New Mom Beauty

This post could go many ways.  I could write a few paragraphs telling you how earthy and beautiful and wonderful you are now that you’ve just given birth to a brand new human being.  (And seriously, good on you for that!  Well done, indeed!)  Remind you that the glow of happiness and breastmilk is really all you need to feel amazing about yourself each and every day.  Or I could tell you a few sure-fire ways to drop a couple of pounds.  Perhaps give you a handful of recipes for green smoothies; which you might be interested to find out are green due to large amounts of vegetables and not green m&m’s.  Somewhat disappointing but true.  However, what I’m going to do instead is something far more practical.  I’m going to tell you how not to look like you got hit by a truck.

Of course I would never tell you that you DID look like you’d been hit by a truck.  You know, inner beauty and all that sort of thing.  But here’s the deal, I think most of us who’ve just had babies tend to look a little, ummm…rough during those first sleepless months.  Maybe you don’t. Maybe you look all dewy and perfect after five broken hours of sleep.  In which case you and Kate Middleton should take your happy asses out for margaritas or something.  The rest of us mere mortals will be at home, freebasing coffee and placing orders with Sephora.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should tell you that I’m not at all an expert on makeup.  Not even a little.  I’m not terribly adventurous or creative but what I lack in skill I make up for in strong opinions and a decent collection of neutrals.  Also, I understand the lack of time most of us are dealing with.  Sure, I’d love to actually use all those nice makeup brushes I got for my birthday but when it’s 6:30am and you’ve got three children already hounding you about breakfast you don’t really have time to sort between your “contour brush” and your “concealer brush”.  Hell, you don’t really have time to do much contouring at all.  And if you want to go to Target looking mostly human then what you need are a few good quality products that can be applied fast, with your fingers if necessary.  These are those products:

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Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer:  This stuff is awesome.  It is so light I can easily wear it even during our god-awful hot Texas summers but it still manages to make my skin look really even and smooth.  You can absolutely apply it with a beauty blender or a brush but I can tell you from experience, it blends on beautifully, and quickly, with just your fingers.

 

 

 

 

s1140276-main-hero Laura Mercier Undercover Pot: No, not that kind of pot.  This kind of pot will actually help you look awake and not like you’ve just been punched in the face.  By and large I just use the regular concealer in the section on the right.  However, the section on the left contains a concealer that’s great for the occasional blemish and the tiny section underneath contains a highlighting powder that’s wonderful when you actually have time to get out one of your tiny little brushes and apply it.  Now, fair warning, you are going to look at this little container, then look at the price and say something along the lines of, “Oh fuck no!”  BUT, as someone who has looked at her own dark undereye circles and said the same thing, I can tell you I much prefer to say it once and get the makeup than to say it basically every morning and have no way to cover them up.  And honestly, if you think of all the booze you haven’t bought since you got pregnant and gave birth….you should have enough money from your booze fund to buy at least a dozen of these little guys.

 

s1299213-main-heroJosie Maran Argan Color Stick: In the past I was not much of a blush wearer.  I didn’t feel like I needed it.  Some days I still skip it but I do notice that a little color goes a long way towards “waking up” my face and making me look a little less sleepy.  This handy little stick is easy to apply and blends really well; it looks so natural.  Also, it lasts ages. A really good buy.

 

 

 

s1345339-main-hero Tarte Smolder Eyes Amazonian Clay Liner:  Yes, that name is a serious mouthful.  The product itself is seriously great and super simple to use.  Eyeliner is probably my biggest weakness, meaning that I’m terrible at applying it and used to avoid it completely.  However I bought this chubby little pencil on a whim because it was on sale and I have been nothing short of delighted.  It goes on so smoothly and with a little blending doubles as an eyeshadow too.  Also, it has impressive staying power.  I’ve personally used the gunmetal and brown colors and loved them both.  If I’m in a crazy hurry I’ll skip this but honestly, it’s so easy to apply, and so forgiving, that I use it regularly.  Bonus: Tarte products are really quite clean, formulated without a lot of the icky parabens and chemicals that most makeup contains.  You’ll notice from my list that I’m not a total purist when it comes to this stuff but I DO like to choose cleaner products when and where I can.  This brand is quickly becoming a favorite because of both their cleaner formulations and amazing quality.

 

s862417-main-heroTarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! Mascara: This is the BEST.  It’s made of 10% black stuff and 90% FM.  What’s FM?  Fucking MAGIC.  I am a mascara junkie.  I am always looking for the perfect mascara and in my opinion, this is it.  For me, mascara is the one product that I will not leave home without.  I may look like the most shot-out 29 year old (no I will NOT show you my ID…) on the planet but damn it, my lashes will be luscious.  You may wonder if I’ve even bathed recently but your next thought should be something like, “Dear god!  What marvelous lashes!”  I love this stuff.  Seriously.  Fucking.  Magic.

 

 

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Bonus Product!  Tarte Neutral Eyes Palette – Volume II: I don’t put on full eye makeup all the time but I couldn’t write a post about makeup and not include this classy, little number.  If you happen to be in the market for some new eyeshadow, I cannot recommend this palette enough.  The colors are so pretty.  Neutral enough that you can wear them any day, any time and interesting enough to make you feel like you’re being fancy.  This palette also comes with instructions for creating three different looks which is super handy if you’re not so great at application or maybe just looking for a little inspiration.

 

 

You may have noticed that I didn’t include any lip color in this list.  That’s because 98% of the time I don’t wear any lip color.  Which you would find totally unbelievable if you saw the obscene amount of lip gloss I own.  All the same, it’s true.  I rarely wear lip color because I like kissing my kids and their poor little faces would be covered in the most bizarre yet trendy little spots if I wore lipstick.  So I just stick to lip balm.  I’m not really loyal to any one brand though I do tend to end up with a lot of cocoa butter based items.  They just smell so good!

In closing, I would like to say that I don’t, by any means, think makeup = beauty.  I just happen to enjoy wearing makeup.  I like how it makes me feel a little bit girly and a little more put-together when I wear it.  I find that I feel more like “ME” and just a smidgen less like “MOM” when I take a few minutes to do something that makes me feel good.  Also, I like to think that people don’t notice that huge drool stain on my shirt because they’re too busy noticing my killer eyelashes.  I’m telling you people…Fucking. Magic.

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Raspberry Lemon Bars

I think we need a bit of an upper after my most recent post.  It was cathartic to get all that off my chest but now it’s time to take a deep breath and talk about something fun and delicious.  Something lemony and fabulous and oh so simple.

Raspberry Lemon Bars.  A treat born of necessity that turned out to be kind of awesome.

I know you might be thinking treats aren’t really a necessity but I beg to differ.  They are.  They are good for your soul.  They will make people eager and happy to come visit you because people love treats.  And some people with three children who can’t stand the thought of dealing with all those carseats ONE MORE DAMN TIME love visitors.  Hence, treats.

Also, if you are a treat-maker who happened upon a sale on raspberries and maybe over-bought because you forgot that raspberries only stay fresh for about six minutes after your bring them home then you get raspberry treats.  And that’s where these addictive bars come in.  I had raspberries that needed to be used and a hankering for lemon bars.  So I used my very favorite Lemon Bar recipe  from Eat, Live, Run with a few fun modifications.  (Slightly off topic…her crock pot beef carnitas are really good.  One of my go-to recipes for when I want something seriously tasty and seriously easy.)

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Raspberry Lemon Bars

for the crust

1 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup shredded coconut*

1/4 cup confectioners sugar

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 stick cold butter

for the raspberry layer

1 pint fresh raspberries

2 Tbs granulated sugar

1 Tbs water

2 Tbs cornstarch

for the lemon filling

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1/4 cup all purpose flour

4 eggs

2 tsp lemon zest

2/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350.  Grease an 8 or 9 inch square baking pan.  Both work fine, the 8 inch pan results in a thicker bar.  You can also line the pan with parchment paper if you’d like.  That makes it easy to lift the bars out whole and slice them on a cutting board or something instead of slicing then scooping them out of the pan.  I’m pretty terrible at doing that without destroying them so I always opt for the parchment paper.  But you do want you want.  It’s your rodeo.

To make the crust:  Combine the flour, sugar, coconut and salt in a bowl.  Cut the cold butter into the flour mixture, using your fingers or a pastry cutter, until the bits of butter are about the size of small peas.  This may still look pretty flour-y.  That is ok.  Don’t be afraid.  Press the mixture into the pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until just lightly golden.  (Lazy person tip: Wipe out this bowl after you put the crust into the pan, that way you can use it to mix up the lemon filling.  One less bowl to wash later.  You win.)

To make the raspberry layer: Once your crust is in the oven, it’s time to make the raspberry layer.  This is super easy.  Put the raspberries, sugar, water and cornstarch into a small saucepan.  Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently and smashing up the raspberries, until the mixture is thick and bubbly.  Then turn the heat down to low just to keep it warm until it’s time to spread it on the crust.  Give is stir here and there just to keep it loose.

To make the lemon filling: Whisk together the granulated sugar and flour in a bowl. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well after each addition. Add the lemon zest and juice and mix until everything is smooth and combined.

To assemble: Spread the raspberry mixture over the hot crust, smoothing it out evenly.  Then pour lemon filling over the raspberry layer and return to oven to bake for another 20-25 minutes or so.  When done, the filling will no longer jiggle. Let cool completely in the pan before slicing and dusting with powdered sugar.  Make sure to invite people over to share these with you.  Or just plan to eat kale and do jumping jacks for the next week after you eat the entire pan.  Whatever you prefer.

* I have used both sweetened and unsweetened shredded coconut for this recipe.  Both are delicious.  Generally I keep the unsweetened kind around so that’s what I prefer to use.  Also, this recipe already has a ton of sugar in it so you don’t really need the extra sweetness of sweetened coconut.  That said, the sweetened coconut sort of caramelizes in the crust while baking and adds a really lovely flavor so you can truly go either way.  Just use what you have.

Finally, if you happen to end up with a little extra raspberry “jam”, do not throw it out!  I had a couple of tablespoons left over after I spread it on the crust so I kept it in the fridge overnight and stirred it into my oatmeal the next morning.  It was SO GOOD.  You should do it too.

This Too Shall Pass?

I broke down crying in the pediatricians office last week.  Luckily, we have a wonderful pediatrician, one who listened as I expressed my concerns.  She didn’t brush me off or get impatient.  She made sure I felt good before she left the exam room.  She also reassured me by saying that my postpartum hormones are pretty much at their peak right now so all this turmoil I’m feeling will settle down.

So maybe that’s it.  Maybe its just hormones.  Or the fact that only one out of every ten meals I eat is actually a proper meal with something akin to nutritional balance.  Or the fact that even though my baby is really a very good sleeper (the best yet!) I’m still just tired.  Regardless of what’s causing it, the problem is that I’m terrified.

I have everything I’ve ever wanted in life and I’m absolutely fucking terrified.  I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I’m waiting for something to go terribly, horribly wrong.

I have a daughter.  A beautiful daughter.  My Marleigh.  She is sweet and smart and strong and I’m so in love with her I don’t know what to do with myself.  I tell her a million times a day how beautiful she is.  How sweet she is.  How adored she is.  I coordinate her little outfits with her little headbands and I love every second of it.  I tote her around, an extension of my body.  I feel kind of odd when I’m not holding her, even though I wanted a break.  I worry.  I worry about her getting sick.  I worry about SIDS.  I worry that even though she’s only 12 weeks old I’m somehow managing to ruin her already.  By telling her how beautiful she is am I somehow programming her subconscious to believe that her worth lies in her beauty?  Will she go to college seeking approval from people based on her appearance?  No.  Of course that won’t happen because she’s not allowed to go to college.  Ever. Because BOYS. But seriously, I want her to feel strong, capable, confident and incredibly beautiful.  I hope that everyone she meets loves her even a fraction as much as her brothers do.

Marleigh’s brothers.  My boys.  My heart swells just thinking about them.  They are so full of energy and life.  They are a thousand words on top of countless noises.  They run, jump, climb, balance and crash.  They adore their sister and live for the moment she smiles at them.  They smother her with kisses and sing to her when she cries.  They are the lights of my life, my first loves.  Their big ideas and sticky fingers make me feel young and old, all at the same time.  I worry that I’m not giving them enough these days.  I worry that I’m not taking enough pictures of them or playing enough Candyland.  I worry about being too strict and then I follow that up with worrying that I’m not teaching them all the right things: manners, compassion, perseverance and how to enjoy life.  I worry that I’m doing it all wrong.

I worry about kidnappings, car wrecks, freak accidents and vaccines.  I worry about tornadoes and fluoridated water.  I worry about having everyone I hold most dear ripped away from me.  I worry that worrying about these things makes me a weak person and a poor mother.

I look at my bright, healthy, happy children and feel utterly undeserving.  But, my god, I love them so much it hurts.

I want to wrap this post up into some neat, tidy life lesson.  I want to tell you that I felt all these things and then somehow, with great strength of character and a brilliant epiphany, I overcame and am a better person today.  Stronger.  That I didn’t lie in bed the other night hiding tears because it’s so fucking scary loving people this much.  That I didn’t think about deleting that last sentence because it sounds angsty and borderline stalkerish.

For better or worse all I have to offer you, and myself, is honesty.  Murky, complicated and incredibly unflattering honesty.

But that’s a start, right?