the Girls Do NYC-Monday

We weren’t flying out to return home until late Monday afternoon, so we had one more morning in NYC to enjoy.  We all decided to go explore Central Park for the morning.  While most of us got ready and packed up our bags, Elissa decided she wanted to walk through Rockefeller Plaza to the park, so she headed out early.  The rest of us traveled by subway and we decided to find a good breakfast shop near the park for coffee and food while we waited for Elissa to arrive.  Next we explored into the park for a while.  The weather was amazing that morning.  It wasn’t hot, maybe mid 70s.  Perfect day for Central Park adventures.  We walked to see the boathouse and the fountain and then towards the southern portion of the park to head out. I wanted to see The Plaza Hotel, so Dana and Leah walked with me to go do that.  We also got to walk all along 5th Avenue to catch the subway back to the hotel.  We grabbed some lunch in the hotel diner, then everyone loaded up in taxis to head to the airport.  The whole weekend was so much fun!!  Such a great time to spend with my best friends.  I’m so thankful for these ladies in my life.  We have almost 10 years of friendships between us all, and I love them dearly.  🙂

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NYC with St. Paul and the Broken Bones

After our city adventures during the day, it was time to head over to the Lincoln Center to enjoy Paul’s show.  Paul is engaged to our friend, Caroline.  I’ve talked about his band before (you can read more about it here: St. Paul and the Broken Bones).  They continue to do well, and part of the reason this trip was planned in the first place was to make a girls’ trip out of going to NYC to watch his show.  So Sunday evening, all the girls re-grouped to enjoy the show.  Thanks to Paul, we got to enjoy it from the awesome VIP tent.  He did great, as usual. He’s such an entertaining performer and we love going to support him!  And we are so happy for him and Caroline. They make a great team 🙂  It was an awesome way to spend our last evening in New York City.

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the Girls Do NYC- Sunday

Sunday morning started out with breakfast and coffee for the early risers…

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Then we all went in different directions again, and I embarked on another adventure to catch up with Leah and Dana who were exploring on bikes again through the city.  Our hotel was about 6 blocks south of Times Square and Bryant Park, so I headed that way to find them.  And in true New York fashion, it wasn’t a simple quick ride as I thought it would be when I set off on the bike.  First of all, Midtown (where out hotel was), is not nearly as bike friendly as the other parts of New York that we had explored the day before.  Bike lanes run right alongside busy New York Streets, but “Midtown” busy was much different than “lower Manhattan” busy.  I’m pretty sure I walked my bike more than I rode it.  And then about 3 blocks from our hotel, I found myself deep into total crowd chaos of some sort of Spanish heritage parade. Yeah.  Streets were blocked off, I was maneuvering around crowds and crowds of people (with bike, mind you) trying to cross streets before parade horses made their way towards me.  It was a frikkin’ nightmare.  So, about an hour later I finally reached Bryant Park, caught up with Leah and Dana, ditched the bike, and then the three of us explored Times Square.  Oh Times Square, you never cease to amaze me.  It’s certainly a sight to see.

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Sunday (23) Sunday (31) Sunday (28) Sunday (33) Sunday (37)  Sunday (39) Sunday (43) Sunday (51) Sunday (47) Sunday (55) Sunday (58)From Times Square we walked back by our hotel to change shoes (our feet were dying!), and then walked to Highline Park (another 12 or so blocks away).  Highline Park is a greenway that has been built over an old raised railroad track that used to run along the Hudson river.  They are still in the process of expanding it.  The city views were nice up there and it was nice to walk among green trees and flowers.  This southern girl needed that little dose of nature 😉

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Next up….Paul’s concert!

R+F – Week 1 & 2

R&FThe other day I wrote about my struggles with acne (which you can read about here: R+F). After talking with a co-worker, I bit the bullet and bought the Unblemish package from Rodan and Fields, and I started using it about 2 weeks ago. Now, I am a huge skeptic. I have bought things before based on good reviews and been disappointed in results. I’ve tried nearly everything on the market for skin care and still struggled with blemishes.  But I can honestly say I am loving these products!  My skin is far less oily by the end of the day, my blemishes are clearing up, and my skin just feels smoother!

So here’s what you get in the package:

R+FIt comes with a face wash, toner, acne treatment cream, and oil-controlling lotion with SPF.  I was honestly hesitant about using the step 4 lotion because I hate the feeling of heavy lotions on my face.  Like, it really makes me cringe.  But this one is light-weight and it works wonders for controlling oil.  On days that I work (12-hr nursing shifts), my face would feel so oily by the end of the day.  But this little gem has my face feeling soft and smooth all day long!

So here’s my progress so far, post shower, with NO MAKE-UP! 🙂

WEEK 1:

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Week 2:

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My skin is smooth, what little blemishes I still have are tiny compared to what I usually get, and they continue to clear up a little more each day.  I’m excited to see what another 2 weeks will do!

the Girls Do NYC- Night on the Town

Saturday night was our night of bachelorette celebrations!  After our long day of exploring the city, we came back to our hotel to clean up and get fancy for a night out.  We started off the evening with white wine while we got ready in the hotel. Then we hopped a subway towards Washington Square Park, where we then walked to Mario Batali’s Otto Enoteca e Pizzeria.

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The rest of the night was spent singing to our little hearts’ desires doing private karaoke.  Our friend Elissa taught English in Japan after college, and said this is how they do karaoke.  The concept of private karaoke sounded a little weird at first to me, but it was BYOB and all 9 of us had our own private room to sing whatever songs we liked.  It was awesome!  SO MUCH FUN 🙂  I love these girls so much!

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the Girls Do NYC- Saturday

Since we had a large group, we already decided that we would be relaxed in our plans for the weekend and not try to do everything all together.  Making decisions among 9 women can be a little tricky.  Some wanted to do more museums, some wanted to eat at certain restaurants, others had friends in NYC they wanted to meet up with.  Our group Saturday morning consisted of those going for coffee, some to the Brooklyn Flea Market, and Elissa headed off to the museums (where Lauren, Liz, and Caroline joined her).

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Next we started walking towards the Brooklyn Bridge to walk across it, and along the way decided to rent bikes for the day and bike across instead. Great idea!  The city views from the Brooklyn Bridge are amazing!!  So glad I didn’t miss this!  While we biked and explored, the other girls went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

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We all met back up at the hotel to get cleaned up and ready for our night out on the town celebrating one of our bachelorettes, Caroline!  More to come…

the Girls Do NYC- Friday

Last spring, my friend Caroline tossed out the idea of doing a girls weekend in NYC this fall.  Her boyfriend Paul was having a concert there that she was planning to attend and the weekend also fell right before the 1-year anniversary of the death of our dear friend Christina.  And then, Caroline and Paul got engaged, which was later followed by our friend Elissa’s engagement this summer.  So the trip seamlessly also turned into a bachelorette celebration. It was the perfect opportunity to get us all together again for a bit of a reunion in honor of these events.  Six of us still live in Birmingham, one is in Colorado, one in Nashville, and one in Indiana. And amazingly enough, all 9 of us were able to make it happen!

Most of the girls got to NYC Friday morning and had a full day of adventures.  Caroline and I flew in late Friday night due to work and school obligations.  I took my last final Tuesday before the trip (whoop whoop!), so I was very excited to be completely school-free for this trip with all my besties!

Although my Friday consisted of packing all morning and flying all afternoon/evening, here’s what the other girls enjoyed on their first day in NYC together.  (Pictures courtesy of the girls)

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R+F

*this post is not sponsored by any products or companies. It’s just my own two-cents 🙂 *

Everyone has insecurities about themselves.  They can be emotional, spiritual, physical…each one is unique to each individual.  Some people hide their insecurities from the world.  It helps them cope.  But it doesn’t mean they go away.

For me, one of my biggest insecurities in life has been my struggle with acne.  I have dealt with acne ever since my middle school years.  My dad grew up with bad acne, and lucky me…I got those genes.  During middle school and high school, I saw several dermatologists who prescribed various creams and face washes- benzoyl peroxide, clindamycin, sodium sulfacetamide, etc.  When I was old enough to start seeing a gynecologist, I was started on oral contraceptives that also aided in acne treatment.  And for a while I thought that was the trick.  I was out of my teenage years, my skin was getting better and I thought, “finally, I’ve grown out of this!”  But even that failed with time.  Now I’m in my upper 20s, and I’ve just about worked my way through every product available in the drug store skin care aisle…  (this is just what I currently have, not everything I’ve tried).R&F-before (50)

I wash my face twice a day, never sleep with make-up on, use over-the-counter blemish creams at night, and even with all that I still have ance.  It flares up and has periods of “not-so-bad” to “holy-crap-am-I-13-again?!”  I have pretty much settled on the fact that this is just how it’s gonna be, and I just have to get used to it.  Granted I’ve learned to cover it up fairly well with make-up, but I never feel comfortable without make-up outside the walls of my home.  And who wants to wear make-up every day? To the pool?  The gym?  On vacation?  Ugh, not this girl.  Then I got talking to a co-worker at lunch one day and she was telling me about the products she uses and that they have been the “only thing that has worked for her.”  And she’s done Accutane in the past.  So I figured it was certainly worth a shot!  While I haven’t tried Proactive or Accutane, those options are out for me.  Accutane has such terrible side effects, and Proactive just seems like such a gimmick (but that’s just personal opinion).

The products I’m talking about are Rodan and Fields.  The company has been around for years now, but I’m just now starting to see other people I know use the products.  Maybe it’s just finally gaining popularity, or maybe our age of social media is just putting it out there more, I don’t know.  But I’m jumping on the band wagon and trying it out!  And I’m going to share my progress with you!  I want to post some before and after shots so you can see how they work on an actual person you know.  (I hate reading reviews and shocking results from people I don’t know.  I’m super skeptical.)  And before you freak out about the price (because yes, that almost turned me off from trying it), I’ve been told the package will last you 2-3 months once you get your acne under control.  So while $175 (about every 2 months) might seem CRAZY, I was easily spending around $60/month on various products (face wash, creams, make-up concealers, primers,etc) that didn’t even work!  So a little extra cash for something that actually might work is totally worth it to me.  And as I go through this process I’ll report back on how far these products actually stretch 😉

So, while part of me can’t believe I’m actually showing you these pictures (talk about facing your insecurities!), the other part of me is excited to share my progress!  These are some pictures I took about 2 weeks ago before I started the products.  This is me fresh out of the shower.  All I did was wash my face with the Neutrogena face wash I’ve been using lately.  This is pre-makeup (just some mascara I dabbed on before realizing I wanted to take some pics!)

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And really, as far as my make-up routine goes, these are my everyday basics.  I have more than this (various shades of eye shadow and foundations, etc).  But as far as what I do every day, this pretty much covers it.

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I’m pretty simplistic when it comes to make-up.  And while this usually covers most of the blemishes I have, it doesn’t work 100% of the time.  These next photos are after I’ve done my make-up routine for the day.  You can still see a blemish or two.

R&F-before (24) R&F-before (25) R&F-before (34)So I’m really excited to try these new products!  (and hint hint: I actually already started, and I’m loving them so far!!)  Check back to see my progress 🙂