Almay One Coat Mascara: My Holy Grail Drugstore Mascara

Almay One Coat Masacara | ThoseGraces.com

I’ve done it! After trying about 20 drugstore mascaras, I’ve finally found one that works for me. Hallelujah! I’ve been using the Almay One Coat Lengthening Mascara for the past two months, and I can safely say that this is my new holy grail drugstore mascara. And, of course, I wanted to share my new discovery.

Why I don’t wear high-end mascara

Before I dive into my review, let’s talk about high-end or department store brand mascaras. I typically don’t wear them. I’ve tried samples, but other than that, I have no interest. And here’s why: No matter how nice Chanel or Tom Ford mascara might be, I’m just going to throw it away in three months. That’s what you have to do to prevent bacteria from developing in your mascara. Why would I spent $20 or $30 on something I’m just going to toss out?

Friends have pointed out that I could just wear high-end mascara for special occasions, but it will eventually dry out and my money will also be wasted. And that’s exactly why I stick to drugstore mascara, which only sets me back $6-$12 per tube.

Ok, onto Almay’s One Coat Lengthening Mascara

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about the Almay mascara. I bought because it was on sale and I paid about $6. I had pretty low expectations since nothing by Almay has ever wowed me. I’ve tried products from Almay over the years, and they’ve all been, “Meh.”

When I took this mascara home, I immediately fell in love. Almost all of my previous drugstore mascaras flaked or smudged within an hour or two. The worst culprit of flaking was CoverGirl LashBlast, which is a shame because I really love the brush on this mascara. But I digress.

The Almay One Coat Mascara stays put all day. It doesn’t flake and only smudges when it’s really hot out or when I accidentally leave it on when working out. (Bad, Courtney!) And I didn’t even have to choose the waterproof formula to get all those benefits! I’ve also been using the same tube of mascara for about 2 1/2 months and it has yet to show any signs of drying up. I’ve never had clumpy lashes either. Swoon, swoon, swoon!

The only negative thing I could potentially say about this product is that the name is bit of a misnomer. Realistically, you will need more than one coat. If you’re going for a very natural look, you might prefer only one coat, but to get nice and lengthened lashes, I definitely needed about three coats.

The Almay One Coat Lengthening Mascara retails at Ulta for $8.49. It also comes in four other formulations.

Help Jillian Raise Money for Past is Present Designs

My Little Sis | ThoseGraces.com

Two years ago, I wrote about my sister Jillian launching her business, Past is Present Designs on Etsy. She’s since expanded to a second Etsy shop, where she sells hand designed mugs. She’s also quickly becoming a cosplay superstar. To be honest, I don’t really know what it takes to become a cosplay superstar, but I think when people are photoshopping your images to make you look like a badass superhero, that that’s probably what it is. I don’t know, I grew up playing the Sims and all I know is that my little sister is really cool. And she’s raising money to expand her business!

Here’s a little bit from her Indiegogo campaign:

I pour months of hard work into my cosplays and have gotten a good amount of social media attention, including some from the creator of one of the characters. While this is helpful, it’s a little slow moving. I would like to build my reputation as a costumer and network with other cosplayers/artisans/companies, which will lead me to be able to offer more custom costumes in my Etsy shop and take on more commissions. The best way I see going about this is to get more exposure by going to more well-known conventions. Nothing like a little bit of guerrilla marketing to light the fire! (more)

My Sister Super Hero |ThoseGraces.com

Turns out expanding in the cosplay arena is quite expensive. I had no clue how costly Comic-Cons are until recently. Events can cost hundreds of dollars. Like most people in my family, Jillian is a self-made person and when she’s not working on her business, she’s teaching as a costume director at a high school. Needless to say, it’s easy to see how growing a business can be difficult. But that doesn’t mean it is impossible.

My Sister Super Hero |ThoseGraces.com

There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for my sisters, which is why I’m sharing this campaign with you all. You can contribute anywhere from $1 to $200. There’s about a week left for Jillian to reach her goals. I know it would mean the world to her if she could get as close to $1,000 as possible. You can also share this post and her campaign as a way to help out.

You can also like Jillian’s business on Facebook, follow her on Tumblr and Twitter. You can also read this interview on the Word of the Nerd. And of course, you can contribute here

Update 9/12/2014
Jillian has reached $709 and let me know she had someone anonymous donate after reading this post (!!!). Thank you so very much for supporting my sister! I know it means to world to her. And to me, too.

How Not to Go Crazy Redesigning Your Blog

If you get in any group of bloggers together and bring up the topic of layouts and design, chances are you’ll hear a chorus of groans followed by, “I hate changing my blog’s layout!”  As a result, many keep their blog the same for years or pay someone else to design it. That doesn’t have to be the case! I wanted to share a few tips and tricks I’ve learned over the past 10+ years of creating websites and tinkering with blogs.  It doesn’t have to be a frustrating process, I promise!

Tip 1: Don’t Practice on Your Live Site

Whether your based on Blogspot, WordPress or Tumblr (or some other service), don’t practice on your blog. If you’re just learning, setup a test blog on your platform and play around with possible layouts there. You’ll want to have a place where you can flex your muscles and learn the ropes. Once you’re confident in your skills,  then work on your blog.

Tip 2: Estimate How Much Time You’ll Need

Once you have a grasp of the basics, estimate how much time you’ll need to make the changes. Do you want to make easy edits like the color of your links or are you looking to overhaul your whole layout? The former is a quick fix but the latter can take days. Don’t embark on your edits without having an idea of how long it will take. Once you have that figured out, set aside that time whether it’s after work or on the weekend.

Tip 3: Shut Your Website Down or Use a Remote Site When Editing

This is especially important if you have a fair amount of visitors who might get confused when they see changes happening live. Plus, you want to be able to unveil your site once you’ve put the finishing touches on the design. For those on Blogspot, this might mean making a practice blog and then copying the code or temporarily making your blog password only. On WordPress, I recommend setting up a sandbox site on your local machine where you can see your edits. Here’s a good tutorial on how to do that.

Tip 4: Know When to Go to Bed

The worst thing is feeling cranky and miserable after working on your blog. Web design can be a fun and invigorating experience and the last thing you want to do is drive yourself crazy. If you hit the wall in your web design, walk away from the computer and finish it tomorrow.

Tip 5: Have Fun and Keep an Open Mind

There’s no reason to feel dread when it comes to web design! The way I look at it is every layout I work on is a learning experience. Not only do I come away with new knowledge every time, but I can usually edit faster next time around. Remember everyone is always learning when it comes to design. After all no one was born knowing HTML and CSS. It’s a learning experience that can be incredibly empowering. There’s nothing better than answering, “Me!” when someone asks you who designed your site.

If you have any questions, please let me know! I just redsigned my site after not doing a major overhaul for about seven months and I wanted to share what I learned (again) from the experience. Let me know what you think of my new design!

Ditching My L.L. Bean Backpack

Ditching My L.L. Bean Backpack | ThoseGraces.com

This summer I did something for the very first time: I left my L.L. Bean backpack at home and hit the road. My decision didn’t come lightly. After all, this backpack has traveled literally everywhere with me from high school to Europe to my cross country road trip. Where I went my L.L. Bean backpack followed. Until now.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with choosing a backpack over any other bag. At the end of the day, it really is just a place to throw stuff. And throw stuff I did. Over the course of 12 years, this bag helped me carry around my entire life at times. I  bragged about its age, as if it were a vintage Chanel pocketbook and not what it really was, which was a ratty old backpack. Sure, it wasn’t totally falling apart, but the backpack had definitely seen better days.

There was something interesting about sharing all the cities and places I had taken it over the years. It became a stand in for my own stories. Instead of me flying to Paris, it became my backpack that did the traveling. Though it was interesting that the backpack had been everywhere, but it was even more fascinating that I had been there. I’m not one to share about my travels because it has always felt like bragging to me. Instead it became easier to assign experiences to an inanimate object and not to me.

It’s easy to say the bag is ugly–that wouldn’t be a lie–but ditching my backpack ultimately had very little to do with style. The choice was ultimately about taking ownership over my own experiences and leave my backpack behind. I’ll probably never give away my beloved backpack, because it’s made it this far with me. For now it just has to sit on the shelf and take a break.

We Deserve Summer {Sponsored}

Before I moved to New England, I don’t think I had a distinct summer style because I lived in the South where it was always warm and I didn’t have to switch my wardrobe. However, the more time I spend in New England, the more I appreciate summer clothes. After a long winter, I couldn’t be more relived to slip right back into summer. For me that means slipping back into a classic and simple summer wardrobe filled with stripes and vintage inspired clothing. After four summers in Boston, these two modes are pretty much default for me.

When British-based Joules reached out to me to collaborate*, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to share my summer style. The clothing at Joules is classic and timeless, making it easy to wear every summer. I’m not really one for trends, so when I buy something, I want it to last for years and not just one season.

My Favorite Summer Looks

Navy Blue and White Stripes by Joules| ThoseGraces.com
Indigo Stripe Dress, Navy Stripe Pencil Skirt, Creme Stripe Knitted Sweater

If it’s one thing I’m absolutely addicted to, it’s stripes in summer. I have striped sweaters, skirts and dresses. For me stripes are so easy to wear because they can be dressed up or dressed down. The only thing I haven’t tried yet is stripes on stripes.

1950s Summer Fashion with Joules| ThoseGraces.com
French Navy Bouquet Bikini, Freya Floral Cornfield Dress, Newmeln Cropped Pants

I’ll be honest, I’ve marathoned Mad Men about three times in the past year. I can’t help it, no matter what I do, I always end up looking like Betty Draper or Joan Harris. If you know how to do it right, the 1950s is such a great look for summer.

Joules carries some amazing pieces including shorts, bathing suits and summer dresses. Let me know which one of my summer pieces you liked the best!

*I’ve decided to go back to doing Sponsored Posts. I’ll write about this decision soon. This post is sponsored by Joules, which means I received compensation to write this post. The post was entirely crafted by me and is 100% my opinion. For more information, please visit my site policies.