Friday, February 23, 2018

5 tips to end adult acne - for once and for all!

Like most women I struggled with acne here and there as a teen.  In college it got a little worse (uh, hello stress and a super bad diet) but after I had kids and was well into my 30s my acne, now the lovely 'adult' acne, was slowly getting out of control.  At first it was a blemish here and there but then I noticed I was never blemish free anymore. The acne was often the deep cystic type that just wouldn't go away and then the final insult? Because my age was "advanced" the scaring was worse than ever.  Months after a blemish was gone I would still have discoloration.  Have you ever experienced the same? It's downright annoying on top of being painful and embarrassing.  The crazy thing is that most dermatologists or aesthiticians don't really know the exact scientific reasons for acne.  There is a lot of advice out there and I am no professional but after (many) years of dealing with it I now have it mostly under control and these are some of the things that have helped me.

1) Go for high quality beauty products and if you can, choose "safe" beauty. I've found that integrating brands like Juice Beauty and Beautycounter into my beauty routine has helped tremendously.  In general "safer" beauty means that the brands avoid potentially harmful and harsh chemicals like parabens, mineral oil or mineral oil derivatives, fragrance and dyes (although that is just the short list).  My skin reacts much better to these skincare lines vs a general drugstore buy.  A few of my favorites are this cleanser, this pricey but very effective serum, this at home peel, this mask and this oil (I know it doesn't sound acne related, but it's great at calming my skin). These products on their own and together seem to work magic for my skin.

2) Watch your diet! Sugar and dairy are the triggers for my acne, personally, and a lot of research I've read confirms this. Often times sugars and dairy are sneaky ingredients too... I once found that my probiotic contained dairy after two straight months of incredible breakouts.  Simply swapping out almond milk for cows milk in your daily latte or similar swaps can make a huge difference.  Avoiding sugar and sweets can help a ton - which isn't easy for this sweet toothed gal!  I've also found that adding lemon water to my diet has helped.  There are tons of benefits from lemon water (google it!) that are too many to name here - but I have found it's great at keeping your skin clear too!

3) Bring in a professional.  Many dermatologists want to put you on prescriptions for acne and in some cases this is the best, however in other cases it can be avoided.  In general I shy away from prescriptions, but there are lots of other ways a professional can help you besides a good old RX.  I get regular facials at my dermatologists office and these have made a HUGE difference.  I like going to the dermatologists office for this because I know that the aestheticians are vetted by a doctor and usually the facialist really means "business" instead of getting a facial for just "relaxation" (which is also amazing).  Also, I've found the pricing to be much lower at my derms office which is always a perk. A good facialist can use tools and extractions to get the clogged pores BEFORE they become blemishes. I started getting facials about 4 times a year maybe 3 or 4 years ago and now I go about every 6 weeks.  I can always tell when it's time to go, my skin always seems to be on the verge of a breakout the week of my appointment.  Another way a professional can help you is by injecting a large or cystic blemish.  Dermatologists don't advertise this as much as they should, but if I feel a big one under the surface I call the office right away and they can usually get me in that day - don't touch it yourself! A small injection of a steroid can make the pimple go away in as little as 12 hours, but usually in 24.  It's a miracle worker!

4) Exfoliate chemically instead of manually.  Manual or gritty exfoliating washes are great if your skin isn't prone to breakouts, but I personally have found that those types of washes irritate my skin and my acne more. On the recommendation of my facialist I now use a chemical exfoliator regularly and have seen a huge difference in my skin. There are two types of chemical exfoliators I love - retinol and glycolic acid.  They sound scary but they aren't at all. Just ease into using them by starting once or twice a week and slowly working up from there.  For retinol I really love THIS product and for glycolic acid I really like THIS product. Also mild to moderate chemical peels performed by a skilled aesthetician once or twice a year can make a HUGE difference in keeping away the breakouts and also for treating the scars left by breakouts.

5) Spot treat, spot treat, spot treat!  Now that my skin is used to both retinol and glycolic acid I also use them as spot treatments if I wake up with a blemish (usually you want to use retinol or gylcolic acid at night because it can make your skin vulnerable to the sun. Always wear a sunscreen after use!).  While you can layer retinol or glycolic under your makeup for the day there are other treatments I like that aren't as easy to pull off during the day and I recommend them for the night.  This weird liquid/solid spot treatment works great, this mask can be a spot treatment as well and lastly these patches get incredible reviews and are made to wear all day long, but I would probably only wear them around the house or at night. (these patches are the only product here I haven't personally tried, but I seriously keep hearing about them so I had to include them)

Remember, I'm not a doctor or skin care professional! These are just what have worked for me personally, I hope they can be helpful to you!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

on my radar: February 2017

Oh February... you are good for two things: Valentine's (which is sadly over now) and spring dreaming... I've definitely got one foot in spring over here and anxiously waiting for some warm and sunny spring days. With that in mind these are a few things that are on my radar this month!

I just snagged this striped twist back top and seriously the back is SO cute! The way the back twists makes it quite flattering on the front too... I'm almost thinking of going back for one in a solid color too!

These bow flat sandals are SO adorable! I ordered a similar pair last season and they didn't fit and when I went to reorder they were sold out - so I definitely want to snag them this year!

I've been looking for a new spring jacket and I just purchased this cropped trench coat - it's adorable and I love that it's cropped as often times long trench coats seem to be overwhelming on me. 

This cardigan seems like the perfect winter-to-spring wardrobe piece.  It looks cozy and warm but not too heavy or this striped cardigan is also super cute!

Investing in a new pair of white jeans is on my list for spring. I tried a few options last summer and really struck out and just quit - now I'm ready to start again (why are they so difficult to find?) and I just saw this new style of white jeans that is straight and cropped. I'm curious to give them a try.

The perfect spring or spring break clutch: this pom pom clutch!!! And it's under $30! 

Any one else so ready to ditch the 4 layers of clothing they call winter pajamas!?!? What was "cute and cozy" last fall is now just annoying - I'm so ready for some summer pjs and these striped pajamas are just SO cute!

My spring obsession right now: woven flats.  How fun are these woven gold flats? They would look amazing with some white jeans and a little tan for spring and summer, wouldn't they?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

my everyday style: 3 tips for making swimsuit shopping bearable!

I love hanging out by the pool or beach in a swimsuit... seriously, I could do it for the rest of my life! But I'll be serious - I do NOT care for shopping for said swimsuits.  It's just brutal! Am I alone? Sheesh, a girl doesn't have it easy on that front!  I have a few tips that I use for shopping for swimsuits... that I will share in case you ever feel the same way:

My 3 tips for swimsuit shopping:

1) Always, always choose multiple sizes. It never fails I'll grab one size, go to try it on and it's too small and I just quit.  Done-zo. Finito. I'm outta here!  Give yourself options and then don't get too hung up on the actual size.  If it feels good on, who cares what actual size it is!

2) Go for a mix of one-piece suits and bikinis. Some people say they will never wear a one-piece and others say they will never wear a bikini. Try them both! I like to have a good mix of both on hand for whatever the summer or spring break day holds and you may never know if it will be the "one" - the hanger is a terrible model, believe me! Try a few styles and be open to trying something new, you may just surprise yourself!

3) This is my own personal rule and may sound weird, but I never, EVER try a swimsuit on in the store.  The lighting is terrible, you likely have a million layers on (I mean, who wants to take off all those layers in the middle of Target!?!?) and you may not be in the right mindset.  I know from experience that one bad try-on session can really leave a dent in my mental well being. I take everything home, wait until the house is mostly quiet and calm (when the kids are at school is best) then I try them all on. Usually I will weed out the definite "no's" and then show my husband the "maybe's" and then whittle it down that way. Then everything that doesn't fit goes back to the store and I just got to choose a suit in the comfort of my own home.

How do you make swim shopping more bearable!?!? I would love your tips! Seriously!

Now let's talk about this poolside look, shall we!?!? I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE a good one piece... and I found this lace up cutie for less than $40 (and it's available in a few colors) - just FYI, I went up a size mostly because I tend to have not a long torso, but an 'almost' long torso. Oh, bathing suits sure like to keep it interesting, don't they. haha! But can we talk about this amazing swim cover up!?!? Another great budget buy and it's crazy soft... I can already tell this is going to be a lifesaver for those beach days when you've gotten a little bit too much sun already - oops! - but you are no quitter so you're not going home but covering up instead. Am I the only one that has that!?!?

Also I know you all are going to want deets on these shorts and I have good news and bad news... the bad news is they are from last season, the good news is I found a similar pair. And if you are new around here, I will let you in on my denim-shorts-for-moms tip... I always go UP a size to give them a slouchier fit.  No butt cheeks hanging out allowed in these parts! Ahem.

Outfit Details: 
Hat (similar)
Swim Cover-up (under $25!)
Shorts (similar or similar)

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

home tour: our kitchen!

So far I have shown you guys TWO spaces from our new home (well, new-ish... we've been here over a year and half now) including our living room and our dining room.  Today the tour continues with our kitchen.  The kitchen was originally an eat-in kitchen with a small dining area by the sliding door.  We transformed that into a small sitting area and we also have a kids desk in this spot as well that serves as an organization area for school papers, the family calendar and a charging station for the kids' screens.  Altogether we reference it as the "kitchen" but it's really so much more and as you can imagine... the heart of the home.  We all spend about 80% of our time in this room and seriously, seriously LOVE it!

When we bought this home the kitchen was in SUPER rough shape... cabinet doors were broken, the floors had experienced some leaking from the refrigerator (likely the in-door water dispenser), the sink was permanently stained and the floor plan was a wreck and not at all a good use of space. (I'll show before pictures below) It took us a little bit of re-imagining to come up with this floor plan and once we did we knew it would be the absolute best use of space.  Having a HUGE kitchen to start with is a big bonus, obviously. So the kitchen definitely had space going for it.

The first thing we did was make the island bigger! Bigger is always better and not only does the island have a ton of storage but it's also a great surface for homework, projects, gift wrapping and for making dinner or baking. This island is the literally the center of our home and activities as a family.   Since we wanted a hood vent with no microwave - we had to find a new spot for the micro, here you can see we snuck it behind the island so it's not sticking out like a sore thumb. 

My husband really wanted a single bowl sink... in my honest opinion, the jury is still out on if I like it more than two bowls. I will say it's great for big pots and pans and it looks great, but sometimes I still miss the double bowl, it's also a big pain to clean.  Since these photos were taken we also put new blinds up here... every home is a work in progress, inluding mine!

Another change we made to the existing floor plan of the kitchen was to wrap the cabinets around this corner.  It worked perfect for some wine storage and for our wine glasses above on the floating shelves. It serves as a "dry bar" of sorts and is super handy when we are entertaining to have another stretch of countertop.  This is the second IKEA kitchen we have done and one of my favorite things about IKEA kitchens is the option to have an integrated dishwasher.  With normal cabinet companies it's a huge upgrade for this custom feature, but not so with IKEA.  I bet you can't tell where our dishwasher is in the above picture? It's totally hidden behind a cabinet front.

The floating shelves are constantly evolving - I'm always changing them up. But I feel like this feature makes any kitchen look bigger. Even in our previous home that had a TINY kitchen it really opened it up.  The photos in this post are from last fall and wouldn't you know it just last week we finally had the tile backsplash installed - so I will try to show more updated photos on Instagram soon!

From this angle you can see how the desk (left) and sitting area (right) all work together with the entire kitchen. Unfortunately this desk is NEVER this clean... but let's just pretend it always is!

Let's talk a little bit about budget... shall we!?!? So obviously investing in a kitchen is NOT cheap... but I will clue you in on one trick we used: we used IKEA for our kitchen in our previous home and in this home. Thank goodness my husband is handy enough to put together and install the cabinets.  It's a big job and one that you need quite a bit of experience for, but he did an amazing job.  IKEA offers installation services so if you aren't willing to take it on yourself, I would recommend that route.  In general I would say that an IKEA kitchen is about 50-60% less than traditional custom cabinets. I compare them to custom cabinets because really there are so many amazing customizations you can make with these that you can't get when you buy cabinets at the big box stores.

The big cost saver here is to wait for their Kitchen Sale - I believe they do the sale twice per year.  When they do, they will give you 15% BACK from the purchase of your kitchen in gift cards.  When we did this we used the gift cards to then purchase our countertops through them - so it was an amazing deal.  You could also use the gift card towards their appliances as well (which are just Whirlpool under the IKEA name, FYI).  So if you are thinking about an IKEA kitchen - watch for the sales!!!

Swapping out the small eating area for a small sitting area was one of our favorite decisions in this house. Its a great place to hang with a glass of wine or a book while I make dinner and the kids can sit at the small table for homework too.  Plus this table opens up for storage and it's full of board games... so it's a great spot for an impromptu family game night too! What can we say, we love hanging out in the kitchen ;) 

From the kitchen area you can see into the family room.... that tour is coming soon! So stay tuned... 

Here is another view of the desk area.  With all the kids sports and activities and school work this board keeps us all organized and on the same page.  The photo doesn't do it justice... this thing is HUGE!

So that is the kitchen home tour! Whew...  Scroll down for more "before" views. 

Cabinets, IKEA "Grimslov" in white
Counters, Caesar Stone
Island Lights - West Elm (similar)
Sink Light - West Elm (similar)
Appliances - Samsung
Floors - Viking Brand in "Sable" Oak
Kids Desk - World Market (similar)
Bulletin Board - Amazon
Chairs in Sitting Area - similar
Cowhide Rug in Sitting Area - similar
Rug Runner by Sink - Similar

 Below are "BEFORE" photos. What a big change! (These photos were taken from the MLS listing)


Monday, February 19, 2018

my everyday style: beating the winter blahs!

I was going to title this post "Beating the Winter Blues" - but I don't have the winter blues, friends (although, I've been there, done that before). I have the "winter blahs."  Everything is just so "blah." I could take a blow torch to my winter clothes - they just are NOT inspiring me lately. I want to wear leggings and sweatshirts everyday and hey, I love leggings and sweatshirts but I'm worried I've reached a precipice of the leggings and sweatshirt combo where I might fall over the edge and never come back.  I've done a little shopping for spring travel, but otherwise I can't bring myself to buy new "cold weather" pieces and can't bring myself to wear my existing winter clothes.  And it's too dang cold to wear much else. So where does that leave a gal? Besides naked or in leggings and sweatshirts!?!?  Have you been feeling the same? What's a girl to do?

So I've been turning to neutrals again and again (and again and again).  Which you know, I'm big into neutrals anyway, so that's not too much of a difference. Maybe I need to just go wild and throw some yellow or red in the mix?  The good news is I'm loving this oversized cable knit sweater - it is SO comfortable and perfect for spring to winter, bonus it's on sale!  My husband and I recently snuck out on a Saturday afternoon for lunch together and I wore this outfit. It was the perfect casual Saturday look. When the sun shines I love to break out the distressed jeans and love every minute of it, because let's be honest, you can't wear these babies in a snowstorm.  This exact pair is old, but I found a few similar pairs here and here.

In the meantime I need a little shake up.  It's like what do I even like? What do I even WANT to wear? I need something - but even I don't even know what I need! Spring, maybe? I'm seriously hoping that warmer weather and longer days will help get me out of my funk soon!

Outfit Details:
Peacoat (similar, similar or similar or I love this trench option for spring)
Sweater - on sale!!
Jeans (similar, similar or similar)

Friday, February 16, 2018

4 simple low-carb meals for the whole family!

My super easy meal idea posts are one of the most popular here on the blog... you can see all of them here. We are a busy family and we like to eat healthy and delicious meals, but I rarely have the time to compile a bunch of ingredients or read recipes with 6 or more steps. I need SUPER easy and SUPER delicious meals in my repertoire to feed everyone's taste.  One of the questions I've been getting the most since talking about my husband and I's journey on the Faster Way to Fat Loss program is about dinner. What to make for dinner? Will my kids eat what we eat?  There are only a few low-carb days for dinner and we have a few dinner formulas we use to make the low-carb days delicious and easy.  Today I am pulling together 4 of our favorites - our kids loved these too, so they are kid approved!


Here are 4 low-carb meals that our family has really been loving lately...

Chicken Sausages with Buffalo Cauliflower
Cook the sausages and roast the cauliflower (I use frozen, but you can use fresh too) according to the package instructions.  When the cauliflower is done roasting mix it with the Frank's Red Hot sauce. Then serve the cauliflower over arugula with carrots and blue cheese sauce on the side.  We LOVE this meal and gobble it up without missing the carbs at all.

Asian Chicken Salad
I use a simple asian salad kit as the starter for this meal.  Grill or roast the chicken and then serve chopped in strips over the salad with extra veggies on the side like sugar snap peas, avocado or red peppers. 

Shrimp Stir Fry
This meal is one that we are OBSESSED with... if you don't have a Trader Joe's nearby you can simply make your own cauliflower rice and add in frozen stir fry veggies.  If you do live near a Trader Joe's this cauliflower rice is a game changer, it's so delicious and healthy.  I simply saute the shrimp in one pan with a little cayenne pepper for flavor.  Then I saute the cauliflower fried rice with 3 or 4 eggs mixed in.  Then you serve the shrimp over the cauliflower fried rice.  This makes for great leftovers too!

Zoodles with Meatballs
Zoodles (noodles made from zucchini) are a new popular food that tastes great and are perfect for low-carb days. Saute the zoodles while baking the pre-made meatballs and serve with tomato sauce and some goat cheese and oh my goodness you will be licking the bowl.  For this meal I would likely serve my kids regular noodles and reserve the zoodles for just my husband and I.

This program isn't ALL low-carb meals... so when you do go low carb you want to do it well.  I will hopefully post soon about more meal ideas for the days that aren't low-carb.  You can get more information about the FWTFL program here - it's been SO life changing for my husband and I.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

my everyday style: a simple cardigan!

Transitioning my wardrobe from winter to spring over the next month or so will be super challenging living in Michigan. I'm SO over wearing a million layers, thick sweaters and snowy days.  However the reality is that it's still not warm and some layers are still 100% necessary.  That is why I love this outfit so much... this simple cardigan is perfect for keeping warm, but hints more at spring than winter. Easy layers like these are making February more bearable... plus I can see wearing this cardigan through the spring and into the fall even, it's so versatile and comfortable.

Plus can we talk about the value of a good old classic t-shirt!?!? This one is SO soft and is perfect for laying or just wearing around the house.  Plus could almost 1400 positive reviews be wrong?!  And bonus, it's under $20!

In other (good) news... March is two weeks away, Daylight Savings is less than a month away and spring break is 6 weeks away! I can already tell that the days are getting longer - praise the good Lord for the extra light in the mornings and spring will be here before we know it. There is hope on the horizon for spring!

Outfit Details:
Cardigan (I went up a size!)
Necklace (similar)
Jeans (no longer available, super similar pair!)
Leopard Flats (similar, similar or similar)

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Instagram lately!

The past month was a great month over on Instagram... I had a lot of fun pulling together casual everyday looks that didn't make it to the blog.  My outfits were admittedly a little all over the place... we had some super warm (for winter) days, some freezing cold days and some warm weather travel mixed in as well - so there was a full spectrum of outfits.  Here are some of my favorites...

This outfit is perfect for warmer winter days and for transitioning to spring! above: sweater, clutch, jeans, flats

A few basics I packed for our recent trip to Florida! I love this budget-buy swimsuit. above: hat, sunglasses, clutch, sandals, swimsuit (available in 4 colors!)

I've worn this pull over fleece to death this winter... it's been a lifesaver for those days I just feel like I can't warm up! above: fleece (or similar), button front top, sunglassesjeans, sneakers (color: sunset glow)

I can't resist a little red and pink combo this time of year! above: jeanssneakersstriped top, similar hat

I'm finally broke down a purchased one of these adorable letter boards.  I love it! Or how cute are these multi colored options?

Everybody needs a little leopard now and then! This leopard coat is so fun! above: similar coat, sweatshirt (on sale!), jeans, sneakers

I love, love, LOVE this easy top for weekends and everyday wear. above: top (on sale!), lace bralette, jeans

I love a good denim jacket!  This one is awesome and under $40, I love how it fits nice and slim with lots of stretch. If you like a boxier fit I also just snagged this one... because it was also a great deal and I loved the distressing!  above: jean jacket, jeans, similar striped top

A few more fun items I packed for Florida... this was the perfect outfit for a morning Starbucks run. This sweatshirt runs big, so size down. And these gold birkenstocks are BACK in stock after selling out super quick last summer, so snag them soon - they are my go-to spring and summer "mom" shoes! above: sweatshirt, tote bag, similar shorts, birkenstocks, sunglasses

I constantly pull for this relaxed twist-front top... it's so cozy and easy to dress up or down. above: similar jacket, topjeansflats, bag

Make sure you are following me on Instagram for more daily outfit inspiration! 


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