Tuesday, May 24, 2016


I've been seeing this one ad on Pinterest a lot lately. Maybe you have too.

For the past few years I've worn Laura Mercier tinted moisturizer (SPF 20). I wear it most days, I like how it doesn't make me breakout and my sensitive skin doesn't get angry when I put it on. I wish I would have started wearing SPF makeup sooner! I've noticed as my skin has aged some recently, it doesn't give me the same results it once did. I find it sits on top of the skin and rubs off easily and makes my skin greasy by the afternoon (even with oil-free setting spray).

When I saw a Pinterest ad for the new Bare Minerals tinted moisturizer (Complexion Rescue), I was intrigued but skeptical. The first real makeup I wore was their powdered minerals but grew out of it as my skin started to age. I tried and HATED their cream makeup a few years ago. But I kept seeing this ad, looked at online reviews all over the place (all super positive) and decided to take the plunge.

A photo posted by Katie (@nckhella) on

I was color matched at Ulta, and was surprised that when she put it on it wasn't obvious that I was wearing something. I went home and took everything off to start clean and put this on with the brush they recommend. WOW. My skin looks amazing and radiant! It isn't greasy. It did sting a little when I put it on, but I think that's because I had just rubbed my face a bunch to get the other stuff off. We'll see. My skin looks radiant and dewy and doesn't feel like I have a heavy mask on. It doesn't smell or have any added scent.

This isn't an ad. They aren't paying me to say this. I just like the product!

I've been wanting to do a run down of my favorite beauty products, and this dovetails nicely. Here's my list:

Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion, $9 - My go to lotion. Have used it for years. Unscented. Light enough to use on my face AM and PM.
Mary Kay Timewise Moisturizer, $24 - I use this on my face (PM) in the winter when I need a heavier moisturizer.
Balance Me Wonder Eye Cream, $38 - I use it nightly. It makes a difference. Lasts forever.

Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer (SPF 20), $42 - I'm sure I will still use this and still highly recommend it.
Bare Minerals Complexion Rescue (SPF30), $30 - see above
MakeUp Forever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation, $42 - These are OK. I have a couple I mix together for a decent color, but still isn't my fave. I wear this when I'm going out at night as there isn't any SPF in it (which can show up weird in pictures with flash).
Smashbox Iconic Photo Finish Primer, $36 - I LOVE this stuff. It helps makeup stick and not slide off. Makes pores and lines look softer. (Word on the street is that the Monistat Anti-Chafing Gel is the same thing and only $6...)
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, $20 - Eye makeup sticks to this and even after a day with smoky eyes, it doesn't budge. Lasts forever.
CoverGirl Lash Blast Mascara, $8 - No matter what I use I always seem to come back to this one. Waterproof, Absolute Black.
Loreal Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara, $10 - I love what this does to my lashes, but can't wear it everyday because it starts to flake after a few hours. Good for short term use. Weird to remove!
NYX The Skinny Mascara, $7 - I use this to line my lower lashes since the brush is tiny. Love it.
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Liner, $20 - I don't use anything else besides Black (for extra drama) and Rockstar (daily wear). Urban Decay liners are my religion.
Ofra Universal Eyebrow Pencil, $13 - Too many brows are overdone these days, but I love how waxy this is and adds a little oomph to my brows (pic here)
Lorac PRO Contour Palette with brush, $43 - I cannot say enough about this. It is SO subtle you guys. You would never know that I contoured, but it makes a huge difference. The brush is fab and the product particles are super small and blend amazingly well.
Pixi Shea Butter Lip Balm, $8 - I can't get enough of these, and it annoys me that they are $8 and I can't seem to duplicate it at home no matter how hard I try. I have these stashed everywhere.
Urban Decay De-Slick Oil-Free Setting Spray, $30 - I spray this on after I put on my makeup and everything sticks and I don't have to blot all day. Love it and lasts forever.

I use the oil cleansing method to take off my makeup at night in the shower. Equal parts castor oil, sweet almond oil, 1/2 part jojoba oil, 10-20 drops tea tree essential oil. Rub gently into dry skin (the longer you do it, the better the effect). Take off gently with washcloth.
Vasanti BrightenUp Face Rejuvenator $34 - I love this scrub and use it weekly. It smells nice and is like a fine crystal texture. Lasts forever.
Mary Kay Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover, $15 - This take off stubborn waterproof mascara and liner like it's washable Crayola marker. Best I've ever found or used.

I have a host of other makeup products that I use on occasion, but what I shared above is usually what I stick to most days (or if I wear more) and what I go back to if/when I try other products. I find most eye shadows are interchangeable, but I have a MAC compact as well as a Covergirl compact I especially like. Oh, and when I say lasts forever, I mean it takes a long time to use it up. Obvs not forever.

That's my list!

Saturday, May 21, 2016


Adventures in Self-Development

I had a moment recently. I was moving mulch, a wheelbarrow at a time from the huge pile in my driveway to the sheet mulch project around my fruit trees. I was tired. I wanted to stop. I started feeling sorry for myself. I wanted someone to help me. I wish I had a partner... This is where my brain goes when this happens, but this time something was different. The whispers said:

The work is all there is.

It didn't feel defeating. It didn't make me sad. It was a rally cry of sorts. I sang it in the spirit of this song, over and over as I moved mulch. The work is all there is. Wanting things to be different isn't helpful. Working to make things different IS helpful. Waiting around for help isn't helpful. Getting off my ass and just doing the work IS helpful.

Not that I've wasted the last few years of my life, but I often find myself sitting in a chair on my computer while dishes sit on the sink...dammit! I just realized I left laundry in the washer and now have to rewash it - this is exactly what I'm talking about. My first instinct when the chime played was to get up, but I kept sitting. And now the washer is running again... This is exactly my point.

Anyway, not that I would consider myself lazy the past few years, but I certainly haven't been motivated or have really felt all that productive. I'm letting myself off the hook because these have been my learning and integration years. Today is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. It's time for me to get off my ass and take the reins of my life. And I have already begun.

I work with a personal trainer once a month. She customizes workouts for me that are at my level, targeting what I want to target, and walks me through the form for each exercise. Doing VO2 max testing with her and getting my nutrition dialed in - let's just say it's been a massive investment in my health in multiple ways (I wrote about it here). We had our monthly session yesterday and she put me through the paces and I didn't run out of gas during my workout, did everything she asked me to do with no complaints, and things I wasn't able to do a couple months back seemed easy. Small progress. She told me that I've changed in just the short time I've been seeing her. More muscle definition and a new found focus and motivation. (I think my mom having a stroke at 65 has had an impact on how I see things, for sure.) It's cool when other people notice the work you're putting in to change yourself.

The work is all there is.

Back in 1999-2001, I watched WWE wrestling. At first I thought it was dumb, but it was actually a really fun period of my life that I look back on and smile. I went to live events, made signs, yelled and screamed at the dramatic (fake) story, and ordered events on pay-per-view. I really enjoyed it. The Rock was one of the main wrestlers back then, and he's since successfully transitioned into acting. Do you follow Dwayne Johnson (The Rock) on social media? He's actually a really, really cool dude. He's hilarious too. And he just might be the hardest working man in Hollywood. Truly. 

Recently he launched an alarm clock app for phones. Yes, an alarm clock app. The cool thing is that it doesn't have a snooze button. I used to be one of those folks who set my alarm an hour early because of my bad snooze habit. His app has funny and badass songs and tones for waking up. It lets you set goals and be reminded of them each morning. And there is a video (or otherwise inspirational) message from The Rock every morning. It kicks ass. I have no idea why it resonated with me so much, but it did. Before he even launched the app (which was kept a secret until the day it came out), I decided that I wanted to start getting up earlier. With the heat of the summer coming up fast, I am trying to get as much gardening done as possible while the weather is still agreeable. Heat is not my friend. The only way I'm going to be able to do it in the summer is if I get up earlier. It was literally the next day after I made that decision that he launched the alarm clock app. And while the app isn't perfect, I can say I don't use snooze anymore and I am inspired to wake up and get going now.

The work is all there is.

I've been pretty productive lately - I reorganized my house and garage and that felt great but I still have a lot of work to do. I need to launch my soap business. I need to finish moving that mountain of mulch. I need to finish the drip irrigation and clean and stain my decks. And so I shall do it with the mantra, the work is all there is.

Friday, May 20, 2016


Heh heh.


April Fool’s Day 2015: I was sitting in my office with a coworker when he joked about reading an article about exploding head syndrome, heh heh another sexual innuendo. I rolled my eyes and told him it was April Fools Day, the most reviled of all holidays, and I wasn't going to believe anything I read on the internet that day. He insisted it was real. There was even a Wikipedia page. I rolled my eyes again. “Those can be edited, you know.” He made me read it.

I laughed and told him that happens to me all the time. He said that had never happened to him before. I stopped what I was doing and looked over and said, “Really? You aren’t regularly woken up by loud noises that don’t even exist??”


And that’s when I finally had a name for something I experience regularly.

I am often awoken by gunshots, thunder, or someone yelling my name in my ear. Always my right ear. I’ve been told by doctors that it is likely a manifestation of PTSD, and it shows up in my life in times of high stress. Fun times. Yes, it’s real.

Today I was reading an article and came across the term Cotard’s Delusion. Then I Googled it.
In 2010, I thought I was dead. I literally thought that I was in a different dimension than the one I’d lived in prior to getting sick. I also didn’t recognize my face or body, felt like I was a living in an episode of Quantum Leap, and I’ve always just assumed that it was because my looks changed. I wrote posts about feeling like a ghost in my own life, which I now kick myself for deleting. However even when you go back and look at pictures, I look pretty much the same. There are nuances of change, but I look the same. I had no idea this was a brain thing. Apparently my meningitis affected the part of my brain that recognizes faces. I had no idea. It makes sense now because when I went back to work after being sick and had conversations with some people I thought I’d never talked to or met before, they’d tell me stories about our previous interactions. I thought my memory was just bad. Turns out, there was an accompanying explanation.

That year I also tooled around in my truck at high speed on country roads with music as loud as I could tolerate it. I thought if I was already dead, what did it matter? I was invincible anyway. I would go out into the world and because I didn’t talk to myself (in public) or act erratically, nobody would have guessed I was struggling with mental illness. Had it just been a little worse, or manifested more openly, perhaps I would have been hospitalized.

Being hospitalized is my worst fear. If I ever have to be in assisted living, PLEASE, take me to a field and give me a gun. I’ll call it my retirement plan.

Once I got sober, I stopped thinking I was dead. Maybe it allowed my brain to finally begin healing, a process which is still ongoing six years post-meningitis.

We were talking about Metallica albums at work and because I am the “millennial” of the group (a fact that they gleefully remind me of often), I explained that the Load album is when I first heard Metallica, and I went back to listen to the black album. They were fans before the black album exploded onto the scene, I was reminded. But hey. Whatevs. Anyway, I remember spending hours listening to Metallica the summer between 7th and 8th grade and just all around feeling hollow. That’s the only word I can use to describe when I’m depressed: hollow. It was the first time I ever felt that way, just like nothing mattered and life was meaningless, and I even remember my Dad asking me if I was OK or if something was wrong. (Besides my entire life, that is). It wasn’t until I started taking medication 21 FUCKING YEARS LATER (aka. in 2015) that I realized all those years I was on and off clinically depressed, and it first manifested at 13 years old. So, yay Metallica and memories.

Some people tell me that talking so openly about this kind of stuff is “brave” and “courageous.” In some ways I think it is mentally ill that I share as much as I do, blogging into the vacuum of the internet to nobody and everyone all at once. It makes me laugh. What is so brave or courageous about telling people what is going on with you? It would be like me saying, “I have arthritis.” or "I have a slipped disc in my back." I have issues with my brain. Genetic? Environmental? Acute injury? All of the above? Who knows? I'm miswired. It is what it is.

I don’t worry what people will think about me saying I’m mentally ill. I show up to work every day and do a good job. If you didn’t know me and I didn’t talk about this with you, you’d have no idea how much I have to scramble to put on a good face and present a professional adult to the outside world. It’s what I’ve always done, I’ve just gotten used to it. I can hide my more severe episodes fairly well. It leaves me with emotional and vulnerability hangovers from time to time. I’m prone to isolating. But it’s part of me and I spent 22 years ignoring it. Now I’m paying attention because the dragon is no longer asleep and needs attention.

I’m so grateful that I started taking medication last year. It hasn’t completely eradicated the lows, but it’s sort of leveled them out and helps me feel less hopeless and helps me think more rationally. People who know me say I have a spark in my eyes now, my joy has returned (or maybe finally showed up a third of the way though my life?) I feel like I am slowly unraveling the tangled thread of my first 28 years, and new things are revealed all the time. Crazy. Literally.