It’s Moving Day!

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Moving day has finally arrived! We’ve known about this move for five months and yet I still feel like I’m just going on vacation. Maybe once all of our stuff is loaded on a truck it will feel real.

We don’t actually leave until Monday so we will be spending four days in an empty house with *gasp!* no Wi-Fi! I have plenty of books to read, thankfully!

While I’m in the process of moving, the blog is going on a temporary hiatus. I will still be posting to Twitter and Instagram, but just not on the blog. I promise lots of pictures once I get to the Florida Keys. Feel free to read through past blog posts in the mean time.

See you in about two weeks, lovelies!

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OOTN: Boho-Beachy Glam

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On Thursday, my old friends from the bank I used to work at threw me a going away party to celebrate my impending move to Key West.  It was so great to see my girlfriends and one even drove two hours to see me one last time (she lives in Georgia now)!  We went to my favorite Mexican restaurant where I ate far too may Tortilla chips and fresh guacamole.  But it was so much fun!

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For the occasion, I wore my new Victoria’s Secret Cold Shoulder Dress.  I’m in love with this dress and I have a feeling I’ll be living in this dress all summer.  It has a loose, but feminine fit.  It looks beachy/boho, but I glammed it up with heels and red lips.  It would work with a pretty summer sandal and is lovely for any summer occasion — from BBQs to beach parties.  The cut-out shoulders give it a sexy, yet playful and sweet look.  A woman who was leaving the restaurant actually stopped by our table to compliment my dress and asked where it was from!  I honestly can’t remember who the heels are by.  They are actually too big, but they were great with the dress!  The watch is by Coach and was a gift from my mom.  I wore a gold necklace with three small diamonds that was a gift from my husband and I skipped wearing earrings.

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I love red lips!  I wish I wore red lipstick more!  My signature red lip is Chanel Rouge Allure in Pirate.  It’s the perfect red for my skintone and hair color.  I also used Chanel Mat Lumiere foundation in Clair and a Victoria’s Secret bronzing powder dusted along my forehead, nose, cheeks, and neck.  NARS blush in Angelika and L’Oreal Voluminous False Fiber Lashes.  For eyeshadow, I mixed bronze-y golden colors from an old eyeshadow palette (no clue where it came from).  No outfit is complete without perfume; I wore one of my favorites that I think is perfect for nights out: Chanel Coco Eau de Parfum.

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I rarely, rarely drink alcohol as I don’t like its affects on my skin, but that night was an exception as it was a celebration and I haven’t had a drop to drink since my husband’s work Christmas party where I had two glasses of wine and was totally hammered — oops!  I had some sort of Sangria wine and it was delicious!  Cheers!

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My girlfriend showed me her Prada sunglasses and I just had to try them on!  I didn’t think they were quite my style until I tried them on, but I’m kind of in love with them!  So very glam!  What do you think?  I think I still prefer my Marc by Marc Jacobs sunglasses (seen here at the very end of this blog post), but these Prada sunnies are fabulous!

- SWL

Warm Weather Makes Me Happy

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Warm weather makes me incredibly happy.  I spent most of my young adult life in Portland, OR, but my childhood was all spent in the South — born in Texas and lived in Missouri, Mississippi, AND Alabama all before I was nine years old.  My parents loved taking us to the beautiful Gulf of Mexico beaches growing up.  So many summers were spent running around Gulf Shores, AL.  My mom is a total beach bum; she could sit out in the sun and sand for hours upon hours, drinking iced tea, slathered in baby oil, and only leaving her towel on the white sand to cool off in the warm southern ocean.  But since I did most of my growing up in Portland (where I consider “home”), I got used to the clouds, the rain, the cold weather.

Since moving to South Carolina four years ago, I’ve become acclimated to the warm weather and I find myself “chilled” if the temperature is below 65 degrees.  The idea of suffering through a real winter like those in the Midwest and New England stops me cold.  But now that I’m going to be moving to Key West, FL in less than two weeks, the warm weather we’re having in SC only makes me more giddy and excited to be moving even further south — in fact, to the Southern Most Point in the Continental USA.

These lovely days in the 80s are just amazing.  I’m loving wearing dresses and shorts and cute sandals — yes, I’ve traded in my signature black skinny jeans for shorts and dresses.  And I can’t wait to get to Key West to trade in my shorts and dresses for bikinis and big sun hats.  Summer, here I come!

- SWL

SWL Does Latisse

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I have no eyeshadow and no mascara on in the above pictures.  Those are my naked eyelashes.

Shortly after I started esthetics school, I went to a fun open house at a medical spa down the road from the school.  I thought it would be a great networking opportunity and met a ton of really awesome people and spa vendors.  One of the vendors there was for Latisse.  I had been dying to try Latisse; I remember those commercials with Brooke Shields.  So while I was at the open house, I picked up a box of Latisse.  (You do need a prescription from a doctor for Latisse.  The medical spa has a doctor on staff and she prescribed it.)

As soon as I went home, I took a picture of the box and posted it on Instagram with promises of updating you guys on my results.  The next morning, I took my first “before” Latisse picture on November 8, 2013.  I started using Latisse each night.  I put a drop of the liquid on the little disposable brushes that come in the kit (you are supposed to use one brush for each eye, but I used one brush for both eye every night) and swiped it over my upper lash line several times for each eye.  You aren’t supposed to put it on your bottom lashes AT ALL.  The little medical insert also recommended using Latisse at night before bed and when you close your eyes to sleep, some of the Latisse does “catch” on your lower lashes, so they do grow a little bit as well.

What Latisse basically does is extends the growth cycle of your eye lashes.  All hair on your body follows three growth phases: Anagen, Catagen, and Telogen.  Anagen is the “active” growth phase where the hair is growing.  Latisse keeps your lashes in this growth state, instead of going into Catagen where the hair is detached from it’s blood supply and nourishment inside the follicle and then eventually moves into the Telogen phase where it either sits there dormant to rest or falls out of the follicle completely and the cycle begins again.

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I used Latisse every night for about two months, occasionally missing a night here or there.  After about six weeks (around Christmas), I noticed my lashes appeared fuller, like I just had more lashes.  This is likely because instead of shedding old lashes, they kept on growing.  It was around this time that yes, I did notice some eyelid discoloration.  In the “after” photo, you can see a purple-ish tint to my eyelids.  That’s not eyeshadow, it’s from Latisse and is one of the possible side effects.  Now, it really is not as noticeable as it appears in the picture.  And when I have on makeup and primer and eyeshadow, you would never know it’s there.  Once you discontinue use of Latisse, the eyelid discoloration does go away.  After about two months, I got lazy with Latisse and sometimes forgot to use it for several nights in a row.  After about four days without Latisse, the discoloration started to fade.  It truly is not that noticeable and I wear makeup almost every day anyway, so it’s not like anyone would be able to tell.

After four months of using Latisse, I definitely noticed longer lashes.  Along with the fullness, my eyelashes were ridiculous.  Now here I am, almost five months out from using Latisse (which I still use about three to four times a week) and my lashes are beyond amazing.  When I wear mascara, they practically touch my eyebrows.  It’s crazy!  So I don’t use it every night.  I don’t need it every night anymore.  To simply maintain my lush eyelashes, I use it a few times a week, usually three days in a row, with a break of three days in between for whatever reason.  Keep in mind, if you completely stop using Latisse, your eyelashes will eventually go back to normal – probably after about three to four months.  You can maintain your lashes like I do with only using it a few times per week.

I didn’t experience any other side effects aside from the eyelid skin discoloration, which has been worth it to have longer, lovelier lashes.  I didn’t have any change to the color of my eyes and there was no skin discoloration under my eyes.  Seriously, you need to follow the directions that come with the kit and listen to what your doctor tells you.  I applied mine only once per day, on my upper lash line, and only at night right before I went to sleep.

It’s been totally worth it and I’m just now nearing the end of my first little bottle of Latisse drops.  I plan to pick up another bottle so I can keep these gorgeous, full lashes.

- SWL

SWL’s Guide to Anti-Ageing

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We say “anti-ageing” in our society as if getting older is a terrible thing to be feared and loathed.  But in truth, so many people are never given the privilege of ageing or growing older.  I think getting older is fascinating and even though I’m not yet 30 (I’m approaching my 29th birthday in July), I have learned so much in my almost-three decades on this earth and I look forward to growing old with my husband and experiencing all that life has to offer!

That being said, it doesn’t mean you have to dread looking older.  Ageing, or anti-ageing, is not as complicated as all the beauty magazines make it out to be, their goal is to ultimately push and sells all sorts of crazy products.  There really are only a few ingredients that are truly proven to work or can be labeled as anti-ageing.  So I will start from the beginning.

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Sunscreen: Sorry, sun-worshipping goddesses out there… the ultra-violet radiation from the sun and from in-door tanning is literally your golden ticket to looking old.  And not just old: used leather handbag old.  Depending on your age, sunscreen can be considered preventative care.  You should start using it immediately.  You should have started yesterday.  In fact, you should use it as early as six months old!  An SPF of at least 30 should be used (I use Clarins UV Plus HP SPF 40) for daily use (you still need it on cloudy days) and if you’re out in the sun and water, you need to reapply your sunscreen every 40 to 60 minutes.  Aside from ageing you, the sun is also a Class 1 carcinogen (meaning it is proven that it causes cancer) — right up there with cigarettes and arsenic.  So please, invest in sunscreen, not only for your outer beauty, but also for your health.  Continue reading

GF Vegan Banana Oat Bread

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I had some very ripe bananas and decided that instead of freezing them, I would make my first banana bread! So I went on the hunt for a healthy recipe. I adapted the recipe from Ambitious Kitchen to make it vegan and gluten-free.  This turned out delicious and just lightly sweetened.

Ingredients
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 heaping cup mashed banana (approx. 2 ripe bananas)
  • 1/3 cup agave
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 tbsp. stevia (optional for a little extra sweetness)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 serving Enger-G Egg Replacer (or omit altogether)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free flour
  • 1 cup gluten-free oats
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9-inch loaf pan with nonstick organic cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl combine mashed banana, applesauce, agave, Enger-G Egg Replacer, almond milk and vanilla until well combined and creamy. In separate medium bowl whisk together gluten-free flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix until just combined (don’t overmix!).
  3. Pour into prepared loaf pan, sprinkle oats over top (if desired), and bake for 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean with a few crumbs attached.
  4. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 12 slices and enjoy! Keep bread tightly wrapped to maintain moisture.

Many thanks to Ambitious Kitchen for this lovely recipe!  My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed it!  I even spread a little organic peanut butter on it and it was just fantastic!

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SWL’s Guide to Battling Blackheads

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I get frequent emails asking me how to get rid of blackheads.  Blackheads are open comedones that are oxidized and thus “black” because of the oxygen exposure.  A comedo is a clogged hair follicle (pore).  Your likely hood of having blackheads is almost always genetic (thank your parents).

Most people get them on their nose, chin, or back, but some people get them all over.  Blackheads can be frustrating to get rid of, but I do have some tips to help make the situation better and potentially reduce them.

DO keep your skin clean.  Probably the most important “Do”.  Wash your face every morning and night with a cleansing wash containing retinol or salicylic acid (the two cleansers I mention in my skin post are fantastic).  Both ingredients are amazing at cleaning out the pores and keeping the follicle free of dead skin cells, debris, and oil.  If you’re wearing makeup or sunscreen, you must double cleanse your face at night.  Period.  Makeup removers are unnecessary (I think they are a waste of money, personally) because if you wash your face twice with a cleanser and wash it thorougly, you should get all your makeup off (waterproof mascara being an exception).

DON’T use “pore-cleansing” strips.  The pore strips usually contain a hairspray-like ingredient that will grab the clogged pore to try to remove the blockage and may rip the skin with it.  It can actually damage your pores and even cause them to stretch further (and who wants that?).

DON’T pick!  While picking can remove the blackhead, it can also damage your skin if not done properly!  And on that note..

DO have them professionally extracted.  Find an amazing facialist or esthetician and have them extracted.  Some spas may even offer specialized facials or treatments for blackheads or spots, so ask around and ask for the expert at that particular spa, as not all estheticians are skilled at extractions.  Trust me, in school, I had my face torn up by one or two other students who were too heavy-handed when doing extractions.  Totally NOT fun!

DO use a weekly mask.  I love a good mask.  Using a mask once or twice a week can really improve your skin, including clearing up unwanted blackheads.  Any clay mask will do a great job.  I also love sulfur-based masks like Origins Out of Trouble Mask, which helps with excess oily shine, unclogs pores, and sloughs away dead skin cells.  The Origins mask is also great as an overnight individual spot treatment.

DO get creative at home.  My DIY Aspirin Mask is always great at leaving my face super soft and exfoliated.  I also love giving myself an at-home deep pore cleanse.  During our facials at school, every client was treated to a deep pore cleanse with hot towels (we used Sothys Desquacrem Deep Pore Cleanser).  After you’ve washed your face and removed your makeup, apply a layer of any cleanser to your face (don’t wash it off), then cover your face in a hot, damp towel.  You can lay down and listen to soothing music for a relaxing vibe.  Let the hot towel sit for two to three minutes.  You may then take off the towel and add another one, or rinse off the cleanser and continue with your routine (I prefer to follow with Image Skin Care Clear Cell Acne Masque, as seen on me in the picture below).  It’s a great way to relax from home without spending big bucks at a spa.

So while blackheads are difficult, there are ways to get rid of them or reduce them, but you have to be consistent with your routine.  Best of luck!

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