monthly update, or "monthdate"

It's time for a life update!

March has been a very busy month... mostly consumed by seeing friends and work and weekend trips and baby announcements! I have three close friends who are pregnant, all due within three months of each other (June, July, August). It makes for a very excited Aunt Sarah. Which brings me to my next thing: doula certification. I am doing it. I finally paid for the class and I'm ready to see if it goes anywhere! Seeing as most medical things/blood freak me out, it's funny that I would want to do this. But as it turns out, birth is fascinating to me. Give me all the birth stories, complete with details (and I mean real details, none of this "I went into labor and had the baby two hours later and it was perfection" stuff). Anyway, that's taking off in August.

My old roommate got married last weekend. As usual, I was too lazy to do my hair (plus I'm bad at doing it anyway). So I thought it would be a good chance to see my friend/sister Jude, who is apprenticing at a fancy hair salon. We had a lovely catch up time and it was so fun to see this girl work her magic on me! I joke that she got her start in hair the day I randomly asked her to cut off my ponytail in her front yard so I could donate it (yes, that happened). 

The wedding was so fun. We got to the area early and were starving, so we stopped by a golf/country club down the road. By country club, I mean a really old school joint with Victorian decor and a hint of taxidermy. Their bar was basically closed except for hot dogs and snacks, so Anya went with it. (Notice the stuffed fox eating a golf ball.)

For all of you former MD/DC-ers that have moved away, we are on a strict eagle watch! The eagle President and First Lady (those are their names, I'm not kidding) have hatched their eaglets and are nested in the DC Arboretum. You can watch the live stream DC eagle cam here. It's pretty cool. One of the elders at my old church is a big deal at the Arboretum and is running the eagle cam!

I got a screen shot of this on my phone. EAGLE BABIES! Mama is side-eyeing me.

I also took a trip to Snowshoe, WV with my friend Elizabeth and her husband. A year ago, we went to Snowshoe and Elizabeth and James got engaged! It was also the time we drove 10 hours through a snowstorm to get there and I wasn't sure if we were going to make it out alive. We had a gooood time reminiscing about that one. We went tubing and played Cards Against Humanity and made tacos. Also, Fireball shots. Because Elizabeth and I are in a little something called the Bad Girls Club, which we made up with our friend Lish. It's a thing of the past, but it also comes out unexpectedly. I won't say any more than that.

I've never had a fuller shot in my life... I couldn't cheers without spilling it. This photo was barely possible.

In sadder news, my friend Sarah's beloved guinea pig, Meg, got sick and passed away this month. Some of you out there probably don't think guinea pigs are "real" pets. They aren't dogs or cats, sure. But trust me, Meg had a big personality. Full of sass. And for some reason she would always lick me when I held her. I miss that girl already. It was a sad day.

Tonight my roomie Laura and I are headed to her mom's for Easter (love that mother of hers and her lamb cake that she makes me decorate every year). Every time I go to her mom's, I feel like it's a mini-vacation. Two hours away and always a fun visit, complete with Jenga and tons of food. I'm just mad the Tiki Bar isn't open yet. After like a million years of knowing Laura, I have only been to this place twice. And talked about it probably a thousand times. (I'll be back one day, Tiki.)

Have a happy Easter and enjoy your (hopefully) warm weekend!

Jesus Has Risen

24 On the first day of the week, very early in the morning, the women took the spices they had prepared and went to the tomb. They found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them. In their fright the women bowed down with their faces to the ground, but the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead? He is not here; he has risen! Remember how he told you, while he was still with you in Galilee: ‘The Son of Manmust be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ” Then they remembered his words.
When they came back from the tomb, they told all these things to the Eleven and to all the others. 10 It was Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them who told this to the apostles. 11 But they did not believe the women, because their words seemed to them like nonsense. 12 Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened.
13 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles[a] from Jerusalem. 14 They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. 15 As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; 16 but they were kept from recognizing him. ....
37 They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have.”
40 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. 41 And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, “Do you have anything here to eat?” 42 They gave him a piece of broiled fish, 43 and he took it and ate it in their presence.

She Reads Truth :: starting over

A lot of women have talked about She Reads Truth. I tried it once a long time ago, but I remember something about having to pay for the plan I was interested in, or some other thing that turned me off to it. I didn't want to get involved with it at the time. Now I'm in this strange situation where my church has closed and I haven't gone to another one, give or take a few Sundays with friends. What's weirder is that I haven't felt like it. I almost feel like I'm making up for lost time; for six years I was devoted to serving at my church as the worship leader. I loved it, but I was tired and worn down. The church in itself was a struggle that never really ended until it closed its doors last September. After that happened, I feel like I shut down. I haven't felt motivated to go to church again. Not because I don't love God, but because I am hesitant and afraid to start over. It was very true that I needed to take a break from all of it when the church was done. I desperately needed a detox period from the past six years. And of course, I could use the excuse that I couldn't find another church to call home right away. Now, six months later, I think I have found a church I feel comfortable in. However, I've resorted to watching their sermons online on Sunday mornings. That is safer to me than actually going and having to be around believers I don't know and struggling through worship, missing it so much. Instead I get to stay in my cozy bed, singing to myself and being alone. And I like it. I'm not sure the detox period is over yet. But I do feel disconnected from everything: God, community, making time to grow in my faith, music. I've barely played my guitar since church ended, much less played any worship music. I feel listless and weird. Some days I wonder if I am still a Christian because I'm not going to church or investing much time in my relationship with Jesus. But I know I am. I've never stopped believing. I am just searching to get back on track and I don't know how.

All this is to say that today She Reads Truth came into my mind for whatever reason. I looked around the site a little and was glad to find this devotional. I am a big fan of hymns, and having worshiped in a 175 year old church, I made sure hymns were a part of worship often. They are some of my favorite songs to sing and play. Today I read the first one to see I would get anything out of it, because I haven't gotten much out of anything as of late. But these are the kinds of times that God speaks. He finds a way to get through to me.

"God has planned that my best life is right here, right now, even with the hurt and loneliness and worry that comes right along with all the incredibly good things. The truth wins each and every time-- if only I look to it."

"Rescuing is His specialty in my life."

"Whatever I think I don't have, I have in Him."

Plus some relevant verses:

"You have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith my be found to result in praise at the revelation of Jesus." - 1 Peter 1:6-7

"Perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love." - 1 John 4:18

"Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful." - Hebrews 10:23

Sometimes I feel discouraged when I look at other women of faith and I feel like they are so focused and "good at being Christians" and I am not. I have always felt rough around the edges and not someone who is happy all the time, constantly telling everyone, "Jesus is soooo amazing!" That's just not me, and probably never will be. Do I need to try harder and make faith a priority? Yes. Do I need to go back to church again? Yes. Is it okay for me to take baby steps and not jump back in all at once? Yes. The important thing is I'm trying, and I need to remind myself that it's okay. I am my own person with my own relationship with God, and I am starting over.

oil cleansing :: skin care

This is a hot topic in the blog world right now, and has been for some time. So I know I'm not touching on anything new, but it's new for me. I haven't cared to jump on the "all natural everything" train-- I've tried a few products here and there, but they left me dissatisfied. My face is usually only prone to breakouts during hormonal times. Basically, I didn't think I needed to go all natural because I don't have any major issues to combat (such a cystic acne) and I don't feel especially passionate about it.

photo via

I started thinking about it when I saw this Instagram from @brilamkin four weeks ago (her blog is Nice & Quiet). Bri is very honest about the products she's using and what works for her. I know that if she is into something, it's at least worth a try. So when she was talking about Crude's cleansing oil and how well it worked for her, I wanted to give it a shot. I did some research on the company and liked that it was developed by an esthetician (fun fact, it's the sister of Michelle Money from The Bachelor!) who was trying to find the best blend of oils for her own personal skin. Obviously, everyone's skin reacts differently to oils; some people can use coconut with no problem, and others use jojoba, olive oil, etc. After scrolling through Crude's Instagram, I began to see a lot of rave reviews for their Everything Oil: a blend of different all natural oils. Not just for chronic acne sufferers, although their results were super impressive, but for all skin types. I decided to order their Starter Kit and give it a try. 

True story: I am HOOKED. I am so in love with this process. Using the oil not only gets makeup off easily, but it makes face cleansing so much easier, at least for me! I like that I am not splashing water all over my face and my bathroom sink anymore. I massage the oil in slowly and then use Crude's PULL cloths to get all the debris out of my pores. When I started using it, I had been broken out a bit and the oil helped clear it up faster than usual. Plus, my skin feels nice all the time. I was used to my skin feeling good only after using a mask or getting a facial! I have even stopped wearing foundation to work because it looks and feels so smooth. On the flip side, I just had a major bachelorette weekend and piled on the makeup to go out-- and my face still felt awesome because my skin has become softer and smoother overall. My foundation went on much better than it usually does.

The starter kit also comes with their Detox mask, which is simply French green clay and matcha green tea. I will say the formula is a little annoying-- it's a powder and you mix water into it to create the mask. I get it all over my bathroom counter because it's messy like that. It does cleanse deeply, though. I have to watch how long I leave it on because it can dry me out. Not sure I would order it again because it's not fun for me to mix together, but it's effective. I also tried the Bloom oil after reading about how much people love it. That's more of a serum to moisturize, which my face definitely needs more of in the winter months! I use it after I cleanse with Everything Oil, and it keeps my face feeling smooth and hydrated. However, I am a fan of cream formulas for moisturizer, so at Crude's own recommendation, I've ordered Fat and the Moon's All Cream to try. I'll update soon on that one when I get it! If that works for me, I probably won't order Bloom again after it's used up because of the price tag.

I wanted to share what has been working for me, especially since I am not typically one to jump on the all natural bandwagon. I have been surprised every step of the way that I actually like these products and am throwing out all my old ones (I even finished up my Philosophy face wash that I said I loved in my last beauty post, and can't bring myself to repurchase after using the Crude oil). And while the products are more expensive, they are saving me money by finding what works for me and sticking to it instead of having to buy different things all the time. Skin care can be an investment, but it's your body! Caring for that (as long as the product works) makes it worth it to me. Everything Oil is a winner that I think will be in my bathroom for a long time to come.

this is Bowie, to Bowie

In memory of the most stardusted of legends.

Weird, but it's what I think of whenever I hear his name. RIP.

currently listening

I have a handful of songs I've been listening to repeatedly over the last few weeks... mostly thanks to Spotify's Discover Weekly feature. If you have Spotify, be sure to check that out. It gives you a new playlist every week based on what you have listened to previously. I have found some really great gems there. (You can find Discover Weekly under Browse). 

On to the music!

Tori Kelly - Hollow

Christina Grimmie - Hold On, We're Going Home (cover)

Daughter - Medicine

Jessie Ware - Say You Love Me

Matthew Koma - Suitcase

Enjoy! xo

top 10 beauty favorites of 2015

Yay, 2016! It's finally here and I am happy to leave 2015 behind. For me, 2016 is going to be about simplifying more and spending less. While I tend to be a minimalist and refuse to hoard tons of products, I do try a lot of new things and sometimes go overboard at Sephora. Here are some my favorites that I discovered in 2015 and will definitely stick with in the future.

Philosophy Purity face wash: This is a super gentle cleanser that is non-drying and has kept my skin calm. After a day of wearing makeup, I double cleanse using the Purity facial cleansing oil first, then the face wash. I wouldn't have bought the oil on its own, but the set was on sale at Sephora and I'm so glad the oil came with it. It really gets all the dirt and makeup off and I don't have to worry about anything being left over. I used to despise the feeling of washing my face and then still seeing makeup on the cottonball when I used a toner afterward! I also use the Purity mask since that came in the set as well-- it's not a mask that dries and hardens, but it leaves my skin super soft and is gentle enough to use every day (though I use it about once a week). All of the Purity products are a win!

Lush Imperialis moisturizer: I became a bit of a Lush addict this year. Some products were great and others are just okay. But this one is a new go-to. I was surprised at how fast it absorbs, which I love! I need that in the morning since I get ready quickly and don't want to wait for it to soak in before applying my makeup. It's not a heavy moisturizer, but it's effective. And a little dab goes a long way-- I've been accustomed to using a lot with other moisturizers, but you don't need much with Imperialis (which is great because it lasts longer). 

Lush The Olive Branch shower gel: I am beyond obsessed with this shower gel. I purchased the travel size after reading a rave review on Kate La Vie. It smells incredible, and I think it could be used by men as well. It smells orangey, tangy and not overly flowery. It has olive oil to keep your skin soft, and it does just that. I couldn't get a good idea of the scent in my mind before I used it, so I recommend picking up the travel size or popping into a Lush store to smell it for yourself. But I can almost guarantee you will love it as much as I do! I just purchased the biggest size and it's going to last me forever.

Victoria's Secret Bombshell mist: I just bought this last week, so it's not really a 2015 purchase-- but I have been searching so long for a fragrance that I truly love instead of settling for one that's just okay. It's harder than it sounds! Two of my close friends have been long-time wearers of Victoria's Secret perfumes and every time I see them they smell amazing, so I don't know why it took me so long. I spent New Year's with one of them and she once again told me she was wearing VS after I commented on how good she smelled, so that sealed the deal for me! I stopped into VS the other day and tested a bunch of them. Bombshell is the winner! It's fruity but grown up, and not overly sweet. Even when I'm just around the house and not wearing it, I pick up the bottle to sniff because I like it so much (is that weird?). The $25 price tag makes it even better.

Rimmel Stay Matte primer: I use this primer in a different way: on my eyes. I do get a little oily in my t-zone, but matte primer all over my face makes me look extremely dry. However, my eyelids get super oily and that always prevents me from being able to wear eyeshadow (even with specific eye primers-- I've tried!). But I decided 2015 was the year I was going to bring some pretty color back to my eyelids, so I picked up this primer and gave it a shot. It works! It's way too matte for my face, but does the trick on my lids. My eyeshadow is a lot more long wearing with this underneath. I am careful when applying because it's not meant for eyes, but so far I haven't had a problem.

Pacifica Coco Pure Makeup Removing Wipes: I was at a friend's house last year and she had these in her beauty stash. I'm always a sucker for coconut, so I picked them up. They are awesome! There are definitely nights when I am lazy and want to take off my makeup without washing my face. The problem is that most wipes don't do a good enough job or leave my face feeling disgusting after, so I need to wash it anyway. These wipes not only get off all the makeup (including mascara!), but my face feels fresh after. They have come in so handy for weekend trips! I no longer pack face wash-- I just throw these in my bag and call it a day. I used them after New Years to take off all my makeup and it worked great, plus they smell like coconut and I love that. I will say that you might want to follow up with a toner if you are taking off heavy makeup, just to make sure you get 100% of it off. I also love using these before bed when I haven't worn any makeup.

Burt's Bees Toner: This is a product that I stopped using in 2015, but I am going back. After I used up my last bottle, I decided to branch out and try a Lush toner. I love Burt's Bees a lot more. I always feel like it cleans well and gets the last bit of my makeup off (back before I switched to Purity!). It doesn't feel harsh and overall, I just like it a lot.

Clinique Superprimer: I have tried a lot of different face primers via Sephora samples, and this one really works for me. At $27, it's not crazy cheap, but a little goes a long way and it lasts longer than expected. I like it because it's not a matte primer, but it does prevent my oily sections from coming through. Makeup wears well on top of it and stays put throughout the day. The only other primer I've found that tops this one is Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer, but at $52 for 1 oz, I can't justify the spending. Having used the samples, I will say that Hourglass is top of the line and you should at least try it at some point. If I'm treating myself, I'll get the $18 tiny bottle.

e.l.f. Baked Eyeshadow Palette: e.l.f. products are awesome. They're at Target, they're low cost, and they wear super well. After discovering that the Rimmel primer works wonders on my eyelids, I picked up this e.l.f. palette to try. I tend to stick to everyday neutrals and golds, but I like to have some darker options for a night out. These colors don't disappoint and they last all day (though for me, that is the magic of the primer). After I allow time for my primer to set, I layer these on using my finger. With the Urban Decay palettes getting so much hype, I'm happy to spend way less on eyeshadow that does just as good a job.My best friend just gifted me this e.l.f. palette for Christmas, so I am excited to use that one too.

BeautyBlender: My favorite find of 2015! I have used everything from fingers to brushes to apply my foundation. I got tired of washing brushes and they never quite blended like I wanted them to. I don't like to risk getting bacteria on my face from my hands either. The beauty blender is a great compromise-- it lives up to the hype! It blends my foundation super well and allows me to layer and build easily if I feel I need more coverage. To clean, I use a little Purity face wash, squeeze, and rinse until clear water comes out. And I always dampen before applying, which I suspect is how it blends so well.

And one bonus item because I have to mention it: NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella. It was the 2015 free birthday gift from Sephora for Beauty Insiders, and it's amazing. This color looks good on anyone (I've let my friends borrow!), and it really lasts, especially when I pair it with this lip primer.Go get yourself one!

If you're in the market for something new in the beauty department this year, give one of the above products a try! They are working for me and I have a good feeling they will work for you too.

[all photos via google]

weddings & thoughts on worry

This past weekend was a whirlwind. Fast paced, exhausting, joyous, and emotional. One of my closest friends got married, and anyone who knows me knows that I have been to a lot of weddings. 18, to be exact, with two more on the way in 2016 (I just counted). Some of those have been my best and dearest friends. I had a very specific feeling on Elizabeth's day, which took me by surprise: it was hard for me to give her away. I know that's not even my right or responsibility. But, as Elizabeth comically printed in the program by my name, I am a "momma bear". I care for my friends so deeply. I could not just let her go to any man-- he'd better be a good one! Luckily, James is a great guy and I love him like my own brother, so I was 100% on board with Elizabeth marrying him. But I still found myself struck by how much I love this sister of mine and how emotional I felt about releasing her to James, in a sense. I know we are still going to be super close and that won't change. I guess I just don't take it lightly when my friends get married! Is there such a thing as too much love in a friendship?

While we're being honest, I'm going to throw this out into the universe: I started therapy a couple of weeks ago. It was time. I often say I should have started going when I was 15, so I'm only 14 years late to that party! I have struggled with anxiety for far too long on my own, and I finally realized that I can't fix it by myself. The other side of that was thinking I didn't need to seek help because I'm a Christian (I know how stupid that sounds, trust me). If I put all my hope and trust in the Lord, I'll be healed, right? Doesn't God know more than all of us and could help me more than any other person on Earth? I believe that faith does help my issues a good amount, but I had to eventually give in to this simple fact: there is no shame in talking to someone who is trained and equipped to supply you with wisdom to better your health. Key words: " no shame". This also goes along with a thought I often have in my head when talking to non-believers: "Putting your faith in God can't hurt you. It can only help you. You have nothing to lose by trying." The same concept applies.

I was reading through Job the other day in the midst of feeling overwhelmed. Some might think that book is depressing because the whole thing is about Job's suffering and lamenting. But I have so many highlights in that section of my Bible because it not only showcases Job's perseverance, but that it's okay to suffer and struggle. We aren't meant to be in a good place 100% of the time. We are, however, meant to seek Jesus both in good times and bad:

"When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made one as well as the other." - Ecclesiastes 7:14.

While reading through Job, I found this verse: "Submit to God and be at peace with Him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from His mouth and lay up His words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored. (Job 22:21)". One of the problems with feeling anxious is that I completely forget to give my problems over to God. I am so short sighted during those times that I don't even think about stopping to pray-- I just keep worrying. Jewel said it best: "worry is wasteful and useless in times like these" (man, I miss the 90's). But unless I give it to Him, the worry will not only continue, it will increase.

I started thinking about the "be at peace with Him" part of the verse. Aren't I usually at peace with God? Well, not all the time. Sometimes I wonder why life has to be so hard, we all do. But unless I seek Him, I won't get remotely close to finding an answer to that question. It goes hand in hand: submit to God, only then will you be at peace with Him. And as I continue to do that, I believe my heart will start to change into less worry, more hope. Cheers to that concept.