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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Having Someone to Lean on

If I asked you to name your friends, who would they be? Is it the girl in your lunch, the boy in your math class, your sibling? What makes them your friend? Take a second to answer that for yourself. 

You know who they are now? Good.

I am one of the lucky ones. I have the greatest friends I could possibly ask for. I am blessed with people I can call crying no matter what time of day, and they'll drop everything to listen whether I said I needed them to or not. I have friends that will support and believe in me and in the dreams I hope to come true. They also don't take advantage of me, which is extremely important. They're all over the place, and I'm lucky enough to have more than one. They're all unique: different opinions, different personalities, different styles, different strengths and weaknesses, different backgrounds, different ages, and even different countries. But regardless, they put up with my loudness, my constant laughter at things that may or may not be all that funny, my obsession with english, my experimental baking, my crazy ideas, my out-of-the-blue singing... the list goes on and on. 

I've seen plenty of friends come and go, and that's going to happen no matter what I do. I've realized that some friends are only supposed to be in my life for a little while to help teach me things about life and myself. But the difference between those friends and the ones I have right now is becoming very obvious. 

My current friends put effort back into our friendship. It isn't just me asking to do things or contributing to a conversation. They're also very honest, and will tell me what they think, but without making me upset. They are respectful of our differences and understand we are not always going to agree. But for them, it doesn't seem to matter or ruin the friendship. 

The past month or two have been a little hard, and those are the times when one can truly tell who does care. I've been able to lean on them and tell them what's been going on. That's a big deal for me because I usually just keep my mouth shut (Don't do that). They all have listened to what I had to say, gave me a hug, and told me it all would get better.

I have come to realize that not everyone is going to be a good friend to me, but that does not mean I don't have other amazing ones. Not everyone is going to like me either, and that is okay. Those are just a few lessons I have been learning. 

What I want to share with you is this: 

-Do not let other people change who you are or define who you will become. The real friends are going to love you regardless. 

-Remember who does care. Do not worry about the ones that don't. The ones that care can see when things are wrong no matter how hard you hide it, and they will help you get through whatever it is.

-Accept their help. Getting through things by yourself is so much harder than letting your real friends help you sort out the pain. It's also really unhealthy to keep difficult emotions inside. 

-Lastly, let them know you are thankful for them.  You know you are lucky to have them, so let them know too, and be ready to do the same for them if they need it. 

I hope this helps you to see who your true friends are, and appreciate them in your life. Hope you enjoyed it and have a great week! 

"There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate." 
-Linda Grayson

Love Always, 
Bree x

Friday, March 20, 2015

Growing Your Hair Long & Healthy

Scrolling through your Instagram, you see all these girls with perfect hair down to their waists.  How did they grow it sooo long that fast without the ends looking fried?  Trust me, I have asked the same questions and I understand your pain, so now I'm gonna share what I've found so you can get your locks like theirs! 

The first thing you need to understand is there is no magic trick or special formula to grow your hair (I'm just as upset as you are).  There's no straight forward answer because no one's hair is the same!  Not everything in here is going to work for you, and everything is not supposed to.  So try some of these, and keep doing what does work.

1. Drink water and eat healthy.  Yes, I know I say this for everything, but the outside reflects the inside and it will help! 

2. Keep your ends healthy.  Growing your hair out is a long process for most of us.  There are of course those lucky ones who can chop their hair off into a bob and a few months later, have longer hair than you do, and you haven't cut off anything!  But for the majority, we have to wait a while. That being said, this means while our hair is growing out of our heads, we need to keep the ends in tact.  It is a myth that trimming your ends will make your hair grow faster.  Hair strands are not tree branches.  Hair is dead skin cells, and because it's dead, there's no nutrients going to your ends. The trims get rid of the dry and damaged hair, but it won't make it grow.  Another myth is that products can "repair your damaged ends." That is a lie! Once your split ends are split, they are not going to go back together.  These products companies produce are not going to fuse the hair follicle back together, but they can protect more from splitting.  That's what is true.  You can also use oils like Moroccan Argan oil, olive oil, coconut oil, keratin, and others to keep the moisture locked in and your ends healthy.

3. Stop the heat.  This goes along with your ends.  You get split ends mostly by using heat.  Ever wonder why guys don't have any?  That's why!  It's hard to do, I know.  Straighteners and curling irons make your hair look perfect, but it's drying out your ends and stripping the hair up top of the oils it needs to keep growing!  If you can't get away from them like me, only use the hot tools 2-3 times a week and always use a heat protectant.  Always, always, always! Otherwise, it's time to start using braids, buns, and ponytails. 

4. Do not wash your hair every day.  It's not necessary to wash it all the time, and it's also harmful.  You can go about 3 days without washing it!  Again, the water and soap strips the hair of the oils and dries it out.  (This is also gonna save you some cash on shampoo!)  When you do wash it, use cold water.  It's not the nicest shower, but it will help. If you are used to washing every day, your hair the first month or so going without will make it very oily.  No worries, your scalp is just used to needing to overproduce those oils, and dry shampoo is about to become your best friend.  Spray it 8-10 inches from your roots and shake the hair till it disappears (it will also give you some nice volume).  The oil will reduce after a bit! Otherwise, as for washing your hair, Let it go! Let it go! (I hope you enjoyed my Frozen reference).

5. Stop dying your hair (unless you are going darker).  Lightening your hair requires bleaching chemicals that are going to damage the heck out of your hair.  Embrace your natural color, or go darker. 

6. Massage your scalp.  Does it sound weird?  Yep, but it does work.  Besides being a nice stress reliever, massaging your scalp is going to help produce more oils to help stimulate growth. 

7. Use hair masks and deep conditioners.  Whether they're homemade or not, they will help retain the moisture which will help the hair grow. 

8. Take Biotin pills.  Biotin is a B complex vitamin that will help your hair and nails grow stronger and healthier, as well as improve your skin.  

9. Don't over-brush and tease your hair.  If you're brushing it to get out the tangles, that's fine.  But don't brush it a whole lot per day.  It is going to make the strands weak which is not what you want when growing it out. Teasing weakens the strands as well and also splits hair right away.  It can peel back half the follicle creating a split end, so try to keep it to a minimum. 

If none of this helps, ask your dermatologist or hair stylist what else can help you personally.  There could be other reasons your hair isn't growing. 

Try this all out and let me know if it helps or if you have any other tips in the comments below!  Enjoy your week! 

Love Always, 
Bree x

Monday, March 16, 2015

Staying Active

In case you haven't walked outside lately, the white blanket of snow is more than halfway gone, it's around 50 degrees, and the potholes are horrendous!  All this means one thing: spring is finally coming! 

First off, excuse my extremely late post, but this past weekend was very busy for me because of St. Patrick's Day and all the dancing I had to do! There just wasn't time and I apologize. 

So to go along with the dancing I've been doing and spring being well on its way, I thought it was fitting to talk about getting out of our hibernation filled with cosy sofas and warm coffee, and into exercise   (pun intended). 

Every age needs to stay active whether it's weights and hard cardio or just a walk around the neighborhood, and 15 minutes of it every day.  Why?  Many reasons!

1) It relieves stress and improves your mood.  Everyone stresses and gets upset, so the less of it, the better!

2) It gives you more energy.  Don't believe me? Try it! I've exercised right before I've gone to bed, which was a bad idea because I couldn't fall asleep! But regardless, exercise= more energy= more awake= more productive day. 

3) It increases brain function! You'll have a better memory, which is great if you're as forgetful as I am. It will help you analyze your day better than you would if you'd sat on the couch. 

4) I'm sure you already knew, but it helps you lose weight. After spring comes summer, so after months of sitting around staying warm in your sweatshirts, you've got to get back in shape for swimsuit season! 

5) It improves your overall health. That means less sick days, and less problems when you're older. 

6) You'll sleep better (provided you don't do what I did and exercise right before bed) by giving you a deeper sleep. 

Finally, don't make excuses not to stay active.  There's pretty much no downside, so just do what you can and have fun with it!  

Happy St. Patrick's Day and have a great week!

Love Always, 
Bree x

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A New Lifestyle: Going Gluten Free

"Why the heck are you doing that?" 
"What are you eating?"
"I couldn't do that!"

Those are just a couple things people have said to me this past week.  Why, you ask?  Because I have chosen to eliminate a grain most people can't get enough of - wheat.  Yes, I've decided to go gluten (wheat) free.  

In my life, I have met plenty of people that are gluten-free, although most of them live this way not by their choosing, but because they are allergic to it.  So why am I willingly doing this?  Well, after talking to these people, they all said that although it is hard, they feel so much better without wheat.  It is a healthy choice, so I figured why not give it a try?  

I am proud to say I haven't consumed any wheat since the day I started, and I'm not planning to (unless I go to Olive Garden.  I'm not strong enough to give up their amazing bread sticks).  For me, it's been challenging because I loooove bread, but not as difficult as I thought.  I've also realized how unhealthy I had been eating, and found so many more options that are much better.  

A decade ago, stores didn't have many options for gluten-free people, but you'd be surprised how much they have now.  I've tried brownies and pasta - two things I thought I wouldn't be able to live without - as well as pretzels and many other gluten-free products, and guess what...It tastes almost the same as the regular stuff. I actually thought the brownies might be, dare I say, better than the stuff I'm used to!

Corn, potatoes, and rice have been just some of the grains taking the place of the beloved wheat.  Tortilla chips have become my best friend and mashed potatoes are still fair game (which is great because I can't go without potatoes either; it'd be crazy anti-Irish).  I've also been eating caramel rice cakes with a little bit of Nutella and strawberries on top (it's even better than it sounds).

By going gluten-free, I've found it so much easier to eat those 8 servings of fruits and vegetables we're supposed to eat every day.  If you know me, you know I really don't like peanut butter, but I've found it is amazing on celery.  And I'm not craving sugar nearly as much, letting fruit like strawberries, apples, oranges, and pineapple take its place as my dessert. 

I'm not as hungry either, which is the exact opposite of what I thought I'd feel like.  Maybe it's because I'm getting used to less food, or maybe because gluten can make you crave more than your body actually needs.  I have much more energy and it's easier to get ready in the morning since I'm not walking around like a zombie.  I don't feel weighed down at all, and my endurance has gone up.  I'm more alert in class and I have an easier time focusing on my work.  My skin feels better as well, which is always a nice bonus. 

I'm not saying there aren't a lot of benefits to eating wheat, there are, but for me, I think the cons outweigh the pros on this one.  I'm not sure how long I'll stay gluten free, it may become permanent.  I'm really not sure.  It'll depend on how it goes down the road.  

One more thing before this ends: This is NOT a diet.  I don't believe diets work because they usually do not last long.  This is instead a new lifestyle, with the occasional exception, and maybe it'll be much better in the long run!  

Feel free to try going gluten-free with me and if you have helpful tips, recipes, advice, brand recommendations, or questions, feel free to post a comment below!  I'll be keeping you updated on this one!  Have a lovely week(: 

Love Always, 
Bree x


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Foundations, Concealers, & Other Correctors

Walking into the makeup department, you know you're on a hunt to find some form of cover-up, foundation, etc.  But as you start looking, you realize there are so many different forms of foundation that you're not sure which you should purchase.  If you're this girl, no worries, I'm going to help you out.

The first thing you should understand is your own skin. Is it Very Fair, Light, Olive, Medium, Tan, or Dark?  If you're not sure, ask someone at the makeup counter and they can help you.  Very fair people sometimes find difficulty to find the correct products.  That skin tone is very close to white making it difficult to cover blemishes and is usually very sensitive.  Make sure you take that into account and buy something that matches very well with your natural skin and will not irritate it.  Light people, like myself, are pale, but they can pull off products with more color.  Normally, you can wear one of the lighter shades, but the lightest may be too light.  This kind of skin can also be sensitive, so be careful. Olive skin tones, have more yellow and less pink.  You can have pale or tan olive skin because it has to do with the undertone more than anything.  Your shade is probably either between Light and Medium or Medium and Tan.  Next is Medium. Mediums have natural color to them and it's probably the easiest skin type to find a good shade for.  Your skin can take more than lights and very fairs, so it probably is less prone to irritation.  Still be careful though.  Tan skin tones look like they have been in the sun all year round (lucky you).  Your skin is probably not sensitive and has a good amount of color to it. There are usually a lot of different types of foundations and things in different, but close, shades, so asking someone at the counter may be helpful when deciding.  Lastly, dark skin tones may also have trouble finding their perfect match like the very fair's.  But luckily for you, your skin tone usually naturally blocks out unwanted color letting very few blemishes show through, if any.  Remember not to go too light or it will appear very unnatural and cakey.  The closer you can get to your exact shade, the better.

The next step is identifying what kind of product you need.  Do you have a lot of breakouts? Dark circles? Redness? Or just a few spots? Is your skin pretty even? What are you trying to cover up?  One of the most common misconceptions I've run into is that some girls have lovely skin that really doesn't need foundation.  The point of foundation is to cover up things you don't want others to see.  If you don't have anything to hide them there's no point in buying it. If most of the time your skin is pretty good, but some days your skin is uneven, I would recommend BB cream or a tinted moisturizer.  It's very light coverage and will even everything out without a full face.  You can use your fingers to apply it very quickly and easily. If you normally have some redness, but it's not terrible, I'd go for a light coverage foundation.  You can apply it on just the spots that need it, or all over your face.  I've found the best way to apply it is with a brush, but I have used my fingers from time to time.  Medium to Full coverage foundations are for those who have very breakout-prone skin and should probably be applied with a brush.  There's probably a lot of redness and breakouts which you want to cover up and this will do the trick. But don't think that because there's a lot to cover up, that you need to use a lot.  A little will go a long way, I promise.  These foundations are meant to cover it up with very little, so don't put on a whole lot or risk having a cake face.  Yikes!

There are also two types of foundations - powder and liquid.  Both work very well!  Powder can be really good for oily skin and liquid is probably best for dry skin, but try them and see which one you like better!

Another thing that may come in handy is concealers.  These are meant to continue to cover up spots and dark circles under your eyes.  For breakouts all over your face, I would use a concealer close to your natural shade so it doesn't make the spot stand out more.  You can also apply a green (yes, you heard me right!) concealer under all your makeup to help cancel out the redness.  More orangey and yellow concealers are useful under the eyes to cancel out the blue and purple tones.  These can be applied before and sometimes after the foundation.  Another trick with concealers is that if you use one a few shades lighter than your natural skin tone from under your eyes to the top of the apple of your cheek in a triangle shape, you can help highlight your face and add some dimension. A darker concealer can be used on the hollows of your cheeks to accentuate your cheekbones just like contouring with bronzer will!

So now you've figured out what and what kind of product you need.  The next step is what brand.  Please understand that the most expensive does not always mean the best, but sometimes investing can also be worth it.  I've tried high-end and cheaper foundations and it really depends on what works for your skin.  For you girls out there on a budget, my favorite drugstore foundation brand is Covergirl.  I use the Outlast Stay Fabulous 3 in 1 in ivory.  It's a light to medium coverage foundation and works really well for me.  As for high end, Nars is a great option.  I've seen the Sheer Glow work very well on different skin types and at the moment I am using the All Day Luminous Foundation in Mont Blanc. It is Medium to Full Coverage and goes on very nicely.  My biggest tip I've learned with that specific one is not to use a whole lot because it can get cakey. For BB cream on my good-skin days, I use the Ganier Skin Renewal Miracle Skin Perfector for Combination to Oily Skin in Light/Medium.  It makes my skin really soft(:  Lastly, my favorite concealer is from Mary Kay in Ivory 2.  It doesn't get cakey and it covers really well.

Finally, a lot of times, foundation stays on longer with powder, but you don't have to use it if you don't want to and dry skin usually stays better without it because it's less drying.

Hopefully you found that helpful by explaining what everything is, or maybe just telling you a few facts you didn't already know!  If you have questions, feel free to ask in the comments and have a lovely week!

Love Always,
Bree x