There are some days when you have a plan, and stick to it; and there are other days, like yesterday, when you just have to chase something beautiful. I had planned on making my way to the shops downtown to take pictures of all the Christmas lights, and found that it was absolutely necessary that I make a quick detour first. 

I live a few blocks away from Seattle’s waterfront and the Olympic Sculpture Park. I absolutely love that I can have a front row seat to some of the best views of Elliot Bay within minutes of getting up off my couch. I saw vibrant, watercolored skies poking through a few buildings and took the opportunity to chase the sun. I followed it through the Olympic Sculpture Park, and then down along the waterfront to the Great Wheel. This might be the best way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
 Fellow sun gazers. 
The sunset reflected on a metal wall at Olympic Sculpture Park.

“Eagle” by Alexander Calder

 Looking out from the pier. 
 A Washington State Ferry on its way back into Seattle.
The Seahawks had just won their game against the 49ers, so the Great Wheel was lit up in all sorts of green and blue. 
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Turns out that I am not the only person in Seattle who is excited for Christmas. The whole city lights up with Holiday Spirit when the sun goes down. As I ran a few errands, I made sure to stop and take in the sight of the lights. Only 11 more days until Christmas!!! 
Pike Place at night. 

 Carousel at Westlake Park
The Macy’s Star

I really wanted to give this guy a hug…

 Two wonderful things.

Hiiiiii Santa! 

 Part of Nordstrom’s holiday display. Very odd, but very cute.

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Dear Zach,

I didn’t get a chance to tell you today – I love you. You are such a great friend, and I will never forget that. Seven years ago, I was grieving over the loss of my childhood dog Sam, and you just flopped into my life – belly up of course – and were exactly what I needed.

I remember the day that we brought you home; we were so scared that you were unhappy being away from everything you knew at Larry’s. You trotted nervously around the house for a while, and after spending hours trying to get you to play, I had to give in and get some homework done. It was my senior year after all. Deeply entrenched in some AP something-or-other, I was startled by a sudden thud, right in my lap. Convinced that you were a lap dog, you hopped the entire front half of your body on to my lap and just stared at me. And smiled. This would continue for about the next six years. I would often tell you to “Get down, Zach!” but now I wish I hadn’t. I didn’t get to hold you as a puppy, but as I held you then (kind of), I knew that we would be great friends.

You didn’t know how to fetch or leap to catch a frisbee, you hated walking in dewy grass, you’d show off the family jewels whenever you had the chance, and your herding/ankle biting tendencies showed whenever I’d dance in your presence. None of that mattered though, because you were kind, loving, loyal, and a friend to all. You were a dog who loved cats; a gentle giant who would let a five pound Yorkie sit on your head at the park; a companion who would walk beside me wherever I went; someone who would never let a high five go left hanging; the most persistent alarm clock of all time; a puppy brother; a constant smile.

I didn’t get a chance to tell you today, but I know that you have been strong. I know that you were ready. I hope that you get to meet Sam, Duke and Ripper, Rusty and Rocky. I hope that you and Sam go on “klaws” together, and laugh about my singing in the shower and all of the other weird things that I do when I think no one is looking. I hope that you finally get the pet cat that you had always wanted. I hope that you know the answer to “Are you a good-good boy?” was always “Yes”.

I didn’t get a chance to tell you good-bye today, so I will say this – I will see you again. Until then, I will smile thinking of the love that you gave me. I am so honored.

Love you, Little Buddy.
Your Girl

♥♥♥

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After spending a great week celebrating Thanksgiving with my Mom, I decided that I couldn’t wait three weeks until I went home to Dallas to enjoy some Christmas decorations. As soon as I realized that Christmas spirit waits for no one, I picked up a (fake) Christmas tree and got to work. 
I had a small box packed away with a few of my favorite family ornaments that I have sneaked away over the years. You’ll see that gold, glitter, and an assortment of animals are all common themes throughout the tree. For instance, I think that I have no less than half a dozen collies on the tree. I just haven’t been able to say no to a Lassie ornament for the past sixteen years! Another particular favorite is the alligator perched near the top of the tree. I have to say, I was even a sucker for a well placed pun as a kid. With just a few glittery branches and some sparkly, shiny ornaments added in the whole tree is filled to the gills. 
It’s really amazing how just a few small plastic or glass trinkets, along with the right music and pine scented candles can really make Christmas come alive – even if I am 2,100 miles away from home! I hope that you are having a merry Christmas season, no matter where you are! 
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As I had mentioned in my “Going Crazy at Ulta” post earlier this week, living in Seattle has made me rethink a crucial step in my daily makeup routine – mascara.

Defining my lashes is a very important part of my cosmetic ritual; so much so that I will still wear mascara even if I’m having a “no makeup” day, and would certainly bring a tube with me to a desert island. However strong my love for this black goo is, my least favorite thing to happen to my face throughout the day is to look in the mirror to find that my mascara has flaked, smudged, or just mysteriously disappeared.

Walking to work every morning, I am often faced with a face full of mist and drizzle, which certainly doesn’t help things. In Austin, it was always so dry that any ol’ mascara would do and I never had to bother with anything waterproof unless I was out on the lake paddle-boarding. Within the first few weeks of moving here, I deemed it necessary to pick up a waterproof mascara because I’m not going to let a little moisture turn me into a raccoon by 9am each day. After a few weeks, I noticed a change in my lashes – they were crunchier, tanglier, and over all lacking luster as a result of coats on coats of harsh product. I needed help.

When I found myself happily perusing the aisles of my semi-local Ulta, I was approached by one of their employees and she told me that I absolutely had to check something out. All of a sudden, I’m standing in front of the Per-fékt counter clutching a tube of their “Lash Perfection Gel” ($28.50). It is billed as a primer/mascara hybrid that helps to darken, lengthen, strengthen, curl, and condition. I was immediately sold when I head the words “”oil free” and “hyaluronic acid” during this description. This is exactly what I was looking for, something that wouldn’t budge and would actually help to condition and moisturize my lashes!

Since the formulation is oil free, the mascara ends up being water resistant without necessarily being waterproof. Gone are the nights of scrubbing at my eyes with cleansing balm, only to still wake up to raccoon eyed mornings! No longer will it feel like I’m applying my mascara with a rusty lawn rake because there is still left over residue from the day before! What I’m trying to say is… this is easy to remove, but stays put when you want it. The hyaluronic acid helps to undo some of my existing damage, by holding its weight in water several times over. Add in some Vitamin A and E, as well as some tiny lash building fibers, and it’s like my waterproof woes never happened! 
I love this mascara so far – it is light, natural, and healthy, but builds and has enough staying power to really make an impact. If you have any suggestions for lash care or fab mascara recommendations, let me know in the comments or tweet me @allistewart :]

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As I walked home from work yesterday, something really struck me. I passed Whole Foods, a business that I’m already semi-obsessed with (ATX whaddup), and they had updated the signs on their windows. One read:
“Treat your body like it belongs to someone you love.”
It stood out to me, because I think that I’d treat my body, my health, better if it wasn’t mine. I stopped a moment, just to take that in. Do I not love myself enough to treat *me* the way I’d treat my family, friends, and other loved ones? Don’t get me wrong, I think I’m pretty great in a lot of ways, but I feel like I put so many things before my own self.
We are taught as kids to put other’s needs before ours, to do all that we can to excel in school, work, relationships – you name it – even if it is at the expense of our own well being. There’s going to be more time to take care of yourself later, after all the other multitude of responsibilities are taken care of first.
I know the ad was meant to tell me to eat more kale, or pass on that Christmas cookie (or three, or four), but I liked the deeper meaning. I sometimes need a reminder that barre class after work *is* a good idea, or that not eating out all the time is more than just an exercise in frugality, and that scheduling time for my own well being is just as important as any meeting on my calendar.
It is always useful to get a gentle nudge back into the right frame of mind, especially during the hectic and indulgent holiday season. Because you do only live once, after all.
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I think I have fallen in love with Seth MacFarlane. His new album “Holiday for Swing!” is practically perfect in every way and I just love it. Seriously though, this Christmas album is everything I want in a newer take on old holiday favorites, all wrapped up into one package.

I love the sound, feel, and tradition of favorites like Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby, Andy Williams, Perry Como, Johnny Mathis. I love that their songs just are Christmas music as a whole genre. I love that my parents grew up listening to these artists at Christmas, just like I did, and my eventual children eventually will. The way their classic songs sound is the auditory equivalent of cozying up to a warm fire, with a nice glass of wine, as snow gently falls outside. Seth MacFarlane totally achieves this while also bringing some level of freshness, too.

Push aside any images of Family Guy or Ted, this is Christmas music done right. That is all. Go listen now.

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I’m sure my definition of “going crazy” in a store is a bit different from everyone else’s, but for the sake of argument, I went crazy in Ulta this evening. Don’t you just love when you go in for one thing, and leave with six? Happy Haul-idays to me!

I went up the highway a bit to go to my preferred Target (I am a nut, I know), and I had no idea that there was an Ulta across the street from it this whole time! My old office in Austin was across the street from an Ulta, so needless to say I got quite used to popping in there after work on the reg. It has been a struggle not knowing where to find one for the past 3 months…
I went in looking for a nice/cheap lip liner to go with a new wintery, wine colored lipstick that I just received in the mail. I immediately headed towards the NYX section, as they do quite a good job with lip products. I picked out “Auburn” and really like how it pairs with my new lipstick (I’ll have another post about that soon).
I noticed that my face was looking a bit haggard – which might have something to do with the fact I’ve been basically out of my Laura Mercier powder for a few weeks now, but have refused to stop trying to use it. I’ve had amazing experiences with other IT Cosmetics face products before, so I am excited to try out their “Celebration Foundation Illuminator Powder”. It is described as a full coverage, anti-aging, brightening foundation. I chose the “Light” shade.
I’ve also been on the hunt for a new mascara for a while now. All this Seattle mist has had me in need of something a bit different. I tried the waterproof formulation of a drugstore mascara that I liked before, but found it to be too hard to remove at the end of the day. After picking up the much raved about “Lights, Camera, FLASHES” mascara by Tarte, the staff recommended that I check out the Per-fékt “Lash Perfection Gel”. Two people just went crazy over it, telling me that it is oil free, contains hyaluronic acid (my favorite thing), has lash building fibers, and is even water resistant! Whaaaaaa? Sounds pretty per-fekt to me 🙂 I can’t wait to share my results. 
I received a free gift with my purchase of the Per-fékt mascara – their Radiant Skin Perfecting Gel. Sounds like a good thing.
Lastly, I felt the need to pick up Tarte’s “Park Avenue Princess” Bronzer, almost purely because Ingrid Nilsen bought it. I know, I know….
…. but I really did need some new bronzer. Since it is the middle of the grey Seattle winter, I’m not even pretending to be tan. However, I do like to use some bronzer to do some light contouring, and needed a matte shade to do so properly. I picked up the Matte Waterproof version, even though the shimmer looked so nice… Decisions are hard sometimes.
Hope that you enjoyed this haul! Let me know if there are any products that I just need to try 🙂
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I will not miss my third day of blogmas. I just won’t.

I had forgotten that my previously arranged plans to go over to a friend’s house for takeout and a movie miiiight interfere with an elaborate post today. I have lofty plans for some posts about lipstick, and wine, and how to conceal the fact that you may be drinking a lot of wine… but for now, I have drank a bit of wine this evening and all I want to write about is SNL’s video “Back Home Baller”.

pretend naps, are the best naps.

I saw this video last week, and just had to show it to my friend tonight at dinner. We both recently moved to Seattle and will both be going home to our parents’ houses for the holidays, so I knew that she would probably like this as much as I do. I was right. We watched it no less than eight times, and made her boyfriend watch it as well, but he wrote it off as “girl funny” and went to bed. Oh well, I know it was hilarious anyways.

I have memories of going home over breaks during college and thinking that I was living life as a queen – I didn’t have to share a room with a stranger, the shower was all my own, and I had two people who understood and appreciated me no matter what. Also, there were dogs in the equation, so that was always a treat as well. Even though I have moved on from school, have lived in my own whole apartment by myself and can pretty much get whatever I want, I still feel like a princess whenever I come home.

There really is something about coming back to a place so familiar and comfortable after spending quite some time somewhere where everything is new, foreign, and exciting. While I am constantly thrilled by the possibility of experiencing something novel, it is just as exciting to know that, for a time at least, I know exactly where I belong. I know to expect the sounds of collie feet on wood floors, my dad getting Starbucks in the morning, my mom decorating the house, and the routine of our Christmas traditions.

The video is a hilarious parody of my back home experience, but some things really do ring true. Hello ridiculously long wifi passwords, old white strips and other cosmetics, and a fridge that look like a tiny Costco Warehouse. And of course…. bowls, bowls, all types of bowls 😛

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