New Favorite Lipstick 

I’m a pretty die hard Mary Kay girl, and have been for as long as I’ve worn makeup, which began during my teenage years. While I love their skin care, makeup, and overall product line, I’m also a sucker for pretty lipglosses and lipsticks when I see something that catches my eye in a drug store or beauty emporium.

For the past decade or so I have indulged in something new and shiny at Sephora every now and then, but recently an Ulta opened in a nearby town. Since I had never shopped there, I wanted to see what the fuss was all about and was interested in trying out a bold red lip. As I looked through their selection during my maiden visit, I discovered NYX Cosmetics. I was impressed with the tremendous selection of colors and the price was very affordable (~$4.00)!

That day I left with NYX Eros (Round Case Lipstick) LSS536

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I now enjoy rocking the bold red look every now and then.

Then this summer, I wanted to try a bright, cheerful pink and NYX came to the rescue once more!

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NYX Hot Pink (Round Case Lipstick) LSS571A

Both colors are long-lasting, blend well into my lips, don’t give off any funny taste, and give me confidence in sharing a smile with someone! The red is fun for sassy occasions, but I find myself wearing the pink for a more everyday pop of color.

Here’s how they both look side-by-side against my skin.

And who knows? Maybe I’ll even pick up a warm neutral color as the seasons change and fall gets ever closer!

Springtime is the prettiest time

LIW
Photo credit

I’ve previously lamented my disappointment over how we never received any snow in our part of Oklahoma this winter. Yet, while I found this unfortunate, the seasonal shift has reawakened the dormant trees and flowers and has reminded me that Oklahoma truly looks the prettiest in the springtime.

Spring thunderstorms

Tulips & redbuds

Dogwoods

Azaelas

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And opening the windows to let in fresh air, with full approval by Sylvester

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“Keep your face to the sunshine and you can never see the shadow.” ~ Helen Keller

Expansion

Several months ago I came across a photo of a beautiful sculpture, Expansion, by Paige Bradley

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http://paigebradley.com/sculpture/goddess/expansion/

Bradley describes Expansion in this way via her website:

“From the moment we are born, the world tends to have a container already built for us to fit inside: A social security number, a gender, a race, a profession or an I.Q. I ponder if we are more defined by the container we are in, rather than what we are inside. Would we recognize ourselves if we could expand beyond our bodies? Would we still be able to exist if we were authentically ‘un-contained’?”

Authentically un-contained. Free. Forgiven. Brave. Loved. Redeemed.

As an educator, I have been taught it’s never a good idea to label students and subject them to a default classification, i.e. “the gifted one,” “the one with the learning disability,” “the one whose father is in prison.” And yet, I often find myself placing others and even myself into a little container that has just enough room for expectations, labels, and judgement.

Four-hundred plus years before Ms. Bradley created her sculpture, there was an Italian guy doing something similar.

The Atlas Slave
Michelangelo, The Atlas (marble, c. 1530-34)
http://www.accademia.org/explore-museum/artworks/michelangelos-prisoners-slaves/

In my travels, this ranks among the favorites of art I have had the privilege of seeing. Housed at The Academia in Florence, The Atlas is one of Michelangelo’s “unfinished” or “prisoner” sculpturesHis philosophy when sculpting was to reveal the creation from the inside out, rather than simply chisel away to see what emerged.

“There is no feeling of equilibrium here, only an eternal battle of forces threatening to explode in both directions.”

Sometimes this eternal battle does, in fact, break us apart. And if we, or others, are subjected to this brokenness, what will shine forth? Something of light, substance, and value? Or darkness, despair, and worthlessness?

These two examples encourage me once more to “add to the beauty” (Sara Groves) and to look at myself and others beyond the external defining circumstances that weigh us down. Instead, a view more like this:

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(Originally blogged November 9, 2009)

And like this:

“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:16 (NIV 1984)

“The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” ~ Galatians 2:20b (NIV)

“If you only look at us, you might well miss the brightness. We carry this precious Message around in the unadorned clay pots of our ordinary lives. That’s to prevent anyone from confusing God’s incomparable power with us.” ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7, The Message 

Thus, another day, another opportunity to look beyond the container and seek more of the “incomparable power” within. Yes and amen.

I’m blessed to live in the foothills of the Oklahoma Ozarks, otherwise known as Green Country among regional locals. Over the past few weeks I’ve enjoyed the vibrant blooms and buds, but more importantly, the long awaited green that has re-emerged after a cold, hard, drab winter.

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Additionally, a part of spring I always anticipate is my birthday. Perhaps there will come a time when I would rather not celebrate the passage of another year, but for now, I continue to embrace the excitement and celebration that comes with growing another year older. Maybe it’s because I’m an only child and cherish the attention of being in the spotlight, or maybe it’s because there’s still a little girl inside of me who just loves the idea of fun, cake (the one Mom & I made for the first time), presents, cards, and…well, attention. This birthday was celebrated with the Optometrist, my mom & dad, and a dear octogenarian friend from church. At one point I had a quiet moment in front of the mirror and as I looked into the reflection of my eyes I told myself, “Little girl, you’ve got it made. You have people in the other room who love you and several more who have expressed their love across the miles. You have a job you love, people who care about you and appreciate what you do, a church family who values your abilities, and innumerable, ongoing blessings from your Heavenly Father. Take this moment to be thankful.”  One of the ways I always try to capture this is by literally and figuratively stopping to smell the roses. It’s fun having a May birthday when the roses are just beginning to show their vibrant color. Here’s to another year of life and taking time for the little, yet meaningful moments! IMG_2851

“One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.” ~ Dale Carnegie

Read more at http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/d/dalecarneg106496.html#IgHCu5Qcz2Vveb26.99

Birthday Happiness

After celebrating another 365 days journeying around the sun last week, I discovered what an added joy it is to share birthdays, and any other day, with one you love. I took the day off work and my sweet optometrist treated me to a special day in the city! First stop: lunch. I dined on a most tasty blackened tilapia sandwich at a little cafe, which happens to adjoin my favorite used book store. You can guess what came after lunch. I was so pleased to buy:
In This Mountain by Jan Karon, the only Mitford book I somehow didn’t possess in my collection.
The Sharper Your Knife, The Less You Cry by Kathleen Flinn, my favorite food memoir I devoured (all puns intended) while in grad school. It will make a lovely addition to my bookcase.
The Hundred Dresses by Eleanor Estes, a sweet children’s story I loved as a little girl, with my original copy lent to a trio of sisters who never returned it. I am victorious in reclaiming it!
Shakespeare’s Landlord by Charlaine Harris, the wild card in the bunch. I read the first of the True Blood series years ago, which I found rather gratuitous on many fronts, so I hope this series will prove differently.

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Next came a visit to a local art museum, where neither of us had visited before. No photos were allowed on the inside, so we snapped this photo at the entrance. While Native American and Western/cowboy art aren’t my favorite genre, we were both terribly impressed with the scope and diligence employed in displaying, maintaining, and connecting this collection to the public.

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We ended our day with dinner at the cutest little Italian restaurant downtown. Their homemade salad dressing, hand crafted pasta, inviting ambience (aprons strung as curtains, family artifacts mounted on the walls) and scrumptious tiramisu were the perfect end to my birthday-day.
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On my birthday I also decided to begin reading through the Bible again. This was a goal I achieved throughout 2011 and have felt spiritually aimless these past few months, so I found my 365 daily devotional NIV Bible and set to work! How much more balanced I am as I begin my morning in the Word, journeying yet again through the Creation and early stories of God’s relationship with men and women on earth.

Yesterday, this passage stood out to me:
[After Lot was told by two angels that Sodom was going to be destroyed and he needed to leave] When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them. ~ Genesis 19:16. How many times has the Lord prompted me to go and flee, and like Lot, I falter or second guess what needs to be done? Probably too often, truth be told. This awareness prompts me to be thankful for His grace that takes me by the hand and leads me out of one bad situation into the safe place where I need to be to avoid destruction and ruin. Yes and amen.

Thus begins another day of life, work, love, music, and prayer.

Happiness is…

not only a warm blanket, but warm, hand-knitted baby booties and colorful dishcloths

booties

dishcloths

zucchini from the farmer’s market (later made into zucchini bread) and new cotton yarn

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flowers from the farmer’s market, given to me for FREE by my friend Coleen, a local vendor

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Childhood friends and overdue visits

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New friends and summer baseball games

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Movie nights in the park

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A return to my most recent home

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Woody Allen, dreaming about the past, the importance of living in the present, Paris

Midnight in Paris Movie

Best friends and ice cream

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A Sunday afternoon walk in the rain with my lovely sisterfriend

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“…for out of the abundance of the heart, [her] mouth speaks.” ~ Luke 6:45.

Yes and amen.

Balloons, Books, and Bazzanti

First two weeks of the fall semester? Check.
Doing something fun and rewarding today to celebrate? Check.

As a reference and instructional librarian, this week has been cra-a-zy! I love being busy and having my days be so full that they pass quickly, and yet this week stretched my limits. Teaching library skills to five classes on Thursday alone made both my voice and feet tired. Drinking plenty of water and wearing comfy shoes over the past few days have, thankfully, helped alleviate both. The next few weeks probably won’t be as hectic, yet I am loving meeting new students, working with their professors, and gaining confidence in my teaching skills. And these cooler fall temperatures in the mornings? They are perfect for me to take out my bike for short rides before going to work.

And now, a visual recounting of some happy moments from the week:

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local hot air balloon festival, with accompanying carnival in the light of an almost full moon 🙂

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thanks to my friends at Amazon, I pre-ordered Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins’ third and final YA book in the Hunger Games trilogy, and received it on Wednesday!

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I recently came across America’s Most Wanted Recipes: Delicious Recipes From Your Family’s Favorite Restaurants at our Library, and proceeded to copy the recipe for California Pizza Kitchen’s BBQ chicken pizza. I’ve bought the frozen variety before, but will from now on use this recipe when I have a hankering for semi-homemade pizza. YUM!

To celebrate the week that has been, this morning I took a road trip to Tulsa to do a number of things:

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1.) visit Gardner’s Books, Oklahoma’s largest used book store, to trade some of my books (for a great in-store credit amount!) and pick up these in their stead:
– an Essential Reference Set, which I will probably take to my office since I’m a reference librarian and all, that includes a Webster’s Dictionary, Roget’s Thesaurus, and The Essential Writer’s Companion
The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (has been on my to-read list for several years now…)
Loving Frank by Nancy Horan (Frank being that of the Lloyd Wright fame)
Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress by Dai Sijie
Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (previously loved her sweeping novel American Wife)
Faking It by Jennifer Crusie

2.) check out the Volkswagen dealership and test drive a 2008 VW Passat I have my eye on. It handled beautifully and I think it’s quite the classy car. For now I’ll keep “kicking tires” and see where I can find the best deal for my money. (Sorry, no photo.)

3.) the last stop on my list of places to visit was the Philbrook Museum. Built in the style of an Italian villa by the wealthy Phillips family (as in Phillips 66 gasoline) in the late 1920s, the Philbrook contains a cozy collection of artwork spanning from the Renaissance to the present. They have in their collection a nice sampling of works by Rodin, Van Gogh, Kandinsky, and Picasso. Among the collection, this was the one I enjoyed the most of which I encountered today:

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Pietro Bazzanti’s Three Graces (1840) marble

The small sculpture depicts the three daughters of Zeus: 1.) Euphrosyne = mirth 2.) Thalia = youth & beauty 3.) Aglaea = elegance. The way it was lit helped give the impression of the marble glowing and resonating with purity and warmth, while depicting loving femininity.

Not only was the museum itself beautiful, but the accompanying gardens were gorgeous and indicative of that at an Italian villa. Totally not what you might expect to see in Oklahoma.

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Since I love taking notes when I visit art museums, another lady strolling through the museum asked if I was an art student. I smiled and told her, “No, I’m a librarian.” She said no more, but I took her question as a great compliment! Before leaving I paid a visit to the gift shop and stocked up on some fun Andy Warhol note cards and artwork stickers by Modigliani and Picasso.

Learning how to get to new places? Check.
Fulfilling and stimulating day? Check.