Round-up: August 2016

A photo by Andrew Small.

“That August time it was delight / To watch the red moons wane to white.”  – Algernon Charles Swinburne

It’s so hard to imagine that August is over–but it doesn’t take any imagination.  It really is almost over!  August is one of my very favorite months (I know I make it sound like every month is my favorite, but really…August is so wonderful).  Like every end-of-the-month, here are the results from my monthly to-do list:

  1. Update my shoe collection.  I repaired some cuties that needed a touch-up.  But not quite done yet.
  2. Catch up on my baby diary.  Not caught up, but I’ve mapped out my plan of execution.  Kinda counts!
  3. Write a Guest Post.
  4. Write down 8 recipes.   It’s nice to have them in my recipe box and not just floating in my head.
  5. Try 4 new recipes. I tried: fish tacos, barbacoa chicken, granola bars, and bread pudding…3 of 4 wins!
  6. Start reading another book.
  7. Don’t stop editing my book.  Slow-going, but its happening.  Somewhat.  See #2.
  8. Launch my new post series.  Army Basic Training Letters!  See my first post here.
  9. Connect my blog to Google.   I tried but it hasn’t been working.
  10. Go on a family picnic.  It was so fun, one turned into another, and now its a weekly thing!

This August was filled with outdoor bliss–forest hikes, dog walks, swimming, and picnics.  One highlight of the month was a surprise visit from my sisters.  We had so much fun with manicures, cooking, and shopping that the hours literally flew by and before I knew it they had to leave.  I miss them so much.  August had some milestones for my baby too, who began standing on her own and grew four teeth in just one month!  We celebrated Sammy’s 6th birthday and started working on Benny’s leash-walking skills, so I guess this month had some important moments for our furbabies too!  But the biggest milestone of the month: swapping regular milk for coconut milk has been a frappuccino life-changing experience.  Only kind of kidding.

August truly is one of my favorite months of the year, and this month was one of the best of 2016!  It was a month filled with so many memory-making moments.  Amid all the family fun, we have been looking forward to moving and are enjoying planning for it.  Knowing that we will be moving soon is making me extra nostalgic about the time we have spent here growing our family.  But we get to take the memories with us, wherever we go!  And based on our plans–where we are going in the future is looking very bright.  It’s getting me really excited for September!

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Glam Bag Unboxing: August 2016

August Glam Bag

I think Ipsy’s August Glam Bag is my favorite yet!  The theme this month is pastel fantasy–which is apparently a thing– dubbing every subscriber a “sugar highness.”  So sweet!  The bag has a special emphasis on pampering treatments and delicate items, and hovers around a pastel color scheme.  I really was pleased with this bag!



Nyx Born To Glow Liquid Illuminator – Gleam

This is my favorite product in the bag.  I saw this product in passing once, on a youtube video, and thought it looked amazing.  And I wasn’t wrong.  This velvety and luscious liquid is the most glowy illuminator I have ever seen.  It can elevate any look to luxe in just a matter of moments.  While I absolutely love the color, it is a tricky one for me.  It’s too dark to apply to the usual highlight spots, but its a little too sparkly for the contour spots.  Suggestions?  Leave a comment below!  I could use some advice.



Lord & Berry 20100 Maximatte Crayon Lipstick – Intimacy

I like lip products but I can’t stand lipstick.  I don’t like the way it smells and tastes, no matter the brand.  Even if the color is as subtle as possible, I can’t help but feel like it always makes my makeup look overdone and “full-facey.”  I just don’t like the way it looks.  But this crayon is the closest any lipstick can come to pleasing me.  The color is only a few shade darker than my lips’ natural color.   And even though it has a slight lipstick smell and taste, it is nothing like the average lipsticks that make my stomach churn.  I don’t mind using it just to overline my lower lip, as that is subtle enough to make me feel comfortable.   While I can’t say I would wear this everyday, if I am in a lipstick mood this is the product I am going for.



Jersey Shore Cosmetics Mongongo Lip Conditioner – Vanilla Coconut Cream

Speaking of lip products I go for, this is my absolute favorite lip balm of the moment.  It has even replaced my beloved Burt’s Bees Lip Balm, which was my previous lip staple.  Not only is its vanilla coconut scent heavenly, but its ingredient list is transparently natural and wholesome.  Names like Mongongo oil, Calendula extract, and rosemary extract are ones I like seeing in my skincare and beauty products.  Even better…they’re organic!  This balm promises more than just a healthy label–it offers protection against environmental conditions and aging.  It probably goes without saying that this balm is extremely moisturizing.  And the fact that is is “nutritiously dense” with antioxidants and calcium is just Vanilla Coconut Cream icing on the Lip Conditioner Cake.



It Hair Care 12-in-One Amazing Serum

It’s no secret that I’m a big fan of It’s a 10 hair products…particularly their leave-in conditioner.   At first glance, this product feels a lot like a dupe for that: a floral scented product that packs a punch with a number of promises in a blue bottle with the word “It” written in bold.  But the actual serum itself is very different from any of the It’s a 10 conditioners I have tried.  It is a syrupy formula composed of 12 oils that thickens, strengthens, de-frizzes, and adds shine to hair strands.  This oil works so differently from leave-in conditioners, even if it accomplishes similar effects.  Overall, I like this nourishing serum for being 100% grease-free.  And the fact that it smells absolutely beautiful isn’t a problem either!  Does it replace It’s a 10 in my life?  No.  Does it add enhance my hair’s existence?  Yes.


Formula X Nail Polish – Dollface

Last but not least, I got this cutie in my August Glam Bag.  I love getting nail polishes, and have a soft spot for neutral-pinks.  I hadn’t tried this brand before, and really liked the quality of the polish.  So many milky blush colors end up streaky and thin, but this polish was pleasantly thick.  I would definitely purchase more from this brand!

That is it for my August Glam Bag unboxing!  For the first time ever, my glam bag didn’t come with a makeup brush.  I really didn’t mind though, because I really liked every product that Ipsy sent me this month.  While I can’t say I will use the lipstick on a regular basis, it’s nice to have one that I can actually wear.  And the lip balm, hair serum, and nail polish are all products I can easily see using up.  Now if only I could conquer the amazing Nyx Liquid Illuminator…

Thanks for reading!

If you want to sign up for Ipsy Glam Bags, you can do so by clicking here.  While using my affiliate link does credit my account with bonus points, Ipsy does not in any way compensate me for sharing their link!


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Makeup Review: Carli Bybel Palette


I can’t believe I got one!  It was almost a year ago when the beauty Youtuber Carli Bybel announced she teamed up with BHCosmetics to create an eyeshadow and highlight palette.  She posted an entire video showcasing the new palette and giving the world a first look.  I thought it looked amazing.  But I also thought, like so many guru-collaborations, that it would be a hard-to-get palette that was sold from a single website with astronomical shipping charges.  In other words, I didn’t feel very hopeful that I was going to land one for myself.  Then a few days ago (Friday) I was looking at Ulta’s website and saw that the Carli Bybel palette had hit their stores.  I died.

The very next day, we zoomed out to Ulta so that I could purchase one.  I braced myself for the realistic possibility that my local Ulta had already sold out of the palette.  When I got to the store and couldn’t find it, things started to look bleak.  Then…low and behold, I spotted a shelf of them.  And there was one sitting out, just waiting for me to take it.  I definitely purchased it.  Important side note: I also bought another L’Oreal Telescopic Mascara, which this time was not the Carbon one.  That was probably a bad move, considering the Carbon version is my go-to mascara.  But every single time I repurchase the Carbon one, I always wonder what the original is like.  And now I guess I get to find out!  But I digress.


If I could choose one color to describe the Carli Bybel palette, I would say rose gold.  There are many shades (ten shadows and four highlights to be exact), but they all hover around the gold, rose, and bronze hues.  Since those are my favorite makeup colors, this palette is such a winner for me.  Some have complained that the eyeshadow colors are too similar.  But personally, I think their similarity helps with flawless blending and natural-looking color gradation.  As a collection, I think the ten colors work perfectly together and compose a great eyeshadow palette.  And of course, they work well with the highlighters.

Out of the ten eyeshadows, half are matte and half are shimmery.  The darker shades tend to be matte, and the light shades tend to be shimmery.  But the ten are still a fair mix of pigment finishes overall.    They are smooth to put on…dare I use the word “buttery?”  I’m not sure how I feel when people describe eyeshadows like that.  But this palette is what they mean when they say that.  Having never tried BH Cosmetics before, I was impressed with the quality (and quality) of the shadows for their low price point.

The four highlighters have a much steeper color-change amongst themselves than the eyeshadows.  Needless to say, all four are “shimmery” because, um: highlighters.  These also have good pigmentation, which I appreciate.  If you know anything about my feelings on highlighters, then you know I like them to be as transparent as possible.  I have had bad experiences with chalky and thick highlighters.  Nothing to fear here, though!  These highlighters leave a shimmer without any trace of powdery residue.  And if you use one of the darker shades for a highlighted bronzing effect, it leaves the pigment with the shimmer, but that is all!

Overall, I am very pleased with the Carli Bybel palette.  Part of me was excited to have it simply because it was one of those highly anticipated celebrity-influenced palettes.  But truthfully, even if this palette hadn’t been a collaboration, I still would have wanted it.  The colors are my favorite color family–soooo beautiful!  The highlights are amazing quality, and come in a variety of beautiful shades.  Matte or shimmery, all the eyeshadows have nice pigmentation.  I am so surprised that with all the quality, quantity, and fame going on, this palette still cost under $20!  It was only a few dollars more than my mascara.  Oops.

Leave a comment below and tell me if you’ve tried the Carli Bybel palette, and what you think of it! BH Cosmetics’ latest big collaboration is Illuminate with Ashley Tisdale.  I can’t wait to give those a try.  Hopefully they will be as lovely as the Carli Bybel palette turned out to be!

You can find the palette here, and it’s new BIG SISTER (the extended palette) here.  These are affiliate links.

**Read next: My Maskcara Beauty Haul & Review**


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Army Basic Training: Letter Writing Myths


We had only been married for three weeks when my husband left for Army Basic Training.  It was hard.  We missed each other so much.  As an Army Brat, letter-writing wasn’t new to me.  But I wasn’t prepared for Basic Training letters.  During those first few weeks, when I wasn’t on Pinterest pinning inspirational homecoming pins, I was researching the do’s and don’ts of letter writing to my soldier at Basic.  Looking back on it all, some of the guidelines I encountered were true, but some were totally myths.

Myth 1: You Can’t Send Him Pictures

The guys are allowed to have pictures, but they aren’t allowed to receive anything beside letters, if that makes sense.  About a month into Basic, our wedding photographer sent me the photos.  I wanted my husband to see them SO BAD because #1 I loved them and #2 I knew they would be a total morale booster.  But I knew if I sent a padded envelope of wedding photos, he wouldn’t be allowed to receive them (because of the padded envelope, not the photos).  The trick here is to put the photos in the right size envelope.

I chose small envelopes, ones that were the size of the photos, and grouped  them into small stacks of 6 photos or less.  I even bound them together with flat ties so that they wouldn’t slide around.  In short: they were the illusion of a thick greeting card, but in reality they were four envelopes of wedding photos.  It was totally worth using 4 stamps up at once–the drill sergeants had no idea and my husband loved it!  Even his battle buddies found them to be a pick-me-up, and they hardly knew us!  I will say, if my husband WASN’T allowed to have photos, I would not have sent them.  I didn’t want him to get in trouble and would never do something to jeopardize his training.  But I knew he could have them and so I totally went for it!

Just remember–you can ONLY send appropriate photos.

Myth 2: You Can Send Him Sticks of Gum

Even though you can get away with sending him pictures, you absolutely can’t send him gum.  Ranger school is a different story.  But at Basic, the soldiers are not allowed to have candy.  Any candy found is considered contraband and will get your soldier in trouble.  If he is seen chewing the gum outside of food hours, they will know he had it in his room.  And if they find it on him (whether that be his uniform or his locker) he will get in trouble.  You don’t want to get him in trouble for something as trivial as gum!

Myth 3: It’s the US Postal Service…He’ll Get the Mail

Yes, it’s the US Postal System that shuffles your letters to and fro the states.  But it’s also the US Army that shuffles the letters fro and to him.  Even though you specifically address your letter to your soldier in his particular platoon, the entire company’s letters all arrive at the same mail room.  And though the mail room sorts through the letters at a fairly normal pace, it’s not guaranteed that they will sort all the letters as quickly as the post office does.  Also, if your soldier is on a detail (working on a task) or in the field training, mail call may not happen that night.  Be assured, they will arrive eventually.  But they may arrive in bunches sometimes.  And they may not arrive as quickly as his letters make it to you.

Myth 4: Keep Your Letters Positive

This one is only kinda  a myth.  It’s true that your letters, for the most part, should be positive.  After all, nobody wants to get a letter full of lemons every night.  However, emotions play a new role in your soldier’s life.  I haven’t met an Army wife/fiancee/girlfriend who hasn’t said that her soldier wrote her a letter with true feeling.   I don’t mean either good or bad emotions, I just mean real feelings.

If he is writing you and telling you that this-or-that has been tough, it’s okay to do the same.  An unconvincingly peppy letter is more likely to stress him out, as he might be able to tell you’re holding back.  Be real and be honest, just don’t be critical or overly dramatic.  As anyone who is in a real relationship knows, nothing bad ever comes from being honest.  While Basic Training can be a tough time for couples, it shouldn’t change your basic communication skills–which include telling the truth.

And if you’re reading this and wondering why you haven’t received a “feelings” letter from him…no worries.  It will come.  That is not a myth.

Myth 5: My Friend Spritzed All Her Letters With Perfume, So I Can Too

This one is frustrating.  Some girls totally get away with dousing their envelopes in perfume.  Others can’t.  One girl lovingly decorated her letter with stickers, only to have the drill sergeant make the receiving soldier do a certain number of pushups for every sticker.  It totally depends on the drill sergeants.  To err on the side of caution, I made my envelopes as nondescript as possible.  White business envelopes.  Black inked addresses.  The only “decorations” were fun stamps: hearts, flowers, etc.  Something he couldn’t get blamed for.  See this post for all my “envelope-regulation-approved-decorations.” haha

My advice: if you are the perfumey-sticker-type, wait to send those til AFTER he tells you how the drill sergeants act during mail call.  If his DS’s are pretty relaxed (hard to imagine, I know!) and just hand out the letters, then you should be good to go.  But if they use mail time as an opportunity for harassment (which is semi-likely) then just keep the outside of the envelope boring and let the magic take place inside it.

– – – – – – – – –

Hopefully this myth-busting assuaged your fears and made writing those Basic letters a little easier.  Sending the first few letters is always the hardest, so don’t worry if it’s tough right now.  And if you have any other myths to share about Basic Training letters, leave a comment below!

Visit here to see my favorite stationary supplies for writing letters to my solider!

Read next:  Army Basic Training: 5 (More) Letter Writing Myths

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August 2016


“The sun tires of summer and sighs itself into autumn.”  -Terri Guillemets

I am so excited for August!  A fresh month means a fresh start, and there is a lot I want to do this month. Writing down my goals and aspirations for the month helps me accomplish them.  Here they are:

  1. Update my shoe collection.  Whether it’s repairing, donating, or buying, I need to do it!
  2. Catch up on my baby diary.  I’m still behind; but it means a lot to me so I want to catch up.
  3. Write a Guest Post.  This was a goal of mine before, but one I didn’t accomplish.  Attempt two.
  4. Write down 8 recipes.  I have a recipe box where they belong…not floating around in my head.
  5. Try 4 new recipes.  And while I’m at it, I should try 4 more.  I tried some fun things last month.
  6. Start reading another book.  Any book.  Any suggestions?
  7. Don’t stop editing my book.  This is more of a self-threat than a goal. 😉
  8. Launch my new post series.  It’s a series that falls under one my specific categories.  eeee!
  9. Connect my blog to Google.  Though I have Analytics, I’m not 100% set up in the google world.
  10. Go on a family picnic.  I’m really looking forward to this.  My husband has started planning it for us, and this month should have the perfect weather for it!

There are always more than ten things I want to get done in a month, but I think the above list is a good start for my August.  I’m really stoked about this month.  August has always been a favorite of mine.  While summer might be coming to a close, fall is right around the corner.  And I can’t wait for it!  Thanks for stopping by.  My new series (list item #9!) starts next post.  See you then!

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