Saturday, February 19, 2011

The only eye shadow you'll ever need.

It's one of those actions I will forever wish I could take back.

This past week while still sleepily getting ready for work, I dropped my Benefit Get Figgy creaseless cream eye shadow on my bathroom floor, and the tiny glass pod shattered, ruining the eye shadow. I was devastated, not only because it still had tons of life left in it, or because it was $20 down the drain, but because that little figgy pod has revolutionized my countenance. (I'm being dramatic of course, but you should see my eyelids in this pale plum shade!)

Actually, it was my mom's $20 (even more bothersome), since she treated me to the eye shadow (we are always trading beauty products), and thankfully, I was able to replace it last night. But the experience of course has led me to a blog post about my beloved beauty find.

This is my growing collection from top left: Get Figgy is exactly what it says, a nice fig-colored shade. Strut, a sulty gray, is my go-to for a smoky eye. R.S.V.P is a champagne tint that goes smashing with some charcoal eyeliner. Skinny Jeans is a glassy pewter which is also nice for a more subtle smoky eye. I not only use Busy Signal, a coppery-brown, as a nice neutral shade to cover the lid, but I also apply it in the crease of my eyelid using a contour brush to complement a neutral shade like Birthday Suit (exactly what it sounds like).

I still have my eye on a few of the remaining available shades. It is expensive, considering you get one shade for $19 plus tax, but seriously, this is the only eye shadow you will ever need. It totally lives up to its name and absolutely refuses to crease, even if you leave it on all day. It's not heavy or thick, and since it's a cream you don't risk having powder shadow all over your eyelashes or, heaven forbid, make its way into your contacts. (That's a nightmare, trust me.)

The colors are so vibrant that it only takes a smidgen of shadow to cover your entire eyelid, so (providing you don't drop the pod like I did, and you keep the lid closed tightly so it doesn't dry out) the shadow lasts for a really long time. You definitely get your money's worth out of these.

I haven't tried any of Benefit's other products except for the High Beam highlighter, which is also amazing for the cheekbones and browbones. But these shadows are exclusively the apple of my eye.

So head to or the Benefit Cosmetics counter at Belk, Sephora or Ulta, and test these out. Then tell me what you think!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone!

I learned a very valuable lesson about love today. Stay with me; it's a little random.

Anyone who knows me know that I don't often have an easy time just letting life happen to me. I like to be in control, and I love to conquer whatever challenge is in front of me. I've been a little down on myself these past couple of days because I feel so out of control: I haven't been able to control my diet or push past my waning energy level, and more often than not I've found myself laying on the couch in my comfy pants just trying not to toss my cookies (if you know what I mean). Not exactly how I pictured "conquering pregnancy." I thought I would always look put together, that I would still keep up my intense workout routine and would only be eating organic fruits, vegetables and meats. And loving every minute of it. I thought this would be a piece of cake.

This process is so precious to me, especially because my husband and I have been trying for a year and a half to have a baby. It's been a long, grueling process, made even more difficult by a 6-month period where he was training on-the-job two states away. Talk about stressful. And I've been consumed with my perceived overwhelming responsibility to keep this baby thriving as it develops inside me. What a task!

My mom said something the week before I found out I was pregnant that changed things for me. (I had just gotten a false negative on a pregnancy test and was a basket case.) She said, "Courtney, do you believe that God gives life? That He's the Creator of life, and everything comes from Him?" I weakly replied through my sobs, "I guess so." And she kindly said, "Then you have to trust Him and His timing, and let this go."

So I did. And five days later, I got confirmation that we were having a baby.

I was ultimately able to let go of my desire to control the timing and circumstances under which we got pregnant. However, letting go of the need to control how healthy this baby is has been a little harder. But God is not only the Giver of life; He also sustains it. That's not my responsibility, either.

The thing I learned about love today is that it really does give grace when needed. It's not about rules regarding unpasteurized dairy and listeria-laden cold cuts. It's not about making sure I eat all the 12 necessary foods/day from the pregnancy diet list. It's about grace and trust. Giving myself the grace to let go and trusting God enough to sustain the life that's within me.

I say all this to say that I broke down today and got a prescription for the persistent sickness. I've been putting it off because I didn't want to admit that I was a wuss, and I was afraid to put anything that wasn't natural inside my body for fear of the side effects. But I decided that love for our baby means that I take care of myself first, so that I am capable to care for those I love in return.

And five minutes after I took the first dose, I felt 100% better. I was able to eat a full meal and keep it down with no problem. Amazing. I don't know why I waited this long! 

On another note, my prince of a husband surprised me with the most beautiful hot pink tulips today! It was a very happy ending to a relief of a day.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

rope 'em and ride 'em, cowboy

What is it about pregnancy that invites bizarre dreams? Friday night I dreamed that the doctor told me I was ready to deliver now. "How could that be? The baby doesn't even have legs yet?!" I asked incredulously. But the doctor insisted, so at nine weeks I gave birth to a 4-month-old baby boy. He even looked up and thanked me after I nursed him. Creepy!

Regardless of how frightening that dream was, it was the first time I've dreamed of having a boy (I've had three dreams that it's a girl), so I started thinking about a nursery for a boy. I was born in Texas, and my husband and I have both lived there (it's where we met when I was three and he was seven, but that's another story), and you know what they say: you can take the girl out of Texas, but you can't take Texas out of the girl. So, naturally, I'm hooked on a rustic cowboy theme if we have a boy.

My problem is that I don't really like any baby bedding that's out there. And the more I read about babies, the more I realize that they don't particularly care for pastels, either. Babies first start focusing on high-contrast patterns and bright colors. They also love differing textures. And I would love the nursery we pick for our child to be something they can grow into. So needless to say, the typical baby bedding won't do for me (and thankfully, my husband agrees). This graphic designer will have to design from scratch (oh, darn!).

Nope, no cartoon horses, gingham and denim for this baby. This nursery (should it be a boy) will be cool and manly. Cowhide, suede, leather and rope accents provide different textures for the baby to enjoy. He'll be able to focus on the vibrant rust color and cowskin pattern. Burlap curtains with rope tiebacks make it a little rugged, as does a wrought iron chandelier. A western saddle and cowboy boots on display would complete the look.

If I had an unlimited budget, here are a few finds that I would include in this rustic nursery:

From top left:
Custom horseshoe and cowpoke bedding from

Wooden star bookshelf on Etsy

Burlap drapes from Pottery Barn

Metal stars from Rusty Accents

Wooden picture frame from Etsy

Wrought iron chandelier from

Leather chair found at Restoration Hardware

Friday, February 11, 2011

Pure Barre=pure bliss

In the battle against morning (read: 24/7) sickness, I thought today was going to go to my opponent. I actually took a half day after my nice boss bought every one lunch: barbecue, baked beans, and cole slaw. I made it home just in time (I'll just leave it at that). I fell asleep for a couple of hours this afternoon, and when I woke up, guess what was at my front door:

Yes, that's right. My Pure Barre deluxe edition set finally came!

So, here's the deal. I quit my gym membership and have opted to start working out at home. This was tough for me, since I'm a bit of a masochist when it comes to exercise. I don't like to stop my workout until I can barely move or breathe. But with the constant battle against nausea and the waning energy level, I wasn't making much of an appearance at the gym. And I decided my focus right now should be to stay toned and strong without burning a truckload of calories.

Enter Pure Barre, which is an intense combination of ballet-barre work, pilates and yoga. The concept guarantees results within 10 workouts. I tried a Pure Barre class in Chattanooga about a month ago and loved it. I was sore all over the same day I attended the class. But the classes are $100/month (unlimited visits), and I'm just not going to pay that. Not for a class that's 30 minutes away, and not for a workout that doesn't replace cardio, too. But I still felt I could benefit greatly from Pure Barre, and for little more than one month's membership, I bought the kit, which came with six DVDs, an exercise ball, double rings, and an exercise band. Totally worth the price! I received free shipping, personalized service, and it arrived within four days (would've been three if it hadn't snowed). I popped in my first DVD (Pershing Square 1), grabbed the ball, and settled in for a tough but relaxing workout.

Three minutes in, I had to take a break to go hug the toilet. Not promising. But thankfully, that was my only setback. This was a 45-minute workout, and after just a short while, my muscles were shaking violently, and my triceps, seat, hips, and thighs were engulfed in flames (so I felt). I also really like that this workout focuses on very small, controlled movements, so I truly had to concentrate. Not only was my body fully engaged, but my mind was also. It was so relaxing!

Another thing I noticed was that the ladies on the video actually looked normal. The claim of Pure Barre is that it'll help you develop a dancer's body, and the instructor in the class I attended was TINY, so I expected to see rail-thin women on the DVD. But these women had healthy and attainable physiques, so any intimidation I felt previously was gone.

In a nutshell: I love this workout already. I believe that coupled with some light cardio several days a week, I will get the results I'm looking for, and it was totally worth the investment. I know I will be able to use it up until I go into labor, and even after the baby is born. And I think it even helped a little with the nausea!

Bottom line: Pure Barre is the new black. You should definitely try it.


Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dinner in the tropics

It's a battle these days to figure out what to eat for dinner. Tonight, though, I gave my chompers a break and made a smoothie straight out of the tropics. You should definitely try this:

This is the recipe I used tonight to make a blender-full. All measurements are to taste, so play with the ingredients to find your favorite flavor:

1/2 cup frozen mango chunks
1 cup frozen peach slices
1 banana
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup all natural vanilla yogurt

Blend, and enjoy! It's like sunshine in a glass.

more hats...

I obviously cannot get enough! Please forgive me. I'm only eight weeks (and two days!) pregnant, so this is all very new to me.

Baby giraffe handmade by Melissa Wenn on Etsy.

Baby owl hat handmade by Amy K, also on Etsy.

Some of these are actually just sold as patterns, so if you don't knit (or crochet, whatever it is they're doing), then you're out of luck. But who knows? You might get the seller to make and sell you one.

Just a few more pics to warm you up on this very cold winter day.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

hats off to baby!

Admittedly, one of the things I'm most looking forward to about mommyhood is getting to dress our baby up in really cool outfits. These hats I found on Etsy make me absolutely giddy! Now, if I just knew what we were having...

Dinosaur, teddy bear, and bumblebee, all from the shop Huggabeans.

Striped hat from polkadotposh.

Aren't these adorable?

a new set of wheels.

When my husband and I were in Denver this past summer, we noticed so many people riding red bikes around the city. Eventually, while walking around downtown, we noticed a row of bikes, each for rent using a nearby bright red kiosk. I thought it was a novel idea, but that was before I even knew the whole story.

These bikes are part of a wellness effort started by Humana insurance company, Trek Bicycle Corporation and Crispin Porter + Bogusky as a healthy, cleaner way to travel. The campaign was started in an effort to combat the inevitable $27 billion that would be spent by insurance companies due to obesity in 2010. Instead of running a typical advertising campaign encouraging people to make healthy decisions, Humana came up with a possible (and creative) solution.

An individual can register online and purchase a rental package, and then rent a bike by swiping a personal ID card at the bike rack in their city. Or, registration is available at the kiosk that accompanies the bike racks. The first 30 minutes of riding is always free, and the bikes can be returned at any B Cycle station around town. 

Immediately my wheels started spinning. This is a great idea for those of us in townhomes who do not have the storage for two bikes but would still love the exercise that a bike offers. Not only is it a great way to enjoy the outdoors, but it's healthy and contributes to a greener community.

Chattanooga needs these bikes! If you are from the Chattanooga area (and even if you aren't), check out and click on the Who Wants It More? tab at the top of the page. Enter your zip code to vote for your city to have the next installment of B Cycle bikes. Let's see if we can bring this new way to be healthy to our city!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The pressure's on.

Gosh, writing the first post of a new blog really piles on a lot of pressure. I have so much to say that it's hard to pick one topic to begin with. But, since I recently found out that I'm pregnant, food has become a recent obsession of mine, and I'm more preoccupied with cuisine than ever before. So I'll start with that.

Silly me. I used to think that the majority of pregnant women exaggerated when they mentioned cravings and aversion, or at best used it as an excuse to either gain attention or eat whatever they wanted for nine months. I smugly thought that when I got pregnant, I could just not give in to my temperamental tummy; that I could just WILL myself to eat the foods I needed to, when I needed to eat them. Silly, uneducated me.

This nausea bit is 24/7 with me, and has been going on three weeks now. I'd give anything to have Week 5 back, where I was hungry enough to eat every 2-3 hours, and anything and everything healthy sounded great. I thought to myself, if I'm going to eat like this, I need to get some healthy food options. So what did I do? I made a trip to EarthFare and bought a colorful array of organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and fish. Week 6 rolled around, and I could barely look at it. I tossed the fish in the freezer and watched my brother enjoy the super-healthy trail mix I had made.

Speaking of, I make a mean trail mix, and it's super heart-healthy: pumpkin seeds, chopped walnuts, raw almonds, dried cranberries, and dark chocolate M&Ms. You should definitely try it.

Anyway, I've been humbled. And I'm curious: ladies (and men who paid attention to their wives), what foods did you crave (or hide from) during your pregnancy?