Friday, January 29, 2016

January Budget

January was apparently a good month of shoes for me. Both trips to Target taken to buy traveling essentials found me in the shoe section coming home with pairs of shoes that are styles I have been keeping an eye out for. And both pairs were under $9!

So even though my goal was to limit any spending outside of my trip to Jerusalem, I did end up buying shoes... #noregrets

Other than shoes, I was able to get a few beautiful pieces from my journeys in the Holy Land including two scarves, a pair of earrings, and a beautiful, reversible  wrap skirt that I am pretty obsessed with. The patterns are a little mismatched which normally drives me nuts, but for whatever reason, I really liked this combination - maybe California is mellowing me out.

sneakers: exact, similar  |  flats: exact, similar

As far as numbers, I didn't keep as good records of my spending on the items in Jerusalem as I should have. I am pretty sure what I remember is accurate, but I might be off by 20 shekels or so (aka $5).

Sneakers: $8.48
Leopard Flats: $8.48
Nude Scarf: $5
Black Floral Scarf: $12
Coin Earrings: $4
Reversible Skirt: $10

Total: $47.96

The shoe-filled January was also made possible via some great thrift finds from my mom. When I go home for breaks I don't bring a lot of clothes with me and often ask my mom to borrow a jacket or pair of shoes. This time around I was in need of some black flats and she brought over these beauties and said I could take them because she didn't wear them often enough. OK, twist my arm mom ;)

The embellished smoke shoes are something that I would have never tried on or bought myself, but I LOVE them. They give just the right amount of glam to an outfit and are really comfortable. I am also not a huge fan of pointed toe shoes, but love the way these two-piece flats. They're the perfect combination of fun and professional. 

So there you have it, lots of shoes and some great finds while traveling. What deals did you find this month?


**linking up with Franish

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Product Review: Covergirl Plumpify Mascara and Colorlicious Oh Sugar! Lip Balm

I didn't start wearing mascara until graduate school with the exception of maybe three school dances. To be fair, it wasn't until recently that I even began wearing much beyond coverup for the dark circles under my eyes. And though I've begun wearing makeup on a more regular basis, I still try to keep it very minimalist and natural looking which basically means that I cover up the dark circles, brush on a little bronzer, add a touch of mascara and a bit of color to my lips and call it a day. If I'm feeling really fancy, I might add some eye shadow and a bolder lip, but this is still new territory. I'm very much still learning and have been loving trying out new products from the recommendation of friends, family, and of course fellow bloggers to find my favorite look.

So, when I was presented with the opportunity to review Covergirl's new Plumpify Mascara by blastPro and the Colorlicious Oh Sugar! lip balm, I was thrilled! Try out two new Covergirl cosmetics that I would probably end up purchasing anyway? Yes please! Sign me up!

I don't think I've ever been so excited (/impatient) while waiting for a package to arrive in the mail. I couldn't wait to try these beauties and now that I'm back in the States, I couldn't wait to share my review with you all!

Let's begin with the Plumpify Mascara by blastPro.

Initially I was intimidated by the size of the mascara tube because it is larger than ones I am used to.  But once I began to use the product, I fell in love! The unique shape and direction of the bristles allow the mascara to not only comb your lashes, but evenly add the makeup to them creating a look that extends your lashes and brightens your eyes. I could definitely tell that I was wearing mascara, but it didn't look as fake and caked on and clumpy as other mascaras I have tried in the past. 

The Colorlicious Oh Sugar! lip balm is AMAZING! I'm obsessed. So much so, in fact, that I may have already purchased another color...

My lips get incredibly dry in the winter and I am often torn between wearing a chapstick to help moisturize and heal them, or wearing a lipstick or gloss to add some color to my look. This Covergirl lip balm is a great compromise! Not only does it add a nice amount of tint to your lips, but it is made with great ingredients like grapeseed oil, avocado butter and Vitamins C and E which helps to moisturize and keep your lips nice and soft.

Another plus: there are about 10 different shades to choose from! I was gifted the #3 "caramel" color to test and it is the perfect shade for a natural lip on me. As you can see from the photo below, the caramel doesn't leave much of a tint which helps achieve that "no makeup look". Because I love the product so much, I decided to purchase #7 "soda" which adds a nice hint of red to my daily routine. I think I've worn it just about every day since I bought it!

Both items are available in stores to purchase and under $10 each! My own local Target is currently carrying both the Plumpify Mascara and every color of the Colorlicious Oh Sugar! lip balm!

Let me know if you end up trying them! I'd love to hear what you think!


**A big thanks to both Covergirl and Influenster for sponsoring this post. While products were supplied in exchange for a review, all opinions are entirely my own.

Monday, January 25, 2016

5 Weekly Graces Vol. 14

Boy oh boy has is been a long (but beautiful) week. I feel terrible that all I've been sharing with y'all is the 5 Weekly Graces, but now that I am back in California, I promise there will be more diverse posts. Drafts of A Covergirl Make-Up Review, Gifts that Give Valentines Edition and a Jerusalem Travel Post are scheduled and ready to go and I'm working on a couple of other fun projects with some other blogs that I'm really excited about. Look out February, here I come!

For those who have continued to visit and read even with only the one post a week, thank you so so much. It means a ton!

And for those who are just stumbling across my little corner of the internet, welcome! On Mondays I like to share 5 graces or moments of joy from the previous week to remain focused on the good and begin each week on a positive note. It's a little like keeping a gratitude journal but limiting it to 5 items usually keeps me from sharing the more basic things like a good cup of coffee or fresh laundry - which are always good in my book, but would grow old to read about rather quickly.

1. Floating in the Dead Sea

I warned you last week that this would turn up again, so here it is.

I've got be honest, I originally did not want to go in with everyone else. I'm super uncomfortable being in a bathing suit and thus am not a big fan of beaches in general. But when you have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to go into the Dead Sea, you do it, insecurities and all.

It. was. amazing. Because there's so much salt in the water you cannot help but float and the buoyancy feels so cool! Just an FYI, the water tastes awful and a few of my classes learned the hard way that you should not go all the way under, but the sensation of floating is definitely worth the bad taste and slimy feeling. We had a lot of fun pretending to do synchronized swim routines and also trying a mud mask that the local skin care company shared with us - the same mud the Backstreet Boys used! Ha!

2. Home

After about 2 weeks in the Holy Land, it was time for our trip to come to an end and to head back to California. My heart is so full from this trip and I am slowly processing all that we saw and did while we were there. As always, it was the people I met more than the places I went that have left an imprint on my heart. I am happy to be back and able to slowly settle in before classes start next Monday.

3. Concerts

One of my housemates is in a band and played a show in the Mission (a neighborhood in San Francisco) on Thursday so all of the housemates that are back in the area went out to support him. I absolutely love live music and it was great to go out into the city, check out a new venue, drink some sangria and see a friend do something they are passionate about.

4. Mystery Solved

There's a building up the hill from my apartment with some pretty hard core corinthian columns. It's just far away that you can't really tell what it is and looks like it could be a part of a park or a fancy building for meetings, or maybe even a house. But because it's up the hill and tucked away, my old housemate (who was equally confused by this structure) and I never took the time to climb up the Berkeley hills and see what it was. So on Sunday when I had a very open afternoon, I decided it was time to solve the mystery and took a nice, long, steep walk in search of the columned building. Based on deduction and similar building patterns of some trellises connected to a private drive around the correct distance up, I am fairly certain the building is a home. Mystery solved. And if the owner just happens to stumble across this post, your home is lovely and please send a picture of the view - it must be breathtaking!

5. They Found It!

On the way home from Tel Aviv my backpack was lost and did not make it to JFK with the rest the group's which was a bummer, but honestly between being exhausted from the travel and my cold, it didn't really phase me too much. In fact, my classmates and then my housemates are still commenting on how calm I was through all of it. I just figured, I hear stories of it happening often enough and even with all of the flying I have done I have never lost a bag, so it was my turn. Freaking out won't bring it back sooner so I might as well enjoy not having to lug it around.

I will admit that after a few days with the airline having no knowledge of where it even was I did start to worry a little. So when I learned that it had taken a separate trip to Germany, I nearly squealed for joy that my pack had been found! It was delivered to my apartment late Saturday night and everything was intact and accounted for.

I hope all of your Mondays are off to incredible starts and the week is looking bright and full of potential!

Where did you find good last week?


**linking up with Ember Grey

Monday, January 18, 2016

5 Weekly Graces Vol. 13

Hello friends! I'm currently writing to you from a bus on my way from the Dead Sea and a relaxing afternoon floating in the water! (Spoiler alert, that will be most likely be on the list next week...)

We've been using the same bus for travel days the whole trip and I just found out that there's wifi aboard which is fine because I'm typically the one glued to the window of the bus making audible ooh's and ah's. Since it's a bit darker and dusty on the ride back, I thought I'd do a brief check-in with this week's graces. 

1) Hospitality

I've said it before, and I'll say it again, nothing compares to the hospitality of strangers I have received while traveling abroad. I do know so very hospitable people in the states, but the overwhelming majority does not compare. I don't have the words to express my deep gratitude for all of the beautiful souls who have opened their lives and hearts to intertwine with mine- they are friendships and memories I will cherish forever. 

2) Harry

I collect crosses everywhere I travel. Whether it's a new state or a new country, I always keep my eyes open for a beautiful representation of the community I'm being welcomed into in the form of a cross. Obviously, there are many crosses in the Holy Land, but I usually try to find unique ones that are made locally and not mass produced - a tad more tricky to find and I'm not always able to do so. Yet by sheer luck, on the first afternoon that I went wandering off by myself I stumbled into a ceramic store with many beautiful, handmade pieces of art. The owner is a jolly old man who instantly welcomed me and excitedly offered to show me how everything is made and even let me help glaze a few pieces. It was so much fun! We chatted for a while and I learned about him and his family and the business. 

You probably already know based on the beginning of the story, but I found a gorgeous cross with a city scape of Jerusalem hand painted on it. I love it. It will forever remind me not only of my time in Jerusalem, but also of Harry, the kind man who took the time to share his passion and business with a complete stranger. 

3.) Strengthening Relationships

I've had a few opportunities on the trip to spend some time getting to know my fellow classmates and professors on a more personal level. In particular, my professor and I have gotten lunch and coffee together a couple of times and it's been lovely. She has been a mentor of mine for a few years now so it was such a blessing to learn more about her life journey and share a bit of mine. She is amazing

4.) Stellar Resources for Trip Preparation

In preparation for my trip in order to understand the more immediate history of Israel-Palestine I read "The Lemon Tree" by Sandy Tolan. It's a beautiful, fairly neutral presentation of the conflict that still has hold of this land. It was a great way to prepare and as I was finishing the book in country there were several places mentioned that I had either visited or planned to visit which was really neat. For example, it mentioned Ecce Homo and its beautiful views of the city which happens to be the place we are staying. Similarly, I've loved reading "Jesus: A Pilgrimage" by James Martin for the same reason. It's been a great resourse for the more spiritual side of the trip. I've even had podcasts that are random stories include tales of times in Jerusalem - thanks, The Moth

5.) Retreat Space

This weekend we had a brief retreat at the Franciscan monastery connected to the Church of the Beatitudes right along the Sea of Galilee. The grounds were spectacular and super peaceful. Though the exact location of the Sermon on the Mount is contested, it was still very powerful to imagine being up on the hill listening to Christ explain brilliant words of compassion in the warm sun overlooking the water. It was also great to have a day break from the go-go-go mentality of the trip - especially since I caught the nasty cold my classmates were passing around. 

We only have a day or so more left in the trip which is bittersweet since I don't want to leave this space but am ready to be home in my own bed. I will definitely be making the most of the time we do have though.

Thanks again for being so patient with my flakey blogging during this time. I'll definitely be more regular once I'm back in the States. 

How were you graced this week?


Monday, January 11, 2016

5 Weekly Graces Vol. 12

Greetings from Jerusalem friends! My class and I arrived on Thursday after a looooong day of travel and have been loving every minute of our time here. It's such a holy place filled with amazing people.

As you can probably tell, I won't be posting as regularly until we return. Thanks for understanding!

I did want to post this week's graces so that I can both reflect on fun things happening and keep up with the habit.

1) Jerusalem

I don't think much explanation is necessary here. This place is so rich with history and religion - it's unbelievable. We've barely even chipped away at our trip and already my heart is so full from the people we've met and the places we've seen. So far, the Church of the Visitation is my favorite place we have visited. There's a gorgeous statue of Elizabeth and Mary, both pregnant and filled with joy. Behind the statue you can see Mary's Magnificat posted in many languages from around the world. It's quite stunning. 

2) Christmas, Round 2

When I arrived home to my apartment last Monday, I was greeted by so much snail mail, some expected and some not expected! From the beautiful cards, to wonderful packages, it was like Christmas all over again and made me feel very welcomed coming home to an empty apartment. I'm so thankful for the incredible people in my life. 

3) Organization is key.

I love coming home to a clean house/room after traveling. It makes the transition back 10x easier. On the day before we left for Jerusalem, I deep cleaned and re-organized my entire room which felt amazing! I don't want to go home just yet, but I am pretty excited to come back to that fresh space. If you've never cleaned house before leaving for vacation, I highly recommend it. It might seem like an extra thing to add to your list of vaca-prep, but trust me, coming home to a tidy house will be worth it.

4) Journaling 

One of my resolutions this year is to journal every day. It's one of those practices that I always feel so great after doing but haven't been keeping up with consistently. So, I figured making it a goal might help. It has been hard to not fall asleep writing after such long, full days, but overall I am feeling a nice sense of peace from the daily reflection time. I really hope that I continue to keep up with this pattern. It's lovely. 

5) MinimumJet-lag 

While it took me almost all of my trip to Ohio to adjust to the time change, I settled into the time difference here in Jerusalem pretty quickly which is such a blessing. Very random grace, and not that exciting, but it is getting late and I am ready for a good night's sleep.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week. Please keep me and my classmates in your thoughts and prayers during our travel and know that we will be praying for you as well.


Thursday, January 7, 2016

Beautiful New Friends and a Gift Swap

I've only been blogging for about 9 months, but already it has brought so many amazing opportunities and people into my life. And by far my favorite aspect of this blogging world is the beautiful people I have had the pleasure to get to know and become friends with. One of those wonderful people is Nina who writes over at hugsandlattes. If you don't already follow her blog, I highly recommend it. She's a great writer and hilarious - seriously though, the amount of times I've literally laughed out loud at her posts is slightly embarrassing...

You know those people who exude passion in all they do? That's Nina. We've only briefly gotten to know one another via email and our blogs, but everything she talks about from her super Christ centered relationship (#goals) to her time with family or her desire to help bring aid to victims of human trafficking is so clearly filled with excitement and passion and you can't help but to get excited yourself! 

Nina and I were paired together for a Christmas exchange this year and I could not be happier having her as a partner. The real gift of the swap was getting to know a fellow blogging on a level deeper than just comments on posts or a 'like' every once in a while. (Super cheesy, I know. But it's true, so just go with it.) And after spending a while more intentionally getting to know each other, it was so much fun to pick out gifts that I thought she would really enjoy as well. 

I realized about a day too late that I had given her my address at school rather than at home (fail), so I spent a good chunk of my break excited to know that it would be waiting for me once I flew back to California. Even though I knew it was coming, it was still such a treat to arrive back to some good old fashioned snail mail. It was like a second Christmas! 

I opened the package right away and inside found some of the most thoughtful gifts and a beautiful card. 

From the inspirational cards (which now reside right on my desk) to the handmade scarf (how did she know of my obsession?!) and oh my goodness the buckeyes! She definitely nailed it with this box of goodies! 

My favorite gift was probably the gorgeous oil diffuser along with the lavender oil (my favorite). I mean, how stunning is that?!

Nina, thank you again so much for the beautiful gifts! You've been such a joy and I so look forward to continuing to grow in our friendship!

I cannot encourage forming blogging friendships enough! Whether you reach out through comments or email, take those steps to connect and begin to build some new relationships. There are so many beautiful people with great stories and shared passions out there. Just say hi! I promise it will be worth it!


Monday, January 4, 2016

5 Weekly Graces Vol. 11

Happy New Year everyone! I have a feeling 2016 is going to be a good one. 

I'm actually typing this in the airport while I wait for my connection back home to Berkeley. Where did the time go? It feels like just yesterday I was finishing my final papers and preparing for Christmas in Ohio and now it's over. On a very exciting note, Wednesday I leave for Jerusalem with my classmates for what I am certain will be a trip of a lifetime and I can't wait! All I need to do is get to my apartment, unpack, and pack again - and maybe do some post vacation school prep. We'll see. 

As you can imagine, the last week of my time with family and friends was jam packed with love and laughter. From New Year's parties, to trips to PA, it was a great visit. 

Here are just a few of the many highlights:

1) New Years

New Year's Eve was one of the largest gatherings of our group of friends from college in a long time. It was so great to see everyone and their babies (we're officially old)! Every year we do a white elephant exchange and this year prizes ranged from that game where you get pied in the face, a friend's hand painted wine and canvas original and delicious coffee from New Orleans with an adorable elephant mug. The hosts of the party are known for making up new games and thinking of great ideas and they created a New Year's game that did not disappoint. It was a great night followed up with delicious omelets the next morning.  

2) Day Trip to Erie

My best friend from college lives in Erie, PA which is not super far from where I live in Ohio, but keeping my car in California limits mobility while I'm home. Lucky for me, another one of our good friends also wanted to visit her, so I was able to snag a ride up with him and his sister on the day before New Year's Eve. And we were able to convince her to just come home with me since she was coming to Ohio for New Years anyway! It was such a blessing to be able to catch up in person and stay up talking all night. Sometimes being so far from close friends can be really tough, but it makes me appreciate the time I do have a lot more. 

3) Weekend Catch-Ups

Speaking of visits with good friends, I spent Saturday night at the beautiful new home of one of my best friends from high school. It wasn't anything fancy, we basically just ordered a pizza, drank a bottle of wine and stayed up all night catching up on each other's lives. Those are my favorite kind of nights.

4) Fiesta Bowl

You know my semester was super busy if I didn't have a chance to catch any OSU football games. Luckily, I was able to crack out my jersey and watch them beat Notre Dame on January 1st. Golly do I love college football. Game days are just so much fun! I texted one of my friends from grad school who also loves Ohio State and he replied that this was the only time he would cheer against the church - too funny.

5) The Living Person

Friends of mine from undergrad have been working hard on a project dedicated to inspiring others to become more fully alive in Christ by challenging yourself physically, mentally, or spiritually. Their website, officially launched on Dec. 27th and is pretty amazing. They've also been releasing some amazing videos and other content on their Facebook page. Check it out! You might even recognize a familiar name ;)

How was your New Year? I hope settling back into your routine is going well on this happy Monday!


** I'm linking up with Ember Grey