Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday Favorites


Happy Friday everyone!

My weekend is going to be interesting. Matt is taking Sloane and Reece on a work camping trip from Saturday morning until Sunday morning... so it will be just Tess and I holding down the fort.

With no car.

Matt's taking the van with him and since we sold the truck when we moved to Chicago (because we only had one parking spot!), we will have no vehicle. So. We shall see what kinds of shenanigans Tess and I can get into carless.

Maybe just a lot of football watching... we'll see!


I went to Benefit Cosmetics to get my eyebrows waxed last weekend and I am happy to report they were awesome and I will be going back!

I asked the gal if she had any recommendations for brow fillers since brows are all the rage these days and of course, she had a few things to show me, but this was her favorite.

It's called 'Gimme Brow Volumizing Fiber Gel' and it is da bomb, ladies! I have used my Elf creme to fill in my brows and definitely have loved it and loved the $3 price tag.

But this stuff is just that much better and quicker to use... with a $24 price tag.

It's shaped like a mini mascara brush and comes in different shades. You just swipe it on, as much as you'd like, and you can rub it back and forth to really fill in. And boom! Brows look SO much better!


This is NOT me, but a great picture to show you the before and after difference! So if your'e in the market for a new brow pencil or brow gel, give this one a shot!

I love a good graphic tee. For many reasons. But the most important being that you can dress them up and dress them down so easily!

Pair it with jeans and sneakers and a baseball cap. Or put a blazer on over it, top knot that hair, a pair of heels and it's totally transitioned into an evening look.

So when JCrew debuted their Horoscope shirts, yep... they had me.

They have all of the signs and they are ALL really cute, so go check for yours (PS. My birthday is in nine days so I love this shirt even more right now)!

I love InsaStories. For many reasons, but mostly because usually as soon as someone I am following - a store, a blogger, etc. - announces something that they love and I must have, I immediately go and usually buy it. Not ALL the time but with very specific bloggers, I tend to be that way.

Not the best way to live, but it's fun.

So I've blogged about my former roommate/Wichita State media relations workhorse friend Brittany and her and her sister's adorable monogram shop, Southern Trademark. I LOVE their InstaStories and just their social media presence in general because they are KILLING it. They have super-motivated me and getting Two Dots back to legit-status. So... thank you to Brittany and Brooke! :)

Today they posted new items they got in and holy cuteness! Is this bag not amazing for fall and winter?! I can name five people off the top of my head who would love to rock this bag.

So... if you're an early Christmas shopper or are birthday present-hunting, hunt no more! Check out their shop!


Speaking of InstaStories... I did one the other day on this incredible cheese that I just started eating. And I started eating it BECAUSE of an InstaStory? See, it brings great things to one's life!

The cheese AND InstaStories!

So as I said in the story, I've been trying to eat better. Don't kid yourself, I'm not going to do anything crazy and give up McDonald's coke (though I know I should). But I've just tried to find things that I can eat at the correct times of day (not lunch at 2:45 pm) that aren't going to enhance my gut.

This cheese comes in atleast eight different flavors and they are small wedges, which one might think wouldn't be very much. But it actually is! I coat a flat out sandwich wrap in it with some rotisserie chicken and spinach and still have 3/4 of a wedge left. So I either put it away, or swipe the rest on my plate and dip carrots in it... or pretzel thins.

Sadly, Amazon Prime Now only has two flavors so they don't give me a good variety but Target is on point and has MANY to choose from!

How many of you out there are chapstick users? 🙋

I was an avid Burts Bees chapstick user. Until I started using LipSense. And because Burts Bees is a wax-based chapstick, that was not helping my lips with the exfoliation process it has to go through to get your lips perfect for LipSense.

And then finally, the LipSense Lip Balm came back in stock and it did it without me having to sit at my computer for hours on end staring at the screen and refreshing repeatedly in hopes that it would come back!

I got my hands on a few and it came at the right time because my lips were starting to get dry. I had been using our Lip Volumizer, which I loved and truly felt like it gave my lips a nicer, more plump look without being over the top, but I felt like I hit a limit and my lips were like ... "We need a break from volume and just need balm!"

I tried the lip balm and boom, dry lips no more!

It feels SO nice and applies easily. So if you're a chapstick-aholic, but love your LipSense, stop. Drop (the Carmex) and roll on over to The Lips Shop on Facebook and I will hook you up!

PS. I need to shout it out on more time, but I gained another gal on my LipSense team this week - Christine was one of my cheerleaders I coached when she was at Chapman High and I was a senior at K-State. Lots of life lessons learned by moi... like maybe a 22 year old shouldn't be coaching 17 and 18 year olds.

That's neither here nor there.

Anyway, super pumped she's joined my team and if anyone in Manhattan or Junction City is looking for a LipSense gal, message me and I'll direct you to her!!


Everyone have an awesome weekend! I'll let you know how Tess and I handle our day without a car...

XXOO,
Allyson

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Fitting Room Finds

I had brought up earlier this year about starting this 'Fitting Room Finds' and where you all would like me to shop! I had two votes for Nordstrom... and that was my intention - to start at Nordstrom like I was asked.

Oddly enough, there was no Nordstrom in Bentonville, Ark. And the closest Nordstrom to me is on Michigan Avenue which would be fun if I had lots of hours to jot down there. But I was limited to about an hour and a half on this trip, so I went to one of my favorites... and that was close.

The Loft.

Why do I like The Loft? I like it for many reasons as well as have issues with it. My issues are that some things look old to me. And there are plenty of stores that produce enough 'old' clothing that I don't need it at this store, too. But my likes outweighs the dislikes for sure.

I love the quality. I love the color. I love how there are simple pieces and fun pieces. I love that the sizes range and for the most part, I think they run on the large side, so you can size down which is fun to do!

So I started my Fitting Room Finds at The Loft and literally walked back with about 25 different things to try on for you. But decided tot only show you things that I felt good about this readership liking.

Without further adieu...





This top was one of those that really would go with anything! You can't beat chambray, people, so don't even try! :)

The skinny jeans were super soft, super comfortable and KEY - super stretchy! The color I have on is green. 

The wrap skirt was also extremely comfortable and I felt it was a great fall addition for a work wardrobe. 




This top caught my eye as soon as I walked in the store! It's very versatile -- day-to-night, fall-to-winter, work-to-drinks, skirt-to-jeans... I LOVE sleeves with smocked cuffs because it seems to make my wrists really skinny which somehow makes everything else seem skinnier. 

These jeans I also loved! The frayed cuff was actually really cute and I think that it's a trend that isn't silly to purchase! I also wore the top with the wrap skirt from above and again, just another cute outfit option! 





My go-to outfits for the fall and winter are jeans (or leggings - I'm one of 'those' people) and a sweater. And these three sweaters are perfect with the frayed cuff jeans I had on. The Bonfire Sweater is my favorite because it has some color, it wasn't itchy and it hit in the right spot on my torso! 

The Striped Cutout Sweater was uber-comfy, but on me, probably made me look wider than I need to be. But still... big fan! 

The Blouson Sleeve Sweater was perfect, came in a few different colors and would look so great dressed up as well! 





Cold shoulder tops are everywhere right now... if you don't know have one in your closet by now, I don't know how you got away from them! I will say that for the most part, these tops really do look good on everyone and are ageless. My six year old has one and my mom has one. This particular one that I tried on was more of a sweater material and again, had the smocked cuffs that I love. It was very comfy and will march right on through winter for you. I tried it with the frayed cuff jeans as well as this adorable wrap skirt! 

Prints can be scary sometimes, which is why my wardrobe is so blasé. Prints can sometimes make you look heavier, but I really felt like this one did the opposite. In fact, I should wear this skirt every day because I felt like it made me look smaller! BONUS POINTS! 

As you all know if you are frequent Loft shoppers, they have new items coming in all the time so if I walked in today, I would literally try on at least 15 new items. But I felt that what I picked out to show you all are classic pieces that you can make lots of different outfits with items from your own closet. But splurge on yourself a little bit, grab a few new pieces for fall that make you feel good about yourself and will allow your to diversify your wardrobe. 

Happy shopping! 

XXOO,
Allyson

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Trying Not to Lose that Loving Feeling

Get it?! ;)
While we were on a whirlwind vacation to Kansas before school started, I was able to get in and get Sloane's hair trimmed and mine colored by a local gal. To be more specific, Becca went to Caney (my rival school growing up in Sedan), she married my sister's high school boyfriend of two minutes and she lives in Niotaze (pronounced Ny-o-taze - Ny-o-tazee), a teeny-tiny town that I have driven through about 1.8 million times in my life, but never actually turned and went through the town.

So finding Becca was actually more difficult than I had imagined!

Anyway... I had a great conversation with her, which is one sign of a fantastic hairstylist, and before I left, she told me I needed to read this book that she had started.


The book was called "Love Unending: Rediscovering Your Marriage in the Midst of Motherhood" by Becky Thompson. Becky is a blogger who, similar to the Pioneer Woman, was a 'city girl' and ended up in the country. Or northwest Oklahoma.

This book is 21 chapters long and the chapters are very short, but each chapter ends with a spot to take notes and reflect, a challenge as well as a prayer. The goal is to read this book in 21 days -- so every day is a new challenge for you in your marriage, something to try and better, atleast better it than it was the day before.

When Becca was explaining it to me, this is where my mind went...

"That book is exactly what I need! Where is Matt's version?"

Because obviously, if I'm going to try and better myself as a wife, he darn tootin' better be trying to better himself at the same time!

And what's funny is that I was reading this one night while we were hanging out in front of the television (because that's what we do to spend time with each other!) and I told him that I was reading this to "try and become a better wife."

A few seconds later he said he was writing the book on ways to be the worst husband.

Those of you that know us know that being serious is not our forte.
.............................................................................................................................................................

So I will be honest. The 21 day challenge is going to probably take me 52 days. And I think that's OK. I don't think Becky is going to scold me for not reading every day. The book is about being a better wife AMIDST motherhood, which as most of us know, it takes a lot out of a person by 5 pm.

I read the first chapter and after reading it, I sat the book down and just thought about where I am at in my life... If I could remember life before kids. If I could remember MATT before kids.

And MAN... is that hard! We both have admitted that we don't remember much before Sloane. And what's really funny is that Matt said he doesn't remember much between the five years from when he graduated to college until we got married.

Which ALL just makes us both feel senile!

The first chapter challenged me to greet Matt when he gets home from work the way I would have greeted him while we were dating. Matt and I were long-distance daters for five and a half of our seven-year courtship so when we were dating and I saw him, I had an extra pep in my step.

I don't remember the exact day it happened, but that "jump in his arms" greeting disappeared at some point. When we lived in Minneapolis, I was usually mad at him when he walked in the door.

Why, you ask? My answer is I have no flipping idea. Maybe I was mad that he got to leave the house every day and have atleast 20 minutes of peace and quiet. Maybe I was mad that he didn't call to tell me he wouldn't be home until later. Maybe I was mad that I hadn't had time to make dinner (again) so in turn, I was mad at him.

I don't know why! I feel like as much as I loved Minnesota, I spent a lot of time unhappy there. I made some wonderful friends that I am forever grateful for. But I think we had a lot of things happen to us that were a part of life's road bumps that just made me an unhappy person.

And so instead of being happy to see him walk through the door (which I was), I fueled it into anger. And I had a resting frown face when he would walk in. Most always.

Since those days, we added children, Matt's job title changed, we moved (numerous times), I started doing some things on my own such as this blog, Two Dots, LipSense - you know, just OVERDOING it over here! - but things that gave me a sense of accomplishment.

We have found our version of happy and though not every day is buckets of roses, I feel like they are just better.
............................................................................................................................................

My husband is not perfect. He probably would tell you that himself. But I am most certainly not perfect either. And movies and TV shows (thanks a lot, 'This Is Us') give us all this unattainable perfection of marriage and life that sometimes makes it's hard to not be mad at one another for not being more like 'Jack'. Or 'Randall'.

So tonight, when my husband walks through the door, I am going to be the first to greet him with a smile on my face. I might not jump into his arms like I did 16 years ago... but I will hug him longer and remember that we might not be 20-year-olds and we might not stay out until 2 AM and sleep in until 10, but our journey is still young.

As are our children. Who need to see two parents that love each other. So when my daughter says, "No more kissing tonight!", we can laugh and I can feel like we are doing our job.

So thanks to Becky for challenging me... it may be hard, harder than I thought it would be, but the challenge is accepted!


XXOO,
Allyson

Friday, September 15, 2017

Friday Favorites


As I slowly but surely dive back into blogging, Friday Favorites has been what I have missed the most! It's what I got the most feedback on and what people really seemed to enjoy!

As did I... there was so much fun stuff to throw at you! And so today... we get right back to it.

Glade has done it again, my friends! Last year's Fall candle was ahhh-mazing. It was a Friday Fave maybe more than once (or maybe I just talked about it constantly)!

And they have hit it out of the park this season once more! The Cozy Autumn Candle is legit. I've had  two of these going in the basement and in the kitchen for less than a week and both are almost gone. The smell is perfect - it's Fall at its best!

I picked these up at Target so when you make your third trip of the week out there, this time grab a few of these candles!


I am a SUPER picky shoe person! And even more picky when they are from Target. I want them to look 'real' but I want them at a fantastic price.

Those things usually never coexist.

BUT... Lauren and I got a 'Free Mom Afternoon' a few weeks ago when I was in Kansas City and we went to Target. Because where else would you go when you have four hours of freedom?

I found these and though I don't normally gravitate to a heel because I just like to be comfy... these spoke to me. So I tried them on. And I loved them.

I've done a few InstaStories on them and about their greatness, but really. If you need a nice Fall shoe to wear with jeans or a skirt, I'd check these out. For $35 (with an extra 20 percent off online), you can't beat this!



I went to The Loft this past weekend to work on a future Fitting Room Finds for you all - a new post I hope to try and do once a month from different locations that are fairly easy for everyone to get to. 

This sweater was the first thing I saw when I walked in - smart, Loft. Very smart.

So I picked it up. It was also the first thing I tried on. And I was smitten! 

It's not itchy (key), it didn't feel constricting (key), and it hit me in the right spot that didn't make me look too short (also key). 

The colors are great, especially for the Fall and though it's listed as $69.50 on the website, you know that The Loft is ALWAYS having some kind of deal! So... if you are smitten with this as well, give it a go! With some dark denim and the DV mules from Target listed above, you have yourself a nice little outfit! 


I have to give a shoutout to Matt's cousin Jen for this Friday Fave because without her, we would have never known it existed. 

And that would be a shame. 

We went on a Michigan vacation with some of Matt's cousins (and aunt and uncle) this past summer and everyone (except us who had moved in to our apartment two days before) brought food to share (thanks for the kindness, everyone!). Jen's family brought this layered dip and I think Matt and I literally ate about three-quarters of it. 

I love a good Mexican layered dip. My mom and her friend Kay make it frequently. But this one has nothing I have to pick out, like jalapeños and olives. And I could eat it with a spoon!

SO... moral of the story is that if you are having a get-together, a tailgate... or just want some damn fine dip, get to Costco and get this! You can thank me later.


And if I haven't convinced you yet to try LipSense... I'm failing at my job. :) No, but seriously... I tried Dark Pink on yesterday for the first time and have found yet another color that I love. Why do I have to love them all?! At this point, I don't even know what my go-to color is! 

So for you newbies (and anyone else who reads this blog), if you want to try out LipSense for the first time, comment below or message me and I'll give you five percent off your first purchase! 

I have said it before, but direct sales was not my jam... until I tried this stuff. I was an immediate believer and just want to share the love! :) 


Everyone have a wonderful weekend! Matt and I are going to a Cubs game on Sunday to celebrate my birthday early -- I get to fly to KC on my birthday weekend to meet my nephew who has yet to arrive. But he will be here by then or my sister will be LOSING her mind!!! :) 

XXOO,
Allyson

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

School is Back!


We are officially full-swing into the 2017-18 school year.

We went from having nothing on the calendar to being triple-booked three times a week. And I'm not even exaggerating!

How does that happen? How do we go from having literally nothing to do to having 10 things to do in the span of a week?! Zero to eighty in five seconds.

I am not complaining though! I live for routine. My kids maybe don't live for it, but man, do they function better when they are in one.

Thanks to routine life and staying busy, Tess is FINALLY sleeping better! The girl is getting a fantastic nap in the afternoon and then going to bed at 7 pm and hasn't been waking up until six. And even if she does wake up a little before six, she sits and chats in her bed, rather than wailing like a lunatic!

It. Is. The. Best!

So an update on school...

If you don't follow my InstaStories on Instagram, you didn't see last week's story on the madness of drop off and pickup at the kids school. I'm coming to terms with it... the madness... and that maybe this is the best way to do things in the city. A parent of a new girl in Sloane's class was talking to me one morning at drop-off and they moved to the neighborhood just to attend this school - they moved like 10 blocks south. I asked if this 'arrangement' was normal since they came from a setting very similar. His answer? Yep.

So basically I'm the out-of-towner who needs to shut her pie hole and adjust.

But for the record, I still think there has to be a better way to perform these tasks... ;)

Reece has really seemed to enjoy school. On the second morning of school, he did ask if he could just go to school the next week. But since, he hasn't fought having to go! After the first day, I asked if he had gotten in trouble (because I had seen him sitting in timeout at recess that afternoon -- FYI: our apartment is directly across from the school so I can see everything!) and he said yes, because was talking too much. So... besides sitting in timeout for not following rules on the playground (which I later found out was really not that big of a deal, but at the moment, I was kind of freaking out), he was asked to remember the class rules and take turns talking.

Who does that kid belong to?! :)

His assistant teacher is named Mrs. Michelle. And that is also the name of the former principal at his preschool he attended in Bentonville. And at In His Image, he saw quite a lot of Ms. Michele. So much that he named her Ms. Michele Office. So he made sure to tell me that Mrs. Michelle is not who you see if you are bad like Ms. Michele Office.

Annnnd I laughed for awhile!

Sloane is doing well... so I think. She doesn't say much... and trying to get her to tell you two things she did that day besides swing at the playground and eat lunch is like pulling teeth! There are a few things that she finally has mentioned to me that have happened at school that I had to get straightened out (nothing major), but in the end, it sucks being the new kid. Especially when you are the new kid and not Reece - carefree and doesn't know that he's the new kid.

I feel for her and say prayers that she will start to remember kids names in her class ("Mom, that girl is in my class!" "Cool! What's her name?" "Ummm.... I don't know!"), and make a few buddies so she can relax a little. WhenI drop her off in the morning, she waits in a line with her other class mates and she's always at the end... slowly walking in and always looking for me. I give a big wave with a big smile on my face, she sees me, waves and smiles and goes in.

Can I just say that my kids are better than me in so many ways? There is no way I could have been "the new kid". There was a point in my life when we almost moved from Sedan for my dad to take a new job and in the end, my parents kept us where we were. And praise the Lord because there is a really good chance that I would have become a hermit!

But on to week two we go with a lot of new activities starting this week including Catechism tomorrow (both Sloane and Reece will go - this should be interesting...) and Sloane starts a dance class on Thursday that includes ballet, jazz and tap - I'm fairly certain I will ask to participate as well!

We are full-throttle into the school year... and that's the way I like it!

XXOO,
Allyson

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Life Lately...



Hello out there!

It is I, keeper of the blog. Absent for four months because well... life.

I'd like to start off by saying that by no means did I want to go four months without blogging. I truly love it! I'd also like to say that the last four months may have been the most chaotic of my life! So blogging/Two Dots/LipSense was pushed to the back-burners because... life.

Most of you that read this follow me on social media so you know the gist of what has been going on in the Clark household since March. But to recap:


  • Matt took a new position with Coleman in January and started traveling back and forth from Bentonville to Chicago during the week. 
  • Sold our house in White Oak Trails in Bentonville.
  • Moved into a two-bedroom apartment in Rogers, drove the kids back and forth for school. 
  • House-hunted for MONTHS with zero luck!
  • Grew accustomed to 2 AM wake-up calls from Tess, who basically wouldn't go back to sleep. She eventually got back to her sleeping routine right when it was time to move again! 
  • Sloane graduated from Kindergarten, we said our goodbyes and moved in with my parents in Manhattan while we crossed fingers we would find a place to live! 
  • Found a place to live IN THE CITY, where I had zero intentions of living with my family. Life is funny.
  • Found out Reece would have to start kindergarten because he turned five before August 1. It's a joke of a rule and absolutely NOT in the best interest of the student, but... ya can't fight city hall (or the Chicago Public School system in this case). 
  • Moved June 26 and couldn't fit most of our big furniture in. Fun!
  • Packed as much fun into a month as we could in Chicago because I think Matt forgot we weren't just visiting, but actually lived here... 
  • Busted pipes in our basement while Matt and I had went away for a weekend. 
  • Followed that up with me spending four days in the hospital to end up having my gallbladder removed.
  • Followed by Tess back to her old tricks of sleeping SUPER poorly. 
  • Followed by more busted pipes in our basement...
And in to September we have rolled... 

Our summer vacation lasted approximately three months and nine days. Our complete life flip lasted five months and five days. There is no better way for me to say this but to say that these last five months have been nothing short of a shit show. And I mean that in the most endearing way possible! 

It's almost laughable (now) at all of the things that we have done/dealt with/participated in/fallen for. I will also say to you that I thank the heavenly stars that my kids are so adaptable and for the most part, go-with-the-flow! They did NOT get that from their mama so I will go ahead and give Matt the props for that. The number of times that I have wanted to plop down and cry or run outside and scream have been plenty. But somehow... here we are. All in one piece and looking back at March like it was 10 years ago (because believe me, it feels like it)! 

Why did I choose today to return to blogging? 

No. 1 reason is that two of my kids are back in school! ALLELUIA! 


Today was the first day of school for the Chicago Public Schools (which is so bizarre since everyone else started school way back in August). We walked Sloane and Reece over to school this morning, which is conveniently located directly across the street from us, and after a few hugs and reminders that I would be there to get them after school, in they walked. Since Sloane was going in to first grade, they asked us not to walk them in, but since Reece was going into Kindergarten, we got to walk him in. He has a locker, which he immediately put his backpack in, and then barely told us goodbye as he walked in to his classroom. 

This is not a surprise from this kid because he has done this every time we have taken him to school. I have to beg for a hug! 

For those of you that know Reece, you will laugh at this. But every time we get on the train, he sits down, and starts chatting with the person next to him. We walked through the DePaul campus the other day and a girl was sitting at a picnic table and he stops ands says, "Hi! I'm Reece! How are you?" "This is my mom, my dad, my girlfriend Sloane, Tess, my friend uncle George (otherwise known as my brother, Jordan), Alex and Anderson." 

The kid strikes a conversation with ANYONE and EVERYONE. Stranger danger? He knows no stranger. And as scary as that may be, I keep telling myself that maybe one day he will strike up a conversation with someone who hasn't made good choices and maybe not very friendly... but Reece will spark something in them to make them flip their life around. 

Or maybe they will tell him to stop talking! 

I don't know! 

I am excited to pick them up and see how their day went. I'm excited to report back to you all about what I find out (like why Reece was already sitting in timeout at recess when I drove by this morning)!


So thank you all for following along on our crazy journey the last three... err... almost six months. It's been a wild ride thus far. I can only pray that life slows down, we get back into a routine and it's smooth sailing! 

.... OK, I can't even type that without laughing! 

Until next time, friends!

XXOO,
Allyson

PS. My LipSense Labor Day sale wraps up today! If there is a fall color you've been hunting for, now is the time to buy! Everything in five percent off plus free shipping through tonight! Check out my Facebook page to see what I have in stock. I also have Lexie Beary, Dark Pink, Caramel Latte and Luv It coming in this week - all fantastic fall colors! :) 



Back to Top