Dearly Noted

Category: Beauty

Winter 10×10 Challenge and My Word for 2017

After many eye-opening experiences in 2016 I decided that in 2017 I am fasting from shopping for clothing. This is a very personal decision (and kind of a big deal for this recovering fashion-blogger) that stems from my desire to understand more fully where clothing originates…down to the soil it’s grown in to the hands that weave it and construct each article. My sewing journey has taught me that making clothing isn’t as easy as you might believe and someone somewhere is working very hard to fill our closets.

This decision is one I believe was Spirit-led as was the word I envisioned for 2017…LESS. The latter half of 2016 was like this whirling revealing storm in my soul that brought me to this word, less. I needed to slow down and reprioritize what I was giving my energy to. I think having children does that to you…causes you to re-think your ‘norm’ and ask the harder deeper questions.

As I started to engage in a more ‘capsule’ lifestyle in 2016 I found several people who inspired me along the way…

The 10×10 Challenge was created by Lee Vosburgh of Style Bee (a blog I greatly enjoy reading). After following several rounds of her challenge, I decided it was time to jump into this micro-capsule as it seemed very fitting given my 2017 goal of not shopping. (To read more about the basics of the 10×10 Challenge start here.)


Last week I wrapped up the challenge (which I shared on Instagram) and thought I’d share my thoughts on this small but meaningful practice…

  • Just like my thoughts on a capsule wardrobe, the 10×10 challenged allowed me the freedom to have less choice. I think we often believe that more choice equals more freedom but I am learning that isn’t always true. By staying within these 10 items I had less to wrap my mind around and consider. I put a little effort into planning my outfit the night before (a practice I already do) but that was about the extent of it. I found a lot of freedom during these 10 days.
  • While I was living in Haiti under extremely limited resources I met a very special person named Katie Day who taught me that creativity loves constraint (something she learned when studying graphic design). This notion impacted me greatly during a time that was quite difficult for me. It has always stuck in my mind but contintues to sink in more fully the more I live life. Allowing myself only 10 items to wear caused me to put together pieces in ways I never would have before. By putting constraint on my wardrobe I was forced to reimagine what seemed like the most basic of pieces.
  • Speaking of basics, doing this challenged has more fully reiterated to me the importance of quality basics in a closet. We are able to have much less when we invest in workhorse pieces that can live up to more wear. Now, I’m not in a place where I can overhaul my entire wardrobe with pricey quality clothing, but I’m exploring what I already own and taking note for future purchases (as well as ethical companies).
  • I recognize that I am very blessed and have never wanted for much. But doing a challenge like this, to live under a constraint where the world wasn’t at my fingertips…it really made me appreciate what I had and inspired me to take better care of my property. The cream knit sweater I included is one that had started to pile and had a few stray snags. Instead of giving it the heave-ho or allowing it to continue to collect dust, I decided to pull it out and take a few moments to snip off the fuzz along the front, under the arms, and down the sleeves. It was amazing how simply spending 5 minutes to care for this garment brought it back to life. Suddenly I was excited to wear it again and imagine all the layering opportunities it offered. I’m learning in all things, a little time and energy to care properly for what I own will prolong the life of said item.
  • The 10 days of this challenge had a different tone for me. I think part of it was being able to participate in something other people were doing…being part of something and connecting with others (search #winter10x10 on Instagram). What also stood out to me…less laundry. Because I needed each item in such frequency, there wasn’t time to launder every piece like I might normally do. I found myself smelling my clothes and looking them up and down to see if they could make it another day.  I would even scratch off the small piece of food my child flung onto my jeans and what would happen….good as new! Doing this challenge caused me to engage my senses and instead of just throwing my clothes into the laundry basket after 1 wear.  I slowed down, examined them, made a decision, and ultimately consumed less water (go environment!). I spent less time doing laundry which meant more time directed on other things that are more life-giving to me (like sewing…I actually got to sew this last week!).


2017 has already had its challenges and being a mother of such young children…nothing feels like it’s in my control (like.ever). But this #ayearofless is something I’m holding onto. Something that is oddly grounding to me. A journey that is just starting in my life and one I plan to examine fully. The lesson God continues to teach me over and over (especially in recent months)…less of this world and more of Him.
Filling my closet to the brim won’t satisfy.
A perfect capsule life won’t satisfy.
Paying off all of our debt won’t satisfy.
Finding our ‘dream home’ won’t satisfy.
A curated schedule for my children will inevitably fall apart and thus, not satisfy.

I have to HAVE TO keep clinging to my Savior even when my tendency is to cling to anything and everything else. By having less, I am more able to give my energy and presence of mind to what matters the very most…listening to my Father, obeying him, enjoying this life.

Cheers to 2017.

Dressing a Post-Partum Body

After my last style post on pregnancy fashion, I thought it’d be fun to do a follow up post on postpartum style and how to flatter your figure after you’ve had a baby (hello 4th trimester). I had my baby a little over 2 weeks ago and am in that fun stage of trying to dress my ever-changing figure!


If you’ve ever had a baby you know the postpartum season can be tricky. Just like pregnancy, you don’t want to go buy a whole new wardrobe b/c you know your body will be continually changing for quite some time. But, you probably still want to look stylish and also wear clothing that is functional for nursing, carrying a newborn, and chasing other children around (hello comfort!).

Here are a few ideas for dressing after baby:

  • Find the right shape:
    If you’ve just cranked out a baby, chances are your tummy will be a bit poochy for a while. This is nothing to be ashamed of, I mean, you just grew and birthed a human for crying out loud. But if you don’t want to accentuate your midsection, here are the types of tops to keep in mind:
    as pictured, boxier tops help hide a bulging tummy as well as provide lots of room for movement as well as ease for nursing. Win!
    pictured below, peplum style shirts flow away from the body at just the right place. I opted for a top that fit more loosely all around as apposed to a fit-n-flare style.
    not pictured, but I’ve been keeping my babydoll-style tops in heavy rotation these days. This style is typically more fitted around the shoulders than flares out right above the bust all the way to the bottom of the shirt.



  • Keep fabric in mind:
    Fabrics that carry a little more weight tend to stay put and not cling to the body. Although it’s tempting, if you are trying to flatter your postpartum figure jersey knits aren’t the best option. These types of material will hug and cling to each curve and crease. Look for tops that hold their own shape.

IMG_5091-2 IMG_5096-2

  • Consider a girdle: There are a myriad of postpartum girdles out there ranging in price. I opted for one from Walmart that was $10. I don’t wear it every day but it’s nice to have. And they are actually proven to help your uterus shrink back down and offer support after all that bodily change. Win!


  • Organize your closet:
    It can be a little depressing to see an entire closet of clothes that don’t fit, but try not to let that get you down. I suggest creating a space in your closet for the clothes that fit you now. You could even pack away the clothing you know won’t be fitting you for a while if you find yourself discouraged every time you look at your closet.
    As you start loosing baby weight, remember to keep evaluating your closet, slowly you will be able to add more items that fit and hopefully it feels like a success each time!


  • Stay positive and creative:
    Like pregnancy, I think it can be easy to just ‘give up’ during these seasons of constant bodily change. But, for me, keeping a positive spirit and challenging myself to stay creative with my wardrobe (and in other areas!), I found this season a fun chance to think outside the box and utilize what I own in new ways.


And finally, remember you are so much more than what you wear. We are children of God, we have purpose and talent, we can love and create and embrace and smile. Even if you don’t feel quite yourself in your postpartum season try to embrace today. Embrace the woman you are in this moment in time. You are a child of God, His design, and He adores you!

{As a gift to my followers I am offering 15% off one item at Penelope & Olive using the code STARLEE. That is where I ordered both of my tops in this post and I LOVE them! All items at Penelope & Olive are $40 or less which is so great when you live on a budget like me!}

Much love,

Birchbox Review: My top 3 product picks

Last Christmas I received a year’s subscription to Birchbox. Birchbox is a company that sends their subscribers samples of beauty related products in a cute little box each month. After a year of trying out new brands and products, I thought I would share my top 3 picks. Upon sampling new lip colors and a lot of new skin care products, really I can boil the best items (in my opinion) down to just 3 things. While I did enjoy the excitement of getting something fun in the mail each month, I was not blown over by the majority of what I received. To be honest, many of the samples have landed in my ‘travel sized’ storage box that I grab from when packing for a short trip. I tend to be a ‘stick to the basics’ girl when it comes to my beauty routine, but in an effort to get out of my ‘box’ (haha), Birchbox was a fun little experiment to experience new brands.

These 3 products are all ones I have purchased full-sized versions of b/c I fell in love. These are products I would have otherwise never known about!

  1. Vasanti Brighten Up! Enzymatic Face Rejuvenator


When it comes to my face, I am picky about what I use b/c I tend to have sensitive skin and hormone related break outs. A big part of my cleansing routine is exfoliating. I used to use my Clarisonic exclusively, but now I have switched to using this Vasanti Brighten Up in rotation with my Clarisonic. The Vasanti product is the best, non-mechanical, face exfoliant I have ever tried. It does not lather up, but has a pleasant cleansing smell and super tiny micro beads that exfoliate really well. There is something sort of therapeutic about using this stuff. My face always feels extra clean and smooth after each use. I start by washing off my makeup with my tried-and-true Cetaphil, then follow-up with the Vasanti. LOVE this product.

2. Amika Un.done Texture Spray


As I style my hair I like to keep the products to a minimum. I have very fine but very thick hair and it really holds onto product. After a few days without washing, product can really build up and weigh it down  so I typically use hairspray the first day or two then nothing else. Once I tried this texture spray I was hooked! I quickly used up the little bottle they sent and ordered a full-sized one. I use this spray to lift my roots and give my hair a bit more ‘body’ on top. My hair can tend to get a bit ‘triangle’ in shape being heavy on the bottom, so I need help with lift at the roots. This stuff does the magic. I also feel like this product doesn’t leave my hair feeling stiff or dirty at all which I like a lot. If you struggle with keeping body in your hair throughout the day, I highly recommend this product.

3.W3ll People Expressionist Mascara


Guys. I’m so lame when it comes to mascara. I have been using the same brand of Maybelline mascara since I was in middle school…you know the one with the pink bottle and green cap? After shelling out money on cheap and expensive mascaras that promise the world, I always came back to my staple. My lashes are very blonde and very long so it takes a very particular type of brush/consistency of mascara to work with my lashes. I hate clumps and I just want it to go on easily. When I saw a mascara sample in my Birchbox I sighed b/c I knew it would be another failed try. Boy, was I wrong! I am loving this W3ll People mascara. Something about the consistency of the liquid and the shape of the brush makes this stuff go on really smooth with no mess! This mascara creates a more subtle natural look to my eyelashes, which is what I generally prefer with my makeup anyways. So lately I’ve been using the W3ll People on a more daily basis, then my classic Maybelline when I want my lashes to look a little more full and intense.


I want to end this post by saying that I am in no way a beauty product expert. My method has always been to find what I like and just stick to it so my daily routine is as simple and quick as possible. For me to shell out more than $5 on a beauty product, I have to REALLY like it. All 3 of these items fall into that category for me. If you have been looking to try out anything similar to these products, I would recommend each of them!

Thanks for reading!



How to Style a ‘Messy Lob’

Ever since little miss started grabbing/reaching for EVERYTHING, I decided a haircut was in order! (I know I know…the post-baby haircut…) After some Pinterest searching, I decided to chop my hair into a ‘lob’ (long bob) and I absolutely love it. It still feels mature but is much more practical for my mom-on-the-go lifestyle.
Recently a few of my Instagram followers asked how I style my hair like this so I thought I’d share!

For supplies you will need:

  • a skinny straightener
  • hair clips
  • fine tooth comb
  • hair wax
  • hairspraystyling-a-messy-lob-how-to-style-lob-clear-the-shoulders-flat-iron-waves-dearly-noted-lifestyle-style-blog-1

Step 1: Wash as usual then add a texturizing spray or foam mouse then air dry or blow dry.
Step 2: Using hair clips, part your hair into 3 sections from bottom to top.
Step 3: Using a skinny flat iron and starting with the bottom-most layer curl small/medium sections of hair away from your face. I like to start on one side working toward the back center of my head, then repeat on the opposite side.
Step 4: Let down the middle section and repeat step 3 EXCEPT this time curl the sections toward your face. Repeat again for the top section working away from your face. This pattern breaks up the curls/waves so they don’t all clump together.
Step 5: Allow hair to completely cool (very important) then run fingers through curls to separate them. I sometimes flip my hair upside down a few times as well.
Step 6: Using a fine tooth comb, backcomb at the crown and top sections to add volume and a hint of messiness.
Step 7: And finally, add product. I start with a small amount of wax which I rub in between my fingers then rub into my scalp at the roots near the top half of my head. I think the wax is key for attaining and keeping volume throughout the day. I then finish with a light coat of hair spray, lifting my hair at the roots as I spray.


There you have it! A messy lob. I love this look b/c it doesn’t have to be perfect and all-in-all it takes about 10 minutes!

Happy hairstyling! ;D

3 Keys to a Quick Morning Routine

The other day at Bible study a girl in my group made a comment that struck me. She has 4 kids, lives over an hour away, and faithfully comes to Bible study in Wichita each week (wonder woman, right!?). She told me that this is the reason she doesn’t look like ‘this‘ (pointing at me) ever.


In my head I just laughed b/c my morning routine is so fast and easy (granted, I don’t have 4 kids)! So I thought I’d share my 3 main tips for getting out the door quickly but while still feeling somewhat pulled together:

1. Take Your Bath/Shower at Night

Taking your bath or shower at night allows for more time in the morning to sleep or maybe just apply some mascara. It also feels great to wash off the day and slip into bed completely clean. I take a bath after Flora goes down, that way I don’t have to be in a rush. It allows for a little ‘me’ time and also helps me fall asleep.  (side note, if you can work your way to only having to wash your hair 1x/week, that also helps…and it’s good for your hair!)

2. Pick Out Your Clothes the Night Before

This sounds so obvious, but it’s HUGE. Knowing what I’m wearing from head to toe (yes, shoes too), saves me lots of time and frustration in the morning, where suddenly NOTHING feels comfortable. If you do find yourself in that situation though, my advice is, stick with the basics. Grab your tried and true skinnies, your favorite simple v-neck, a cardigan, and your chucks. Bam.
Now that I have a little one, I also like to lay out her outfit as well. It doesn’t always happen, but it is that little time saver.

3. Develop a Quick Hair &  Makeup Routine

My hair and makeup take me about 10-15 minutes depending on if I style my hair. With not washing my hair everyday, there is usually some styling left from the previous day and I can just touch it up or put it in a bun. With a flattering haircut and some great makeup staples, you can get a ‘finished’ look pretty quickly! My recommendation is to at least leave the house with some mascara + powder on.


Those are my tips! What helps your morning routine go more smooth? I’d love to know!


My Pregnancy Skin-Care Routine


Prior to being pregnant, I was on an anitbiotic called Minocycline for acne. It worked really well for my skin and I rarely had a pimple to speak of.

Once we had a positive pregnancy test we started researching all of the do’s and don’ts for what’s safe to eat, ingest, or put on my skin. Turns out Minocycline is NOT safe for babies and has been known to be linked to birth defects. Immediately I stopped taking that medicine and immediately my skin started to break out.

At first I wasn’t too discouraged, it was for my baby I was making this sacrifice. But then the acne started to get worse…and worse…and worse. The most severe it’s ever been. I became extremely discouraged and embarrassed to be seen, even by my husband!

I was washing my face 2x/day with Cetaphil, which is very mild, and using spot treatments. But that was NOT cutting it, my breakouts kept getting worse. After a few crying breakdowns to Daniel, I made the trip to Ulta and consulted with a really sweet gal there who pointed me to a product called Murad. She recommended their acne line.

I left the store with 2 products:

Murad Time Release Acne Cleanser &

Murad Acne Clarifying Toner

The Murad Cleanser does have 1.5% Salicylic Acid, which when taken as a pill or used as a mask can be harmful during pregnancy (long exposure). But I’ve read that used in small quantities it is perfectly safe. The Murad toner is a witch hazel based product and, from what I’ve read, is safe during pregnancy.

So here has been my daily routine for skin care:

Morning: Wash face with Cetaphil followed by Murad toner. Moisturize with Cetaphil lotion.

Evening: Wash off makeup with Cetaphil then wash with Murad cleanser(dime sized amount) & use of my Clarisonic. Follow up with a more mild toner (CVS brand 99% alcohol free). Moisturize with Cetaphil lotion.

After implementing these products and sticking to this routine I saw GREAT improvement in my skin within just 2 days! I’ve also incorporated a few other techniques into my skin care regime that I think have helped as well. I use Bath & Body’s antibacterial foaming hand soap to wash my hands before I wash or touch my face. I change my pillow case 1/week and try to rotate the spot where I lay my face. I refrain from touching my face throughout the day. I wash my makeup brushes every few weeks with the antibacterial foaming hand soap.

I’ve been so happy with these products that I don’t plan on going back on the antibiotic once I have the baby (which I’m stoked about!).

If you are pregnant and down about your acne, don’t feel alone! With the influx of hormones your body is producing just about everything is changing! Maybe you can try out Murad or maybe another product will be right for you. I was happy I tried something new b/c my focus was able to shift from being self-conscious ALL the time to focusing on my sweet baby girl.

My 5 Pregnancy Essentials


 Tired of pregnancy posts yet? 🙂

I’m over at Camp Makery (the awesome creative/collaborative lifestyle blog I’m a part of) sharing my 5 best pregnancy essentials!

Check it out, here!