Saturday, February 22, 2014

Love Life Project: A Week in Pictures

As many of you know, one reason that I started this blog was as inspiration to find my happy in every day life. One way I've been trying to reach this goal is by documenting the little joys of everyday through pictures. I got the idea from Jenny and her blog Wonderfully Complex not too long ago, and I love an idea her idea about remembering to find little things every day that are meaningful and beautiful in your life. Hello!! Talk about helping a girl reach her goal! She documents the little things she finds to be happy about in her life on Instagram (@jennyfish10) with the hashtag #lovelifeproject. I decided to join her in her quest. You can check out some of my most recent #lovelifeproject posts on Instagram here

Here are the small moments that made me smile over the past two weeks:

February 10th

ESL Student's Writing: It's a great day to be a "magic frower"!

February 11th

Texting my sissy crazy selfies!

February 12th

Little, sweet baby boy "N" was born to my bestie! Love you two!

February 13th

Snuggles with my Rufie potato-head.

 February 14th

A sweet student brought me a Valentine's Day rose.

February 15th

Student's vocabulary homework. I would totally fight over that!

February 16th

Watched an amazing girl rock out her dance competition!

Late night talks with Thor-Thor.

February 17th

Finding funny math pictures to text Rachael because she's a math nerd :)
(My sister is a biostatistician.)

February 18th

Laughing at crazy pictures, trying to make myself feel better when I'm sick.
Doesn't work too much :-/ But it still helps even if it's a tiny bit!

February 19th

My students are such good artists!

February 20th

Quick dinner saves the day! Pizza quesadillas! Mmmmm!

 February 21st

Delicious late-night snack!

February 22nd

 Geese on patrol at the mall. I wonder if that's a minimum wage job? Definitely has to have great benefits, though! Those are some dangerous heights!

And that was my past two weeks completing the #lovelifeproject. 

I've realized that I've really loved looking at my week in little moments. And by documenting little things during my day, I can sit down later and remember all the things that made me smile. And after two weeks, I laugh at some of the things I found in my phone. It's been a fun journey so far. I'm definitely going to keep it up!

So, who's in? Anybody else want to join?

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Thursday, February 20, 2014

In Remembrance, Written with Love

This past weekend, my lovely, friendly, kind, sweet, brave, patriotic, outgoing, always-smiling, never-stop, 89 year-old neighbor passed away. He was in the navy during World War II. He won a purple heart. He still had nightmares about things he saw in the war. 

Three weeks ago he found out he had Stage 4 terminal cancer. He had been feeling badly for awhile and one of my other neighbors convinced him to go to the doctor with him. He is also a great soul. They both were very close.

Every morning at 5 a.m. my late neighbor and I would pass each other walking our dogs outside. His dog, Jenny, loved my dog, Rufus, and Rufus loved Jenny. She loved walking around and sniffing our front yard. I called them "long lost loves." After I got home from work, I would pass my neighbor again walking Jenny. He'd wait to catch my eye and give me a big wave from down the street and a huge, "Hello!" 

Every summer, he'd be out repaving his driving, mowing his yard, doing odd jobs around the yard. He was a strong and determined man. He and I laughed about our dogs. He was one of the kindest and most genuine people I knew. And he was always smiling.

I will miss his smile and his big waves. I will miss passing him while walking our dogs. I will miss seeing Jenny and swapping dog stories. He made my heart happy.

I wrote this poem years ago in college, but it seems fitting now. It makes me think of my lovely neighbor and his strength and how everyone needs someone by their side in hard times. I will miss him. I know he will be greatly missed by many. I thank him for his service and his kindheartedness. Thinking of you, your wife, Jenny, and your daughter.

This is in tribute to him. Willy, thank you for your strength, light, and happiness.

Strength In Numbers

The cactus in the entry hall gives it away.
He was a military man.
Bills stacked uniformly on the antique desk tell me
he had just arrived moments before.
The hallway light is off.
Darkness swallows the foyer.
I had been afraid of this.
Two gems beam through the darkness from the corner of the room.
Oscar runs out to greet me.
It is as if he knew why I was there.
I think he's relieved.
He races down the hallway before I can even bend over to scratch his ear.
He is braver than I.
You don't have to be strong.
You just have to be here.
Inch by inch, I creep into the sea of blackness,
hoping to emerge to find life at the other end.
But I know it won't be life as I had known it for so long.
I am prepared for that.

And now I feel it coming on--
a sudden and unexpected rush of stinging warmth
filling my eyes.
Dont. Stop. Not. Now.
Creeping farther down the hallway,
light finally begins to break the monotonous hum of the darkness.
Filling my lungs with air, 
I stiffly turn the corner.
His eyes, filled with disbelief, glaze over with fresh tears.
At the sight of me, his chest expands.
He lets out a sigh--almost an energy filled with relief.
I lower myself on the chair next to his.
Reluctantly, I offer my hand.
I finally let go of my fears and my emotions.
I think I see him smile.
With tears welling up in his tired eyes,
he opens his mouth and reassures my instincts,
"You don't have to be strong for me. I'm just glad you're here."

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Looking Great For Less

Blogger Challenge 2014 Post #4: Looking Great For Less


I am a huge money saver. I like to use coupons, I buy things on sale, and I don't like the feeling of forking over a ton of money for something expensive when I know I can find a better deal somewhere for a similar product, especially when it comes to make-up.

I love the look of some of the products I see people do demos with on YouTube: the     
Naked 3 palette, MAC lipsticks, and Chanel lipsticks and foundations, but I just can't justify spending the money! 

I know I can get great deals with coupons on great brands like L'Oreal and Maybelline with coupons at Ulta, CVS, or Walgreens, so why not use a "dupe" for a great product and get something that I deem "just as good" for a better price. 

Did you know that Loreal Paris, Maybelline New York, Yves Saint Laurent, Giorgio Armani Beauty, and Lancome Paris are all owned by the same company (Loreal USA has a Luxe division and Consumer Products Division)? Now that's crazy, hmmm? Now when I found that out, I thought, wow, maybe there are similar products among the lower end brands and the higher end brands? Crazy thought, right? If that right there doesn't go to show you that there can be similar products out there across all price levels, then I don't know what will!

For this post, I would like to share with you some "drugstore dupes" that I find are close to or just as good as the high-end versions. I have found too that I don't feel as guilty using them and trying out new trends by buying these products as if I spent full price for the real things. So if you're like me and want to save some money, then read on :) 


I have to say that I never was a huge blush girl until my sister started getting me into it. She loves blush and she wears it well! A splurge for her this Christmas was the Nars Holiday Cheek Palette: One Night Stand. Look at those beautiful colors. But this, of course, was a Christmas splurge. Since I'm not so sure about blush, I decided to check out some "dupes" to try out some new shades. Here's what I found:

Nars Orgasm:  

Nars Orgasm is seriously one of my favorite blush colors. 

You get...
  • Nice flush on your cheeks.
  • Nice warm coral color. 
  • Very blendable.
  • Long-lasting wear.
  • cost = $30 

I found a great dupe for this blush at CVS. I also think Kmart has a good price on it too. It's Milani's Baked Blush in Luminoso. (You may have heard this one before. I think this may be a popular dupe!) CVS is where I usually buy my Milani products. Milani has some seriously great blushes. I can typically find them on sale at CVS for B1G1 1/2 off and stack some CVS coupons on top of that from my CVS rewards card to get them even cheaper!

This picture is from a blogger I recently found at Coffee and Makeup. She also thinks this a great blush. You can read her review here.

I love this Milani blush. 

You get...
  • nice, warm glow. 
  • blends easily 
  • not powdery at all, even though it may look it in the picture. 
  • Cost = $8.49
If you also sign up for their beauty program in store with your CVS rewards card (it's easy, they have coupons sitting around to scan at the register), you get 10% off your next purchase. They also give great rewards coupons. I recently had a $3.50 coupon, so I used that plus the 10% off and saved a lot! 

Nars Desire:

Another Nars blush that I love is Desire. How pretty, right? 

  • Really bright pink 
  • Nice girly look and gives a wide-awake, fresh look to your face.
  • Easily blendable
  • Cost = $30

And here's the dupe: E.l.f.'s Pink Passion (I buy mine at Target):

I love this blush. I wore it every day for a long time because 
  • Gave me a fresh, bright look. 
  • Little goes a long way.
  • Easily blendable. 
  • costs = $3!
I just really love this color and I think it is very close to the Nars version! 


Benefit's Boi-ing Concealer

Benefit markets Boi-ing as an "industrial strength" concealer that can cover any dark circle or blemish or discoloration without creasing or fading. I tried this concealer out in the store and also had a small sample. 

It has...
  • Lasting power
  • Hard to blend into my dark circle under my eyes; covers blemishes pretty well.
  • Does cover dark spots well.
  • I did have to add a little moisturizer to the product. It was a little cakey in areas.
  • Cost = $20
If you do want to try it, it comes in 5 different shades and is sold wherever Benefit products are sold.

I always have trouble finding great concealers, but I think I found one that I think is just as good as Benefit's Boi-ing! (I kind of like it better!) I was so excited about it! It's Maybelline's Superstay Concealer. This is seriously the best concealer that I have ever used. 
  • last all day
  • goes on liquidy smooth
  • good medium coverage
  • matte finish
  • does not look cakey or powdery when set (only use on dark spots and blemishes, not under eyes, my dark circles are hard to cover; does not cover them too well)
  • cost = about $7.99

Eye Shadow

Naked 3 Palette

I always love using pinky shades on my eyes, especially rose gold colors and shimmery pinks mixed with brown mattes, so the Naked 3 palette always intrigued me. I kept telling myself that I could for sure find some shadows that look like the Naked 3 colors. I have not tried the Naked 3 palette like I have the other products listed. This dupe is just based on the color selections available in the palette. So after walking around CVS and perusing the eye shadow options, I found some that I thought I could use to make some comparable eye looks as if I used the Naked 3 palette.

Here are a few palettes that I used to make some eye looks based on the Naked 3 colors for much less than the $52 that it costs.

I recently purchased this quad from L'Oreal. It's called L'Oreal Color Riche Eye Shadow Quad in Rose for Romance. The cost was around $6.99.

I used it in combination with this matte quad from Physician's Formula, Canyon Classics to add some dimension. All Physician's formula products are currently 40% off at CVS. This quad is $6.97, but at 40%, it's a great deal!

This is the pink quad from Rimmel Glam Eyes HD (English Rose) that I cannot find anywhere excepet Amazon. Not sure if it's discontinued, but it is great for making some pink-based eye looks with shadows that look like the Naked 3 colors.

A similar color palette is also from Rimmel that has great pink colors. It is the Rimmel Glam'Eyes Eye Shadow Quad in the color English Breakfast. It costs around $7.

Benefit's Cream Creaseless Shadows

I love Benefit's Cream Creaseless Shadows. Hands down, they are amazing. But, for one pot of shadow, it costs $19. Now I know for some make-up lovers, that's not a ton of money, but when you want to buy a few colors, that adds up to a lot! I have found comparable colors in Maybelline's Color Tattoos. Even under Benefit's cream shadows, I wore an eye primer, and I still do under the Maybelline Color Tattoos. I do tend to have oilier skin, so this helps make both products much longer lasting for me.

Both products:
  • Comparable in color
  • Smooth, creamy texture
  • Very blendable 
  • Ability to build the product up
  • Lasting power (with primer)
  • Price: Benefit = $19, Maybelline = about $7

Benefit Cream Shadow in Stilleto

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Pomegranate Punch

So there are some of my favorite drugstore dupes. I have plenty of others if you'd like to hear more, so let me know what you think!

Have you found any good drugstore dupes?

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tried It Tuesday

Hello everyone! Hope you all had a nice weekend! I didn't really try too many new things this past week, but I'm going to share a few of the things that I did try! Again, like always, I've got a nice, random assortment of fun things that I've enjoyed to tell you about! And one thing that I didn't like (but it's because it gave me headaches); if chocolate doesn't give you headaches like me, then you probably will love it (boo, migraines!). So here we go! Happy Tuesday!

Oh, and by the way, I do have a lot of food today on my Tried It Tuesday list!!


Annie's Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese

This past Saturday, Bjorn and I had a bunch of things to get done. We were both running around, and by the time we knew it, it was 6:30, and we needed to eat! I had to stop at Target for a few necessities and I decided to peruse the food isles, searching for something interesting to eat. Low and behold, I found this Annie's Butternut Squash Macaroni and Cheese in the frozen food isle. Holy goodness, this was delicious! It was filling and yummy! And each serving has a 1/2 cup of vegetables. I grabbed some broccoli and some Pacific Organic Tomato soup, and we called it dinner. Quick and easy and done!

Bacon Jam

Oh my goodness! Where have I been? I think bacon jam is my new favorite food! I can imagine all these new ways to use it in my cooking: on top of burgers, with scallops (I'll share below), on eggs for breakfast, on pizza, and I could go on! I do love bacon--my husband can vouch for that! We have a disagreement in our house about how bacon should be cooked! My husband likes it cooked so that it's chewy and fatty, but my grandma always cooked it until it was nice and crispy. I like eating it that way! So now we kind of cook it until it's right in the middle, so we both can enjoy a little of our favorite bacon!

So, anyhoo, bacon jam!! You have to try it! We went out with some of our friends over the weekend to Dilly Deli for drinks and appetizers. One appetizer that Bjorn and I got was pan seared sea scallops with butternut squash puree and bacon jam. I was seriously doing everything except licking the plate to scrape every last bit of goodness off of there! I was scooping it up with my knife and fork, and I have to say, I did use my finger at one point! That plate was scraped clean by the time I was done!

The bacon jam added a smoky sweetness to the butternut squash. It was to die for! I found a few places that I will share where you can buy bacon jam already prepared, as well as some ways to use it. I plan on making my own as well. It does seem to be an easy recipe, but it does seem to take a little bit of time. Maybe this would make a good gift to give friends? Anybody want some bacon jam as a gift? Made with love?

Sur La Table has a few different kinds of bacon jams or bacon spreads: original, cured, and fennel and black pepper. Each jar looks to cost around $9.95

I am positive you could find bacon jam at Whole Foods and Fresh Market and Jungle Jim's as well. I just couldn't find it online!

If you're interested in making your own, like I am, I even found a slow cooker recipe! I may even add some bourbon to Martha's slow cooker version? We shall see!

Click here for some ideas about cooking with bacon jam :)

Udi's Chocolate Chia Gluten Free Muffin Tops

Bjorn, meaning well, bought these for me because he knew I would love them! I wanted to eat some more of these muffin tops for breakfast; however, they were out of all the blueberry and oat flavors. Bjorn got these instead, forgetting that I've been cutting back on chocolate because of my headaches. He felt really badly when he came home and saw my face. Temptation! It wasn't a big deal. When you wake up late with a headache, you grab whatever you can for breakfast, and eating these, gave me another headache! Too much chocolate for me! They are super delicious, so if chocolate doesn't affect you, by all means, eat 'em up! I will, however, not be keeping these in the house! They are dangerous!


I am a "take a shower every morning" kind of girl. And here is the reason why:

This is what I look like every morning when I wake up! Sometimes it all stands up straight like yesterday when I woke up. So, needless to say, I do not just get up and go, spray on some dry shampoo, and walk out the door. That hair right there requires water, some shampoo, and a serious lather and rinse!

I do, however, like to use dry shampoo when I am going somewhere later that evening after a long day and would like to freshen up a bit. I do tend to have oilier hair and sometimes my bangs tend to need a little freshening up. It also helps give my hair a little volume after a long day because I also have fine hair. 

I have really been having trouble finding a dry shampoo that smells nice and doesn't smell too baby-powdery and doesn't make my hair feel like I'm wearing a ton of, well, dry shampoo! I recently found one that smells like flowers and I love it! It doesn't make my hair feel chalky either. It's Batiste's Dry Shampoo in the Floral and Flirty Scent. They have all kinds of different scents. I got mine on sale at Walgreens for $5.99. I really like it. I did have to rub it in a little to make it disappear, but I am overall extremely happy with the scent and very happy with the texture.


Bjorn and I have been into watching movies lately. I'm glad I'm back into the swing of watching movies! It's one thing Bjorn and I love to do together! It's the first time since my dad passed away that watching intense movies hasn't brought up my anxiety. I don't know what the connection is, but it's nice to be able to enjoy a movie again.

Last week we watched Flight. And let me tell you, I love Denzel Washington!! I have loved watching him and his movies since I was in high school. He is a fabulous actor. And Flight is no exception! What an intense movie! I kind of knew what the premise of the movie was, so once the plan went down towards the beginning, I told Bjorn, "Wait, how come the plan is crashing so soon? The movie just started!" He then informed me that most of the movie is about the investigation that follows the plan crash. Thank goodness I have Bjorn, right?

Here's the trailer in case you're interested in watching!


Okay, I'm not a big app person, but I tried a new free app, and I'm kind of really liking it! Of course, it's a picture taking app, which are one of the only ones I download. And it's free, which is another kind of app I only download. It's called Frontback. Have any of you tried it? It's super fun! First you take a picture of something that you're looking at with the regular "front" camera. Then you can take a picture of yourself and what you're doing at that moment or something that's happening from your "back" camera. I think it's pretty cool!

My blog and me writing my blog! 
Not a great one, but it shows the premise of the app!

Well, there are the things that I've tried this week! Hope you enjoyed!

What have your tried this week?

Love and happiness <3 Holly

Monday, February 17, 2014

Liebster Award and Sunshine Award

I was emailed a few weeks ago by two sweet bloggers I follow to let me know that they both nominated me for blogger awards :) Lilian Chen from My Guide to All Things Beauty nominated me for a Liebster Award, and Katie from Amateur Aglow nominated me for a Sunshine Award. Thank you so much ladies for the shout out! I'm finally getting this post up!!

The Liebster Award is really just a way to get to know small bloggers. The Sunshine Award is similar to the Liebster Award in the sense that you get to know small bloggers, but bloggers are nominated if someone feels that your blog brings a little more happiness into the world and you positively inspire others. 


Thanks again ladies! 

Liebster Award and Sunshine Awards Rules:

1. Tell us 11 facts about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the tagger has asked of you.
3. Create 11 questions for those you want to nominate
4. Choose 11 people (with less than 200 followers) to give this award to and link them in 
    your post. This one I have seen people do many different numbers. Some nominate 5     
    people. Others nominate 11. You can see what I did below!
5. Go to their blog and let them know they've been nominated.
6. You may not nominate the person who nominated you.

Here are 11 Facts about me:

1. I love seafood, especially shrimp, scallops, and mussels. I could eat them every day!

2. I cannot whistle.
3. I have danced since I was three, mostly ballet and pointe, but also jazz, tap, lyrical, 
    contemporary, hip-hop, belly dancing, hustle, and salsa. Now I Zumba!
4. When I am nervous, sometimes I stutter.
5. I love to draw.
6. I have always had a dog in my life since I was born. To this day, I still have dogs.
7. Bjorn and I met in high school German class and starting dating a year later :)
8. I hate flying, even though I have been to Germany twice, France, and Austria.
9. When I was in 7th grade, I told my counselor that as a profession I wanted to be         
    choreographer. I don't think she thought that was a good idea :-/
10. I am currently writing two books: a teen fiction book and a kids series.
11. Bjorn and I like to plan trips based on restaurants that we want to try!

What was the last things that made you smile?  My sister, Ashley, was visiting from Chicago and asked me to show her some new eye looks with the eye shadow I bought her for Christmas. The first one looked great with her brown eyes (bright green). When I got working on the second one, I realized that I couldn't use eyeliner that day to save my life! Her eyes were a mess! I couldn't stop laughing!! (She thought it was pretty funny too!)

What are you doing on Valentine's Day?  Who knows? It'll be a surprise. Bjorn and I are spur of the moment kind of people. (Since I posted after Valentine's, I'll update: we went to an Asian buffet and watched Flight with Denzel Washington. Really great movie.)

Why did you start blogging? I wanted a place to write and share my experiences with OCD and anxiety. I always felt like it was hard to explain why I was always so quiet and nervous around people. I feel like this is a great outlet for me to talk about my life and my new journey of overcoming the obstacles I've face all my life living with OCD and anxiety. 

What do you want to be remembered for? Loving people and caring about people, especially my family, friends, students, and co-workers (I have great family, friends, students, and co-workers btw!)

What is your favourite beauty product? Mascara!

Where was the last country you visited? Canada. Can someone please take me to Germany? I miss it so!

What essential makeup item do you think most girls/women need? I don't think every woman needs one certain makeup item. I think makeup should make women feel confident and beautiful. Whatever that is, be it mascara, lipstick, lip gloss, foundation, no makeup, so be it!

What is your most treasured item of clothing? My wedding dress :)

Would you rather Roses or Lilies? Roses

Which one do you prefer: Winter or Summer? Summer, especially after this winter.

What is the most adventurous food you have ever eaten? I don't know what it adventurous--foie gras? elk? rabbit? conch? pork belly? snails? I don't think any of those are adventurous. They are delicious! I can't think of anything! I don't want to eat bugs!

Favourite classic book? A Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Best dressed at The Grammys? Miranda Lambert--she looked amazing!

Gloss, Balm or Lipstick? Lipstick or Gloss

Shower in the morning or before bed? Morning

Biggest obsession right now? Throwback perfume to what I wore in high school--CK One

Movie character you would befriend? Keri Russell's character is Waitress (Jenna)

How do you like rooms to be decorated? With pictures of people I love, nice art (thanks to much art from my beautiful artist friend, Jessica!), and lots of color!!

Favourite thing about living where you live? I'm close to the city, good restaurants, good music, good art museums, my family (except my middle sissy), and close to where I grew up

Favourite candle scent? Bath and Body Works Tea and Lemon

Favourite store? Anthropologie

Here are my nominations!! Some blogs that I chose, I nominated for both awards. Some I nominated for one, depending on whether or not they've been nominated before. I ended up choosing making 11 total nominations. I love these ladies' blogs, so check them out! 

I decided to nominate the following people for the Liebster Award:

Amy @ The Art of Teaching 

Sarah Beth @ Miss White's Classroom
Tina @ Bringing Along OCD
Shelley Little Midwest Ramblings

And the following people for the Sunshine Award:

Allyce @ Anchors the Soul

Ashley @ A Cute Angle
Sarah Beth @ Miss White's Classroom
Shelley Little Midwest Ramblings
Amy The Art of Teaching
Amanda @ My Shoestring Life
Jenny Wonderfully Complex

So those of you nominated should (if you would like to--please feel no obligation!!)...1) Link back to my blog, 2) answer the questions below, 3) nominate 5 others for the award(s) you were nominated, and 4) write 11 questions that each has to answer.

Here are the questions for everyone to answer:

1. What is your favorite go-to meal?

2. If you had a day to yourself, how would you spend it?
3. If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be?
4. What is one goal you have for the next month?
5. Why did you start blogging?
6. What is your favorite aspect about your chosen profession or something enjoy doing with 
    your life?
7. If you could learn any language in the world, what would it be and why?
8. If you won a dream vacation of your choice, where would you go?
9. What are you reading/listening to right now? Do you have a favorite quote or lyric?
10. What is your best memory from the past week?
11. Is there anything that you dream of doing in your life? A must on your "life to do list"?
12. What are you grateful for today?

Whoa! That was a long one! :)

Love and happiness <3 Holly