) have his life interrupted by five gay men.

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Antoni Porowski is the food and wine expert. He helps find a suitable meal for each individual (well within their interests and skill sets), and sometimes it’s as simple as teaching them how to make guacamole.

Tan France is the fashion expert and my personal favorite. He helps to find clothes that fit, flatter, and suit the lifestyles of the people he works with (and keeping the clothing age appropriate as well).

Karamo Brown is the culture and lifestyle expert, and I believe he has the most difficult job of all. This part of the show really changes from episode to episode because it entirely relies on what the person needs.

Bobby Berk is the design expert. He comes in and completely transforms a space. Whether that be a house or an apartment. He’s also done a community center and a firehouse station. He sees where there’s need (more storage space, a space that isn’t governed by the kids), and he creates it beautifully.

Jonathan Van Ness is the grooming expert. He provides a stylish haircut (and often a beard trim) to help flatter each individual and make them feel more confident. He also provides the tools and products to get ready each morning, while also respecting how much time they realistically have to get ready each morning.

This show is truly more than just a makeover show, and I believe it’s a show so many people can enjoy. Even my boyfriend will happily watch it with me, and we can never agree on what to watch.

The first two seasons are currently streaming on Netflix, and season three will premiere in 2019. I’d encourage you to check it out and let me know what you think.

Watch for a potential second part to this post when I actually finish season two. I’m not quite there since I’m no longer watching it alone, and I’d like to dive deeper into what the series is really doing.

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September Glam Bag

I had completely forgotten that my September Ipsy Glam Bag was on its way until the bright pink package arrived in my mailbox.

If you missed August’ post, make sure to check out that post too.

This month’s bag came in an adorable clutch with eyelashes. (Honestly, the bag was the item I was most excited for this month.)

Of this month’s products, I was most excited for the MPRINCESS loose eyeshadow in pretty petal. It looked like a gorgeous, dusty purple shade, and I was super excited. Now, while the shade is nothing like what I thought it was going to be, it is still absolutely gorgeous. When placed on the eyelid, it comes off as a very light shade, but very full of different glitters and colors. I absolutely love it and will wear it often.

Another item I really enjoyed this month THE CRÈME SHOP
2-in-1 Facial Foam Cleanser. I was traveling this weekend, and this cleanser made an ideal addition to my essentials makeup bag. It helped remove makeup that makeup wipes just can’t quite get, and it left my skin feeling clean. (A good moisturize is necessary afterwards, however!)

After receiving a really great primer last month, I was a little bummed to be receiving another right away. The ELIZABETH MOTT primer, however, also served me well on my travels when I forgot to pack my normal primer. It’s definitely mattifying, which might not work for my combination on some of my drier days.

My next item was the LUXIE BEAUTY Wonder Woman Tapered Blender 140 brush. I don’t have too much to say about this item. It’s a nice, quality brush. But, as I said in my first Ipsy post, I think that the majority of makeup brushes are pretty similar. I like the shape of this one though, and it will make a great addition to my collection.

My last item the APTO Healing Tumeric Mask. I’ve tried so many masks, and for some reason this one fell a little short for me. That being said, my mom really enjoyed it. She struggles with finding face products that work for her between allergies and her sensitive skin. My mom struggles with rosascea, which often leaves her skin red and/or irritated. After using the mask, she could tell a difference in her redness, and so I left the mask with her to keep using.

Overall, I am relatively happy with this month’s bag, and it arrived just in time for me to pack everything up as I traveled for Kearney Pride.

See my September Glam Bag below.

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Kool-Aid Cupcakes

Two years ago for my birthday I made a chocolate cake with purple frosting. One of my friends walked in, saw it, and said “oooh, grape cake!” And I had to gently tell her that it was, in fact, not a grape cake.

But her comment got me thinking. How could I incorporate fruity flavors into cake? A year later, I started looking up recipes for fruity cakes, and stumbled upon a kool-aid cake recipe. I tried it for the first time, successfully making watermelon cupcakes.

This year for my birthday, I decided to try a different flavor, and I ended up buying black cherry. They were just as delicious as they were the last time, and I thought I’d share how to make them and how I make my frosting.

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Making a kool-aid cake (or cupcakes) is very simple. Buy a white cake mix, follow the directions, and add one packet of kool-aid flavoring. I go ahead and use the whole egg instead of just the egg whites for my own.

The kool-aid adds a slight (not overwhelming in the slightest) fruity flavor, and adds a great color to your cupcakes, making them great for parties.

To make my frosting I use cool whip and plain, store-bought white frosting. I mix about a cup of each together, and then I add frosting (if necessary) until I have the consistency that I want. This makes a nice, fluffy frosting that goes well with the sweetness of the cupcake. Once the cupcakes are made, I refrigerate them as well.

These cupcakes are super easy to make, and there are so many different flavors of kool-aid to try. Next time, I think I’ll try something a bit different. Possibly blue raspberry lemonade?

 

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My Fave Cleaning Supplies

I’ve always enjoyed cleaning, but it wasn’t until I had my own apartment and started working for a cleaning company that I became a little bit obsessed with the supplies I used. I thought I’d share some of my tricks to you might add to your cleaning routine.

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SoftScrub For use in bathrooms (and the occasional kitchen). Use SoftScrub in toilet bowls for a sparkling white clean. Use SoftScrub (with a Dobie or other abrasive cleaning pad) in bathtubs, showers, or white sinks to help whiten and remove most stains. Softscrub with an abrasive cleaning pad (and a gentle hand) could remove hard water stains off of chrome finishes as well.

Bon Ami For use in bathrooms. Use Bon Ami in bathtubs and showers with an abrasive cleaning pad to scrub off stubborn soap scum. Make sure to properly rinse the Bon Ami, as it can leave behind a residue.

Lemon/Orange Restoring Oil For use in kitchens and bathrooms. I prefer Lemon Oil, but this Orange Pledge was cheaper. After cleaning a stainless steel or colored sink (anything but a white sink really), dry it out, and add the oil. It will add an incredible shine and allow water to roll off the sink better. The oil can also be used on textured glass shower doors to help clear up hard water spots. I would recommend using disposable rags, as to not add oil into your normal laundry.

Pumice Stone For use in bathrooms. Use Pumice Stones in toilets with rings or hard to remove stains. They’re especially useful in toilets that don’t get used regularly. Do not use on colored toilets. They can also be used to (carefully) remove water rings around drains. Run cold water as you gently rub the stone around the drain.

Feel free to share your favorite cleaning supplies in the comments!

 

August Glam Bag

My August Ipsy Glam Bag arrived, unexpectedly, two days early this month. I barely had time to see what what was coming before it arrived.

If you missed July’s post, make sure to check out that post too.

This month’s bag came in a bright orange makeup bag.

I was most excited for the EAU THERMALE AVÈNE Cleanance Gel, which is essentially a soap-free cleanser. I have a difficult time find cleansers that work for me because I have combination skin, but I really like how this one works (and you only need a couple drops each use). While my skin couldn’t handle it everyday, twice a day, it works well as a once a day cleanser, and the small bottle will make it ideal for travel since it can also be used as a body wash.

Another item I really enjoyed this month was HIKARI COSMETICS Cream Pigment Eyeshadow in Latte and Fierce. I’d never used a cream pigment before, so I do think that will take some getting used to; however, it’s a beautiful shade, goes on easy, and it definitely stays on all day.

Of all the items in the bag, the BENEFIT COSMETICS The POREfessional: Pearl Primer, was definitely the most raved about. I’ve heard beauty vloggers talk about it, and the reviews on it are incredible. After wearing it once, I could see why. It really smoothed my skin, and allowed me to wear the tiniest amount of foundation to just even out skin tone. I prefer not to wear heavy face makeup (especially during the summer), and this primer allowed for that. The only sad part is the trial size is super small, but it’s definitely something I would consider purchasing.

My next item was RÍVÉTRE BY STARLOOKS Star Stamp Eyeliner in Black. This is a double-sided eyeliner. One side has a fine tip pen, the other is a star stamp. While I don’t think I’ll ever use the star stamp, I did really like the eyeliner. It went on easier than last month’s, and it could probably last through just about anything. I actually had to work pretty hard to get it off with makeup remover.

My last item was INMO The Universe’s Star Highlighter in Twilight. I love a good highlighter, but this one fell a little short for me. It’s supposedly buildable, but I couldn’t get that much pigment out of it. Also, it claims to fit “all skin tones,” but I think it’s easy to say that’s not really possible. I do think it’s a little to warm for my lighter complexion, though it could probably work during my more bronze looks.

Overall, I was really happy with this month’s bag, and it arrived in time for me to actually wear everything to a wedding reception. (The lipstick pictured below is actually a NYX suede matte lipstick.)

Today I also ordered Ipsy’s “Sleepover Essentials” while it was on sale for $10 (normally $30+). As an Ipsy member, I definitely do get the oppurtunity to grab really great deals.

See my August Glam Bag below.

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Picking the perfect birthday present

Shopping for other people can be really difficult, but I totally love that moment when you find that perfect gift for someone, and I love the look on someone’s face when they open that perfect gift.

I’m going to divide gifts into several different categories and give a few examples/ideas on how to pick out a gift.

Practical Gifts

I tend to like to give practical gifts. I define practical gifts as something you would eventually buy for yourself as a necessity or to update a current necessity. These could be clothes, things someone needs for their home/apartment, etc. If you know someone really well, you probably know what they might need, whether it be new gym clothes or new bed sheets.

Clothing is oftentimes difficult to buy for other people because it’s really hard to know whether they’ll like the style or fit. Personally, I would only buy clothing for my mom and my boyfriend becuase I know what they like to wear pretty well. If you want to get someone clothes, but aren’t sure of their styles, remember to grab the gift receipt or grab them a gift card to their favorite store.

If you want to buy someone a practical gift, but maybe you don’t know them very well or don’t spend much time in their homes, seeing what they might be able to use, stick to the basics. People can always use a new bath towel set, a new set of drinking glasses, or patterned dish towels.

Gifts people would (probably) never buy for themselves

Gifts people wouldn’t buy for themselves can include a wide variety of objects. These are the kind of things we see in the store, really want, but walk past anyways because we have groceries to get.

When looking for one of these gifts, it’s a good idea to look at someone’s hobbies. If someone really likes making art, find out what kind of supplies they’re missing. If someone loves to read, find which books they’re wanting. Do they collect something?

Jewelry, decorative items, and board games are just a few things that could fall into this category. Gifts of “experience” could fit into this category as well. Prepaying or buying tickets for an event such as museum tours, wine tastings, or classes. Taking them out for such experiences is a great gift as well.

Personalized Gifts

Personalized gifts can combine the two types of gifts above or could add a personal touch to something for someone who seems to already have everything. The internet is full of online retailers who are ready to personalize all sorts of things for you and your loved ones.

Personally, I have used Moonglow and Shutterfly, and I trust both of these sites to deliver. Moonglow allows you to choose a specific date and put the moon from that date on a piece of jewelry. These are great for birthdays or anniversaries. Shutterfly will personalize just about anything for you from cutting boards to coasters. I’ve ordered prints, Christmas ornaments, and magnets from them.

There are many other sites out their that will customize the perfect gift. Some that I have seen advertised include LoveBook, The Night Sky, Things Remembered.

Cash/Checks/Gift Cards

For me, personally, there’s a big difference between receiving cash, checks, and gift cards simply because of the format. It’s also important to keep in mind during this section that this is just me, and other people probably use their gifted money differently.

Cash is often used for eating out (smaller bills for fast food, larger bills for dinner dates) and alcohol. Occasionally, a $100 bill might go towards groceries or clothes shopping, but that’s rare.

Large checks are deposited into savings, and I save it for a very long time. (The only time I pulled money out of savings was for college and to by my car.) Checks $30 and under are cashed and used as said above.

Gift cards for clothing stores are used gratefully as an excuse to buy clothes. Walmart and Target gift cards are often used on groceries, cleaning supplies, or other home necessities.

All three of these things are great, but if you’re gifting someone money for a specific reason, it’s a good idea to think about the format you’re choosing otherwise it might not be used in the way you initially planned.

Final Thoughts

Of course, we all like to receive gifts, and we all like to give a great gift, but the majority of people don’t really care what you get them. The fact that you stopped somewhere, with them in mind, and purchased an item for them, will normally mean a lot to them.

The amount of money spent doesn’t determine the greatness of the gift. And a handwritten card or a phone call is just as appreciated.