Romantic weekend!

With the in-laws and a bunch of kids!

(My husband is so nice to me. For reals. Every year I give him a list of death anniversaries for which he’s required to host a dinner, and then tell him where we’re going on vacation with my parents.)

We did our traditional weekend in Galena last weekend, and it was every bit as magical as it always is. We’ve been going since before I was born (I say we because I did the math and it was alarmingly close to 40 weeks before I was born. Eww.) and it is so special to share with my kids now.

The couple in the room above us also had a magical weekend. A very loud magical weekend, multiple times a night. A magical weekend I was really worried I would have to explain to my six-year-old. A magical weekend I was awake for not because of similar sextytime reasons but because my three-year-old got scared and was only comforted by sleeping on my husband’s face with his feet in my neck.

And they say marriage isn’t sexy. Lies, I tell you.



We caravanned with my parents and sister, so it took us roughly eighteen hours to make the 175 mile drive. But that was okay because we had coffee and I stopped and bought cinnamon rolls at a Kwik Trip and yeah I know that sounds super janky, but you know what? BEST DAMN CINNAMON ROLLS I’VE EVER HAD. So there.


Seriously. Cannot explain how amazing it is to see these two little people, people whom I wasn’t sure I would be lucky enough to have, in my most favorite place on earth.


And now that we have Poppyseed???? SERIOUSLY GUYS it’s amazing.

No there’s no hotel sex. But look at those little heads!!!

I tried to take a nice picture with my kids. One complied. I’ll let you guess which one.


Cooper even flew to meet us!



J Kids Christmas album cover.

Buddy has some thoughts on how amazing hot chocolate is.



She wanted to play fancy ladies so I let her play with makeup and gave her contact dermatitis. Oops. Oh well, we had fun.


On Sunday it snowed, which was magical because we were leaving and didn’t have to walka round in it.

(Or at least it was magical until I turned into my mother and flipped out about the dangerous roads.)







And of course, the sign of a good trip, both kids passed out in the car after about ten minutes.

Already can’t wait for next year.

Advent for Kids (and Yourself)

Guys, I think Advent is my favorite liturgical season. I love the solemn nature of it- we’re not celebrating, not yet. But it’s not the same kind of solemn as Lent, which is mostly just a bummer.

(I’M KIDDING. Lent is lovely as well. Just more…intense.)

I also love that there are so many things that we can do as a family to mark the season. Again, Lent is so intense. Other than the stations of the Cross, it’s hard to come up with cute craft ideas for hey-let-me-explain-all-of-salvation-history-to-you. I know they’re out there, I do. But it’s just harder to ram home without being depressing..

And let’s be honest, I’m not doing any crafts anyway. I hate crafts. HATE THEM. Creativity and making a mess. Literally my two least favorite things.

ANYWAY. Homeschooling, we obviously have a lot of freedom to mark Advent and prepare for the Birth of the Lord. I have a six year old and a three year old, and frankly, the three year old is just phoning it in. He’s present for everything that we do, and we sing Advent songs with him and stuff like that. But he doesn’t really get it.

(Things he also doesn’t get: going to the bathroom IN THE BATHROOM. Fingers crossed by next Advent.)


But Squeaks is almost seven, and she totally gets it this year. We have an Advent wreath (with flameless candles, natch) and so she “lights” it and we all read a devotion every night that we have dinner together. (Which okay hasn’t been much this week but hopefully that will get better.) We’re using the Catholic Family Advent Prayers and Activities book by Susan Hines-Brigger. I’m really loving it so far. It has a prayer, scripture passage, and discussion for every day of advent.

Also lots of craft ideas. (Blech.)

We also have an Advent book we got through Seton, the company we use for homeschooling curriculum. It’s int he Living and Celebrating our Catholic Traditions series, and it’s lovely too. There s a great story for each week that we use for school, and again, tons of crafts.

The one I’m actually going to do with her is a paper chain that leads to an empty manger, and then we glue Jesus in on Christmas morning. That sounds cute. (And easy.)  Everything in that book is reproducible too, so you can use it for years with different kids or even pass it on to family.

We do have an Elf on the Shelf, which I know is anathema to many Catholic families. But for us, it’s totally fine. I don’t see any reason to abstain from the non-heretical parts of secular life, and we have been able to use the Elf (Cooper) to talk to us about how it’s not important that we’re good for Santa, but rather that we need to make ourselves ready for Jesus to come at Christmas and the end of the world by being good children.

He hangs out at the Nativity a lot.


The biggest, and also smallest, thing we’ve started doing is keeping Squeaks up with us to say a rosary at night. Buzz and I would say rosaries separately during the weekdays, but together on the weekend. And that was such a nice thing for us that we decided to include Squeaks for Advent. She LOVES it. She (against all odds) is able to sit calmly and quietly and say the prayers with us. She’s also learning a lot of the mysteries, which she is very proud of and makes my heart as a mother burst literally every night. It’s also a great way to teach her prayers that we’ve forgotten to pass on, like the St. Michael the Archangel prayer, and the Memorare.


But it’s not all about the kids, right? I mean, I’m a firm believer in the concept that if your own spiritual life is empty, you can give nothing to your children. And also that the easiest way to pass on the faith to your children is to let them see you doing it. And we all know I am ALL ABOUT THE EASE OF THINGS. So I’ve decided to make sure that I made this Advent count for myself, too.

I’ve begun some more physical devotions- veiling, making sure I go to confession regularly, attending Eucharistic Adoration, etc. Those have been a wonderful way to make my actual time reflect my sense of waiting and hope and the desire to make myself ready for God, whenever He comes again.


I also downloaded the Magnificat Advent 2016 app. It’s available on all platforms for $1.99, or $2.99 for the ebook format if you want it on kindle. This  is amazing, guys. It has a really user-friendly interface, prayers for morning, evening, and night, the Mass for the day, and additional prayers, songs, and rubrics (like for a penance service, blessing of the Advent wreath, etc.)  I am really, really enjoying it. HIGHLY recommend, and I am not a normal Magnificat girl. I can’t get into it. But this is amazing for me.

(And if you do the app it sends you touch reminders. SCORE.)

Finally, I’m switching up my “good-for-me” reading that I do every  morning. I wrote about this a few weeks ago, but basically I take about half an hour before the kids get up to read a selection from the Bible, the Catechism, and a book about parenting or faith or whatever (anything except murders- I’ve been really into thrillers lately, guys.) I abandoned my Catholic Guide to Depression (ironically, AMAZING!) and am slogging my way through Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives. It’s a slim book, but if you’ve ever read anything Ratzinger has written, um, don’t expect a quick read. I’m absolutely loving being able to a.) focus on exegesis again, something I haven’t done since grad school, and b.) turning little parts of my day towards the anticipation of the Lord.


So, what do you do for advent? I’d love more (non-craft) suggestions!

Ipsy and Birchbox November Unbox/bagging!

Birchbox first- because it mostly sucks. This month is all about “the finishing touch- those extra, just because details that make all the difference.”

No. I want real shit that I use all the time. I don’t want random “finishing touches.”


The box is beautiful. LIke, seriously. It will hold something out in my bathroom, because’s it’s gorgeous. All damask and blues and pinks and whites. Lovely. .

First off, the duds. It’s not really their fault that they’re duds, but this month I got two oil samples (one for hair, one a dry oil for hair or face or whatever I guess) but they both are made with argan oil. I’m allergic to argan oil. I ended up selling them on my b/s/t site, but I’m just like seriously? 2/5 of the box is shit I can’t even open and play with? Not fair. I feel like there should be an allergy thingy you can specify.

So that sucks.

The other stuff is surprisingly good! The sample I picked this month was the Chella Eyebrow pencil in Tantalizing Taupe. I’m  not super into eyebrows, because mine do not lend themselves to shaping, or so I thought. I have a pretty good system in place with the products I do use, so I wasn’t really looking for stuff, but I always like playing. This is really good. I can finish the tail and everything. It’s a little dark for me but not too bad if I don’t use a ton. I think it could work for a lot of skin tones.

The pencil is tiny, and that’s great for getting realistic brows. It’s also a really big sample. The pencil is normal sized for holding, and the product itself is like two inches. So a pretty good value.

I also got the Marcelle New Age LumiPower 3-in-1 Moisturizer. It’s a pretty small sample, but overall seems to work okay. I’m using it as an eyecream, and I can’t say I’ve noticed a huge difference, but it’s nicely plumping when I put it on.

The winner this month is the Dr. Lipp Miracle Balm. It’s also a tiny sample, but it’s a really nice almost Vaseline type balm. You’re supposed to be able to use it on your brows, cuticles, or wherever as well as lips. I’m just using it on my lips. I think I might buy this one- it’s really nice.


Ipsy was, as usual, the better of the two this month. The theme was “rockstarlet” hah see what they did there. The bag was super cute with little constellations of makeup on it.

These bags, guys. I’m in love with the bags.


I loved each and every single sample in here. I KNOW. Said no one in subscription history. BUT I DID.

I received the Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara, which is a lovely as it’s the actual mascara I use all the days I don’t wear falsies. So that’s super fun. I also got the Luxie Beauty Rose Gold Small Duo Fiber Brush, which is basically a small stipple brush. I’m not crazy about the way it applies cream products, but it’s great with powder.


The Hey Honey Good Morning Honey Silk Facial Serum is AMAZEBALLS. I’m using it every morning instead of my When Hope is Not Enough, and while it’s pretty much the same for my skin, this one makes makeup sit more nicely on my skin. I KNOW.

The Absolute New York Matte Stick in Dark Red was a disappointment at first. I tried it on and I couldn’t even get a good even color off of the tip. But once I wore it down for a little bit, it’s like the perfect red for me. True red with blue undertones. Deeper in color than like Ruby Woo, but not vampy. Really, really pretty.

The winner though is the Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner in Black. I’m not a huge liquid eyeliner girl since I rarely do wings. But I do wear it whenever I wear falsies to cover the band and I find myself reaching for it literally every time. It’s a smaller sample, but the consistency is not too liquid that it runs, it dries unbelievably fast and DOES. NOT. MOVE. I wore it for like fifteen hours on Thanksgiving to church, parties, and HOSTING a party, so a big sweaty day. That ish did not move. Also a teeny little applicator which makes application a breeze for those of us who aren’t totally comfy with it yet.


Look at that TINY LINE YO.

Birchbox- bye, baby. You’re done (again.)




Kat von D MetalMatte Palette Review

If you know me, I’m like the most conservative, white bread, middle-class, suburban mom thing you could imagine. I’m not even 30 yet and the feelings the thought of getting a minivan evoke in me are enough to send me to confession.

I’m the least likely person in the world, with the possible exception of Queen Elizabeth, to be infatuated with Kat von D’s makeup line.


I started out with her Shade and Light Eye Contour palette, and now I have a bunch of the Lock It line, and I’m literally salivating over the Tattoo eyeliner. It’s just a darn good thing that only Sephora carries her stuff in store (there isn’t one near me), because I COULD NOT BE TRUSTED.

The Kat von D major holiday release this year is the MetalMatte Palette, and obviously, I had to have it. I’ve heard that in previous years, some of her holiday releases were not the same quality as the normal production, but this one seemed exactly the same in terms of texture, staying power, and blendability.

First of all, it’s $60 and currently only available on Sephora has it listed as sold out, but sometimes they bring them back, so keep checking.

It’s an unbelievable value. This is a HUGE palette. Look. It’s like bigger than my head. It’s almost twice as big as my previous largest palette, and makes a Tarte palette look like a fun size candy bar.


I saw a YouTube video review where the person broke down how much it costs per gram of product, and it’s somwhere in the $1.50 range. This is INSANE. Most high end palettes are over 3. Anything in the $2 range is a really good deal. $1.50 is basically drug store.


There are 22 shades total- 13 matte shades and 9 shimmer shades. Some of the shimmer ones are a little chunky in terms of glitter, but some are very subtle.


The matte shades are really high quality. There is a ton of color pigmentation, but they blend super easily so you can actually wear them out in public if you’re going somewhere other than a rave.


(Are raves a thing? I don’t know. I really want a minivan.)

An amazing selection of colors, and then some neutrals as well.

Here is a brown neutral eye I did a few days ago.


I swept Suede into my crease with an elf crease brush. Next I packed on oak on the outer third of my lid with a flat Morphe brush, and Synergy on the middle third, using the same kind of brush. I used Glaze in the inner corner, and linen on the browbone. Blended together they look amazing, I think.

I also am obsessed with the blue and green shades sheered out so I can wear them for every day. I have blue/green eyes, and I feel like these are super flattering.


Here I took Moss and blended it on the lid with Oak into my crease to tone it down a little bit. I used Ignite in the inner corner. Totally wearable when sheered out like this.

I also did a traditional smokey eye look for a bridal shower I attended.

Jet and Stone are GORGEOUS neutral shades in black and gray, and I used Linen and Tinsel as a highlight.

Overall, I’ve used almost every shade in the palette for something, and I’m loving the fact that I have these high quality shades that I wouldn’t normally keep in my collection. They are super blendable, but you can also pack on the shadow to increase color payoff.

I’ve also tried lining my eyes with a wet liner brush and one of the metal shades. It was really intense, which could be something to keep in mind if you do more things than I do.

(Minivans don’t really require metallic eyeliner.)


Definitely worth the investment for this awesome, unique palette.

Nancy Drew Files of Ridiculous Awesome, Part 2


Today in our trip back to the 1980s, we join Nancy and her chums Bess (who is still chubby and eating a salad) and George (who has nothing to do with this but is occasionally leaving the room so we know she’s still friends with Nancy.) The handsome Ned is nowhere to be seen nor heard, as literally all of the men in the book are describes as varying degrees of hotness.

(Seriously, the only thing that differs is the degree of sexy graying of their hair.)

The dastardly deed that has been committee this time involved Nancy’s father, sexy widower Carson Drew who may or may not be getting it on with the housekeeper.

(Side note: I’m pretty sure Carson Drew was my first in a long line of widowers I was oddly attracted to, including Maxwell Sheffield, Captain von Trapp, Mac from CSI:NY, and well, my husband.)

(Too far?)

ANYWAY. Carson is being threatened and possibly prosecuted because he allegedly suppressed evidence of his client’s guilt, which led to another person being convicted and then committing suicide- I don’t know why that’s also Carson’s fault, but it is.

Carson Drew makes it VERY CLEAR to his teenage daughter that she has NO BUSINESS a.) messing around with his legal affairs, b.) messing around in an ongoing criminal investigation, and c.) messing around with HIS CAREER AND HOW ARE WE GOING TO EAT NANCY IF I DON’T WORK?? HANNAH ISN’T HERE FOR FUN. (Or is she?)

Nancy, once again, proves that she understands not only nothing of what comes out of her father’s mouth, but also nothing of the criminal justice system.

But to be honest, it’s not really her fault. Because in about ten minutes, she is given access to:

1.) Records from a closed investigation.

2.) Records from an ongoing investigation.

3.) Information from the first responders at a crime scene.

4.) The actual crime scene (where she finds stuff CSI missed- duh, she’s Nancy Drew)

5.) An accounting firm

6.) Accounting records

7.) Nuclear launch codes (probably)

All of this while the various authorities (and adults) say things like, “I guess you can only help us- hope you can find something we missed!” Because goodness knows 18 year olds, especially those who have lost parents, are the most reasonable and responsible of people ever.  I mean, seasoned police chiefs have nothing on them.

BUT WAIT. The criminal(s) are not going to let Nancy just waltz in and show them up (again.) No siree. First she’s run off the road, when she jumps out of the car while it’s moving. Then she’s threatened with bringing evidence against her father (turns out she also doesn’t understand how litigation works.) Finally her father is kidnapped (because he’s as bright as she is apparently.)

None of which stops those meddling kids…sorry, I got confused for a second. Frankly, a dog would have made more sense than this book.

But never fear, because Nancy is able to confuse the criminals, get them to opine for like an HOUR on their entire plan and FINALLY the police show up to arrest the guy. (Apparently, River Heights is as big as NYC. At least given the response times.)

The book ends with Carson Drew finally admitting to Nancy how much he relies on her help because he’d be in prison without her.

I’d argue that any attorney in his fifties who relies on his 18-year-old daughter to keep him out of jail should be in a psychiatric institution anyways.

But no, Nancy lives to solve another crime- stay tuned next week when Nancy goes undercover at a college (because why would Nancy Drew need anything as pedestrian as college? Pssh.) to save the world from biological weapons.

Yeah, I literally just typed it and I don’t understand it any better than you do, trust me.


Get Ready with Me: Everyday Fall Makeup Look

I have yet to master longer video tutorials, but today you can follow along with me in pictures as I get ready for a normal day this autumn.

(I know. Get excited.)

(Screaming at children and massive amounts of caffeine are optional.)




Skin care comes first, as always. I use a variety of stuff when I’m playing around, but my everyday stash includes using 1.) epice clarifying toner, 2.) When Hope is Not Enough facial serum, 3.) Hope in a Jar day moisturizer, 4.) whatever eye cream I got that month in Birchbox, and 5.) Sunscreen if I’m going to be outside at all. Like, even going to the car.

As you can probably tell, I am a Philosophy addict and I WANT EVERYTHING THEY HAVE BECAUSE IT’S AMAZING AND SMELLS GOOD AND IS PRETTY.

(Kind of my criteria for everything. Including husbands and children.)

My everyday eye look I have down to a science, and I use Kat von D’s Shade and Light Eye Contour palette. This is pretty expensive- about $60 from Sephora or Amazon. But seriously so amazing. The shades are all matte, all neutral, and I’ve hit pan on several of them. Seriously good quality and soooo blendable.

If I want the look to last all day, I use my smashbox 24 Hour eyelid primer. Some days I change my eye look for the evening, if I have a meeting or party or something (usually meeting. It’s not like I’m partying it up a whole lot.) Then I can use a cheaper eyelid primer. But smashbox? Gold standard.


My eyes are really hooded, so I love the matte shades in here. Like I said, it’s an amazing palette and you can actually do a bunch of looks with it, but my “every day” look I have down to a science so it only takes me like two minutes.

Also? I’m not using shade names here. They’re all in Latin which would be cool if it wasn’t kind of tongue in cheek and derogatory, I feel like just because of who Kat von D is. But that’s just my total jumping-to-conclusions opinion and maybe she’s at Mass every morning. And I have enough Latin during the day trying to teach my kid.

I put the shade 1 all over my lid, from lash to browbone, with a fluffy eyeshadow brush. Using a crease brush, I put shade 2 into the crease, making sure it’s visible above the natural crease of my eyelid. (If you have hooded eyes, you have to do this. Because otherwise no one can see it and you’re wasting time.)

Using a small flat brush I put shade 3 on the outer third of my eyelid and brush it into the crease, blending well. Using the same brush, I put shade 4 right on the inner rim of the block of shade 3 (does that make sense?) and blend it into the crease as well. It’s a little bit lighter and will brighten it up. Finally, using a larger flat brush I combine shades 5 and brush into the rest of the lid from the inner corner and highlight my browbone.

And just for reference, I use mostly all elf eye brushes. I think they’re awesome quality and really good at blending, and I can have enough that if I want to use a couple different colors I don’t have to wash them in between.

Here’s the finished look, which is nowhere near as impressive as the whole description made it sound.


Moving on to face, I use TooFaced Primed and Poreless Pure primer. I love this because I have a crap ton of wrinkles it seems like (I DON’T KNOW WHY IT’S NOT LIKE I’M STRESSED.) and it helps smooth out the foundation.


I used BareMinerals Bare Skin foundation, with the Bare Skin brush. I am in love with this foundation, it’s super light and buildable and gives me a glow that I love. I wish it was a little bit more full coverage because there are days I need that, but this is amazing 90% of the time.

I also use the Bare Skin concealer. It’s light, and again, light coverage, but once I bake that on (attractive picture on the right,) it’s awesome. I set the rest of my face with The Bare Minerals perfecting powder.

The rest of my face on a daily basis is pretty simple. I don’t do a full contour, just a little bit of shading under my cheekbones (or where my cheekbones would be if I hadn’t been born with cheek caverns instead.) Bright blushes work well on my skin tone, current favorites are this Laura Geller in Cherry Cordial, and Urban Decay’s Fetish. I use a light highlight, and the one I’m obsessed with currently is essance pureNude highlight in Be My Highlight. It’s a subtle glow, but you know it’s there. And no chunks of glitter.

To finish my eyes, I used the same shade as in my crease smudged on the lower lashline, tightlined with Smashbox Always Sharp in Nude (which I don’t have a picture of because it’s gross), and used a coat of TooFaced Better Than Sex mascara. It’s not better than sex, but it is a damn good mascara. If I’m doing lashes, I’ll use another one that’s not as intense so that the lashes don’t get clumped up. But for a normal lash-less day, they make my regular lashes look amazing.


I finish off with a coat of BareMinerals Gen Nude lipstick in Queen. I love the deep colors for fall, and this is so smooth and stays on really well for me (which is not something most lipsticks do for me.) A few spritzes of Urban Decay All Nighter setting spray, and that shiz isn’t going anywhere.


So there you have it- my current go-to everyday look for fall. Super easy, not too heavy, and stays on FOREVER.

Fake Pasta Fresca

Guys, I love me some Noodles and Co. But I don’t love paying like $8 for glorified fast food.

That’s a total lie. I love paying any amount of money for tasty food. But I can’t do it too frequently because “we’re adults” and “we have a budget” and “the kids have to go to college.” Pssh. Whatever.

So! I came up with a totally awesome fake almost-dupe for Pasta Fresca. And by almost dupe I mean not really at all, because I only kept the parts I liked. So basically it’s a fun pasta dish that’s cheap and easy.

1 lb cooked pasta- whatever shape you’d like, but penne or rigatoni work well

2 cans diced tomatoes

1 T olive oil

1 t minced garlic





3 cups fresh spinach

Parmesan Cheese

Saute olive oil and garlic over medium heat until fragrant. Add diced tomatoes and spices, to taste.

Pour over cooked pasta in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add spinach, and stire. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Have a glass of wine because it’s Italian, it’s totally fine.