Freckles in April: October 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

Things I Need to Tell You About

A nice thing about being a blogger is that you have this awesome platform anytime you stumble across a really great product and want to tell people about it. A bad thing about retiring from blogging is that you suddenly have no way to tell people about things and it is seriously painful. Like, I have a thing! It's a great thing! But how do I tell people about it?? I HAVE NOTHING. HELP.

The things I need to talk about are piling up so I'm giving in and writing a blog post. It has to be done, mostly so my brain can rest knowing I spread the word. And because you probably need these things in your lives. And apologies for the length- these should probably each be their own blog post but I can only commit to this one so I'm just going to type away until I'm done or until I run out of dried mango (see #4), whichever comes first.


1. Incoco Nail Polish Strips

Ages ago Janssen and I banded together to review a bunch of nail decals. We each tried a few, some were bad, some were good, none were truly great. And then I kind of lost interest and haven't touched a nail decal since.

And then, a couple months ago, I was walking through Wal Mart and saw a brand I hadn't seen before and I liked the packaging. The price was right (under $5) and I liked one of the designs so I gave them a whirl. And Holy Hannah they were freaking amazing.



If you have the misfortune to follow my Instagram stories then you saw pretty much daily updates where I was like THIS IS DAY 9 AND THEY STILL LOOK PERFECT WHAT IS HAPPENING.

So here's how I make mine last forever- I swipe my nails with rubbing alcohol before applying. Then, every few days, I lightly file the ends of my nails (because that's where my manicure tends to wear) and do a quick coat of clear polish. And that's it. They look amazing for longer than any polish I've ever tried.

The selection at Wal Mart is under $5 and really limited (though I got a preview of the upcoming winter stuff through a blogger friend and it looks like they're bringing a bunch more and also they're all amazing). They have way more options on the website. They cost a little more ($9ish, depending on the style). However, shipping is free so it didn't feel too painful to order a few (stocking stuffers! for myself!). They're also on Amazon but not Prime so I haven't bothered.



2. VS Raw Cut Hip Hugger

My BIL got married a couple weeks ago and the night before the wedding I went out with my sister-in-law-to-be and her sisters. They're French and apparently there are no Victoria's Secret stores in the land that originated the word "lingerie" so they were really excited to go. SILTB picked up a couple of these raw edged hiphuggers and I thought they were cute but we weren't there for me so I didn't make too much of an effort to find my size in the colors I wanted. But when we got to the register the clerk told us we could buy two for $22 OR we could get 5 for $27.50. We ran back and she grabbed another pair and I found two for me. And I love them. The raw edge means they're no-show, They're comfy and make my backside look fantastic and I will be buying more.

I'd share a picture but my booty is not a Thing I Need to Tell You About so here's a pic from the ring ceremony instead.

So perfect, right?



3. Wunderbrow

A while back I made an appointment for eyebrow microblading. That same week, Amazon started advertising Wunderbrow at me but I was like, "In a couple months I won't need it, suckas!" But then my BIL got engaged (see above) and we suddenly were going to spend *mumble mumble* dollars on an unexpected Hawaiian vacation so I canceled my microblading appointment and went back to my normal eyebrow routine.

Months later I found myself on Amazon spending an absurd amount of money on dried mangoes (see below) and I was like, "Eh, as long as I'm being spendy..." and I ordered some Wunderbrow.

I'm wearing a shirt, for the record.

Amazon reviews are pretty mixed but I looove it. I honestly don't even feel the need to do microblading now. I'm sure it would look awesome but a tube of Wunderbrow is $22 and microblading was going to be more than 10 times that much AND require a yearly touch-up. Wunderbrow takes me two minutes and lasts a couple days (it's waterproof...if I'm careful when I wash my face at night then I've still got eyebrows for the next day or two).

Here's a little video I sent my sister the first time I tried it. One brow is done, one is sad (I disowned my right eyebrow a long time ago. Weird, patchy traitor).




These days my basic makeup routine is just BB cream, Wunderbrow and an eyelash curler. It takes me less than 4 minutes and I feel "done." As someone who made a habit of wearing a full face of makeup for many years, it's kind of nice to be a little more low maintenance.

You have to work fairly quickly because you're committed once it dries, but I haven't had any trouble getting them the way I want in time. I put a small amount of product on the brush and carefully paint it onto one of my eyebrows. Then I use the included spoolie to brush them out and distribute the product more evenly and quickly use a q-tip to clean up around the edges of my eyebrow before it sets. Easy.




4. 7D Dried Mangoes

For our flight to Hawaii I was super prepared- I packed a healthy lunch for each of us plus snacks to get through the 6 1/2 hour flight. We ate almost all of it and arrived feeling pretty good.

For the flight home I was significantly less prepared. We barely made our flight thanks to insane security lines and I was starving. I had nothing in the way of snacks for the kids and no guarantee that anything on the plane would be to their liking. Aaron ran to buy some stuff from an airport shop while the kids and I waited in the line to board. Among the stuff he found were these mangoes. I ate almost the whole bag in the first hour of flight. They were, without exaggeration, the best dried mangoes I've ever had. I don't know if there's more sugar in there than usual or what but SO GOOD.



I actually tried another brand right after we got home and I only ate one piece. It didn't taste bad (at all!) but it just...wasn't as good.

I was worried they might be a Hawaii-only kind of thing but Amazon has them! With Prime! They're not exactly cheap- $33 for 6 bags of dried mangoes puts them firmly into "special treat" territory- but I ordered some and they really are just that good. They are currently fueling this post.

Me, working on this post (META)




5. Knock-off Rodan + Fields UNBLEMISH

I kept hearing about R+F and then I had this crazy breakout situation for a couple weeks and I was like, shrug, maybe I'll check it out. And THEN I saw the price point.

Sweet mother of all.

Each of their lines is between $180 and $200 for a 3 month supply. Per day that's about $2, which isn't terrible. And I'm sure it's totally worth it! But I just. couldn't. do it.

So I took a closer look at the active ingredients and they were all things I was familiar with and knew I could easily find in other (more budget friendly!) products. So, take this for what it's worth since I haven't tried Rodan + Fields and thus can't speak to just about anything about it except for the fact that these products share similar active ingredients. But my version has worked really well for me!

Cleanser: Sulfur Soap. Yes, sulfur. The soap itself just smells sort of earthy but, if you caught my Instagram story about this, it CAN make your face smell a bit like fart. Just a heads up.

Toner: Witch hazel and glycolic acid. You can also go super cheap and go with straight witch hazel- I got a bottle for less than $3 at the drug store and my skin loves it.

Acne Treatment: Benzoyl peroxide [Link fixed!]. The R+F version is way fancier with some kind of dual chambered pump thing but it's also $102 while the Clean and Clear version is $4.49. So.

Note: I use the benzoyl peroxide every other night. In between, I use my retinol serum. In the mornings I use my vitamin C serum. Because I am blessed with both acne AND wrinkles. Also, be aware that benzoyl peroxide will bleach the crap out of your towels and linens. 

Moisturizer: Oil Control with SPF. I'm SURE the R+F version is better because lotion quality really does vary with price but I was shocked at what a difference this made. I used to get really shiny partway through the day and now I don't. Oil control ftw!

Total cost: $41.63 if you get the fancier toner, $27.67 if you're lazy and just use witch hazel (which I had laying around anyway). Again- I'm sure R+F is way better but, for a quarter of the price, I'm pretty happy with my knockoff version.



6. Diastasis Recti 

I heard of diastasis recti (ab muscle separation after you have babies) at some point between my first two kids but I did the test for it and mine was super minimal/borderline nonexistent so I never worried about it. But I've always had a mom pooch- even before I had kids, my mom reminded me a while back, I complained to her about my fluffy lower belly. I finally just decided it must be my body type or something.

Obligatory gym selfie


Then a couple months ago I saw this article from Babble on my FB feed and decided to add the exercises into my regular gym time. I've been working out fairly consistently for like six months now but I didn't really see major changes until I added those exercises. From my very unscientific Googling it looks like it engages deep core muscles and apparently mine were pretty crummy because tightening them up has made a huge difference and my belly has gone down significantly. At last measure I'd lost an inch and a half from my waist, which I think is just because those muscles are all pulled in tighter now (my weight is the same as 6 months ago, though I hope there's been some fat loss and muscle gain in there). They're pretty easy exercises- sometimes it feels sort of anticlimactic to go from squats and dead lifts to laying down on a mat and doing these fairly gentle core exercises but they've been good to me.



7. Recipes I Need to Tell You About

Chicken Fajitas - I often make these for company because they're so good. The leftovers reheat pretty well too, which I love because feeding myself lunch is ridiculously difficult.

Chili Garlic Chicken Skewers - These are actually borderline too spicy for me but I eat them anyway because they're delicious enough to be worth the pain.

Mac and Cheese with Roasted Chicken, Goat Cheese and Rosemary - I've been saying for years that I don't like goat cheese but turns out I DO like it...as long as it's a really subtle flavor like in this mac and cheese. This is a holy grail recipe for me- super fast and easy (if you use a deli rotisserie chicken, which I always do) AND my whole family devours it. I usually halve the recipe and we eat all of it.

Tandoori Chicken- not fast or easy and my kids won't touch it but Aaron and I freaking love it and I make it semi-regularly.

And yes, we eat a lot of chicken. Protein! Or something.



8. Books I Need to Tell You About

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. Yes it's been out for like 2 1/2 decades but I just read it for the second time and was reminded how much I really love it. The first one is the best (MO) out of the 5 that I've read but I love the whole series. Also, the newish show is excellent, if you're not too offended by naughty scenes.

Let's just say I'm not too bothered.


Bread, Wine, Chocolate: The Slow Loss of Foods We Love by Simran Sethi. Fascinating look into the loss of genetic diversity in the foods we eat and what we can do to help (hint: buy fancy chocolate from small growers. I've tried so much good chocolate since reading this book).

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. If you enjoyed Twilight but wished it was like...good...you'll love this one. Similar idea, much better execution with depth of idea and backstory. Plus it's a trilogy, which is nice if you find you aren't ready to say goodbye to the characters after the first book.


Aaaand I'm out of mango so that's it for me. Miss you, blog friends! What have you been up to? Anything you need to tell ME about?

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