Study Series | Bible Mapping

As a strong Christian woman, one of the things I love to do is study my Bible.

But I’m not into boring.

I can read a lot in a short period of time. I love speed reading.

However, I don’t like the idea of things going in one ear and out the other.

So.

Creativity is key.

Especially if I’m going to remember things that I’m learning.

One of the ways I add creativity to my studies is Bible Mapping.

If you’ve never heard of it, it’s a creative visual of what you are learning. It can be hand-drawn or mastered digitally.

Bible Map Hebrews 1214

Here is the process I use when I do Bible Mapping.

Title

The title I use is almost always the Scripture reference I’m picking apart. There’s nothing overly complicated with this, but I like to doodle it in a creative way.

Write It

If you’re going to study a certain passage of Scripture, you might want to know what it says. I usually write my favourite version big in the middle (ish) of the page. I like to leave enough space around each word for further study.

Re-write Multiple Versions

I’m a KJV girl, through and through. However, there are sometimes that it’s understood just a little easier with multiple versions of the Bible. I like to write a good 3 or 4 versions along the side of my page.

Concordance

This is where the fun begins. I look up all the words in the concordance and I start writing down my findings. I like to include the concordance reference, plus the meaning. That way, if I have any questions when I’m re-reading it in the future, I can easily pull up the word in the Greek/Hebrew.

Dictionary

Sometimes it’s a good idea to look up what those words mean in the dictionary. My favourite dictionary is Websters 1828 Dictionary. Noah Webster was a Christian and the definitions often have Scripture references contained within them.

Summary

At this point, I like to jot down what I feel the general overall key points are within the passage I’m studying. There are usually themes that pop out when we begin to dive a bit deeper than the surface level of the Scriptures.

Personal Application

Once I’ve finished all of that, I like to re-write the Scripture with a personal touch. I like to include tidbits from the concordance and dictionary that stood out to me. This really makes the Scriptures step out off the page and hit me on a personal level where it’s all about me and God.

Bible Map Romans 157

That’s a wrap. When I do these, it usually takes me a good chunk of time because I tear every part of the Scripture apart.

What’s In My Travel Makeup Bag?

I’ve always found traveling with makeup to be interesting. Mostly because I like to challenge myself by packing in a carry-on – it just makes so much more sense to me.

However.

This time around, Brian booked our flights and he booked one checked luggage and ZERO carry-ons.

ZERO.

NOTHING.

NADA.

ZILCH.

So, that means packing will be very different this vacation.

Starting with my makeup. I will still have my purse on the plane, so I will still bring a makeup bag stashed with samples. However, I will probably pack more makeup than normal because it can go in my checked luggage.

So, here goes. This is what I’m bringing…

In My Purse

Samples

Travel-Size Makeup

Full-Size Makeup

Tools

  • Foundation Brush
  • Bronzer Brush
  • Blush Brush
  • Highlighter Brush
  • Brow Spoolie

In My Checked Luggage

I think this is the most makeup I have ever travelled with. Last year, when we went to Mexico, Brian successfully convinced me to leave my makeup at home.

Big mistake.

Every night I wanted to add a little get-up to my face, but had nothing. Not even a sun-kissed glow. It rained 5 out of the 7 days.

This time, I’m ready.

But I also hope for lots of sunshine.

Extreme Dieting | Does It Work?

I tried dieting.

I’ll stop right here and take a moment of silence for anyone who has dieted at any point in their life.

I’m sorry.

Dieting stinks.

All of my life I have been thin. I mean, to the point where I had people pull Brian aside and express their concern for my health. Lots of people thought I had anorexia, and some even offered to take me to the hospital.

Except!

I wasn’t anorexic.

I just had a fast metabolism and I never over ate because I didn’t love food.

Then, when I got pregnant with Violet, I actually tasted variations in food – and I loved it (and sometimes craved it)!

After that point, I enjoyed food, but never to the point of over-indulging.

Let’s fast-forward a bit…

2016 began my intense workout journey and continued until February 2018. In February, I was finding it hard to do any extra anythings because we had been through some pretty tough events over the last few years. I feel like I kind of came to my breaking point and the end of it wasn’t even in sight. The gym almost became too exhausting for me to endure mentally, yet I kept eating like I was working out 2 hours/day, 6 days/week.

That brings me to my heaviest weight in life.

I decided to get back to the gym because let’s face it, I can’t control when life is going to throw curveballs my way.

I forgot how much I love the exhaustion that comes from working out and the burn from pushing your limits. It’s exhilarating!

…but then we booked a last-minute vacation.

This summer I lived in my winter stretchy clothes because I keep the temp in my house around 68 degrees. So, when I went to try on my summer clothes, they didn’t fit.

Now, you probably know by now how much I hate wasting money, so I figured the next best thing would be to extreme diet for 2 weeks.

UGH!

GROSS!

I hate dieting.

I cut out all sugars, dairy, bread, sweeteners, and junk food. Then I limited my caffeine to 1 cup per day. Plus, I restricted my calories and set time frames to eat (9am-5pm) – although I was a bit lax on the time restrictions.

Anyway, I have never wanted food so bad! I mean, I want food that I don’t actually like! My body is revolting and I feel like I’m dying.

It shouldn’t have to be this way.

So here it is. My revelation of the day.

Stop dieting.

Instead, just eat a healthy diet.

Exercise.

But not the kind that makes you want to die.

Do something that brings you joy.

For me, that’s lifting weights.

So, even though this was my first time ever dieting, it will most certainly be the last.

Don’t give up.

Even slow progress is momentum in the right direction.

To all those who have ever struggled with dieting or body image, you are worth so much more than the labels that you’ve picked up over the years. Don’t let other people’s highlight reels discourage you from being the best you that you can be. God created you special and beautiful and uniquely different from everybody else.

For a reason.

Fall Fashion | 2018

Ok, next week I might be sitting on a beach somewhere in the Caribbean, but when I get back home to beautiful Canada, I will absolutely be diving right into my fall wardrobe.

This year, I’m kind of excited about it.

Unlike 12 years ago, when I had just had a baby and my fall wardrobe literally consisted of way-too-tight tanks and Brian’s pants.

Gross.

Money is a big part of my decision-making when it comes to clothes. I like good quality, but I don’t like spending an arm and a leg.

So, my main key to affording a new fall wardrobe is not buying things full-price.

Period.

So, all of my items I have bought, I may have had to wait a few weeks for them, but they were all bought at a considerable discount.

Pants

I like name brand jeans. They just fit in all the right places. Every time I have bought a pair of off-brand jeans, they either don’t zip properly, the seams are crooked or they distort after the first wash.

My top name brand choices for jeans are:

Thanks to a sale and a coupon in my inbox, I was able to snag these two pair of jeans for less than $80 at Guess!

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen when I posted those gorgeous navy velvet pants by Silver. I polled whether you thought I should buy them and you all said ‘yes’.

…but I didn’t…

Well, not right away, but I did eventually.

They went on sale for $20 off a few weeks ago and I snagged them up while the sale lasted. They are everything I expected them to be.

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Dress

I was on a hunt for a specific sweater for Violet when I passed H&M and saw this beautiful eggplant lace dress on a mannequin.

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Normally, I keep on moving because if I like it, it’s either expensive or sold out. Not this time. I walked in and saw a bunch in my size, for only $15 US! I told myself that I would go find the sweater for Violet and if this dress was for real, I would swing by on my way out of the mall.

It was.

I did.

So, with these items, I will begin my fall wardrobe.

…when I return from vacation, that is.

I will probably continue my fall collection with a thrifting haul, which I will post about in the near future.

How To Host A Holiday Dinner

Thanksgiving is right around the corner for us Canadians and although I’ll be in the Caribbean, I’m dreaming about all the fixings.

I love everything about fall. Cool weather. Sweaters. Cute boots. Windows open. Fresh air. Thanksgiving.

When I was young, my mom always hosted family holiday dinners at our house for any family that was in town. I had so much fun helping her bake and prepare for our honoured guests.

For the last few years, I’ve had the honour of hosting dinners at our house. My daughter Violet now loves helping me plan and prep for everyone.

Now, one thing I haven’t mentioned is that our family has grown over the years…which is to be expected. So our prep is usually for 25-30 people.

I need to be super organized for my dinners, otherwise it would be extremely stressful and overwhelming. If it wasn’t for my stellar prepping skills, I would never have survived the time when we had church in the morning, lunch at Brian’s parents and then I was hosting dinner for my side of the family – all in the same day! I walked in the door only about 20 minutes before guests started arriving.

So, with that, I figured I’d share my plan & timeline on how to survive hosting a holiday dinner.

First things first, I usually have a note on my phone that I can copy and paste (then edit). However, since Easter (the last dinner I planned), I have stumbled upon Trello. I now use Trello to organize every aspect of my life – and it’s AHHH-mazing!!

Ok, let’s dive right in!

1 Month Before

Set the Date & Time – Simple, but without it, you have nothing.
Guest ListSeparate your list into kids & adults, then add up the total.
Notify/Invite GuestsSeriously. Don’t forget to let them know.
Menu PlanList everything you want on the menu.
Seating PlanMostly just make sure you will have enough seating.
DishesStocking 30 place settings might be overkill; decide if you have enough dishes or if you need to use disposable dishes.

If you’re as particular as I am, you may want to do the following:

Diffuser/CandlesAtmosphere is a big deal to me. What scent do you want people to enjoy? I usually throw on something fall related.
Music PlaylistIf I don’t pre-pick my music, Brian will most certainly turn on 80’s classics or Amy Grant. Spotify to the rescue!
Playroom/ActivitiesI don’t like leaving things to chance, which means that I like to give the kids something organized to do (like a scavenger hunt or a video filming challenge). This is how we minimize arguments, broken items and disasters in the basement.
Coat RackMy foyer is tiny and closet space is limited in our house, which means I need to have a dedicated area for all the shoes, coats & purses. It is usually one of the bedrooms.

2 Weeks Before

Finalize Meal PlanThis is the point where I decide if I’m going to be superwoman and cook/bake everything myself. I love doing this, but it’s not always feasible. If needed, I will accept offers from my guests to bring certain dishes. Just make sure to write down who is bringing what, otherwise you may end up with 5 salads and no buns.
Finalize Guest ListI guess this changes from day-to-day, but I like to get a general idea if everyone is coming or not. I like leftovers, but if I don’t need a 25 lb turkey, I won’t buy one.
Grocery ListGo through your pantry and cupboards to see what you have and what you need. I usually add to my grocery list for a few days before I start shopping.

1 Week Before

Clean HousePlease don’t judge me, but I use this time to not only clean my living spaces, but also all the bedrooms, closets, drawers, etc. I feel like I need a completely clean slate to start with.
Grocery ShoppingMy list is usually separated into a few different sections according to the best deals – Costco, Superstore, Wal-Mart, etc. Once I know what I’m getting where, I go get ’em.

3 Days Before

Light HousecleaningThe deep cleaning might be done, but the second you turn your back, a clean spot can turn into the perfect spot to paint nails – if you know what I’m talking about.
BakingThis is absolutely my favourite part! The smell of pumpkin pie, apple pie, cheesecake, cookies, cupcakes, etc. just gets me every time! And yes, some of my baking is just typical, full-of-sugar goodies and some are specially made sugar-free for my enjoyment.

2 Days Before

Meat PrepThawing large cuts of meat such as a whole turkey or ham takes time and patience. Pull it out of the freezer and drop it in a sink filled with cool water (ok, maybe don’t drop it). This keeps bacteria from multiplying on the meat.
Light HousecleaningBut seriously, people need to get ready, eat, function on a daily basis, so keeping on top of tidying up is essential.

1 Day Before

Light HousecleaningOk, I think I’ve made my point on this.
Stuffing – If I’m stuffing the turkey – which I always do – I like to make the stuffing the day before and put it in the fridge so my hands don’t burn when I’m stuffing the turkey.
Table SettingSince we tend to have a lot of guests, I usually rearrange my living room and set up a long table. We can’t all fit around one table, so doing this the day before helps me see how many seats we have.

The Day Of

CookThe alarm goes off early in the morning, I throw on my apron and get to work in the kitchen. I stuff the turkey, season it and put it in the oven. I arrange the ham in the crock pot and set it. Peel the potatoes, cut ’em up and throw them into the pot with water on the stove – ready to be turned on later in the day. Lastly, I will throw on some homemade bread in the bread maker.
RelaxThere’s no need to be stressed when it comes to hosting a dinner. Once everything is prepped and ready, take some time to get yourself together.

There you have it! Take the time to enjoy every moment of the day.

Do you find it stressful planning/hosting a holiday dinner? I’d love to know your secrets to staying stress-free.

Secrets for Last Minute Vacations

It’s been exactly 15 hours since I booked our latest vacation.

I am almost fully packed and ready – at least mentally and on paper (well, actually, Trello).

We leave in exactly 11 days, 22 hours and 15 minutes from the time I’m writing this. For me, this may almost be considered a planned-ahead vacation.

I’ve said it before and I’m not sure this will ever change, but last-minute vacations are just how I roll.

I was actually looking at a cruise in December – this is my favourite time to cruise because it’s the tail-end of hurricane season, so you can get amazing deals.

Somehow, in our search, a 7-day cruise popped up for under $200 per person. Then $60 flights coincided.

So, naturally, this means we are rearranging our lives, dropping everything and going on vacation.

Even if it means we will miss my favourite holiday, Canadian Thanksgiving.

But, honestly.

I can be thankful in the Caribbean, that’s not a problem.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 16 years of last-minute travel, it’s how to be completely prepared to travel last-minute.

After I have secured the vacation deal of a lifetime, these are the things I do next so I can be ready to go within just a few days.

Transportation Details

You already know I love a good deal, so it wouldn’t come as a shock to hear that I check and double-check flights, costs, etc. If it’s considerably less than flying immediately, I will book my flights a few days before or after the cruise. This time around, I want to see my sister, so I found a $20 bus ticket from Miami to Orlando on the day we disembark. I’m able to spend some time with her because flights were a lot less leaving from Orlando on the Tuesday.

Explore

I get overly excited when it comes to cruises, so I want to know everything about everything, and then more regarding our vacation. If you log into the cruise website, you can explore the boat, stateroom, boat amenities, spa, excursions, dining and pretty well anything else you want. The thing I love about this is that I don’t have to waste time getting lost on the ship – I already have become familiar with the layout.

Trello

If you haven’t heard of Trello, you are missing out. Trello basically takes all the stress of getting things done out of the picture by keeping everything organized and in order. I have all of these things already set-up in Trello, so once I’ve booked my vacation, I just need to update my Lists. Things I have on my Trello Vacation Board are:

  • To Do List
  • Our Travel Itinerary
  • Packing Lists
  • Excursions/Activities Plan
  • Kid’s Itinerary/Notes (for the sitter)

(If you want to learn more about Trello, Jessica Stansberry made me excited to put it to use)

Cruise/Vacation App

Most cruise lines have their own apps that you can access all the information you want regarding your cruise, excursions, etc. You can even use them to text back and forth with other guests on the ship (although rates may apply). They even have a countdown, in case you’re not excited enough as it is.

Gym Time

I hate feeling frumpy on vacation, so I like to hit the workouts a little harder before I leave for any vacation. The last thing I want is to be self-conscious about summer clothing.

Buy Bathing Suits

Ok, this is probably more of a fun thing I like to do, not necessarily a requirement. Although, this time around, my bathing suit wardrobe is seriously wanting. The great thing right now is that you can find lots of clearance suits. You know I’m all about that.

Pack

Hours after I’ve booked a vacation, my Trello board has my entire packing list all ready to go – only minor tweaks are necessary. So, this makes packing a breeze! I log into Trello, check off items as I throw them together and voila! I’m ready to go!

Now to just sit back and wait for a whole 11 days, 21 hours and 40 minutes.

And this, my friends, is how I keep my sanity when planning for a last-minute vacation. Would you feel stressed out if you had less than 2 weeks to get ready for vacation?

How To Ensure A Bug-Free Hotel Room

I am in Kitchener this weekend…or Waterloo. Well, maybe Bloomingdale. I’m not quite sure.

It took us longer than I’d like, but we’re here. Brian literally dropped me off at the hotel and rushed off to a men’s conference.

I’m tagging along because, why not.

I love travelling. I love getting away. I love taking some time to refresh.

Except.

Hotels.

I have such a high standard for the hotels in which I stay. If you’ve ever travelled with me, you very well may have heard me discuss hotel features, or I may have told you the horror story from West Virginia. I probably wouldn’t go as far to say I’m a hotel snob, but it may be something I’ve been referred to in my lifetime.

So, even though I have high standards in my hotel choices, there is a process that I go through to make sure the room is up to par.

Checking for PESTS

The very first thing I do is freak out!

Well, only if someone walks in before me and plops something down on the bed or the floor.

I always go in and check certain areas before anyone is allowed to make themselves at home.

  1. Threshold & edges of the carpet – If there are pests, you may be able to see black near the edges of the flooring, especially if the carpet is lifted a bit or if it is worn/frayed. The specific places I check are the entrance & bathroom thresholds, the edge of the carpeted baseboards, behind the dresser, and the edges inside the closet.
  2. Picture frames on the wall – Bugs like to hide and behind frames is a common spot they tend to like.
  3. Dresser – I like to open the drawers and see what they look like. I don’t use the dressers in hotels, but it still gives me a snapshot of what’s behind the scene.
  4. Mattress – If you lift up the corner of the mattress, you will be surprised at what you find. More and more hotels are using specific bedbug proof covers, which is great. If there are bedbugs, there will be dark matter in the creases of the mattress edge. If there are no dark spots, there are no bedbugs.

Once I’ve done that, everyone is allowed to put their stuff down.

…but not on the floor.

That’s off-limits.

My rules include:

  • Suitcases only go on the stand
  • Clothes only get hung up, left in the suitcase or put in a hamper (if I brought one)
  • Only disposable cups may be used (glass cups usually are just wiped “clean”)

Then next thing I do is my favourite part. It gives me so much satisfaction and peace of mind. I have a travel kit in which I always keep a travel size bottle of Lysol spray/wipes.

Disinfect/Remove as many germs as possible

  1. The RemoteUgh! I can’t even think about how many germs are on this thing. I have way too many thoughts about what may even be on the remote.
  2. The Bathroom Door Handle – I hate to say it, but I would put money on the fact that many people don’t wash their hands after using the washroom in hotel rooms. I also disinfect the hotel room door handle.
  3. The Telephone – It’s not often that I use the hotel phone, but if I had to, I would want it to be clean. So that gets a wipe down.
  4. The Toilet Flusher – I have heard so many stories about the way hotel bathrooms get cleaned. I’m just not interested in leaving that to chance, so the flusher gets a wipe down too.
  5. The Curtain Stick – I’m not sure that’s what it’s called, but that thing used to draw the blinds…yeah, I’m pretty sure no one thinks to clean that, yet everyone touches it.
  6. The Coffee Maker Display – I don’t ever use the one provided in the room, but if I did, I would clean this too.
  7. The Bed – Ok, I don’t use Lysol for the bed, but I do take the decorative pillows and any cover/coverlet/top blanket and toss them in the corner of the room. Housekeeping doesn’t wash these between guests.

After all this is done, I know that I can sit back and relax, knowing that the place I’m resting my head is clean and in order.

Do you have a routine that you follow when you stay at a hotel? I’d love to hear what you do.

5 Minute Makeup

I failed at today already.

It’s 8:11 in the morning.

I slept through 3 alarms and only crawled out of bed moments before Brian’s alarm went off.

I double booked my morning. I didn’t write a blog post. I ran out of milk. I yelled at the kids.

Anxiety is a killer today.

So, here I am, pressing the reset button. Fixing the things I can, putting priorities back in order and getting back on track.

Have you ever had those days? Nothing seems to go right, but you still need to be put together and look alive when you leave the house?

Having a 5 minute makeup routine helps on days like today.

Let’s start with 3 principles to set the stage.

#1 Organize your makeup
If your makeup station is organized, it’s easier to be able to quickly find the products you want and move on.

#2 Know your favourite products
It’s a good idea to have certain products that you know you love and always seem to work for you. If you want to go one step further, throw them all in a makeup bag so that you can just grab the bag if you are in a hurry.

#3 KISS
Keep it simple, sweetheart. Simple makeup is great for everyday makeup – I mean, who glam is glam, but not necessary.

I have worked to get my makeup routine down to 5-10 minutes. This is the simple routine I have been following:

Step 1 – Moisturizer
L’Oréal Paris Hydra Genius Day & Night Moisturizer

Step 2 – Primer
Maybelline Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser

Step 3 – Foundation
Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation (2N1 Desert Beige)

Step 4 – Bronzer/Contour
Ulta Matte Bronzer (Cool)

Step 5 – Blush
Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush (Paaarty)

Step 6 – Highlighter
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter (Opal)

Step 7 – Mascara
Lancôme Hypnôse Mascara

Step 8 – Lips
Annabelle Lip Liner
NYX Lip Lingerie (Ruffle Trim)

Step 9 – Brows
Tarte Busy Gal Brows Tinted Brow Gel (Taupe)

Step 10 – Setting Spray
Hard Candy Illuminating Setting Spray (Sheer Envy)

5minutemakeup2

Ten steps might seem like a lot, but I can barrel through these steps in a few minutes.

Slap that moisturizer on, wait a few seconds and do the same with the primer.

Throw a few dollops of foundation around your face and blend. The foundations I’ve been trying lately seem to work best with a brush, which works better for me because it’s faster to use a brush.

Once the foundation is blended, quickly blend some bronzer stripes on your cheeks, nose, forehead, under lip, and chin.

Add a few strokes of blush to the balls of your cheeks and strobe some highlighter just above and onto your temples. Don’t forget to highlight the tip of your nose and your cupid’s bow.

Mascara is where you need to take your time – no need poking your eye out with your wand. Plus, if you take your time with mascara, you can separate your lashes nicely and arrange them in a beautiful wispy formation.

Line your lips, top them with lipstick.

Brush through your brows and if needed, add some brow gel.

Now set it all with your spray.

Grab a fan, sit back and take a moment for yourself – and to air dry your face.

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That’s it! Super quick. Super easy.

Do you have a quick every day makeup routine that you follow or do you like doing full-glam every day?

How To Become A Morning Person

Ok, I know, I’m behind on my blog.

Hopefully this video makes up for it.

People always talk about how you’re either a morning person or a night owl. I used to be a morning person, but up until recently I haven’t been a morning person or a night owl – I like to go to bed early and sleep in.

In this video I am going to share with you how I’ve switched my routine to become a morning person.

Let’s start with the reason why I wanted to become a morning person.

Since the end of 2016, mornings have become a sore spot in my life. We’ve kind of gone through an extended period of time where we’ve endured waves of trials and tests in our life with little to no rest in between the waves. As time goes on in this manner, it gets more and more difficult to drag your inner Barbie out of bed each morning. So, I thought I would teach the kids how to get up and get ready on their own without needing me to be awake. Although that is good practice for life, it didn’t prepare them for school in a way that I would ultimately like. A beautiful woman recently encouraged me to cultivate a desire for God within my kids. I instantly knew I needed to start by revamping my morning routine.

Step 1 – The Night Before

Prep is key. It’s hard to get out of bed in the morning if you haven’t had a good rest the night before. I put together a night routine that would help me get adequate rest.

  • Make sure my bedroom is clean (fresh sheets/blankets/etc)
  • Make sure the kitchen is clean (waking up to dirty dishes and clutter adds stress)
  • Nightly skin care routine (wash/moisturize/lavender lip balm)
  • Utilize essential oils to set the atmosphere for sleep (Peace blend)
  • Get to bed by 10pm
  • Set my alarm (I actually have 3 alarms – 2 on my phone and the sunrise one on my bedside table)
  • Have a plan for the morning.

Step 2 – In The Morning

It took me a few tries before I figured out what would work for our family. Personalities and tendencies can all affect how mornings roll in your house. One of the key things I realized is that Violet needs food before she can function in the morning, so asking her to pray/read her Bible before breakfast will likely cause a struggle.

I’ll be real with you – it’s still very hard to drag myself out of bed each morning, but it is getting easier and easier each day because I know the atmosphere I want to cultivate and why I want to do it. That makes the struggle all the more worth it.

Mornings might not be a current strongpoint, but I would encourage you to figure out what it would take to cultivate the right atmosphere in your house each day. Then plan it out, tweak it, and when you’ve found a good groove, stick to it. Know your why – it definitely helps.

Are Gel Nails Really Better Than Acrylics?

When I was a teenager and into my early twenties, before kids, I would change my nail polish to match my outfit pretty well every single day. I’m not just talking a coat of polish, I’m talking all out designs – fingers and toes!

I’m sure if you have kids, you can deduct that that kind of time is non-existent when you’re running after those precious gems. My nails took a bit of a back seat in my beauty regime – I kept them short and rarely ever painted them.

Let’s rewind a bit…

I went to beauty school.

Well, kind of.

I went through to become a nail technician right after highschool because I spent the majority of my free time painting nails. I hated everything about those courses except the designs I could paint. I literally had every shade of nail polish you could think of – and I used every single one.

I absolutely loved painting nails.

One time, my sister and I even went to the hospital to paint a dear friend’s nails. When the other patients around heard what we were doing, they wanted theirs done too. That day was so much fun and one of the best times I’ve ever had in my nail painting career.

Now let’s fast forward to 2018.

I wanted to start getting my nails done again. I started looking for the best technician within driving distance and found John – every time I liked someone’s nails, they would always say ‘John does them.’

My nails grow fast, so unless I want broken nails, I need to go every 3-4 weeks. That can get crazy expensive, so I decided I needed to start thinking outside the box again. You know, that whole no-spend August really impacted my spending. Plus, I get so bored with having the same nail polish design on my nails for 4 straight weeks!

I checked out the price list and saw that acrylics were a good $12 cheaper than the gels that I’ve been getting. I sat and asked myself what the actual difference was between gel and acrylic.

You know what?

I didn’t know.

So, as soon as I got home, I googled it (no internet at the nail salon and the only answer I can get out of a technician is ‘gel is better for your nails’).

This is what I found out:

THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE!!!

Ugh!

So, I read article after article and watched a bunch of videos on it and they all said the same thing – same product, different method.

One video explained that it was like baking a cake – gels are like making a boxed cake and acrylics are like baking a cake from scratch. The smell difference is just because our senses can’t pick up the fumes from the gel (although they are still there and just as potent as the acrylics). The only other difference is the way they are cured – uv or led lights cure the gel, while acrylics cure without any special lights. That difference only matters to the nail technician – gels have more play time and acrylics cure (or set) quickly.

So, even though I went through school for this, I had no idea they were the same thing (in my defense, gels weren’t really a thing back then). My new plan is to get acrylics done at the salon and paint my own designs weekly at home. This will save me $15-$30 every month. Violet is really into painting nails, so it will be great bonding time for us. She came home from school the other day and told me that all her friends think it’s so cool that I’m a nail artist (she has kept all of my old practice nails safe to show them).

I think I’ve shared before that my favourite nail polish is the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri. The opacity of these polishes is stellar – you can absolutely get away with one coat. Plus, they dry so fast that sometimes I’m painting my nails on the way to church. Then, the price point on them is so reasonable! I just bought 9 new colours to try out for Violet’s birthday this weekend.

What nail design trends are your favourites? Let me know in the comments and I will try them out!