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MAC Lipstick & Liner Faves!

Guys, I'm obsessed with lipstick... we all know this by now, right?
So with the help of a few cute girls at my work, I wanted to share my top 5 MAC faves with all of you!

These are seriously PERFECT for so many different kinds of hair and skin types, as you can see below... so I don't want to hear any of this, "Oh, but I just could never pull that bold look off" nonsense. 

Why MAC?
I love this brand of lipstick and liners, because even though pricey, they are SUPER great quality. They have a huge color selection, are really concentrated (meaning you only need a little to go a long way, so they last forever!), and they've got lots of different finish options (matte, satin, gloss, etc).

Okay, so here are my faves ... for today ;)

1. Candy Yum-Yum w/ Shock Value liner
2. Ruby Woo w/ Cherry liner
3. Show Orchid w/ More to Love liner
4. Rebel w/ Fashion Boost liner
5. Impassioned w/ Dynamo liner

When I apply one of these BOLD, awesome lip colors, I always make sure I have a smooth lip to work with first. I recommend doing a lip scrub to get off all of that excess loose, dry skin.
One of my faves is from LUSH. It's an edible lip scrub, and it's called Mint Julips.

Just start with clean lips, apply a little of the scrub with your finger onto your bottom lip, and then rub your lips together. Once you've exfoliated enough, just lick your lips, and you're done!

To get the best, most saturated color for a bold lip, I always apply my chosen liner ALL over my lips first, and then add my lipstick of choice. This guarantees the longest, best wear for you color!

1. Impassioned 2. Show Orchid 3. Rebel

Have fun rockin' those fierce lips!


Creamy Artichoke Dip Recipe - take 2!

creamy artichoke dip recipe and free recipe card printable
Happy Thanksgiving!
My contribution to dinner this year is my Creamy Artichoke Dip for an appetizer. I've shared it before, but because I love it so much I thought I'd share it again for anyone who missed it! It's quick, fool proof, and sure to be a hit at your next party or gathering.

What you'll need:
- 2 packages of softened cream cheese
- 1 cup of mayonnaise
- 2 cans of quartered artichokes (drained and roughly chopped)
- 1 can of diced green chilies
- 1 cup of graded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1/4 cup graded Parmesan cheese
- 1/2 tsp lemon or lime juice
- 1tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- Dash of garlic powder
- 2 sourdough bread rounds

Drain your artichoke hearts and roughly chop them. Combine all ingredients into bowl.

Cut one of your sourdough bread rounds into squares for dipping. With the other, cut a medium sized opening in the top (much like a bread bowl for soup). Remove the lid and set aside. Scoop out remaining bread from round and cut into pieces for dipping. Make sure not to scrape off bread too close to edges or the bowl will become too thin and tear.

Set your bowl on a large piece of tinfoil and fill with creamy artichoke mixture. Top with lid, wrap tinfoil around bread round, (to keep from burning the bread) place on cookie sheet and bake for 40-45 minutes on 400 degrees, until the dip is warmed through.
Then remove lid, sprinkle top of dip with extra Parmesan cheese and bake with tinfoil pulled back, and bread bowl uncovered for another 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is crisp and brown.

Place extra bread pieces alongside the creamy artichoke dip, and enjoy!

A few reasons why we love this recipe:

* It's quick, and uses mostly things you already have on hand
* It LOOKS fancy, but in reality only takes about 20 minutes to prepare
* If you work it right, you can bring JUST your bread bowl, with hot dip inside (wrapped in foil to keep warm) and extra bread pieces to your next party, borrow a platter from your hostess and not have to worry about any dishes to take home.
and lastly...
* Everyone LOVES it and will want the recipe, because it is THAT delicious :)

So that being said, I thought I'd help you out and include a cute printable for all of you to enjoy, for either your own recipe book, or to share with a friend!

I know that with lots of different events coming up, I'm always looking for a quick, 'sure-to-impress' treat to take with me wherever I go... and sometimes I get burnt out on sweets. I hope you'll try this out for YOUR next party... I promise, you'll be glad you did!


Spinal Fusion Back Surgery FYI - Pain in yo Back is WACK!

For those of you who follow us on Instagram you may have caught this photo in our feed a few weeks ago.

Below is a post ALL about Cason's back pain.
Because it's important to me that we tell our story. Because SO MANY of you have asked tons of questions. Because when we went "googling" for answers, someone took the time to write out their experience, and it really helped us.

FYI: I'm not sugar coating anything. This is our real experience with back pain, the steps we went through to get relief, and finally our entire process with an intense spinal fusion surgery. 

WARNING: There is a picture towards the end of this post of Cason's back incision. It is a bandage with stitches (nothing too graphic), and I show it so that people can know what your back may look like, and how large your scar may be if you end up having a similar surgery. 

Like a lot of people (I've found out) Cason suffers from horrible back pain, and has for the past 8 years. He didn't fall, get in an accident or gain tons of weight suddenly, he just... has crappy back genetics. 

Even though Cason's lived with pretty bad back pain for the last 8 years, it wasn't until about 2 years ago that it started becoming unbearable. The nerves in his back were being pinched and shooting pain had started to not only plague his back, but now his legs; especially the right one. So much so that he could barely walk or even sit sometimes. He was always hunched over, and after about a year he had started losing feeling in some of his toes and parts of his legs.

For those of you who have had to, or currently ARE suffering with this type of pain in your life... I am SO sorry. For Cason it was maddening. Some days were better than others, but being in constant pain almost EVERY day, not being able to workout, lift more than 20 lbs, or even walk with your back straight, is something that NOBODY should have to endure.

For the past two years we've tried countless things to help with Cason's back pain. Strong pain meds, physical therapy, oils, medicated shots into his spine... you name it. 

Cason was frustrated, and to be honest, I might have been even more so than him. I know that doesn't sound fair to say, because YES, the person who is in pain all the time should be MORE angry and annoyed than anyone, right? But try seeing it from the other side as well... the person/spouse who has to hear about and see someone suffering all the time! Having to change plans, or even miss out on doing things with that person who has horrible back pain, just because you CAN'T get them relief!

It was a few weeks ago when we took a road trip to Oregon/Northern California (more on that trip soon), that I had absolutely HAD it.

We'd stopped at a really fun hike that I had been waiting to go on for a few days, to see all the amazing forest and massive trees that surrounded us, and Cason couldn't even make it across the parking lot to use the restroom once we got there. His body was in so much pain that he looked completely crooked as he slowly and painfully worked his way towards the bathrooms, only taking small, little baby steps.
Luckily we had been able to stop at a trail off the road a day before, and snapped a bunch of cool pics, so it wasn't a total bust.

While the girls played around outside the gift shop, I sat on a bench and cried. I was so angry, frustrated and mad that Cason couldn't enjoy this moment... and that we couldn't enjoy it WITH him, because he had to lay down in the car just to get relief!
I was furious that his stupid back pain was going to control our plans that day, and that it was SO unbearable for him, that we couldn't even do this ONE thing as a family that we had just drove 13+ hours to do!
Once Cason returned from the restroom we all got back in the car, kids upset that we weren't hiking, and me giving everyone the silent treatment for a good hour. 

Now let me explain, before you think I'm a heartless (you know what)... 
I know that it sounds like I'm being totally insensitive, but I wasn't mad at Cason at ALL (even though it may have come off that way at the time... yes I apologized immediately). I was pissed at his BODY!!! I was angry that we were STILL dealing with this problem after dishing out thousands and thousands of dollars from our own pockets, and ridiculous amounts of time, trying to fix something that seemed basically unfixable!

We were both beyond angry after that incident, and called for an appointment the very next day to get in to see a surgeon. The ONLY and last thing left on our list of "ways to fix this crippling back problem".

After another round of MRI's and x-rays , the doctor took one look at Cason's horrible back and told us that a spinal fusion was pretty much our only option if we wanted a shot at living with a lot less pain, for a long period of time.