Sunday, August 1, 2010

My thrifty facial skin care routine

On July 20, the Georgia primary elections were held and my husband was working on one of the campaigns. His candidate lost. We were extremely upset, not only because the wrong man won and my hubby is now looking for work, but because the candidate is a good friend of our's. Also, my job has been really tough for the last week, so, needless to write (though I shall!), I have not been feeling up to writing a post. Until now.

See, we had a bunch of people over yesterday for a board meeting (and today, too - though a different bunch of people for a different board - and, for the record, I am "board" with meetings. Ha ha. See what I did there? I am a GENIUS with words. OK. Moving on.), and the girls were talking about blogs and it made me miss writing. So, yay for board meetings! I now rescind my earlier pun.

And what else is there to write about on a Sunday but skin care routines. What? You can think of a million other things to write about on a Sunday? Fine. Go away.

I love learning what other people do for their skin care routines because when I turned 23 (I'm 29 now) I suddenly had adult onset acne. It was not pretty, and I was embarrassed by my skin for about a year. Thankfully, my face cleared up after using Institut Esthederm Cellular Water facial cleanser and Bio-Hydrant moisturizer for just two weeks. Ridiculously expensive, these products worked miracles on my face. I am not saying they are cure-alls for everyone but I am SO glad they worked for me.

Again, the products were ridiculously expensive so I had to find an inexpensive alternative to maintain my clear skin. And the following routine is what I found, and what I have used for the last six years because it does such a great job.

Every morning and every single night, I wash my face with Oil of Olay Gentle Foaming Face Wash for Sensitive Skin and apply Oil of Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin (includes sunblock - SPF 15 - very important!) all over my face AND my neck.

I have slathered my neck in moisturizer since I was about 12, when I read an article about how neck lines really show a person's age. I may be a wrinkled little prune by the time I am 65, but my neck will be smooth dadgummit! Also, when I put the moisturizer on my face, I use my index fingers to smooth around my eyes and I gently massage up, not down, when I apply moisturizer everywhere else on my face. This is extremely anal retentive, but that is just me. :)

Every other morning, in addition to washing my face with Oil of Olay Gentle Foaming Face Wash for Sensitive Skin and applying Oil of Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin all over my face and neck, I start by gently massaging Aveeno's Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub on my face - steering clear of the area around my eyes.

I love the way this stuff makes my face feel and look - my face actually appears more, well, radiant (hence the name) after I use it - and additionally, it smells wonderful.

The price is one of the best parts of this routine:

Oil of Olay Gentle Foaming Face Wash for Sensitive Skin = @$4.50 at Wal-Mart for 7 fl oz
Oil of Olay Complete All Day UV Moisturizer for Sensitive Skin = @$8 at Wal-Mart for 6 fl oz
Aveeno's Positively Radiant Skin Brightening Daily Scrub = @$6.50 for 5 fl oz

Now, what skin care routine has given you the best results? I really want to know.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


See? I really did get married.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A travel-size life

The hubby just got home from a business trip and he came back with roses, chocolates, and other romantic gifts! Actually, the only truthful part of that statement is that he just got home from a business trip. I have to give him some credit, he DID come back with:

(i) a two-serving bag o' coffee
(ii) two tea bags
(iii) three little plastic cups
(iv) a travel-size shampoo
(v) a travel-size conditioner
(vi) a travel-size lotion
(vii) a mini soap
(viii) a mini razor kit
(ix) and the kitchen sink

Whenever we stay anywhere that offers toiletries, coffee, etc in the room, we end up bringing back almost everything that isn't nailed down. I have always grabbed items from hotel rooms and other locations because we do, in fact, pay for them when we rent a room, but I learned a whole new level of - let's call it getting our money's worth - from my husband.

Do y'all do this? At what point do you say, we have enough travel-size items? I guess the main question is: do we really need them? Though if we didn't have them, I would miss pretending to be a giant as I pour shampoo on my head.

Monday, July 12, 2010

My niece can drive better than your niece

A photo from about a year ago, but my goodness does this make me smile.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thrifty Finds: Butterfly Flower Eau de Toilette

I'm not actually a huge shopper. This might seem odd since I write about my favorite shopping finds on my blog pretty often. In fact, I typically dislike shopping unless I am looking for home decor, but I had a wonderful time visiting the North Georgia Premium Outlets in Dawsonville with my mom the other day. We stopped by the Bath & Body Works there and my goodness, I was glad we did.

I haven't needed to buy lotion or perfume in forever (this is due to a Bath & Body Works shopping spree a few years back and some kind gifts from family and friends), but mom and I popped into the store just to look. We came out with a few steals!

One of these steals is a delicious-smelling perfume: their Butterfly Flower Eau de Toilette.

This has to be my new favorite summer scent. Regularly $29.50, this wonderful 2.5 FL OZ perfume was on sale for $6.62! An unbelievable deal for such an incredible scent. I knew it was a keeper and that I need to go back for more when the hubby gave me a hug and told me I smelled so good today.

What is your favorite Bath & Body Works scent?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

#12 on my 30 Before 30: Bake a cake from scratch

Number 12 on my 30 Before 30 list is to bake a cake from scratch. Well, I shocked even myself by not only baking a cake from scratch, but by creating the recipe myself! Also, it was delicious!

I know. I just passed out, too.

This Lemon Cream Cake is super easy and is the result of many hours of research learning what ingredients are necessary to make a cake, well, a cake.

If you make this, please let me know what you think.


For Lemon Cream Cake
  • 6 oz cream cheese (funny story: that's all I had left of an 8 oz block, so 6 ounces it was!)
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, a.k.a. 1 1/2 sticks (you don't want to know how much I had to research to find out that unsalted butter is what is typically used in recipes. I am a baking idiot.)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla (though I may have "accidentally" tipped a little more in)
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour (this means you sift the flour into your measuring cups - I know, I didn't know there was a difference between "sifted flour" and "flour, sifted" either)
  • Zest from two large lemons
  • pinch of salt
  • Butter flavored cooking spray + a little all-purpose flour

  • Optional blueberry topping (delicious, but unnecessary)
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup sugar (yep, it's a lot!)
  • splash of vanilla
  • lemon zest to taste (I did about 1/2 a lemon)
  • 2 T water

  • Instructions
    Preheat oven to 375º F. Start the blueberry topping (if you want to use the topping). In a small bowl, coat the blueberries with the vanilla, lemon zest, cornstarch, and sugar. Put this aside so the berries can soak up the flavors.

    Sample one or two while you are making the cake mix. For quality control purposes, of course.

    Create the cake mix: in a large mixing bowl, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and sugar using a hand mixer, unless you are super strong and want to do it by hand (the mixture should be very smooth). Then beat in the eggs, vanilla and lemon zest until smooth - make sure there are no random ingredients hanging onto the inside of the bowl by continually scraping down the sides of the bowl.

    Then using a spatula, gently mix in the sifted flour, baking powder and salt until it is just combined, but not too lumpy. (I wish I had a photo!) Spray a 9" round metallic cake pan lightly with butter flavored cooking spray. Throw some flour on top of the cooking spray, but flip the pan over (do this over a trash can or sink!) and tap the bottom firmly to remove the excess flour. This spray+flour combo will stop the cake from sticking (I'm sure you already knew this).

    Apparently cake mix is delicate, and it needs to be placed in the oven as soon as you finish mixing it. So, place the cake pan on the middle rack (important for even baking) of your oven and bake for 30 - 35 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

    Mine took exactly 33 minutes.

    While the cake is baking, place the blueberry mixture + 2 Tablespoons of water in a small saucepan on super low heat to make the mixture syrupy without breaking down the blueberries too much. Just keep an eye on it.

    Once the cake is done, place the cake pan on a wire rack to cool for about 15 minutes and turn off the blueberry syrup mixture. Then carefully remove the cake from the pan and continue to cool it on the wire rack.

    Cut yourself a generous piece and spoon the blueberry topping on the cake (or not!) and enjoy.

    I LOVED this cake. It was like a mix between a crumble cake and a cream cake with a super buttery exterior. Not sure what that really makes it, but I will be baking this again!


    (This post can also be found on my cooking blog: A Cooking Bird.

    Tuesday, July 6, 2010


    I put myself out of commission the last few days. By kicking my desk at work last Thursday.


    I reinjured my foot - the one that had a stress fracture from running my first half marathon in October of 2008. I knew the bones on the top of the foot are fragile, but I didn't realize they were that fragile. I have been sat up at our house during my weeklong vacation. But today I got my old Orthopedic boot from Kole's house and my little sis called to let me know she has crutches.

    So, look out world. Here I come! If ever so slowly.

    Saturday, July 3, 2010

    Thrifty Finds: bird salt & pepper shakers from Pier 1

    I love birds. Not so much chickens and roosters or swans and other long-legged birds, but cute, fat little birds - like birds in the Paridae family.

    Because of this, ahem, mild obsession, bird decor can be found in small batches throughout our home. Cam looooooves it. Let me tell you. Um, not really. He battles back with deer heads, rifles, and portraits of dead presidents and generals on our walls. And the giant, bleached, stuffed beaver in our dining room.

    I kid you not.

    Anyways, I always get excited when I find fabulous bird accessories, especially if they are thrifty finds.

    Slowly walking through Pier 1 yesterday without any intention of purchasing anything - I find the store very overpriced - I saw these beauties cuddled up on a shelf. They chirped, "Buy us."

    True story.

    Knowing that I can't spend money on every cute little item I find - adorable birds or not - I flipped the darlings over to find the price. $3. Let me repeat. $3. For both.

    So, this is how they look on our formal dining room table. Actually, they were sitting on a beautiful bird tablecloth - a wedding present from my dear friend Kole - but I needed more of a contrast for the photo.

    What do you think? Do you have a theme to your decor?

    Thursday, July 1, 2010

    Living on a budget: Part 1

    The following conversation occurred after Cam finished setting up our new home infrastructure plan, combining our Internet and TV with my cell phone in a bundle package in order to save some money.

    *Phone rings*

    Cam: Hello?

    Nicole: Hi, babe. I just got an email confirmation from AT&T saying you finished putting our new package together. I forwarded it to you.

    Cam: Great.

    Nicole: How much will the new bill be?

    Cam: It will be (undisclosed amount). They are setting up everything on July 10.

    Nicole: Will the (undisclosed amount) show up on my bill?

    Cam: Yes... (pause) Is that OK?

    Nicole: Of course it is! How much were we paying before for just cable and Internet?

    Cam: About (undisclosed amount). [our previous cable and Internet bill is the same amount we will be paying for cable, Internet AND my cell phone].

    Nicole: Great, honey! You are saving us about $600 a year!

    (another pause)

    Nicole: And no, you can't spend the extra money.

    Cam: But socks! I need socks!

    I think we might need to loosen the budget strings a little.

    Tuesday, June 29, 2010

    My 30 Before 30 List!

    Creating my "30 Before 30" list was more difficult than I imagined. While I was thinking of items to put on the list, I would feel these sudden urges to write down ridiculous goals, like "Learn how to surf" or "Climb to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro." But then I realized something. I don't want to learn how to surf, and I really don't want to climb to the top of the highest mountain in Africa.

    I do have big goals in life, and I do want to accomplish significant things before I turn 30, but I want this to be a FUN list with a good mixture of easy and difficult things that are possible for me to finish.

    Also, whether I complete the list or not, thanks for coming along for the ride.

    1. Finish Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred (because we saw how well my attempt at Slim in 6 turned out)
    2. Take a weekend trip
    3. Try a new restaurant
    4. Make homemade ice cream
    5. Have a girls night
    6. Throw a party
    7. Go hiking
    8. Print wedding photos (now putting them somewhere is a different story)
    9. Redecorate one room in my home
    10. Run a race
    11. Read five New York Times Best Sellers and review them here
    12. Bake a cake from scratch
    13. Document a "day in my life" with photos
    14. Spend time exploring a city in Georgia
    15. Visit an Atlanta attraction
    16. Try Pinkberry (they finally made it to Atlanta)
    17. Write a short story
    18. Decorate my work office
    19. Plan and implement an entire date day
    20. Volunteer for a worthy cause (besides English School, where I have volunteer taught English to foreign adults for nearly three years)
    21. Go on a picnic
    22. Spend a whole (non-sick) day lounging around the house with movies, books, etc.
    23. Do 100 consecutive push-ups
    24. Create a scrapbook
    25. Go dancing
    26. Visit a museum
    27. Create an A-Z album (idea borrowed from Janet)
    28. Make cupcakes
    29. Create a new cocktail
    30. Visit a foreign country

    Monday, June 28, 2010

    Top Five: The Comedy Movies I Never Get Sick of Watching Edition

    While I finish thinking up my "30 Before 30" list, I am going to take another page from Slice of Pink Janet's blogging playbook. She listed the top five movie she never gets sick of, but when I tried to think of those top five, I realized that I like way too many movies to just list my top five in whatever genre. So, I narrowed my focus to comedy. Because I watch way too many movies, and I put way too much thought into this post.

    So, here are the top five COMEDIES I never get sick of watching.

    Groundhog Day (1993)

    Don't drive angry. Don't drive angry!

    Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001)

    Great. I was wearing a carpet.

    Something’s Gotta Give (2003)

    I'm so glad they still work. I haven't used them for kissing in such a long time, more like for wearing lipstick... and whistling.

    Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

    Milk was a bad choice.

    Shaun of the Dead (2004)

    As Mr. Sloan always says, there is no "I" in team, but there is an "I" in pie. And there's an "I" in meat pie. Anagram of meat is team... I don't know what he's talking about.

    What's on your list?

    Thursday, June 24, 2010

    A 20-something for a little longer

    In Februrary, I turned 29. Woo. 29.

    Can you feel the excitement?

    Am I where I want to be since I turned "almost 30?" The next statement could not be truer: I am in a place I never thought I wanted or where I thought I could be, but I am so happy to be here.

    I married my best friend; I finally figured myself out enough to stop worrying about becoming something and just being; and I started a new career path that I truly enjoy.

    Are things perfect? Not even close. Would I trade it for anything? No.

    All that to say, I feel I have some things I would like to do before I'm 30. Even though I kind of sucked at my 109 in 2009 list.

    So, in the spirit of my blog friend Janet's "30 Before 30" list (on which she received an "A"), I will spend time during my family trip to Florida this weekend coming up with 30 things I would like to do over the next eight months.

    Suggestions are, of course, most welcome. Encouragement (and chocolate) are also appreciated.

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010

    The WORST nail salon in Atlanta

    Well, the worst that I have tried.

    On April 30, the day before my wedding, I really wanted to go somewhere special to have my nails done. I had purchased a Groupon coupon to be used at the Cure Nail and Body Bar in the Castleberry Hill part of Atlanta. As an aside, I shall one day declare my love for all things Groupon in a post that will most likely be long and drippy.


    I have always gone to the $30 mani/pedi places, and for the past year or more I have done my own nails (which I highly recommend!), but I thought that an $80 Spa Tender Toe Love pedicure and Palm Passion manicure - that I got for $35 thanks to a deal I bought through Groupon - would be amazing. But Cure Nail and Body Bar was so unbelievably horrible.

    The first part of the day had been wonderful. My bridesmaids and I had a great lunch and margaritas at No Mas! Cantina (a delicious, but overpriced restaurant). We were looking forward to what we thought would be a great day at a nail spa. Um, no.

    The owner was INCREDIBLY RUDE from the moment I called to confirm our appointments; she didn't want to hear that my mom had been unable to join us. She made me feel extremely uncomfortable and guilty. Who wants to feel guilty about a nail appointment??

    The Cure Nail Bar is fairly pretty inside, but nothing special. My nail technician was very sweet, but it was her first day EVER working at a salon and she didn't know what to do. At all. She kept asking other staff members what to do, but no one seemed to know what to tell her. She was shaking she was so nervous. One of the strangest things she did was to randomly buff the nails on just one of my hands, and when I asked why she did it, she couldn't find an answer. She seriously didn't do anything but rip up the cuticules on both my feet and hands because she actually pushed back my cuticles while they were dry!

    The polish job on my feet and the shaping of my fingernails were so bad that I told her just to put clear polish on my hands. I wish I had photos. My bridesmaids also had terrible manicures and pedicures, including misshapen nails and a french manicure that was hot (HOT) pink. The staffers kept asking each other what to do next and they all looked so stinkin' confused. It was so uncomfortable to watch, and I left there feeling horrible and sad.

    Thankfully, the next morning I went to Nail Trend in Marietta and they did an incredible job. So, in the end, I had pretty nails for the wedding. The girls at Nail Trend kept asking who had done my nails and even told me that my nails and cuticles were really messed up. Seriously, if you are thinking about going to Cure Nail and Body Bar, find ANYWHERE else to get your nails done.

    If I can keep just ONE person from going to this horrible nail "spa," I will feel 100 percent better about my experience there.

    Monday, June 21, 2010

    Not THAT bad for you

    Ever since I started living by the South Beach Diet principles, I have actually lost a bit of my sweet tooth.

    I know, shock and awe, people. Shock and awe.

    Anyways. Whenever I find a dessert now that I really like, I file it away in my mental "delicious" file. And eat it very rarely. But rather than keep all the sweet goodness to myself, I thought I would share my new favorite find: frozen yogurt from Publix**.

    Now, I don't know if you have Publix where you live (Hi, Kari!), but if you do, now is the time to try at least two flavors because they are having their 2 half-gallon cartons for $5 sale. I know. Be still my thrifty heart.

    My frozen yogurt flavor of the month (heck, year) is their blueberry cream pie: cream cheese yogurt with pieces of pie and blueberry filling. Holy kitten crap, this stuff is THE STUFF. And it is lowfat! Though loaded with sugar and other bad things, but look, LOWFAT!!

    Now that we are all wanting some frozen yogurt (and for those Atlantans reading this, have you noticed how freaking hot it is here?), what's your favorite ice cream/frozen yogurt flavor?

    ** Publix frozen yogurt is NOT South Beach Diet friendly.

    Friday, June 18, 2010

    New, New, New

    I hate highly dislike when bloggers don't blog forever and then they come back on the scene all "HEY, I'VE BEEN SUPER BUSY AND LIFE GOT IN THE WAY AND I WILL NOW WRITE EVERY SINGLE DAY."

    Well, life didn't get in the way. Except that it did. I lost my job in the middle of last year and didn't find a new one until March 2010. A new job that I love. (Seriously. I'm not sucking up to anyone. None of my co-workers read this blog.)

    Now, losing my job put me in a terrible, terrible place. I felt worthless and lost. Yeah, it was a really overdramatic reaction, but it was mine. It truly sucked. I'm much better now.

    I also married my boyfriend, Cam. Yeah, he totally rocks. We had a wonderful, small wedding (as one guest put it, "the sweetest little wedding") and now I am trying to figure out life with him and his enormous house that I need to redo for my sanity and figure out my new(ish) job while continuing to do lots of extracurriculur activities. Phew!

    So, the blog went on hiatus because I lost myself for a while. But now I'm BACK. This blog will be a little different than it was before because my husband (yeah, that is still so much fun to say) does not like me putting out too many personal details about our life. LIKE THE FACT THAT HE DOESN'T EVER MOVE THE CLOTHES FROM THE WASHER TO THE DRYER OR THE DRYER TO THE DRAWERS. There, I said it. I feel much better now.

    A Different Bird will be more about Adventures in Atlanta and random crap I like. Because who doesn't want to read about that?