Ipsy Glam Bags

Y’all I have just never been a) good at or b) all that inclined towards makeup. I think it’s the pragmatist / minimalist in me that just thought, meh, I’ve got a tube of mascara – I’m good! And truth be told, even to this day that’s pretty much still my mentality, haha. But my older sister, who is better with these beauty things than myself, got me absolutely hooked on ipsy. I’m selling it to myself as still being pragmatic / quasi minimalist because it’s only $10 a month and you get 5 samples every time, so I’m like in the category of never having to ever buy make-up again, other than ya know, my $10 per month hit.

Has anyone else heard of this thing? I feel like subscription / send stuff in the mail is the millennials answer to the previous generations shopping mall (that and amazon, duh…) but I get irrationally excited about this bag each month and obsessively check to see when I’m going to get my sneak peak email to get a glimpse at my monthly goodies.

So I’ve only been doing this for 4 months now, but this is my loot to date.


I use the powder every day (and have been since February) and still have most of it left. The mascara has become a pretty much daily use for me too, and I’ve found I enjoy putting lipstick on for nights out!


I love the deep conditioner for my hair, and use the blush every day. Wasn’t crazy about the tarte lipstick (it was too matte for my taste).



In April, I loved the dry shampoo (I’ve never used that before), and the liquid eyeliner has been great, too.

So far, my favorite thing about ipsy is that I’m getting nicer stuff than I’d normally buy for myself, so it feels like a mega treat to get my bag each month. Since I’m not a pile it on makeup girl, I’ve found even the sample sizes (which some are smaller, not full sized) last me a few months. I try to space out my consumption of the goods, so if I get a travel sized deep conditioner, I use that once per month, and so far it’s lasted me for over 2 months, sweet! By the time I use up one sample size of a product or brand of a particular item, I usually have a replacement come from a different brand – so it works out perfectly!

Plus I get to try new things that I would not usually buy myself, so it’s encouraged me to try different products. Like lipstick!! OMG, I’ve never, in my 30 years of life ever worn lipstick. It’s actually hilarious when I put it on now for a date night because Henry just STARES at my lips and says “Red”. Like he’s speechless and that’s all he can get out, lol. Like something’s different about this lady… Are you my mother?

Anyone else out there use ipsy?? For $10 a month, I think it’s my new favorite bang for the buck thing!

One more fun thing about this subscription (does Birch Box do this, I’m not sure?) is that each month they have you rate your items so that they better match up with what you’d like (aka – I hated that color of blush or that bronzer was a-mazing) and after you get a certain number of points, you get to choose additional items to add to your bag! Huzza!! Or if you have friends sign up, etc, you get points on your account! *Disclaimer* If y’all subscribe to ipsy using the link, I’ll get referral points placed on my account! 😉

$5 Fitness

You could say my husband is a wee bit obsessive when it comes to the whole buff routine. I mean, there are days in the summer when this kid would ride his bike (7 miles, one way) into work, run at lunch, and then want to hit up the gym at night. I’m like – are you a special kind of crazy? I have to motivate myself with hot fudge sundaes to even get my badonka donk out the door and go for a run.

Biking to Work

Since we’ve moved to our new place, we’ve been pretty inconsistent with the gym membership though. From my perspective, we both either walk or ride our bikes into work, so I don’t really feel like we need the gym membership – just extra simolions headed out the door. But from Jay’s perspective, he felt like he was missing out on some iron pumping that the gym would offer him. So – in the spirit of compromise getting my way, I said, couldn’t you just get a pull-up bar and do some sit ups to get buff?

Being the engineer that he is, he took the whole, get a pull up bar, into – let’s make a pull up bar! Since it only set me back $5 and got me a lean machine man, I was down.

Adding Pull Up Bar in House

See this? This is our Laundry Room. It’s pretty much an ugly room with a floral border that I never enter unless Jay bribes me to do the laundry. It also has exposed beams in the ceiling, which makes it ripe for Jay’s little iron installation. At first, Jay though he’d have to buy the goods for installing this bar at the home improvement store, but lucky for my penny pinching ways, he was able to find some scrap wood and a piece of metal that was long enough for the bar. Score.

How to Construct a Pull Up Bar

If you’re starting from scratch on this project, you just need a 2×4 and some metal piping (usually you can find something that would work in the plumbing department). That’s IT.

The first step to get our deluxe personal gym going was to use a metal circular drill bit to bite out some of the wood to give the metal bar something to grab into. We just tried to find a bit that was as close as possible to the size of the metal bar we had. Anything too big and the metal bar moves around too much, too small, it won’t fit through. We eventually settled on a bit that was around 3/4 inch in diameter.

DIY Pull Up Bar

To install this bad boy, we just found some studs that were about 2 feet apart, and popped up our wood piece so that we could see how everything would fit. Perfect.

Installing DIY Pull Up Bar

After screwing in the wood pieces to the side of the floor joists, Jay was ready to give his new toy a whirl. Ready, set, time to get buff.

DIY Pull Up Bar

Needless to say, the hubster loves this thing. Every time I’m down in the basement editing photos, or working on odds and ends, I can hear Jay slip into the laundry room and do a few pull-ups. Atta boy. Now to convince him to do a few loads of laundry while he’s in there 😀

Being the looney tune that he is, Jay also takes this pull-up game as an opportunity to start running up and down the steps. Ya know, just to burn a few more calories and make me feel like fatty mc-fatterton while I sit on my bumkiss. 😀

Exercise at Home

So if you’ve got $5 and an exposed ceiling (or better yet, some spare pipe hanging around and an exposed ceiling) than you are well on your way to your very own deluxe home gym. Work it, guuuiiirrlll.

DIY Pullup Bar

Psstt … I’ve got some new art work up on Etsy, too!

EE Cummings Art

Pin Junkie

Breathing Easy

Not sure about all of y’all but my allergies practically killed me this year. I’m surprised my eyeballs are still in their sockets after all the itching and scratching I’ve been doing. And seriously, is there anything more annoying than an itchy face (on top of the itchy eyeballs), I’m telling ya. It was bad. Now that the late summer allergies are starting to fade for me, I’m starting to think about all the dust and debris that will be floating in our air ducts when we turn on our heat in the next few weeks. Since we are window people during the summer, all our fresh air is about to be replaced by stale, dry, dusty, heater duct air. Loovvveeellyy.

So when I saw this coupon for a full-house duct cleaning for $95, I said cool beans yo, and called those dudes pronto.

Duct Cleaning Coupon

Alas, the minute the duct cleaning crew got here, we had a few problemos.

  1. Our duct work had never been cleaned before, so they had to cut a hole in our vent stack to even start the process, adding $75
  2. We had (5) additional vents from their advertised special, which only cover (10) vents, which added $65
  3. Since our basement is partially finished, they could only clean half the house. Rut-ro.

Since all our vents upstairs are caulked and painted, they would have to remove all of them and they would only be able to get a few inches down, vs. servicing the entire vent. Here is how one vent looked after we cut it out and removed it. Kinda bad. Plus it was pretty heart breaking to imagine doing this to every. single. one. of our newly painted and caulked vents.

Removing Vents for Duct Cleaning

Ultimately, after having our costs go from $95 to $235 with only half of the duct work even accessible, we decided to nix the plan. On to plan b. Cleaning them ourselves! 😉 Now, truth be told, I was having some major second thoughts about the duct cleaning, largely due to reading this article by the EPA, which basically said it can actually be dangerous to clean the ducts, since you land up disturbing more dust than if you just left things alone. And the article mentioned (in detail) how most duct cleaning services would kinda scam you and that they also try to put chemicals into the duct system to “clean” them further. Oye. Color me confused. Since the EPA, from my standpoint, is kind of an uninterested party in all these factors, I took their advice and became kind of leery of the whole thing.

Since we had a few ducts that were kind of in the middle of the action during the wall removal, we decided that we would clean those out more thoroughly, and let the others sit. Mainly, we have a floor inset vent that had a little bit of debris get into it, so we pulled out the handy dandy shop vac and started sucking away.

How to Clean Duct Work

After the cover was already removed, we decided to also vacuum out the vent in our dining room, just for a little extra due diligence. Probably didn’t even need to mess with that one (the EPA advises only cleaning the vent if you can see visible dust collected around it), but we figured it couldn’t hurt, so we moved on full speed ahead with that one as well.

How to Clean Duct Work

To remove this guy, we super carefully lanced along the top edge of the caulk with a knife, so that we didn’t remove any paint off the wall when we popped the vent off. Now, we could have done this for all of the 15 vents in our house, but really, that just didn’t sound all that appealing. 😉

How to Remove Painted Vent

After we cleared out those two ducts, we decided the best next course of action was to get some really good filters for our furnace, in order to make sure any dust particles that did remain in the system, were quickly sucked up by a new filter. Since we saved $235 by nixing the cleaning, we decided to go with a really nice, top of the line filter for twenty bucks.

Best Furnace Air Filters

While we were at it, we also decided to put some filters right on the register, which we thought would help a bit with any extra dust we might have disturbed with our vacuuming escapade earlier.

Vent Filters for Register

I’m hoping this helps a bit with any indoor allergies we might be battling come winter. Has anyone else done the duct cleaning before? Did you notice a difference? Curious to get some feedback from others since I chickened out. 😉


Lean and Green

Yeah, it’s no secret that I like to stretch my dollar bill (other instances of my thriftiness/cheapness/saving money like it’s my job here, here and here). Groceries, are no exception. BUT although we like to get a lot o’ bang for our buck, we also like to buy as much local, organic and generally wholesome food as possible. All winning categories in our book. In order to keep our finances in tip top shape, I make a budget each month. I try to anticipate all our expenses for that given 30 day period, and we make every effort to stick within those predefined budgetary guidelines for that period of time. Do we fail sometimes? Oh yeah brother, we crash and burn sometimes. But sometimes we actually exceed our expectations, too! Albeit, rarely 😉 Just keeping it real. Our predefined weekly budget for groceries is $50, and in complete honesty, we rarely exceed this amount, other than a few dollars extra here and there.

Yes, there are only (2) of us in the house. No, we are not feeding a bus load of teenagers. So, $50 in my opinion has been a very sufficient amount of money for us to consistently cook almost all our evening meals, and to pack our lunches daily, as we probably eat out 1-2 times a month, if that. The key is planning your meals ahead of time, and knowing when to stock up on daily essentials. Here is a snapshot of everything we got this week, our grand total $48.76.

Groceries on less than $50 per week
Local Organic Groceries for Less than $50

Before I made my Day Zero list, one of the things that really bothered me about our groceries, was our meat. We were a Tyson Chicken family for sure. In all honesty, I just did not feel good about buying food that I was certain had an unethical production process. Can I source where everything comes from with my shopping trip today – no way! But we are getting closer! Our chicken for instance now comes from a small production farm about 20 miles away from where we live {Aunt Betsy’s Chicken, Brighton Michigan}. That is awesome, in my book! Plus, I have an Aunt Betsy, so that makes me like them even more. The farm offers tours, so you can check out the life of that little clucker for yourself, if desired. Plus, at less than $3 per meal (we try to use a 1/2 lb or less per meal), I couldn’t justify not spending those few extra dollars to have more piece of mind about where my meat came from.

Local, Organic groceries on $50 or less
Weekly Groceries: Meat

We also try to get our fair share of fruits in veggies up in haarre, up in haarre. Felt compelled to throw that in 🙂 In winter, in Michigan, there are not a TON of options for local greens and fruits – but I do know that the farmers market carries some leafy greens and such that are grown in a hoop house during the winter months. A few times a month in the winter we head down to the market to supplement our groceries with some fresh eggs ($2.50 for a dozen), and we often get some spinach and other veggies, depending on what’s available that week. This lot of groceries doesn’t include any market finds, but even when we head on down to grab some loot at the farmer’s market – we still stay right at our $50 mark. Here is a snapshot of our weekly dose of fruits n’ veggies.

Inexpensive Groceries
Fruits and Veggies

Another way we’ve tried to make our purchases a bit more local, is through buying our milk from a metro Detroit dairy. This is probably Jay’s favorite move, cause their milk is goood. Like 2% taste like whole milk good. Like creamy goodness good. The milk comes from Calder Dairy, in Carleton, Michigan, which also offers tours, and I always think that is a good indicator when the doors are open wide. I’m all about quality of life for those cows, must be my Wisconsin roots {Mom}. Plus, it comes in a glass bottle that we return every week, so the non-waste aspect is also nice.

Organic, Local Food on less that $50 per week
Weekly Groceries

As mentioned, one of the biggest things {I think} for cutting down on food costs, is to buy items in bulk when they are on sale, and to plan your meals ahead so that you ideally only go out once per week for groceries.

Weekly Groceries on $50 or less
All the Basics

Each week, we try to stock up on a staple, so past weeks help bolster our shelves with lots of whole grain pasta, onions, and potatoes – which are items we eat in a lot of our meals 🙂 This week, we tried to grab bread while it was on sale, etc. So just to provide a recap, this is what we got, and what we spent. Drum roll, please.

  • (2) Cascadian Farms Granola $4 ($1 coupon)
  • (2) Ken’s Dressings $3 ($1 coupon)
  • (4) Organic Anjou Pears ($1.49/lb) $2.69
  • (1) Strawberries $1.67
  • (1) Bolthouse Farm Baby Cut Carrots $1
  • (1) Meijer Brand Frozen Peas $1
  • (1) Meijer Brand Tortellini $3
  • (2) Meijer Wheat Bread $2
  • (1) Domino Brown Sugar $1.67
  • (1) White Sugar $2.50
  • (1) Garlic .50
  • (1) Kraft Mozzarella $2
  • (1) half-gallon Calder Farms Milk $3.29
  • .6 lb Chicken Breast, Aunt Betsy’s Chicken $3.91
  • 1/2 lb Chicken Thighs, Aunt Betsy’s Chicken $3.29
  • 1 lb Pork Chops $3.95
  • 1 lb Turkey Sausage $4.99
  • (1) Stoneyfield Yogurt $2.29 ($1 off coupon)
  • (1) Earthbound Organic Lettuce $2.54 (.75 off coupon)
  • (1) Blackberry $1.19
  • (1) Peanut Butter $1.99
  • (1) Butter $2.29
  • $54.76 – $2 in store coupon (ArborFarms) – $4 Mperks Coupon = $48.76 Total 

So although not all of our food came from the farmer next door, we are trying to edge a wee bit closer to more sustainable purchasing with our groceries, while maintaining a budget as well. We are excited about the small changes we have started to make!

Interestingly enough, the USDA estimates that the most economical food plan would cost $87.30 a week for a family of 2. With a little bit of deal searching and some organizing, you can totally snag some stellar deals!

This is How We Do It

Winter bike commuting, it’s not for the faint of heart. Then again, with the winter we had last year {warmest on record, ya know}, it’s not all that bad, either. 😉 With this week, being an extremely notable exception with the weather. Holy Mother of Christmas – it’s COLD OUT THERE.

Last year, Jay and I both worked right around 4 miles from our work locations respectively, so we both biked pretty much every day. I would bus every once and a while, and since Jay is not on the bus line, he would also drive if the roads were too slick to accommodate his trusty set of bicycle wheels. BUT – I think he drove like twice last winter because it never snowed. In Michigan. Go figure.

This year has started out with a bit more snow – but – overall it’s been manageable enough for Jay to cycle in pretty consistently. The key to pulling it off is to dress in layers. Lot’s of them actually! 😉 In all seriousness, as long as you have a few pieces of vital gear. You are good. to. go!

For reference here is Jay’s bike. It’s the Trek 7.2 .I’ve got the same one. but the ladies version 😉

Trek 7.2
Trek 7.2

First and foremost – is warmth. Since the mornings here in the mitten are often hovering around 20 digits, you want to make sure your phalanges are sufficiently covered. I opt for my trusty mittens, as my ride is short enough that I really don’t have a chunk of time to warm up as much as Jay does. He theory is usually to start out a wee bit cold {wakes ya up ;)}, and by the time he hits mile 1 or 2, he is feeling just about right. That being said, for your hands and feet, there really isn’t much extra blood pumping through em’ after a few miles, and if anything they get colder as your trip goes on. So…. for Christmas Jay asked for a pair of military issue trigger mittens. These things are embarrassingly ugly, in my humble opinion. But he loves them. I mean he puts these on his paws with pride and big old foolish smile on his face. So ya know – if they keep his hands warm – live and let live, ya know. 😉

Trigger Mittens
Trigger Mittens

Equally important is your safety. It’s always important to wear extremely bright clothing when riding a bike into work, but in the winter, the days are pretty short so a light is really crucial. We recently got this light for Jay and it’s hella bright. Helps me rest a little easier to know all those drivers can see my hubby chugging along on the road. He also was gifted a great Sugoi bike jacket for Christmas from his family. It helps complete the legit, bike commuter look. 🙂 Plus it has reflective piping all over it, another added safety feature.

Sugio Bike Jacket
Sugoi Bike Jacket

As a comparison, I usually choose to bike commute 9-10 months out of 12, and I like walk the coldest days {1.5 miles, 20 mins}, or if it’s rainy/crappy out, I take the bus {6 min. ride to downtown}. Jay likes to bike 12 months out of the year, and he only drives if the roads are too icy to bike, or if it’s raining. He is hard core. I mean, look at his lobster gloves. For schlepping all his work clothes and lunch, Jay uses this Topeak bag, which has great side pockets to store lots of extra stuff.

Topeak Bag
Topeak Bag

Biking to work, and to all of our life activities, has truly been one of the BEST changes Jay and I have ever made. Since we got hitched, Jay has probably lost 30 lbs {I would say due to my cooking, but he is the cook! ;)} – and we are both so much healthier. When we were house hunting, one of the most important things to us was our location – which has paid off dividends. Our commutes take 20 mins, but they are also our exercise  so it’s a total win-win. We love it!

Run Forrest, Run!

Is it bad that when looking for running shoes, that aesthetics are my first yes/no vote? 😉 I recently had a pair (the brand shall remain unmentioned) that were so freaking ugly, I just felt angry every time I put them on. Like GRRRR angry. I was training for a half-marathon and needed a new pair, so I made the mistake of buying a pair from a store where I had a gift card, even though they were not the right shoe for me. Not quite the right thing to do when training – for a half-marathon. The shoes just didn’t work for me and my body paid the price. Top dolla man.

So, one of my day zero goals is to run another half-marathon. Probably not this year, but I like to log 10 or so miles a week, and perhaps build up to 15 or so by the time summer rolls around. Mainly so I can feast on any delectable dish, or glass of wine, that comes my way 😉 And – I just like the way I feel after a wee bit of exercise – refreshed and ready to take on this big bad world.

Erin and I before our Half

Jay has been pushing me hardcore to try a more minimalist shoe. I want to try them, mainly cause I like how they look. 🙂 Did I mentioned I got a weak spot for that whole looks category. BUT I don’t want the function to be sacrificed while I am blinded by their beauty. We have a local running store in Ann Arbor called Running Fitwhere I would like to snag the shoes from – super nice, knowledgable staff and a decent amount of variety. Plus I can get my tuckus there with my own two feet, which I find vastly better than schlepping out the good ole’ automobile. 🙂

I’ve got my search down to a few brands/styles – but I would LOVE input from people! So holla at me!

The first one is a more typical minimalist shoe – like the look – not certain if I could handle the concept of no padding though. Although I would have some killer quads! 😉

New Balance Minimus Zero

Or something like this – a traditional running shoe with the padding I’m used to… I’ve gotten some feedback from some ladies that love this one, noting that this has consistently been a winner for them.

Asics Gel Nimbus 14

Then there is this Brooks shoe, more of a minimalist/light shoe feel – but still some padding.

Brooks Women’s PureConnect

So what do y’all think?