Tuesday, June 28, 2016

In My Life Right Now

Just a quick post on some of the things I've been doing lately.

I have....


Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel has been on my 'to read' list ever since both Anne and Shea gave it a good review (and they always have the best book reviews). I've been part of a "Trashy Book Club" in which we choose books that are, you guessed it, trashy. For instance, when it was my month to choose, I selected a lovely little book titled Stepbrother With Benefits. (Just Book 1. There's an entire series. Apparently, there are many many benefits to having this particular stepbrother).  

Well this month, Station Eleven was chosen and we must have strayed from the club's original purpose because this book is definitely not trashy. It's excellent. This may be one of my top books recently. It scared the crap out of me and made me want to stock up on bottled water and toilet paper. 


While waiting for this season's Orange Is The New Black to premier, I started watching PBS's The Bletchley Circle on Netflix. I love a good detective series with smart females and I always enjoy hearing about how women played an important role in World War II. It is about a group of friends who first knew each other during the war when they were part of a top secret code breaking outfit. Ten years later, they use their special talents, intelligence and determination for justice to solve crimes. I loved it. Netflix has just two short series and I highly recommend it. 

Of course, now I'm in the middle of OITNB and WOW!

Bought and Sold

Although my initial review of ThredUp was mediocre, I've since become a repeat seller and customer. ThredUp is an on-line resale website. You can order a bag which they'll send you. You fill it up with your gently used women and children's clothing and send it in, postage paid by them. (So easy, you just drop it off at the post office and walk away). About a month later you get a little bit of a credit to shop the site. You won't get much, but it does add up. 
Phone case and Bag not from ThredUp....but they do sell handbags, including designer.
At first, I'll admit that I was disappointed by the amount I received from my first bag, but once I started sorting and sending in the clothes my kids had outgrown, my account started to grow and I started buying a few things. I found that green dress (tags were still attached) for $4 and its red twin. I'm now finding great deals on clothes for the kids. There's a really good app as well. It gets a little addictive. 


I mentioned that when I got into my PiYo workouts, I quit my monthly membership at my yoga studio. I'm still not a member, but after a couple of months, I missed being part of a class and the heat and the music and the vibe. I've gone back a couple of times and just paid the drop-in price. 

I love it. I do. I love saving the money, but I miss the classes sometimes. I go to Core Power Yoga which is starting to spread all over the place. I have nothing but good things to say about them. I still do PiYo in my living room once a week or so. 

and Saw

It's summer and so all of the blockbuster hits are out and coming out. There's a few of those I want to see, like Bad Moms (but seriously? They want us to believe that Mila Kunis is a dowdy mom of a teenager who can't get a date? really? really?) and Ghostbusters and Finding Dory with the kids (waiting until the dollar theater for that one). But if you're in the mood for a smart witty independent film, I highly recommend Maggie's Plan

The cast was spot on, but Julianne Moore steels the show. I don't know if I've ever mentioned this before but Greta Gerwig is one of my favorite actresses ever since Greenberg. 

So that's what I've been doing these past couple of weeks. Maybe I should do a little blogging as well.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

One Solution for Marital Bliss in the Shared Bathroom

Don't worry. This isn't going to be a sponsored post for a laxative or even tout one of the extra benefits of drinking Shakeology. This will also be the closest you will find of this blog having anything to do with home decoration or interior design. That's just not one of my specialties.

Instead, this is just a little change Hubs and I made in the bathroom that has made us so much happier. I'm inspired to share this little tidbit by a recent podcast from Gretchen Rubin's Happier Podcast in which she describes her own "happiness hack" in the bathroom: a toilet paper stand. One little Amazon.com purchase can ease family tensions and solve marital disputes before they even start.

So this is mine. When we first moved into our house, the bathroom had your typical towel bars to hang towels. That's pretty normal and pretty typical. We all grew up in an age where we proved our adulthood by buying "special" towels and, inspired by displays in the J.C. Penney catalog, attempted to design elaborate yet coordinated towel arrays, most likely the same color scheme of the scented candle that should never ever be actually lit.

You know, something like this

Isn't it pretty? Look at those bows. It's like Christmas every day.

Well what is a man supposed to do when he steps out of the shower? Is he supposed to grab one of those? What is he supposed to do with it after? Hang it back up next to the perfectly stacked and wrapped arrangement? Oh, is he not really supposed to use those towels? Is that the secret woman code? Doesn't he know there's a secret stash of gross towels under the sink? So, why have towels hanging that you can't use? Why fold towels when, as soon as you use them, the display is ruined?

This was a slight issue in our house when we first moved in because even though I didn't do anything close to that picture above, I would have two towels folded side by side (and folded in a particular way mind you) and then Hubs would grab one, dry off with it, and then sort of shove it back on the rod.

I'd be all like, gritted teeth. And he would be all like, what DO you want me to do with it? And I'd be like, I want you to fold the towel in thirds vertically and then hang it evenly back over the bar on it's perfectly measured half of the bar. And he would be all, .......?

One little solution. Get rid of the bars. Hooks. Hooks are the solution. Take away the bars (and try to overlook the mis-matched patching job in the tile because one day you really are going to hire a contractor and gut the whole thing anyway) and just hang hooks. Problem solved. You get out of the shower, you dry yourself off, you hang it back up and it looks fine.

So my solution to be a little happier in the bathroom is to get rid of the stupid bars. Get hooks.

Monday, June 20, 2016

The Right to Bare Arms in the Workplace

Don't worry about the title of this post. I'm not planning on getting all political on you. Well, the topic might be a little bit controversial. Today I'm talking about whether or not it's appropriate for women to wear sleeveless sheath dresses in the office, especially in the more conservative legal field.

I love sheath dresses for work. They're my 'don't have to think about it and just look pulled together' kind of a dress, reminding me of Michelle Obama and Jackie O. When I'm not channeling my inner first lady, I also like that they tend to be very versatile, as I showed in a post a couple of years back.
But as I talk to younger would-be female attorneys about appropriate work attire (kind of sort of my job now even though I have a much more relaxed work dress code which I take advantage of to the maximum degree possible), it has to be noted that there is a bit of a debate about whether a woman going sleeveless, even in the heat of the summer, is appropriate in some more conservative work settings. 

Years and years ago, I was a new associate at a fancy big law firm in Kansas City, the firm held these little lunch-time professionalism seminars where we would show up in the big conference room on the top floor for some presentation and a free lunch. Being one of the last to arrive (trying to milk the billable hour for all I could) I was left with the unluckiest spot in the audience--front row and smack dab in the middle. The firm had brought in some "expert" in the field of "office professionalism." After she gave a few dos and don'ts of office commuting like 'only carry one bag' and 'don't wear tennis shoes with your suit,' she stood right in front of me, put her hands on the table before me and, looking around said very sternly, "and women should NEVER wear sleeveless to the office." Guess what? I was wearing a sleeveless sheath dress that day. I was 18 inches in front of her and mid-potato chip. It wasn't a coincidence. 

Here I was, new associate surrounded by stodgy partners and the Cruella DeVille of archaic workplace fashion etiquette. You expect me to write that I wanted to crawl under the table and cry? No. I actually had to hold back a laugh. In my mind, I was already drafting my cover letters for a new job and within a couple of months I was packing my dresses up for a new career. (It wasn't that one incident, but it was one more indication that I didn't belong there). I eventually found myself in a public defender office where the dress code rules included not wearing an orange jumpsuit to visit with clients (prison rule actually) and interns had to keep their shoes on. Otherwise, sleeveless was just fine. 

Personally, I think sleeveless looks not only fine, but very polished. I really love the look. For instance, the dress below, so long as you watch the hemline, looks very professional. 

Loft Dress
So what is the going rule? My "incident" with the Joan Rivers of the Big Law red carpet happened quite a few years ago. Have things changed?  I noticed that Corporette modified her position on going sleeveless between 2011 and 2016. In 2011, sleeveless was a 'don't.' In 2016, it was a "know your office." Do offices still exist where one still should not go sleeveless despite the temperature?

Personally, I think think sleeveless is fine. I think so long as your dress doesn't require a special bra (and especially not strapless or heaven forbid pasties), you're good. Once again, I will mention that I now work in a much more relaxed atmosphere and, especially in the summer, wear dresses and outfits and even flip flops that would not be appropriate for a legal office. But it still has me wondering.

What do you think? Would any of these dresses pass muster in your office these days?

Top Row /1/    /2/      /3/    /4/
Bottom Row /1/     /2/     /3/     /4/     /5/  

The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. Thank you for your support.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

That Whole Beachbody Coaching Thing (or what happened in March)

Don't know what this picture really has to do with Beachbody coaching, but since I haven't been doing outfit posts lately, I thought I would just throw it in there. 
Hey there. So, I've been a little lax on the blog posts for the last couple of months. In March, I posted a 'Beachbody coaching is great and you should join me' post and then I did sort of a disappearing act. So, let me give you a little update of what happened, what I'm doing and what's really going on.

This is quick summary: I'm still doing the workouts for the most part, still drinking Shakeology, tweaking and playing with the diet part of the program and NOT trying to sell it or run any more challenge groups.

When I wrote that post in March, I really was trying to deceive anyone and it may have been more of something where I was trying to convince myself. Last fall/winter/around the holidays, People were complimenting me and telling me I was look fit and were asking me what I was doing. So I thought, sure, I can make an effort to recruit my own discount and business "coaches." I think I was more motivated by the idea of being social with other women and men with similar fitness goals with only a secondary motivation of a possible supplemental income. In January, I threw myself into it and I gave business coaching a try. 

January was fun but I didn't make any money. In fact, I lost money in January. February was somewhat successful, but I worked my butt off and spent so much time for the small amount of success I was having that I don't know if it was worth it. March was not fun at all and in the middle of the month, I hit exhaustion and started to physically break down. Late March, I decided to take a break is probably going to be indefinite. 

I do still think highly of the actual product and I don't think the Beachbody business scheme of coach recruitment is any type of scam. I'm still a discount coach and I have, if anything, more respect for the business coaches who have made it into a financial success. It just wasn't for me. 

The downsides: I spent a lot of time on it  and it was time that I didn't have. If I see one more YouTube video of the working single mother of six who turned it into a six star diamond business by giving up one hour of television each night, I'm going to scream. Whatever. Her kids are not my kids and my kids were in (are in) a difficult sleeping/behavior phase. One hour of television each night? Like I ever get so much luxury. 

I alienated people. I did. I linked my blog and Instagram to my personal Facebook and started posting fitness-inspired, join-my-challenge-group images because that was suppose to be the path to my success. Some friends and relatives were supportive. Some weren't. Most were confused. Many were suspicious of me--I was just trying to sell them something? A few chose to unfriend or unfollow me. I tried really hard not to overdo it or be too annoying, but apparently a couple of posts of me showing my workouts was too much and one hummus-loving relative doesn't want to watch my children grow up. (I'm actually a little relieved by that one to be honest). 

I lost money overall. I'm not talking about losing my life savings or anything, but it did cost me more than anything I brought in. I'm going to say again that the business model really is set up so that a user (a discount coach) isn't spending anything more than what they're using. It really is a good and fair business model. I just spent more with free Shakeology samples and shipping and (the kicker) funding the challenge packs and accounts of two family members. Yeah, I did that. I did it with eyes wide open, of my own volition and called it an investment. 

Maybe it would have worked out if I would have put more time into it or stuck with it a bit longer. But honestly, I hit exhaustion in mid-March. Besides trying to do the workouts and work outside the home and blog, my kids just weren't sleeping...like ever. Plus, I was trying to do these workouts and film them and post them on social media (and then wait around for someone to "like" it) and participate in my coach's challenge groups as well as lead my own and don't ever stop inviting...invite, invite, invite and team call tonight! I broke down. I just physically broke down. 

So, I decided to go back to just doing the workouts for me. I don't film them anymore. I don't post about it anymore. I don't post that much about anything else for that matter....a casualty of general social media burnout. I'm not participating in and and not trying to run any challenge groups.  I don't try to sell it. I work out. I eat well (playing around with the plan, which I may talk about in a future post). I'm back to just being me.

The benefits: I'm sleeping better. I'm not on Facebook as much. In fact, I sometimes will go a day or even two without even checking it (and oh, how I love that!). My skin cleared up. I'm less anxious. My kids are now sleeping a bit better (just a bit) and we're all a bit calmer and happier. 

I'm Megan. I am not a Beachbody success story. I'm okay with that. I may talk about my fitness and nutrition on the blog, but I'm not going to try to sell it to you. I'm still working on the fitness goals and will share my thoughts and experiences, but I'm done with challenge groups and all that. I still love Autumn Calabrese. I do. I still have respect for the people out there who have found success through the Beachbody business model. I'm just one of them. I'm okay with that. 

Thank you for sticking with me through my little experiment. Hopefully, I'll get over this burnout soon and be back to posting regularly on this blog. 

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Jewelry (In Children I Trust)

Recently, I've taken a big step in trusting my children. I've taken my jewelry out of hiding and starting hanging it up in plain site. This is not fine jewelry we're talking about. Other than my wedding ring, I don't think I even have any fine jewelry. But, starting about 3 or so years ago, I started noticing that earrings and bracelets (especially bracelets) were mysteriously disappearing, sometime reappearing in the bed of a toy truck, in a coat pocket or in the bottom of a car seat. Most of my jewelry comes from the clearance bins near the register at Old Navy, Loft and Target. But still, it was enough to annoy me and, when I finally did get around to purchasing a couple of pairs of Kendra Scott earrings, I decided to start hiding everything in a drawer.

This seemed to work, but I often found it difficult to organize and display what I had well enough to remember to wear it. A couple of weeks ago, I realized my children were getting older and were learning that there were rules in the house and consequences for not following rules (such as Frowny Frogs). I went to Home Goods and picked up a couple of those jewelry displays I had been coveting and brought everything out of the drawers and into the light. They have been told they are not allowed to play with anything. So far, we're good.

I'm not the best when it comes to #armcandy displays. I like to wear a watch and then I usually just grab a bunch of beaded elasticized bracelets and shove them on. It makes me feel kind of Bohemian. At least, that's what I tell myself.

I buy the bracelets in bulk and on the cheap because one or both of my children will see them on me and beg for one. This usually happens in a grocery store or a parking lot and giving into their request is an easy way to coax a little butt into a car seat or other such necessary complacency. But, for this reason, I've learned to not spend too much on them. I'd love to have this Baublebar set.  But, I know better and opt for something a little bit more....disposable.

I've tried to tempt their little fingers with a toy bracelet, thinking it could distract them from my own jewelry.

But no, they know what I'm doing. 

But, I think my children have reached that age where I can at least tell them to not steal my jewelry off of my dresser....or pull my earring right out of my lobes. Everybody else had babies who pulled their earrings out, didn't they?

I'm glad it's finally happening as the warmer weather of summer is here. Summertime is the time for bare necklines and big earrings and lots of stretchy bracelets.
Dress    Similar Sandals (purchased on amazing clearance last winter)    Earrings

And for this, we have rules that must be followed.  Don't pull on my earrings. One bracelet at a time. Don't ever take anything off of mommy's dresser drawer. 

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

More Beauty Product Reviews

Continuing on from yesterday's Beauty Product Review, let's move on to a couple of things for my eyes. I've mentioned before that I'm always on the hunt for a miracle product for my under-eye circles. I'm currently using the NYX Dark Circle Concealer and it's okay (love the price), but I wanted to try something just a bit brighter and a bit creamer.  

With the recent Sephora VIB discount, I decided to try a splurge and get the First Aid Beauty Eye Duty. I had heard good things and the sample in the store seemed to be what I wanted. Also on the hunt for a new eye-brow product and after seeing Kate from The Small Things Blog suggest it, I picked up an Hourglass Arch Brow Sculpting Pencil in Warm Blonde.  

I have to say I do like the Eye Duty. It is creamy and brightening. It blends nicely and doesn't settle into fine lines. But, what I hate is the design of the bottle. As you can see from the picture above, it is messy and seems to squirt out and get over everything. If you go to the Sephora website, there is a little video showing the suggested method of application. I tried that method and I didn't get nice little dots of product to which I could blend in with the silver tip of the applicator. Instead, mine just globs out. After several attempts, I now just squirt some on my finger and apply to the inner circles under my eyes. As much as I like the product, this flaw will probably keep me from repurchasing. Also, there has to be something cheaper. 

The unique design of the Hourglass Arch Brow Pencil aims to combine the benefits of a wax, pencil and powder in one. If there is one part of my face that I am self-conscious of, it's my brows. Pencils never seem to deliver enough product and I'm always worried that my application of powders and pomades looks too obvious. So I thought I'd give the Arch Brow a try. 
By the way, what you're seeing there is a two week old Dip Powder manicure. I'm telling you, it's amazing. No affiliation, no sponsorship, no advertising kick backs. I'm just a big fan and a Dip Powder convert. 
A Sephora sales women convinced me to try the shade Warm Blond (I was thinking Warm Brunette) and I'm glad she did. The Warm Blonde, which isn't too red (my biggest fear when it comes to eye brow products) helps my brows match the highlights and coloring of my hair. 

As for the product, it is good. I give an A for ease of application. It goes on much easier than a pencil or a powder. I find that it doesn't last all day like my Anastasia DipBrow, but it is really easy to reapply in the middle of the day for touch ups. I'm using it every day and expect it to last quite a while. I'm unsure if I'd repurchase, but I am happy with the shade suggestion from the Sephora saleswoman. 

Now let's move on to my hair. When I ran out of my usual Redken Aerate, I decided to try something new. I like it a lot, but it is kind of messy and sticky to apply. I kind of wanted to re-explore some traditional mousses. I've mentioned this before, but my goal is volume. I first started with Unite Elevate Mousse because my hairstylist uses this on me before she gave me a blow out and it looks amazing when she does. However, I don't blow out my own hair with a round-brush. I don't have the time or talent for that. Without that necessary step, I can't say the Elevate Mousse is anything more special than a drugstore mousse I've used in the past, John Frieda Luxurious Volume Mousse

I used the John Frieda mousse before and liked it, only stopping once I started using Aerate. As far as a drug store or grocery store product, it's a pretty good one. I picked up another bottle recently and I'd say the two are very comparable in everything but price.

Honestly, after I work my way through both of these bottles, I'll probably go back to my Aerate. 

Now I'll come full circle back to my complexion. Lately, (and I say this with fingers crossed), it's been behaving. But, in the last couple of months and especially in March, it started giving me some grief with a few breakouts and clogged pores.  I had been hearing a lot about Indian Healing Clay and decided to give it a go.

If you haven't tried it, it comes in a powder form and you mix a small amount (using a non-metal spoon) with equal parts apple cider vinegar. It smells disgusting, but you get over it and apply it to your face and wait for it to dry. Now, this stuff is very very drying. Although some younger women (or guys) wanting to combat oily problem skin may want to use this all over, I use as more of a spot treatment. Not only do I like it because it works, but I really like that you get a lot of product for a low price and you choose how much to mix up and use. Most masks are so expensive and I end up wasting product because they dry up before I use it all.

After removing it (and I read some reviews which cautioned against letting this go down your bathroom sink's drain), I like to apply something hydrating. I've tried and liked many Colleen Rothschild products (the Face Oil No. 9, Extreme Recovery Cream and Eye Cream are official must-have staple items in my routine). I have now tried the Intense Hydrating Mask and I have to add this to my list of loves. It's very hydrating, smells pretty and, like all of her products, doesn't irritate my skin. 

If you're interested in trying any Colleen Rothschild products, enter her $1000 gift card give-away!

So, that's the last of my beauty product reviews. Have you tried the Indian Healing Clay? What did you think? 

The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. Thank you for your support.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Beauty Reviews

It's been a while since I've given a review of some of the new products I've bought and tried. I bought a few things during the last Sephora VIB sale. It's been about a month, which has given me a bit of an opportunity to give some of them a whirl. So here's what I think.

First up, Korres Wild Rose Vitamin C Brightening Oil, which is described as a "powerful brightening oil infused with real rose petals and boosted with super C to increase the absorption of Vitamin C by up to 1000 percent."  It comes in a glass bottle with a dropper and when you look at the bottle, you can see that there are actual dried rose petal pieces floating around.

I still use the Colleen Rothschild Face Oil No. 9 religiously every night, but I don't use it in the morning because I've found it causes my foundation to separate and look weird. However, I have very very dry skin and during the month of March it got bad. I mean bad. I not only came down a nasty case of dermatitis around my eyes, but my skin was so dry it was flaking. I knew it needed extra moisture and after reading the stellar reviews, I decided to give this a try.

I'm really glad I did. This completely helped my dry skin, gives it a nice but not too shiny glow, doesn't interfere with my foundation and has not broken me out. I like the rose scent, but some might find it a little overwhelming. 

As I've worked my way through the bottle, I am discovering one downside. Those little dried rose petals are now coming out with the product and trying to make their way to my face. It's kind of annoying me and making me wonder if I'll end up wasting product while trying to dispose of those. But, I'm still thinking the good outweighs the bad and I will probably repurchase this product. 

I'm still a fan of the Face Oil No. 9 at night. If you're interested in trying a face oil but don't want to spend a lot of money, I'm also still a fan of the Physician's Formula Argan Oil, which I still use under my eyes at night and on my cuticles.  

Next, are a couple of new products for the face. When Ulta sent me a 25% off all Pur Minerals coupon, I used it to get another compact of my trusty 4-in-1 Mineral Make-Up (an every-day staple item in my routine), and I decided to also try a limited edition, Glow Together, to try to put a little all-over color to my otherwise pale face. And, although I'm generally happy with my current foundation routine (mentioned here), I decided to try the new Lancome Teint Idole Foundation Stick in the shade 210 Buff N based on the suggestions of Lisa J (a new favorite in the Beauty YouTuber World). I'm very happy with both.

First, let's talk about the bronzer. It is HUGE. I mean, you get a lot of product. It is suppose to mimic a sun-inspired contour by using three matte and three shimmery colors. Being a bit on the mature side, I usually hesitate to use anything with word shimmer in it. But this really does seem to add an all over glow without obvious shimmer. I use the big side of this Tarte double-ended brush to fluff it all over my face and neck (and under my chin because..you know... contour) and it just seems to add a natural bronzy glow. If you're like me and hesitant to use self-tanners on your face, this is a great alternative. It's limited edition, so I doubt I will be able to repurchase, but based on the size, it should last me a long time.

Bonus, the large mirror in the compact works great when traveling. 

As for the foundation stick, thank you Lisa J. Seriously, check out her channel. She's a professional make up artist and seems to have not only a lot of knowledge and skill, but also a sweet personality. She kind of looks like Jennifer Aniston if Jennifer were playing a woman who wore a bit more eye make-up and blush.

Anyway, as we move into the warmer months, I like to use Nars Tinted Moisturizer (I use Groenland) and then brush the Pur Minerals 4-in-1 Mineral Powder over that. I like the minimal coverage of the tinted moisturizer (and the 40 SPF), but find that I need more coverage in just a few areas like my chin, around my mouth and nose. That's where the stick foundation comes in. 

The Teint Idole Foundation Stick is just so easy to use and blends beautifully, adding a bit more coverage only where I need it. What's interesting is that although this particular foundation is not getting much attention, it is getting rave reviews from younger women with oily skin to older women with dry skin and wrinkles. No one, including me, is breaking out from it. It's a little on the pricier side (but is on sale during the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale!) but should last a while. I realize that I am now using like seven different foundation products to achieve a my goal of a "natural" look, but you know, we all have to have our thing.  After I apply my tinted moisturizer, I swipe the foundation stick where I want a bit extra coverage and then use my damp Beauty Blender to blend it in. I then fluff the Pur Minerals all over that.  

So there's a few products that I've recently purchased and tried and which I'm happy with. I have a few more which I'll be reviewing in the days to come. 

Have you tried any of these?

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