I haven’t done a product round-up in ages, and I always love peeking into people’s makeup bags, so I thought it might be fun to share a few of my favorite cosmetics and tools for flawless skin. Or, you know, as flawless as one can get without the team of Beyonce behind them. (Sorry, dude readers, this post is probably not going to be your favorite.)

Like most things in my life, I try to make health-conscious choices about what I put on my skin, but I’m also balanced. (Or maybe just a bit lazy. But “balanced” makes me sound reasonable, doesn’t it?)

What I’m saying is, that my makeup bag, like so much of my life, is the perfect picture of a high-low collection. In general, I tend to invest in the products that go directly on my skin (as in concealers, foundations, tinted moisturizers, etc.), but for everything else, I’m perfectly comfortable prowling my local drugstore’s cosmetics department.

In today’s round-up, I’m focusing on the items I use to create an “everyday” face. Also known as the “non-makeup makeup.”

If there are still any dude readers hanging on, what I’m saying is that these are the products girls will use and you will think they’re not wearing makeup. We ladies are wizards, I tell you.

Of course, they can also be supplemented with a heavier regime of mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, lipstick…the list goes on. But a good face needs a good foundation, you know? Let’s begin.

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1. Velvet 59 Contour is a Girl’s Best Friend – $45

Pretty much everyone with skin this side of the wester hemisphere is familiar with the concept of contouring these days. What started out as a Kardashian’s right of passage has quickly been embraced — and finessed — by the masses. This pretty contour palette was actually developed by someone I know, and what I love most about it is how easy it makes it to bring a subtle contour into the real world. The cream-to-powder finish feels silky on skin and blends easily, meaning the definition can be subtle or dramatic, depending on your mood or occasion. Plus, all of Velvet 59’s products are cruelty-free, which means you can feel good about your newly defined cheek bones.

2. Maybelline Master Fix Setting + Perfecting Loose Powder – $10

Remember what I was saying about high and low? This translucent powder is available at your local Walgreens, but I think the finish is just as quality as anything you could shell out big bucks for. I don’t use setting powder all over my face every day, but I haven’t found anything that sets under eye concealer quite so well. (Because creasing is real, folks.)

3. bareMinerals bareSkin Pure Brightening Serum Foundation – $30

There’s no way to say this without sounding slightly brag-y, but I don’t need (or want) to use a heavy foundation. For most of my life, I’ve used a tinted moisturizer and called it good. (Because while my skin is mostly even, it could always use a little more evening, ya know?) In the past, I had actually steered clear of bareMinerals products because I felt like they had a cake-y, heavy finish that left me looking overly done. And then I discovered they had a liquid line. And, you guys? This serum foundation has the silkiest feel of any foundation-like product I have ever used. It’s super light, and you only need a few drops to cover your whole face. The end result is dewy without looking slick, and, the more I use it, the more I feel like it actually makes my skin look better. Win-win!

4. Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer – $36

I’ll be honest: I’ve never actually purchased this product. I received this tiny sample version for free. But actually, that’s one of the pros: This tiny bottle has lasted for weeks because you only need a little drop for your whole face. And the result? A smooth, flawless palette for your makeup — and matte skin for hours and hours, which is really saying something when you’ve got a slick T-zone like I do.

5. Real Techniques by Sam & Nic Chapman Stippling Brush – $10

Before buying this brush, I had been using a more paintbrush-like foundation brush to apply foundation. Then a girlfriend told me about stippling brushes and promised it would change the way I used makeup. She didn’t overstate this. Whereas the paintbrush tended to smear the foundation more (at least in my experience), the stippling brush made it easier to swirl on the product, resulting in more even coverage. I know there are better quality brushes out there, but, honestly, this brush works just fine for me. And $10? Can’t beat that.

6. beautyblender Original – $20

Speaking of pricier makeup applicators…the beautyblender gets a lot of hype. But, I have to level with you: I really think it lives up to it. Not only is the material perfect for applying almost anything to your skin, from contour to concealer to powder, the shape makes it possible to perfectly apply to every surface of your face. (Looking at you, tricky corner-of-eyes area.) If you’re not sure how to use one, I highly recommend this tutorial from The Beauty Department. The only edit I would make to that article is how to clean your beautyblender. They recommend glycerin soap, which might be fine, but I’ve had great success with castile soap. Apply a few drops directly to the blender, and then use your fingers to work the soap through the sponge. Rinse thoroughly for a pink-like-new result.

7. Maybelline Eye Studio Brow Precise Shaping Pencil – $7

Like contouring, eyebrow products are really having a moment. For the last year, I used a pricier version of a brow pencil that I got for a dollar at a work beauty sale, but when it ran out, I decided to see if I could get a similar result with a drugstore product. I liked that this Maybelline pencil has a similar shape the the version I used before with a brush on one end, and I actually think it shapes my brows better than the pricier option. I’m fortunate that my eyebrows don’t need a ton of help (the shape is decent and they are thick enough not to warrant any strange stares)(brag-y)(sort of), but I’m always impressed how a little bit of eyebrow maintenance can make my whole face look more defined and pulled together without a lot of other products. And for $7? What’s not to like?

 

Have your own favorite drugstore products? Is there a high-end item you think is totally worth the price? I’d love to hear about it. Leave a comment below!

A funny thing happened when I decided to planning my blog posts: I started seeing potential projects everywhere.

A bunch of leftover bottles? That could be some kind of cool vase, right? A messy closet? A total how-to waiting to happen. By choosing to try to be more creative, it seems I switched my brain into constant maker/doer/creator mode.

The same is true of when I go shopping for my home. Typically, I’ll have an idea in mind based on something I’ve seen in a magazine, on HGTV, on Pinterest, or in a friend’s home, and I do what I can to bring that idea to life. In the past, I might just buy what I wanted, but now I actually look for ideas that I can create.

Then again, sometimes I’m also just struck with inspiration.

A few weeks ago, I was strolling through Target for items I needed for our master bedroom redo (as one does) when I decided to take a spin down their crafting and DIY aisles. One of their sub-brands, Hand Made Modern, was having a 20% off sale, so I decided to peruse in case there was anything I could use. In the ceramics section, I spotted an unfinished vase/container and a small octagon-shaped tray. Immediately, I knew they would be perfect details for our new nightstands.

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The paint was on sale, and I was excited to find a gold paint and a rose gold paint. If you know me, you know I love gold. And if you REALLY know me, you know I love rose gold.

I knew I wanted to turn the container into a pot for succulents and the tray into a jewelry tray. I started by taping off an asymmetrical line on the container to give it a dip-dyed effect. For the tray, I created a heart stencil out of a piece of tape.

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It took about three thin coats of Hand Made Modern’s metallic acrylic paint to achieve the opaque finish I wanted. Be sure to peel away the tape before the paint dries to avoid pulling off any paint later on.

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I gave each piece 48 hours to dry before handling. The paint says it takes about a month to fully cure, but I knew, even in use, the painted parts of my ceramics wouldn’t get a lot of handling.

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I also used a Sharpie to add a little message on the jewelry tray. Because who doesn’t need a daily compliment from their decor accessories?

The final results were exactly how I hoped they would be:

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And they look even better in their new homes on our newly painted nightstands.

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Not bad for an impromptu DIY, right? So what have you been making lately?

I’m going to be honest: I do not have the best track record with household plants.

Pets? I can house train a dog within a week and my family once had a carnival goldfish for two years. Babies? I mean, I don’t exactly have years of experience, but Viv is by all accounts thriving.

But a houseplant? This is the last houseplant I had:

RIP

RIP

Not a good look. But when I decided to redecorate our bedroom, I knew I wanted to layer in some texture in the way of greenery.

And that’s how I found my way to succulents.

Like the rest of the millenial western hemisphere, I’ve found myself charmed by this chubby little flora in the last couple of years. But I was wary against bringing them into my home because, to be honest, they look complicated. Fortunately, that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Succulents are oft lauded as nearly impossible to kill and for being able to survive in almost desert-like conditions.

Sounds like my kind of plant.

As hardy as succulents are, though, there are still a few do’s and don’ts to keep in mind when growing your own. Here is what I learned:

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1. Choose the right soil.

Most guides agree that you can either opt for a cactus potting mix or make your own by blending equal parts gravel and traditional potting soil. Even though these little plants don’t need a lot of moisture, they do need a good drainage system. A grainier soil will provide that.

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2. Keep the succulents high in their container.

Unlike other plants where you want a bit of space between the dirt line and the top of the pot, succulents do best when they grow right along the edge of their container. In fact, most of the pros recommend placing the plants so that the succulent hangs over the edge a bit (also called a “spiller”). This prevents the leaves from getting trapped under any water and rotting or discoloring.

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I also planted an aloe vera plant in another container. These don’t need to be planted quite so high up in the pot, but they do need the same cactus/gravel-and-soil mixture for proper drainage — they can’t take standing water of any kind. Be really cautious against over-watering both plants. To be safe, only water once a week or so when the soil feels dry.

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3. Get the right light.

Succulents don’t need constant bright light, but it is good to give them an hour or so of sunshine a few times a week. Ours will live on Joey’s nightstand most of the time, but I’ll make sure they spend some time near the window. Aloe vera, on the other hand, need plenty of light. Since our bedroom tends to be a little darker, I’m planning to keep this guy on the window sill full time.

And really, that’s pretty much it! I’ve had the plants for a little over a week, and they both look just as healthy as they did when I planted them. Giving myself a big green thumbs-up over here.

Also, did you notice that cute gold-dipped succulent planner? Wouldn’t ya know it, that’s a DIY post for another day. (AKA, next week.) Stay tuned!

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I know everyone says this, but I cannot believe I have a baby who is this close to being a year old. I mean, she was just born yesterday.

This is what she actually looked like when she was born yesterday. I die.

This is what she actually looked like when she was born yesterday. I die.

So, besides ripping my heart out, how is the little stinker doing? She’s amazing. And, also, sometimes a beast.

Let me explain.

Up until fairly recently, in a lot of ways raising Vivi was not totally different from having a Tamagotchi. (I’m kidding; it could not be more different. But bear with my hyperbole for the sake of the story.) She had the same three basic needs, and as long as I was able to care for them, she was happy. She felt hungry? I fed her. She was tired? I rocked her to sleep. She pooped? I clicked the toilet button and cleaned it up.

You get the point.

But in the last month, something shifted. In short, Vivi became a person.

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And you know what? People are nothing like Tamagotchis. People get annoyed and take their frustrations out in unhealthy ways. People sometimes just wake up grumpy for no reason. People get bored. People actively choose not to satisfy their needs because they’re feeling ornery.

Vivi is people now.

Which, as you can imagine, can be frustrating. But it’s also really interesting. Having a baby is never boring. The second you think you’ve got this all figured out, you wake up to a new day and a brand new baby complete with new emotions, feelings, and needs. So I’m always figuring Vivi out, whether I like it or not.

Fortunately, most of the time, I like it. It’s amazing watching a baby become a person. Vivi has apparently decided that crawling is not really her bag and has moved straight on to trying to stand up and walk. My heart leaps and my stomach drops every time she pulls herself up on her chubby little legs, always turning to grin at me like, “Did you SEE what I just DID?!”

I see you, baby girl. And yes, you are amazing.

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She’s also “talking” more and more, repeating more words and sounds and getting more communicative with gestures and facial expressions. She has so much personality packed into that tiny little body, and she makes me laugh out loud every single day.

The thing I love most about my little eight-month-old baby, though, is her zest for life. Vivi embodies joie de vivre, and she tackles every day with so much spunk and bravery and happiness. Everywhere we go, she grins her widest smile for anyone who will make eye contact with her, and she’s constantly taking in her surroundings and trying to absorb every detail.

Vivi Bean, I hope your tenacity and curiosity never leave you. 

So, yes, sometimes she is frustrated because she can’t do everything she wants to do. Sometimes she is grumpy because she is tired but doesn’t want to nap. Sometimes she is whiny and needy and this momma doesn’t know what to do with her.

But, most of the time? She continues to be my greatest adventure.

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You guys know how I feel about baby stuff. But you know what is actually one of the most difficult parts of creating a baby registry for your first kid? You honestly have no idea what you will need.

Sure, sure, there are 8,000(,000,000) blog posts out there telling you what you should REALLY register for (cough), but the thing is, until you’ve lived with your baby, you can’t really know which products are going to save your life and which are just going to take up room in your already-too-tiny apartment.

That fact is one of the reasons why I love momma makers. Moms who start their own businesses creating products for other moms just seem to really get it. They’re not trying to make your life harder (you get enough of that from leaky diapers, ya know?); they actually want to solve a real problem you will really have.

Plus, who doesn’t love an entrepreneurial hustler, amiright?

You guys know my friend Haley, maker of the are-we-sure-they’re-not-magic Beluga Baby wraps? Well, through Haley I was connected to Lorene of Glitter & Spice. And what “why didn’t I think of that?” amazingness has Lorene cooked up for moms? Teething. Jewelry.

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Think about it: Little ones will chew on just about anything they can get their chubby little hands on when they’re teething. Necklaces, being that their location puts them in prime grabbing location, are one of the most popular options. So why wouldn’t you wear a necklace that doubled as a safe teether?

But before you start imaging something cheesy strung around your neck, you should know that, um, Lorene’s pieces have been in Vogue, Glamour, and Harper’s Bazaar.

Yeah, they’re that cute.

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She also has traditional teethers in cute shapes, like the super popular Cookie Teether. Trust me, it never stops being hilarious watching people freak out when they think you’re handing your three-month-old an Oreo.

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I won a necklace from Glitter & Spice in an Instagram contest, but I was so charmed (PUNZ) by the products that I couldn’t help but order a second necklace and a bracelet. I can’t even tell you how many times Viv is fussing and I just hand her the bracelet to gum for a while. Instant toys are the best kind of toys.

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And if you’re worried your kid won’t realize your new necklace is actually for them, don’t be. I literally had JUST snapped mine on, and Vivi immediately started chowing down. There’s something about those 100% silicone beads that they can’t ignore.

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Finally, the products are really safe. Lorene uses silicone that is BPA-free and has no phthalates, lead, or PVCs, and the wood beads are organic and untreated. Because you have other things to worry about (see: aforementioned leaky diaper).

Ready for the best part? I have a discount code for you! Enter JUSTINE20 during checkout for 20% off your Glitter & Spice purchase. Who doesn’t love a little savings? Trust me when I tell you they’re worth every penny. (And seriously, did I mention how cute?) Happy shopping!

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*contains affiliate links

I feel obligated to say that I feel a little silly calling our bedroom the “master bedroom.” In total honesty, there is really very little masterful about it. Unless, I guess, you get all hot and bothered by a 10-by-12-foot shoe box with closet better suited for dolls.

But you’re not here for the “omigawd New York City apartments are small” conversation. You’re here to creep on my bedroom.

I’ve said before that I have always had a hard time decorating our bedroom. (This was the closest I had gotten in the past.) I don’t really know why. I think it’s because, for most of our marriage, we’ve lived in fairly small places where our bedroom also had to serve as storage. Plus, we just don’t spend a lot of time in there outside of bedtime, so it has always been a mental struggle for me to prioritize spending any amount of money on dressing it up.

Up until recently, this is what our bedroom looked like:

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So, you know, not terrible. Just a little…undone. I had added the more colorful bedspread shortly before Vivi was born (thank you, West Elm clearance sale), and the more I looked at it with the blue wall and patterned throw pillows and patterned curtains we had, the more I felt like the room felt too busy to ever be a relaxing, dream-inducing space. I purchased new pillows, shams, and curtains from IKEA, but the blue wall was still tripping me up.

Clearly, the first thing I needed to do was update the room’s color. I did research, stalked my stylish friends’ Instagram photos, and scoured Pinterest for the perfect warm, oatmeal-y shade of beige or taupe. The winner? Benjamin Moore’s Shaker Beige. It is this magical hue that looks a little different depending on the light, alternating between a rich taupe and a cozy tan depending on the time of day. Next, all I had to do was wait for my mom to visit (so someone could hold the Viv while I painted).

A gallon of paint and about 12 hours later, this is what I was left with:

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Much better, right? But something still wasn’t right.

Or rather, two somethings. I’m looking at you, yellow-y night tables.

I had purchased our night stands on Craigslist almost a year ago. Let me tell you, they were a challenge. Given the minuscule size of our bedroom, I needed two tables that were less than 14 inches wide. I wanted them to have a drawer, and they either needed to be white or paintable. Oh, and I’m super cheap, so I wanted them both for under $50.

Like I said, a challenge.

Fortunately, I like a challenge, and after a couple of months of searching, I found these beauties on my favorite home decor outlet, Craigslist, for $40 for the pair. SOLD.

The only trouble was that they were not white. They were, however, paintable. So I put them in the room, fully intending to paint them as soon as we had a nice clear day.

Then I had a baby. And, you know what? Babies keep you super busy. So light yellow the night stands stayed.

Until NOW.

I started by removing the hardware and sanding down each piece lightly with a fine grit sandpaper. Then I wiped them both down to remove the sanded dust.

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Next, it was time to paint. I used the same paint I had used to paint our old kitchen table (SAVINGS!) and a small brush. I wasn’t terribly concerned about creating a super smooth surface, plus the table legs had a lot of detailing, otherwise I would have used a roller.

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Two thin coats later, the tables were white. Yay! But I wanted to jazz them up a bit more. I realized I could unscrew the bottom part of the legs, so I decided to create a dipped effect by spray painting them (and the knobs) gold.

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The nice part about the spray paint was that it dried very quickly and gave the legs and knobs a more metallic finish. Ready for the result?

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Not bad, eh? Certainly worth an 8-month wait. (Cough.) Here’s what the room looks like now:

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(Sorry the lighting is always kind of terrible. Our bedroom is basically a cave, so there is very little natural light to be found.)

But, you guys? In person, this place is so cozy and serene. The wall color made such a huge impact, and all of the details really fell into place.

Speaking of details, you may have noticed there were quite a few little accessories on the night tables that I didn’t mention. Never fear, there will be more on that later. (OMG PROJECTS!)

It’s amazing how much joy having a decorated bedroom brings me. I literally take a second after I make the bed every morning just to take it in. (But just a second…then Vivi demands something of me.)

Can you believe it only took me five years of marriage to decorate our bedroom? I’m not sure if I should feel accomplished or embarrassed. Either way, I’m ready for a nap on that pretty bed.