Talley Update

If you remember, I sponsored a little girl name Talley last Christmas. (view the post here) She was very very sick and in desperate need of a liver transplant. Organ donation is not common in China, and orphans almost NEVER get transplants, so it was almost impossible that Talley’s life would be saved. Almost.

Talley miraculously received a liver transplant last month, and last week she was released from the hospital! The changes in this sweet baby are unbelievable- she looks like a totally different little girl. Check out New Day Foster Home’s post about Talley’s Amazing Story.

Personal Choices

I was having a conversation with a dear friend the other day who is about to start in vitro fertilization. This has been a long time coming, and I’m so excited for her, but she made a comment that both broke my heart and made me mad. She told me that a lot of her friends have been telling her that she’s making a dumb decision going with in vitro- it’s expensive, it doesn’t guarantee a baby, why doesn’t she just adopt? The biggest foul was someone who told her that she’s a perfect candidate for adoption because she and her husband have fertility issues. What?!

First, having fertility issues DOES NOT make you a perfect candidate for adoption. All it means is that adoption might be an option.

Second, how dare these people! Deciding to go with in vitro is a totally personal and private decision that only my friend and her husband can make, and they’re the only people who have a say. (except her doctor, of course) Do these people not realize all the time, thought, research and doctors appointments that have gone into this decision? And who cares how much it costs? It’s my friend’s money, and she can use it however she sees fit.

I was literally shocked and sick to my stomach after our conversation. Why is it people feel they have to give their input on situations that have nothing to do with them? Especially when their input is hurtful? My friend is trying to grow her family exactly how she wants, and her friends should all be supportive. This road has been long and hard for her and her husband, and I can’t believe anyone would bring that kind of negativity to the situation.

I will note that when she first told me they couldn’t have children naturally, I did bring up adoption. I didn’t do it in a pushy, judgy way, just in an informational if-you-want-to-know-more-I’ve-got-your-back kind of way.

One of my favorite things about this friend is that she’s passionate about growing her family in a biological way, and I’m passionate about growing my family through adoption, and we can sit down and talk about it forever. Neither of us thinks our way is superior, we accept that what’s right for ourselves isn’t right for others. I’m really intrigued by the process of in vitro, and I love that she keeps me updated on all the tests and things. And even though adoption is far down on the list of how to make a family for her, she gets excited with me when I talk about my adoption plans or show her a picture of a sweet baby in one of the orphanages I follow. It’s really wonderful to have an understanding, open minded friend. I wish her other friends would take the time to think about how hurtful their words are, even if they have the best intentions at heart.

Caplan Wedding Photo

Caplan Wedding Photo

In May I shot a wedding with Sublett Studios, and this is my favorite photo from the day. Not too often do I stop and stare at one of my own photos, but I’m really proud of this one.

“This is a moral imperative. I believe that Africa is rising and wants to partner with us: not be dependent but be self sufficient. Far too many Africans endure the daily injustice of poverty and chronic hunger. When people ask what’s happening to their taxpayer dollars in foreign aid, I want people to know this money’s not being wasted. It’s helping feed families.”
- President Obama

This makes me very happy.

This is a moral…

Feeling like a BA Executive

Note: I realize freaking out about this makes me seem less like a cool executive and more like a child, but whatever.

I went on my first out of state, big deal trip for work this week. I felt like a bad ass. My company flew me and a big wig from corporate to Dallas to attend a training from a vendor we’re going to be working with.

I worked Monday morning  at the office and then flew to Dallas Monday afternoon. The big wig, who I’ll refer to as BW, (who is incredibly friendly and personable and not what you would typically expect from a big wig) picked me up from the airport, we dropped our stuff off at the hotel, and went to meet the vendor for dinner. They took us to Bob’s Steak and Chop House in Plano. Oh man, talk about fancy. I’ve never been to a place like that. I so badly wanted to take a picture, but that would have totally ruined my cool professional appearance. I got two small (delicious) crab cakes and a salad for $38. Crazy. We were surrounded by businessmen and richy rich people, the waiters wore bow ties and the women ordered first. It was awesome.

After dinner BW and I headed back to the hotel. We stayed at the Embassy Suites at the Galleria- super nice. The hotel is set up as a square, with rooms all around the edge. In the center it was like a little park- lots of tree, fountains, benches and swans. Real live swans that live in the hotel lobby park:

Swan Hotel

Swans hanging out in one of the small ponds at the hotel.

My room was super nice- it had a living room, a mini kitchen area and two large flat screens. Needless to say, I enjoyed my stay.

The training yesterday was pretty awesome. It was a long day- we went from about 9 am- 5pm. I learned a ton, and it made me excited to come back and share the info with our sales team. After the training, BW drove me back to the airport for my 8pm flight back home. Sadly, I didn’t get to enjoy any Mexican food on my trip, but I did get to devour some greasy greasy goodness:

Whataburger burger and fries

Whataburger

Best part? I got to expense it.

It was really cool getting to travel for work, especially getting to hang out with some big name people in my field. I felt super important. I think, or at least hope, I came off professional and knowledgeable, and hopefully this will open some doors for my career.

Ipsy Glam Bag First Impression

I know I’m late to the train, but I signed up for my first beauty box subscription. I chose to go with Ipsy, though I can’t really tell you why I chose them over everyone else. For those who don’t know, you start by filling out a survey about what kind of make up you, what your make up style is, etc. Then once a month you get a package mailed to you with five beauty products that Ipsy thinks you would like. It’s only $10/month, so I figured I’d give it a shot. You can cancel Ipsy at anytime, so if I realized I hated it, I could cancel and I’d only be out $10.

I got my first Ipsy Glam Bag in the mail today.

Ipsy Glam Bag

Make up bag, coupon and package

I’m a sucker for cute packaging, so I loved seeing the bright pink envelope in my mail box- it instantly got me excited about opening it. I really love the make up bag, too. It’s super adorable and a nice travel size. The postcard has special Ipsy deals on the back for the month: 25% off J.Cat, 35% Starlooks, 30% off Cailyn, up to 40% off NYX, 20% off Chella and a free gift plus free shipping from psssst! with a purchase of the Super Hero Hair Duo set. Most of these brands were in my glam bag.

The first item I pulled out was a gel liner:

Cailyn gel eyeliner

Cailyn Line-Fix Gel Eyeliner. Water resistant, smudge-proof, 24 hour wearing, safe for sensitive eyes. Color: Iron

I am not a big eyeliner person. If I ever want to line my eyes, I do it with eye shadow because it’s softer looking and easier to apply. I have used an elf gel liner before (in  black), and I liked it alright, but again, I don’t really use eyeliner. This one though, I’m kind of excited about. It’s a metallic grey, so it’ll be softer than the black I currently have. Here’s a swatch:

Cailyn gel eyeliner

It comes with a built-in brush, though the lines are thicker than I think I’d want.

The promise of smudge-proof and water resistant is certainly true- I tried to wipe it off with a paper towel and water, and it wouldn’t budge. I had to use make up remover and go over it a couple times. I’m excited to try this, and I’m happy they put it in my bag. The retail price of this eyeliner is $21.

The next item was a lip pencil:

Starlooks lip pencil in Tickle Me Pink

Starlooks lip pencil in Tickle Me Pink

I’ve never owned a lip liner, and never had a desire to pick one up. I don’t wear lipstick, though I’ve recently been trying out different tinted balms and stains. Bright pink is definitely my lip color of choice, so this matches a lot of what I have. I decided to put it on to get a better look at the color.

Starlooks lip pencil

I know you’re supposed to line your lips with pencil, but I wanted to see it all over.

I do really like the color- it’s bright without going too crazy. The texture was super chalky though, so I would need at least lip balm over it, possibly a gloss. (Though I’m not a gloss gal either. I looked in my makeup drawers and could only find one.) If I had to be sent a lip pencil, I’m glad they sent me this color, though I’m not sure how much I’ll be using it. The retail price of this pencil is $12.

On to the worst product in my bag:

J.Cat Beauty Sparkling Cream Eyeshadow

J. Cat Beauty Sparkling Cream Eye Shadow Palette in Volta

I would NEVER purchase something like this! It’s thick glitter eye shadow, something I think you would find in an elementary school dress up kit.

J.Cat Beauty sparkling eye shadow swatch

Even worse looking once it’s on!

The texture on this is ridiculous! It has a clear cream shadow base and the glitter is super chunky. It might be okay if it went on without all the splotchy holes, but it doesn’t. Everything about this is bad. And not surprisingly, the retail price is only $4.50.

The next product is another miss:

NYX blush

NYX Powder Blush in Mauve

I use NYX blush a lot, but this color is bad. The picture came out looking much brighter than it actually is. Here’s the image from the NYX website:

NYX Mauve blush

promotional photo from NYX

It’s far too brown toned for me. I tried to swatch it on my hand, but it really didn’t show up well in the photo. I probably could have exchanged this at Ulta if I hadn’t opened it, but I thought of that too late. I might try this on this weekend, just to see what it looks like, but I can’t imagine I’ll like it. The retail price of this is $5.

The final product in my glam bag:

J.Cat fake eyelashes

J.Cat Beauty Eyelashes and Eyelash Glue in EL79

(I can’t get the photo to rotate, sorry.) I’ve never owned fake lashes before, either. They’re not anything I would probably buy myself, but I’m kinda excited that they were in my bag. All of the beauty vloggers I follow have used fake lashes in tutorials before, so I’ve always been a little interested in them, just not enough to spend money on them. We’ll see. If I try them out, I’ll try to remember to blog about them. The retail price of these is $4.

As you can see, there were some hits and some misses. The total retail price of everything is $46.50, so I obviously got an insane deal. This total doesn’t include the adorable make up bag or the value of the coupons either. I’m going to go online to Ipsy and see if they have  a place for me to rate my products or anything, and maybe that’ll help me get more hits in the future. Overall though, I’m happy I signed up for it. Every time I get paid, I have to run to Ulta to pick up some new make up product, just to try something out. I think this subscription will save me some money and help me discover new products and brands. (I’d never heard of any of the brands I got except NYX.)

Pure Charity

Have you heard about Pure Charity? I signed up a month or two ago because a family I wanted to help was using it for their adoption fundraiser. I signed up, looked around, and then kinda forgot about it. But recently, Give 1 Save 1 families have started using it exclusively for their donations. I’ve spent some time in the last few days figuring it out, and I really want to share it.

Pure Charity logo

Pure Charity is like a social media platform for charities and fundraising. It’s a place for people to tell about a project or fundraiser, and accept donations. It’s also an awesome way for users (like me) to raise money to donate to a cause. Pure Charity partners with different online retailers so customers can get money back on their purchases to use on Pure Charity. Example: I find a dress I want at Loft, so I go to the Pure Charity Rewards page and search to see if Loft is one of their partners. (They are!) I click through to Loft.com from Pure Charity, buy the dress and then I get 2.5% of my purchase total back into my Giving Fund for Pure Charity. Then I can turn around and give that money to a charity of my choice. Of course, you can just use your own money to give without shopping, but why wouldn’t you want to shop too?

If you’ve read this blog at all, you can probably guess I’ve used Pure Charity to donate to families in the process of adopting internationally. Families put up videos talking about their adoption, their future children and their struggles. It’s really cool to see who my money is being used to bring home. I don’t have a lot of extra money, so I’ve been following Give 1 Save 1′s philosophy of giving just $1. I’ll be using the Rewards system to pad my Giving Fund so I can give more in the future.

One of the families I’ve supported is still fundraising. If you want to check out their story and see the adorable little boy they’re about to bring home, you can visit their Pure Charity page here.

Holy Garden, Batman!

This week we went with some friends to Tulsa for a concert. (Gogol Bordello- such great fun!) We got there around lunch time, and decided to kill some time by going to the Philbrook Museum of Art. I’d never heard of it before, and didn’t know what to expect. I have a healthy respect for art, and there was some great stuff there, but the stand out BY FAR was the garden. I’ve never seen anything like it!

Philbrook Museum of Art garden

The view from the back doors of the museum.

One of the craziest parts of the whole thing is the fact that it’s in the middle of a residential area. The museum was originally a home (crazy mansion), and was donated to the city to be turned into an art museum. Could you imagine living next door, looking over your fence and seeing all this beauty everyday? Of course, it is a super richy rich neighborhood, so it’s possible the neighbors have equally breathtaking backyards.

Philbrook Museum of Art garden

This is another view from the back of the museum, this time on a higher level.

There was a walkway that led you around the back of the trees. There were sculptures scattered around the grounds, and a little creek. It really didn’t compare to the gardens proper.

Philbrook Museum of Art Garden

Here’s the view from the gazebo thing at the back of the garden.

Could you imagine being a gardener for the Philbrook? I’m sure it’s amazingly hard work, but it’d be so gratifying! I  haven’t looked into it, but I’m sure you can rent out the garden for a wedding or special event. Other than Neuschwanstein castle, I’ve never seen anything more beautiful. I would have been content to hang out in the garden all afternoon.

Philbrook Museum of Art garden

Here’s another view of the back of the museum, on a higher level than the last one.

If you ever find yourself in Tulsa, Okla. I highly recommend checking out the Philbrook. I think it was like $9 a ticket- totally worth it. (Of course, they had some great exhibitions and collections of art, I was just more drawn to the garden.)

Nostalgia

I’ve been feeling very nostalgic lately. I may or may not be spending a little too much time Facebook creeping on people I used to know. Last night, Alex and I were driving back from dinner and he put on his Warped Tour 2004 compilation CD. Holy nostalgia. Isn’t it crazy how a song can take you back to a specific memory or moment? We both were getting pretty into the experience, so instead of going home, we veered off into Riverside and drove around for a while. Which of course brought back even more high school memories- driving with the windows down and singing along to great music. There’s almost nothing better.

Of course, I don’t want to go back to high school or anything, but it’s fun to look back on what used to be. I love remembering fun moments with friends, reminding myself why certain people were (and still are) so important to me. I’ve always felt there was a soundtrack to times and moments in my life, and that CD definitely had some of my soundtrack songs on it.

For mostly my own fun, here’s some more of my soundtrack songs:

Amy Poehler and Other Wonderful Women

I’ve recently discovered the greatness that is Parks and Recreation. I’m late to the party, I know. The show is so awesome, and Amy Poehler is amazing. Strong comedic woman playing strong political woman. I love it. In the past, it would be unusual to find a show with a strong female lead who holds her own without having to be “saved” by a male character. And I don’t really remember seeing any popular women comedians when I was younger, just men. Now there are all these amazing women in Hollywood breaking down barriers and stereotypes. So this post is dedicated to all the awesome role models in show business today who are showing everyone that women can be just as funny and awesome as men. Even, dare I say it, more funny and more awesome.

The Parks and Rec Women

This just goes right along with what I’m saying. (Totally watched this episode last night and it was hilarious.) The three female stars: Amy Poehler, Aubrey Plaza and Rashida Jones.

Tina Fey

Tina Fey: Writer and actor on SNL and 30 Rock, screenplay writer for Mean Girls, author of Bossy Pants, and actress on many a hilarious movie.

Mindy Kaling

Mindy Kaling: Writer, director and actor on The Office, creator and actor on The Mindy Project, author of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, and movie actress.

Melissa McCarthy

Melissa McCarthy: Standout actress on Bridesmaids, Identity Thief and other movies, star of Mike & Molly

Whitney Cummings

Whitney Cummings: Creator and star of Whitney (hilariously awesome show that I can’t believe got cancelled), stand up comedienne, creator and producer of Two Broke Girls

Lena Dunham

Lena Dunham: Creator, star and Golden Globe Winner of Girls, writer and director of Tiny Furniture

Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin: HILARIOUS stand up comedienne, star of My Life on the D List, author of Official Book Club Selection: A Memoir According to Kathy Griffin, LGBT rights activist

Kristen Wiig

Kristen Wiig: Writor and star of Bridesmaids, actress on SNL

Ellen Degeneres

Ellen Degeneres: Host of The Ellen Degeneres Show, stand up comedienne, all-around awesome lady

Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler: Host of Chelsea Lately and After Lately, stand up comedienne, author of My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One-Night Stands, Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea, Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang, and Lies That Chelsea Handler Told Me

Zooey Deschanel

Zooey Deschanel: Half of the cute band She & Him, star of The New Girl, actress in (500) Days of Summer, Elf and many more. 

I realize these aren’t all the great role model, ground-breaking women out there. And obviously I’m drawn to comediennes. (Probably because I’m not funny at all, and kinda always wished I was.) If I’m missing your favorite awesome Hollywood woman, please feel free to comment and let me know who I’m missing. Here’s another funny Parks and Rec moment for you…

Parks and Recreation

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