We Moved!

And I lived to tell the story.

Clara and I working away, mid-move

So I will just get right to it. And really, it is the same story as likely millions of others quarantiners. Spending so much time at home, together, just exacerbated the fact that 1,400 square feet was teetering on the edge of tight and REAL tight. We loved our house and neighborhood but we had simply outgrown the space. We had been casually looking for close to a year before we bought, but nothing held a candle to what we already had, in the areas we were interested, and in our price range. But then. Then the interest rates plummeted and what we thought was not doable, suddenly was.

When we first toured our new house I thought to myself “yeahhhh right. this is never going to happen”. It was too big, too nice, and honestly too perfect to be true. It had everything we wanted and more. And somehow, here we are. I am living in, quite literally, my dream home.

But before you get too jealous, please understand what a perfect home is to me:

  • Anything built in the 90’s

YES. I love me that classic 90’s layout! You know the one. Separate living and family rooms, usually an office off the front entry and a bonus room? YAS QUEEN.

  • Tiny, almost non-existent lawn

I grew up with a huge-ass yard + an acre of pasture. Fun to play softball in from time to time? Sure. Fun to mow, pick up tree limbs from and weed? YEAHNO. My parents used to make us go out there and pick up limbs from our willow tree and alllll I wanted to do was go inside and watch Days of our Lives. So basically, David and I like to spend our weekends having fun and not doing hours of yardwork.

  • Giant 90’s master bathroom tub

My only stipulation for said tub, was that it NOT be jetted. Because I’ll pass on soaking in someone else’s dead skin thanks. But – I love me a good ol’ giant tub. Would I prefer a sleek free-standing or vintage claw-foot? Duhhhh. But beggars can’t be choosers.

  • Carpet everywhere!

I feel like I have stated my position on this topic already, but in case you did not already know…    I ♥ CARPET. Our last house was 99% hardwood-laminate floors and don’t get me wrong, they were lovely. But I am a floor-layer kindof a gal. Some of my fondest memories as a child were laying on my grandma’s thick-ass carpet while watching Nickelodeon on her old TV that sat on the floor. Our new house has carpet in all the right places (read: NOT the bathroom) and I love it.

Upon moving in, we discovered a few more perks that we were unaware of.

We found these VERY realistic looking faux red delicious-style apples complete with produce stickers on top of the kitchen cabinets. Maybe I will throw them in a bowl, tie some raffia around it and sponge-paint the walls! (just kidding)

We also inherited two very high-maintenance pets (wink wink). The previous owners let us know that they had left a fish tank behind and I could not be more delighted. I named them Gloria Estefan and Bunny McDoogal, respectively. Also, if anyone has pointers on how to clean a tank like this, let me know because we have no clue.

As soon as we moved in, we immediately started on improvements:

Yes I consider putting a brand spanking new BBW hand soap in the bathroom an improvement. And no, we have not removed this wallpaper yet. It’s kindof growing on me 😉

I took down this giant monstrosity from the dining room and decided to spray paint it white in an attempt to save us from buying a brand new one. I think I like it!

We got an Ikea cabinet for the master bathroom, so I can organize all m’products!

Got a new bedspread for the spare bedroom/Nana’s room. PINCH ME I have a spare bedroom!

We took down this lovely turquoise swag from the master bedroom and I may use the fabric to make a Princess Jasmine costume! Also, just look at this little tike!

Other happenings in our new home consist of my first soak in our tub (which I am happy to report does in fact fit all 5’11.75 inches of yours truly). And many walks in our new neighborhood. Homegirl kept her sunglasses on for about 45 seconds the other day and you know I had to paparazzi that sh*t.

That is it so far. LMK if you would like any progress updates here, as I am happy to share.

My Little Mascara Club Review

Greetings friends and happy summer!

Today I bring you another review and this time we’re talkin’ my all-time favorite makeup product…MASCARA! I feel like putting mascara on is one life’s real, honest to goodness pleasures. Seeing those lashes go from drab to fab…I mean, what is better?

And also, I don’t know about you guys but now more than ever, I have been appreciating the small things in life. You know? The beautiful, picture-perfect rose in my neighbor’s yard. The new bath mat that fit perfectly in front our sink. Someone at the store telling me they like my tie-dye sweatshirt. You get it.

It is abundantly apparent that the folks at My Little Mascara Club appreciate the small things, because the attention to detail in their products is unrivaled. These wonderful folks sent me the Lovely Gift Set to try out and well, just feast your eyes.

First of all, can we just admire this packaging for a sec? Everything from the mailer…

To the boxes…

(Which btw, what a great company slogan) And inside, they send a FORTUNE COOKIE!

I MEAN!

Included in this gift set is:

The Best Little Mascara Ever – Length + Definition

Fresh Micellar Water with Cucumber

Erase Reusable Mascara Remover Wipes

 

The mascara features natural bristles and did a great job of lengthening and separating. I find small wands SO much easier to control than the full-size bulky wands. Here’s how it looks on me:

The micellar water + erase wipes however, might be my absolute favorite from the set. The micellar water smells like cucumbers and virtually eliminated every stitch of mascara with EASE. I was honestly kinda shocked. Plus, the reusable mascara wipes are super soft and you can just throw them in the laundry. I am seriously hooked.

Overall, I cannot believe how much I loved all the products from My Little Mascara Club. Even more crazy, they are all vegan and cruelty-free! I would definitely recommend this brand and will definitely keep en eye on them for new products!

 

Summer Skincare Must-Haves

No matter how hard this Portland rain comes down, it is still summer guys!

And I do not know about you, but I am  100% here for it.

As you may or may not know, I have been workin like a dawg on my skin as of late. I have been trying new products from The Ordinary, as well as a $5 drugstore cream that has been making a huge improvement with my dark spots. I cannot lose steam here folks! I must keep chugging along. Here are some products keeping me in tip-top shape.

ESK Hydroxy Overnight Mask

The lovely folks at ESK Evidence Skin Care sent me a couple products to try from their amazing cruelty-free, Australian-made line. I have been using the Hydroxy Overnight Mask, which uses aloe to remove keratin and old skin cells while you sleep. It leaves my skin feeling rejuvenated and refreshed in the morning. I have really enjoyed using this each night, and truly feel like it is helping my skin greatly.

Coola Classic Sport SPF 50 Sunscreen for Face

Of course I have to mention a sunscreen! This one is really great for the face. I have been using it almost everyday ever since I found out that the blue light from your phone can give you dark spots! The HORROR. It smells amazing, is light-weight, non-greasy and absorbs into the skin so easily. I have yet to find a sunscreen for the body that I love, so please let me know your favorites below!

Pure & Care Sheet Masks and Collagen Serum

I think what I love most about the items I received from Pure & Care is the straight-forward packaging. I see more and more skincare companies featuring the main ingredient on the packaging to make things simple for the consumer and I am HERE for it! For me, summer and winter are such a great time for sheet masks! So far, I have tried a couple of the face masks from Pure & Care and they are all very high-quality. Here’s a pro tip: put your sheet masks in the fridge after a long day outside and grab a glass of rose. You can thank me later :).

I have also started incorporating the Pure & Care Collagen Serum into my skincare routine because HELLO who doesn’t need more collagen over the age of 30? This serum is on the thinner side, which I really like. It absorbs easily into the skin and does not have any fragrance. Two thumbs up from me.

I cannot wait to try these eye masks next:

Here I am in the Vitamin E mask!

Wet’n’Wild Jungle Rock 3-in-1 Face Mist

This is summer in a bottle. It smells like coconuts, gives off a beautiful shimmery-ness when shaken and makes skin look dewy. What is not to love? I have been using this by itself, as a primer and also as a setting spray. I really like it and I adore the scent!

Eco Lips Lemonade Lip Balm

If lemonade lip balm doesn’t say summer I don’t know what does! And this stuff REALLY DOES smell exactly like lemonade. I am obsessed! These lip balms go on so smooth, are such a superior product to Chapstick, and cost only $2 a tube. Eco Lips really has my heart when it comes to lip balm, they just do it right.

What else should I try out for this summer? Let me know.

That Quarantine Life Pt. 2

First things first – BLACK LIVES MATTER.

If I did not use my platform, humble as it is, to speak this truth I would not be able to ramble on about the musings of skincare, my family, or Little Debbie Zebra Cakes. I think we can all take the time to listen, open our hearts and our minds, educate ourselves and fight for justice.

We went down to a day-time peaceful protest in Tualatin a week or so ago to show our support. I understand that this topic and everything surrounding it is controversial and personal.  It was the first time myself or David had done anything like that before. For us, it was incredible. Moving, sad, thought-provoking, just…good stuff.

And now, onto the sh*t show.

Things have been interesting around here. Like the rest of the world, I too have been experiencing life in a new way. And in the interest of brutal honesty, I switched medications and that has helped IMMENSELY. To any of my anxious and/or depressed friends out there, please consider therapy and medication if you have not done so already. What a game changer.

The quick and dirty of the past month – Both David and I are still working from home. School is now over (as of yesterday) and Clara is nearly 18 months old! Here’s the happs –

Just because it’s the time of the COVID does not mean I have to let cute clothes for Clara go to waste. Case in point:

Her shoes!

The June weather has been, in a word, shittay. It has only been hot enough for the wading pool one or two times. But guys, I have hope.

So much hope that I ordered them these:

The crappy weather has not kept us inside. E has become a bike-riding fiend and quite literally stays out all day riding around with friends, and sometimes her baby sis.

We even happened upon a drive-by birthday party with an alpaca. And now the bar has been set.

Our time indoors has also not completely gone down the toilet. Well…not literally. Figuratively? Maybe.

For instance…

And…

Ok, there have been some cute moments…

As for me? Well, I think I sprained my toe. And DON’T come for my long-ass second toe. It’s a sign of intelligence. FIGHT ME. It also means it’s the first toe to get stubbed.

I also caved and ordered myself a matching  tie-dye “set” ala errrr girl on TikTok (btw follow me @nataliekmichaelis). It has not arrived yet, but here is the one I ordered (I got shorts instead of sweats). I am pretty psyched.

I also decided to take FULL advantage of my quarantine grow-out and baby bangs and achieve my ultimate 7th hair goalz.

If your 7th grade self is also jealous of this style, its time for a night cream. AMIRIGHT!?

In culinary arts, things have gotten pretty exciting around here.

I squealed when David came home from the grocery store with this. Loudly.

We got a Crumbl Cookie near us! Another squeal.

We behaved ourselves and only got two.

This is Buckeye Brownie and Churro.

They weigh like 8 pounds each and are sooooo good. I mean, crazy good.

Lastly, I got another voxbox from my good pals at Influenster with the some goodies, including this Gold Bond Neck & Chest Age Defense Cream.

Pretty excited about this stuff. Such a neglected area for me! Btw, if you do not have an Influenster account and have a decent following on social media (Facebook, especially) – consider signing up. You get free things, no strings attached. It is amazing.

Ambi Fade Cream Review + Dark Spot Progress

Hullo friends.

I blame my recent obsession with skincare on this GD virus. If it weren’t for the ‘rone, I would not have countless hours to devote to inspecting each and every dark spot, line, wrinkle and yes, RAISED mole on my body. If it weren’t for the ‘rone, I would still be blonde. If it weren’t for the ‘rone, my consumption of Liberty Creek would be somewhat sporadic. Maybe this needs to be a new thing – “if it weren’t for the ‘rone….” GO!

Over a month ago, after spending countless nights reading through forums and trying to find miracle products that are affordable, I happened upon an ingredient that I’d been sleeping on – hydroquinone. Apparently it has been around for ages and can be prescribed in concentrations of up to 4%. However, you can get it in 2% over the counter. One of the most popular products featuring this ingredient is called Ambi Fade Cream and you get it for less than 5 bucks on Amazon! I promptly placed my order and began incorporating it into my current skincare routine.

Here is my progress with that routine and use of the Ambi cream at almost 8 weeks of use, once a day.

*I am applying this cream directly to the age spots, after serums and moisturizer.

BEFORE

AFTER

SIDE-BY-SIDES

After actually inspecting these photos on my large monitor here at my home office (my computer stacked on a couple puzzle boxes on our kitchen table) like…guys – I think the spots look a wee bit better, no?

It should also be noted that I just ran out of my products from The Ordinary, so I placed an Ulta order today! I ordered another Alpha Arbutin 2%, as well as this:

Anyone out there used hydroquinone for dark spots? What were your results?

That Quarantine Life

Hi there my pecan sandies!

I figured it was time to start writing about my experiences during this absolute bat-sh*t time.  Because once it’s all over and we’re back to normal (someone please reassure me this is going to happen) I am going to feel like I blacked-out. Like the past several months were just a bad dream. And, I KNOW. I know I am supposed to keep my chin(s) up, be #thankful for what I have and see the silver lining in all of this. But as I like to say, “first things first I’m a REALIST”. And the realistic part of me has nothing good to say about this…because it freaking sucks. It just, does.

Luckily, the other part of me loves a good meme. And watching people make asses of themselves on TikTok (I don’t care what vodka says, you still can’t dance).

So we laugh. We fight. We bicker about whether Mighty Ducks 1, 2 or 3 is the best (it’s 2). We make up new “house rules” due to shared unpleasant experiences. 4 people in a 1,500 SF house on a rainy day…need I say more? Especially when 50% of the people are scream-singing “Into the Unknown” or just plain screaming.

these are the rules so far

Whew. My back hurts. My whole back. Damn Ikea dining chairs don’t hold a candle to the ergonomic Herman Miller Aeron chair collecting dust at my office. GOD stop complaining Natalie. Let’s get to it.

Food and bev has been top-notch. Not because I have turned a new leaf and suddenly started to enjoy cooking but because my husband shares my affinity for Digiorno. And the Rite Aid down the street always seems to have Lib Creek on sale for $5.98.

I should have warned you that some high-quality photos were in store, my mistake.

The girls, well. Clara obviously could GAF what is going on. She is just living her best toddler life, toddling around, getting in to sh*t she shouldn’t and learning words like “No!” and starting to hit me in the face. (ps i don’t even care that she hits me in the face, i love her sooooo much she is my perfect babyyyy). E is weathering the storm too. Poor thing had to turn 9 during all of this and took it like a champ. Here is what has gone down with them:

New hairstyles

ok she looks a lil crazy here

E being forced to become bffs with someone 8 years her junior.

in the television daze

This killed me. E dressed them up in her Uma (from The Descendents) Halloween costume. Major Toddlers & Tiara vibes.

why YES that is homemade cornbread on the stove!

Fort building.

Floor puzzle construction in a dazzling art smock.

Here is the “double decker” pb&j that E made because she was “so hungry” when we only had one precious loaf of bread left.

she barely ate half

Clara’s 15-month well child exam with our amazing pediatrician. We could only send one parent (hence the FT) and temperatures were taken in the car before they could come in. LOVE it.

As for David and I…we’re hangin. THANK BABY JESUS for good tv, puzzles, alcohol, you know. We are both working from home and trying our best at being parents. We look SO forward to our 8:30 ish alone time where we recently polished off season 3 of Ozark (HIGHLY recommend).

my home is SO clean

As for me…I have had my moments. I have run the gamut of emotions. One moment I am perfectly fine and the next I am in the throes of anxiety. Depression has also crept in…yuck. However I take a little comfort in the fact that I know I am not alone. The whole world is feeling this. So if everyone else can do it, so can I.

Here are some things that have helped along the way…

I MEAN

owwwww

My mom gave us a bag of “girl books” from her house recently. I found a few gems from my childhood including this one. I opened it up, found this message and yep, ugly cried.

Man I miss my parents. And our friends. And TJ Maxx. THIS IS HARD.

How are YOU surviving?

Quarantine Skincare Routine

Hi hi hello! Happy hunkering to you all.

Among the millions of quarantine activity ideas out there, I have seldom seen skincare mentioned. The horror!  You see to me, skincare is a legitimate activity. It takes a good bit of time, can be quite therapeutic and makes us humans better-looking. You see? It’s perfect.

As promised, I am here to present my current skin care routine. I am very excited about sharing this information because unlike so many other times in my life – I am actually being consistent with my skincare. And you guys…I can actually see the difference! I feel like my skin has improved since I bought and have started using products from The Ordinary and Erno Laszlo over a month ago. Click here to read more about that.

Without further ado, here is my current skincare route from start to finish!

Step One – Cleanse

The first step in this routine is probably where things vary the most. Most nights I am too tired to wash my face so I use a makeup wipe. I would love to tell you that I buy really high quality ones but the reality is that I usually get these Up & Up ones at Target:

When I have the energy to stand at the sink to wash my face, I use the Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser. It is a great, affordable cleanser that does the job! I am also weirdly obsessed with the way it smells.

Step Two – Tone

Man I love a good toner! As per my recent haul from The Ordinary, I have been using the Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. I only use this stuff at night, as the directions state.

This toner is not for the weak. It definitely would not work for anyone with sensitive skin because it does cause a very mild irritation on the skin. It also leaves a bit of a film behind. Not necessarily tacky, just a little something left behind. It definitely is not comfortable or soothing but I actually kind of like the sensation because I feel like it is WORKING. I dunno. I’m weird.

For daytime…

As a daytime toner, I love using the Erno Laszlo Hydraphel Skin Supplement. I was lucky enough to receive a bunch of Erno Laszlo products from our Aunt Sandi and so far I have LOVED everything I have tried. This toner is like the polar opposite of the glycolic acid toner. Super soothing, feels great and leaves the skin feeling hydrated.

Step three – treat

I am currently using two face treatments from The Ordinary . First, I apply the Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA and then the Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. I use about a 1/4 of a dropper for both sides of my face and pat it in lightly. I try and let the Alpha Arbutin dry as much as possible before applying the Niacinamide. Both feel slightly tacky when applied, but do not cause irritation. I will say however, that neither feel particularly “soothing” on the skin.

After that, I apply a small amount of The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG under my eyes.

For daytime…

For daytime, I start with the Alpha Arbutin and follow with the Erno Laszlo Transphuse Day Serum.  This serum has a green tint and really wakes up the skin. I really love this combination and it feels like the perfect base for primer + foundation.

Step four – moisturize

At night, I apply all of my moisturizing products in bed. I love looking at them all lined up on my bedside shelf like a little cavalry. First, I take a small amount of the Erno Laszlo Hydra-Therapy Memory Sleep Mask and apply that to my entire face and neck. A little of this stuff goes a long way and it is SO luxurious. I compare the hydration level to that of La Mer. I seriously wake up in the morning and can still feel this stuff working!

Under my eyes, I apply the Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment with Avocado. This is just a simple, hydrating under eye cream and similar to the Laszlo moisturizer – it is SO soothing.

On nights where I have time and need a little extra somethin’ under my eyes – I have been using the Everydaze Gold Charcoal Hydrogel Eye Patches. These babies are seriously hydrating and they feel ahhmazing on my face. How I lived this long without doing eye patches is totally beyond me because I feel they make such a difference. These ones are on sale for $28 for 60 patches right now which is a steal!

If David is staying up later than me, I will also throw on this adorable sleep mask from Everydaze. I mean….HELLO! So cute.

For my lips, I have been working through the ever popular Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. It feels great on the lips and is very hydrating. This product claims to leave lips so moisturized they are soft to the touch the next day. I do not notice hydration the next morning, but I also feel like that is an impossible feat, especially if you are a tummy sleeper!

For daytime….

For my daytime moisturizer – I have been loving The Organic Skin Co. Daily Rituals Moisturizer. It smells amazing, is the perfect thickness and feels refreshing on my skin.

On my lips, I have been loving several products from Eco Lips, namely the Nourish Lip Balm and the Mongo Kiss Lip Balm in Vanilla Honey. If you have not tried products from this brand, definitely check them out next time you’re at Whole Foods. An added bonus to purchasing these lip balms is that they are fair trade, gluten-free and use cruelty-free ingredients!

extras

I cannot talk about skincare without mentioning masks! I love a good mask. I really feel like they make a visible difference and usually make my skin feel amazing. Recently I tried a sample of the Erno Laszlo Pore Cleansing Clay Mask and oh brother was it nice! Totally recommend this one.

This one is the Erno Laszlo Firm & Lift mask. It was such a luxurious experience! Like I was at the spa.

I cannot sing the praises of Grande Lash – MD enough. If you want to see before and after photos click here! I use this serum once every other day or so and yes, it works wonders. It also costs about 1/3 of the Rodan and Fields version :).

Also worth mentioning are two new body care products I have been loving! David got me this Bath & Body Works Into the Night Body Cream and I looooove the scent. It is definitely a rich, more evening appropriate smell with hints of jasmine. So good.

David also gave me one of the new Lush reusable bubble bars! This is the Candy Bubble Brush which smells like my all-time favorite thing – cotton candy. The bubbles from Lush products are seriously unparalleled. And the scent lingers FOREVER too!

So there you have it everyone! My current routine extensive but like, what else am I supposed to do during these trying times? Leave a comment below and tell me your favorite skin care item at the moment!

*The products from Everydaze, The Organic Skin Co. and Eco Lips were sent to me complimentary for testing. All opinions are my own.