The last time I shared a few of my favorite beauty products, it was met with a flurry of positive response. (Seriously, I heard from blonde pals I hadn’t talked to in a while.)

I think I just always assume I’m the last to discover anything (see: the time I “discovered” the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and Pandora), so when I find out I’ve introduced people to something, I’m kind of standing there like, “Me? I’m kind of hip?”

It’s just unheard of, guys.

But anyway. In the spirit of sharing, I thought I’d reveal a few more of my favorite products in the hopes of spreading the love around.

products I like

1. Garnier Skin Renew Miracle Skin Perfector: Combination to Oily
I was a bit rough on BB cream when it first came out (I mean, it’s pretty much foundation, right? This is like trying to rebrand a bun as a top knot). But after using this product for a few months, I stand corrected. I have pretty good skin, but I get some uneven-ness and redness around my nose, and this stuff completely smooths it out. The overall effect is totally glow-y without looking greasy. Plus, it’s under $12. Love that.

2. Queen Helene Mud Masque Pack
I tried this mud masque after it was recommended as a coworker, and it might be the best gift she has ever given me. If you’re prone to blackheads or the occasional pimple, it’s a miracle worker. It pulls the dirt out, and I can’t even see my pores after I wash it off. Seriously, that’s pretty amazing for a $4 mud mask.

3. Salux Beauty Skin Cloth
This disposable wash cloth will change your life. I know, I know; bold statement. But my skin has never been softer than when I started exfoliating with this. It’s from a Japanese beauty brand, and it’s cleaner than your typical loofa because it rinses so completely. Order a bunch now. (Note: The exfoliation is probably too much for your face and…delicate areas. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.)

4. Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray
Y’all know I love big hair, so I was excited to try this spray after it was recommended by a well-coifed friend. And, guys, it didn’t disappoint. It can sub in for dry shampoo, or be used on clean hair for a little extra oomph. It’s a bit pricey, but makes curls and lift last all day. Can’t be mad at that.

5. DryBar Southern Belle Volumizing Mousse
Like I said, I like big hair. And this is my favorite mousse I’ve ever used. It never makes my hair feel greasy or look like it has a lot of product in it, and it protects from heat styling. Dontcha just love a twofer?

6. Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge fan of the cat eye liner look, and this is the best product I’ve found to create it easily. It seriously lasts all day, and the pen makes it so simple to use. (The trick is to use the point as a sort of stamp to create the eye liner “flick” at the outside corner of the eye. Then simply draw the rest of the line on your eyelid.)

So now you know all my secrets. Anyone else have any great tips to share? (And if you want more suggestions, don’t miss my pal Kayla’s recent post on her top ten favorite makeup products.)

Similar to my annual sum-uppance, I also like to share a round-up of the top ten most-read posts of the year every December. (Last year’s winners here.) It’s usually fairly amusing — I mean, without this list, we would never have known how much people like reading about narwhals, right?

Let’s do this.

10. How to: Baby Gender Reveal Party
I loved writing this post almost as much as I loved planning my friend Megan’s baby gender reveal party, and apparently my readers have enjoyed it as well. You’ll also be happy to know that Bill and Megan had a healthy, adorable little boy that we all adore.

9. How to: Throw a Mad Men Party
So apparently I need to plan more parties? Our houseapartment-warming party was one of th most successful party I’ve ever thrown. I themed it (because I’m me), and the results were pretty fab. This post shared what I cooked, what we wore, and how I decorated.

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8. Get Your StitchFixMy post from the first time I used the service. In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote a follow-up about my other experiences with the company here. I actually did find something in the subsequent fix that I liked, which I have completely forgotten to blog about. But they made things up to me.

7. What Guys Should Wear for Pictures
Listen, dudes. I’m looking out for you. This will hopefully be helpful for any newly engaged folks out there.

6. How to: Nutella Hot Chocolate
Another repeat from last year. You just can’t argue with Nutella.

5. How to: Plan a Bachelorette Party in Chicago
I still think this is one of the most helpful posts I’ve ever written — and one of the best parties I’ve ever planned. I stand behind all of my recommendations, and people who attended have told me that people forward them this blog post when they come across it while Google-searching bachelorette party ideas. That’s some good SEO right there.

4. How to: Create “Disney Princess” Curls
I often joke now that my target audience is little girls between the ages of one and seven because of my cartoonishly large eyes and long blonde hair. But turns out that little joke was a great way to drum up some blog traffic. Go forth and learn how to curl your hair.

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3. So…this happened.
So…this one is weird. I mean, the post is funny. It was a funny thing that happened to me. But this post NEVER got any serious traffic until November 28th, when suddenly it exploded in popularity, getting about 5,000 page views in two days. (A sizeable amount for my little blog.) I know the traffic came from Facebook, but I have no idea why or where in the social network. If anyone knows why, I would love to have this phenomenon explained.

2. How to: Paint a Metal File Cabinet
The tale of how my father-in-law and I took a rusted out file cabinet and restored it like new. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll buy spray primer. Everyone wins.

1. How to: Skip Washing Your Hair for Six DaysIt’s like the little post that could. Thanks to a hefty dose of Pinterest traffic, this post has risen from the fourth most-read post last year to the most-read post of the year. Round of applause (and dry shampoo) for everyone!

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Thanks for another great year! Can’t wait to see what’s in store for this one.

Hey-o! It’s time for my fifth annual end-of-the-year sum-uppance. For those of you just tuning in, every year at the end of the year, I answer roughly the same questions. It’s a fun way to look back on where I’ve been. You can read last year’s post here for reference, but you get the idea.

Let’s go!

Age: 26, but can pass for a high school student if I don’t wear makeup. (Or at least that’s what my tailor tells me.)

Location: New York City

Occupation: Senior Manager of Engagement Marketing. (GASPS FOR AIR BECAUSE THAT TAKES FOREVER TO SAY.)

New favorite food: I’m changing this one a bit because I always say roughly the same foods. Instead, let’s focus on something new I discovered I like: Manchego cheese. Seriously. It’s the only kind Joey and I buy anymore. It’s delicious.

Music I like right now: This hasn’t really changed from last year. Folksy-pop? Is that a thing?

TV shows I watch: Similar to last year. Joey and I also recently got into Arrow, which is working for me.

Book I’m reading: Ready Player One, a recommendation from my brother. HIGHLY recommend if you’ve got a nerd streak.

What’s my hair doing right now: Sort of a joke, but also sort of serious since I talk about it often enough on this blog. It actually looks about the same as last year. Quelle surprise.

How I did on my goals from last year: Just to remind you, these were last year’s goals, along with how I did:

1. More travel (here’s a hint: AFRICA. Okay, so that’s not a hint. That’s me telling you. But it’s happening.)
Welp, this didn’t happen. But we did travel a bit within the states (okay, within the Midwest) and we’re going to PARIS in April, so there’s that.

2. Moving to Brooklyn
Change that to Queens and I nailed it.

3. Paying off the last of my credit card debt
DONE.

4. ACTUALLY GETTING A DOG
In the works…

5. Running a full marathon
See above response re PARIS. Checking this bad boy off in April as well. And I did run a Tough Mudder and my first half marathon after almost a year of being injured, so that’s pretty neat too.

6. Staying happy.
Pretty good? I think my biggest sign of growth in the last year has been my ability to separate things that matter from things that don’t. I don’t let stuff mess me up like I used to.

Goals for next year: I’m reusing travel/marathon/dog. I’d also like to pick up at least 20 freelance assignments in 2014, and hopefully get closer to figuring out where we want to settle.

Overall opinion of my life: I should probably just erase this question because I’m not sure I would be honest even if things were not going well, but I can honestly say that I’m happy. And what more do you need, right?

Check back tomorrow for the top most-read posts of 2014. Should be a doozy.

Hey! Hey, guys! I missed ya.

I hope you all had lovely, safe, relaxing breaks over the holiday. Joey and I did as little as possible, so we certainly did. The only bit of excitement? Babysitting my coworker’s cat.

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Her name is Mira. Pretty cute, right?

As my regular readers are well-aware, Joey and I have wanted a pet for a while. It hasn’t been possible yet, so we were pretty excited to spend our week off of work with something small and furry.

Before I tell you how it went, I think it’s important that you know that we are not cat people. I mean, I’ve had a cat, and she was great, but I will always pick a dog first. But like I said, we’re desperate and she still met the “small” and “furry” requirements.

Mira arrived without incident, took a few seconds to get acclimated, and then promptly started playing with us. She chases string (like, you know, every cat ever) and fetches elastic hair ties. She’s tiny, so she didn’t make any kind of mess.

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Joey promptly got very attached.

The most annoying/cutest thing about her? She would try to wake us up at 4:30 in the morning, but she would do it by curling up between my shoulder blades (I sleep on my stomach), putting her face right next to my face, and purring as loudly as she could.

I mean, that’s just kind of hard to get mad at.

We also got on a pretty good schedule of pet care — waking up a little earlier to play with her before heading out for the day, scooping litter twice a day to prevent any gross smells, requisite petting time.

The only thing Mira was missing? A desire to cuddle. She loved being pet, but she only sat in my lap one time (and then, it was only for about two minutes)(the happiest two minutes of my day). But that cat has zero desire to be held, at least by us.

Of course, eventually we had to give her back. And for two not-cat people, we were both pretty bummed to go back to our pet-free lives. It might be time to invest in a fish or something.

Either way, it was a good introduction to what it will be like when we finally get our own pet. Someday…

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Today, I did something a little crazy.

I signed up for a marathon. In Paris.

All together now: Eeeeeeeeee!

 

Taken from the Eiffel Tower on my first Paris trip.

Taken from the Eiffel Tower on my first Paris trip.

 

Really, I could not be more excited to go to Paris again. And heck, to run a full marathon for the first time. I just can’t think too hard about it. Or about the training.

Oof, the training.

I’m running it with my pal, Diana, who ran the Philly Half with me, and of course Joey will be there to support. It’s actually the same week as our anniversary, so it will be nice to celebrate by revisiting one of our honeymoon spots. (You know, without getting food poisoning this time.)

So I’m psyched. And terrified. And totally open to any marathon training suggestions/schedules my marathoner readers have to share.

Allons-y!

When I posted the final reveal of my Blogger Style Swap on Monday, the strongest reactions went something like this:

“Yeah, sure, the clothes are cute blahblahblah HOW DID YOU DO THAT TOP KNOT?”

Seriously, a bunch of people reached out to me across various media and asked for a tutorial. You guys are way too nice.

BUT ASK AND YOU SHALL RECEIVE.

I’ve actually made a bit of a study of the top knot/ballerina bun (not surprising, I know), so I know not one, but three ways to create it. And today, I’m sharing all my secrets.

First, collect the necessary materials.

materials

1. Goody Spin Pins
2. Pony tail holder
3. Sephora Collection Bunette (comes in blonde or brown…mine isn’t quite that yellow, I blame my camera)
4. Bobby pins

You want to start out with slightly dirty, texturized hair. If your hair is super straight, like mine, I recommend waiting until the day after you’ve curled it or used a bit of product. Dirty hair has more grip, so the bun with stay better. I’ll usually just wash my bangs so they don’t look gross, like so:

start

Heeyyyy, it’s my face. Anyway.

The first way to create a top knot is the Roll-And-Twist Method.

rolltwist_howto

1. Start with hair in a very high ponytail. Think Barbie in Malibu. I usually create it by hanging upside down so gravity can help out.

2. Wrap the hair around the ponytail like a cinnamon roll.

3. Twist one Goody Spin Pin into either side of the bun, ideally interlocking them. You may need a few extra bobby pins for stray pieces.

4. Ta-da!

The next method is a true Top Knot Style.

topknot_howto

1. Again, start with your high ponytail.

2. Separate the ponytail into two pieces.

3. Tie the pieces into a knot.

4. Wrap the ends around the ponytail to form a bun.

5. Use bobby pins to secure.

6. All knotted up and good to go.

And finally, the Ballerina Bun. (This is the style I was wearing in the swap photos.)

ballerina_howto

1. Again, you start with the high pony. Thread your hair through the Bunette and slide it to the middle/end of your ponytail. (The more layers you have, the less you will be able to slide the Bunette without hair falling out.)

2. Roll the Bunette forward toward your face. That is very important.

3. Bend the Bunette back into a bun shape. Use bobby pins to secure any loose pieces in the back.

4. Go on with your bad ballerina self.

So there you have it!

Are there any techniques I don’t know about? I’d love to hear how you create this kind of up do.

Thanks to my handsome husband for his help taking these photos at 7 a.m. You’re the best.