Faith, Family

Farewell, 2017. You’ve been real.

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This year has been a whirlwind….a roller coaster of sorts, with many many highs and some occasional lows (and shockers). If I could have seen the future, even just a year ago, I wouldn’t have believed what 2017 had in store for me…or who I would become!

Late in 2016 I started a new job. It was an exciting move for me, as my career had always come first. I love my husband and kiddo, but work was something I put everything into, where my passions and purpose thrived. So when I was given an opportunity to lead a new marketing department, I jumped on it. I never would have left the American Heart Association under any other circumstances….So, God had to yank me out of there and that started my unimaginable journey. Left job

In March, I lost that same job. The organization decided they no longer wanted a marketing department, which means no brand manager (that was me!). There I was, driving to pick up my kiddo at daycare, with tears streaming down my cheeks. Asking, WHY?? How could this happen???

I was devastated. I was shocked. We had prayed so hard before I made this decision, how could it be? As many of us know, God’s plan doesn’t always unfold right before our eyes. I’m fortunate that it unfolded for me months later.

I started applying for jobs right away, and even had a few interviews lined up immediately. I had to pull BabyCoolJ out of daycare, which made scheduling interviews a challenge. I applied for jobs at nap time and bedtime, took interview screenings at nap time, and planned around crazy schedules to make it all work out.

Within a week of my job loss, my husband was also promoted. It was a great step for his career, but he no longer was going to have his awesome schedule of working 3am – 2pm. He was fortunate to spend 18 months picking up our kiddo from daycare and having that time with him before I would get home in the evening. We quickly realized that is was all such a blessing, now I was home with J and he didn’t have to stress about his new schedule and J being at daycare super late.

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Months passed and the job interviews dried up. During that time I joined a morning mom-and-preschooler bible study, a Sunday evening lifegroup and had my current Wednesday ladies bible study. I met tons of moms, started scheduling play dates, and had a very full calendar of activities every single day. My life was more full than I could ever have imagined.

Somewhere along the way I realized I wanted to be home with BabyCoolJ, but my husband and I couldn’t figure out how that was possible. You see, we purchased our home with two substantial incomes. Two incomes that were paramount in making our monthly payments. We just didn’t see how it was possible.

That’s when I started PR consulting and my new gig as a Stylist.. They are both lucrative and fun, but they aren’t bringing in the income stream that my career provided. We continued to pray and just put our faith in Him. And I continued to enjoy every friendship I was making and the time I was enjoying with J.

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My “fortune coffee sleeve” back in January, 2017

My husband was offered an amazing new job in September, which he started in October. What we didn’t know when he accepted was that he was going to be in San Antonio 85% of the time. He knew travel was involved, but not at that level….that’s when we started thinking….

I want to stay home with J. He wants a good quality of life (4 hour commute round trip daily is NO JOKE!). We both want what is best for our family.

So here we are, December 19, 2017. Three weeks ago I told him we need to figure something out because we can’t stay in our home. Two and a half weeks ago I came across Dave Ramsey’s ELP blog posts. Two weeks ago we met with realtors. A week and a half ago we hired our agent to help us sell, and a few days ago we hired our new buying agent. It truly is a whirlwind.

Y’all, our home is a mess. We are working on staging it and clearing it out. We list in January and begin our new life in a new city….those details are coming soon!

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But the most amazing thing is our new life. Spending every day with my little one. Meal planning and activity prepping. Play dates. Church activities. It is all a blessing, and just proves how we must be patient and wait on God’s time. His plans are so much better than ours!

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Faith

Nine thoughtful gifts to get your bestie on Amazon Prime

Nine awesome gifts for your Bestie on Amazon

Post updated December, 2017. {This post contains affiliate links}

Anyone else have a best friend miles away? My “person” is more than 1,100 miles away in Florida, and she has a birthday coming up!

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Rachel and I in 2014, reunited for my wedding after 4 years!

Even though I adore her and we make every effort to stay connected, it is really hard to come up with gifts to give when you see them maybe once a year. What does she have, what does she love, what does she really want but won’t buy herself??

So in all my digging, I decided to put a list together of some items you can get on Amazon Prime that can cater to a few different tastes. I hope this helps someone out there looking for a great gift for a loved one!

For the jet setter, cause let’s face it, we all know one and live vicariously through them…

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For the beach lover (ahem, me!). I love this so much I’ll probably buy one too! This particular link is plus size, but they have these in all sizes…

CoverUp
AUTUWT Beach Cover Up Wrapped Dress

For the friend that has to carry her ID at work, help her do it in style…

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Kate Spade Women’s ID Clip

Okay, who doesn’t secretly want to be a mermaid?! I certainly do…

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U-Miss Mermaid Blanket

 

For the Jesus girls out there. I love Priscilla Shirer, and I have no doubt this devotional will be amazing…

Awaken

 

For a sweet friend that deserves a pretty piece of jewelry (and a nice note)…

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Smiling Wisdom Silver Leaf Friendship Necklace Gift Set

 

For your goal digger friends that like to jazz up their office space…

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Kate Space Paper Clips

 

For the cocktail enthusiast. I actually bought this for my bestie as a house warming gift! I think it’s so fun…

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Plant Theatre Cocktail Garden Kit

 

For the nostalgic, this is a sweet gift…

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Fred: Cheesy Love Songs Cheese Board

And there you have it – hours of my research to find the perfect, affordable gift at your finger tips.

Here’s a bonus item not found on Amazon: have a dozen cupcakes delivered to their home or office. I did this for one of her birthdays and I heard it was a hit!

Did you buy something off this list? I’d love to hear about it!

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Faith

Review: L’Oreal Color Riche® Matte Lipstick

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I had the opportunity to try 3 colors from the L’Oréal Colour Riche® Matte Lipstick line and am totally a fan. While the experience wasn’t perfect, I am happy with these lippies and will totally purchase more colors.

Speaking of the colors….the rich, vibrant hues are great! My favorite of the 3 shades is Blake’s red, even though I don’t wear red often. I get so many compliments when I wear this color, and it lasts much longer than the nude colors in the same line.

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Blake’s Red in action

For being matte, the lipsticks are not drying. In fact when first used they are very hydrating. However, the moisture does not last as the color, and that is something I look for in a lipstick. There is no feathering or bleeding. Lipstick stayed in place and never ended up under my lip or on my teeth. Those are wins for me!

I was also surprised to LOVE the matte lip liners. I am ordinarily not a lip liner kind of gal, but these are amazing. Color lasted HOURS, really all day. Funny thing is they lasted longer alone. When I added lipstick to them, they lasted through lunch. So, take that for what it’s worth.

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Just with the lip liner alone

Let’s talk about the smell. Oh, L’Oreal, how I love you. But, I hate how your products smell! It’s not overwhelming, but it is strong enough to notice and never, ever forget.

One last thing I’ll add that I love – the placement of the logo on the lipstick. I love the branding and appreciate this so much!

I love Influenster. Ever since I discovered them I have received some pretty cool items, but this L’Oreal box has taken the cake. You can experience the awesomeness too with my link here.

Thanks to Influenster and L’Oreal for my complimentary lippies in exchange for my honest review. Here’s what I received:

L’Oreal Color Riche® Matte Lipsticks in…

  • Matte-sterpise
  • He thinks he’s matte-cho
  • Blake’s red

L’Oreal Color Riche® Matte Lip Liners in…

  • Matte-stermined
  • Matte-ing call
  • In matte-uated with you

Have you tried these lipsticks before? I’d love to know what your favorite color is!

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Faith

A churro-free life

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Can you believe I just had my first churro this summer?

It’s important you understand that I grew up very in-tune with my roots. I am first-generation American (on my dad’s side). I grew up on the Texas-Mexico border. I spoke Spanish before English. My grandparents never even learned English. I went grocery shopping in Mexico. In fact, we did a lot of shopping in Mexico, ate at the restaurants, visited the doctors and picked up our prescriptions across the border.

Yup – I know my cultura well and I happily embrace it, albeit it wasn’t always that way.

This weekend Mi Amor and  I had a craving for Pan Dulce. I’ve never been a huge fan (I mean, I like it, but I’d rather have ice cream or cake!) but after experiencing my first churro I had to have it. We left BabyCoolJ with my in-laws and picked up some goodies.

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When we got back I mentioned, in complete embarrassment, that I had just tried my first churro last month. To my complete surprise, my in-laws hadn’t either! And they also grew up in the Valley.

So it got me wondering – are churros like burritos; American made? I started to do a little digging – I love the internet!

Fascinatingly enough, according to a few articles I found, churros originated in China! What the what?! I love this excerpt, according to The Prisma:

The history of the churro is ancient and revered, lending the snack an almost mythical status. It begins not in Spain but in China, where Portuguese merchants first tasted youtiao, strips of golden fried salty pastry traditionally eaten for breakfast.

Ancient and revered…where have you been my whole life! Funny thing is I just assumed it was like a bunuelo, which I am not a big fan of. I learned that, while in every country churros vary, in Mexico they are usually filled with dulce de leche, Yup, delicious, gooey dulce de leche. I am sold.

Culture…heritage, background, society, familial upbringing…it is such an interesting thing. Mi Amor and I are both Mexican-American. We grew up in the same area, only miles away from one another, yet thousands of miles apart. We celebrate differently, treat family differently and fundamentally our ideals had to make dramatic shifts for us to finally be on the same wave-length.

When we get to know people in Austin, this always fascinates them. Not only do a lot of people think Latinos are the same, but compact that with us both being Mexican and that we’re both from the Valley just adds to the assumption that we were raised the same. I love “educating” my friends on what it was like growing up in a world where I was neither American, or Mexican, yet always both. And I especially love discussing this with my husband – who happens to see it differently than I do (or at least he used to!).

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I wouldn’t change my mish-mash of cultures for anything. Latina, Texan, Mexican, American…I identify with them all. And I’m proud. Puro Raza. Now hand me a churro.

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Faith

#MusicMonday – Lift up your hearts with a smile

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We had such a great weekend, and with perfect timing after being stuck at home for more than a week with a sick kiddo!

My in-laws came to town Saturday. Before you get a little uncomfortable with that sentence, know I am extremely blessed with great in-laws! We have been praying they’d visit for a long time – especially because we haven’t mustered up the guts to drive 6+ hours with a toddler to see them!

It is moments like these – sitting Familiaaround the living room or dining table, seeing them love on BabyCoolJ, seeing joy sparkle in everyone’s eyes, and hearing the roaring laughter from the other room, that I truly feel complete. We moved away from family for opportunities, but honestly we also love our independence, space and privacy. But in that process our son misses out on important family time. And, so do we.

He has no cousins or grandparents nearby so we make the best of it in our little family of three. But when we have these special visits, life just feels full.

Also during their visit we also took full advantage of our special gift from Latina Home Party! These guys sent us a full setup of Palm Breeze Sparkling Alcohol Spritz, swag and decor for a fun summer Luau. All that was missing was a pool.

LHM

Latina Home Party provides chicas exclusive access to new products and services to try at home with friends and family. Latina Home Party is a community of collaborative marketing by Hispanic women. If you sign up, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in marketing activities from your favorite products and be able to collaborate with your favorite brands. You learn about new products just to be launched to market at the convenience of your own home (try them for free) and influence with your opinion some of the best known companies in the world.

The Palm Breeze drinks were a hit at Casa Alfaro! Perfect on a hot summer Texas evening. Luckily we stocked up so we had enough for a couple of nights.

So, to families out there… Lift up your hearts with a smile, lift up your feet with a dance and lift up your spirits with a song. Family time can be an awesome time.

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Faith

#MusicMonday: You can’t judge right by looking at the wrong

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I feel compelled to share a little story with you, especially being knee-deep in mama season which can include a whole lotta judgement. So I invite you to sit back, relax and use your imagination.

A woman picked a perfect spot on a park bench to enjoy a beautiful and peaceful fall day. Birds were chirping, kids were laughing at the nearby playground and there weren’t many people around. She worked long hours so having a free day to find peace and quite was rare, so she intended to take full advantage. She opened the book she brought along, settled in and began to read.

During a very interesting plot twist, she felt something hit the back of her head. A child had thrown some dirt at her and ran off. Considering the day she was having, she felt a tinge of annoyance but let it go. She brushed the dirt out of her hair and looked around to see the kiddo was with their father and two younger siblings.

At first, she felt sympathy for him. But after witnessing that he was distracted and disciplining them wasn’t his priority, sympathy turned into annoyance, frustration and eventually she disregarded his ability to father.

She wanted to continue reading, but in-between the pages she could see that the father had lost all control. One child was pulling a girl’s hair on the playground, the toddler was eating mulch off the ground and the oldest was terrorizing everyone around. She sat there in disbelief – but brushed it off again, and started reading.

A couple was enjoying a picnic near her bench – close enough to hear them, but not close enough to hear their conversation. Out of no where, she hears the girl scream and stand up. The child had thrown a bunch of dirt on the couple and their food.

She had had enough. Being a mother of four, she understood that kids can be kids but she also knew the importance of discipline. She debated saying anything to the father or just walking away. Then, she saw him grab his kiddo and run over to the couple.

Authentically apologetic, he explained that he had just lost his wife, their mother, days before and this was the first time they had gotten out of the house since her funeral.

Feel that kick in the gut? I did too. So this goes out to all of us – whether quick to judge or not.

 

I love this little saying from my mom – “Thank God it isn’t my place to judge, that is for Him only.” Doesn’t that take a lot of stress off you?!

Full disclosure: I heard a similar story the other day and made it my own. Not because their version wasn’t good, but because I couldn’t remember the details…and I enjoy writing! So if you have heard something similar, know that I was inspired by…and not trying to steal the idea!

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Faith

Review: L’Oreal Revitalift Moisturizer

20170613_085322-01.jpeg I was really excited when I received L’Oreal Revitalift Triple Power™ Deep-Acting Moisturizer complimentary from Influenster – a special platform for product discovery and reviews. I’ve formed an on-again love for L’Oreal when I decided to try some drugstore products again. L’Oreal has become one of favorites, but I have mixed feelings about this moisturizer.
So, let’s be real here. I don’t have a lot of wrinkles or age spots, however, I do have uneven skin tone, dark circles under my eyes and my skin isn’t as young as it once was. I’ve seen quite a difference in my skin texture in just 14 days of using Revitalift. My makeup applies smoother, my under-eye circles have really brightened up and my skin is overall healthier looking…except for the zits.
The moisturizer felt a little heavy on me and took some getting used to. It also has a strong scent – not a bad one, but it is very distinctive. I have preferred the moisturizer for evening use, but hesitate for daytime because of the heaviness. When I used it paired with my L’Oreal Magic BB Cream, I loved it! It held my BB cream really well and the shine wasn’t too bad by the afternoon. I really liked how well it made it glide on. Now, with my full coverage foundation, it was a little too heavy and by mid-day there was a lot more slickness.
Then there was the BAD…I broke out three times since using Revitalift for just 14 days, twice a day. And it wasn’t one here-or-there, it has been big breakouts all around my jawline. Breaking out does not happen often for me, except for the occasional single zit.
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Before & After
Because of the good and the bad, I wouldn’t purchase Revitalift for my self, however I would recommend it as the breakouts are the only thing keeping me from purchasing. I was impressed with it overall and will probably try another L’Oreal product line soon.
What’s your favorite moisturizer?
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