My Morning Skincare Routine



Earlier this week, I talked about my skincare journey and promised to share my morning and evening skincare routines. I have talked up these products with several friends and family members because honestly, this routine is easy and affordable and my skin actually looks better using these products than it did when I was using expensive face washes, lotions, and spot treatments. Plus, I have been using this routine for about six months now and it has not reduced in effectiveness (don't you just hate it when you think you've found the magic combination and two weeks later your skin is breaking out all over the place? Is that just me?).

I should note that I have combination skin, so my skin tends to be a little shiny during the day but dries out really easily (especially in the winter or whenever I try a new acne product), so that's fun. These are a combination of products for dry skin, oily skin, acne-prone skin, and aging skin (it's never to early to start! okay, that's not true, it would be creepy to put it on a baby or something, but whatever). You should use products that work well for your skin type and your skin sensitivities; these are just the products that are working for me.

1. You can find this Neutrogena face wash at any store with a skincare aisle, and is also available to order at Ulta and other online beauty supply stores. Something to note: Neutrogena has two orange-looking face washes, one of which is this and one is just regular face wash (not for acne-prone skin), so make sure you grab the right one. I love that this wash treats my whole face for acne which is great for prevention and doesn't dry me out (just don't use it twice a day. That dries me out righteously). I just squirt a pump of face wash into my wet hands and rub in circular motions over my dry face. Rinse off with cold water and pat dry with a clean towel.

2. I have really been loving the Dickinson's brand which I found at Walmart. They also have a "witch hazel toner," but I just use the straight up witch hazel. Witch hazel will help clear up and prevent breakouts and tighten pores. If you have dry or sensitive skin, you can dilute it using 50-50 witch hazel-water and up the witch hazel proportion until you're using straight witch hazel. Squirt witch hazel onto cotton ball and swipe over face and neck. Allow to air dry on your skin.

3. I got this Simple Revitalizing Eye Roller in my Birchbox a month or two ago and have been using it ever since. I'm not a huge eye product person as it's not a big problem area for me, but the skin under and around your eyes if the thinnest skin on your face, and keeping it moisturized is important for the health of your skin and preventing wrinkles. I can't really say how this one compares to others and I haven't tried too many; this is just the one I have, so I use it. Gently roll over the triangle of skin under each eye.

4. It took me a while to come around to serums, and then I bought a Clinique one and used it approximately never. And then I read this post over at beautyeditor and I realized I was missing out and started actually using my Clinique one. Then I ran out of that, starting hearing all about viatmin C serums, and found this Mad Hippie one. Vitamin C serums will help with anti-aging and sun damage, so they're great for summer (not to mention the rest of the year). It only takes a drop or two to get a think layer on your face and neck, so the bottle lasts a really long time. Wait a few minutes to let the serum really set in before proceeding to step 5.

5. I saw this save/splurge post on Beauty Bets which put Garnier moisturizers on my radar, and when I went looking at the store I saw the lightweight lotion and decided to go for it instead. The pump makes it easy to use (one is enough for my face and neck) and the lotion smells amazing, plus it keeps my skin nicely moisturized and I haven't had any problems with breaking out. It does have oil in it, but don't knock it before you've tried it.

6. Once or twice a week in place of my Neutrogena wash I exfoliate using a scrub to slough off dead skin and keep my complexion bright and clear. I like this one from Avon because it's as invigorating as it claims to be (it really helps to wake you up in the morning) and it doesn't feel too rough on my skin. It doesn't appear to be available on the website right now, but you might be able to get it from a representative.

Every once and a while I'll apply a spot treatment between steps 2 and 3, but I get major breakouts infrequently enough now that I just let the little stuff heal naturally. One thing that I've been doing less of now that my skin has cleared up is look closely at my skin. Don't sweat the small stuff people! If it's big enough to grab my attention I'll spot treat it, and if not it will cycle out on its own.

All in all, even with the wait time between steps 4 and 5, this routine takes about 10 minutes.

I would love to hear about your experience with the products or what products have been keeping your skin happy and beautiful!

Yours Truly, Jen

Inspiration Abounds


The end of summer is in sight and I've got a first draft of my thesis due by the end of September, a syllabus to refine and assignments to create in the next couple of weeks, and I've still got plenty of things on my Summer board to try and get done. With all of this piling on in addition to my typical work schedule and my desire to sleep constantly, I've been in search for some productivity inspiration. Luckily, inspiration abounds.

I saw this article by Ruth over at Living Well, Spending Less and loved how much emphasis she put into setting concrete, manageable goals and writing them down. I love making lists, but I don't take the time to do them every day, which is something I'd like to change. I'd also like to be better about monitoring how I spend my time and setting time limits for certain tasks in order to make my check list more likely to get done. Instead of just putting down THESIS, break this up into goals that can be checked off, like 25 pages or 30 minutes of revision.

I saw this image on Pinterest and this post over at A Beautiful Mess which really made me want to slow down and record life a little: take pictures, journal, capture memories before they're forgotten. I read this amazing article on being more positive and it reminded me how we remember the bad stuff more than the good and it made me want to start photographing and journaling even more. I want to start writing down one good thing every day.

I listened to the audiobook of Sloane Crosley's I Was Told There'd Be Cake and it made me really want to write essays. In fact, it might have been the thing that pushed me into finally getting this blog going.

All I want to do is cook everything Joy the Baker blogs about. I made these Lemon Ricotta waffles last week and they were off the chain.

What helps keep you organized and inspired?

Your Truly, Jen

Managing Pin Overwhelm


Raise your hand if you spend oh, at least an hour on Pinterest a day. Be honest now. If you're a Pinterest addict like me, you've probably pinned A LOT of stuff. More or less depending on how long you've been on Pinterest, how you utilize it, and how frequently you use it, but still. There are so many beautiful images and helpful articles and blog posts out there! Pinterest is great because it's visual bookmarking, which means you get to scroll through all of these inspiring photos, making it more likely that you'll want to stop and click on something than if it's simply saved to your Pocket or regular bookmarking system, but that also makes the scrolling a bit of a process and it can take a long time to get through all of your pins on just one of your boards. I'm slower than I'd like to be at getting around to trying new things anyway, and if I can't find what I'm looking for quickly and easily, I give up pretty quickly. After a bit of trial and error, I've come up with a pretty good system for managing my pins. Follow these tips to make your boards easier to scroll through and your pins easier to find so you have more time to actually put those pins to work rather than just collecting them.

1. Make board names specific
Some people have boards named things like "inside" and I just don't know how anyone can go back and find anything on one of those boards. For areas of particular interest, you want to get as specific as possible. For example, if you're big into cooking you'd want to break your recipe boards into entrees, desserts, appetizers, etc. or poultry, grains, soups, etc. (think of how cookbooks are organized), or if you're really into home organization/decor you'd want to break it up by rooms in your house. Subjects in which you don't plan to pin a lot can be kept pretty general (you can also make these more specific and break up into multiple boards if you gather more interest later).

2. When things aren't working, re-organize
This can be a total pain, depending on how many pins you have. I've done it a couple of times and it's not my favorite, but it's mindless enough that you can do it while watching TV. For example, a couple of months ago I realized that it was impossible to find anything on my fashion board so I broke it up into clothes for cold seasons, clothes for warm seasons, dress up clothes, and work clothes. Scroll through your pins, see what trends are happening, and think about what would work best for you personally and would makes things easiest for you to find. There is no right way of doing things. Also remember that you can pin something to multiple boards, so if there is something that fits into more than one category, put it everywhere it fits so you don't have to guess later!

3. Create a board for tried pins
There are different ways you can choose to do this. Personally, I have a "tried and tested" board where I repin all of the pins I've tried and put a little comment about whether or not I liked it and why and what I'd do differently next time (if anything) or whether I wouldn't do it again/recommend it. You could break up your tried and tested board into good pins and bad pins as well. You also want to consider whether you want to repin, which duplicates the pin and puts it on the new board as well as leaving it on the old board, of if you want to edit and change the board, which will remove it from its previous board and keep it only on the tried and tested board. This might be a good option for negative pins, so you don't accidentally try them again.

4. Purge
Every once in a while you need to go through your boards (you can do this systematically over a period of time or all in one go) and get rid of any pins that are no longer useful/relevant/inspiring to you. When I first got on Pinterest I would sometimes pin stuff just because I saw it everywhere and felt some kind of weird peer pressure to pin it; I also sometimes repin things I see that look interesting without clicking on the link, so sometimes when I do go back and look at the original source (especially for how-to's, recipes, or helpful articles) and don't find the content useful (or the link simply doesn't work), I delete them. Deleting unwanted stuff makes it easier to look through the things you are still interested in.

5. Create boards for pins to be used for certain projects or during certain periods of time
Each summer I have a set of goals for myself, so I create a summer board and repin pins from other boards that I specifically want to try during that period of time. This can be everything from recipes to try to clothing items to buy to tasks to complete. As I complete each one, I put a comment on the pin (you could also simply delete them). This lets me have a visual checklist (with sources) and see how many things have been checked off. You could also create boards for particular projects you're working on with only pins that are directly relevant to that project. For example, you might be revamping a particular room in your house. You may already have an inspiration board for that room, but may want to create a board with only pins that you're actually going to use in the revamping of that room. When you're done with the project, you can delete the entire board if you no longer need it.

6. Make pins searchable
I'm kicking myself for not putting better descriptions on my pins now that Pinterest has finally made it to where you can search your own pins. Keep in mind key words that you'll want to use to find them later. For recipes things like pasta, pork, chicken, and quick might be helpful. For outfits, name particular elements of the outfit such as tights, boyfriend jeans, riding boots, or occasions for which you might be interested in wearing them such as school, work, everyday, parties, etc. Sometimes you simply want to browse through your boards for inspiration, but other times you know exactly what you're looking for and you just want to be able to find is as quickly as possible.

I hope this has given you some helpful ideas for whipping your Pinterest boards into shape. Feel free to browse my Pinterest for organizing ideas. What tips and tricks do you use to keep your pins in line?

Yours Truly, Jen

My Skincare Journey


Clear skin has always been so integral to my level of confidence. It's amazing how one large or badly placed zit can ruin a day or week of your life, make you feel like you don't want to leave the house, make you spend all of those extra minutes trying to pat on concealer, extra layers of foundation. The women in my family are blessed/cursed with young skin. Blessed in that we tend to age gracefully (my older sister once taught at a middle school and was mistaken for a student more than once) and cursed in that we are stuck with acne for life. My mom is in her fifties and she still gets acne people, mkay? So from my very first middle school pimple, this was something I knew I was going to have to live with...that is, until I discovered Ulta and Sephora in college.

In high school I had only ever used drugstore skincare and makeup products. The beauty aisles at Walmart were a hallowed place. You see, even though I grew up in a family of women (two older sisters, two younger sisters. My brother took a long time in getting here), neither my older sisters nor my mother were particularly girly. They weren't really into all of that stuff. So everything I had learned about hair and makeup I had either figured out for myself or read in Glamour magazine. But then in college I had this roommate who was a little more schooled in the ways of makeup and skincare, used some more expensive products, and had a mom who was equipped to dispense beauty advice and help pick products.  From watching her and starting to read more about beauty and skincare, I developed my very first skincare routine, basic stuff like taking off makeup at night and putting on lotion twice a day. Drugstore products had never produced the results I wanted, so I wandered my way into an Ulta, bought my first expensive skincare line (we're talking 100 dollar line here; I believe it was Murad), and found that it did nothing for me.

For the next three years I spent a lot of time in Ultas and Sephoras, spending way more money than I had on face wash after face wash, lotion after lotion, topical treatment after topical treatment, mask after mask, sure that one day I would find the magical combination that would clear up my skin. I thought that these expensive products would be my skin salvation. And then I went to grad school in Blacksburg, Virginia where there isn't a beauty store for miles around. Back to the aisles of grocery stores and Targets and Walmarts I went, and after a little trial and error (and a lot of beauty blog reading!), my skin has never looked better.

Stay tuned for my morning and evening skincare routines and thanks for stopping by!

Yours Truly, Jen