Saturday, April 28, 2012

Skincare 101

This is an old post that I took down because it was formatting all crazy-like. I got it to work through Pinterest, so my apologies if you have Google Reader and have already read this one.

It seems like when it comes to beauty, the grass is always greener on the other side as evidenced by the great curly vs. straight debate. There also seems to be a down side to every desirable trait:
  • Blue eyed blondes are gorgeous, but often look washed out without makeup on.
  • Short hair is quicker to dry, but more difficult to style.
  • Pin straight hair is easy to style, but rarely holds curl well. 
I personally struggle with these two:

1) My thick curly hair is a blessing because I can do so much with it, but man is it a fight to get it to do what I want sometimes.
2) My dry skin rarely breaks out- we're talking a zit maybe once a year, but unfortunately will be much more prone to wrinkles as I get older.

It took me about 20 years of wrestling with my hair to figure out how to get the best out of its texture. After spending the same amount of time taking mediocre care of my skin, I recently decided it was time to get on the ball in that area as well.

One of my favorite things about blogging are the wonderful recs of all my favorite bloggers. So several of these are products that you may have seen many times before. But hopefully there will be a few new ones as well. Here are my findings after going on beauty bender the last few months:

  1. Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Daily Peel. I love these. I take the advice of previous reviewers and cut them in half. It makes it last longer and half is plenty to do the job. These tingle when I use them and just make my skin feel healthier. 
  2. Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Glow Pads. I have only tried these once so far. Basically they have similar skin-benefiting ingredients as #1 with the added benefit of a bronzer. It worked pretty well and looked natural, but definitely heed their warnings and wash your hands really well afterwards. 
  3. Boscia Luminizing Black Mask. I really love this product. Remember those Biore pore strips from the 90's? It's basically a giant one of those for your entire face. I love peeling it off and seeing the gunk that comes with it. TMI? 
  4.  Queen Helene's Mint Julep Mask. Lovely and ohsocheap! Like $4 cheap. Gotta love that. I get the "my skin is tingling so it must be doing something" feeling with this one as well. And it usually produces baby soft skin afterwards. The mint green color is a fun retro bonus- I always feel like I'm in a cheesy chick flick when I have this one on. 
  5. Bliss Fabulous Foaming Face Wash. Okay, I gotta say- I like this product, but whoa this one was a little overhyped in my mind. First of all, "foaming" is a very large overstatement. There is no foaming to be had with this stuff. However, I love the smell and the teeny exfoliating bits so I will likely continue to use it despite the "foaming" misnomer. 
  6. Bliss Triple Oxygen Instant Energizing Face Mask. I bought this after reading rave reviews. I have never had the real deal spa facial before. I've heard it's pretty much the holy grail of skin treatments, so I was excited to try this as an at-home tester. Like the cleanser, it doesn't foam as much as I expected it to, but it does make my skin feel soft. I probably wouldn't buy it again because unlike the Boscia, I felt like it was a little pricy for the results I saw. I think there is better bang for your buck elsewhere. However, the "real" triple oxygen facial is definitely on my to do list! 
  7. Bliss Fabulous Every Day Eye Cream. Like it, but it doesn't hold a candle to #9. 
  8. Bliss Fabulous Face Lotion. This will likely become my summertime moisturizer. Like all Bliss products, it smells amazing and I love that it has SPF. However, my dry skin needs something a little heavier to get my through the scaly winter months, but I can't wait to bust this out as a lighter alternative during the warmer months. 
  9. VMV Re-everything Eye Serum. I got this in my first Birchbox and love it! The texture of the serum is perfect for your eye area and it seems like it soaks into your skin very easily. I will be sad when this guy runs out because I think I'll have a hard time shelling out the cash to replace it. 
  10. Murad Hydrating Toner. I first learned of Murad after a wonderful "Intro to Lifetime" facial at my gym's spa. My favorite thing about this toner is that it comes in a spray bottle. I feel like it evenly covers my skin without wasting a ton of product on a cotton ball. 
Beyond the expendable products, my other new favorite is my Clarisonic Mia. I kept hearing about this thing but thought it was kind of silly. However, I was in Nordstrom with a Christmas gift card burning a hole in my pocket and I asked the girl behind the counter if it really worked as well as everyone said. This is how she got me:

Salesgirl: Do you have a Sonicare toothbrush?
Natty: Yes.
Salesgirl: Do you notice a difference when you brush your teeth with in versus with a normal toothbrush?
Natty (unknowing that I was about to be HAD): Omigosh, YES! It's crazy how much better.... my teeth.... yeah, okay- I get your point.
Salesgirl (nodding knowingly at me trailing off like she had had this exact conversation 1,000 times before I unknowingly walked into her web): Clarisonic and Sonicare are made my the same company- just think how much cleaner your face would be.

At which point my dirty face was shamed into forking over my gift card.

But y'all... my skin has never been so soft! And more importantly- I like using it (unlike my Sonicare- that thing makes my skin crawl!) so I always, always take my makeup off before bed. Which I can't say was the case before. And it's pretty turquoise color makes me smile every morning- so bonus points for that, obviously!

Hopefully that helps someone out there since I was helped so much by others reviews!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Meeting Delaney

The Friday before last, I hopped on a plane to fly to Phoenix and meet my sweet little niece, Delaney!  She was 9 days old when I met her and pretty much the cutest thing I've ever laid eyes on.

My brother and Whitney were one week into this parenting business and seemed like pros already. It helps that the little one is generally a pretty happy girl unless she is getting her outfit and/or diaper changed. (I'm sure my brother is quite relieved that she doesn't like being nakey!)

Whitney's parents were still there and her two brothers also flew in for the weekend, so we had a fun, relaxing sibling weekend grilling out, playing mexican train, and snuggling with the baby.

Garrett & Kyle meeting Delaney for the first time.  They were both a little unsure about the proper neck hold, but got the hang of it pretty quickly.

Clint's friends that are also having a baby in a few months. They have the gender written down, sealed in an envelope hidden in their home and they still haven't peeked yet. There is no way I could have that much restraint- that envelope would have been opened in the car on the way home!

Such a sweet picture. My brother trying to get little bit to go back to sleep so he could take some photos of her.

Their wiener dog has done really well with his new status as the "big brother" but I think he is feeling slightly needy. Clint was trying to use his computer and Oscar decided if he crawled on top of his hands, he might have a better shot at being pet.

Sunday afternoon we took Delaney out to the Montelucia for her first Sunday Funday. We sat by the pool and enjoyed the gorgeous weather for a few hours. She was a trooper and didn't make a peep the entire time we were there.

On Monday, I met my best friend for lunch at Culinary Dropout (so good!) and a little shopping. We used to spend hours upon hours together at Fashion Square Mall when we were younger so it was fun to go back 20 years later for old time's sake.

It was such a great weekend hanging out with family and friends that qualify as the same. Here is one of my favorite pictures from the quick trip. Delaney's first photo with her aunt and uncles- Kyle, Garrett, and I. 

And because I can't get enough of the cuteness... one last little photo bomb of that sweet baby:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Baby Cuteness

The baby boom has officially started.  My sister-in-law obviously had Delaney two weeks ago, next week Jodi will have Kennedy, Whitney will have Jack the week after, and Julie will have Luke in May. I am loving every second of all the cuteness.

Speaking of... I had to share my two favorite videos from the last month.

I spent all of last weekend trying to catch Delaney's cute little baby sneezes on video. Inevitably anytime I had my iPhone in her face, she wouldn't do it and as soon as I set it down she would. The day after I got home my sister-in-law texted me this:

I've already watched it like 10 times.

This one is of my sweet Godbaby, Madi, at brunch. It cracks me up that she eats lemons even though she obviously doesn't like the sourness of them.

Too cute!!

Mommy Dearest

I just thought I would share with y'all how my day started...

Yep, that's my mom for ya.

Although she is the one responsible for always making sure our birthdays are over the top and fun, so I guess she is entitled to be "fawned over" in return a few times a year.

It's becoming very apparent that I never really stood a chance in the whole being-low-maintenance-department myself.

It looks like I'm off to set about making brunch/spa reservations- have a good day!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

April Birchbox

I think Birchbox is experiencing a little growth spurt as evidenced by their wait list and the fact that this month's box seemed to arrive later than usual. However, a little extra anticipation makes getting my favorite piece of mail even more fun.  Here is what was in my April box:
  1. Olie Biologique Huile Modern. I have really really dry skin so I am all about oils. The last two Birchboxes have included oils for your hair, so I was excited to get one to use on my skin. I tried this out last night and I really did like it, however, I won't be paying $56 for it ANYTIME soon. I suspect the argan oils you can get on amazon for $12 do pretty much the same thing.
  2. Revolution Organics Freedom Glow Beauty Balm. I have always wanted to try the NARS multiples that seem to have a cult following and this is very similar. I tried it on my lips and it has a great texture, is very moisturizing, and was a color that I would have chosen on my own. I meant to try it as blush this morning, but was running late.
  3. Befine Gentle Cleanser and Befine Daily Moisterizer. Haven't used either yet. I'll probably wait and use these as travel products since they are in little disposable packets. I love that they are both reasonably priced and that the moisturizer has SPF. 
  4. Le Palais des Thés Tea Bags. Love green tea. Love all things french. I haven't tried these yet, but I have high hopes. 
  5. Atelier Orange Sanguine Perfume. I hate sugary sweet scents and this is definitely not one of those. I like it, but it has a familiar quality that I can't put my finger on which is driving me slightly crazy. I would definitely keep this in mind next time I'm in need of perfume- which won't be for awhile. Maybe I can figure out what it reminds me of in the meantime.
I told myself that I would try out Birchbox and keep subscribing as long as I felt as though something in the box was worth the $10 charge every month. For me, this month, that was probably the Revolution Beauty Balm. But who am I kidding- I'm not canceling anytime soon. I adore getting fun, girly things in the mail. You can sign up for your own box here!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

She's here!!

Y'all may remember my brother's adorable "we're expecting" announcement:

Well, Little Miss decided she was tired of waiting and wanted to grace us with her presence two weeks early. I don't think anyone was complaining since we were all very anxious to meet her as well.
Little Delaney Ryan Walker was born one week ago yesterday.

She was 6 lbs. 11 ounces and is one of the most adorable babies I've ever laid eyes on (not biased at all).

I could show you pictures all day, but I won't because you'll be getting PLENTY of that in the future.

My parents jumped on the first plane they could and spent the weekend out there. I stayed behind to keep things together at the office. I'm as smitten as one can be considering I've only "met" her via text photos.

However, I'm beyond excited because I'm headed to Phoenix tomorrow to see her in person.  Her two uncles will be there as well, so it should be a fun sibling weekend fawning over our newest family member.

I'm so looking forward to doing all the fun things with her that my aunt did with me- painting her teeny tiny finger nails, taking her shopping, teaching her things in the kitchen, and just trying to live up to my new role as her "Crazy Aunt Natalie." I've decided it's kind of the coolest title ever since you get to enjoy all the fun without the pressure of raising a human. Which lets face it- at the point that I sometimes forget to feed my dog, we should probably stick with furry "children" for a bit longer. {Note to family/friends: the previous statement should in no way deter you from allowing me to babysit in the future. I can and will remember to feed your human babies... I think.} 

Congratulations Clint & Whitney!! I can't wait to see y'all this weekend and love on sweet Delaney!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

March in Pictures

Sorry in advance y'all- March was picture overload...

New bed
Moose got an upgrade to his living quarters this month. I ordered a new bed for him in December(!) and it just arrived a few weeks ago. The picture above his bed is from Jodi. She called my mom while I was in San Diego and asked if she could come over and take some professional photos of him. She edited them, and then printed her favorites/framed the best one and gave it to me for my birthday. Such a sweet and thoughtful gift. If you are in Dallas and would like photos of your child (furry or otherwise), she can be reached here!

When you live in a huge city like Dallas, sometimes you just need to mix it up a bit and do something you wouldn't normally do. Such was the case when we decided to forgo our typical weekend plans and spend an evening at Medieval Times. 


Cheesy doesn't even begin to describe it. But despite the terrible acting, subpar food, and ridiculously choreographed "fight" scenes- we had a lot of fun. I even caught one of the carnations our knight threw into the audience. I know- try to contain your jealousy!!

 My brother and Whitney's baby shower was in Arizona on March 10th. I'm not a huge fan of the scenery in Phoenix, but the sunsets there are hard to beat.

 I flew out a day early to surprise my best friend and meet her two little ones- identical twin girls McKaela and Addison. So cute, but I could not tell them apart to save my life!

Brunch the next day at The Farm. Which- fun fact- is also where Courtney and Ben had the fake wedding during her hometown date on the Bachelor (I swear we didn't choose to eat here because of that).  

My brother's baby shower was Cowgirl themed and was basically a party with baby gifts. Aren't those the best kind of showers? We all had a blast. The Texans all wore their boots and surprisingly, so did a few of the Arizonans. 

All the birthday boys but one.

 The week I got back I hosted a little dinner party for Ross, Tim, Jules, and Alex. I made stuffed shells from Annie's Eats and The Waspy Redhead's chocolate stout cake. Ross gave up booze for lent, Tim gave up sweets, and Jules is pregnant... so it wasn't as overly indulgent as it would normally be but we still had a fun dinner.

 Mid-dinner prep I realized I was out of butter. I sent a mass text and ended up with not one, but three sticks of butter. Gotta love helpful dinner guests, but Ross really took the cake when he arrived with butter and a bouquet of roses. He sent me a text shortly after he left directing me to a $20 bill stuck in the roses saying that dinner parties always cost him more than he plans on. Such a terrible shame that man is gay. 

 Two of our out-of-town girlfriends drove up the weekend of Saint Paddy's day. We kicked off the weekend with cocktails on a patio followed by the Stars game. 

 We found a great spot outside on St. Paddy's day and stayed put all day. After a few rounds of green beers Michele decided that her tongue was not sufficiently green compared to the rest of ours. Needless to say it was a fun afternoon!

Any month meeting someone new to the world is a good one in my book. In March, I got to meet sweet little Hallie when I took dinner to her parents, Jenny and Derek.

 A couple days later I also got to see this little one for brunch.

Savor Dallas. An event where you wander around the gardens of Dallas' art museums and drink wine and eat little appetizers. Also known as the best event ever. This was my first year going and I loved it!

Wine + props!

 We ended up going to Sissy's afterwards and I met the owner, Lisa Garza, who competed on the fourth season of the Next Food Network Star.

Sorry for the photo overload. I hope everyone had a great month as well!