from my beauty bag to yours

With the help of my monthly Birchbox subscription, I'm introduced to several more beauty products than one girl necessarily needs and that's how I've found two of my favorite new products this from from S.W. Basics and Jouer.

You can never enough lip balm in any given purse, laptop bag or coat pocket at any time so I always have a favorite one at quick disposal. Meet S.W. Basics - the citrus one is used on a daily basis.

I mix my favorite Dr. Jart Black Label BB cream with the Jouer luminizing moisture tint in golden or pearl for my daily routine. It provides a hint of shimmer and light enough coverage.

Even though my hair isn't in the sun for the next six months, I still use the Aveda sun care hair masque once a month to help refresh my locks  - at least I think it works.

new favorite beauty finds. 

Dry skin? I am newly obsessed with this brand. I just happened to pick up Dr. Bronner's soap because I was out of my normal body soap at my grocery store. I'm a sucker for anything almond scented and instantly (no joke) my skin felt smoother and softer after using it once. I'm talking noticeably different after one use.

If you need a 10 minute make up routine, let me introduce you to the Naked Basics palette. I know, I know - it's not Naked 3 but you can't go wrong with these shades. Simple staples for your beauty bag.

My nightly face routine consists of  only two things since I first used these products two years ago - the Swell skin bar to wash my face and then the seabuckthorn oil. That is it. Every night since my esthetician first introduced me to Swell products during a routine facial. My world = changed. P.S. move beyond the unique smell - your skin will thank you later.

From my bathroom to yours, I hope you give one of these products a chance as you search for the next beauty product on your list. Samples are a girls best friend so ask your Nordstrom or Sephora rep for some to test and try out - I promise, you won't regret it!

my weekly dates with crossfit

I drank the kool-aid that is crossfit.

Now before you stop reading this blog or send me texts that I’m going to “get too muscular,” just put your iPhone down and breathe. Better? Ok then.

Over the summer I started training with a friend in crossfit-like sessions with a group of girls. I absolutely loved it. I found myself getting up at 6:15 a.m. (that’s some kind of record for me) twice a week to be at the gym ready to push sleds, push press weight and do an ab routine that would get me Britney abs circa her 2000 VMA performance. (Yes, that one - the one with the most glittery gorgeous body suit that still sticks vividly in mind because still as an almost 31 year old, I'm vying for abs like that.) I even attended a community class on a Saturday at Birdtown and planned on joining the next month.

See? Abs of steel.
Then I made excuses. It’s too expensive. I don’t need it – I’ll do the routines in my gym, add running, Barre classes and keep with my once a week hot vinyasa yoga.

One big fat lie is what that was.

One BIG fat lie.

I wasn’t going in the weight room. I avoided it at all costs. I stuck with running and yoga but all the progress I made was quickly being lost and I realized that:

1) I need a trainer-like environment because I’m not going to do front squats for the hell of it

2) I like working out in a group dynamic and bonus when you are already friends with them

3) I needed to stop making excuses and just make the payment already

Two months ago, I messaged a blogger turned in real life friend and said, “Heather, I want to know what this Birdtown Crossfit is all about” after I saw an article highlighting all the risks involved with starting the crossfit program. She sent it to the BTC trainers and they shared a response with her to send to me. I signed up after reading their take on crossfit and hearing from Heather about the gym atmosphere.

Read Huffington Post and there is probably an article sharing how absolutely intimidating and terrible crossfit is for you. At Birdtown, I don’t find it to be either of those things – I focus on the movements first before I do too much weight incorrectly and blow out my back. 

What I’m not trying to be:
  • An American Gladiator – Don’t you remember how much fun it was to watch the Gladiators compete back in the day on USA? Yeah, well I’m NOT striving to look like Sky or Blaze but I am trying to finish the half marathon in 1:50, slicing 18 minutes off my time this year.
Gun show.
What I’m trying to be:
  • Stronger with every WOD – Do a real strict pull up and one of those kip up things where they swing themselves up over the bar ever so easily. Oh, and my mental inspiration board consists of a behind like J.Lo and abs like Britney.

I mean, after all, it's almost new year's resolution anyway right?

hola, barcelona!

At this point in our trip, we were a week and a half in and decided we needed more time. More time to explore, to lay on the beach and weren’t ready to head home in just three short days.

Initially, we were headed to Pamplona from Biarritz but luckily we cut out that city and focused on just hitting Barcelona for the remaining trip. Four cities in two weeks was the perfect amount we thought – slightly a little too aggressive - but I’d say three cities in two weeks is the perfect time, averaging about 4 days in each city.
We arrived in Barcelona very late, found our flat complete with a rooftop deck in Las Ramblas, lugged our suitcases up a narrow four flights of stairs and needed beers. Stat. We toasted to our last city on this awesome European adventure over some pizza and were ready to take on the city of Barcelona the next day.

Or so we thought…

Like we did in each city, we narrowed down our sights and set off to the La Sagrada Familia fairly early in the morning. The vibe was all wrong when we set out to Las Ramblas from what we were used to in Biarritz. We came from a relaxed beach town and felt like we were in the middle of Times Square on New Years as we exited our alley into Las Ramblas. It. Was. Nuts.

There were double decker tour buses everywhere and people following you all over to sell trinkets. It was too much all at once. The line at La Sagrada Familia was too long for us so we went to the Gaudi Parc instead and with one walk through the area, we subconsciously knew this wasn’t our day to be tourists.  We stopped, looked at each other as peddlers raced by us to avoid the police and all said some form of “This is too much right now. We need a rooftop pool with a view and bar like now.”

We discovered the most fabulous sangrias at this quaint little caf矇 and plotted our return to France. We needed to go back but we paid for the flat already. We didn’t care and wanted to be back Biarritz. Barcelona wasn’t for us. Get us outta here!

When we found our happy place
After the second sangria about the size of our heads, we decided that we would stay, find the nearest W hotel for the next day’s adventure.

experiencing what the Mediterranean sea has to offer
After spending a day basking in the sun, I convinced my travel partners to give the Sagrada Familia another try and wait in an hour line. Luckily for us, we had two things on our side – it wasn’t too hot yet and the line was ONLY an hour long.
Peek inside and out of the Sagrada Familia construction

This church was stunning. Absolutely stunning from every corner you looked there was something new – the light streamed in different from angles around and the outside was as magnificent as the inside. AND the kicker – it’s not done yet. They are literally still finishing Guadi’s vision so you can watch their work on the towers as you wait in the line that wraps around the whole church.

Even though this trip was three months ago, it feels like we were just boarding the plane for Paris and I remembered I forgot the rail tickets on my counter midway through our flight. We have thrown out ideas for our next trip but unfortunately the next European adventure may have to wait to 2015.

In 2014, we may settle for a two five day trips to a beach and vineyards because after all, this trip reinforced that I can’t get enough of the world’s beaches and wine. So a second trip to Sonoma/Napa and San Francisco to test our knowledge we learned from our very patient tour guide, Mathieu, in Bordeaux.

Where do I want to go next?
  • London, Ireland, Scotland
  • Italy, Greece and Croatia
  • Road trip across the US – rent a Jeep and spend time hitting cities on our way and end in Tahoe or Seattle and fly back home

Instead of those European destinations, my family and I booked a North Carolina beach vacation this summer. It’s been almost 10 years since my extended family and I have been back to Corolla and this time we have few new younger faces joining the beach house for the week.

Celebrating July 4th in Corolla circa 2001

Disclosure – If you are looking to book a vacation, we used Nicole at Paul Klein travel to book all of our hotels, trains and life-changing wine tour in Bordeaux

like eddie murphy said in his 80s hit

Parties are something my friends and I have perfected over the years. It started with throwing unique birthday parties from when we were 21 all the way through 31 to themed bachelorette parties to my Browns breakfast of champions party. We LOVE an excuse to party. But as we grow up, a new certain kind of party has emerged - the gender reveal party.

24th birthday celebration

80s bachelorette party in Folly Beach
When I shared I was going to my first gender reveal party, people either had a look of complete disgust or excitement and asked how the couple would reveal the gender.

With balloons?

A cake?

A singing telegram?

Have you look on Pinterest lately? People go a l-i-t-t-l-e crazy with their reveal ideas. Where do they COME up with these ideas? Or just peruse Buzzfeed for some awesomely bad ideas too.

Truth to be told, I’m pretty sure I convinced my friend to have this one – as if the girl needed another person recommending her have one – but it made for a great excuse for everyone to gather to see the future baby’s sex and watch the OSU game for an interesting Saturday night.

it's a boy, it's a boy!

cake and chocolate covered everything for the reveal

I can't swipe right

Do you Tinder?

You know.... that app that has caught on like wildfire among you and your single friends.

Yesterday, I ran into a friend in my building as I picking up quite the shoe shipment and I hadn't seen in awhile and other than "Hi, how you have been?" the second statement was, "So my brother found you on Tinder over Thanksgiving."

Face palm. Why did I sign up for that again?

Sometime in the summer, my lovely younger brother asked me after if I ever heard of the app "Tinder" after spending the weekend in Chicago and experimenting it with himself.

He spent the weekend tindering with girls in different area codes. Seriously, that's what he and his friends did. So, I decided to listen to him (very rare I swear) and downloaded it to see what all the chatter was about. After all, I'm in the business of social media so it's my job to keep on top of everything like Snapchat, Wechat and even Grindr.

You can literally sign up in about 30 seconds, choose your profile images from Facebook and then you are off to set your settings of sexual preference, age and distance.

Ready, set, go! It is that easy. Like Calgon, Tinder - take me away into a world of single guys who live 25 miles from me and are likely friends of friends!

What's not to love?!? It's like virtual speed dating on steroids all from the palm of our hands. Wrong. 

I've introduced my other single friends to this app and they have become quickly obsessed, logging on daily to see if they see any potential dating material and swipe right if they are interested. They swipe right all the time. They can swipe right in their sleep. They swipe right and so do the potential suitors and

I can't swipe right.

Maybe because I don't take the whole app seriously or because it reminds me a bit too much of a that I choose to be a voyeur versus actually swiping right to make any kind of "connection."

Or maybe because it literally reminds me too much of Facebook, knowing that everyone is using the app (and creeping like me) or to make a Friday night that much more interesting in their local watering hole.

At least that's what my friends and I plan to do this weekend....