A weird thing happened on my 23rd birthday. I felt a peace. It was this wave like an overwhelming calm. Standing around a tabletop playing Irish Poker with my friends, aka the best people on this whole damn planet, I was all “this is it! this is happiness!” My people are my people, and they love me long time. I love them more and more with age.

They make me feel beautiful in both conventional and unconventional ways. I know 23 is going to be so good because I feel ok in this skin for the first time in a long time. I know who stands behind me, and I know these people are not sticking through it because they think I’m pretty. That’s my secret beauty tip. Surround yourself with beautiful souls and let the (self)love pour out.

With that said, I still take care of myself, and especially, my skin. I was plagued with acne scars, pockmarks and adult hormonal acne. I also have a horrible, horrible habit of picking at my skin (especially when I am writing…). I took my 22nd year to really get to know my skin and to find what worked for me. Skin care is not a one size fit all. Aveeno face wash may work wonders for your face, but their moisturizer could make your face look like an oil spill. Yes, I am speaking from experience.

I want to share with you what is working for me. I say working because I know as we age our skin changes, and in the new year I am vowing to listen more closely to what my body is telling me — skin included.

I use 7 products. I know it sounds a bit excessive, but hear me out. Unfortunately, I don’t have “before” and “after” photos of the different stages of my skin throughout my life my I can tell you that my pre- and during puberty face was very oily, pimply and red.



Product #1 & 2 – Makeup Remover 

I used to sleep in my makeup *gasp* Now I know better! Don’t believe me? Read this article. At the end of the day, no matter how long it was, I always remove my makeup, wash my face and moisturize. The first step is always my makeup remover. I use two different kinds, Clean Lash by Nova Lash pads for my eye makeup (because I want to be extra delicate to my gorgeous eyelash extensions) and Neutrogena Makeup Remover towelettes for the rest of my face.

skin skin2

Product #3 & 4 – Face Wash 

Immediately after I use the makeup remover, I wash my face. I like to alternate my face washes. I have two that work perfectly and I use them interchangeably. I always make sure to rinse my face first with warm water (to open the pores), rub in the face wash with my fingers and then rinse the face wash off with cool water (to close the pores) and pat dry with a towel. These are the two I use for my combination skin.


Product #5 – Moisturizer 

The third product that I use daily is a moisturizer. This was the hardest product for me to understand and make a habit of using. I had oily skin, so I assumed that adding a facial lotion to my skin would just make it more oily. I suppose in a sense I was right, but that is only because I wasn’t using “Oil Free” moisturizers. I tried 6 or 7 different brands before finding the one I couldn’t live without : My Benefit Total Moisture Facial Cream. It’s pricey, but it has made SUCH a difference in my skin. Worth every freaking penny. It also comes in an aesthetically pleasing glass jar — perks. I apply a tiny amount of this magic potion in an upwards motion onto my face and neck every damn day. It’s amazing.



Product #6 – Exfoliator 

I don’t exfoliate every day. But when I do exfoliate, it’s in a warm shower where I can really scrub those pores. I exfoliate 2-3 times a week (more in the summer, less in the winter). Before I really understood microbeads I used Aveeno’s exfoliator. Now, a little older and a lot more environmentally conscious, I have fallen for Lush’s Dark Angels formula. This stuff will leave your skin clear, soft, and free of toxins! What more can you ask from your exfoliant? I will warn you, Dark Angels is made from charcoal, sugar, and other things that are dirt-like. If you don’t wash it off all the way you can come out of the shower looking like a coal miner! And sometimes it gets stuck in my eyebrows. Nothing a little warm water and a towel  can’t take off. Other than that, I can find no faults with it. I even like the earthy way that it smells. You only need a pea sized amount. A little goes a long way.


Product #7 – Face Mask 

Face Mask’s aren’t just for slumber parties. I use mine once a week (twice a week if my hormonal acne is giving me a hard time). I think face masks are often overlooked and disregarded when talking about skin care. For one, they can be considered time-consuming. I usually put one on while I’m doing chores, which makes me a multitasking vixen. Another excuse is that they are messy. I won’t act like they aren’t, but they are WORTH IT. I use another Lush product here. The Mask of Magnaminty. It’s a green clay mask with peppermint in it. If you want to talk about soft skin…this mask is awesome! It gets down deep into those pores and leaves them so clean and your face smells like a foot (you have to use a Mean Girls reference when you can).  I used to use Formula 10.0.6 Pores Be Pure Mud Mask, and it was great but not as amazing as this stuff. If you’re on a budget, I would recommend the Pores Be Pure Mask for sure.

skin8 skin9


Pamper your skin! It keeps your organs from melting in the sun (or something like that).





I took the plunge. I went for eyelash extensions at Chasing Vanity Salon and…wow. I don’t have much else to say but wow. The hardest part about this entire process is waiting the 2 hours to see the pretty.

My appointment was with Lani at Chasing Vanity Salon & Spa. She made me feel so comfortable and relaxed from the moment I walked in. Here are my results:



Can you believe I’m not wearing ANY eye makeup at all in the second picture?

If you’re considering lash extensions, I want to break down the day even further for you. This process is painless, but it does take time. When you lay down in the chair, your licensed NovaLash expert will place these little white strips under your eyes (see below). The strips hold down your lower lashes (and no, they don’t pull them out…or even hurt a little when being pulled off). Then you lay still with your eyes closed for 2.5 hours while your cosmetologist glues a longer fuller synthetic lash to each one of your existing lashes. I fell asleep!


Another before and after featuring the strips.

During the application, there was a very, very small sting in my left eye and Lani informed me that it was the fumes from the glue. She dried my eye with an airbrush and the stinging went away immediately. I laid down, we chit chatted, I slept, she worked, I left. It really was that easy. I advise you to make sure you eat a good meal and go to the bathroom before your appointment. 2.5 hours is longer than you think it is! I asked for a professional yet flirty look and Lani made it happen. She used a variety of lengths to make this look.



(please don’t mind my eyebrows — I’m in the process of growing them out…)

Seriously, I feel like the queen now. With fluttery eyelashes and big doe eyes. My boyfriend said he thinks these new lashes make me more expressive (expressive=sassy). I do know that I already can’t wait for my 4-week fill. After day 2 with my lashes, I ditched my mascara. Actually, I have worn less makeup this past week than I have in a very, very long time. These lashes ensure you wake up glamorous. They are completely safe and completely gorgeous. To read more about the application process, the ingredients, and the aftercare visit the Nova Lash Website.


As for the daily care, it’s not much different than your normal lashes. I remove any eye makeup with my Nova Lash conditioning pads/makeup remover (there are only 2 ingredients in the makeup remover and they are both natural, you can’t beat that), brush them out with a mascara wand, without the mascara of course, and I fly out the door. It’s really that easy.

Even in my grubby clothes my eye lashes still look amazing.

Hat by Forever21. Zip Up Hoodie by H&M. Biker Tank by Gypsy Warrior. Lashes by Lani at Chasing Vanity Salon.

To get this service done, visit Chasing Vanity Salon & Spa in Grand Rapids. If you are a first time visitor, mention my name and you will receive $20 off your service of $60 or more!

Whatever holiday it is, I don’t think a gift is complete without a handwritten card. Those are my favorite gifts to give and my favorite to receive. I love giving and receiving cards because rarely does it feel casual in a conversation to say “Hey you, you are doing amazing at this life you are living. I really appreciate you. You’re strong and beautiful.” (Although I’m not discouraging this behavior…)

I have spent my whole writing life (approx. 17 years) making cards. I wouldn’t consider myself an expert, but I do have a genuine recipe to help you get started.

1. Make the card with your own two hands. 

I don’t want to hear that you “aren’t creative enough.” Because trust me, you are. Even if you and your 6 year old niece have the same drawing capabilities I’m certain you can cut and glue. I keep a collection of these bad boys  in my stash so I am always ready to write something up. I keep pretty card stock paper or scrapbooking paper and stamp letters. I cut a few layers of squares/circles/rectangles (whatever shape I’m feelin’ that day) and layer them. I leave the top one blank so I can stamp “Thank You” “You Rock” “Cancer Sucks” or just their name. I really like the look of an all lower-case stamped card. These are similar to the stamps I use. The whole ordeal might take you 10 minutes, or longer if you decide to let your right brain take over!



  1. Cards and Envelopes 
  2. Stamps
  3. Paper
  4. Scissors
  5. Glue



2. Start with a Salutation 

Some ideas: dear ___ (nickname, regular name, pet name), hi ____, “Yo”, just their name. It really doesn’t matter. If you can start it out funny then you should do that.

3. Thank Them. 

Thank her for driving your to the store. Thank him for being the very best friend. Thank them for being unapologetically themselves. You are writing this card to this person for a reason, but let it be for other reasons too. We are so hard on ourselves, hearing that someone appreciates us for who we are can help alleviate some of the pressures.

4. Tell Them Why You Love Them 

(Or at least like them…if love isn’t an appropriate word). Is it his quirky attitude? Her generosity. Remind the people in your life what makes them so great and so unique and so valuable, they don’t hear it enough.

5. End with Something Funny

…preferably a joke the two of you share together. Because a whole card full of sap and I love you’s can be a bit overwhelming to read and write.


If it feels right to write it, then it is perfect. Be your most genuine self when you are writing your card and it will shine through.

Send me pics of your handmade cards!

Are you going to climb a mountain? Visit a new place? Vow to write 400 words of your novel everyday?

Whatever it is…plan it with us with our FREE calendar. Designed with multiple styles in mind, the Brick and Velvet 2016 calendar is available for download at no cost. We want you to accomplish your goals. And we know that the best way to get started with a goal is to write it down!


Download the Free PDF here and tell us what you think!


Where did you post it? In your office? Bedroom? Kitchen? Send us pics to be featured on our instagram.

I have short hair. Above the shoulder kind of short, not the shaved kind of short. There are several common misconceptions about short hair. The first being that it is easy to take care of and style, the second being that you are limited in options for styling.



I’m here today to prove both of those short hair myths wrong!


Step One: Prep yo hair girl. Today, I’m wearing day old hair. Yesterday I gave myself a blowout with a round brush and this styling spray. It’s still not as dirty as I would like it, so I used my Kenra Dry Texture Spray. I use this stuff to give my hair a little grit and a little volume. It helps to both hold the braid and tease in place. I like volume and I like a little texture, too. After I spray the texture spray I use my hands to mess it up and work the product in. Make the hair look lived in. Think: bead head.


Step Two: Bangs. I don’t have bangs anymore because I believe they can make or break your day. Even though I live the bang-less life, I still have to style my side part. To get this look right here I teased the roots of the hair toward my face with a teasing brush. I then set the style with some hairspray. I use a flexible hold and don’t tease too much because I have thick hair that holds stlye (both a blessing and a curse).


Step Three: Section out the hair you want to use. I like to use a lot of hair for that asymmetrical rockstar look.


Step Four: Braid it! I like to french braid the top and the finish with a regular braid. I use an elastic to secure the end so it stays all day. I also tug on pieces in the braid to make it look loose and messy.


Step Five: Pin it back. I always try to hide and conceal bobby pins and messy ends by laying a layer over them after I pin. I found a great solution to this…pins that double as art! I found this triangle cutie from American Eagle. I use it all the time. And boom, you’re done. This style is perfect for work, play, and everything inbetween.




I know her. She is challenging to buy gifts for. In part because her taste and style is so unique, in other part because she seems as if she has anything she could ever need. Fear not! I am here to help you pick out a thoughtful gift that is just as one of a kind as your quirky lady friend. Here are 10 tips (with links to some awesome Etsy shops) to help you get started.

  1. When in doubt, personalize it. This goes with any gift really. I really like these custom made name plate necklaces from E&E Project Jewelry. Personalize it by requesting the longitude and latitude of a place that is special for the two of you. A word that reminds you of her. A date. Or even just her name. These necklaces are small in size, but will add an instant statement to any style. il_570xN.764958324_im24
  2. Everyone could use another blanket. A new throw blanket can brighten up a room. A new warm blanket can transform her winter. But both? What a perfect gift. Think about her home. Really think about her style. Try to pick out a blanket that reflects both her personal style, her home decor and her temperature needs. I love this faux fur blanket from VFIllustration Etsy shop. It’s a quirky piece that still hasn’t lost its function. il_570xN.723832014_h32a
  3. Books. Books are always in style. If she is a fearless reader, buy her your favorite book. Tell her it is your favorite and that you want her to read it so you two can share something. You could get a little alternative and buy her a book of poetry. Two I recommend to give to anyone on your list are No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay and Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.  If she is more of a picky reader, buy her a best seller. Some of my personal favorites to give this year are Among the Ten Thousand Things by Julia Pierpont and Little Bee by Chris Cleave. If you ever need book recommendations…please don’t hesitate to ask. I am an aggressive reader and love to talk books. 23513349
  4. Sassy shirts. If the lady in your life is a little bit sassy, a graphic tee that reflects that is a perfect gift. Does she like cats? Naps? Aliens? Wizards? At MoodCatz, you can find a shirt for any girl who is tough as bricks but pretty as velvet. I love that most of the designs come in tank tops, tees, crop tops or baseball shirts. My personal favorite shirt from MoodCatz? The Nap Queen tee. If you buy 3 of their shirts for 3 lucky, sassy ladies, you get your fourth one free (for you to keep, obvs). il_570xN.836729437_oxwk
  5. Frame something. This could be a really cool and easy DIY that doubles as art. Does she love movies? Did you save the ticket to the first movie you two saw together? Frame it! Buy a nice shadow box frame with a tasteful matting. Have a hilarious photo? Follow steps above. If all of this seems a bit overwhelming, there are some amazing artists who create for us to consume. One of my very favorite artists is Erica Lang from Woosah Outfitters. She prints and creates right in my hometown of Grand Rapids, MI. Not only is her art the perfect gift for that hard-to-shop for girl in your life, but the process behind it is just as amazing.
  6. Give a gift that gives back. This could be a lot of things. This could be a gift of a donation under her name to a charity she loves. Give a gift that is part of a give one, get one organization. Like Love Your Melon beanies, Toms or Passion Planner. Giving something that gives back is part of the spirit of the holiday season. blackspeckled_flat_large



Whatever you do decide to give her, know that it is enough. The thought behind any gift is worth so much more than the gift itself. My favorite part of gifts is the handmade cards with the hilarious and heartfelt letters. Ever wonder what the recipe is for a good card? I’ll tell you all my secrets here.


Questions? Get ahold of me!

………..and don’t forget to follow us on social media, you’ll never miss a post.








Wash your face and pull back your hair! I have acne prone skin and I use Aveeno Clear Complexion Foaming Cleanser to prepare my skin. I wash off any dirt that may have accumulated on my face overnight. This product is gentle enough to use daily.  Every time I wash my skin, I make sure to moisturize! I didn’t believe in the power of a good moisturizer until I met Benefit’s Total Moisture Facial Cream.  It makes my skin so so soft. 2-3 times a week (less in winter, more in summer) I make sure to exfoliate while I am in the shower. I used Lush’s Dark Angels Cleanser.  You have to invest in a good skincare routine that works for you. Your skin is your canvas, and you want to take care of it.




Before I apply my foundation, I apply a primer. My favorite primer is Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer Pore Minimizing. I LOVE this stuff because it seriously erases my pores. If you don’t want to spend $39 on a tube of primer, I don’t blame you. For a long time I used NYX Cosmetics Studio Perfect Primer and it worked just fine. It’s nothing like Smashbox, but it did keep my makeup in place. To apply the primer, I used my fingers. I dab this on making sure it seeps into my pores, always working the product in in an upward motion. Then I move on to my foundation. My favorite foundation at the moment is Benefit’s Big Easy Multi Balancing Complexion Perfector in 03 light/medium. This stuff is amazing. It goes on as a liquid but dries as a powder. It covers up my acne marks and red spots so well. I apply the foundation with my fingers because I think it gives me more control, but you could use a brush or beauty blender if that’s what you prefer. You can also layer this foundation up in certain problem areas, it blends really well.


Next I use a bit of concealer for my problem spots. Right now I am using It Cosmetics Bye Bye Under Eye in light. I normally would be a medium shade, but when you are purchasing a concealer always opt for a shade lighter. Instead of using my fingers, I used a concealer brush (like this one here) to really work the product into the blemish from every angle. I also applied this concealer under my eyes in an upside down triangle.






I like to blend my concealer in with my foundation using a beauty blender. Remember the skin under your eyes is very delicate so dab lightly with the beauty blender. When you are working it into the rest of your skin move in an upwards motion. When you work product in by pulling down, you are also pulling down the skin, making it prone to wrinkles and sagging. Always pull up!





I have a very round face, so contouring is a must for me. For an everyday contouring look I use the It Cosmetics Vitality Anti-Aging Face Disk.  I apply this with a contouring brush moving in an upward motion. I make sure only to get the line of my cheekbone, a line on my jawline and a C shape around each side of my forehead. These need to be blended out so you don’t look like you have lines all over your face! You can’t tell I have it on in the photo, and that’s the way I believe it should look. Well blended but still sliming and framing your face.

 steplYou know those #browgoals everyone is talking about? Well, I’ve learned the hard way that it takes time. It took me days and days of filling in, wiping off, brushing up and brushing down to get my eyebrows just how I like them. The best advice my aesthetician ever gave me: “your eyebrows are sisters, not twins. Follow their lines.” Now, that’s exactly what I do. I am in the process of growing my brows out, but they are coming in nicely. I go to a Benefit Brow Bar at Ulta where they map your brows — it’s the coolest. While they are growing in I love the help of my Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz Pencil and brush.  First I brush my eyebrows up toward my forehead to make them look as full as possible. Then I draw short lines along their natural shape. I work with what I have, just darkening and sharpening the lines, instead of trying to draw on what I don’t have.


 Next is one of my favorite parts…the eyes! I love evolving my eye makeup and making small changes everyday. Right now for an everyday eye I do a neutral tone smokey eye with a small wing. But first…primer! I begin my eye makeup application with NYX HD Eye Shadow Base. I’d like to purchase a nicer primer, but for now this works as well as it can (suggestions for an eye primer in the comments, please!). I then apply a cream colored shadow all over my eye as a base color. I use the NYX DreamCatcher Palette “Dusk til Dawn” and I truly love the colors. I haven’t invested in a higher end eye palette yet, but the Urban Decay Naked Smokey Palette is on my list. Once I get the base color on, I blend out using the lightly sparkly tan. This color begins in the middle of my lid and I use it as a blend. The last color is the dark sparkly brown. I use this on the corners of my eyes and in the crease. Here is the point where it is SO SO important to blend. Blending makes it look cohesive and accidental. Without the blend your smokey eye can look a little trashy. As a general rule…I don’t sparkle. But something about the light dusting of sparkles in this palette makes it all ok. I finish by using the highlighter from the It Cosmetics Vitality Anti-Aging Face Disk in the inner corners of my eyes to brighten up my blues.

step8 The last thing I do before I leave the house is my eyeliner and mascara. I wear a small wing everyday. I think wings are chic and appropriate for the office. The wing took me awhile to master. Here is the advice I have to offer you: practice, practice, practice. The best tool I have found for my little wings is Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner in Intense Black. The brush works so well, and if I store this eye liner pen upside down it lasts me forever! While you’re drawing your wings, always lift them up toward the end of your eyebrow and make sure they are even. Nothing has to be perfect, think back to the sisters not twins rule. Once my wings are on and even, I apply a black shadow over the line with an eyeliner brush. I like the way this softens the lines. The last part is totally based on opinion. Now it’s time to add some Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara. Pulling the lashes upward and wiggling the brush gently from side to side to separate lashes. 


This is what the final product looks like. 15 minute makeup and I’m out the door feeling like a badass bitch. At the end of the day, you have to do what works for you. Listen to your skin, listen to your eyes, your eyebrows. No two faces look the same…and that’s what makes us amazing. Be grateful for what you have. Never use makeup to hide, use it as a tool to amplify. If you get frustrated with a step of this tutorial, skip it! No two beauties are made up the same.

Questions? Suggestions? Want more like this? Comment below!



I love Starbucks, however basic that might be. My favorite drink is a Dirty Chai Latte with Soy Milk. I love Starbucks because it’s never too sweet.  I also love to bake and feed my roommates. I was looking for creative recipes for a tasty cupcake that had a bit of personality. I originally found this recipe for Salted Caramel Cupcakes from My Frugal Adventures.



I’m still working on mastering the art of buttercream frosting. I couldn’t get it as fluffy as I hoped it would be (think frappuccino). I used a plastic bag to frost when I should have used a large Wilton tip and pastry bag. I am also one of those people who doesn’t own a stand mixer. Any ideas how to get this to be fluffier? Comment below!

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes and took me about an hour total from start to finish.

What You Will Need:


1½ cups All-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Baking Powder
¼ teaspoon Sea Salt
1 stick Unsalted butter, softened
1 cup Packed Light Brown Sugar
2 large Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla
½ cup Buttermilk

Buttercream Frosting 

1½ cups Unsalted Butter, Cubed and Chilled
4oz Cream Cheese, Cubed and Chilled
3 cups Powdered Sugar
1 cup Caramel Sauce


How To: 


  1. Cream together room temperature butter and brown sugar. I’m still old school and do this by hand, so my instructions will not include your KitchenAid Stand Mixer…beware. When this is completely blended it will be fluffy.
  2. Add the eggs and beat into the butter/brown sugar mixture.
  3. Add vanilla and mix.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix together your dry ingredients. The flour, baking powder and salt. Here you can add a little more or a little less salt, based on your own personal taste.
  5. Alternate adding buttermilk and the dry ingredients three times, insuring that each batch is blended before the next is added.
  6. Fill cupcake liners halfway
  7. Bake at 325 for 35 minutes.
  8. Pull out of the oven and place on cooling rack before frosting.


  1. Cube cream cheese and butter and chill.
  2. Beat the butter until smooth.
  3. Stir in the cream cheese until butter and cream cheese are completely incorporated.
  4. Add powdered sugar in about a half a cup at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  5. Frost, drizzle some caramel and add a sprinkle of sea salt.

If you want them to look like little mini Frappuccinos, ask your local Starbucks for a few extra straws. I cut each straw into 3, so I needed 4 straws. These straws could also be made from green fondant, if you want them to be edible.

*Starbucks is a registered trademark and I am not affiliated with them in any way. I do however love them and their creative and amazing branding.