Getting Personal #95: Second Wedding Anniversary

Happy Anniversary, Al! Here’s to two years of marriage!

View More: http://stellarexposures.pass.us/vwedding

I love the black and white.

View More: http://stellarexposures.pass.us/vwedding

One of my favorite photos from our wedding! Image Credit: Stellar Exposures

View More: http://stellarexposures.pass.us/vwedding

We had an amazing reception!

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses, beard and closeup

December 2016 – Al’s company Christmas party.

As I write this post, I realize we need to take more photos of ourselves!

Image may contain: 5 people, people smiling, people standing

August 2017 – We celebrated Casey’s birthday at Topgolf in Virginia Beach!

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting and outdoor

October 2017. My current profile picture – One of my favorites, taken by my dad!

Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and outdoor

October 2017 – Celebrating Nick and Savy’s wedding! Amanda photographed all three of our weddings – Al and me, Steven and Crystal, and Nick and Savy!

Thank you for everything this year – We’ve definitely learned to be homeowners, that’s for sure! I look forward to many more years with you. Can’t wait to celebrate tonight!

I love you!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Advertisements

Getting Personal #90: Home Improvement, Part 1

141112123002-home-improvement-boom-1024x576

Image Credit: CNN Money

As promised, here’s an update on our home improvements!

It’s hard to believe that I published the post titled Getting Personal #23: Home Ownership in June 2016. Our house has come a long, long way since then!


While planning this post, I quickly realized that I didn’t take a lot of “Before” photos!

I think I mentioned in a previous blog post that most of our house was carpeted, but we knew there was hardwood floor underneath. Lucky for us, the hardwood was in great shape. It had been protected by the carpet, in a way.

The week before we officially moved in, we hired a local man and his company to refinish the floors in the living room, all four bedrooms, and the hallway that connected the bedrooms. They were fabulous. They got the job done in four days, and the floors still look amazing more than a year later!


Bathrooms

We have two bathrooms upstairs, and one half-bath downstairs. We replaced two of the toilets last year, and all three match now. Eventually, we want to repaint them, and get the blue carpet out of the guest bathroom. For now, we’re happy all of the plumbing works!

img_0925

We hardly did anything with the three bathrooms, at least for now. In two of them, we added these metal shelves. This is our guest bathroom – Stocked and ready for visitors!


Guest Room #1

img_0367-1

There was wood paneling on the outer walls in three of the four bedrooms. When we took the paneling down, there were secret messages behind them! It was like a treasure hunt. 

img_0369-1

This bubblegum pink wall was in the bedroom across from our master suite. It took us almost a full day to get all the lattice-style wood off the wall and patch all the nail holes!

img_0377-1

After we removed the blinds, the paneling, the wood, and the nails, this was before we painted it.

img_0926

The room is a bit of a mess at the moment, but we want this to be our game room. We painted the walls with “Monorail Silver.”


Guest Room #2

img_0376-1

This is the other guest room. The far wall had dark wood paneling. This was before we painted.

img_0923

We have my futon in there now, but we eventually want to put our current queen size mattress in there, once we get our king size bed for our room. We painted the walls with “Monorail Silver.”

img_0924

This was a project that we just finished. My parents found this chest of drawers on the street in their neighborhood. It was originally covered in black enamel paint. Al labored for a long time, stripping the paint and sanding it. After Al primed it. we picked a complimentary color to the walls, and Al did most of the work! The only other thing to do is to upgrade the hardware of the drawers.


Al’s Man Cave

img_0375-1

The far wall also had wood paneling. This is before we painted Al’s man cave.

img_0922

This is Al’s man cave now. He painted the walls with “Storm Cloud.”


Master Bedroom

img_0378-1

This is part of our master bedroom – I took the photo while standing in the doorway. This room used to have red shag carpet!

img_0919

This is our master suite at the moment – A little messy. We painted the walls with “Storm Cloud.” We’re hoping to get actual blinds for the windows this weekend!


Living Room

img_0392-1

This was how we initially set up our living room. This room had pink / mauve carpet, white walls, and massive valances on brackets above the windows. We painted three walls “Reflection Gray,” and left the far wall white (We are going to make that one the accent wall).

img_0920

This is our living room now. We moved the couch back a bit, added blinds to the windows, upgraded to an actual TV stand, moved Al’s nightstand upstairs, and added my end tables from my apartment. We want to get some curtains for the windows, and a larger area rug.


Laura Beth’s “Lady Lounge”

img_0921

I only have a “Before” photo. I’m excited to turn this space into my office, my library, and put my American Girl dolls on display! We painted these walls with “Reflection Gray.” This space will start to be transformed tomorrow!


That’s all I have right now. Look for Part 2, coming soon!

What have you done to improve your home?


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #86: My Skin & Makeup Routines (Part 3)

download (6)

Image Credit: Pinterest

I’m trying some new things, so I figured it was time to write another Skin & Makeup Routine post!

Here are the links to my original posts:


Skin

I just finished my bottle of Rose Jam shower gel last week. I think it lasted roughly seven months. It smells amazing. I’m planning to buy another bottle during my next trip to the store.

Here’s a few of the new things I bought during my last trip to LUSH – My annual birthday trip!

Ultrabland is one of the best makeup removers that I’ve ever used. I bought a second, bigger pot of it during my last trip to the store!

I haven’t tried Cup O’Coffee yet – I want to try it this weekend. For best results, you’re supposed to leave it on your skin for at least 15 minutes before rinsing it off. It smells heavenly! I’m also excited to try The Olive Branch, once I finish my bottle of Dirty Springwash.

This is two parts of my daily moisturizing routine – I use the Enchanted Eye Cream right under my eyes. Less baggy and diminished purple! I doubt I will use anything else other than Enzymion – It feels so smooth, and it’s really helped me control oil, and my breakouts.

Ocean Salt (left) and Dirty Springwash.

Ocean Salt smells like the beach and limes. I need to go back to LUSH soon – I’m almost out of it! And Dirty Springwash smells so fresh and minty!

img_0816

Left to right: My bigger pot of Ultrabland, Plum Rain shower gel, and my second bottle of The Olive Branch (I accidentally bought two!)

My LUSH wish list:


Makeup

When I started getting into Young Living Essential Oils earlier this year, I began to realize that makeup is full of terrible chemicals, and a lot of toxins. Yuck!

I decided to take the plunge and look into the Savvy Minerals by Young Living makeup.

Over the last few months, I’ve been stockpiling. I bought the Essential Brush Set, as well as two shades of the eyeshadow – “Spoiled” and “Best Kept Secret.” Turns out, I accidentally ordered two sets of these eyeshadows!

Next month’s Essential Rewards order will have the eyeliner, and blush. I’m also looking forward to when they release mascara!

I like the packaging – It’s very fancy, and perfect for gifts. But, I wish they wouldn’t do the paper confetti! It gets EVERYWHERE!

I love the Brush Set!

My Savvy Minerals wish list:


Deodorant

Making this change was set in motion within the last month. I already knew many deodorants and antiperspirants have a laundry list of chemicals, but most of them are truly awful!

My Young Living consultant, April, recently posted a recipe for homemade deodorant.

She wrote:

“What’s cooking? Homemade deodorant! Did you know that many store bought deodorants contain chemicals like

⚠️ aluminum- linked to Alzheimer’s and an increased risk of breast and prostate cancer

⚠️ parabens- can disrupt hormones and has been linked to breast and prostate cancer

⚠️ triclosan- this ingredient is sketchy enough that it has to be removed from hand soap by this fall because the safety of it is in question. But it is still in many deodorants!

⚠️ propylene glycol- can cause damage to the central nervous system, heart and liver

⚠️ fragrance- a catch all term that covers hundreds of “trade secret” ingredients. May cause skin irritation, allergies, respiratory issues, etc

Guess what? My deodorant doesn’t contain any of those chemicals and it is super cheap to make. Not only that, but it really works! It took less than 5 minutes to make- so easy!

I’ll post the recipe in the comments. Do you make your own deodorant?”

Homemade Deodorant Recipe

2 Tbs baking soda
2 Tbs arrowroot powder
3 Tbs organic coconut oil
5-10 drops Purification essential oil
5-10 drops Lavender essential oil

Directions:

Combine 1 Tbs baking soda and 1 Tbs arrowroot powder. Add coconut oil and stir. Depending on how warm it is in your house, the coconut oil may be in a solid or liquid form. Coconut oil is a solid below 76 degrees. If it is in solid form, warm it slightly (just until it liquefies) for easier mixing. Add desired amount of essential oils and stir. I chose Purification because it is great at getting rid of odors and Lavender because it is good for your skin. Add 1 Tbs of baking soda and 1 Tbs of arrowroot powder, stir well and transfer to storage container. To use, dip your finger into the deodorant and then apply a dime-sized amount under each arm.

My ingredients! I had everything at home, except for the arrowroot powder (That’s the small baggie). Luckily, there’s an awesome store in Chesapeake called Sage Organics. They sell many items in bulk, and you can measure out how much you want on your own.

img_0818

My results! It took less than five minutes to make. I used a sterilized Tupperware container. The main thing was melting the coconut oil, but that only took 30 seconds in the microwave. It smells amazing!

I want to try this Deodorant Spray next!


Hair

I also just started using Young Living’s shampoo and conditioner. Traditional shampoos and conditioners have many of the same chemicals and nasty stuff! Plus, my hair was getting really greasy and gross recently. I don’t have time for that!

img_0815

I just started using the Lavender Mint this week. It smells AMAZING! Plus, the mint feels really good on my scalp.

img_0817

I have the Copaiba Vanilla waiting the wings. It also smells really good!


What about you?

Do you have a certain skin routine? What about makeup?

Have you tried any homemade recipes related to skin or makeup?

Check back in a few months – I’ll likely have another update post to share!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #79: Reflections, On My Birthday

Birthday Quote 2017

Image Credit: BrainyQuote

I wrote a Getting Personal post on my birthday last year, and I received a lot of positive feedback. I thought I would continue this tradition every year. For me, it brings the past year into focus, and it makes me feel good.


Since this time last year, I’ve lived in my own house with Al for over a year. I’m so happy that we’ve reached this point. We have independence. We’re navigating our way through “adulting” the best that we can. I’m happy that we both have stable jobs that give us good benefits, as well as modest incomes. We’re paying our bills and saving money, but we’re also able to have a little bit of spending money, too. Our house is certainly big enough for the two of us, but we also have room to entertain and (eventually) grow our family. We’ve already had adventures in dog-sitting, and we’re thinking about getting a cat, or two.

It’s amazing to look around, in almost any room, and realize that it looked completely different when we bought the house. We still have several projects on our list – Matching blinds for the rest of the windows, finishing renovating two dressers for two bedrooms, blackout curtains for our bedroom, painting an accent wall in the living room, and finishing my office – but we’re enjoying working on them together. And that’s the whole point, right?

It’s also hard to believe that I will likely, finally, earn my Associates of Applied Science degree in Paralegal Studies as 2017 comes to a close. Wow. It’s been a long five years, with a few semester breaks here and there – Like not taking any classes for the two semesters before my wedding, for instance. (Best. Decision. Ever.)

I’m officially registered for Legal Writing this fall. I’m headed to campus again on Thursday nights from late August through mid-December. I’m excited to take this class – This is one of the main classes that I have looked forward to since starting the program. Better late than never, but here we are. Keep your fingers crossed that this is truly my last class before graduation!

I’m also glad that I had the opportunity this spring to prepare for the boards (exam) to become a Certified Professional Coder (CPC). Many thanks to Shana for keeping me in the loop. It’s funny how things work out – I was hoping to take Legal Writing in the spring, but an English prerequisite was in my way, and I couldn’t register. During the Super Bowl in February, Shana told me TCC Workforce Solutions was offering the CPC exam prep class again (She took it in the fall of 2016). I was able to sign up in the nick of time, with the class starting two weeks after she told me.

I was incredibly nervous, but also excited. This was new territory for me. I’d had some exposure to ICD-10, CPT codes, and HCPCS codes through the nature of my job and my work, but not a lot. Casey, my former manager, encouraged me for years to get certified, and I finally took the plunge.

Medical coding is HARD. There’s three different sets of codes, and each code is for something different. It also depends on your interpretation of the doctor’s notes, which isn’t always easy.

Test day was Saturday, April 8th. It was almost six hours long! Luckily, I was able to answer all 150 questions before time expired, plus check my answers. I didn’t feel like I completely failed, but I wasn’t super confident that I passed.

About a week later, I discovered that I had passed the exam by accident. AAPC sends emails about meetings, and one of those emails started with, “Dear Laura Beth, CPC-A.” I almost fell out of my chair at work. I wanted to make sure I wasn’t seeing things, so I logged on to AAPC to see my score. I ended up passing with a 76 percent score (I needed at least a 70). I tore out of my cube and ran down the hall to tell Casey. I was jumping up and down!

I found out later that I was the ONLY ONE in my class to pass the boards. I was floored. There were 15 people in my class. It was amazing!

So, now I’m certified. I have to earn a set number of continuing education units (CEUs) by a certain time next year, but going to AAPC chapter meetings every month, plus doing webinars, add up. I was pinned by the Peninsula Professional Coders last month during a special ceremony, and there were several others who are newly certified. It feels nice to have such a supportive community. Being certified also opens the door to new job opportunities. I’m very happy at Riverside, but it’s nice to have different options when thinking about the future.

There have been some challenges this year, but nothing insurmountable. Casey left Riverside for another opportunity in mid-April, which was devastating to me.

We suffered with a broken AC unit at our house for about two weeks, at the peak of the hot weather. We know now that we need to replace our HVAC before next summer. We decided to forgo a wedding anniversary vacation this fall, but we’re planning to go to New York City in the summer of 2018!

I have a lot to look forward to as I start the last year of my 20s:

  • Former work colleagues becoming true friends.
  • Enjoying my slight obsession with LuLaRoe.
  • Being part of the Pray for Me Campaign at New Creation UMC.
  • Celebrating seven years together with Al on September 4th.
  • Heading to the mountains for a weekend in early September, celebrating Savy’s bachelorette and making new friends.
  • Helping Nick and Savy celebrate their kick-ass wedding at the Vardaro Farm in October!
  • Celebrating two years of marriage with Al on November 14th!
  • Being with family for Thanksgiving and Christmas.
  • Helping Tony and Rachael celebrate their wedding in December.
  • Finishing my 2012 NaNoWriMo attempt by reaching at least 50,000 words, and then editing begins!
  • Reading many more books.
  • Continuing blogging, and meeting many more amazing bloggers!

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #61: My Skin & Makeup Routines (Part 2)

makeup

Image Credit: The Odyssey Online

As promised, here’s Part 2 of my skin and makeup routines!

If you missed Part 1, here’s the link to the post:

Ready?

Here we go!


Makeup

Like I mentioned last week, my makeup routine is pretty simple. I’ve tried both foundation and powder over several years, and I’ve finally decided that I don’t want to use either one!

Here’s my current makeup routine, in four easy steps:

  1. Blush
  2. Eyeshadow
  3. Eyeliner
  4. Mascara

I remember getting introduced to Mary Kay products back when I was in middle school. Between my mom using their skin care products (She still does now!), and several friends having free facials and makeovers at sleepovers, I loved their makeup back then.

Think of a early teenage Laura Beth experimenting with shades like Cotton Candy, Lime Green, Icy Blue, and more …

Years ago, a friend started selling Mary Kay to help pay her way through college. I bought several things at that launch party that I’ve loved since:

I still like a lot of what Mary Kay makes, but I don’t have a regular rep that I buy from right now. Most makeup that I’ve bought in the last year or so has actually come from the Dollar Tree, Walmart, Target, or your average drugstore (Walgreens, CVS/pharmacy, etc.)

Three Mary Kay items that I currently use actually came from a local Goodwill store:


So, back to my current four-step routine. This is what I do, and use, on an almost daily basis:

  1. Blush – Either Sparkling Cider or Cherry Blossom. With my skin tone, I can be liberal with Sparkling Cider, but cautious with Cherry Blossom. Too much of that, and I turn into a porcelain doll!
  2. Eyeshadow – I use the Eye Definer brush for either Truffle or Chocolate Kiss, on my eyelids. I use the Eye Crease brush for Spun Silk, on the skin between my lids and my brows.
  3. Eyeliner – I normally like/prefer a crayon or twist-up black eyeliner, but recently I’ve been loving my L.A. Colors liquid eyeliner. This came from my local Dollar Tree!
  4. Mascara – I used a few different types of mascara from Mary Kay until it ran out. Then, in 2015, while planning my wedding, I found L’Oreal Paris Telescopic Original Mascara from Walmart.com. I loved the look so much on my wedding day, that I bought a second tube!

This morning – Fresh face, no makeup.

Just ten minutes later, all four steps complete.




I definitely love my Mary Kay brushes, don’t get me wrong!

But, I recently found something amazing:

Wizard Wands!!

I ordered these from Storybook Cosmetics a while back, and they are awesome!


Makeup Tips

  • Pay attention to your eye color.
    • I have hazel/green eyes, so I naturally lean toward more brown/beige/suede tones for my eyeshadow.
    • For eyeliner and mascara, I tend to go back and forth between black and dark brown. Both colors work well for me.
  • Always moisturize your face before applying makeup.
    • As mentioned in Part 1, I use Enzymion and Tea Tree Toner from LUSH Handmade Cosmetics. I’ve found that this combination, right now, works the best for my skin. I highly recommend for you to research your skin and test (and re-test) until you find something that works best for you.
    • When I wear makeup (not every day), my skin still feels hydrated and fresh all day.
  • Always take your makeup off before going to bed!
    • I cannot stress this enough – It’s so important. Your face will thank you.
    • This has never happened to me (knock on wood), but one of my friend’s wives got a terrible case of blepharitis (eyelid inflammation) the week of their wedding! It happened mainly because she wasn’t taking off her eye makeup before going to sleep. Lucky for her, she received prompt treatment and everything cleared up for their big day!
    • I currently use oil-free makeup wipes, but you can also make your own.
    • You can also use Coalface or Dark Angels from LUSH. I want to try one of these products next, primarily to cut down on the waste that wipes create.
  • If you’re interested in learning more about makeup, I definitely recommend contacting a Mary Kay representative near you. However, two other good places to learn and explore are Ulta Beauty and Sephora. If you decide to go with either of those, I suggest going into a store. I’ve found that employees at both are not only knowledgeable, but super helpful! Sephora even has the Color IQ test, where you can find out your exact skin tones (red, yellow) and the employees will help you with specific product recommendations for lips, foundation, and concealer.
  • Learn how to wash your brushes/applicators properly, and how often.
  • Make sure to read expiration dates on all of your makeup. Most companies are now required to have a jar symbol with an indicator such as 6M (six months after opening), 12M (twelve months after opening), and so on. There are different recommended dates of use for different types of makeup.

Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #60: My Skin & Makeup Routines (Part 1)

lush-harbor-east

Image Credit: Harbor East

Many thanks to Megan over at Freckled Italian for inspiring this post!

Here’s Megan’s original post:

Ready?

Here we go!


Skin

Some of you know that I got into LUSH Handmade Cosmetics products well over a year ago, thanks to a few friends who talked it up. I wasn’t disappointed!

It helps that there’s a store in Norfolk’s MacArthur Mall. It’s an expensive investment, but the benefits have absolutely paid off in spades.

Before I found LUSH, I was using a combination of Clean & Clear products and a few things that my mom and others had recommended. I couldn’t seem to control the oil, and I had absolutely hellacious breakouts during that lovely time of the month. I was massively frustrated. I didn’t want to wear makeup. My skin is relatively sensitive, but I never, ever realized what I was using to wash and moisturize my face could be harming it.

In December 2015, I walked into LUSH for the first time. The staff were wonderful! I was immediately entranced by everything that they offered. They update their product lines regularly, and they always seem to have something new when I visit.

The idea is to use just a little bit of the product every day. Some of my LUSH stuff lasts for MONTHS, and it’s awesome. In all of 2016, I only visited the store four times to make purchases.

This is what I have used and/or sampled since Day 1:

I liked Angels on Bare Skin and Movis, but I probably won’t buy those again. Some of the smells were super strong!

I may buy Aqua Marina again, because it has calamine lotion in it. Considering I usually get eaten alive by mosquitoes in the warmer months, I’ll probably keep a small “pot” of it at home. I will probably do the same with either Dark Angels or Coalface, since both are good to use for makeup remover.

I definitely want to buy Ocean Salt again, closer to the summer months. It smells like the beach, and I felt like I was in a spa every time I used it!

I love the variety of bath bombs that LUSH offers. The baths I have taken with them – Three since we bought our house – have been calming and soothing.

I currently have the following in my bathroom:

The one without a side label is Enzymion. The pots fit perfectly on the shelves in our mirrored cabinet.

Buche de Noel is one of my favorite products. It smells like Christmas, and it does a great job on my face and skin. I use it every day in the shower on my face (unless I just got my eyebrows waxed), and I usually scrub it all over my arms and heels. It’s really helped when the skin on my heels has been very dry and rough. It’s a seasonal item, so I try to make this last as long as possible.

Top: Buche de Noel. Bottom left: Christingle. Bottom right: Enzymion.


Christingle is a new product that I discovered on my last store visit. It smells amazing, and the cool, refreshing tingle I feel after I use it in the shower feels awesome. Like Buche de Noel, I’m trying to make it last, since I won’t be able to buy it again until later in 2017.

Enzymion and Tea Tree Water have been with me since Day 1 – I will always buy these. Enzymion is the perfect moisturizer for my skin. This has helped dramatically reduce breakouts, and my skin feels lighter and far less oily now. The Tea Tree Water is so refreshing. I spritz it on right after I apply Enzymion. In the hotter months, I like to put it in the fridge. It makes the hot and humid days bearable!

I haven’t tried Rose Jam yet. Soon!

This is just a short list of what I want to try in the future:

The other bonus – When you bring back five clean labeled “pots” after using the products, LUSH will give you a free face mask. They reuse the pots, and then recycle them later on.

I’m excited to do this for the first time soon – I had enough pots to redeem in December, but they didn’t have any face masks to give me! I’m collecting them in a box. During my next trip, I can’t wait to see what I get.


Makeup

Since Megan’s post focused on makeup, this is was my comment:

“For me, I completely skip foundation and powder – The different stuff I’ve tried over the years seems to just clog my pores and makes me itchy! I do four things on a regular basis. First, I sweep on some blush – I love Mary Kay. I switch between “Sparkling Cider” and “Cherry Rose.” Second, I do eyeshadow – Also Mary Kay. Since I have green/hazel eyes, I prefer brown/suede/beige tones (“Truffle,” “Chocolate Kiss,” and “Spun Silk.” Third, I’m loving liquid eyeliner right now – The stuff I use currently came from the Dollar Tree. Lastly, I put on mascara. I loved the Maybelline Telescoping Lashes mascara that I bought for my wedding so much, that I saved the information and bought a second tube! It probably takes 10 minutes total, but the compliments are totally worth it.”

However, since the Skin section took up such a huge chunk of this post, I’m dividing this post into two parts.

Come back this time next week to learn more about my makeup routine!


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂

Getting Personal #46: First Wedding Anniversary

771674106-anniversary-quotes-sayings-wedding-cute-married_large

Image Credit: quotesgram.com

Today marks our first wedding anniversary. I can hardly believe it!

View More: http://stellarexposures.pass.us/vwedding

Image Credit: Stellar Exposures

View More: http://stellarexposures.pass.us/vwedding

Image Credit: Stellar Exposures

View More: http://stellarexposures.pass.us/vwedding

Image Credit: Stellar Exposures

20151119_193142

One of our many honeymoon photos. We were waiting for Blue Man Group to start!

img_2575

Hogsmeade!

12548946_10153905085199645_229177869446863043_n

December 2015: Lunch before seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens!

13416897_10154297430179645_6258397798230580973_o

June 2016: We bought a house!

Thank you, Al, for an amazing year! Here’s to many, many more!

I love you.


Until the next headline, Laura Beth 🙂