First and foremost, I hope you are doing OK. That's such an inadequate statement, but it comes from the heart and is meant to encompass every aspect of your well-being. I hope this space can be an uplifting outlet of entertainment outside of the news cycle for you. In that spirit...
For a little over a month, I've been thinking about hosting a tea party. I could use something to look forward to: a reason to pull out Aunt Min's set of "nice dishes" which includes a tea service for 12 and make tiny food that looks cute; to set a table with Grandma Ruth's linens and a vase of hot pink carnations. But here's the thing: there's no one in my friend circle who would really love to attend a tea party.
Don't get me wrong: my friends would show up, for sure. But not because they're excited to sit around and drink tea and have that particular experience with me. And in much the same way that I avoid watching Hallmark movies with my husband Dan, even when he offers, because I know I'll feel self-conscious the whole time - and like I need to reassure him repeatedly that yes, I know this is the exact same plot from that other one we watched - I know that having a tea party with wonderful people who just aren't into tea parties would not be satisfying. I didn't want to force it, for the sake of making someone else experience something that I - and I alone - wanted.
In my twenties and thirties, this would have turned out one of two ways:
This tea party happened on March 12th, when COVID-19 was just beginning to become more real here in Minnesota. As I write this post on March 22nd, when it's now very real, I keep thinking: Use the nice dishes now. Make the cute tiny food with what's in the fridge now. Light the candles now. Sit and look out the window and breath now. Don't wait for a gathering, or the right time, or a better moment.
Make the moment.
My moment is not your moment, so I'd love to know what that looks like for you. I've heard a few people use the term "romancing the ordinary," which really lands with me. I mean, I'm certainly living my most ordinary life at the moment, at home with Dan and Gravy and a week's worth of yoga pants. So I'm very into finding ways to add a little romance and whimsy to my everyday. So let's hear it in the comments - how are you romancing the ordinary in your home these days?
"Showing Up For" is a space to highlight the small businesses that I love and hope you will too. Share in the comments which small businesses - local, online, wherever - that you like to show up for!
Fleurette Designs is a passion project of the heart, not of profit. It was formed to raise funds for the Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance (MOCA), and honor the spirit of Nancy Fleurette Maas. Fleurette Designs just officially launched Nancy's Bracelet, made of teal cording and a 14K gold filled center ring that symbolizes unity and eternal hope. The handmade bracelet retails for $15 with all proceeds ($7 to be exact) going to MOCA. They are available in limited quantities, with the option to join a wait list once those quantities are gone.
I'll mention right now that the founder and designer is one of my closest friends, Kara Fresk. Kara and I met in college, and it's at that time in my life that I got to spend time with her grandma, Nancy. You guys - she was quite the lady. So thoughtful and kind. Extremely quirky, kind of wacky - in the absolute best way. Giving and generous. Kara would bring me to Nancy's house for Easter egg hunts and other family gatherings because I attended college out of state from my own family. Nancy was the type of woman who always had extra eggs and Easter baskets for whomever might show up, and she made you feel like, "Of course we were expecting you! Join in the fun!"
When Nancy entered hospice in 2005 after her own journey with ovarian cancer, Hurricane Katrina had just torn through Louisiana and Nancy wanted to help. She gathered family around her to make bracelets that were sold, with profits donated to Hurricane Katrina relief projects. Fifteen years later, Kara extended her grandma's legacy of giving back with Fleurette Designs.
Kara lives and works full time in Athens, GA, with her husband and adorable toddler, and is active in the education and arts sectors of the Athens community. She is a one-woman operation, making bracelets, packaging, and shipping them out of her home. That's one reason why a limited quantity is available at a time. (Another reason? Sanity.)
Show up for Fleurette Designs by heading to the website to purchase your bracelet, learn more about the cause and about Nancy. And share with all of us in the comments a small business that you love to show up for.
This week's product empties are a mix of makeup, skincare, and body products. Love it when there's a little of (almost) everything! Here's what I finished and a mini review for each, including whether I'll buy the product again.
I remember the first time I received a PR package from a beauty brand. It was 2008-ish, and a small box with a New York return address appeared in the building mail room of the apartment I shared with my husband in downtown St. Paul. I had been publishing posts on my blog, Bombshell Beauty, for about a year. They were mostly roundups and reviews of my favorite products, with pictures snagged off retail websites. (None of us knew better at the time! Do not do that.)
Heart pounding with anticipation, I opened the mystery box. It was from John Varvatos and contained a large bottle of the brand's new women's fragrance. I had no idea how they knew who I was, where they got my address, or how I'd ended up on their PR list. I was just thrilled about all of the above.
Over the next decade, I worked with some truly amazing people at fashion and beauty companies that I love. I went on brand trips and produced sponsored content. At one point I was posting a new blog every single day, pounding out words and snapping poorly-lit pictures in the hours after my full-time job. My bathroom cabinets became filled with more products than one person could use in a lifetime, arriving almost daily on my doorstep from brands that wanted me to review their newest releases. I appeared on TV and radio and in magazines. It was awesome! Sort of. And then it really, really wasn't.
I spoke with Elizabeth Ries and Margery Punnett on their cozy podcast, Best to the Nest, about what it was like to become an influencer in the early days of influencing, and why I stepped back. It's a fun conversation about the cost of influencer culture on our kids and on ourselves. I hope you'll listen in and let me know what you think.
In today's Twin Cities Live segment, we're talking all things beauty masks. We go into everything from the dark side of masking (ahem, the environment) and discuss what to look for on the ingredients list to determine whether a mask is actually worthwhile. I share a few of my favorites, Steve tries to pocket one of the stranger masks...there's a lot going on! I'd love to know what you think about masking - is it a regular part of your beauty routine? Something you do on special occasions or a complete pass?
Chances are pretty good that if you have a beauty question, someone else has the same one, too. That's why I pulled together a collection of the most common questions I'm asked about beauty issues and shared them in today's Twin Cities Live segment. We cover everything from whyyyyy are you lips still chapped after constantly applying lip balm (including my absolute, holy grail lip treatment), how to add life to dull hair in just 8 seconds, and how to keep a curl in stubbornly straight lashes.
Did I answer any of your questions? What others are on your mind? Let me know in the comments.
One of my absolute favorite segments to put together for Twin Cities Live viewers are "get it or forget it" roundups. It's fun to give my take on products with the hopes of you saving money on something not great or snapping up something fantastic. It's also fun to get a little opinionated! I also love hearing what Steve and Elizabeth think of the products we're talking about. This was a particularly festive take on the topic, with my picks for beauty sets to Gift or Forget.
If you're like me, you're starting to get that Christmas itch. I've been not-so-secretly watching Hallmark movies since they began airing back-to-back in October. And with Thanksgiving days away, the official start of the holiday season is upon us. Which means it's a great time to start stocking your eReader with books to carry you through long car rides, air travel, and much-needed quiet moments to yourself. I hope you'll add my short story, Christmas at the Cosmo, to your reading queue.
It's a story I wrote while living in downtown St. Paul at an apartment complex called - you guessed it - The Cosmopolitan.
Christmas at the Cosmo follows Dave and Lila, a couple who have hit that "next step" point in their relationship. One hangup? Christmas. She doesn't know why Dave objects to all her favorite Christmas traditions, and he doesn't understand why Lila is so crazy about the holiday. Secrets from the past are affecting their present. With five days to go until Christmas, can Dave and Lila find common ground and get back on track towards, "I do?"
(Spoiler: Yes. Only happy endings up in here. But it's still fun to read how they get there!)
Download a copy of Christmas at the Cosmo to your Kindle (or the free Kindle app if you have a different eReader), for $2.99. And if you have any holiday-themed book recommendations, I want to hear all about them down in the comments.
One of my favorite part of creating beauty segments for Twin Cities Live is coming up with easy solutions to common beauty problems, and sharing them with viewers. This week, we tackle everything from how to transition into a retinol product (no peeling and redness!) to creating a DYI cuticle oil pen to combat dry nails; we talk about my favorite product for covering roots between salon visits, and the brightening power of honey. It was a fun segment that included (of all things!) hugging a bear.
As a massive beauty enthusiast, I shop for makeup, skincare, nail stuff and more everywhere. Sure, I have my favorite store (watch the video to find out which one it is!), but you can find fantastic products wherever you are. In this segment, I share my favorite product picks at Target, CVS, Ulta, and Walgreens. Let me know where you prefer to shop for beauty, and what you always snag when you go there.
This is a place to celebrate all the parts of yourself that come with age and experience. I'm here to share with you what I know and to explore with you the many (many) things I don't.