Sunday, May 29, 2011

My favs: the inexpensive edition

I was born with super duper enthusiasm. Which is all fine and dandy. Until it becomes a problem. Like when I really, really like something. I can't just like it, I usually end up loving it, and then I can't stop myself.....I have to GUSH about it.
Given this tendency, I can definitely overdo it at times. Leading the poor person I'm talking with to inevitable disappointment when my recommendation doesn't completely transform their existence on planet earth.
So. I'm going to try hard and not go over board here as I talk about some of my favorite things. I'm just going zip it, and let the product speak for itself when you try it. But seriously. Try it! (See? I'm working it at this. I've only used 1 exclamation point so far :)
The best part about all of these items? --They are under 10 dollars, and they are all seriously fabulous. Wait. Scratch that. They are inexpensive products that will render fine results. ugh. This is going to be difficult. :)
#1 St. Ives Invigorating Face Wash

This is the most tried and true. I've been using it for 10 years, and it's never let me down. If you're looking for an exfoliating nightly cleanser....this is it. It takes make-up off, cleanses beautifully, and leaves skin noticeably soft. Even hands feel smoother after applying.

#2 Loreal Voluminous Mascara This is my most adored. Because I hunted for the perfect mascara for years. I even tried the realllllly expensive stuff. (Another confession: my eyelashes are stubby and short. So much so I often wear falsies.) So are you feeling me here? I need a good mascara. Then I found this. The most perfect, thick but not sticky, soft but long-lasting, dark but not clumpy black mascara. And it has stood the test of time. I truly believe it's the best out there, and believe me, girlfriend has tried them all. (uh-oh. It think I just slid into gushville)

#3 Revlon Gray Suede Nail Polish, 705

This is a fashionable find. Neutral nail polish is not only "in" right now, but it is also lovely and practical. It doesn't scream "I HAVE NAIL POLISH ON!" yet it provides nice color and an easy look for any occasion. I've tried several different neutral shades, but this one is just right. Not too pink, not too brown, not too grey. And it's longer lasting than several pricey OPI polishes I've worn.
#4 Gap City Flats (just pretend my feet are nicely tanned in this picture for full effect)

My most recent fav. I originally read how fabulous these little shoes are from Ree (you know, my best friend who I've never met....The Pioneer Woman). But when I saw Big Mama also mentioned how comfy they are, I had to take this matter into my own hands. With back issues, a cute flat is my friend. And these truly are very, very comfy. And very,very cute. Given how they look hanging up I never would have even glanced at them, but seeing them on is a different story. And they come in an array of fun colors. There were tons on sale at Gap now. Originally $29.99, I brought 2 pairs at $7.98 each. And I'm glad I did.

Ok so there you go. Go try some of these for yourself and see if any have YOU gushing.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ways He Sustains & Two People to Prove It

God’s choices never cease to baffle and amaze, but ultimately comfort me.
I’ve found that even thru my toughest times He has always there, sustaining. And I'm not just talking about the touchy-feely comfort of His Holy Spirit. Many times, it's more than that. Many times, it's as practical as a real life person sent to help me carry the load. As I look back over my 32 years (going on 33, ahem!), two stories imparticular come to mind.
The first was during my first real job out of college. I worked for a very difficult person (and that's putting it nicely). To this day I can get all riled up talking about how I was mistreated and taken advantage of by my boss. And this was my first real job ever! (I told you to not get me started :)
It was a rough time, and I longed to be delivered.
But my husband was still in college so we *kinda* needed for me to have a job. I looked frantically for other openings, praying for an out. But over and over I kept hearing the same answer: “My grace is sufficient for you.” I ended up not getting a new job until Andrew graduated and we moved.
But here's the point...
In the day in and day out of that battle there was a kind, funny administrative assistant named Janie that was hired to work beside me. We became quick friends. She made me laugh. She believed in me. She had practical work smarts and helped me navigate decisions. She encouraged me when my boss threw me under the bus. I smile now just thinking of her, because she was such a God-send. A physical, flesh and bone sustainer when I really, really needed it. God didn’t deliver me from that experience, but thru her sweet smile and helpful hand, I was able to bare it.

Fast forward 5 years and here's the second story. This one's quite recent: It's well documented on this blog that I live in pain. Because of that, I don’t have the physical stamina to care for SaraRose all day by myself, and that's been really hard on this mama’s heart. For a long time my own mom was coming over all day, every day, to help me care for her, and that was a lot on both of us. After a while, Andrew’s parents offered to pay to put SaraRose in daycare to help provide everyone a little break. Now, I know daycare is a wonderful option for many, but I've had a life long dream of being a stay-at-home mom and the thought of giving that up just to lie in bed was a low blow to my already tender heart. I cried at the thought, and prayed desperately for something to GIVE already. But the prayers and days wore on and the healing didn’t come.
But here's the point...
During that time, God kept bringing to mind my friend Summer. Summer, a fellow stay-at-home mom who’d just recently moved down the road from me. Summer, who’s schedule was super flexible. Summer, who’s little boy, TK, is SaraRose’s exact same age and just happens to be her favorite playmate. Summer, who might welcome a bit of extra income.
It all fit. It fit too perfectly to just be coincidence.
She and TK started coming over two mornings a week.
...and It. Has. Been. Wonderful. It's the perfect reprieve I need to make it thru the rest of the day on my own. SaraRose has a blast and I love Summer's company. Her schedule works perfectly with my moms and with her here, I relax and feel more like a regular mama just sharing a playdate. And best of all, I've been able to keep that blessed stay-at-home mom status. It was not the deliverance I prayed for, but it has been just enough to help me bear the load (not to mention Summer and I've had the unexpected blessing of a very deep friendship growing between us.)
I’ll never understand the hand of God.
I would love it if He'd just take me out of tough circumstances.
But I am learning to trust Him and to and see that even though it is hard, He has never left me alone.
And I'm eternally grateful for those,
the many,
He's used to sustain me when I needed it most.
Both Janie and Summer have been Jesus' hands and feet to me.
Who says you can't see the hand of God?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Paper Packages Tied Up With String

Do you know what this is? It's one of my favorite things. I find it in my mailbox every single week, and it has my name written on the outside. Enclosed there's always a movie and a hand-written letter from my Aunt Carol (we're both movie lovers). She started sending these to me Sept 1, the date of my last surgery, and she hasn't stopped since. And did I mention I get them every single week? Just to encourage me and to let know me how much she thinks of me. It's one of the kindest things anyone has ever done. I've told her she can stop sending them whenever she needs to, but it's kinda become a highlight in my life. No pressure, Aunt Carol. :) I am loved.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A Really Relevant Review

Well, kinda relevant. Ok, well not really that relevent at all. Osama bin Laden has made this *a little* less news-worthy. And that's as it should be. But surely someone out there wants to hear my thoughts on the Royal Wedding.....right? Right? Hello? Oh well. I'm including it anyway. Because it made me laugh and I'm entirely too somber on this blog most of the time.

Below is an email exchange between from my friend Carrie, our old college buddy Chris (who surprisingly is not a Royal fan at all), and me. There are some inside jokes here, of course, but over all I think you'll find it entertaining.
First, I'll start with Carrie's original email to me the day of the wedding. She's a funny one. Here's her thoughts:

"Kristen and Chris,
Well, I guess my invitation got lost in the mail. I won’t hold it against Will and Kate, as they’ve had so much on their plate these last few weeks. But since I know you all are the only two people willing to read my thoughts on the royal wedding…I am sending you my ROYAL REVIEW! So, grab a cup of tea and borrow an Easter hat from Kristen’s collection and join me for the play by play! (feel free to read the following in a British accent)
The Media Coverage
First let me remind you that my review is limping with limited coverage from NBC and ABC. So, I didn’t have the "Ryan Seacrest advantage" that you cable tv viewers probably had. But if I hear one more reporter ask, “Why is this wedding such a big deal to American audiences?” I could puke! I’ll tell you why were interested. Because while American media is busying taping the next episode of Jersey Shore with it’s drunken trolls, England is providing us a reminder of what real class looks like. Also, I think the media is focusing too much on Diana and Charles failed marriage. It just seems inappropriate. Diana is dead, Charles is remarried, this is William’s happiest day…why bring up that over and over again?
The Bride
I wondered how Kate would pull off grand and regal, and still look 2011. All I can say is WOW! I thought she looked amazing. I loved the simple tierra and the sheer lace veil! My favorite part of the dress was the way the lace collard high around her neck. The dress was fitted to perfection. She truly made me proud to be a brunette!!! Kristen and Kate with their Pantene hair give us all hope! For all her petite figure, the princess must have big knuckles though. I thought the ring wasn’t going to fit. (I guess everyone has to have some kind of flaw!) I thought Cate’s best accessory was her genuine happy smile.
The Groom
William looked very handsome and seemed so focused on his bride. I think William gives hope to all the balding men out there. Good for him…natural, and just working with what he’s got.
The Guests
I entered this section for Chris, because we had to mention the Beckham’s. Of course, they looked stunning! I was a little surprised that Victoria wore black??? I think our favorite fashonista had a lil' fashion fau pa’. I like Victoria, but for goodness sake smile woman!!! You’re gorgeous, your husband’s gorgeous, your filthy rich, your friends of royalty, and you’re a former spice girl…if that doesn’t make you smile what will?
The Kiss
Well, leave it to old NBC to screw things up. We almost missed the first kiss thanks to some reporter rattling on about nothing. So at first I was a little worried. It was a quick peck, too quick. But just as I was fretting, William went in for the second kiss! YEA!!! The fairytale is complete!
The Family
The queen and her husband are close to 100 and still looking wonderful! I loved Cate courtesy-ing to the queen!!! Let’s hear it for Prince Harry. Whoo-hoo!!! I’m not one that’s normally into red-headed men, but Harry is super adorable. He adds a little spark to the royal family, that is not so stiff, but not so partying that he’s out of control.
The Fairytale
My favorite part was William and Kate driving off alone in their little convertible with balloons attached. So personal. They really pulled off the full fairytale! It’s amazing how for all the woman’s lib crap and all the feminist movement trying to convince everyone that marriage is outdated and un-necessary in the modern day…that the whole world just cheered and celebrated as one man and one woman who seem to really love each other, committed to be faithful to each other till the day they die. That is how it should be!
Alright my royal friends, Now I’ll be waiting to hear your thoughts.
I'm off to go do some laundry for my Prince Charming.
Hope you all have a fabulous Friday!

I had to respond later that day with this:
"As with our oh so fab after Oscar review, I am so thrilled to talk about this with you I can't even take it! And just so you know Carrie, I was very disappointed to find out thru facebook that Chris is not a Royal fan at all. I know, very disappointing, my friend. Very disappointing.
I have thoughts! Oh I have thoughts! LOTS of them!! But we are heading out to Disney World this evening and I won't be able to get back to you til Monday. Boo! Hopefully by then all my wonderful thoughts won't be old news.
I'll be reporting back soon with exclusive Kristen content soon!"

And finally yesterday I got to put my two cents in. Here you go:

"Wow. Well, Osama bin Laden is dead. It just doesn’t get any bigger than that, folks. I was expecting my royal wedding report to be a little dated by now, but I wasn’t expecting a complete and utter smack-down! Where does a girl go from here? Does it all even matter anymore? Can something so frivolous be meaningful in light of the truly powerful and news-worthy? My answer? HECK YES! And I hope you agree! (shut up, Chris)
And so I will glory in flying my British flag high one last time and then I’ll quietly put it away. All the while secretly hoping People Magazine had the chance to put out at least one issue before Osama’s nasty face rules all covers J
And so…let us put Middle East conflict on the back burner, shall we, to commence chatting about the oh-so-pivitol royal scene? Alrighty-then.
(seriously Chris, SHUT YOUR MOUTH)
OK! first on the agenda--
The commentators:
After much back and forth I finally decided on Diane Sawyer and Barabra Walters as my journalists of choice for that fantastic morning. There was a history with them that the other journalists seemed to lack and I think I made the right choice. Except….is it just me or does Barbara’s voice get just *a little bit* grating after listening to it for four hours? Yea. Glad it’s not just me.
The invites:
Ok, can we just talk for a second about Fergie not being invited? Tacky, tacky, tacky. Seriously people, if there is ever a time to put aside differences and come together for the greater good, it is at a wedding. Royal snubbery should be left in the Rolls Royce.
….and while we’re on the subject of Fergie, that brings me to Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie. Oh Princess Beatrice and Eugenie. Was any one else thinking Cinderella’s evil step sisters when they arrived? You could practically feel the Queen rolling her eyes as they squeezed into their seats with the Royal family. Girls, I know you’re trying to be hip and cool, but you’re not helping you mother’s case AT ALL in those hats.
The ceremony:
Lovely. Lovely. Lovely from start to finish.
It helps that I’m officially head over heels for Westminster Abbey anyway (left over from my LU trip, thank you Dr. Partee), and thought it could not have looked more stunning. The green trees lining the aisles. The chandeliers hanging tall. The black and white checked floor with the red carpet. And the bells ringing!! Oh I loved the bells ringing!! It was all so very fabulous! Another thing I adored was the bride’s long walk down the aisle. I guess I didn’t realize it would be a good four minute walk, but each moment of it was perfect. Especially as she made her way past the singing choirs. And the fact that William didn’t turn to see her till she got to him? Swoon. It all was romantic perfection. I’ll admit I shed a tear.
The only awkward parts:
Now, I realize I am nit-picking here, but seriously, camera guy. We all get that Elton John was in attendance. But do we really have to keep getting a reaction shot from him (especially considering there is no reaction?) And the ring going on. *cue the only awkward pause of the entire ceremony.* Did you guys not practice this? The scrunching. The wiggling. And skin wrinkling...all on extreme close-up. I think the whole all of England took a collective breath when that thing finally went past the knuckle.
The dress:
Here again, I have nothing but good to say. Before the big day, I was a little concerned that Kate’s over- all classic fashion style might be too under-stated and she’d go with a dress that would be form fitting without a large skirt. And in my opinion, that just isn’t going to work in the fabulous, captivating, and HUGE Westminster Abbey. You gotta OWN it walking down that aisle! But the dress did not disappoint. The large skirt and train totally fit the bill, while the classic lace neckline and veil still allowed her own style to shine thru. I’m glad she had very simple flowers too. Everything worked. Oh! And I especially love that she wore her hair down. With hair like that, let’s see it!
And last but not least, a Special Shout Out to Pippa.
First of all, great tan, girlfriend. Second of all, you rocked that simple elegant white dress. Thirdly, I hand you the “Juggling with Grace the Most Terrifying Role of the Whole Wedding” Award. I mean seriously. You had to hold the train, walk with the train, keep the train fanned out, all the while doing nothing to draw attention to yourself…AS WELL AS keeping an eye on/holding hands with three little children. Sheesh. I’m sure your pits were sweating. But you never let it show. Great job!
Well, I guess that about covers my thoughts on the big day, guys!! I totally loved every minute of it. I guess I’ll just have to rely on E! for any coverage on it from here on out. But that’s ok, it was fun while it lasted."

And there you have it! What fun.

Did you watch the Wedding? What did you think?