Friday, March 30, 2012

Friday's Favorite things-Highs and Low

I don't usually post things like this. I'm not a fashion, shopping, design, or food blogger. But, secretly, those are most of the blogs I read. Shocking, huh? I'm a fashion and design addict. Thanks to pinterest (by the way, click on the icon on the sidebar and you can follow all my finds), I can stash away all my ideas for those rare moments that I am allowed to buy myself a special treat. I have to be very smart with our money these days, but I still love day dreaming about the perfect classic closet and designed home. It's the artsy side of me.

Anyway, the point is, you don't need to worry about this becoming a different type of blog. It will still mostly consist of motherhood and faith. But, I thought it would fun to share a few of my favorite things now and then.

Today, I wanted to share with you some things about skincare. I have CRAZY sensitive skin. I know most people will say there skin is sensitive, but mine is ridiculous. Even being out in the sun too long causes me to break out in hives. I've always struggled with acne and what is really fabulous is the addition of wrinkles I have acquired on top of that since I turned 30.

That being said, one thing that is always worth any amount of money is skincare. For me, if my bare skin is clear and healthy looking, I feel good about myself. As much as I like makeup, I like to keep it very minimal in the summer time when I'm dripping sweat. So, I've compiled a list of my favorite things both high and low in price. Perhaps it will help some of you who struggle with the same things I do. (Skin in your 30's is complicated.) Before I give you all the nitty-gritty details, I'll tell you that I ALWAYS give myself at least two days off from makeup every week. I just feel like my skin needs a chance to breathe.


1. Clarisonic Mia-You've probably all heard about this by now. I was definitely skeptical. I finally caved when I saw you could try it for 90 days and return it if it didn't work for you (from Nordstrom). This is definitely one of those things you have to ease into. Use it once every other day, then once a day, and now I sometimes use it morning and night. I didn't notice immediate improvements, but after one month, my skin looks the best it ever has. If you have skin that is not prone to breakouts, I would NOT recommend this product. You don't need it. It won't do anything special for you. But those that are prone to breakouts, this is fabulous.

2. Juice Beauty Organic Oil Free Moisturizer-I seriously think I have tried every moisturizer on the market. With the exception of this one, they all end up just making me feel greasy. You only need one or two squirts, but this is amazing. It does not make me greasy at all. I always put it on at night because I have heard that is when your body needs it the most. I will also put a tiny bit on my cheeks before I put on my primer if I'm going to wear makeup that day. If I'm not going to wear makeup, I'll just put it all over. Two squirts is all you will need to cover your entire face. It will last you a long time.

3. Primer (to be worn under makeup)-Lancome or Laura Mercier Oil Free Primer: I like the Laura Mercier one when my skin is a little drier and the Lancome one when I know I'm going to get a little sweaty. The LM one is slightly more moisturizing, while the Lancome one dries to a matte finish. This is my miracle stuff. It has made a huge difference in how my makeup lasts through the day and I also think it has helped with my breakouts.

4. Either Laura Mercier Oil Free Foundation or Lancome teinte miracle foundation: This one is a toss up. Both offer medium coverage and they both seem to work well on my skin. Again, a little goes a long way, so don't let the price tag scare you off. It will last you at least 4 months. I know a lot of people love Bare Minerals, but it just looked too heavy on me for some reason. 

5. Epiduo-OK. So this is something you actually have to get from a physician. It is a prescription and a really expensive one. But, you can get these rebate cards so that you don't pay more than around $30. I'm still on my first tube and it has lasted me 3 months (with still at least another months worth in it). I was skeptical at trying another retinoid product on my face, especially with my sensitive skin. But, this is a great one for sensitive skin. I still had to endure a month of really dry skin, but now my skin has gotten used to it. Like most acne prescriptions, it does take a couple months to really see a difference. But, it was worth the wait. Acne is a medical condition and there is no reason to suffer. You can use all those products above, but nothing beats getting help from a dermatologist.

1. Maybelline SuperStay 24 HR Concealer- I don't know what it is about this concealer, but it just works. And it's five bucks. (Note: I only use this on acne spots/scars. I would not use this under my would probably be too heavy and look unnatural)

2. Olay Sensitive Skin foaming face wash-best face wash I have ever used. Most face washes for sensitive skin don't feel like they clean my face well enough especially after wearing makeup. This is gentle and doesn't strip my skin, yet it really cleans well. I always use this at night with my Clarisonic Mia before putting on the Epiduo cream.

3. Cetaphil for normal skin-Sometimes I use this is the morning instead of the Olay if my skin is feeling a little dried out. It is moisturizing and is good enough to get those night time "ickies" off your face. I don't think it gets my makeup off well enough, so I only use this on skin that has been bare.

4. Blistex Medicated Lip Ointment-OK. I know this seems random. But, whenever I use the chapsticks that are vaseline-like, I will inevitably get a pimple near my mouth. Plus, they don't ever "heal" my lips...they just make me addicted to using it. I like the ointment because it absorbs into my lips and there is no cakey residue sitting on my lips. I'll put it on at night if I need it and it actually heals my chapped lips. So, I don't have to keep using all day long every single day like the other stuff.

5. Vanicream sunscreen and Arbonne baby sunscreen-these are the only two sunscreen I've found that I can use on my face and chest. I can use anything on the rest of my body, but these are the only two that don't break me out and don't give me hives. It is also the only thing Ella can use. Her face is allergic to something in most sunscreens just like me. If you want to try the Arbonne, I know a couple consultants you can get it from. I might experiment with some of their other products because I think they are supposed to be more natural. I'll keep you posted.

Most my other makeup is just cheap ole' Cover Girl or Maybelline. To me, mascara is mascara. I've never noticed a difference between the cheap stuff and the expensive stuff when it comes to eye makeup.

I also wanted to note that before I use the Clarisonic Mia at night, I do a quick wash with the Olay wash just with my hands and water to get the majority of my makeup off. 

As far as eating habits, something about eating salted peanuts and too many tomatoes seems to break me out. This is a shame because I especially love tomatoes. I just have to watch my intake of them. Nuts in general seem to be OK with my skin, but something about eating those salted peanuts can make me break out. I also usually stick to my one-two cups of coffee in the morning and then water the rest of the day. I know that makes some people roll their eyes. I used to hate water. It is an acquired "taste" for sure. But, you get used to it and it really does help your skin. I read somewhere that if you are feeling sluggish during the day, instead of reaching for caffeine right away, try drinking a glass of water first. I have found this to be so true. Sometimes a glass of water gives me more energy than anything else. 

Well, there you have it. Sarah's skincare 101! Don't expect too many "vanity" posts from me. I try to embrace my beauty from within and work on that the most. No product except God can change that. But, I am thankful that He gave someone the brains to design things that makes my messy skin feel so much better! Hope this helps any of you struggling with the same things! But really and truly, having a loving and compassionate heart will ALWAYS outshine perfect skin.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Keep Calm and Carry On

If you have two sets of eyes that can see, then you have seen the plethora of "Keep Calm and Carry On" posters and its many variations: Keep Calm and Pray On, Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake...or my personal favorite, Keep Calm and Love Llamas (I kid. I only put that there because I have no idea who would buy that one).

Anyway, I have always wondered what the big deal was behind these posters. Clever marketing? And what is with the crown at the top?

Well, until yesterday, I had no idea. But, I happened to stumble upon this adorable little video. Consider it your little history lesson for the day. You will love seeing this little treasure and will appreciate more these over produced pieces of art.

Are you not smiling now? If you are like me, you are already adding that adorable little shop to your bucket list of places to see. Feel free to share this with your friends!

Happy Wednesday!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


Today, you can find me over at the owner of Sweet Praises website. While you are there, click on her link and check out her beautiful online boutique. Here is the link to my interview today:

And don't forget to go over to my new site and become a follower. We're all on this journey together: Seven Days of Grace. And bring a friend

Friday, March 23, 2012

Most Beloved Childrens Books

I always love reading about others favorite things. I love getting insight into their interests as well as expanding my own horizons. One of our favorite things to do these days is to go to the library. I cannot tell you the excitement that Ella feels and expresses when she is allowed to pick out books. While most people enjoy reading on their Kindle or other digital devices, I just love the feel of flipping the pages of books. I love the way they smell. I love the discoloration and damaged spines...those are the best because you know they have been well read and enjoyed by so many. I am an old soul and as much as I love technology, I'll never stop loving the feel of turning a page.

While I am not one to go out and buy tons of books, there are some I just have to have for my own personal library. Many of those are Children's books because having a book full of illustrations is almost as lovely as having a coffee table book full of pictures of my beloved Paris.

So, today, I have compiled a list of my favorite children's stories that we often read while snuggling on the sofa or in bed. Because of my love for an old book, most of the Children's books in our little library were bought used. Here, in no particular order, is a list of many of our favorites:

(Numbers 1-6 are all by the same author and centered around the same little girl named Katie. The central theme is a girl who visits museums and jumps in and out of paintings. If you are an art lover, you and your child will love these. They are charming, imaginative, and educational all in one. We have not read them all, nor do we own them all. But they are all amazing. I can't say enough good things about this series. This is probably my favorite series both for the illustrations, the education in it, and the story line. I listed a few of our favorites below. )

1. Katie's Sunday Afternoon By James Mayhew
2. Katie Meets the Impressionists By James Mayhew
3. Katie and the Sunflowers By James Mayhew
4. Katie and the Mona Lisa By James Mayhew
5. Katie in London By James Mayhew
6. Katie and the Waterlily Pond By James Mayhew
7. Fancy Nancy By, Jane O'Connor: We have almost all the books in this series. It's about a little girl named Nancy who likes everything French and everything fancy. I know it is shocking that I would  like a book that teaches a little french. J'adore this series!
8. Picasso and the girl with the Ponytail By, Laurence Anholt: Another book for art lovers. There are several books in this series, but this is the only one we actually own and have read.

9. Belinda in Paris By, Amy Young: Another book about a ballerina, but this one is different because she has big feet. There are several in this series. We have read a couple others and liked them as well, but this one has such great illustrations...and, well, it's about Paris.
10. Madeline By, Ludwig Bemelmans: We love our Madeline. However, this is one where the tv character is actually better most of the books. Some of the books are a little strange, although we still enjoy reading them. The original and the one listed below are our favorites.
11. Madeline's Rescue By, Ludwig Bemelmans
12. Angelina Ballerina By, Katharine Holabird: Who doesn't love a story about a little mouse who does ballet? We have them all. We love them all.
13. Ella Bella Ballerina  By James Mayhew: This is a new series by the same man who wrote the Katie books. We initially did not realize it was the same author, but had checked it out from the library because it had Ella's name on it. So far, there are only 3 in this series and they ALL are great. We can't wait for Ella Bella and the Nutcracker to come out this year!
14. Green Eggs and Ham By Dr. Suess: Ok, I'm generally not a big Dr. Seuss fan. I know I am in the minority in that thought, but his books are a little too weird for me. But this is one that Ella really likes, so I added it to the list.
15. The Giving Tree By, Shel Silverstein: This was one of my favorites growing up and of course I want to pass it on to my children as well. It means even more to me now than it did back then.
16. Just Being Audrey By, Margaret Cardillo: It's an illustrated childrens book about Audrey Hepburns life...need I say more? Of course this is a favorite. If you are an Audrey Hepburn fan, you will love this book and your child will too.
17. Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? By Eric Carle: Every preschool aged child loves this book. In fact, most probably have it memorized. It's definitely more of a "my first book" type of story, but it has remained a favorite in our house. Ella actually reads it to the babies before nap most days. (And by read, I simply mean she has it memorized).
18. Someday By Alison McGhee: It's about a mothers love for her child. You'll need a tissue every time you read this book. This is a great book to give as a shower gift to a new mother.
19. Curious George By, Margret Rey: Everyone loves this monkey. I don't think I need to even explain. I've never met a child who doesn't love George and the man with the yellow hat.
20. Winnie the Pooh By A.A. Milne: We don't actually own any of these, but we have checked many a Pooh and Tigger books out from the library. These stories have stood the test of time and I believe they will always be a childhood favorite. I need to add a few of these to our library so that Jacob will have something else to read besides books about ballerinas.

I could go on and on.  I think it is important as a parent to find books that you yourself enjoy reading to your child. They will hear the enthusiasm in your voice when you read something you enjoy. There are so many choices these days. While I love the added bonus that reading is good for my children's minds, what I really love most is the feeling of my child snuggling up close with their blanket. It brings back a sense of nostalgia from when we would rock for hours when she was an infant. In a world where we over indulge our kids, the library is both and free and promotes so much bonding. I hope this list will give you some new ideas of fabulous reads to read to your child...or to just pick up for yourself.

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents."
 Emilie Buchwald 

What are some of your favorite children's stories? I'd love to hear. We are always looking for something new to read. I'd especially love insight into books for boys, as a good many of our books are more feminine in nature.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

She is perfection

I don't claim to know what it is like to have a child with special needs. At the moment, I do in fact have a child who has some special needs, but I have never really put her in that category.

But with my small insight into this world, I can tell you that mother's of children with special needs don't look at their child the way the rest of the world does. Our children are not a burden to us. We all have the same goals: to help our child succeed in life to the best of their ability.

While most parents are drilling words in their 18 month old children, I just feel so incredibly proud every time I walk in Audrey's room and see her standing and cruising. She has made so much progress and it has honestly been such an honor and beautiful thing to watch. To see your child overcome a challenge is truly one of the most beautiful experiences I have ever seen. It is because of this that you will often hear mothers of special needs children call them a blessing. And even if she never walks with grace and poise, I will still look at her as the most perfect creation.

Twice a week, I sit in a waiting room while Audrey gets both Physical and Occupational therapy to help with her low muscle tone. Two hours a week, I watch parents come and go with children with all types of needs. I secretly listen and watch the mother of a little boy with Down Syndrome grin from ear to ear every time he smiles at her. She is proud of him. We talk in the waiting room and I realize she is just like any mother. She loves to talk about him and I love listening to her talk.

Mothers of special needs don't feel embarrassed by their child. Most feel blessed. In their eyes, their child is perfection.

Yesterday was National Down Syndrome Day. I feel so privileged to watch amazing mothers, like my friend Krista, from afar.

So next time you see a mother of a special needs child, don't feel embarrassed to ask them about their child. Don't turn the other cheek. You don't need to feel uncomfortable. You don't need to feel sorry for them. They do not feel embarrassed by their child. In their eyes, their child is perfection.

*I realize these are very generalized statements that are not always the case. There are certainly parents who are neglectful and abusive of any child. I also understand that these mothers certainly at times feel overwhelmed or at times saddened by their child's condition. This is only said to bring light to the fact that whether our child is "normal", has physical conditions like Audrey, or different mental abilities, we all have the same joy and pride in our precious children.

Monday, March 19, 2012

The Heart of an Infertile

I forgot to mention that last week I did a guest post over on my sweet friends blog. Whether you or someone you know is struggling with infertility, I hope this will give an ounce of hope and encouragement for your journey.
Click here to read the full story.

And while you are there, stay awhile and read a little about Krista's life. A canadian transplanted to the UK. You will want to make her part of you daily reads for sure.
Be encouraged friends. You are not alone.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Sweet Praises

We all have dreams. Sometimes we allow fears to keep us from stepping forth in faith, but other times we jump in with both feet and trust that God will take care of the details. And when we's bound to be the most incredibly beautiful adventure. You see, God only writes love stories.

I have had the honor and privilege to get to know the most beautiful young lady named Shawn. To call her a friend just seems like such an understatement for she is really more like a sister. Indeed, she is my sister in Christ. I just adore her heart and spirit and I know that you will too.

You see, she has not allowed fear to keep her from pursuing her dreams. Today, the fruits of her labor have blossomed and what was once just an idea is now a reality: she has opened up the most charming and lovely online Christian boutique called  *Sweet Praises.

I truly believe in supporting small businesses. I hope and pray that you will join me in spreading the word about this new take on Christian inspired items. Could you please join me by linking to Sweet Praises on your blog as well? Let's support our brothers and sisters in Christ!!! After all, it's all about Jesus!

*Note, I am not being paid in any way for endorsing this company. It is simply a business I believe in and love...and I know you will too!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

One Beautiful Life-Guest Post

Although we met only a mere 4 months ago, I feel as though we have known each other a life time. Our similarities are so great that even our children have the same names. Her name is Krista, but I call her my sister in Christ because that how dear she is to me. Today, we are switching places...her over at my blog...and me, thousands of miles away publishing in the beautiful United Kingdom. You will love her adventures of following her musician husband from Canada to the UK. Her life of constant change while raising two beautiful children. Her Ella is even more beautiful than my own Ella as she was blessed with an extra chromosome. One thing is for are bound to be blessed by this One Beautiful Life.

One Beautiful Life (By, Krista Ewert)

When I was in eleventh grade I sprained my ankle. I rolled it while running through a forest. For many, this would be a mere inconvenience but for me, it put my life on hold as any time outside of school was spent at the dance studio. Four days a week, for three hours a day, I danced. It was what I loved. It is where I knew confidence, control and beauty and suddenly, I was forced to sit on the sidelines. It was torture and I wanted to hurry the healing process along. I did physiotherapy exercises, iced it, heated it: anything that would help…for a time. But it wasn't long before I got restless and needed to get back at it. I bore the pain and got back on pointe before my ankle was fully healed. I danced through the pain hastily and recklessly and eventually developed tendonitis. Only recently, years after the original injury can I be on my feet all day and not have my ankle stiffen up swollen with pain.

Last year, I was also wounded but it was not my body that was hurt rather, my heart. I can't tell you one incident that caused the pain, it happened over a long cold Alberta winter filled with anxiety, grief and mistrust. I felt that God had betrayed me, He had left me to die and I hated Him.

But when my heart failed me, my head kept reason and I knew deep down that God still loved me. I just needed time. In order to heal, I knew that a scab needed to form, new skin tissue to grow and the nerves to mend. I relinquished the expectations that I had placed on myself - expectations of daily devotion, prayer, scripture reading and service. It's not that I gave up these things completely but I relinquished the legalistic standards that I had place on myself. I embraced our move to Cambridge, England as a chance to take the time I needed to heal. 

It has almost been one year and while the feeling has started to come back to my heart I still have a long way to go. I long for God to fully redeem our relationship but I know that if I rush or fake the healing that needs to take place to restore our relationship, I may find myself still in pain years down the road, much like my ankle.

For now, I just need time to be.

About Krista:

Life is meant to be shared. We are not called to struggle in solitude or rejoice silently, but as a community celebrate the beauty in this One Beautiful Life. I am, like so many of you, a woman, a wife, a mother and a friend and have been given a voice. A voice to reach out, a voice to stand up for what I believe in and a voice to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves. I write to inspire and encourage as I share my passion for food, photography, travel, children with special needs and all other beautiful blessings in this life. So come on over and take a look! Let's share this One Beautiful Life together.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

A different neck of the woods

Today, I'm writing over here:

I'd just love it if you'd join me. And if you like what you read, can you help spread the word?