Today’s Obsession: Patagonia and Bobbi Brown

About a week ago I celebrated yet another birthday with family and friends and as usual got completely spoiled. I’m not quite sure how I got so lucky to have so many amazing people in my life but when they come bearing gifts, I’m not going to ask too many questions. All joking aside, my family and friends really do rock. Besides a ton of food, laughter, and love I received two new products (among many others) that I have head-over-heels fallen in love with.

First, I have officially popped my Patagonia cherry and I have to say I really, really like it. Alright- here’s the real story. My husband received his first Patagonia vest this past Christmas. I never really saw him as the vest type of guy but it actually looks really good on him and he actually really loves it. That’s when my natural woman jealous tendencies really started to kick in. I wanted one too. I wasn’t sure if it was the Patagonia brand or the vest I was jealous of. Now I am able to tell you, it was both. For some reason I never really liked vests but I have so many other fleeces/sweaters that it didn’t really make sense to spend a lot of money on something I don’t really need. So, I started to casually browse for Patagonia women’s vests in the coming weeks. To my surprise I found a ton of different styles that I really liked. One thing I knew for sure was that I didn’t want just the typical fleece material. I feel like it is a little too “old” for me and not something you can really wear in a fashionable way on a daily basis. Although, the models on the website made them look pretty damn good but I wasn’t convinced I could pull it off. Not for my first time at least. So it was settled, I either wanted a vest with a fuzzier fleece material or a quilted one. I continued the search for the perfect vest to lose my vest-virginity to (J.Crew has a really nice quilted vest that tempted me). But in the end, my jealous heart went back to Patagonia where I found the vest for me: the Women’s Retro X Vest, in dark walnut.

The material was exactly what I was looking for- a fluffier, fuzzier, and more fun fleece. Not to mention the color is really versatile, it can be worn with almost anything. To me, this is a vest you can wear out in public instead of just while hiking, skiing, or working outside. You can dress it up slightly with a button up Oxford shirt underneath or you can completely dress it down with a hooded sweatshirt. Whichever way you choose, it’s still a cuter and hipper version of the traditional fleece vest. I’m not ashamed to say that I have worn mine approximately four or five times in the last week and a half. The way I look at it is that I won’t be able to wear it much longer once spring finally hits us (fingers crossed). So in this case, the repetition is totally acceptable, right? This vest will typically run you about $180 but don’t settle. I was able to find my vest for about $100 here with free shipping and it was worth every single penny. Well, every single one of my mom’s pennies.

I have also developed a rekindled interest in make-up lately which I completely blame on my sister-in-law. Don’t get me wrong, I have always loved make-up but I usually just run into the cosmetic aisle in Target and grab the cheapest mascara, concealer, or eye-shadow I can find. I have had my bouts with more expensive make-up like Smashbox, Bare Minerals, and Laura Geller. But once I finish the product I am usually pretty reluctant to go out and cough up more cash for a new one. But a few really good Black Friday deals at Ulta got me going again and now I want more, and more, and even more. Lucky for me, I started running out of my Laura Geller bronzer just in time for my birthday. I decided I wanted to try something new since I really don’t have a clue about the full potential of available bronzers out there waiting for me. With this very crucial dilemma on my mind I sought the help of my fashionista sister-in-law. She suggested I try Bobbi Brown. And yes, it’s amazing. I settled for the golden light shade since my skin a pretty fair and I don’t like to look like I am wearing a lot of make-up.

The color is perfect. With just a little dab it gives your cheeks the slightest healthy glow that no one would ever know is make-up. You can also apply the bronzer a little heavier to make it slightly more noticeable but still completely natural. The best part is that it stays on all day and night until I wash my face. Or perhaps the best, best part is that I have also noticed that I don’t get it everywhere once it’s on my face, including the collar of my shirts/coats or on my pillow when I lay down after work or for a cat-nap on the weekends. I also really like to feel of the bronzer itself. It does not feel “cakey” or heavy at all. You can’t even feel it on your face. Harmless beauty is the best beauty. The price is typically $38 which I don’t think is horrible for designer make-up and you can buy it mostly wherever more high-end make-up is sold. My sister-in-law suggested buying it at Nordstrom’s because it’s free shipping. Who doesn’t like their make-up to arrive free right at their front door? But when I was looking I didn’t feel like they had the right color for me so I decided that I would get mine from Bloomingdale’s. It’s the same price and you get free shipping if you are a Loyalist card member which everyone should sign up to be one right now. It’s free and is just a bonus points card, not a credit card. I think I’m going to stick with this one for a while.

Two great products- one happy girl.

Can someone remind me again why it can’t be my birthday every month?


Miss Smarty Pants

While browsing the internet on a desperate search for inspiration for this week’s post I came across this article from California Watch. In short, it talks about how women in male dominated majors in college (specifically engineering) struggle with constant confidence issues- many of which end up dropping the major because they feel like they aren’t smart enough or feel like an outcast. One mechanical engineering and material sciences major at UC Berkeley reported that her male classmates didn’t take her seriously and often made comments about her blonde hair. She also always felt extra pressure not a make a mistake because when she did it was often attributed to her gender.

As awful and unfair as this is, it’s a reality that women in college and the workplace are going to have to deal with at some point in their lives. Society is continually making small steps forward, but we aren’t going to see a massive change in gender equality overnight. Therefore, we, as female students and professionals, need to know how to handle ourselves appropriately and with confidence so our male counterparts don’t have anything to complain about.

Success and confidence building all starts in the classroom. Your college or university is a safe place to practice the skills in which you will need once you enter into the workplace. In college, you have a massive support system around you that wants you to succeed. Nevertheless, as demonstrated above, the classroom is also an easy and common setting for sexism.

With August quickly approaching (yikes!) and fall following closely behind, I have outlined some basic classroom etiquette guidelines below. Hopefully, this will help ease some nerves, build a little extra confidence, and make all you smart women out there be taken a little more seriously.

*Just like everything else- be on time. If you are constantly arriving late it gives us the impression that you don’t care about the class or your success. If you happen to be late, take the closest seat to the door that you can find and don’t walk across the front of the classroom.

*Dress comfortably and appropriately- especially for women. You want to be taken seriously so dress to impress. No man (or professor) is going to take you seriously if you show up to class in high heels, a mini-skirt, and tight tube top. All you are asking for is inappropriate attention- save that outfit for the weekends.

*Try to use the restroom before class. Getting up in the middle of a lecture is disturbing to both the professor and other students in the class.

*Once the professor summons the class to begin, cease all conversations. You probably don’t like it when you see other people talking while you are so don’t do it to someone else.

*Turn off your cell phone so you aren’t tempted to constantly look at it or so that phone call from mom doesn’t accidently disturb the whole class- embarrassing.

*Try to take your notes the old-fashioned way- with a pen and paper. Laptops are great but they are also a distraction. If you absolutely need to use your laptop because you are a slow writer or your professor talks really fast it might be a good idea to block your access to the internet and other games you may have on your computer so you aren’t tempted.

*Don’t whip out a book, magazine, or newspaper during class and start reading. It’s just rude. Despite how good you are at hiding it, your professor can easily tell when someone’s eyes aren’t looking at him/her. Also, don’t constantly turn your head to glance at the clock. Unfortunately, the end of class isn’t going to arrive any faster.

*If you are chewing gum, do so softly. Don’t blow or pop bubbles. It’s probably best to just save the gum chewing until after class.

*If you are so tired to the point that you are going to fall asleep in class you probably just shouldn’t go. There is no point in being there if you are just going to sleep through the whole thing.

*Hand everything in when you are supposed to. If your professor usually collects papers at the beginning of class don’t arrive twenty minutes late. Show that you care about your work.

*If you need to leave a class early let the professor know either before the class starts or a few days before. Also, try to get a seat right next to the door so you don’t have to walk across the whole classroom.

*Don’t hurry the end of class by packing up your books and zipping your backpack up a few minutes before class is over. Again, it’s rude and distracting. Plus, you may miss the opportunity to write down some essential information about next class, the homework, or an upcoming exam. Class isn’t over until it’s over.

If you handle yourself with confidence, show that you care, and have a genuine interest in learning and furthering your education you will be taken seriously. Showing your weaknesses gives people an opportunity to beat you down. Do what you love and don’t let anyone (man or woman) scare you away from it.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

Make New Friends, but Keep the Old

No woman is complete without her friends. No matter how successful, intelligent, or wealthy- a girl needs her girlfriends. A friend provides many important essentials: a much needed afternoon break from your hectic life, a dependable second opinion, a shoulder to cry on, or a person to share and celebrate your joys with. When you have a fight or disagreement with a good friend it seems as if your world is going to end. You aren’t quite sure how you would ever survive without them.

Friendship isn’t easy. People, especially women, expect a lot from their friends. Despite our own busy lives we are expected to frequently keep in touch, know the happenings of each other’s lives, and organize a get together every few weeks. Sounds exhausting but we all do it (and it’s totally worth it). Making new friends is just as hard as keeping the old but I have gathered some great tips on how to maintain those priceless friendships. Just follow the golden rule: treat others how you want to be treated.

*If you are meeting a friend somewhere- be on time. If you are constantly late, don’t have an excuse, or don’t apologize for your tardiness then it seems like your life/whatever you were doing before is more important than meeting your friend.

*Don’t gossip about friends with other friends (unless you are bragging about all their accomplishments). There’s a very good chance that anything bad you say WILL get back to the other person- especially if you are all in the same group of friends. If you do slip-up and the gossip gets back to your other friend- be honest about it. Don’t dig yourself deeper in a hole. Fess up and explain why you said what you did. Your honesty will be appreciated.

*Listen more than you talk. Show an interest in their lives by asking questions about what they have been up to.

*If you are at a party or large gathering make sure to introduce new and old friends to each other, giving them a chance to form their own friendship. Don’t keep groups of friends separate.

*If you get a phone call while you are with a friend and need to answer it make sure to excuse yourself.  Better yet, if you don’t need to answer it then don’t. It will make your friend feel super important in that moment.

*No matter how boring or pointless, don’t interrupt your friend’s conversation. Let them talk until they are finished then you can politely change the subject. Do not then point the conversation towards you- they are probably just as uninterested as you were. Pick a neutral topic.

*If a friend asks for your opinion or advice- be honest. No matter what you think your friend wants to hear, tell them what you truly think is right. They value your opinion more than you know. You might save them from making the biggest mistake of their life.

*Celebrate their accomplishments and joys by taking them out for lunch or buying them a little gift. Also take part in their sorrows. If they are upset about something or going through a hard time- reach out to them. A friend is someone who isn’t just there for the good times but for the bad as well.

*Every girl has to have someone they tell all their secrets to- we can’t keep everything to ourselves, it’s just in our nature. If you are that person for someone else, live up to the expectations. Keep their secrets safe no matter how tempted you are to run and tell another friend.

*One of the best things about having a friend is that you have a whole other closet to go through. It’s perfectly fine to borrow things from your friends but there are fine rules that come along with it. If something is new, don’t borrow it (even if your friend says you could). Don’t keep anything too long, you never know when your friend is going to need it. Lastly, return everything in the condition in which you got took it in (clean that is).

Friendship is priceless and if you do it right it should last a lifetime. Although a lot goes into maintaining a friendship, if you just follow your heart and do what you feel is right you won’t have any problem making new friends OR keeping the old.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

Claim Your Prize Here

If you are reading this post right now I owe you a sincere congratulations. One, you made it through my last two awfully depressing posts. And two, you survived six months of reading my blog. Therefore, happy six months to me and a big congratulations to you (really- you have no idea how much I appreciate it).

What’s in it for you? Alright, alright don’t get so pushy- I think you deserve a treat too. How about a candy bar? No. An afternoon nap? Nah. A day at the beach? Nope. Jeez, you guys are so hard to please… wait, I got it! How about a nice warm stone massage and facial? DING, DING, DING- we have a winner!

I think you should treat yourself- I really do. You won’t regret it. Spas are for relaxation, a place to de-stress, but not everyone feels that way. The thought of going into a quiet, dimly light treatment room with a complete stranger deters many people from even stepping one foot inside a spa. Have no fear, I’m here to save the day again (hey, I can toot my horn a little today- I’m celebrating!). These few simple guidelines will surely ease your nerves. Speaking from experience, I promise that you will be going back for a second treatment very soon.

*Arrive 15-20 minutes early for your appointment. If it’s your first time, many spas will have a short questionnaire for you to fill out and you will definitely want a few minutes to unwind in the relaxation room while sipping some cucumber water.

*Make sure to be honest about your medical history/any current medical problems. The last thing you want is a nice relaxing spa trip to cause more problems for you down the road.

*When you make your appointment, ask about their cancellation policy. At many spas, if you cancel with too short of notice there will be a fee.

*If you have a particular therapist that you like to see, make sure to tell them that when booking. Don’t assume you can just walk in and request a certain person- they may already have another customer.

*Leave all your valuables at home (they make you take off jewelry anyway) and shower before the treatment whether you take one at home before you arrive or in the locker room of the spa.

*Before you walk in the door, turn off your cell phone. Better yet, just leave it in your car. There is absolutely no reason to bring your cell phone with you, people don’t go to the spa to talk or to listen to other people talk.

*If you are new to the spa, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask for a quick tour. It’s much better than wandering the halls yourself looking for the locker room and other amenities.

*The biggest problem people have with spas is the nudity. You don’t need to undress completely. If you are comfortable, go ahead. But it’s ok to leave your underwear on (I know I do). Also they will provide you with a sheet to cover yourself when you roll over onto your back and your bottom is always covered with a sheet-nothing is ever exposed.

*If you have a problem area that you would like your therapist to pay special attention to- speak up! They aren’t mind readers so if you don’t say anything it’s your loss.

*Don’t fall for add-ons, unless you want to pay. Sometimes during your massage they will ask if you would like a certain lotion or an extra treatment and most of the time these extras cost something. If you don’t have the extra money, decline politely or if you feel comfortable ask if there will be an extra cost involved (you don’t want to miss out on anything already included in the price you are paying).

*Don’t feel pressure to talk during your appointment. The therapists are usually very respectful and know that people come to the spa to relax. If your therapist is particularly chatty just say that you have had a rough week and really came here to just be by yourself and not have to talk to anyone for an hour. They will understand, they’re used to it.

*You aren’t expected to jump right off the table after you appointment but you should try to move at a respectable pace. There is a good chance that there is someone else waiting to use your room.

*Don’t forget to leave a 15-20% tip (in cash if you can) at the reception desk after your massage.

*When you get home, drink lots of water throughout the rest of the day to rehydrate your muscles and reduce any soreness that may arise in the next couple of days.

Whoever thought of the idea of a spa is a complete genius in my book. There are very few other places where you can go to be in complete relaxation by yourself. Everyone needs that every once in a while. Try it once, you will be happy you did.

Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence,’ this one is easy. Enjoy- you deserve it!

Night Life Suave

Happy Thursday folks! Hang in there just a few more weeks because summer is just around the corner. Summer is my favorite time of the year because it allows for reconnection. People seem to have more free time, they take a little extra time off from work to enjoy the nice weather and reconnect with friends. Restaurants and bars become busier, sidewalks are a little more crowded, and a few more cars fill the streets. The world becomes completely alive once again- it’s a great feeling.

I don’t know about you, but in the summer I feel like hitting the night scene a little bit more (I will admit it, in the winter I’m usually a bump on my couch). But going out to bars and dance clubs isn’t always a pleasant experience. I often ask myself, “Why am I here again?” Some people don’t know how to act appropriately in public- they are inconsiderate, rude, and totally oblivious. The bar is the perfect recipe for disaster. Mix alcohol with poor manners and well… you know what you get.

Fortunately, the bar scene doesn’t need to be disaster zone. There are many quick fixes that every bar-goer can do to make everyone’s life easier. The next time you hit the bars with your friends try to follow the suggestions below, couch potatoes everywhere will thank you:

*Always have your ID ready when you enter a club/bar or approach a bartender. Don’t assume that they aren’t going to card you, having to fumble through your purse/wallet for your ID wastes unnecessary time. Also, it is a good idea to have your credit card/cash ready as well.

*Be polite/patient while getting the bartenders attention. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, the bartender knows you’re there (they are trained to handle large crowds), there is no need to wave your hands franticly and shout “Hey you!” Your turn will come, I promise.

*Know what you want to drink before the bartender gets to you, don’t waste his/her time with your indecisiveness. If you are ordering more than one drink at a time, order all your drinks at once. Don’t wait for the bartender to come back with your first drink then tell him/her you want another one too.

*Drink with the atmosphere. If the bar is really busy you should probably stick with a simple drink so the bartender can help as many people as possible, as quickly as possible.

*When ordering your drink, put down the cell phone. In fact, put down the cell phone period. You probably can’t hear the person on the other side anyways.

*Don’t leave your drink unattended on the bar or table. Not only is this a good practice for women to follow for obvious reasons but if bar hops or waitresses see a drink sitting by itself they are most likely going to spill it out and throw it away to clear the space for someone else.

*It’s really important to know your limits- don’t embarrass yourself (it’s NEVER worth it).

*Don’t stay at the bar beyond closing time. Just because you are having a good time, the wait staff/bartenders really want to go home- they deserve it. As closing time draws near, promptly pay your bill and start heading home.

*If you don’t open a tab, tip the bartender after every drink. If you did open a tab, leave a 15-20% tip at the end of the night.

*Try to leave your table/bar area as clean as possible. If you were the one that had to clean it, you would appreciate the effort.

*I really wish I didn’t have to say this one but please don’t drink and drive. Arrange for a friend to be the designated driver before you get to the bar. If you find that all your friends have had too much to drink just call a cab (you should always keep your local cab company’s number in your cell phone). Your life is worth the little extra cash it costs for a safe ride home.

Now go ahead, live life, have a little fun, and practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

(Follow me on Twitter too! @lconfidence)

Building Bridges of Hope

In lieu of my recent college graduation I feel the need to get a little educational on you all so bare with me but I promise you won’t regret it. In one of my history classes this semester we talked about Ruby Bridges (now Ruby Bridges Hall). Ruby was an exceptional little girl and still continues to make a difference in people’s lives well into adulthood. While I was sitting in class, listening to my professor talk about Ruby, it suddenly hit me- Ruby Bridges Hall is a lipstick confident woman. I knew then that I needed to do a blog post about her for those of you who already don’t know who she is.

Long story short, at the age of six Ruby was the first African American child to attend an all white elementary school in the South (more specifically the William Frantz Elementary School in New Orleans). Many white parents withdrew their children from the school and all the teachers refused to teach a colored student. This alone leaves Ruby to be one of the most lipstick confident women I know. At such a young age of innocence and naivety it takes a lot of confidence to be able to walk into a place you aren’t wanted with your head held high. The Deputy Marshal described Ruby’s sense of purpose and determination on that life-changing day, “She showed a lot of courage. She never cried. She didn’t whimper. She just marched along like a little soldier, and we’re all very proud of her.”

The school hired Barbara Henry to teach Ruby since all the other teachers refused. For a year, Mrs. Henry taught Ruby alone. The public continued to harass Ruby and her family- threatening to poison her, protesting daily outside the school, her father lost his job, and her grandparents were driven off their land. But the Bridges never gave up on what they believed in- they had each other and that was all that mattered. The little support the Bridges family did receive from their community encouraged them to continue as well. Some families sent their children to school despite the protests in support of the family, a family friend gave her father a new job, and neighbors took shifts protecting the Bridges household.

Ruby turned her childhood experiences into a life mission. In 1999 she formed the Ruby Bridges Foundation to combat continuing racism in schools and communities today. Ruby particularly focuses on the use of children as a tool to spread racism. Ruby works to connect students, parents, and educators with the realities of racism and its effects. The foundation works to involve students in service projects that encourage community responsibility and team work. From these projects, students learn skills needed to participate in meaningful causes. The Ruby Bridges Foundation starts at the bottom, focusing on children in order to inflict change on the society as a whole. Children can educate their parents just as much as parents educate and influence their children. Ruby also travels around the country on frequent speaking tours and has received many awards and recognitions such as the Presidential Citizens Medal by Bill Clinton in 2001.

Ruby Bridges Hall has seen a lot of ugly in her life but instead of giving up she pushed through the negatives to make a positive. Not everyone is capable of doing this, but to a lipstick confident woman there is no other choice.

Find something your passionate about and get involved (no matter how small a contribution) and practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!

The Shopping Cure

Every girl likes to shop- it’s inevitable. Shopping is a great stress reliever and a successful cure for a bad day. But sometimes shopping induces even more stress than you had before you set foot inside the store. Some shoppers are just plain rude and inconsiderate. They act as if the store belongs to them and their needs are the only ones that matter. They can quickly turn a happy outing into a nightmare that you never want to relive again. When you are in a public space there is a lot to think about (it’s not easy to be polite), I couldn’t possibly mention it all here. Below I have outlined a few simple shopping guidelines from my personal experiences that I really wish more people would follow. You never know, you may have a part in turning a fellow shopper’s bad day into a good one.

*If you are in a store in which you are using a shopping cart- use it wisely. Don’t block the entire aisle with your cart (yes, other people will be walking down that same aisle). Most importantly, don’t walk too close behind the person in front of you or take sharp turns. You never know when that person is going to stop short and being hit with a shopping cart actually kind of hurts.

*If you run into a friend, don’t stand in the middle of aisle and gab. Move over to the side or in a corner where traffic flow is lighter.

*If someone isn’t following proper shopping etiquette (i.e. blocking your pathway) that doesn’t give you a free ticket to be rude back. Politely say “Excuse me,” don’t just push your way through. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

*Please, please, please be polite and considerate to store associates. Their job is NOT easy and most of them are getting way under paid to put up with rude people. Just because they work at the store doesn’t mean they know everything little thing about it, so if they don’t know the answer to your question don’t get agitated (they will ask someone who will). Also, if they don’t have something that you are looking for then they don’t have it. Your complaining is not going to make the object appear.

*Be aware of and obey posted signs such as cash register express lanes. If you have more than the item limit for the express lane then don’t get in it!

*If you have a cart full of items and there is someone behind you with one or two things, let them go ahead of you. Whenever someone does this for me I think it’s the absolute nicest thing ever- you could really make someone’s day a whole lot better just by one simple act.

*Try to have your money/credit card ready before it’s time to pay. No one likes to watch the person in front of them dig through their purse for five minutes trying to find their wallet. Everyone has hectic schedules so anything you can do to expedite the cashing out process would be appreciated by everyone.

*If you are in a clothing store, try not to mess with the piles of neatly folded clothes. It takes a long time for the store associates to make these piles and I could only imagine what they feel like when they see people wrecking them. Usually they leave the tags in a pretty accessible place so there is no need to unfold every shirt in order to find your size.

*Even if there are no signs, don’t eat or drink in stores (especially clothing stores)- there is just too much room for error.

*If you want to try something on- go in the dressing room. Not only do you look crazy when you are trying on a shirt over your other two shirts you are already wearing in the middle of the store but you are also stretching out a shirt that is not yet yours.

*Put stuff back where you found it. Everyone does it- we think we want something and after walking around the store a little bit we decide that we can do without it (props to you). Don’t just lay it down wherever you are, put it back where it came from. It’s unfair to the store associates to have to clean up after your mess.

*As in all public places, keep cell phone use to a minimum. If you have a phone call you must take, step outside or tell them you will call them back later.

When shopping, follow the golden rule “Treat others how you want to be treated.” We were taught that lesson in kindergarten for a reason and it’s really pretty simple. If something makes you mad when other people do it (such as blocking aisles or talking loudly on cell phones) then maybe you shouldn’t do it either.

What’s that you said? You really want a new pair of summer sandals? Well then, go get’em and practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!