My Nightly Facial Skin Care Routine

My friend Allison, who blogs over at All That Glitters recently shared her nightly facial skin care routine. I find this type of thing fascinating and I always learn a lot from these posts about new products I may want to use on myself. If you are interested in beauty products, definitely check out her blog because she knows her stuff!

I thought I’d share my current nighttime facial skin care routine. I will say that I do switch up my products from time to time because I like to try new things. I tend to get sick of a product by the time I run out of it and am ready for something else. Here goes!

First of all, I always wash my hands before caring for my face to avoid bacteria. Allison mentions this in her nightly facial skin care post too.

If I happen to be wearing makeup (most days I go without), I like using these makeup remover towelettes. Right now I have the generic Target brand, but I’ve tried the Neutrogena, YES! To Cucumbers, Burt’s Bees, and a few other generic brands and like them all. They smell fresh and do an excellent job removing all of the makeup from my face, even my eye makeup. The towelettes are actually very gentle around the eyes, so I don’t have to worry about stinging.

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This next thing is sort of a bonus step, I just thought I’d share my experience with it. I recently acquired this Clinique “Take The Day Off” makeup remover for “lids, lashes, and lips” that works really well. I just pour a little bit onto a cotton round and rub it around on my eyes, and it takes everything right off. I personally only use this on my eyes because it seems like it does a better job taking off harder to remove makeup like mascara. I don’t purchase this regularly, my friend Christine gave it to me when we cleaned out her bedroom, so I thought I’d give it a try. Thanks Christine!

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After removing any makeup from my face, I wash it with some sort of face wash. Lately I’ve been using this Burt’s Bees Deep Pore Scrub, and I must say that I love it. I think this is my favorite face wash I’ve ever used, but there are so many more out there that I still want to try. I have used this product before and go back for it every few months–I love Burt’s Bees because everything is so gentle, natural, and it really works. This product contains exfoliating beads, and it has made my skin look and feel great. I highly recommend this!

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After I dry my face by lightly dabbing it with a towel (One time, I heard at a Mary Kay party that drying your face roughly with a towel is very bad for your skin), I add moisturizer. Lately I’ve been using this Alba facial moisturizer and I love it. It smells like summer time and makes my normally very dry skin soft and smooth. I still have a lot left in the container, so it looks like it will last me through winter time when my skin tends to become SEVERELY dry. We’ll see how it works. I think the summery smell will help me endure winter!

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I also like to use organic, virgin, and unrefined coconut oil as a moisturizer as well. Smells and feels amazing, it’s just a little bit greasy. Pick some up for a good price at Trader Joe’s.

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This isn’t really part of my skin care routine, but I do swear by this contact solution and want to share my thoughts about it. I’ve always used generic contact solution, but I recently tried this Opti-Free brand and LOVE it. I always had problems with contacts stinging when I tried to put them in for the day, which would make me late. This is so frustrating. Ever since I started using Opti-Free, my contacts go in so easily and my eyes feel great. I have had no stinging issues! Hallelujah!

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After my face is moisturized and my contacts are out, I rub this Burt’s Bees (can you tell I LOVE Burt’s Bees?) night cream on my eyes. I’m not really sure if this is actually working, but I like to think that it is, ha!

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What is your nightly facial skin care routine? Care to share any great products?

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Welcome Home Caleb Igor

David’s father (Tom) and his wife, Melissa, have officially arrived home with one of their two new sons from Ukraine–Caleb Igor. Simon Nazar, the other boy they will adopt, will arrive home in October. Both boys spent two separate Christmases with Tom and Melissa (Simon Nazar in 2011 and Caleb Igor in 2012) on a hosting program, and after lots of prayer and Skype calls from halfway around the globe, it was decided that both boys belonged right here in Georgia.

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Simon Nazar Christmas 2011

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Caleb Igor Christmas 2012

Everyone is so excited that Caleb is here! This young man is probably one of the sweetest, happiest, people I’ve ever met. He grew up in an orphanage in a rural part of Ukraine (a pretty good one, though, with nurturing caregivers…very rare for Ukraine) which is something you and I will never know the ins and outs of. Yet he still always has a smile on his face. I’m just glad he is here and finally has a family to call his own!

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You are loved, Caleb!

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Now that Caleb is home, it is Simon Nazar’s turn to make the journey in October. I am actually going to Ukraine with Melissa to get Simon, so I’ll be sure to blog about the experience.

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Favorite Workout Essentials

I think these “favorites” posts are the most fun to read and blog about. Favorite foods, favorite beauty supplies, favorite books, etc. You can really learn a lot from them! I thought I’d compile a list of my favorite workout essentials aka I pretty much have to have these things or else the workout is pretty much going to be blah. Enjoy!

1. Rockin’ music. I absolutely cannot exercise without music. I know, first world problems, right? But seriously, the music is a serious motivator. I like anything from pop to rock to random Enya songs. I also am a huge fan of Pitbull. Not so much him as a person, but his music. It is amazing for workouts! Check out this post for a list of some of my current favorites.

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2. Headphones. Duh.

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3. Fitness Essentials workout gloves. I have never been one to wear these, but since I started lifting weights, I’ve noticed that my hands were starting to get calluses. To avoid manly hands, I purchased these at TJ Maxx for about $5, and I love them. My grip on the weights is much stronger, and I can lift heavier without causing extreme pain to my scrawny hands (my engagement and wedding rings are a size 3 1/2 to give you an idea of how small they are).

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4. My Nike’s. I purchased these at Kohl’s a few months ago with a gift card plus a coupon and only paid a few dollars out of pocket for them. They are so comfortable and are perfect for lifting weights, running, walking, zumba, and hiking. I love the hot pink too!

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5. Sock bun. This has been life-changing for me. My hair stays out of the way and it doesn’t start sliding out of the hair tie in the middle of my workout. I was skeptical about this at first since I do not have a knack for styling my own hair, but it is seriously fool proof.

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6. Bright, colorful tops. Because we all need a little color in our lives, right?! Love that rainbow!

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7. Insport black leggings. I found these at Ross a few years ago for under $10 on the clearance rack. I wear these all the time. They are the best workout pants I’ve ever owned. They don’t ride up and aren’t see through. I tried looking them up online, but no luck. Ross and TJ Maxx are the best places to find good deals on high quality workout gear!

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8. The super cheap ankle socks from Target. Does everyone know what I’m referring to? Target sells these in all sorts of fun prints and colors, and they usually go on sale for under $1. That’s when I stock up! They are the perfect length for workouts and never slide down into my shoes (that is the worst feeling ever).

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9. Peanut butter on toast. This is my perfect pre or post workout fuel. Sometimes I add a little honey, jelly, or chocolate chips if I’m feeling crazy.

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10. This guy. He taught me everything I know about gettin’ buff!

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What are your favorite workout essentials?

Goodbye, Instagram (For Now)

Yes, it’s true.

I deleted the Instagram app from my iPhone. I didn’t completely de-activate my Instagram account because I don’t want to lose all of my photos and I may come back someday. We’ll see.

There were two major reasons why I decided to do this. One being a pretty understandable reason and the other being sort of silly and petty, but it really frustrated me.

1. Instagram was a huge time waster for me. I’d find myself scrolling through my feed several times a day, especially when I was in the middle of a work-related task. I’d scroll for a few minutes and look through other people’s albums, and before I knew it, 25 minutes would pass. I even found myself keeping up with popular “online celebrities/bloggers” and realized that it is kind of dumb to spend so much time following these people THAT I DON’T EVEN KNOW! I think reading their blogs a few times a week is good enough for me.

2. I am so embarrassed to admit this and debated sharing this, but I became so frustrated about my lack of “likes”. I know, so stupid, right? But it really bothered me. I followed people on Instagram that would post a photo of a blade of grass or a mug of coffee and receive 20+ likes in less than 5 minutes! I DON’T UNDERSTAND! WHAT IS SO COOL ABOUT A BLADE OF GRASS OR A MUG OF COFFEE? Haha. Whenever I posted something, I was lucky to get MAYYYYYBEE 5 likes. And I had over 100 followers. Confusing. I know it shouldn’t bother me, but it did, and I deleted Instagram from my phone. There are more important things to worry about. So far, it’s been nice. Freeing, even.

There you have it. I do want to say that I’m not judging anyone who has and loves Instagram. I really don’t think it’s a bad thing, but it was really starting to have a negative effect on me. These are just my thoughts on a decision that I think is right for me at the moment.

What I’m Loving Friday

I’ve been inspired by Julie, who blogs over at Peanut Butter Fingers, and decided to compile a what I’m loving Friday post! You should definitely check out her blog, it’s one of my favorites.

I love reading the what I’m loving posts from other bloggers, so I figured I’d make this a trend.

Here goes!

Annie’s Naturals Roasted Red Pepper Dressing

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This stuff is delicious! I randomly bought it a few months ago when it was on sale at Kroger and I’m very glad that I did. Not only is it amazing on salads, but it pairs well with chicken, raw veggies, fish, and more. The only problem with this dressing is that it is only 8 ounces and a little bit pricey. However, it seems to go on sale a lot and is made with natural ingredients. I really want to try the other Annie’s dressing flavors that I’ve seen in stores. Has anyone tried them?

Rusk Thickr Hairspray

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I really like Rusk products because they make my normally very dry and frizzy hair extra voluminous and soft. I’ve tried the Multi 12 in 1 Leave-In Miracle Treatment and LOVED what it did, so I decided to purchase this hairspray for days that I actually do my hair (ha!). I found this one at TJ Maxx for a fraction of the regular price–score! TJ Maxx has amazing hair and beauty products for great prices.

Nike Dri-Fit “Vamos Rafa” U.S. Open V-Neck Tee

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I bought this amazing gem at the U.S. Open and cannot stop wearing it. I secretly believe that I’m bringing Rafael Nadal good luck during all of his matches when I wear it–just kidding! But seriously, I love this shirt and I love me some Rafa!

Emerald 100 Calorie Cocoa Roast Almond Packs

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I normally don’t buy these because they are so expensive, but they were on sale for 2/$5 at Ingles last week. I bought them for our long weekend beach trip to Jekyll Island, and they were a perfect beach snack. Luckily we still have some left over, so it’s been nice to have afternoon pick-me-ups full of healthy fats and protein.

MaraNatha All-Natural Peanut Butter

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Speaking of those healthy fats, this is by far my favorite peanut butter on the shelves right now. Now I know that I should purchase something that has the ground peanuts/almonds/etc. and maybe sea salt as the only ingredients, but this is just so delicious. It literally tastes like frosting. When I run out of this one, maybe I’ll buy the cleaner version 😉

Jericho

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David and I were obsessed with this show on Netflix until we got to season 2 episode 7 and realized the show had been cancelled. I really don’t know why Jericho was cancelled because it was one of those shows that made you think. It’s about how a small town in Kansas survives after a massive nuclear bomb attack on the United States. I really wish Jericho would return, it is so good!

What have you been loving lately?

My Experience With Freezer Cooking

Has anyone else seen the freezer cooking craze that’s been happening on Pinterest? I definitely have, and I must say, I was intrigued when I first saw it.

Freezer cooking is supposed to help save money on grocery bills, save time on cooking during the busy week, and hopefully cut back on time cleaning the kitchen. Basically you choose several crock-pot meals, make a master list, buy everything you need at once, and spend an entire day/half a day prepping these meals.

Each meal is placed into a gallon-sized Ziploc baggie, labeled, flattened and put into the freezer, like so:

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Every evening, you’re supposed to remove one from the freezer, let it thaw and then dump it into the crock-pot the next day. When it’s finished, dinner is ready with little to no effort. Easy peasy, right?

Easy peasy IS right. I decided to try this method of cooking a few days before I left for New York. David was scheduled to work all weekend, so I wanted him to have easy meals that were both healthy and delicious–little to no effort! It was so nice to not have to worry about cooking and dirtying up the kitchen every night.

Here is what I made:

1. Teriyaki Chicken (Delicious.Served with wheat noodles & broccoli.)
2. Teriyaki Beef (I did not like this, but David did. The beef was too chewy.)
3. Buffalo Chicken (Have not tried this one yet.)
4. Pesto Chicken (Delicious. Served this with wheat bowtie pasta, marinara sauce, & salad.)
5. Fajita Chicken (Delicious. Served this with Ezekiel tortillas, avocado, cheese, & salad.)
7. BBQ Pork Tenderloin (David made sandwiches with this one. I didn’t try it.)
8. Simple Pork Tenderloin (I just added some beef broth, spices and 1 diced yellow onion. I didn’t try it. David liked it.)
9. BBQ Apple Chicken (David loved this one. He made sandwiches with it.)
10. Tropical Island Chicken (My own recipe…I added orange juice, a can of pineapple in juice, 1 diced red onion, and various spices. David loved this one with brown rice. I didn’t try it since I was out of town.)
11. Chunky Beef Stew (I bought stewing beef…yuck…so tough.)

I used and adapted most of these recipes from this blog. There are so many to choose from! I’m not an avid recipe follower, so I basically put my own spin on the ones I chose. For example, some of the recipes call for a packet of taco or ranch seasoning. I just make my own with the spices I have on hand because the packets are so full of junk and sodium.

This seriously made life so much easier. I normally cook the meat for about 6 hours on low, and when it was time to eat, I’d quickly prepare a side dish like baked sweet potato, brown rice, quinoa, pasta, salad, veggies, etc. This also helped with cleaning because once dinner was over, all that needed to be done is stick the plates in the dishwasher and put the leftovers in the fridge. That’s it.

This was my first time attempting freezer cooking, so I will write a post in the next few weeks with more specific details/recipes. I am already excited about it!

The U.S. Open 2013

Sorry for the long hiatus! I have been in and out of town for the past week, so there has been little time for blogging. But I’m back and ready to post regularly! This post is just an overview of my trip to New York City, so I apologize for the brevity!

I have always been an avid tennis fan since I was five years-old. As a matter of fact, my entire family is. I played every single day as a middle and high-schooler and even was the #1 singles player on the varsity team–best memories ever!

Every year I try to keep up with the various tennis tournaments such as the U.S. Open, French Open, Wimbledon, Australian Open, etc. I’ve toured Roland Garros in France and Wimbledon in England in January of 2010 (not during a tournament), when I was studying abroad, so I was VERY excited when my mom told me she wanted to go to the 2013 U.S. Open.

Roland Garros is in Paris, France. This is where the French Open takes place.

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Wimbledon is located just outside of London, England.

My family and I went to New York over the long Labor Day weekend, which was a great time to go. We saw so many players and the weather was absolutely perfect. The only downside was that David couldn’t go because he had to work all weekend, but he isn’t much of a tennis fan anyway 😉

My mom was already in New York with a group of girlfriends, so my dad, brother and I flew out on Friday night (August 30th). We arrived at Hotel Edison in Times Square around midnight after a wind-whipped cab ride from LaGuardia. It is always an interesting (and scary) experience riding through New York City in a taxi cab…..let’s just say it was Friday night around midnight and the crazies were definitely out and about!

Saturday morning started off with a delicious breakfast of eggs, wheat toast, and homemade hashbrowns at Café Edison, which was located in Hotel Edison’s lobby. We loved Café Edison because it was quick, fresh, and super affordable.

We spent all day long at the tennis center after a LONNNGGG subway ride, and it was the best day ever! I loved seeing all of the players in action.

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Arthur Ashe Stadium during one of Nadal’s matches.

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Nadal in action!

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Isner.

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The Williams Sisters!

I even met Bob and Mike Bryan. How adorable are they?!

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Saturday night called for a show–Wicked! We had fourth row seats, so the experience was incredible! If you ever get the chance to see Wicked, do it! It will change your life.

Sunday morning began with a late wake-up, which meant my family and I had to SPRINT to our destination. It was quite hilarious. Anyway, we did one of the boat tours on the Hudson River, and it took us to see significant monuments such as Freedom Tower, Statue of Liberty, Essex Island, and more! It was a very relaxing experience.

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After the tour, we explored the city some more–Central Park, Columbus Circle….

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We took lots of jumping pictures and talked to some cops.

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Watched street entertainers.

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And then headed back to the U.S. Open for night tennis! This was so much more fun than the daytime sessions because it was nice and cool, and the atmosphere was “electric” as Novak Djokovic said.

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Haas.

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Youzhny.

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Djokovic.

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Sousa.

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My family at the Sousa v. Djokovic match.

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Novak for the win!

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Novak being interviewed.

We didn’t return to the hotel until 2:00 a.m., so naturally we didn’t arise for the day until 11:00 a.m.–just in time to meet some of my college friends for lunch!

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Charles, Megan, and Timothy!

We dined at Dervish, which was an authentic Turkish/Mediterranean restaurant and had a blast catching up. I miss my college friends so much!

We were scheduled to fly back to Georgia at 5:30 p.m., but didn’t take off until almost 9:00 p.m. It was very miserable, but I did get a lot of work done which is a plus. After all was said and done, I did not enter my home until 3:00 a.m. It was a long day!

I absolutely LOVE New York City and cannot wait to go back. There is so much to see and do, and the diversity is amazing to me–it is truly a melting pot, that’s for sure!