beauty & lifestyle

Last-Minute Gift Guide

We’ve all been there. You forgot about the 7th Christmas party that you were invited to, you need a hostess gift, or you’re struggling to find some goodies for your coworkers in the eleventh hour.

While I’m all for shopping local and shopping small, sometimes Amazon Prime same-day shipping is second to none. When you’re in full-on Grinch mode and don’t want to set foot in another store, ordering from the comfort of your warm house without having to talk to another human is key.

Stay tuned for my favorite small business picks, but in the meantime here are some Denise-tested and approved choices to save the day!

Amazon Gift Ideas

Wristology Rose Gold watch | What Do You Meme game | Kendra Scott Elisa necklace | Bridgewater Candles Sweet GraceCozy pullover | Le Pen 30-Pack



beauty & lifestyle

when you spend your wedding anniversary alone

As soon as my husband received the 2018 drill schedule for his unit, I had a sinking feeling we wouldn’t be going on an anniversary trip this year, or even get to spend the day together. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that both of us would be able to celebrate our birthdays together, and that there weren’t any (planned) major life events in conflict, but was absolutely not looking forward to the month that Beau and I would be spending on our own. And by not looking forward to, what I actually mean is– quietly enjoying a much tidier house with very low socks left on the floor quotient and snuggling with Beau as we read a lot of books and miss Brendan.what happens when you spend your anniversary alone |

This is by no means a post complaining about the situation that we are in. I am over-the-moon proud of my husband and everything that he has accomplished in his career in the Army, and my heart goes out to those whose partners are overseas, in combat, or never came home.

What this post is: ruminations about just how much I talk to myself and to the dog, an update on my attempt to not grocery shop for a whole month, and a wellness check to make sure I haven’t completely turned into an introvert.

About a week and a half in, I started to “text” Brendan from the Notepad app on my phone. Rather that inundating him with 900 messages that come in all at once like a stalker, I decided to itemize and prioritize an agenda of topics that I wanted to present to B upon his return. When Notepad stopped serving its purpose, I created a new notebook in OneNote.


Some women complain of “mom brain” but here I am using my mental capacity to power rank conversation topics that I plan to present to my husband like it’s a quarterly sales meeting. Someone please stop me when I begin to prepare an on-boarding manual– “Chapter One: I Tried to be Relatable In an Instagram Caption and Received Many Offers to Help Me Start the Mower, Because in Fact, EVERYONE Knows How to Start a Mower.”

This time has really taught me who our biggest supporters are, whether it’s people offering to mow our lawn when I made a lame attempt to be funny in an Instagram post (see above), the friends who invited me over/out for dinner, and of course both sets of our wonderful parents. Shout out to Beau, who loves going for long walks and sniffing every light post. Thanks to him, our half mile walks actually take a half an hour!

What did I actually learn from spending my second wedding anniversary without my husband? To be less of a baby about it. Brendan and I have the entire foreseeable future together to make memories. Our anniversary is a single day, just as these last four weeks have only been a small blip on the radar.

When our official anniversary rolls around, I know that I’ll be grateful for the love, partnership and friendship that we have, because absence has absolutely made our hearts grow fonder. Well, I guess I can only speak for myself here. I’m thinking as Brendan spends yet another day at 900% humidity, that he’s mostly thinking about air conditioning and a shower.

Thanks for reading my ramblings, and a special thanks to everyone who has reached out over the last few weeks to make sure that Beau and I are feeling the love!



beauty & lifestyle

makeup bag staples

Love me or hate me for it, but I’m the kind of person who wakes up and puts on makeup even if there are no explicit plans to leave the house that day. I’m also the kind of person who uses multiple bags and purses in one day, and am Boy Scout-level prepared (usually).

Becoming a Platinum-level Ulta Rewards member last year was an achievement that only pales next to earning my Masters degree in the same year. My husband is likely ashamed to look at our Mint account simply based on Makeup having its own category in our expenses, next to basic needs like heating and water.

In the last few years as I’ve built my makeup collection/arsenal, I’ve really come to appreciate the happy medium you can find between high-end products and bargains. I’m sharing my staples below- the products that are almost always in my bag, and are the first I reach for when I’m packing to travel. Be sure to stick around for your chance to win some goodies in my first-ever giveaway below!

staples in my makeup bag |

Essence Eye Shadow Base

There aren’t enough words in my vocabulary for me to gush about how much I love eye primer. I don’t know if there are still people out there who are not priming their lids before they put eyeshadow on, but if you’re one of these people, I beg you to try this and tell me it’s not life changing.

I discovered this on Pinterest as a “dupe” for Benefit’s Stay, Don’t Stray primer, aka my former love. Essence’s version packs the same punch and keeps your eyeshadow clinging for dear life at the end of the day.

makeup bag essentials |

Makeup Revolution Soph X Ultra 24 Eyeshadow Palette

I used this palette almost exclusively for a week and never ran out of possibilities- day, night, Mardi Gras, etc. I think that the mix of shimmery and matte help this be a palette you could bring with you on a work trip or a bachelorette weekend! I have auburn hair, but somewhat cool undertones, which leads me to bounce around between things that work for people with either cool or warm coloring.

I have no idea who Soph X is, but based on some YouTube research, I think she’s a beauty blogger from the UK. Regardless, props to her for putting together a really nice product!

Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray

I’m going to echo my thoughts above about eyeshadow primer, but please use setting spray if you are not already! I love All Nighter because it doesn’t have a shiny finish and feels very quick to dry. There’s nothing I love more than seeing my face still made up as if it was 7:00 AM when I’m about to jump in the shower 12 hours later. Shout out to all setting sprays everywhere, but especially this one.

Found Cosmetics Charcoal Sheet Mask

So I’m not on the mask 24/7/365 train at this point in my life, but a nice refreshing mask definitely can cure many ills. I came across Found Cosmetics on the @whoawaitwalmart Instagram, and really liked that they were emphasizing natural ingredients in their products. A lot of times we don’t think about the things that we are putting on or rubbing into our skin in hopes of cleansing and clarifying them.

L’Oreal Voluminous Lash Paradise

I love this mascara for many reasons, but mostly because I usually forget at least one crucial item every time I go on a trip. It’s usually a contact case, but on the off chance it’s ever mascara, I know this is an easy product to track down. Not having to put 900 coats of mascara on for some volume is great, as well as the lash primer that goes with this mascara.

Hope you enjoyed this post. Be sure to enter my giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Let me know below what you think your must-have beauty items are!