The weekend.

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I love the tempo of the weekends. The freedom and the rest that they tend to carry, the every once in a while chaos. When people ask me how my weekend was, I usually always say the same thing. “Oh it was great, I didn’t do much of anything.” It’s a fine answer, I guess, but I sometimes feel like it portrays a lack of interest in life. Like I don’t really remember nor did I do anything amazing, so why bother talking about it. I love it when people describe their weekends and days to me. I like details. I like to know the color of the dress she wore, or how melty and delicious the pizza was. I like to know about the stars that night, or the sun that morning. I love it when other people are telling me their beautiful details, but I don’t always pay attention to the details of my stories. I skip them, because I believe them to be boring or insignificant; dull.

This weekend, I decided to pay attention to my details. To the life and beauty and tide of my weekend. 

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+ Friday: I woke up late, around 10:00 and had breakfast with my husband. We chatted about his work, and  I went to do some grocery shopping. That afternoon I took a glorious nap, drank strong black tea and ate the best Irish soda bread of my life. Just as the sun was setting, I went to a skincare launch party for one of my beautiful sister-in-laws, where we had tiny cupcakes and flavored coffee. I also ate Mcdonald’s at 10:30pm that night. Best.

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+ Saturday, I got up early, turned on the Keurig and went to spend a few hours with my nephews. We watched the Lorax, ate cheerios, and chatted about toys and movies. We had a dance party in the kitchen, and I rocked with both boys in their floral armchair. That afternoon was beautiful, so I took one of my fuzzy throw blankets, a book and a cup of tea and laid outside for an hour or two. I read that book all day long, and while doing the laundry and cleaning, I watched Dr. Who re-runs. I made fish and chips using Jamie Oliver’s recipe and left my hair in a bun all day. I took a long, hot, bath that night, and talked to my husband on the phone about work and funny stories. I stayed up super late, no thanks to my noisy neighbors, who eventually had a visit from the police. Fun times.

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+ Sunday: Sundays are always such beautiful days of rest, and today was none the different. Both my husband and I woke up very late, and were onto our second mugs of coffee before we made conversation. It was a super slow start, but we decided to enjoy the gorgeous weather (70 degrees!!) and take Romeo The Brave to the park to walk. We drove the short drive to the park, and walked about a mile and a half, holding hands, chatting with people about the size and beauty of Romeo the Brave. We came home and curled up on the couch, watched a bit of TV, and then the hubs went to work. I read some blogs, made dinner, cleaned the kitchen and took Romeo the Brave to get ice cream. Chocolate chip cookie dough on a waffle cone: perfection. Now, I am writing to you, drinking coffee, and being thankful. Tonight, I’ll take another bath possibly, curl up in my room with a book (possibly a Donald Miller one, or Shauna Niequist) and a mug of steaming tea. I’ll pray for my husbands safety, let Romeo do his rounds around the yard, and go to sleep.

In the best way, this weekend was a re-charge. A long, restful, clearing reset. A beautiful, sunny, warm weekend, filled with lovely faces, lots of time, and lots of fresh air. It was a breath, one I very much needed to take. This week has a lot of plans, and I won’t see my husband for longer than an hour until Saturday, but we had this weekend.

You never get days back. Make them count, even if it seems like all you are doing is the same old thing. Choose to remember them well, to give yourself the freedom to love rest and monotony, just for this weekend.

It was a fine one, indeed.

Love to you all!

Steffanie xo

Target Haul

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I love Target. It’s like every beauty-product loving’s heaven, with the added bonus of being able to grocery shop there. I recently needed um, everything, it seemed when it came to the toiletries section of my bathroom. I decided to give some new products a try this go round, because I was pretty bored of the things I was using. Here’s a peak into what I bought.

+Tresemme PERFECTLY (UN)DONE Shampoo, Conditioner & Wave Creation Sea Foam

This range smells and is one of my favorites from Tresemme. Being that I have naturally curly hair, this range has relaxed my curls a bit, and make for a better hold when I actually use a hair wand on it. To use the Wave Creation Sea Foam, I blow dry my hair with a pump of it already in my hair, and then work a bit into my hair after I have curled it. It’s give the needed texture and hold to your waves, without making it crunchy or sticky or stiff. It’s good stuff.

+ Eos Sweet Mint Lip Balm & Raspberry Pomegranate Shave Cream

I love the eos brand. They make such moisturizing products, and I love their packaging. Their hand creams are one of my favorite things! This lip balm smells good enough to eat, and being that it is all organic, you probably could. You may get super weird looks when you are using it, but I love it too much to care. This is probably my 20th bottle of the shave cream and it is still my favorite scent. So moisturizing and hydrating, I’ve never found a shave cream like it.

+ The Wet Brush Squirt

I’ve heard so many people talk about this brush. They swear by it, saying that if you have tangly, messy hair to buy this. So I bought the mini, because it’s cute and a perfect fit for my shower, and I am so glad I did. It glides through my hair after I have washed it. Like literally glides through it. No tangles, no knots, no snags. All gliding. (I’m so serious about how well this works I dare you to try it on your tender-headed niece, nephew, daughter, or anyone you know with a mess of hair.) I keep mine in my shower for any time I need a good brush after I wash my hair.

+ Mitchum Deodorant for Women

I usually use an aluminum-free deodorant by Tisserand, but sometimes, that just doesn’t cut it. I’m all about healthy pits, but not when I start to smell. That’s a no-no. I used to use Dove, but it always itched (TMI?) so I stopped using it. I saw this in Target and actually had looked for this in several places, when I just happened to find it. It smells SO GOOD. And no itchy pits here.

+ Rimmel ScandalEYES Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner

My Maybelline Eyeliner finally dried up. I think I was going on two years with that one. I picked this one up after having a browse between all of the brands liquid liners. Really liking it so far. No smudging, easy to apply, lasts forever.

+Simply Venus Disposable Razors

They’re razors. They work. The end.

 

And with that, I say adieu! Let me know if you have found anything at Target recently that you are loving! 

steffanie xo

 

Bath Bombs for a Cause

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I know a girl who has a heart of gold, and her name is Harper. Harper is a fantastic human being. She’s smart, hilarious, and incredibly brave. She also recently started a campaign against bullying, right here in good ol’ Oklahoma. Having experienced bullying and unkindness firsthand, she decided to do something positive. She started making bath bombs.

Yep, that’s right, bath bombs. Sparkly, fizzy, essential-oil-infused, homemade, bath bombs. She calls them “Bully-B-Gone Bath Bombs” and she sells them for $3-5 a bomb. To be used in your bath, they lift your spirits and de-stress your mind. The bombs smell amazing (especially the Relaxation one, with real lavender leaves thrown in), are so moisturizing and a great reminder to slow down, run a bath, and reflect. I was lucky enough to be able to try a couple of them and to blog about them. Harper donates the proceeds that she makes from sales of the bath bombs to the Kind Campaign.

The Kind Campaign is an internationally recognized movement, documentary and school program based upon the powerful belief in KINDness that brings awareness and healing to the negative and lasting effects of girl-against-girl “crime.” It’s a movement to stop bullying and to promote kindness within schools and specifically towards girl on girl bullying. It was started by two college girls, Lauren and Molly, who both want better stories for girls than what they had at their schools. It’s an amazing campaign, with a ton of resources to inform about bullying.

Harper, Molly and Lauren want a better story for her friends, and for girls everywhere. I’m so blessed to know someone who is so insanely brave and smart and lovely, and to be able to share this bit of her story with you all. I hope that you will check out the Kind Campaign and Harper’s story, and buy a bath bomb or two. They would make amazing gifts, especially for a little girl who you think may need a pick me up.

Everyone should be this brave and this determined about kindness.

To learn more about the Kind Campaign, click here.

Be kind. Be brave, my friends.

Thank you to Harper for allowing me to blog about this and try your awesome bath bombs! You’re an amazing soul! xo,

Steffanie

the record player.

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About four-ish years ago, I received one of the best presents I have ever received, from my husband. Brooke Fraser, who is a singer/songwriter/person that I am in love with, came out with an album called Flags. She self-produced, wrote and designed the entire album herself, and collaborated with other artists to create the beauty that is the album. When she made this album, she made a coffee table book, filled with drawings, lyrics, pictures and snippets of her time making the album. She also included a vinyl with four songs on it, a signed copy of the CD, and a documentary of her time making the album. It was one of the first times I ever became so excited about an artist and their music.

I’ve had that vinyl for four years and have never listened to it, mostly because I didn’t have a record player. When we got married, we hung the record on the wall, and it wasn’t until recently that I began to really think about what was on that vinyl. I’ve always wanted a record player, and my husband, knowing this, took me to Hastings and bought me a Crosley Portable Record Player. Mine is turquoise and gorgeous and I am so in love with it!!

My first record player. @tucker_ballinger is the best husband ever!!!! 😍

A photo posted by Steffanie Ballinger (@steffanieballinger) on

I’ve been using it everyday, winding down at night with Bach, Debussy, Tchaikovsky, Romeo & Juliet’s Ballet, and of course, Brooke’s record. I’m loving how the sounds sort of float through the house, making music sound that much more beautiful. I’m currently making a wish list of vinyls on Amazon, and I am so excited to start perusing the shops for some more records. Although, I am covered if I am in need of a Haunted House record, thanks to my husband.

Let me know in the comments which records are your favorite, or if you recommend any good ones out there. I’d love to know!

Steffanie xo

PS. I promise to be back soon with some product reviews. Keep an eye out!

Empties #6

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It’s been a good while since I have done an empties post. I’ve been collecting the old tins and bottles in a Lush bag and since it is close to being full, I thought it was a good time to dump them here. Allons-y!

Lush “Cosmetic Warrior” Fresh Face Mask (Not pictured): This mask worked really well to clear up any blemishes, and just overall keep my face clear. The smell is not for everyone (think GARLIC), and it take a little getting used to the texture, but I loved it. I can’t wait to try more of Lush’s face masks.

Lumene Finland Makeup Remover: This is the best drugstore makeup remover I have found. It works great on waterproof mascara, and it doesn’t dry out your face like some other ones. Really liked this.

The Body Shop Body Butters (Japanese Cherry Blossom and Almond): TBS Body Butters are the best out there. period. I loved the Japanese Cherry Blossom for bedtime, and the Almond for the daytime. Both smell amazing.

The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil & Tea Tree Skin Clearing Lotion: I finished these quite a while back, but I do remember using the Tea Tree Oil all the time when I was going through a horrible break out season. It reduces pimples in half with just a few drops. I haven’t re-purchased it, but I do remember really liking it. The lotion wasn’t my favorite, and my husband ended up finishing it.

Mario Badescu Special Cucumber Lotion & Acne Facial Cleanser: Mario Badescu makes really good face products, however I think I need something a bit stronger on the cleansing side. This cleanser is a good one but I prefer the La Roche Posay or Beauty Without Cruelty ones for my particular skin type. The toner was fantastic, and I really need to re-purchase it. One of the best sensitive skin, acne fighting products I’ve ever used!

Ed Hardy Life, Love, Luck Perfume: This perfume smells so, so good. It’s a bit Chloe-esque, but much more girly. Similar to the Marc Jacobs perfumes, but a little less floral. I’ve had it forever, and I absolutely love the scent. Definitely would buy again.

Bath and Body Works Sleep Night Time Tea Body Lotion: If you want a body lotion that aids in putting you to sleep, and smells just plain amazing, pick this up. I rationed out the two tiny bottles I had, because I love it so much, but I don’t think they sell it all the time. I have the body wash too, and I use it every night before bed. Very lavender-y.

The Body Shop Wild Rose Hand Cream: The Body Shop makes some great moisturizing products. I didn’t find this lotion to be too greasy, but just light enough to keep my hands moisturized for hours. Smells great too!

Caress Sheer Twilight Body Wash: Caress makes the most amazing smelling body washes for drugstore price. This one smelled like Bath and Body Works Twilight Woods, which I love. It’s sweet and musky, and lovely.

Lush Ro’s Argan Body Conditioner: I did a whole review of this product here. Best body lotion you’ll ever buy. The end.

Lush Hot Toddy Shower Gel: I posted about this previously too. Let’s just say I was super sad when this bottle ran out.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar Face Wash: If you have ever used Proactive, and know how clear that keeps your skin, try this. It didn’t work so well for my sister (sorry, Tiff!) but I loved it. It’s very foamy and very cleansing, so your skin feels squeaky clean every time you  wash it.

Head and Shoulders Itchy Scalp Care Shampoo: This one smelled great, but I have moved away from H&S for the moment. They tend to be too heavy for my hair. My new favorite is Suave Rosemary & Mint shampoo (love!).

And the longest empties post ever is done! Hope you enjoyed my product ramblings.

Steffanie xo 

Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara: A Review!

IMG_2938Recently, I was given some of the Younique Moodstruck 3D Fiber Lash Mascara to try out and review on my blog. Now, fiber mascara is a completely new thing to me. My usually mascara hails from the holy aisles of Target, usually the brand Maybelline or Covergirl. But this mascara has been making the waves with beauty lovers around me, so I was super excited to try it out.

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Fiber mascara is so odd but so wonderful and definitely takes some getting used to. But once you do, I promise, it makes it hard to love any other mascara equally. My lashes are always so long and defined and doe-eyed when I wear this. I don’t have long lashes at all so any mascara that adds lots of definition and volume, I quickly become a fan of.

To apply the mascara, you first start with your favorite everyday mascara. For me, I’ve been using a new one from Covergirl. It’s their Full Lash Bloom Mascara. The first thing I love about this mascara is how bright the packaging is. This mascara is great as just a basic, reliable mascara. It’s very similar to Maybelline’s The Rocket Volum’ Express, which I love. After applying a coat (or two) of your regular mascara, you then apply the Transplanting Gel to your lashes. After applying the gel, you apply the fibers, which literally just looks like a bunch of fuzz. But don’t let them alarm you. They work. I usually apply a little at a time of the fibers, because it is easy to go a little overboard. After applying the fibers, you apply more transplanting gel, and voila! beautiful, lengthened, full lashes. I don’t think my pictures do the mascara justice, so just trust me when I say the stuff is pretty magical.

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For this mascara, it runs about $29.00, which is pricey for mascara, but as I’ve said above, it works. I’d recommend this for use for any special occasion, date night, party, or just as a really dramatic everyday mascara.  My good friend Rachelle sells it locally here in the OKC/Moore area, so if you live close by, she would be the one to go to for it. She also has a link for you to buy it online, which is pretty wonderfully convenient. If you buy this mascara, or are interested, please let me know, because I would love for you to experience the magic that this stuff is.

Mascara, for the win!

Steffanie xo

Best of 2014: Books

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The Secret Place by Tana French- I would read anything Tana French writes. Anything. Her mysteries are the only ones that truly envelop me, and I always enjoy reading her books. This one is quite a different setting from all the others, but the story is just as interesting and puzzling as her other books.

Just One Day by Gayle Forman- I am not sure why I haven’t yet picked up the sequel to this, but oh my. It was so good. I finished it in about a day.

FanGirl by Rainbow Rowell- As someone who grew up obsessed with all things Harry Potter and Doctor Who, it’s hard not to love a character who is obsessed with a story. It was my first introduction into the world of fan fiction, but the book was hilarious, sweet, and because I am a twin, made me a little more thankful for mine. Loved this book.

A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg – Memoirs are my favorite books. Hands down, favorite. I loved this one, because not only did it include delicious, fresh recipes, Molly’s way with details is so great. She makes you long for Paris and chocolat chaud and a good meal. Pretty sure I’ll read this again this year.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver – Why on earth I am just now reading Lauren Oliver’s stuff is beyond me. She’s brilliant. Delirium is a dystopian novel, with a bit of a twist.Imagine a world where love is thought to be a disease, where passion can literally kill you. So it is removed at a certain age, and you live forever “cured.” Classic boy-girl, catastrophic event, cliffhanger at the end sort of a story. I loved it so much, and I’m reading the sequel, Pandemonium, now.

Paper Towns by John Green – Can I just say how excited I am for this movie?! I can’t wait to see Nat Wolf play Q. The book was fantastic, and lovely, and confusing, and lovely. I love John’s work. Great book.

Yes Please by Amy Poehler – Hands down, the most hilarious book I read last year. Maybe even the funniest I’ve ever read. I love Amy Poehler.

The Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro – Mr. Ishiguro’s writing holds a certain reverance for me. It’s beautiful. I always struggle to describe his writing, but he is really one of the best out there. I urge you to read this, and Never Let Me Go if you haven’t.

How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff – The most unique format of writing, being that the book has no quotation marks, but it is a novel. A YA novel at that. It’s such a beautiful story, about loss, and young love, and war, and a world away from normal.

Jesus, my father, the CIA and me by Ian Morgan Cron – Another great memoir. The story of the firecrackers still makes me laugh to this day.

Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessy- Sarah Bessy is so hardcore, and I love her. Her writing is so educated and almost poetic, and inspiring. She is also a fellow Whovian, so that makes her even more awesome.

Crash the Chatterbox by Steven Furtick- For anyone who struggles with the negative voices from their childhood, or from the present, read this. Steven is one of my all time favorite pastors and speakers. This book changed a good deal of how I think about my faith, my inner voice, and God’s way of speaking to us.