Recently for work, I was selected (along with a bunch of other editors) to film 30-second videos for a client. We shot the videos in our office over two days, including an interview segment and a B-roll “real life action” portion.
The last time I experienced anything remotely like this was when I was in Glamour a zillion years ago, and before that when I would occasionally appear on camera for a wedding website I worked for.
So aside from that handful of times, I am not accustomed to anything even in the same realm as a life of fame. In all these cases, though, I can tell you immediately the best part: Having someone else do my hair and makeup.
This should not come as a surprise to anyone. But there’s something about being able to completely put the stress of looking a certain way in someone else’s hands that puts a girl at ease.
Here are three beauty lessons I learned whilst being a star*:
1. It is really nice having someone else fluff your hair for you.
I like big hair, and I cannot lie. Unfortunately, while I have enough hair to knit you a sweater with (what?), it is so painfully straight that volume is always a bit of a struggle.
BUT YOU WILL NEVER KNOW THAT IN THIS VIDEO. And do you know why? Because a professional hairstylist made a point of fluffing and smoothing between almost every take. So, basically, it looked perfect every second.
A girl could get used to that.
2. It is really nice having someone else do your ponytail.
I know what you’re thinking: “Justine, isn’t the ponytail like the easiest hairstyle to do ever?”
Uh, yeah, sure. If you want to look like an amateur. The angle of your pony combined with the proper combing and backcombing to get the required amount of height and bounce is anything but child’s play.
But when you have a pro armed with (what else?) a Mason Pearson Boar-Bristle Brush? Instant magic.
3. It is really nice having someone else monitor how shiny your face is and correct it regularly.
Real talk: I have an oily T-zone. This is something I am moderately insecure about, and by the end of the day, if I haven’t taken very careful precautions, you could borrow my forehead the next time your slip-and-slide tears on a hidden rock.
The point is, at least a couple times a day I’m either re-powdering may face or, at the very least, dabbing it with a napkin or piece of toilet paper to soak up any slickness. But when you have a professional makeup artist keeping watch? I get those seconds of my life BACK, you guys. And I don’t even need to think twice about shine.
So basically, yeah, I could get used to this.
And before you even ask (family), I MIGHT share the videos when they’re done. Unless I look/sound stupid. So, what I’m saying is, no promises.
*Bahahahahahaaaaaaa yeah right.
Do you ever catch yourself being the worst version of yourself?
Maybe you’re perpetually slacking off on responsibilities. Maybe you’re lacking motivation and putting things off. Maybe you’re tired and snapping at those around you. Maybe you’re gossiping or dwelling on negative feelings about others.
While I haven’t done all of those, I feel like this last month has not seen me at my best. I could make excuses, but the fact is that I wasn’t feeling great about myself and I let it leech into the rest of my life.
The older I get, the more I realize my confidence (and, more often than not, my happiness) is cyclical. I can go 3-6 months feeling like I’m on top of everything, only to suddenly wake up and “realize” that everything is wrong with me. Everything.
I’m not kind enough. I’m too selfish. I’m too fat. My hair is all wrong. I hate all my clothes. I’m stupid. I’m lazy. The apartment is a disaster. So-and-so is so much kinder/prettier/smarter/better than me.
Sooner or later, these doubts pile up to a crippling degree. And often times, in what I can only assume is an attempt to fight my way out of them, I end up fighting everything around me.
The trick is breaking the cycle, not simply realizing that I’m acting like a shrew. (Oh, did I mention turning into a bitter, angry harpy is another insecurity of mine? I hate the idea of being so cliche.) While it’s great to notice that I’m not being my best self, digging myself out of the whole is the hard part.
Snapping out of it isn’t always so easy, but I’m trying to get better at it. Sometimes it takes something as simple as a really tough workout or just checking out for a while and getting my hair done or something. Other times, I have to consciously refocus my mind and remind myself what I’m striving for and why.
Over the weekend, Joey and I were able to attend a special convention in Long Island for a series of Bible-based talks, plays, and presentations. One of the biggest themes of the convention was the idea of simplifying our lives so we can focus on what is more important, and that really resonated with me. Simplification has been a goal of mine for a while now (and it seems to be a big trend among a lot of the bloggers I follow as well), but this weekend gave me a lot of practical ideas for application that I’m looking forward to putting into action. You know I’m never happier than when I have a goal, right?
Over the next six months, I want to focus on clearing negativity and unnecessary burdens from my life — and in a weird way, this sense of purpose and focus is already making me feel better about a lot of insecurities that I have been feeling. It’s crazy how a little bit of perspective can help shake you out of a funk.
What do you do when you feel insecurities building up or changing the way you act? Any good simplification tips to pass along?
By now, you might be a little burnt out on spin classes, stair climbers, and running around in the 80+ degree weather we’ve been experiencing. That’s where the latest fitness studio trend comes in: rowing.
I had experienced rowing in my Throwback Fitness classes, but I had yet to take a class entirely around the old school workout technique. I got my chance when I booked a class at Row City through my ClassPass.
If you’re looking to try something new with your workouts, here’s what I thought of this gym:
Space: The first thing I noticed was that the gym itself is fairly small, but it’s still bright and airy because most of the walls are windows. There is only one studio space with about 20 rowers. The main difference between these rowers and the ones I had seen before was that these had a rudder-like mechanism that actually pushes through water, making it more similar to what actual rowing would be like (I guess?). There are no showers or locker rooms, but you can change in the (semi cramped) bathroom down the call. There are cubbies to keep your things while you workout. Water is not provided, but there is a machine to fill water bottles.
Cleanliness: The bathroom is really for the entire floor of the office building, so technically City Row isn’t responsible for keeping it clean. Like I said, it’s not the greatest place I’ve ever changed, but it does the trick. The gym itself is very clean, and the machines are wiped down between classes.
Attitude: Everyone I met who worked at the gym was very upbeat and friendly. The instructor made a point of trying to learn everyone’s name, and there were a few people who were new so I didn’t stick out.
Difficulty (Out of 10, 1 being “could do it in my sleep” and 10 being “omg I can’t walk”): 7-8. I feel like if I went again, I would get a bit better of a workout. I didn’t love this new style of rower, and it took a bit of getting used to so I couldn’t go as hard as I normally would. I also felt like the lower body moves you do between rowing sprints could have been more challenging.
Experience: Over all, it was a positive experience, and I think I’ll go back. I like rowing as a total-body alternative to work on cardio endurance, and I think then next time I go I’ll be more familiar with the technique.
Afterburn: I wasn’t particularly sore the next day, but right after the class I felt fully worked out. What a really like is leaving a class feeling like I exercised every part of my body, and this definitely delivered on that.
Final grade: B. I was a little disappointed over all because so many people had hyped these classes, so maybe I just went in with my expectations too high. I think I will definitely try it again, but there are other classes I felt like gave a better workout.
Have you taken a rowing class? What did you think?
It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I love a theme. (Symptom of being an overplanner.) I typically plan one themed (or at least more elaborate) party a year, and since it had been over a year since my Mad Men housewarming, I was due for another.
The party would be to introduce a few of my girl friends. A while back, my friends Ashli and Nikki started a little tradition of planning “glam girls’ nights in” where we could introduce women from our different social circles that we thought would get along. I had said I wanted to host the next one, and then I set about working on the girliest party theme possible: a Kate Spade theme.
Here’s how I decorated, what we ate, what we wore, and how we celebrated.
How I decorated:
The first question my husband asked when I told him the party theme? “What the heck is a Kate Spade party?” Essentially, the theme was lots of color, stripes, and polka dots. In the invitation, I asked all the girls to incorporate stripes or polka dots into their outfits. (More on that later.)
My apartment is already pretty colorful, so the rest of the decor was simple. I created a rainbow canopy with crepe paper streamers, had a few balloons in the entryway for when people walked in, and created a photo wall in the kitchen using polka dot wrapping paper and some leftover streamers.
I also made a few Kate Spade quote prints in Photoshop to decorate the food table, bar, and bathroom. You can download the PDFs for these at the bottom of the post.
What we ate:
Veggie Rolls, cheese and crackers, and spicy crab dip made up the appetizers.
Red and yellow bell peppers
1. Chop carrots and bell peppers into matchstick slices. Set aside.
2. Thinly slice cucumbers into long strips. Spread with 1/2 Tablespoon of goat cheese.
3. Place carrot and pepper slices into cucumbers, roll up, and pin into place with a toothpick.
Spicy Crab Dip
4 cans crab meat
4 T light mayo
2 tsp chili powder
1 T hot sauce
Combine ingredients and chill until ready to serve.
For dinner, I boiled tortellini and served with a marinara (store bought…I’m only a pretend housewife, remember?) and a kale pesto.
4-5 cups kale, washed
1/2 cup pine nuts
4-5 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
My friend Cyndy also brought a salad.
“Naked” Funfetti Layer Cake
The highlight of the food, though, was the dessert. I want to preface this with one fact: I am not a baker. Baking is chemistry, meaning you can’t really improvise that much, and that stresses me out. I almost always mess up things I bake, and even when I don’t, there’s ALWAYS a moment during the process when I am convinced I’ve ruined the whole thing.
Like I said — stress.
I always manage to forget these things when I entertain, however, and decided that I was going to bake a cake.
Not just any cake. A layer cake. Because that’s simple.
I baked a funfetti cake from a box, but I did a few substitutions to make it taste better: add milk instead of water, butter instead of oil, and an extra egg. The buttercream I made using this recipe.
Word to the wise: Just because you’re making a “naked” cake doesn’t mean you don’t need LOADS of icing. I should have at least tripled that recipe to have had enough.
After baking the layers and trimming them to be level (another tip: freeze the layers overnight after baking to make them easier to trim/stack), I started stacking. A few spoonfuls of sprinkles and a confetti topper later, we were in business.
The drink I’m calling the PopFizzClink in honor of our hashtag. Here’s how to make it:
1 oz St. Germaine
1 oz pomegranate juice
Champagne or Prosecco
Combine St. Germaine and pomegranate juice in a champagne flute and fill the rest of the way with bubbly. When making in large batches, I recommend mixing the St. Germaine and pomegranate (in equal parts) in a large pitcher to chill beforehand. Then you pour a bit in each glass and top with champagne/prosecco.
What we wore:
Have I mentioned how much I love friends that commit to a theme? These girls did not disappoint.
Everyone incorporated stripes or polka dots, plus there was plenty of color to add to the evening. Plus, I finally got to wear the tulle skirt I’ve had in my closet for months. (Because one day I decided I needed it, okay?)
Even Bogey got in on the action. (Because you know I would not have a party without Bogart.)
What we did:
Since the evening was going to be about introducing people who didn’t know each other, I planned a few games to keep things interesting. (I didn’t want to do too many because I know some people hate party games…just enough to get everyone talking.)
Aren’t You Cute?
For this game, I gave each girl five polka dot stickers at the beginning of the party. Whenever they heard someone use the word “cute,” they were allowed to steal a sticker from them. But if they said it, whoever caught them could steal a sticker from them. The goal was to have the most stickers by the end of the evening.
Meet My Fabulous New Friend
To introduce everyone, I paired the ladies off with someone they didn’t know with questionaires. They would interview their partner, and then “introduce” them to the rest of the group. I stole this idea from Ashli and Nikki’s party because it was such a funny way to hear hilarious stories and get to know each other beyond the basics. Questions included things like “what is your job,” “what is your most embarrassing moment,” “what is your favorite place you have traveled to,” and more.
There Will Be A Quiz
While everyone was introducing their new friends, I wrote down random facts each person revealed. After we had all “met,” I told everyone we were starting a new game where they had to be the first one to identify who had said the things I had written down. Whoever remembered the most (and the fastest) won a prize.
Put a Bow On It
We didn’t end up playing this game, but I think it’s always good to have a back-up in case things start to slow down. The plan was to pair everyone off again and give each team of two a piece of ribbon. They would then have to race to tie their ribbon into a bow first — but each person could only use one of their hands. Teamwork!
At the end of the party, I also sent each girl home with a little goody bag with a face mask, compact mirror, nail polish, and a Ring Pop.
The party turned out exactly how I hoped. Everyone seemed to have a great time, and I had fun learning new things about everyone. Plus: cake and tutus. What more do I need?
Thanks again to the girls for playing along! And a HUGE thank-you to Monica for taking most of these pictures (if you want to hire a photographer in the NYC area, let me know and I can pass along her info).
Free Downloadable Kate Spade PDFs
Eat Cake for Breakfast
But first, champagne
Cocktail in her hand, confetti in her hair
She is anything but ordinary.
Dressing up begins at age five…
She is a voracious reader…
I love summer, but I don’t think it could ever be my favorite season. Mostly because, while it is packed with loads of fun things to do, it always comes with a certain amount of stress.
A side effect of being a planner is that, often times, I tend to overplan my life. Besides social engagements, I also plan my workouts, when I clean my apartment, when I run errands, and virtually all of my recreation. (Yes, I have actually set aside time in my calendar for “chilling out.” I have a problem, I know.)
Lately, I feel like my calendar is stuffed to the brim, and when a friend asks if I can hang, I’m wracked with guilt when I can’t find a time slot. This only ever seems to happen to me in the summer time.
Plus, everything feels more stressful when you’re sweating out an 85-degree day, amiright?
When I started writing this post, I had the idea that I was going to commit to more relaxation — less planning. But there’s a part of me that resists that reasoning. After all, I’m young and only have a few serious obligations in life (AKA, no children yet). Shouldn’t this be the time that I cram my schedule with the things I enjoy doing? Because I do enjoy all of my plans when they’re happening. And if everything is getting done, is there really any harm in feeling busy?
Maybe it’s the previously mentioned guilt that is throwing a wrench in the machinery. It’s probably not possible to do everything for everyone, no matter how much I wish I could.
So basically, this is a story of me being a good little Midwestern girl who wants to please everyone.
Sigh. I’m such a cliche.
I heard a quote on a show one time that was basically: “You need to change your dialogue. Instead of ‘I’m so overwhelmed,’ say, ‘My cup runneth over.'” So essentially, I need to think positively about the fact that I’m busy to make it easier to handle.
And wait patiently for fall.
Is there a season where you feel like you’re just barely keeping it together? Would you rather overfill your life with happy things or risk missing out but keep your sanity?
I’m pretty thrilled to announce that I have completed the Spring Simplification List (with a couple caveats, I suppose).
Move bed back
Hooks for hats and bags
Move trunk into bedroom
Fix pictures over drawers
New coffee table or TV dinner trays
Clean up corners
Map for over couch
Organize desk area
Create more organized entryway
Straighten linen closet
Clean out front closet
Reorganize crawl space
Get Norden IKEA table
Sell dinner table (added to Craigslist)
Clean out pantry
(The newly checked off items are in purple.)
First, the desk. Some of you will remember my post last week talking about how I wanted to spruce up our computer desk. Well, for once I actually accomplished a goal within a couple of days. (It may have helped that I had a little party Saturday, so I had extra motivation.) After a quick trip to Target, I had this:
Of course, with a close up of the GREATEST TAPE DISPENSER EVER.
Next, the new coffee table. I have been coveting this one from West Elm for literally two years, but I just couldn’t in good conscience shell out $600 for a coffee table. Plus, you know my thing about buying new-new furniture. (And people very rarely sell these on Craigslist, probably because they’re perfect.) So, in typical me fashion, I scoured online for something similar, preferably pre-owned.
I searched for months, as evidenced by the fact that I wrote this simplification list at the beginning of spring. Finally, a week ago I found my new table.
It even has a lift-top like the West Elm version! The biggest difference? I paid $75 to a guy in Brooklyn for mine. Win.
Now for the list caveats. Obviously, there are three things that have not happened yet: art over the dresser, selling the kitchen table, and finding an IKEA Norden table.
For now, I’m sticking with the table we have. It’s fine. It doesn’t provide extra storage, and I will still sell it if anyone contacts me, but I’m holding off on buying anything new for a while. So for now, this one will do.
I still have every intention of finding something for over the dresser, but I think it’s time to retire this list. Obviously I’ll let you know when I find the right thing.
Even with those little asterisks, I still feel pretty accomplished about checking off a lot of those things. Cleaning out the crawl space and finding the new coffee table have been plaguing me for the better part of a year, so it’s pretty dang satisfying knowing they’re done.
Guess it’s time to think of some more goals, huh?