The Beauty Products I’m Loving Right Now

Ya’ll I’m a sucker for beauty products. Face wash, toner, lotion, mascara, blush, bronzer, etc., I LOVE them all!!!! So much so that I’ve spent darn near a fortune on my quest for the best products that work for me. High-end and low-end priced products alike have been tried and tested. And while this is an ever-evolving industry with so many new products coming out daily it seems, I have managed to nail down a few that I can’t live without (for the time being, at least).

Let’s be honest. Flawless complexions are almost impossible to obtain. For those of you who have been blessed with such, LUCKY YOU!!!! I’m not one of those people. I’ve struggled with acne (adult acne, which is the absolute worst), dry/flaky skin, oily skin, crows feet, and now, as I’m nearing forty, wrinkles. And while I’m trying to combat all of these issues, I’m also mindful of the toxic ingredients that find their way into so many of the products on today’s shelves. So, I’m looking to clean (or mostly clean) products to do the job. So far I’m loving these…

Arbonne RE9 Advanced Smoothing Facial Cleanser (In fact, I love the whole RE9 Advanced Line) (*Full Disclosure* I am an Arbonne consultant (probably the worst consultant they have, as I simply do not like pushing products), but you can purchase this product from any Arbonne consultant)

Arbonne RE9 Advanced Smoothing Facial Cleanser

Thayers Rose Petal Facial Toner

Eminence Rosehip Triple C+E Firming Oil

Natura Bisse Diamond Extreme Eye Cream (This product is pricey, but it does wonders for the dry, crepey skin under my eyes) (*Money saving tip* if you subscribe to Dermstore’s email list, you can receive 15% off this product)

Alba Botanica Even Advanced Sea Lipids Daily Cream

The Organic Pharmacy Cellular Protection Sun Cream SPF 50

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial Mask

The Organic Pharmacy Honey & Jasmine Mask (*Money saving tip* if you subscribe to Bloomingdale’s email list, you can receive 15% off your total purchase)

Please drop a comment if you’ve ever tried the above products, or for that matter, any other products you might love. I’m always game to try something new! I’m also happy to answer any questions you might have about my experience with the above products, or any other products (it’s always a possibility I’ve tried one or more of them).

xoxo,

Barbara

Before and After Bathroom Pics!

Kids Bath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone, I am literally OBSESSED with Tadelakt plaster.  This is a Moroccan plaster that is waterproof and let me tell you, it is BEAUTIFUL!!!!  I’m so obsessed, that I have every wall (minus the ceilings and the powder room) in each-and-every one of my bathrooms covered in this material.  While the pictures do not do it justice, please take my word for it that it is beautiful!  As for the countertop in this bathroom, I used Calacatta Lincoln marble with integrated sinks made of the same material.  The marble has really pretty, yet subtle, veining.  I’m not sure though that marble was the best idea, given that this is the kids’ bath.  Well, we’ll see what it looks like in another year!! 

As for the fixtures, I splurged (a lot)!  I went with Waterworks, in particular their Dash line, and used these fixtures throughout the entire house.

More pics, below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Master Bath

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ugh, let me tell about the original master bath.  It was a huge undertaking, given the complete lack of natural light, as well as the horrid plastic-like black and white tiles covering what seemed like every inch of this bathroom.  I also did not like that fact the the toilet was not in a water closet, which is just a preference for me.  To solve the issue of no natural light, I had a massive window installed.  The problem was, I didn’t tell my husband beforehand and let me tell you folks, this window abuts the very front entrance of our home.  Well, he was not happy.  Also, I knew that, invariably, we’d forget to pull the drapes before bathing, thereby exposing ourselves to um just about anyone walking up to our front entrance.  So, to solve this issue, I opted to have smart glass installed in the window.  This is a game changer!!!!  I can’t explain all the intricate details behind how this glass works, but I only have to flip a switch (which is on the same plate as my light switches) and BAM, my glass goes completely opaque and no one can see either in or out.  Surprisingly, even with the glass turned on, natural light still envelopes the room.  I would highly recommend this type of glass if anyone needs privacy but doesn’t want to be bothered with drapery.  

Additionally, I took a small chunk out of my closet, which allowed for a water closet – YES!!!!

And like the other bathrooms, this too is covered in Tadelakt plaster. Thus, no wall tiles!!!!!

As for the countertop, I went with Indian Black Soapstone and also had the integrated sinks fabricated in this same material.  This is a very neutral material, but also has enough veining to keep it interesting.  

More pics, below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Powder Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the powder room, the fully integrated sink is constructed of the same material used in the kids’ bath – Calacatta Lincoln marble.  The benefit to having to purchase an entire slab of a certain material means I had plenty left over to fabricate another sink.  And while I originally opted not to have my walls plastered in this particular room, given the expense of Tadelakt, I’m planning on having plaster applied in this room in the the near future.  I just can’t help myself – I’m OBSESSED with Tadelakt plaster!!

 

 

Before Photos by Blush Photography; After Photos by Ashley Vernon Photography

 

Renovation Completed!!!! (well, almost)

Home Sweet Home

Hi ya’ll. Well, the house is FINALLY move-in ready! Hallelujah!!! Granted, there are no light fixtures installed (thank goodness for the recessed lighting), the fireplace needs glass doors, and we still need mirrors in ALL the bathrooms (and oh yeah, we have no furniture), we’ve finally moved in after nearly 3 years of renovating!!!! 

 

Here are a few of the BEFORE and AFTER photos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Love for Design

I have an admission to make – I am OBSESSED with Pinterest. Home design imagery, in particular. I salivate over the images of beautiful Parisian pied-a-terres by the likes of Joseph Dirand and Jean Charles Tomas, the minimalistic, yet surprisingly warm, visions made possible by design geniuses such as Axel Vervoodt, Vincent Van Duysen and Thomas Geerlings, and the ingenious incorporation of both classic and modern interiors concocted by design studios such as Atelier AM and Decus Interiors. And these are just a few of the many designers whose work I have come to love over the years. There’s something about these interiors that just mesmerize me.  Staring at image after image, I’m transported to these spaces and it’s simply magical.

Photo: Martin Morrell ; Design: Joseph Dirand
via NYTimes
Photo: Martin Morrell ; Design: Joseph Dirand
via NYTimes
Photo: Benoit Linero ; Design: Jean Charles Tomas
via MyDomain
Photo: Benoit Linero ; Design: Jean Charles Tomas
via MyDomain
Photo: Jan Liegeois ; Design: Axel Vervoodt
via Surface Magazine
Photo: Jose Manuel Alorda ; Design: Axel Vervoodt
via Galerie Magazine
Photo: Jose Manuel Alorda, Kasia Gatkowska ; Design: Vincent Van Duysen
via Vincent Van Duysen
Photo: David Spero ; Design: Vincent Van Duysen
via NYTimes

 

 

Part 3. Hallelujah! There’s a Light at the End of the Tunnel!

Tasked with ONCE AGAIN having to locate a builder, I determined that I might as well reach for the stars and try needling one of the largest home building companies in town. Maybe, just maybe, I could extract from them the name of one good, reliable subcontractor who could finally get us through the last few hurdles (I say “few”, but it felt like HUNDREDS) to complete our home renovation.

Well, my friends, it didn’t work …. exactly. Albeit I called a number of times and left message after message, no one from this company would return my calls. So, what then did I do? I turned to my husband and instructed him to reach out to the company. And after having left just one single message, guess what happened next? Yup, he got a return call almost immediately from the owner, himself. Apparently, this is still a man’s world (Grrrrrrr)! In any event, this individual was kind enough to bestow upon my husband the name of a “good, reliable” subcontractor whom he often utilized on his builds. My husband promptly called this subcontractor and scheduled a meeting. Needless to say, the meeting went well, and we are finally on track to having our home completed in the coming weeks. Can I hear an “Amen”!!!!!!

Pictures to follow.

 

Part 2. Oh Humanity – Where Hast Thou Gone?

Energized with the kind of motivation that can only come from being a novice and/or naive, I began my “contractor” career feeling exceptionally confident. Armed with my Pinterest images, which I somehow managed to whittle down from thousands of images to a measly 500, I began reaching out to friends and acquaintances to inquire after any builder they may know who would be capable of transforming my current home into my Pinterest dream home. Much to my delight, I got a few names. Even my in-laws participated, providing me with the name and contact information of the individual who had built their closet addition (an addition that from its inception had been leaking water all over my mother-in-law’s beautiful shoe collection – this should have hinted towards his competency, but alas, I was blinded by the dreamy possibilities courtesy of Pinterest and Instagram).

After almost zero discussion with my husband (who had absolutely zero interest in my grandiose renovation plans), I finally opted to meet with the individual who had built my in-laws’ addition (I know, I know…. insert palm on forehead). After guiding him through my ideas and walking through the house, he confidently determined that he could undertake the project and complete said renovation in roughly 6 months, all at a price tag that was manageable. YES, FINALLY, my dreams would be realized, and life would be utterly perfect (boy, do I need help with my priorities).

I digress, but I should note that we opted to begin the renovation process soon after purchasing the home, and prior to moving in. This, of course, meant that during the week, we were bouncing between my parents’ home and my in-laws’, while weekends were spent at our home on the ranch. FUN!

Alas, demolition day approached! After several of the predetermined walls were removed, I began walking through the home amazed at how open it already looked. Then I began focusing on a few additional walls that certainly were not essential and, if removed, could provide for an even greater open floor-plan. So, what does one do when they begin daydreaming? They call the builder over and ask them to take down a few more walls. After a few months, the walls were down, framing was done, and the massive support beam had been installed (a beam that I’d had designed by a structural engineer – I said I was a dreamer, not an imbecile – I know the value of an expert in some areas).

Well, sometime thereafter, my dreams came crashing up against reality and I learned that my builder was in fact not doing a proper job. (Of course, this was all discovered after I had paid him for his “work”). The framing was entirely off, the beam had not been properly installed, and a number of other issues soon presented. This necessitated my first “big-girl” move since beginning this renovation – I fired him!

Now what? I had the names of a few additional individuals that I had received upon my initial search, so I reached out. One person, in particular, seemed to be very well-informed and had come highly recommended. Surely if he’d done a good job elsewhere, he could do the same for me. I hired this individual and proceeded with showing him my plans. Of course, one concerning issue that immediately presented was his request to be paid a certain amount up-front. Again, being a novice “contractor”, this sounded fine. Shortly thereafter, this individual started failing to show up. Every time I’d call, he always had a reason for his absence and assured me that he would be back at the job-site soon. Once back at the job-site, however, he would again request payment, notwithstanding the fact that very little work had been accomplished. Of course, I stupidly paid him, hoping that this would be the impetus for him to start really chipping away at the mounting projects. It didn’t. This went on for nearly 2 years my friends! I know, that’s BANANAS!!!!! Finally, unable take my constant complaints, my husband stepped in and abruptly fired him (and by “fired”, I’m fairly certain that he had a few choice expletives for this builder).

Fully defeated, crushed that I had been so kind to both the initial and second builder and both had cheated me without a hint of remorse or concern, and with still so much work yet to accomplish before the home could be move-in ready, I wallowed in despair for an eternity. I kid, I did wallow in despair, but only for a few days, as the kids still needed my taxi services to go to/from school and after-school activities, dinner still needed to be conjured up, and the laundry was piling up. Life went on, and so I dusted myself off, wiped away my tears, and began the process of looking for a needle in a haystack – a trustworthy, compassionate, honest, kind builder. Did he/she even exist?????

 

Part 1. From “Yay” to “Ugh” and Everything In-Between

Have you ever decided one day that a good home renovation is what you need to fully enjoy your home (and your life)?  Let me tell you – I have!  I purchased a home more than two years ago and thereafter felt certain that while the home had great “bones”, it needed a refresh to bring it up-to-date and aligned with my personal aesthetics.  Oh, the pandoras box I was opening – had I only known!  

With finances sorted, I began reaching out to various contractors in my area (and let me tell you, in Roswell, NM, one’s options are limited).  Perhaps what surprised me the most about this endeavor, however, was how FEW contractors would return my calls, or the even fewer who bothered to show up at our predetermined meeting.  

Surely contractors need jobs to support their business????  Apparently not!  

I was cordial, courteous, I wasn’t asking for the sun and the moon, and most importantly, I was not going to haggle (boy, do I wish I had had the backbone at that time to haggle)!!!  Finally, one contractor reached back out to me! Thank you, Lord!!!!  And then came the bid – it was OUTRAGEOUS!!!!!  I knew he was good, as he had built a friend’s home and had done so beautifully, but I simply felt that this could not be a fair assessment of the cost to complete the renovations I had requested.  I mean I’ve watched a TON of HGTV (i.e., Property Brothers, Fixer Upper, etc…), this is not the price the homeowners on those shows pay, and those homes are literally taken down to the studs and then completely rebuilt.  

Unable to swallow (much less pay for) the exorbitant cost reflected in the sole bid I had received, and totally incapable of haggling to lower the bid, I confidently determined that it couldn’t be that hard to manage the remodel myself (again, thank you HGTV – I say that with absolute sarcasm).  I mean, all I needed to do was parcel out the project to a few subcontractors (thereby cutting out the cost of the middleman/the contractor) and VOILA, my dream home would magically come together.  Oh, how wrong I was!!!!! 

…. more to come tomorrow!