Monday, January 27, 2014

2013 Beauty Favorites

Once again, my apologies for being such a bad blogger!

Anyway... a few years ago, I posted my favorite beauty products, and I thought I would share some with you again.  As many of you know, I'm a beauty addict... I love makeup, hair care, skincare... all of it.  And I love to help friends find products that work for them.  In that spirit, here are some of my very favorite products from 2013.

1. Not Your Mothers Clean Freak Dry Shampoo - Besides color-treating my hair, I'm also a busy mom.  I'm lucky to get a shower every day.  But dirty hair ain't cute.  So I spray this baby near my roots, let it set while I wash my face, and then rub it through my hair.  It helps with the oil, adds some great volume and gets me another day or two before I have to wash my hair.  It's cheap, too.  BONUS! I get mine at Ulta - and at $5.99, you have to try it!

2. True Blue Spa Fresh Foaming Body Buff - I have dry skin, baby.  Whether it's the cold Midwest air, or the heat of the summer months, my skin needs some TLC.  So once a week, I bring this in the shower with me, and pour some of my loofah.  The scent is light, it lathers up nicely and it helps scrub the dry skin away and preps my skin to soak up moisturizer.  Also, if you like to self tan, this is a great product to prep your skin.  Pick it up at Bath and Body Works - save your coupons, cause this retails for $20, but will last you about a year.

3. O'Keefe's Working Hands - Raise your hands if you have dry, cracked hands!  I do too, between the cold weather and washing my hands a thousand times a day, my hands and cuticles are seriously messed up.  My sister had this out a few months ago when she was visiting and I loved it the first time I used it. This is a great odorless moisturizer that will keep dry cracked hands from becoming a major deal.  My husband loves it, too!  He works outside for a good portion of his shift, and this has prevented the bleeding and cracking that he usually experiences in the winter.  I get my O'Keefe's cream from Amazon.  Have a Prime Membership?  Then stock up, cause these are just $6.99! One tub will last hubby and I a little over a month.

4. Glamglow Super Clearing Treatment Mud Mask - My skin goes absolutely bananas after babies.  Hands-down, worse acne than I experienced as a teenager.  Glamglow is the best mask I've used - filled with great ingredients! Glycolic acid, salicylic acid and lactic acid helps to improve skin texture, clear pores, moisturize and helps with collagen stimulation.  It's pricey - nearly $70, but I get mine from Amazon for around $40, and it's worth every penny.

5. Rosebud Strawberry Lip Balm - Ok, so there's nothing super fancy about this stuff.  But it works.  And it smells like strawberries.  I use this on my lips and cuticles.  It lasts forever, and I haven't been without it since I discovered it a few years back.  You can pick it up at Sephora for $7.  It's usually in those bins near the register.  Pop one in your purse and get another one for next to your bed.

6. Real Techniques Expert Face Brush - If you're going to spend money on makeup and want the best results from it, you have to use good tools.  I have a decent makeup brush collection and have tried brushes from many different brands.  Real Techniques brushes were designed by a UK makeup artist and beauty blogger. Nic Champman knows her stuff and has created a solid collection of synthetic brushes.  Synthetic brushes are great because they are easy to clean, don't trap bacteria as badly as natural bristles and are much cheaper than natural hair brushes.  The Expert Face brush does a great job of putting on liquid foundation and cream products.  This is a great buy at $8.99.  You can find them at Ulta.

7. Chanel Ombre Essentielle Soft Touch Eyeshadow in Fauve -  Oh, Chanel.  I heart Thee.  This is new to my collection this year.  Fauve is a great mid-tone purple with taupe undertones and a hint of shimmer.  This is my go-to color for a quick eye look.  I use a flat brush and place it on my lid and then buff it out with a fluffy brush.  For a more dramatic look, I'll use a pencil brush and place it underneath the eye at my lash line.  A little goes a long way as it's pretty pigmented so this will last me years.  It's $28 at Chanel.

8. MAC Prep and Prime Highlighter in Radiant Rose - Momma's got some dark circles.  I need all the help I can get and traditional concealer, on it's own, just doesn't do enough for me. After I'm done with my concealer and foundation, I grab this little gem and run it underneath my eyes, down the center of my nose and one top of my cheek bones.  This helps to brighten underneath my eyes, and highlight the areas on my face that I want to pop. I'd recommend using clean fingers to work it into the skin or a sponge like the Beauty Blender.  This comes in several different shades, depending on your skin-tone and what you're trying to achieve. I get mine at my local MAC counter, but you can also find it online here for $25.

9. Make Up Forever Mat Velvet + Foundation - One of the many awesome changes that happens to me post-baby is oily skin.  Like a freakin' oil slick, friend.  We were on vacation this summer, just 2 months after John was born, and my normally dry skin became an oil field.  I went to their local Sephora and picked this skin savior up.  If you're oily or have combination skin, this may be for you.  This will help control oil while providing medium to full, buildable coverage. I would recommend using the Real Techniques buffing brush with it or a Beauty Blender sponge to get the best results.  Sephora is the exclusive retailer for Make Up Forever - you can purchase it for $36.

10. Chanel Rouge Allure in Gracile (89) - Can I just be honest?  I have a ridiculous amount of lipstick and lipgloss.  I'm always on the hunt for my perfect color.  Chanel's Gracile is pretty close to my perfect lipstick.  It's a midtone peachy pink - perfect for every day wear or can be paired with a soft smoky eye.  It's hydrating but not too slick.  The Rouge Allure is $34 and can be found at a Chanel counter or online.

11. Tarte's Amazonian Clay Long-Wear Blush in Amused - I feel that a great blush can pull any makeup look together.  And a great bright blush can help waken up a tired mommy face.  I love Tarte's Amazonian Clay blushes - they have great pigmentation, are long-wearing and are not chalky.  It's a natural finish and Amused is a great bright pink blush - the kind of rosy cheek you get when you've been outside on a winter day.  You can pick these up at Ulta or Sephora for $26.

12. Chanel's Glossimer in Paillettes - Look in any beauty hoarder's makeup bag and I'm sure you'll find a Chanel Glossimer.  They are divine.  Hydrating, not too sticky, and beautiful colors.  Chanel's Paillettes is my perfect pink and is one of my favorites and is near empty, so I need to get on it and buy another one.  This is a staple I'll have with me until they stop making it.  Find yours at a Chanel counter for $29.50 or online.

13. MAC Pro Longwear Concealer - I found this concealer two years ago while pregnant with John.  My skin went absolutely crazy - I suspect I developed rosacea.  I had lots of bright red patches on my face that I couldn't get covered with my normal concealer and foundation.  MAC came through once again and rescued my face.  Well, this didn't cure my rosacea, but it did cover it up so it wasn't completely obvious. I'm still not without it - it covers undereye dark circles without creasing, covers any blemishes and dark spots.  I like to use a small stippling brush to work it into the skin before I layer on my foundation.  You can pick this up at your MAC counter or online for $19.50.  I would recommend getting color matched before purchasing!

(Here I am last week wearing MAC Pro Longwear Concelear (NW20), Tarte's Amazonian Clay in Amused, MAC Prep and Prime Highlighter in Radiant Rose and Chanel's Eyeshadow in Fauve.)

What products did you reach for time and time again this year?  Do you like drugstore or do you buy most of your stuff at a department store?  I'd love to know!

NOTE: I am not sponsored by any brand or store.  These products were purchased by me.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

My Postpartum Funk

After (mostly) successfully surviving the newborn stage with Grace and Autumn, I thought it would be smooth sailing the third time around.

After a incredibly easy labor and delivery, I dealt with all the normal post-delivery transitions with John.  I healed quickly and he adjusted to life with us without a problem.

The first few months went by... the normal middle-of-the-night wakings, diaper changes, doctor's appointments, sweet family time, juggling time with all three kids, and constant eye bags... everything, I thought, was normal.  It felt normal.  We were walking through the normal things.

Toward the end of the summer, I saw a friend for a play date/catch-up-on-life session.  She asked me how my summer was.  Horrible was my reply.

For the next several minutes I began to say words I hadn't heard in my head until that point... I was sad... I felt angry... I just wanted to stay in bed... I felt disconnected with Joel... I didn't want to do stuff with the kids... I wanted to stay home... My quiet times with the Lord were out of sync... I couldn't pray... I didn't feel like me.

Her response?  I wish I had known.  Me too!

Seriously, I didn't know I was feeling... experiencing all those things until I was on my way out of the funk that hung over me for the first few months of John's life.  How could I have been struggling so much and not know it, until I started feeling normal again?

Poor Joel has felt the brunt of my postpartum funk.  I've told friends in our church small group that I've been feeling crazy.  Crazy is a good word.  I have not been myself... and my sweet husband has stood next to me, being abundantly patient with a crazy woman.  All at once, I've been mad, sad, apathetic and hysterical.  Not to say, I'm normally totally sane, but the last four months have had a few near bi-polar outbursts on my part.

I'm thankful for a man who is understanding even when I'm sure he is confused by me and wondering where Jill's gone.

So, I'm walking on the path out of this funk.  Now that I see that I've been struggling, I've had some very honest conversations with those who have been innocent bystanders in all of this.  I'm reading through the Psalms and cherishing the words that David says - saying exactly what my heart feels.  I've asked a thousand times for God to heal my heart, calm my emotions and remind me of His Joy.

I'm taking each day as it comes... realizing that the postpartum funk can sometimes come out of nowhere, that I need to ask for help and cherish each day that I have with my little Blessings.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Mr J's First Blog Day Out

I know it's been quiet around A Troop's Girl the last few months.  We've been busy!  But before time got too far away, I wanted to share our sweet baby boy with you - Our sweet little John.  John was born May 14th and is 3 months old today!

He is an amazing baby - very content and seems to just love watching his sisters play around him... and he doesn't mind the occasional giant Autumn face getting very close to his.  (She is very interested in "Baby JA-OHN".) Joel and I are just in love with him, and as tiring as this baby-stage is, we wouldn't trade it.

So, enjoy those sweet baby cheeks.  I am!

More posts coming soon!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Good Friday - An Opportunity to Teach Your Children

Grace's Lent Book - age 7

Like most moms, I often think back at missed opportunities with my kids.  You know, those moments that the doors are wide open to teach your kid something important that you either fail to see at the time or figure it really isn't all that important?  Times when I should have taught about grace, forgiveness, patience... there have been many.

Yesterday I had a conversation with our pastor and a friend about this weekend's Easter services.  We discussed the Good Friday service and some of the plans that were underway, including showing a video and picture of aspects of the crucifixion.  We were trying to decide whether those things would be too-graphic for children who may be in attendance.  My immediate response was "yes!" - that's too much for my 7 year-old.  As we discussed further about the service and the heavy significance of Good Friday, my heart began to change.

Yes, Grace is 7 and we are probably more conservative than most parents about what our kids see and are exposed to.  But she knows about Jesus.  She asked Him into her life 2 years ago and can clearly tell you about who is is, why he came and what the cross meant.  I'm sure she's seen images of Jesus on a cross - probably the super-clean, gleaming-pale skin Jesus-on-the-cross picture... you know the ones.

Grace can also tell you about the Resurrection.  We actually just sat down at breakfast this week and talked about how awesome it was that Christ rose from the dead and the promise and hope that gives those who believe in him.

But I realized during my discussion with my friend and pastor that I've missed an important opportunity to talk about the cross with Grace.  We've never discussed the brutality of his death - all that he went through... how he was beaten, bloody, exhausted, tormented... She doesn't know that Jesus-on-the-cross story.

It wasn't until I was an adult, that I began to understand the weight of the cross.  As a kid, we never had Good Friday services.  There was one gentleman in our church that would share during a communion service about the physical brutality of the crucifixion.  But until I was an adult, no one helped draw a picture for me about the realities of the cross.

When you begin to understand the severity of the cross - the gruesome torture and death Christ went through for us, you then start to realize the significance of your own sin and the beauty of Christ's sacrifice.  Watching The Passion of the Christ in 2004 did that for me.  I wept through most of the movie and those images will be with me forever and have helped change my heart toward my Loving Savior.

So last night, after discussing things over with Joel, I decided Grace and I needed to talk about what Christ really did on his way to the cross and at Calvary.

Before I said anything, she said she wanted to read out of her Children's Bible - and she, on her own, chose the story of Christ's death.  I was blown away by how God was working out the details of our important conversation.  He was with us.

So after she finished reading to me, I began asking her questions about the cross and told her I wanted to share with her what Christ actually went through from the time he was taken by the Roman soldiers to the moment he died.  We talked about his sorrow, his open wounds, the people insulting him, the crown of thorns, the weakness in his body... his cry out to God.  It was incredibly powerful.

I don't expect Grace at 7 to fully understand what her Savior did for her that day.  As an adult, and Christian for nearly 30 years, I still don't understand how much Christ suffered for us... for me.  But my prayer is that starting with yesterday, Grace will understand fully how much her Savior loves her, the weight of sin and the price he paid for us.

I'm so humbled to be a part of her understanding of the Cross.

But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed
 - Isaiah 53:5

Thursday, February 21, 2013

My Face in His Hands

There are plenty of times as a mom, when I kneel down in front of one of my little ones, and place my hands on each side of their sweet face.  It may be during a time of correction or punishment, oftentimes it's just to get them to be still and listen to me.  But sometimes it's because I need to encourage them and I want to make sure I have their attention.  Whatever it may be, those time are just ours.  For a moment in time, distractions fade and I have their attention.

Recently, I've felt God's hands on my cheeks - as He tries to get me to look at Him, to be still and to just listen to what He has to say.  He is looking into my eyes and into my heart, trying to speak to me, to get my attention.

He's been working on my heart in big ways the last several months - showing me the importance of His grace and living with the sweet, sweet Gospel in sight.  Somewhere, somehow, I lost the beauty of the Gospel.

The last several weeks, He's been holding me close, reminding me of where's I've lost focus - where I've lost track of His holiness, His beauty and grace.  My quiet times have been incredibly special and absolutely life-changing.

There are so many times throughout the day, when I feel Him grabbing a hold of me, pulling my face in His direction.  He is telling me to be still, remember who He is, what He has done and what He created me to be.  He has been like a loving parent, gently speaking to my heart - that I've lost focus and I need to look in His eyes.

God's grace does not fade, when we lose our focus.  He will, once again, bend down, grab hold of us, and speak, as only a loving Heavenly Father could.

"But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear." - Matthew 13:16

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Proud Mommy Moments: Autumn's Reflection

If you've been following for a while or know me personally, you know I've had my share of struggles with body image.  If you don't know the story, here's a post I wrote about my struggles with control, anxiety and purging.

As a mom to two girls, I know that I have a major role in how they see themselves and how they see themselves in light of what God created them for and to do.  Grace and I have had many talks about true beauty and how God created her perfectly (Psalm 139:13-18).  The world has already taught her about calories, health, exercise and the "fear of fat".  Autumn is just now paying attention to her reflection in the mirror.

Something I've tried to teach my girls, is to speak Truth to themselves.  One way I have done this, is to ask them to say "perfect" when they see themselves in the mirror.  Just a small way of reminding themselves that God has made them perfectly.  I do it too - not because I think I'm gorgeous, but because in God's eyes, He has made me perfect.

This week, while Autumn and I were having a super fun hang-out session reading books in my bed, she slid off the bed and went to the long mirror I have in my closet.  She looked at herself in the mirror for a few moments, smiled and pointed to her belly and said "Autumn.  Perfect".  It made my heart smile and I'm sure God's did, too.

Remember, whatever you're struggling with, however you see yourself, God has created you in His image.  He has known you from the beginning of time, and knit you together perfectly in your mother's womb!  We have a great God who loves us more than we could ever measure or imagine!