Sunday, March 28, 2021

Skincare & Makeup Update!

Now that I am occasionally venturing out into the world (and/or on constant video calls) I thought it was time for a skincare and makeup update!

Can't resist another baby Sage picture

I'll admit my skincare routine fell off a cliff in the early days of the pandemic. I rarely vide-chatted, I never went anywhere, I realize now I was going through severe extrovert-withdrawal and was a BIT depressed and not (yet) adequately medicated, and I basically slapped on some makeup for my zoom fitness classes and let it wear off over time because what is the point of even having a face if there are no people.

But I got my act together and have once again been enjoying a consistent and rewarding skincare routine. And now that I'm on video all day every day I've updated my makeup routine for something simple and quick that feels light on my skin but makes me feel good on camera.


1. Cleanse (CeraVe Renewing SA Cleanser or CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser). I tend to use the Hydrating in the morning because it's a little more gentle and then the SA Cleanser in the evening when I feel my skin has more to clean off.

2. Vitamin C Serum (SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic Antioxidant Serum). My personal holy grail, I do think this serum is a big part of why my aesthestician told me my skin has aged backwards by at least a decade and I like the protection it gives.

3.a. Moisturize (Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel). I am LOVING this gel; it's so light and pure and completely moisturizes my skin without adding any other ingredients.

3.b. Moisturize+. If it's winter or we're in Colorado I might also layer a moisturizer on top of the B5 gel, and after trying MANY, these two are my favorites: SkinCeuticals Emolliance Rich Moisturizer and Laneige Water Bank Moisture Cream.

4. SPF (Elta MD UV Clear SPF 46 - Tinted). ALWAYS; I use the Elta MD Tinted if I'm not wearing any other makeup that day as my usual foundations all have SPF in them and I keep the untinted version in my purse for touchups and love that I can put it on over full makeup and can't see or feel any difference.

(If I'm wearing any makeup I just do steps 1-3a and then go straight to the primer and tinted moisturizer with SPF below)

1. Cleanse (CeraVe Cleanser). At night I use it with Clarisonic Mia and I feel like it removes any buildup or dullness on my skin.

2. Retinol (SkinCeuticals Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Cream). I use this every other day; I used the SkinMedica 0.25 strength for a long time but have worked my way to 0.5 now. Per my dematologist, you gain more benefit with regular use of a milder formulation than sporadic use of a stronger one, so use what your skin can handle without excessive flaking.

3. Moisturize (Skinceuticals Hydrating B5 Gel). Usually that's all I need, but as noted above, I'll layer it with a moisturizer if I'm somewhere very dry. At night after skiing in Colorado I also loved this Laneige Water Sleeping Mask that I got as a birthday bonus at Sephora.

4. Eye Cream (LovelySkin Luxe Brightening Eye Cream). Admission: I almost never use eye cream. I really like this one, and I'm sure it would be beneficial to use it (right? thoughts/experiences?), but it just will not make itself part of my routine and so sits in judgment of me on my counter.

5. Eyelash Serum (GrandeLash-MD Eyelash Conditioner). I'm also not great about remembering this, but I definitely see a difference when I us it nightly!

(So most nights it's steps 1, 3, and 5 with step 2 added in every other day. Eyecream, I'll use you someday!)

New Work-from-Home Routine
1. Primer (Laura Mercier Pure Canvas Primer - Illumating). I love this, it's like a bit of glowy softness on my skin. I just rub it in with my fingers and move to the next step.

2. Tinted Moisturizer (Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer Natural Skin Perfector Broad Spectrum SPF 30 - Vanille). My new "foundation." I LOVE this tinted moisturizer. It's just enough color to tone down the natural pinks in my skin, but is very light in look and feel. I apply with either my hands or a Beauty Blender sponge.

3. Concealer (NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer - Vanilla). I use this under my eyes and it's the best undereye concealer I've ever found. A few dabs, pat with the smaller end of my blender sponge, move on.

4. Eyelid Primer (Laura Mercier Eye Basics Primer - Linen). My eyelids are naturally a bruised looking shade of purple, so even on days I wear no other makeup I often swab on some kind of eyelid primer or concealer and this one is beautiful. Most days I don't add anything else to my eyes at all.

5. Eyeliner (Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil - Demolition). Very optional and skipped most days, but if I want to step it up a little for a big meeting or something, I add a quick swipe of eyeliner and smudge it a bit with my finger.

6. Eyelash Curler (Shu Uemura Iconic Eyelash Curler ). I forgot I owned this for a few years, but it's now part of my daily routine. It never pulls at my lashes like ones I've had in the past. I have short stubby invisible lashes and purple eyelids, but taking 30 seconds for the eyelid primer + eyelash curler + swipe of mascara = eyes that make me happy to see reflected back at me in my video call screen.

7. Mascara (Buxom Lash Volumizing Mascara is a fave, but lately I've been using this cheaper one by No 7 with good results.) When you have blonde eyelashes, mascara really makes all the difference.

8. Blush (NARS Blush - Orgasm). Listed at the end because I often skip it, but if I need a little pink this blush is beautiful and pigmented and my little compact has lasted for years.

9. Lips (NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment - American Woman or Save the Queen). Usually only if I have a big meeting or want to feel fancy, but I'm trying to focus on the positives of working from home and not wearing a mask is one of them, so why not paint the lips? This lip stain feels smooth, lasts forever, and I just swipe on chapstick as needed throughout the day on top of it. (Your Good Skin lipbalm is cheap and feels just like the Fresh Sugar lip balms, though if you want tinted- Fresh Sugar Petal, Honey, and Rose are GREAT).

Writing that out it looks long, but most days I'm on camera or otherwise interacting with people and want to look good it's just steps 1 (with hands), 2, 3, and 4 (with same blender sponge), then 6 and 7 in about 2 minutes and I feel good and ready for work.
Fancy Occasional Add-Ons
- Foundation (It Cosmetics CC Cream Illumination SPF 50+ in Light Medium). Still my fave if I want actual coverage.

- Eyeshadow (Urban Decay Naked Palette). The two I have in my drawer and have used for YEARS are the original and smokey palettes. The colors are beautiful and pigmented and have lasted so long I didn't realize neither one was sold anymore!

- Eyebrow Tint (Benefit Gimme Brow Eyebrow Gel - Shade 3). My eyebrows are very light but I have no shaping or coloring skills- this product is super easy, has a built in little brush, and makes my brows visible. I often add it even on my light makeup days.

- Bronzer (NARS Bronzer - Laguna). I must confess I have no idea how to use this, but it came as a combo with my blush. I need to watch some YouTube videos or something...
Also in my drawer- a Rose Quartz Roller I picked up on a birthday whim, but I can't decide if it's a worthy addition to my routine. Mostly I forget about it, but some mornings when my face feels sort of heavy or puffy, it does feel nice to roll it around after my Vitamin C serum. I still have yet to use a mask- they strangely intimidate me and so the two I've purchased sit in my drawer. I'll be fully vaccinated next week and have an IPL photofacial scheduled in April. I don't think anything jump starts a skincare routine like a round with some lasers.

And as long as we're talking skincare, I have to give my usual plug for annual skin cancer screenings with your dermatologist. Don't ignore that one spot that seems to come and go or that itches or bleeds when it rubs on something. I have a scar on a chest and a pretty big scar on my neck from removing two skin cancers in my early and mid-30's and I've taken damn good care of my skin ever since- both aesthetically (which largely started to just make me feel better when leaving the dermatologist's office after that first positive diagnosis!) and preventatively with sunscreen EVERY DAY and UPF clothing and coverings. The best way to protect your skin is to stay out of the sun entirely, but using UPF layers, wearing hats (something I'm still terrible about; I look so bad in them you guys), and always having sunscreen on as a backup when your skin just has to be exposed all help so much. And it makes your skin look good too!
My favorite UPF clothing right now is from Free Fly, specifically this bamboo hoodie that is light and airy but protective. I wear it all the time, including to hike a mountain in Curacao last March, and am planning to buy one more before we head to Utah in August.
So what are you loving? Any new routines or products or habits you've developed (or dropped and felt freed by!) in this time at home? The Sephora insider sale is coming up in two weeks- anything I need in my cart? Any hiking clothes I need to check out before our big trip this summer?

[Blogger's note: none of these links are affiliate links because I don't know how to do that and the only products I've ever gotten free are with my Sephora rewards and samples from my dermatologist; these products are just the results of some trial and error and the link are there for your convenience!]

[But I'd be remiss in not recommending Rakuten! (That is an affiliate link with a $30 bonus for you!) Sephora had 6% rewards the other day and Lovely Skin and Dermstore have between 3-5% too.]

Monday, March 22, 2021

Food and Football and Other Updates

We're settled back in at home in Fort Worth, returning to work (at home) and school and swim lessons (also still at home), and the snowy mountains seem very far away.
Which is too bad because I really feel like I have all my very best minimal effort hair days there. My skin may hate the dry Colorado air (though I'm absolutely loving this serum to layer on top of my CE Ferulic and this Laneige moisturizer at night, and feel like my skin was pretty happy on this trip), but my normally half-curly unruly hair LOVES it.
Speaking of love, we picked up Maggie on Friday morning from Doggie Camp where she had a fabulous time, but had to spend her first 28 hours at home recharging in her crate. She snored loudly, skipped dinner, could not be roused to go outside before bed, and finally blinked her eyes open mid-morning on Saturday and decided to rejoin the family.
We missed her!
Moose was EXTREMELY cuddly and also highly annoyed when we returned home- scampering away when we walked towards him and then jumping on our laps to nuzzle our faces anytime we sat down. After two days of constant cuddles he's now returned to his usual schedule of supervising the house from a near distance and sleeping by Landon's feet at night.
On the human side, James went another best time in the 100 and 200 Breaststroke before we left, breaking the US Master's National Records in both events, and generally surpassing all expectations for a 39-year-old swimmer with 3 kids and 2 companies and not a lot of free time. He wrote an article about his training that you can read on Swim Swam!
Landon, after much doubt and back and forth, decided to try out for 7th grade football, so now we're all learning the rules of this sport I somehow grew up in Texas without learning a thing about.
As research-focused as his mother when approaching anything new, Landon watched a bunch of YouTube videos over the weekend and James stayed up with him the night before try-outs began watching an old Super Bowl game to teach him the positions and basic rules.
And despite some extreme nerves and discomfort in a sport he's never tried, he did great and came home each night of try-outs bursting with football news, rules, and terminology.
We have purchased cleats, a mouthguard, knee pads, gloves, and a football girdle- something I did not know was a thing and which provided some interesting Amazon results before I searched for it properly. My algorithm is so confused. He's a 2nd string running back (yes? this is a thing? I still have some studying to do myself) and his first game is Tuesday night.
Claire was named Wrangler of the Month at school and she was very excited. My parents treated her to Crumbl cookies to celebrate and she got to pick one of her very own that she didn't even have to share.
Claire continues to love long family car rides, the 3 Pitch Perfect movies, and playing all the music always.
Cora continues to read, color, build legos, ride her bike and scooter and roller blades, and generally do everything the big kids do but louder.
She loves to draw and hand drew this Mona Lisa picture after watching a video about Leonardo DaVinci.
While in Colorado Cora spent a lot of time looking out my parents' binoculars they keep hanging by their patio windows. One afternoon, after she'd been gazing for a long time, she pulled the binoculars down in a huff and hotly declared, I have not even seen one SINGLE moose!, and marched back downstairs.
Luckily we found her one at the playground.

And I am back in my corner in the bedroom, working away. James finished painting our walls teal and I love them. I added new curtains and the whole space makes me as happy as an office in my bedroom could possibly make me. I do love our new windows that can open (last year's big home improvement update) and these can slide from the top down or bottom up and I love all the fresh air coming from the top half while I work in my usual uniform of Vuori joggers, fuzzy socks, and comfortable but camera-acceptable top (and hair that isn't nearly as happy in Texas as it is in Colorado).
I do hope to one day return to the office; my brain does better when I can separate work from home (and when I LEAVE THE HOUSE), but I've made it a year and only had to double my Prozac to mostly remain myself to those who matter the most to me.

And finally, food:

Fri: Feel Good Fall Salad, with added grilled chicken and apple.
Sat: Surprise Night Out! We rediscovered a gift card to a local Mexican restaurant and decided a beautiful day full of chores and closet cleaning deserved a night out on a patio with queso.
Sun: Garlic Herb Spaghetti with Chicken Meatballs, salad. A family favorite!
Mon: Summer Chipotle Chicken Cobb Salad (note: I use the cilantro dressing from TJ's because it's close enough to the recipe and way easier)
Tues: Grandma Jo's Navy Bean Soup (recipe below), bread.
Wed: Ground beef tacos, mexican rice, refried black beans, toppings.
Thurs: Sheet Pan BBQ Meatballs with Pineapple, frozen steamed brown rice, broccoli.
Fri: Homemade Pizza, whatever veggies or fruits are left in the fridge on the side.
Sat: Cheeseburger Sliders, oven fries, raw veg or fruit.
Sun: Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup, naan.
Mon: Oven Jambalaya, sauted green beans, cheddar biscuits.
Tues: Tamales (from frozen), Mexican rice, refried black beans, toppings.
Wed: Chicken Meatballs with Peppers and Orzo (using leftover from the double batch I made on Sunday), side salad.
Thurs: Frozen Panko Crusted Cod (from Costco), parmesan orzo, frozen mixed vegetables.
Fri: Houston for Easter, so whatever delicious thing Gigi serves.

Grandma Jo's Navy Bean Soup
Bag dry navy beans
6 cups chicken stock
1 onion, chopped
2-4 celery stalks, chopped
2-4 carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tsp Bouquet Garni
1 small can evaporated milk
1-2 smoked turkey drumsticks

1. Soak beans using overnight or quick soak method.
2. Drain water. Place beans in crock pot or dutch oven.
3. Add all remaining ingredients except evaporated milk.
4. Simmer 3+ hours.
5. About an hour before serving: (a) remove turkey drumsticks, strip meat and return to pot; (b) add evaporated milk to pot.

Friday, March 19, 2021

Colorado Spring Break!

We are currently driving home from our Spring Break trip to Colorado (author's note: we were driving when I typed this on Thursday, but I couldn't add the pictures until we got home, so now it's Friday and we're unpacked and settled back in with our pets and all our laundry and I'm going through all our pics to finish the post). We've done a big trip in March every year since Cora was born and Landon was in Kindergarten (Austin! Arches! Canyonlands! Monahans Sand Hills! New Mexico! Arkansas/Kentucky/Tennessee/Atlanta! Los Angeles/San Diego! Curacao!) and I love re-reading our adventures, thus me logging in from the car to try to capture some of this week in words.
But first! James and I got our Covid vaccines two weeks ago! We had to drive 90 minutes to a nearby county with extras and a waste avoidance protocol and within minutes of arriving, Pfizer shot 1 was in our bodies getting busy making us and the people around us safer!
The Jack County vaccination system was very quick and efficient (in and out in 10 minutes), but I still found time to be a bit emotional about receiving it. I'm just so grateful to the science and scientists that made the vaccine possible and the health care professionals and others who cared for so many during this past year. I was reminded by Facebook memories a few weeks ago that my last big party was our Valentine's Wine Party one year ago and man did that hit harder than expected. I miss people, I miss living in the fabric of the community we've found here. I miss in-person teaching, I miss driving in to work, I miss living my active, interactive life.

this is my coworker now; he does not laugh at my jokes

Not that there haven't been a lot of really beautiful moments in the last year or aspects of this family bonding experiment that I'm so thankful for and we have certainly been less affected than so very many- our kids are back in a modified version of school and James is back to teaching, albeit in our backyard- but we've been able to reclaim some normalcy, which is maybe why I was surprised that the one year mark had such impact. Maybe because I'm the one still working in our bedroom missing the most of my old life?
Anyway, one thing that was normal was piling in the car and driving somewhere for Spring Break. We were supposed to leave on Saturday, but a HUGE snow storm was expected to hit Colorado that day so on Thursday night- while I was still working to prepare for a witness interview the next day- we started frantically packing to leave a day early on Friday morning to beat the snow. And thanks to some awesome colleagues, I was able to send my exhibits and outline for them to execute while I joined the giant video call on my phone and followed along with the exhibits and questions on my laptop connected via hotspot. I lost connection in a few small Texas towns, but overall was able to work a full day while occasionally throwing snacks at the kids in the back.
We got to my sister's house in Boulder just in time to help her throw together some dinner.
Val is 2.5 weeks out from having my newest baby niece and we nearly had to get out a timer to police the waiting list to hold baby Sage, but obviously I got to hold her first.
Just look at that tiny perfect baby. Landon was obsessed and growled at anyone who tried to take her away.
Claire was also VERY into the baby holding and even Cora took a short break from her shenanigans from biggest cousin Skyla (age 4) to hold cousin #3.
Saturday was a full snow day full of cousin play time and baby snuggles. Claire took such loving care of newly-turned-2-year-old Rio and even at 13 Landon continues to LOVE just playing with the girls and he was a monster, dinosaur, dragon, and who even knows what else because he and Claire played and refereed the little ones in the basement while I watched Top Chef with my sister and baby Sage upstairs. They're the best.
All the kids slept in Sky's room for a giant slumber party and all the adults were in bed by 8:45 p.m. and it was just a really great day.
On Sunday, the snow was still coming down but we were supposed to head up into the mountains to pick up ski equipment for our lift ticket reservations on Monday and Tuesday. The roads didn't look great, but also didn't look terrible and google maps and Waze seemed optimistic about our chances, so we headed out in our 4WD vehicle loaded with snacks and water and ski stuff for what should be a 2 hour drive.
Except google lied and it took 5 hours and conditions were terrible and I had to live tweet parts of our journey to help allay my anxiety and also give my sister a location to come find us in case we ended up in a snowbank. The snow was very thick, the visibility was very poor, and James had to get out of the car twice to re-find the road, which was great while driving on switchbacks with cliffs down the side. Berthoud Pass, which cuts through the mountains to Winter Park where my parents live was closed, so we had to drive out, up, around, and back down the mountains to reach the same place, but we were very grateful for James's calm, steady driving and our safe arrival to my parents' beautiful home full of warmth and nachos.
Early Monday morning we were up and getting ready to hit the slopes when we realized Claire left her snow pants in Boulder, so we loaded up with one kid in leggings to find two stores sold out of all youth pants when a second-hand ski shop later saved the day with some new-to-us pants at a bargain price. We parked at the village, put our lunches in a locker, met up with Papa and a Gigi who did NOT have a broken arm this time around, and hit the slopes for the first time ever without dropping someone off at daycare and/or ski school.
It was just our crew, our Papa and Gigi, and a WHOLE lot of fresh powder.
And the kids did so great! We started on a green to get their ski legs under them and then skied blues the rest of the day. It was so fun to watch each kid ski according to their personality.
Landon, 13.5, 7th time skiing: Capable and fast, no falls, follows his dad blindly into any tree path James attempts and loves a little jump at the end.
Claire, 10,5, 6th time skiing: Strong but careful, occasional falls with a cheerful attitude while working to stand back up. Focuses on form and beautiful turns.
Cora, 7, 2nd time skiing (after many years of refusing to touch snow until last year when she was too big for daycare and had to finally try to ski): Completely insane. Very fast with spectacular crashes and occasional joyful screams.
She yelled a cheerful “thanks dad!” when we finally let her attempt tree paths again after an earlier one took both her skis, gloves, and nearly a leg. Woke up on morning 2 requesting a black diamond as her first run.
We skied until the lifts closed and I could barely get my skis to turn in the deep snow because my legs were so tired.
We even did Parsenn's Bowl, taking the lift up above the tree line to high winds and heavy snow and the kids felt like such badasses skiing down from the top of the world.
On Tuesday, we all had pants, so we were at the mountain before it opened and got free lift-side parking and clear gorgeous early morning runs.
We went up to Parsenn's Bowl for the second time, but after another fulld ay of snow there was SO much powder that Cora's little skis struggled to turn and she had a big fall where she lost both of them and flatly refused to get back on. James ended up carrying her in front of him while he snowboarded to the trees and I was very thankful he was so strong and sure on his board because she and I would still be up there. Once among the trees, our little ski sprite bounced back, and raced headlong back own the mountain, continuing to dart through tree paths and laugh maniacally while I yelled, "Cora! No! Stay on the trail!"
We skied to our cars (literally) and ate lunch inside before heading back out.
(Covid Note: Skiing is fairly unaffected and seemingly safe. Masks are absolutely mandatory in lift lines, entering/exiting the lift, and anywhere in the village and uncovered noses are called out mercilessly. You don't have to share lifts with any non-family members and there is absolutely no indoor dining in the whole resort. We always pack our food and eat outside or in our car, so it wasn't a big deal for us. I'm sure the apres ski scene is much changed, but we that's never been our thing anyway since we always have the kids in tow. All in all, it felt like people followed the rules and were just glad to be on the slopes.)
After lunch the snow was coming down pretty hard and though we'd skied until the lifts all closed on Monday, we only skied a few more runs and cut out 2 hours early on Day 2. As James and I often remind ourselves- it's always best to stop while everyone is still having fun. We returned our skis (love Epic Mountain Sports in Winter Park!) and drove home to put on jammies and eat cookies.
My mom had chili in the cockpot and we rented Raya and the Last Dragon and were all too tired to move. We loved the movie and were in bed early- James with plans to get up early and swim, the kids and I with plans to do the opposite of that.
Wednesday was our play day and we spent it at the Snow Mountain Ranch YMCA. For the very reasonable price of a day pass, we got to run around on a snow covered playground, ice skate, build a snow fort, and throw a lot of snow at one another. There was also tubing and other activities, but we needed to pack and get down the mountain before dark.
Once packed, we promised the kids a quick round of sledding at the park in front of my parents' house which usually boasts a pretty steep decline into their ice covered lake. But this time they've had SO MUCH snow there was almost no decline at all.
The kids still managed a few rides and we all cracked up as they stopped mere feet after trying to push off.
Everyone pulled off snow pants, threw them in the back of the car, and off we headed for Tia's house, this time getting to use the handy mountain pass that reduces travel time by half. It was an uneventful 2 hour journey and we knew where the road was the WHOLE time. We stopped for takeout pizza and quickly exchanged our big stack of pizza boxes for the baby.
The cousins got to play, we got to fight over baby Sage, and we woke up already 2 hours closer to home. We should pull in the driveway about 9 p.m. tonight with a GREAT trip behind us. I'm so grateful for tiny cousins, kids who travel easily and joyfully, parents and a sister with beautiful homes in beautiful places, Covid vaccinations and precautions and rules people seem to follow in Colorado, and a husband who drives all 30 hours of our road trips with a steady hand and calm presence.
Until next time Colorado! And thanks to Tia, Billy, Papa, Gigi, and the mountains for six beautiful, exhausting, wonderful days!