In The Words Of My Grandmother, “You Are Beautiful.”

My gram’s many reminders to me of how much I was loved

The beautiful thing about relationships is that you can draw strength and encouragement from them even when the person is no longer physically around.  My grandmother loved me so deeply and completely and I’m so grateful for the reminders of that love that she left behind. My grandmother always called me beautiful, sometimes she called me queen and never failed to mention how much she loved me. I often don’t perceive myself as beautiful, especially when I look in the mirror and see extra weight hanging on, or the thin gray streaks in my hair, or when I see the gap in between my teeth that I never got braces for that I should have. That beauty is invisible when I’m being impatient, angry, cranky, lazy, or just plain out not being nice. But, even on my worst days my gram would tell me I was beautiful. She saw something that I didn’t see. She looked at me as Jesus would like at me. She saw me as a child of God created perfectly by him. She gave me grace and showed me compassion and forgiveness even when I couldn’t give that to myself.

There weren’t conditions. She didn’t love me because of the way I looked, or how I acted she simply just loved me unconditionally. She reminded me that I am worthy not because of what I do or look like, but because I was loved by Jesus. My gram was an incredible source of strength and light in my life. The void from her absence is sometimes unbearable. It will hit me especially on those days that I am feeling ugly. Last night I was feeling exhausted,  overwhelmed and a complete mess. I started thinking about all the things I could be doing better and all the things I still haven’t done and there was a weight that sat so heavily on me I was literally feeling crushed. After getting Anya asleep, I climbed into bed and opened my nightstand drawer to find this little devotional book my gram sent me. She would always send me these  tokens of encouragement and when I opened it I saw the words, “to my beautiful granddaughter.” I burst out into tears, because God gave me that reminder from her that I needed so badly.

Even with all my flaws both externally and internally I am beautiful. God loves me regardless of my shortcomings. He loves us all and I hope that everyday we can find that beauty that only comes from his love. My grandmother understood the impact of letting me know that I am beautiful, that I am a queen, and that she loved me. Amazingly enough she is still reminding me just when I need it most. It encourages me to be intentional about telling Anya how beautiful and loved she is not by the world’s standards but by God.  I think about how patient my gram was and how she gave me grace freely and not with any strings attached. She modeled Christ in a way that was so tangible and real…that is true beauty. So, today I’m going to embrace her words and be kind to myself and remember my beauty that remains, not because of any external thing but because of the love God has for me. If you are  having one of those days where you can’t see your beauty, let me remind you in the words of my grandmother that you are beautiful, you are a queen and you are loved.

Save Makeup Save Money: Tips for Making Your Beauty Products Last! Great Tips From Lara Ramos at HSN

I was so excited when the Community Outreach Manager at HSN contacted me about sharing this post on  Makeup Tips with all of you! I’ve mentioned before that since I work at home I can be lax about the way I dress and well wearing makeup is non-existent. However, when I do take the time to put on lip gloss or add a little color to my face I definitely perk up! So one of my goals this year is to spend more time perking up! This post gave me the starter tips I needed for a jump start! Lara Ramos shares some great practical advice on making your beauty products last longer that will save you money that I know you will find useful!

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I am constantly talking to my girlfriends about what an investment beauty products are. If you’re a product junkie like me, your beauty budget can closely rival what you spend on new clothes. So whether it’s my wardrobe or makeup supply, I really want to make sure that I protect my investment.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to make my makeup last:

1. Build a Better Makeup Bag

At times, I look through my stash and find no fewer than a dozen variations of the exact same lip shade. None of these products get used consistently and they mostly end up expiring before I can even scratch the surface. I’ve learned that by better editing my purchase decisions, I can make sure that I have a variety of products that I use more frequently – and I’m more likely to use them to the very last drop.

HSN Makeup Brushes and Tools2. Clean your Brushes

Not only are makeup brushes expensive, but they also touch all of your makeup. By keeping them clean, not only are you extending their life, but also the life of your products. Keeping powders and blushes free and clear of oils and bacteria that tend to break them down will help them live a longer life.

3. Keep it Pretty

You will never find my hard earned makeup knocking around in a vanity drawer or at the bottom of my purse. Oh, the horror! I’m careful to keep my beauty treasures tucked inside of pouches when I’m on the go or on a tray sitting on my vanity at home. This way, there’s far less chance that they will crack or explode, wasting precious product.

HSN Lip Gloss and Plumpers4. Scrape the Bottom

I recently discovered these little spatulas that you can use to actually scrape the bottom of your makeup bottles to get to the very end of them. I’ve also been known to use them after cutting open tubes of concealer and lip gloss to collect one final application. Brilliant!

5. Portion Control

It may go without saying, but using only what you need can really make your makeup last. I found that I was always left with unneeded foundation or extra moisturizer after applying, so I downsized my dose and I’m wasting less. Making other small changes like not spraying my fragrance into the air and walking through it has also helped!

These tricks have definitely helped me to stretch my beauty dollar, but I’m dying to know: how do you make your makeup last?

Let Lara know how you stretch your beauty dollars by visiting her original post.

Here are a couple of my tips on making my dollars stretch:

  • Scour the drugstore for beauty products. Often times you’ll find products at a discounted rate and if you have a drugstore savings card you can get additional discounts every time you use your card.For example, I just got $5.00 off of my next CVS purchase which I can put towards a beauty product!
  • Keep the lids tightly on your makeup, especially nailpolish so it won’t dry out.
  • Try samples before buying the real thing. The one thing that bugs me most is when I shell out big bucks on a product and it isn’t what I expected. If you are buying a pricey item try to get a sample first to make sure you are satisfied before throwing down the cash.
  •  Check those expiration dates. Knowing when you’re makeup expires is an incentive for you to use it and not waste money on a product you use twice before it expires.

DIY Coconut and Sugar Facial Scrub! It is Simple and Effective!

I love a good  DIY facial! For me to try it, it has to be simple and not have too many ingredient or steps. I found this coconut and sugar facial scrub recipe that fits the bill. This was so easy and moisturizing that I definitely will be using it again soon.  Here is all you need to create this delicious smelling scrub:

Ingredients
1 Tablespoon of Coconut Oil
1 Tablespoon of granulated white sugar (I’m going to try brown sugar next)
A drop of Vanilla
A few drops of Cinnamon

Coconut Oil has so many uses it is totally worth buying a jar
Mix it in a bowl, if you want to use it as a body scrub just get a bigger container
This mixture smelled great and felt better on my skin! It lasted 3 days!

The Quest for a Healthier Me: Day 2

Onto Day 2…

Exercise-I did get out for a long walk with my friend at work so that counts for exercise right?

Food intake was good! Here it is:

Breakfast– Coffee, oatmeal and a banana
Lunch- Turkey breast sandwich, strawberries, and grapes, and a low fat mozzarella cheese stick oh and a caramel frappe compliments of my dear friend Christina who saw a friend in need :)
Dinner- Grilled Chicken with salad, corn on the cob and fresh green beans
Dessert- One small chocolate cupcake and a tiny cup of coffee

On my quest I realized a few things; I used to drink much more water than I do now. I need to indulge in some serious H2O intake; I don’t get 8 hours of sleep, which means I really should be getting off the computer now; and I’m apprehensive about weighing myself.

So I have a few things to work on. But, my quest is about well being so I did do these things:

  • Steamed my face (see my Mom Tip before this post)
  • Gave myself a honey sugar facial
  • Slathered myself with a yummy smelling lotion and climbed into bed to cuddle with Anya

I want to lose some weight, but most importantly I want to rejuvenate my spirit and physical body so I’m taking care of myself in other ways also. I’m thinking about my happiness, my quality of life and how to achieve living my most authentic life. I want to stretch past my limitations and try new things so I signed up to do another blog radio segment. I’m discovering a healthier me has many aspects that I’m thinking about and pushing myself towards.

A Quick Mom Tip

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Want to steam your face without going to a spa? Boil a pot of water, pour it in a bowl, squeeze a lemon  or orange into the water or try adding a few drops of an oil such as eucalyptus or lavender to put a bit of aromatherapy into the mix. Keep your face 10 inches above the bowl with a towel over your head and breathe in and relax for no more than 10-15 minutes. This is great for unclogging pores and sweating out the impurities. Splash your face with cold water afterward and fill refreshed without ever leaving your home!

Nurturing Your Body Isn’t A Luxury Its A Necessity!

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I’ve always enjoyed a retreat to the spa and I believe it is money well spent, however with everyone tightening their belts and trying to save money, spas just aren’t affordable for many single moms. If you can’t go to the spa then bring the spa home to you!

Choose a day you have a few spare hours alone and create a spa like environment in your own bathroom. Start by making sure the bathroom is clean and clear of clutter like toys or wet towels. Light soothing candles, play relaxing music, grab some reading material, fill the tub and add some bath salts, and soak your troubles away. Afterwards wrap yourself in a comfy robe take a nap, watch your favorite television program, or drink some tea and relish in your, “me time”. You deserve it! Nurturing your body isn’t a luxury it is a necessity for a healthy body and mind. So dive into your at home spa experience guilt free and take care of you. Here are a few tips on home spa treatments:
• Facial masks are an inexpensive way to clean your skin and make you feel refreshed. Look for homemade recipes with ingredients you can grab from your own kitchen. Try an avocado mask they are extremely hydrating.
• Find a moisturizer that hydrates your skin and spend time really moisturizing it.
• Give yourself a pedicure. Purchase an inexpensive foot spa, or soak your feet in a basin with Epson salt. Afterward, cut and file your toenails, moisturize them (Vaseline is great for dry feet), and paint them a pretty color!
• Exfoliate your skin with this homemade tip. Mix 1 cup of brown sugar, 1 cup of oatmeal, and 1 cup of olive oil, then rub it in circular motions on your body. For soft skin cut a piece of lemon and rub your elbows and knees to soften your skin.

Check out these site for homemade spa recipes and start pampering yourself immediately!:
http://www.tasteofhome.com/Recipes/Holiday—Celebration-Recipes/Mother-s-Day-Recipes/Homemade-Spa-Recipes
http://allnaturalbeauty.us/hbr_mainpage.htm
http://just-for-mom.kaboose.com/beauty-fashion/pamper_yourself_without_leaving_home.html

Sugar Facial-LOVE IT!

Okay so I tried this sugar facial. I heard about it via another blog so I thought I’d try it and added my own touch. All you need is:

A small bowl of sugar white or brown (I used white)
Honey- just squirt some in
A little bit of water

Mix all 3 together, don’t use to much water. I mixed it with a small spoon and scooped it on my face with my hands. Gently rub it on your face for a few minutes wash it off and it is AMAZING! Seriously my face feels incredibly soft!

Products I Love!- Tree Hut Coconut Lime Body Scrub

Ladies!! I love this product from Tree Hut, it is their Coconut Lime Body Scrub. It smells good enough to eat, no lie! What’s great is it is totally affordable. I bought it at Ulta for $6.99 and it is worth every penny! Our skin can take a beating in the winter and this is perfect remedy. Check out the body scrubs at  http://www.treehutshea.com/Collections.aspx?c=1 I can’t wait to try their other products!

When The Kids Are Away Mom Should Play! Go on A Spiritual Retreat in Your Home

Anya stays every other weekend over her dad’s house. So, I try to maximize my me time and so should you! With the holiday season coming up, this is a great time to reflect upon your blessings and to spiritually recharge. If your kids are gone for a weekend, why not have your own, ‘Spiritual Retreat.’ Here is a sample weekend, but make up a schedule that works for you.

Friday Night– Kick off your shoes and get comfortable after a long work week. Either order dinner in or cook something healthy like salmon, cous cous, and asparagus. After dinner take a long warm bath and listen to one of the many wonderful sermons that are online. I love Charles Stanley, he has an archive of great broadcasts. After your bath wrap up in a comfy robe and spend some time with God, praying. Afterward read some scriptures and write in a journal anything that you are feeling. Get a good night sleep with no tv and just you falling asleep mediating on our Father.

Saturday– Wake up and set time aside for prayer, scripture study, writing in your journal, and of course coffee :). You may choose to write about your concerns, or what you’re thankful for, or how you want to grow spiritually. Weather permitting, take a long walk and think about God’s word. In the evening repeat Friday’s activities. You may want to develop a prayer list and pray for those in need. If you are dying to watch tv  find a spiritual documentary or movie, try Netflix and watch them instantly. Better yet, visit the spiritual section in your bookstore and pick up a great read for the weekend.

Sunday-Repeat your Saturday morning routine and attend Church. Afterward take time to fellowship. When you come home think about your spiritual goals for yourself, your family, your home, and the upcoming year and record them in your journal. Relax, listen to some gospel music, read some enriching spiritual literature and get immersed in God.

The point of this spiritual retreat is to stop all the busy work and spend time with God, give him your undivided attention. Talk to him throughout the day, meditate on scriptures, pray for guidance, and be fully attentive to his word. Take this opportunity to engage with God!

Mommy Maintenance

If you look good you feel good. Take time to pamper yourself you deserve it! When Anya is with her father one night a week I take time to fill up a bubble bath, give myself a facial, and do body maintenance. I feel great afterward! You don’t have to run around in sweat pants every day, pulling yourself together gives you confidence and it is a great mood booster. Here are some inexpensive beauty ideas:

  • Relax in bubble bath, light candles listen to music or just close your eyes and relax.
  • Give yourself an inexpensive pedicure/manicure at home if you can’t afford a spa. All you need is a basin, some oils, nail clippers, a filer, moisturizing lotion, nail polish, foot scrubber, and a pair of comfy spa socks.
  • Indulge yourself with a facial take a look at the link below on some quick facial recipes.
  • Get your hair cut, your eyebrows waxed, and buy a new dress if you really want to indulge.

Check out these great tips at Good Housekeeping on homemade facials!
http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/beauty/skin/kitchen-beautician-oct01?click=main_sr