#EmptiesChallenge Update 3

Yes, I am still trying to keep this up!

However, you could probably drop the “empties” term from the whole thing and just call it an “empties update” from now on. Because there really was no particular end goal in mind for this, my so-called Empties Challenge has developed into more of a general tracking and analyzing of spending habits.  So, this may be a little boring for you as a reader, but I’m basically going to lay out what my beauty spending has looked like for roughly the past three months and discuss what can be improved and what expenses lie ahead.  I’ll also match it against what I’ve used up and finished at home.

My last update was on January 29th, so I’m just going to focus on purchases and empties for February through April.

I’ve only had five complete empties for this entire time period, and they don’t amount to much: a mini Kerastase Masquintense, Davines Momo conditioner, Burt’s Bees Sensitive facial towelettes, another CoverGirl Clump Crusher mascara, and finally the Sally Hershberger keratin spray.  I am still almost out of a lot of things, like my Acure night cream, Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, UNITE 7 Seconds conditioner spray, my first Glossier Boy Brow, and my Shiseido Ultimune serum that I use at night.  My NARS concealer is still holding on for dear life, too.

It’s frustrating how slowly I manage to go through things (except the Shiseido- I manage to go through serums like water).  Part of what’s happened though is I’ve been trying to use other, lesser-used items in my possession, so that’s put some of the almost-finished ones on hold (especially in the hair department).  I’ve also been going through lots of samples like Kerastase’s Elixir Ultime conditioning mask, but I couldn’t abide the scent of it so I discarded it after one use.  Nevertheless, going through samples has slowed things down too.

This right is here is what a full, daytime skincare routine consists of for me if I’m firing on all cylinders.  Three of these items were gifted to me, two were purchases of the past few months, and one has been with me for a while and is nearly finished.  It’s just a mix of stuff I have going on, so getting through some of the bigger products without being wasteful is a challenge.


Now, let’s look at what I’ve purchased.  And I’ve kind of blown it.  Or at least, it feels that way.

February was the worst.  I bought a BeautyBlender, cleanser for the BeautyBlender, a Becca Mineral blush, and a new Lancome Teint Idole Ultra Longwear Foundation Stick.  That may not sound like much, but it adds up.  I also bought my husband a fancy new beard oil to replace the nice IPA one that my mom got him for Christmas (Go Mom, and yes, IPA beard oils exist!).

March was a little better.  I got a bang trim and a blowout (booked an assistant stylist for a much cheaper price!), but I walked out of the salon with a new Denman brush.  Now, that brush has been exactly what I’ve needed for my bangs, but it was still something like eighteen bucks.  I also purchased the Phase 2 Glossier kit on the day it debuted.  Curse you, Glossier!!!

This month in April I’ve purchased an Ole Henriksen Truth Serum Vitamin C Collagen Booster, and that’s it.  Whew.  My mom and I went out for birthday mani-pedis while she and my dad came out to visit, but I don’t really count that toward this challenge.  Beyond this, I’m declaring a full moratorium on all unnecessary expenses for three weeks (beginning with this past Monday).  The moratorium will end on Monday, May 9th, just in time for  … my dental appointment.

I’m kidding; a dental appointment isn’t exactly a frivolity.  What I’m really saving for is my birthday in the middle of May; specifically, the hair appointment I’ve been thinking of gifting myself with once I’ve saved a little.  And because it’s now about that time, I’ll be needing to book for color, and that has got me a wee bit terrified.  Justin Kamm is the only stylist that has ever colored my hair and since he’s back in CA, I’ve been researching all kinds of options in Chicagoland for weeks.  We’ll see what actually happens within the next couple months, but it’s worth it to nail down a salon out here that I can trust either way.

There aren’t a ton of Davines salons out in this area, so I’ve been looking into a couple Aveda ones since I really love and trust the brand.  Then there’s the question of Do I go big and book a high-end salon in the city?  Or is it more a thing of Trust the junior stylist that did a great job with your bangs/blowout and just say a few prayers?  The junior stylist’s prices will obviously be much more reasonable, but there’s also the fact that if it doesn’t turn out the way I’d hoped, the loss wouldn’t feel so detrimental.  It’s one thing to have a junior stylist in the next town over make some boo-boos with your hair that you can easily have corrected, and that you paid a discount price for; it’s another thing to book an expensive salon an hour away, have crazy high expectations, pay a ton of money, and then, if the worst happens, have to awkwardly try and tell these highly-reputed folks that you don’t like what they’ve done.  And then if I had to make a second trip back into the city for corrections?  Quelle horreur!  But like I said before, we’ll see what happens.

All that to say, I’m still attempting to plug away at my current stash of goods and put off appointments when I can afford to.  Even though it’s hard and purchases have cropped up here and there, it’s going to feel good to get through these next three weeks without buying anything.  Along with the hair appointment, I’m hoping to save for Alterna’s Caviar CC Cream, Laura Mercier’s Secret Brightening Powder, and perhaps a lighter fragrance for summer.  You feel the sunshine coming out from hiding in such a powerful way out here; you can’t help but want to celebrate with all five of your senses!  xo, MR


What I Brought Home From My Vacation

My Christmas vacation this year consisted of a trip back to southern California, where the sun shined unbelievably for the full nine days that we were there.  What a beautiful time it was.  I had flapjacks with Dad, went on a traditional shopping excursion with Mom, laughed my butt off with my family as we celebrated Christmas, stood basking in the warmth of Laguna Beach, saw so many friends that I love, managed to squeeze in quality time with a few of them, and just had an all-around great time being around people and places that I’ve missed.

But of course, me being me, I couldn’t resist listing what I got out of this trip that pertains to the nature of this blog.  Namely, what beauty experiences did I walk away with during my time in the Golden state?

A new appreciation for flying

This trip involved my first flying experience in over four years.  While the flight into California was ridiculously turbulent (as in the-captain-issued-a-preemptive-apology kind of tubulent), the flight back was actually quite pleasant.  I enjoyed a couple issues of Elle and InStyle, a Korean serum mask, and a very small glass of Bailey’s just for fun.


Adding the tiniest bit of luxury to my flight almost made it feel like a borderline chic experience.  Hey, when you’re flying second class and your knees are touching the awkward, hungover twenty-one-year-old’s knees next to you, you kinda have to make it work, even if it means that twenty-one-year-old almost jumping out of his chair at the sight of you wearing a creepy Hannibal mask next to him.

A serious Sephora haul

Now that you’ve heard me complain a couple times about how dry my skin is over here, you’ll be glad to know that my mom-in-law came through with two products that I’m so excited for, and a couple that I picked up myself thanks to a generous gift card from my mom.


I’d wanted to try an oil cleanser since my skin starting drying out over here, and my mom-in-law came through for me with this one.  I received Erborian’s Solid Oil Cleanser as one of my gifts.  Out of curiosity, I took home a sample of this from Sephora and it is some dreamy stuff, let me tell you.  It smells so fresh and relaxing, with a spa-like green tea fragrance.  The unique consistency is that of a thick, stiff goop, but take a minute or two to really massage it into your dry skin.  It is delicious.

According to the Korean double-cleanse method, you’re then supposed to follow an oil cleanser with a foaming cleanser (though I’m sure the oil cleanser is probably enough for most people).  I’ll be using Ole Henriksen’s Empower Foaming Milk Cleanser (once I finish what I currently have), which also smells relaxing and calming.  I’ve been so into finding scents that lift my spirits lately.  Doing little things like enjoying a smell, or listening to soothing sounds, treating yourself to a coffee, or doing a relaxing yoga session in your apartment are things I used to right off as sad, temporary attempts at trying to avoid reality and ignore life’s troubles.  Now I realize they’re just ways of enjoying your freaking life.  And another small way of enjoying life- dry shampoo.  The highly reputable Living Proof formula was also a Christmas gift, and it’s especially helpful for managing the new hairy addition to my forehead I came home with (see below).

My own Sephora picks include Alterna’s Caviar Replenishing Moisture Shampoo, Shiseido Ultimate Power Infusing Concentrate, and Origins A Perfect World SPF25 Age-Defense moisturizer.  I’ve used all three of these items before and I enjoy each of them.  After running out of my fourth bottle of Rahua shampoo, I’m choosing to give it a break and focus on intense moisture throughout the winter with my hair, especially as I grow it out.  The Alterna is great for that.  Concerning the Shiseido, I have said that I like Caudalie’s Vinosource serum better and I believe I still do.  However, Caudalie is good for intense moisture but it doesn’t necessarily help with other areas of concern like spots, etc.  The Shiseido is a little more geared toward all areas, so I’m going to see how well it multitasks.  And the Origins moisturizer is a nice one that I’ve been using for a while now.  I’ll stick with it.

My only bummer was having my new bottle of Fresh Seaberry Restorative Body Cream, a gift from my sis-in-law, detained by TSA because the bottle was too big.  Poop.  Once again Mom saves the day by sticking around just long enough at the airport for my husband to run it back to her so she can ship it out.

A super-dark manicure

Ever since growing my nails back, man, I am addicted to painting them.  I do darks, nudes, or a true red.  For my manicure that I got with my mama (thanks, Mom!!), I chose OPI’s Lincoln Park After Dark, a cult fave, for New Year’s and to go with my mostly basic wardrobe that I’d packed for the trip.  It’s a really deep purple that is barely distinguishable from black, but that’s why I like it.  Once you catch the color in the right light, you see the eggplant hue shining through.  It can work as an interesting accessory (and yes, I consider painted nails an accessory).

So, here’s the best shot I got of them, which also happens to be the best shot I got of an extremely fancy-pants bathroom at the Montage in Laguna.  Two for one.



Because I knew I’d be able to book an appointment with Justin at Salon 9, I had to take the opportunity.  I’ve been rocking a mid-length, rather grown out ombre’d lob since summer, and I figured I could go for a couple small-ish changes.  We darkened things a bit and went for a richer brunette while still leaving some shimmering highlights within the length.  The real addition here though, is the new arrival of bangs.  Whew.  I had forgotten what a commitment they are, but I really want to make them work this time.  I mean, really.  I want long hair down to my chest like I had before, but now with long bangs.  I want bangs to be part of my integral look for a while, so I’m in it for the long haul.  And don’t make fun of my robe or slight-smeared eyeliner here.  I’m wearing MAC’s kohl liner in Smolder, which I consider my Jack Sparrow liner because it always smears and you just have to roll with it.  A pirate’s life for me.


What this has meant so far is styling them every day, somehow.  I can’t get away with just throwing everything up in a bun and leaving the bangs scraggly and bent out of shape after getting out of bed; they have to be styled.  I mean, there’s looking French, and then there’s looking hungover-French.  Bangs cowlicked up past your forehead can put you in hungover-French territory, so styling them is a necessity.  Sometimes this means just tweaking with a flat-iron, sometimes it means wetting and washing them and starting all over.  It’s very difficult not to fuss with them throughout the day, but you have to remember that their shape doesn’t need to be perfect.  Gone are the days when bangs needed to be precisely uniform and round brushed, so the look still isn’t as high-maintenance as it might’ve been, say, seven years ago.  You can get away with a much more laissez-faire feel now, but you still need to make sure things look cohesive.


For me personally, I think bangs are a good exercise in self-maintenance and forming a consistent routine of trying.  I very much look forward to the care and keeping of them.  Cheers to caring more in 2016!  xo, MR

Short and Back Again: A Hair Addict’s Tale

And if you don’t get the Tolkien reference in the title, I can’t help you with life.

If you have known me personally, you have known that I have been on nothing short of a hair quest, a hair saga, a hair journey to the Misty Mountains and back again, since about 2010.  It has been bizarre, to say the least.  I have reached the heights of beach waved, ombre’d glory, only to somehow look in the mirror on some depressed afternoon a month later and not like what I see.  For no good reason.

That’s what’s been bizarre about it.  I’ve been chasing down something with my hair for years, and yet when I look back at pictures from just two months prior I think Good God, Lemon!  Why did you ever complain?!  And yet, there’s still that hair moment that I haven’t landed on.  And it’s strange because I truly feel that I’ve had so many great hair moments!  I don’t know what I’m waiting for.  Maybe the cause is ungratefulness.  Maybe it’s comparison.  Maybe the dissatisfaction comes from an itch for change that doesn’t actually need to be scratched.  I think if I could sum up my hair chronicles in a song it would probably be U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.  It’s been DRAMA, guys.  I have run, I have crawled, I have scaled these city walls …

But anyhow, Bono and I digress.

So let me just recount my hair journey from the past six months.  That’s it.  And that’s probably all you can handle; you would hate me otherwise.  I can go on and on about my own hair chronicles.  Trust me- my friends know it.  It’s one of my more narcissistic habits that I’m ashamed of until I get started (and then I can’t stop).  But then again, I could go on and on about your hair too, probably.  Man, I reeeeally wanna braid someone’s hair right now.

In January of 2015, I had long, brown hair.  I would put it in ponytails.  I would curl it.  I would put it up in topknots.  I will never again complain about long hair simply for the fact that you can do so much with it.  I miss sleek, long ponytails that feel very fashion forward.  I miss pretending to be a Victoria’s Secret model (a nice little game to play with yourself).  But as is common, I had an itch for change.  Pinterest, friends’ haircuts, and trends will do that to you.  And sure enough, in either late January, Justin Kamm cut my hair into a lob and lightened it up as well.  I keep trying to make a permanent mental note that I ultimately don’t feel like myself with completely dark hair, but about every 16 months or so, I forget and then return to my senses a few months later.  It’s not that I hate it or think it’s a bad look; I just think the lighter bits are more flattering.



But then, on Friday, April 3rd, I decided to go for the most drastic haircut I’ve ever had.  By that point I’d known for about one month that we would be moving to Chicagoland, and something in me just needed to go for it.  I had always wished that I could see what my hair would look like short, but fear always kept me from making the chop.  I’d been comfortable and at ease with my long-ish hair that I’d had all my life, but I sort of came to the realization that it’s just hair (and not my identity), and it can grow back.  Moreover, I felt that if I can make the push out to the Midwest, I can also make the push to cut my hair.  It was time to face the unknown.

And so, once again, Justin worked his magic.



The cut was a bit of a shock for me.  I was in foreign territory.  I know it’s not the shortest cut you’ve ever seen (obvi), but it’s a funny thing when you suddenly become conscious of just how much you’ve been hiding behind your hair your whole life.  When you feel that breeze on your bare neck and reach back only to find nothing to sweep over your shoulder, you feel vulnerable and exposed.  It’s just your face sticking out there!  No long princess curls or beachy waves to toss around and taut as your pride and joy; no feeling of safety that Oh, I don’t feel confident about my face today, but at least I’ve got my long hair.  Nope.  And even while the cut may be a lovely expression in itself, when people look at you, they’re really not seeing all your hair like before (or at least that’s how we tend to perceive these things on ourselves).  There’s some hair, but what the eye now sees from the clavicle and up is pretty much just your face.

And with that, I found that when you cut your hair short, you really have to own it.  Like, you have to own the crap out of short hair.  You have to own it like it’s your job and like it’s the best haircut people have ever seen, even on days when you’re feeling unsure and you actually have no idea what other people are thinking.  You have to be intentional about it and go with it when it’s messy and when it’s styled.  In the weeks following the cut, there were moments when I felt so cool and so French in a way I’d never felt with long hair.  And then there were days when I sensed people were trying to backhandedly tell me that my hair was the most unprofessional, unkempt mess they’d ever seen.  And you know what happens when you own it both days, either way?  You love it.  You really, really love it.


Once the cut started growing out a bit, it really hit the sweet spot. It gained a little more bounce and I started finding my own way around it.  With short hair you discover that just the smallest changes make a big impact- tucking it behind the ear on one side, a change in part, flipping it all the way over the opposite side a’ la Riawna Capri and all the bajillions of LA-based platinum blonde mid-lengthers that she inspired with Julianne Hough (and yes, if you’re from LA and you’ve gone white-platinum mid-length and flipped your hair to one side, you can thank Riawna Capri for that – not kidding).

But sure as the sun rises, I came to find that the longer my hair grew, the more excited I would get about styling it.  I think I just love the process of growing it out and playing with it.  Even in writing this, I’m coming to find that when it comes to hair I sort of live for the journey.  In most things, I actually do try to live for the destination as I believe that a journey doesn’t amount to much without a meaningful endpoint, but with hair, I’m different.  With hair, it’s all about the cliiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimb.



However, with the impending move, I knew that I’d need to stop by Salon 9 one final time for updated color.  I wanted to add more blonde, and in preparation for growing it out long I also wanted to even out the a-line so the back wasn’t too much shorter than the front.  And with that …


Blonder, a little more even, and ready to grow through autumn.  I loved the texture of this cut and I can only hope that it isn’t lost in the growth or by some poor hair stylist who gives me a trim out here and hacks it into oblivion.  That being said, I do have a couple helpers that have been upping my texture and styling game lately.

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I’ve been using Bumble and bumble’s Thickening DrySpun Finish for a long time now.  It does basically the same thing as Oribe’s Dry Texture but costs half the price.  The scent is amazing (and I know, Oribe’s is amazing too) and it works as a hybrid of dry shampoo, hair spray, and volumizer.  I love it.  Their Don’t Blow It creme is pretty good for me these days, too.  It apparently doesn’t work well on hair that’s already curly or frizzy, but it’s pretty good for my natural texture.  A little scrunching helps, and my natural wave is enhanced without the frizz (or ANY effort).  And the R&Co Jackpot styling creme is what I use for smooth looks right now.  I bought this half-used bottle from a hairstylist at Salon 9 for five bucks.  I use it on blowouts or when I’m sleeking back my hair, but it’s also good for men’s styles.  Just be careful- the scent is nice but powerful, and too much can be a bit overwhelming.  I also continue to use Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist, but you’ve heard me blab about that on here before.

I’m excited to continue my growth process and see where the road leads me, but for now, I’m trying to enjoy my just-above-shoulder length.  Cheers to enjoying what you have!  xo, MR

An Autobiographical Top Shelf

This post is done in the style of Into The Gloss’s Top Shelf feature, which I’ve been obsessed with for about five years now.  So basically, I’m pretending I’m being interviewed by Emily Weiss on all the products I love, in my own home, complete with “professional” photos/selfies.  Fake it ’till you make it, right?

My routine is hard to explain briefly.  I’ll say this, though- I am not low maintenance when I don’t have to be.  There’s no shame in that.  I’m addicted to haircare, skincare, makeup, all that, but I really don’t afford myself much time to enjoy it on a daily basis.  I either want to spend an hour getting ready just the way I like, or I want to be out the door in five minutes.  All or nothing.  It’s part of how I appreciate beauty- I hate doing any of it halfheartedly.  One of my least favorite things is when I try to quickly wiggle on some mascara in the morning on the way to work and then it turns out all sloppy and incomplete by my standards.  It’s not worth it.  I’d rather bite the bullet and go bare.


So, what I do depends on the day.  If I have time, I start from the bottom layer and work up, though I try to make the skincare thing happen every day.  I typically begin with a serum, and I’ve decided Caudalie’s S.O.S Thirst Quenching Serum is the best.  I tried Shiseido’s Ultimune, but I like Caudalie’s better for the money.  It feels so fresh on my skin, sometimes I forget to put on moisturizer afterwards.  It’s been hard to pin down a great moisturizer for me because I’m always looking for something natural, but effective and with SPF that doesn’t leave a weird residue.  I’ve been using Origins A Perfect World Moisturizer these past couple months.  It smells amazing and has SPF 25.  I’ve also like Desert Essence’s Daily Essential Defense Moisturizer from Sprout’s or Whole Foods, but it wouldn’t absorb well when it was hot out so I continued my hunt.  When I checked out Origins, the lady helping me gave me a quick facial and she talked me into the toner from the same line.  I haven’t used toner in forever because I feel it’s unnecessary and drying, but this stuff felt tingly and actually left my skin moisturized.  There’s a lot of white tea in it.  We’ll see if I keep it up.

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For face wash, I alternate between Origins and Desert Essence, which is entirely made of oils and some castile soap.  It sounds basic, but there’s a ton of random stuff in it like bladderwrack extract and goldenseal root extract that I hadn’t even heard of before using it.  For a night cream, I’ve been using Acure’s for a couple years and it’s really rich with lavender and chamomile.  It’s very calming.  I think they sell it at Target now, but it’s been at Whole Foods forever.  For zits, I’m pretty faithful to Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion.  My husband loves it too.  I try to just leave zits alone for the most part these days; I find that doing anything to try and “heal” them just aggravates them or doesn’t quicken their disappearance.  Sometimes I’ll do a mask if I’m just watching Netflix late at night.  I’ll use Lancome’s Hydra Intense Masque.  It’s super cooling and smells amazing; I love putting on some I Love Lucy and having a late-night snack when I do a mask.  Best ritual ever!  I’ll also use Origins’ Clear Improvement charcoal mask for porous areas; the lady who gave me the facial at Origins gave it to me for free!  I like face wipes too, and my favorite are the Yes To Cucumbers kind.  I can’t tell you how many packs of those my mom has jammed into my Christmas stocking over the years.  I buy them in bulk at Target.

The one thing that’s still sort of a mystery to me is eye cream.  I like ones that are cooling and depuffing, and I like rollerball kinds best because they’re more sanitary than dabbing your finger into a jar of cream and then putting it on your eye.  Simple Skincare makes a good one, as does First Aid Beauty, but I don’t know.  I’m just not there yet.


My hair stylist knows I’m a major product addict.  The funniest thing has been when I’ve asked him about products from lines that he uses before they’re even out yet or before he’s heard about them!  I read about hair stuff in magazines and then I want to go out and try it.  New hair products are what I get most excited about, so I’ve tried a lot but I can finally say I have favorites.  I wash my hair every three or four days, and I alternate between two shampoos.  I’ve been using Rahua’s shampoo for over three years now, and it’s pricey but I feel absolutely no guilt using or purchasing it because it’s so natural.  There’s really no soap in it.  It’s another product made up mostly of oils.  I’ll use another shampoo every other wash, typically an Aveda one like their Color Conserve or Dry Remedy.  I’ll try anything for conditioner.  I’ve been obsessed with conditioners since my late teens because I was always trying to find ones that would make my hair grow or repair it, but I don’t really believe conditioner does that anymore.  I’ve used one from Davines for a long time called Momo; I love it.  I’ll also ask for Kerastase samples from my friend who works at a L’Oreal salon because I can’t afford Kerastase, but their deep conditioners have the craziest reputations so I’m always desperate to try them.  I also like Alterna, mostly their treatments from their Caviar line.  They’re good for when I want to grow my hair out.  I use Unite’s 7 Seconds Leave-In Conditioner to detangle with a wide-tooth comb after I wash, but I think I like Bumble and Bumble’s Prep spray better for this.  I’ll go back to it after I run out of the Unite.  The Prep spray has hops and rosemary, the latter of which is good for lice prevention.  I work around kids, and lice is one of those things that you can’t really avoid if you’re in that environment.  It’s part of life, so you just have to do what you can.  Tea tree oil works well for this too, by the way.

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For styling, I’m a sucker for anything to do with texture.  Living Proof’s Instant Texture Mist is great for giving that pliable “chunk” feel that I love for hair, and I also like Bumble And Bumble’s stylers like their Dryspun Finish and Cityswept Finish.  If it mattifies, gives texture, or extends a blowout, I’ll try it.  Anything for the second- or third-day hair look.  I like Oribe’s Apres Beach Wave And Shine Hairspray too, though my hair does “beachy” really well on it’s own.  I love Oribe’s products for their scent.  And the best dry shampoo in the world is Klorane’s, hands down.  The non-aerosol kind has stretched out so much time between washes for me.  It can make your scalp itchy if you put too much on and don’t brush it out, but it’s still the best.  The drugstore kinds suck.  If I want a smooth or blown-out look I’ll use R&Co’s Jackpot Styling Creme.  The scent is intense but it stretches out my hair beautifully, and the effect lasts around three days.

I got into the R&Co stuff because my salon started carrying it.  I go to Salon 9 in Orange, and I’ve been going to Justin Kamm for nearly ten years!  He’s a genius.  He teaches workshops and is part of the cutting team for Davines.  We finally, FINALLY cut my hair past my shoulders just this weekend.  I’ve always had my hair long or mid-length, because I love long hair and I love playing with it.  I miss topknots and ponytails and long waves, but the bob that Justin gave me feels so right.  It’s good to do at least once, and I’m surprised at how comfortable I feel with it.  I feel reeeeeally French.  And the best part is, all those texture products work so well with this cut.  I still put a bit of wave in it with my Hot Tools iron, but roughing it up with some kind of product gives it that grit that I’m always after.



Makeup is tricky.  I’ve tried a ton, but over the years I’ve come to find that I’m actually really picky and haven’t tried quite as much as other people (which is encouraging).  Makeup is expensive, and I take forever to run out of anything so buying too much is a really wasteful choice for me.  I don’t use primer much, but I like BeneFit’s The Porefessional when I do makeup for brides.  It feels silky.  I like to use Clarins’ Beauty Flash Balm on myself and then immediately put on powder or foundation once it absorbs.  I prefer this to primer.  It sort of gives skin a brightening effect.  For foundation, I love Bare Minerals’ Original SPF Foundation because it still leaves a glow.  I don’t like a matte skin finish; I’m all about dewy skin and mattified hair.  The opposite feels too Vegas or Miss America for me.  If I want a liquid foundation, Lancome’s Teint Miracle is nice but I still haven’t landed on a favorite.  I just don’t think I like liquid foundation.  I even have a BB Cream that I like but I just don’t use it too often.  You can’t escape the feeling of liquid makeup on your face, which I hate.  I immediately want to take it off.  Concealer is nearly always Yves Saint Laurent’s Touche Eclat in Luminous Vanilla.  I used to hate it, and I’m not sure why.  It’s the most lightweight formula I can find that still gives coverage.  However, I’m not too concerned anymore with getting rid of dark circles anymore because for some reason, I like them now.  They seem to give a touch of character.  A heavy concealer under the eyes looks too finished for me.  You need that bit of wear in your face.

NARS Bronzer in Laguna is pretty standard, and I’ll try almost any blush.  NARS has the best ones.  I’ve liked their creme formula in Lokoum for a long time but I think it’s discontinued.  Their other powder shades are bonkers; I love Exhibit A and Liberte.  MAC has a gorgeous one from their Mineralize line called Warm Soul.  It super pretty for everyday, but mineral blush on top of mineral powder it can make your skin look funny.  I like it on bare skin.  MAC’s Plum Foolery is also good; I wore it for my wedding day and my mom wears it, too.  I have a couple Chanel blushes too, but I hate to admit that I bought them because they were honestly just too expensive and frankly, MAC and NARS make better ones.  The Chanel ones have perfume in them.  You feel glamorous putting them on, but they’re a murderous, stupid splurge.  Spend that kind of money on groceries or not at all, for God’s sake.

Eye makeup is a journey for me.  I take forever to decide what I’m going to do with my eyes.  Eyeshadow feels like such a commitment, which is probably why I wear it the least out of anything.  It’s takes me a lot of time and concentration, and I always need to put shadow primer on if I’m going to do it because it makes such an undeniable difference.  I think I like purple shadows on myself best.  It’s just enough of an interesting color to feel special, and it does wonders for brown eyes.  MAC’s Sketch and Embark are good.  I bought the Embark because it’s the closest thing I could find that matches this special edition Victoria’s Secret eyeshadow I have.  Christian Siriano from Project Runway did a collection for them a long time ago and it included this eyeshadow that is literally perfect.  It’s matte, smooth, has amazing concentration, and is this deep purple-brown shade called Royalty that, of course, ended with the collection.  I’m going through it really slowly, but I love using it for smokey eyes.  A lot of that stuff with a ton of MAC’s kohl liner in Feline, and boosh- I feel like Catwoman.  If I’m really going for it I’ll use Urban Decay’s eye pencil in Vice, too, and smudge it out.  The best is when a smokey eye looks sweaty and sparkly, like a hazy night at Studio 54 in 1978. This pencil does that.  Oh and my mascara is pretty much exclusively CoverGirl.  I swear, theirs are the best.

Lips are simple.  I do very little, unless it’s something like a red lip.  I like lip colors that look like just a bit of something, because I usually like to focus on my eyes.  A lot of times it’s just a few swipes of Burt’s Bees.  Everything I like tends to be pinky-nude.  I’ve liked Dior’s Addict lipstick in Tulle, L’Oreal’s Colour Riche Balm in Nourishing Nude, and Yves Saint Laurent’s Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain in Nude Provocateur.  I guess I gravitate toward balm stains, or gloss balms, or all those hybrid formulas we see these days.  Nothing too lipstick-y.  An exception would be NARS’ lip pencils.  Those are brilliant.

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Oh!  I almost forgot about brows.  I use one thing- CK One’s Brow Pencil and Gel Duo in Crafty Raven.  I like thick, groomed eyebrows, but I hate how many rules and standards there are with them these days.  They have to be perfectly shaped, tapered, filled in, not too thin, all that.  I’m not into it, and same goes for the contouring craze.  It’s just too much, too Kim with all the banana powder and shading and all that.  I’m not into tricks that transform your face into another face, though it’s cool that it can be done.  I like to look like myself, but with a bit of a wink I guess.  That’s the best for me, at least.  xo, MR

Vacation all I ever wanted.

I’ve just returned from a near-perfect vacation.  What I love is the fact that I barely had to travel to really feel a sense of escape for this getaway- I live in Orange County, and we traveled no more than three hours at a time for a four-day trip to Santa Barbara.

The first 48 hours consisted of beach camping at the El Capitan State Beach with my husband’s college students, and then it was a stay in town on State Street for our anniversary (with just the two of us … don’t worry).  One of the week’s most glorious moments consisted of our day on the shore with the college group.  It had been foggy and gloomy for the previous twelve hours on the campgrounds, and we feared that our time on the beach later that day might bring more of the same.  Don’t get me wrong- I think dreary beaches are actually gorgeous.  However, I’d packed my swimsuit (and not my coffee mug and blankie) and it had just been so, so long since I’d had one of those quintessential California beach lay-outs.  Well, maybe that’s a lie.  I had gone to the beach near home by myself one week earlier, but unbeknownst to me I had only enough quarters for an hour!  *sobs* Help me I’m poooooor!!!!  So needless to say, I was ready for the kind of sunshine that doesn’t fool around, and I was ready to plant my patooty in the sand and not budge for a good while.

And, come one-o-clock in the afternoon, that’s exactly what we got.  The skies didn’t have anything to offer but pure, unmitigated supply of Sweet D for a good five hours, and I was in heaven.  But let me ask you something … What is heaven without hair color to go with it?  Tell me!  TELL ME!


I only wish I’d gotten a picture of the out-of-control awesome braid my friend Jourdan whipped my hair into for our beach day, but alas, I was too distracted pretending to be a mermaid.  Thanks Jourdan!  I was only too excited to play around with my hair this week because the color had just been refreshed in the most delightful of ways thanks to my trusted stylist Justin at Salon 9.  And I’m at the point where I can conclusively say that I do indeed prefer my hair with some lightness to it.  It’s just happier.

But regarding this image specifically, here are my locks as they were after I had them blown out at the 1329 Salon and Spa on State Street.  I have this vacation tradition that I started during my honeymoon that involves hunting down a random salon and having either a pedicure or my hair blown out.  I just love meeting different stylists and checking out how different salons do their thing.  I remember the salon I stopped by on my honeymoon was super swanky and only used Kerastase products, and the staff had recently styled hair for New York Fashion Week as a team.  But then, on a different occasion, I stopped by somewhere a little out of my way for a blow-out around Christmas and the salon I happened upon was really old.  The product selection was a little piecemeal, the floors were checkered black-and-white, they had oldies playing on a radio, and I honestly couldn’t understand what my sweet stylist was saying half the time.  But I walked out with the most incredible blow-out!  You just never know what you’ll find.  And that’s the fun of it.

1329 Salon is only two months old, and my stylist, Jenna, had only been there for about five weeks (and they’re looking to hire four more stylists, so if you’re licensed in the SB area, here’s your chair!).  I’d been walking up and down State Street doing some shopping and I literally just walked through the door and asked if anyone could take a walk-in client for a blow-out.  Jenna used a flat-iron to create loose waves in my hair, and she tried to tutor me as best as she could so that I could mimic the technique myself (and we used my favoritest picture EVER of Jessica Biel for inspiration).  Jenna got me blushing though when she kept going on about my new precious highlights.  That’s always a major win for both you and your colorist:  when another stylist takes a moment to look through your whole head of hair while saying “Oh yeah.  Oh yeah.  These are great.”  *happy squeals*  So needless to say (because the shameless selfie says it all), I was more than happy with my experience.  Cheers, Jenna!  I hope you read this!

So, I’m home now.  And my vacation is now nothing more than memories and Instagram files.  But part of me feels like I get to keep vacation with me in the form of my hair as it is now (I know, that sounds creepy like I constantly have something hidden in my hair … Don’t worry, the most you’ll find is probably some bobby pins or a bird).  And tell me, who doesn’t want vacation hair?!  xo, MR

Ode to Salon 9 feat. Justin Kamm. And no, this is not a song I wrote.

This post has been a long time coming. I mean a loooooong time coming. In fact, I’d argue that it probably should’ve been one of the first posts I’ve ever published. I’ve talked about my hair stylist and the salon I go to quite a few times, but let’s face it- I owe a lot to Justin Kamm and his home base at Salon 9.

Salon 1

In the summer of 2006, I needed a change. I’d been going to the same salon and same stylist as my mom for all my life. It hadn’t been bad, but I just felt like I wasn’t owning my hair. And perhaps I felt like I just wanted someone closer to my age managing it with me (not that this stylist was particularly old or anything, just a difference in generation). So a friend recommended Salon 9 to me, and she recommended the name of a female stylist there that she liked. I called, tried to book said stylist (and I’ve completely forgotten her name- she may not even be there any more), but she was unavailable. And so I was offered an appointment with Justin at the salon instead. BAM! Destiny.

Salon 2

The salon changed locations from an awkwardly-located shopping strip near some train tracks to the incredible Old Town Orange area in Orange, California around over two years ago. I can’t emphasize how enviable Salon 9’s spot is compared to where they were, but what really blew my mind was that the salon moved just as I was, in fact, moving to Orange too. BAM! Destiny. It couldn’t have worked out better. I’ve also watched the salon transition from one that relied on Bumble&bumble products (overrated, in my opinion) to the lesser-known lines of Arrojo and Davines. I’ve loved that the salon has sort of gone off the beaten path recently and taken on these extremely effective product lines as their mainstays. I’d been reading about Davines in various magazines for some time but could never find their product anywhere. Now I know where to find the whole line, five minutes away from my home. I am all about the Oi Absolute Beautifying Oil (works better than MoroccanOil) and the Momo conditioner for dry hair these days. In the future summer days I’ll probably be looking into the SU Sun Oil when I want to condition it as I lay on the beach.

Salon 3

Salon 4

For the past coming-on-seven years I’ve relied on Justin as my “hair mechanic”, as I call him to my friends. He fixes things. He improves things. He suggests things. He says when I don’t need things. He says when I do need things. He makes my hair such that I receive compliments from others. And the most awesome part of it is that he executes it all with precision and professionalism. I know that word ‘professionalism’ can seem a bit stuffy and distant, but I use it because Justin has continued to invest in his education and trade over the years. He instructs at workshops, attracts crowds at conventions, and is garnering more and more attention as his relationship with Davines has grown. He and a fellow hairstylist recently developed a start-up called LoveTHECraft, a creative space meant to encourage stylists to come together and share their visions, learn from one another, and be creative in a profession where it sometimes can be a lot more mundane than the average folk (like myself) would think. Oh, and he has a family. And he just Instagrammed a picture of his homemade stuffed portobello mushrooms. So basically, he isn’t any I-mindlessly-cut-your-hairs-and-then-I-go-home-and-derp-around stylist. He’s got serious chops, and if you’ve ever liked anything about my own hair whether in cut or color, you can credit that to Justin. Oh HAYYYY, Justin!

Salon 5

I know I spend money on makeup and skincare (though not as much as some of you may imagine), but there are ways that I can justify cutting corners and saving a buck in these areas. The same goes with clothes. However, I never have a problem forking out for the cash for my hair at this place. Ever. You wear you hair every day. It’s the accessory that you can’t take off and will still be there where you’re sixty, so invest in it. I will say, however, that what I’ve been consistently charged at Salon 9 for cut, color, and styling has been extremely reasonable when I’ve compared it to other rates. I don’t want to name an exact price because I don’t want to create particular expectations for other possible clients that may take in more expensive services, but let me insist that whenever I’ve revealed to my friends how much I pay for hair services, the most common reaction has been eyeballs popping out of their sockets followed by, “That’s reeeeeeeeeeeeeeally goooooooood”. I mean it. And I ask around to compare, too. I’ll put it to you this way: At a different salon, I got charged more for a blow-out than what I’ve been charged for a blow-out and color at Salon 9. And no, I didn’t get this blow-out done by Chris McMillan in Beverly Hills (and just so you know who he’s responsible for…). I got it done at a salon in the same city as Salon 9, which happened to be open on a day when Justin doesn’t work and I was feeling adventurous. It’s a high price that Frodo had to pay for adventuring off to Mordor, and it was a high price I paid for that little adventure of my own. Frodo and I should’ve known better.


I can’t encourage you enough to visit this place in you’re in the Orange County area and if you’re interested in cultivating an awesome head of hair (or heck, get your butt out here even if you’re in Delaware … WORTH IT.). And of course, I also can’t encourage you enough to ask for Justin when you do visit. It pays off to invest in your local salons and invest in a stylist, because have no doubt- it is their job to make you look your best, it supports the free enterprise of individuals, and they invest in you. xo, MR

Oh, hair.

Have you ever gone through pictures and looked at how your hair has changed through the years? I recently perused through my photos that I’ve had uploaded to my drive, and holy smokes– I only went as far back as 2008, and I am a completely different person. Completely. I know I’ve done posts on my hair journey before, but there’s something to seeing it and chronicling it in pictures. I’ve become so much more educated on how to take care of my hair and I’ve become so much more aware of how I like it within the past couple years that I’m not quite sure what I was doing with it everyday beforehand. Was I in tears every day? Was I cutting my own bangs out of a deep need for control in my life? Was I expressing a constant struggle with anxiety by curling every half-inch strand around a small curling rod until I looked like I just had a pile of springs on top of my head? What was any of this accomplishing?! I JUST DON’T UNDERSTAND!

October 2008 hair

This was when I thought I was cool. Well actually, that’s a problem I consistently have so that could likely be said for each picture here. But this was when I thought I was really cool. This was one of the first times when Justin colored my hair (a couple shades darker), and my cut was super-razored, super-layered, and super-textured. I wanted stick-straight hair back then, but I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t like it so much when I achieved it every once in a while. I finally realized that flat-against-the-head straight just isn’t flattering on my face shape, which is somewhat narrow. I look best with a little volume.

November 2008 hair

BUT NOT THIS KIND. This was maybe one or two months after the last photo, and I would trim my own bangs in little fits of impatience. Oh God. WHY?! I would rough up my hair at the top because I thought it looked edgy. Just … no.

May 2009 hair

Maybe six months later, and we’ve landed on this in May of 2009. The curl in my hair really came out with all the layers, clearly. My bangs are growing out slowly here, and so I would try to brush them to the side, but I’m pretty sure I was employing the dreaded “curly hair with straight bangs” look. Bad. But I had fun with this hair; I’d finally started using tools besides a straightener and so that was exciting.


This is my hair in October of 2009. I remember this being the first time that I felt extremely proud of how I’d done my makeup and my hair. I’d been skilled with the makeup brushes for quite some time by then, but this was one of those days when I set aside the time, I knew I was going to be in front of an audience, and I wanted it to look perfect. I also had Justin put in my first set of highlights that summer, and I’d wanted them to look grown out a bit by this point (a preview of my love for ombre’, all the way back in 2009!). This was probably when things started to take a permanent turn for the better …

February 2010 hair

… but apparently I still had an obsession with curling my hair with a one-inch iron. I’d gone back to a single-process color by this point, which was February of 2010. I liked the look at the time, but such curling madness without at least a little brushing out would be a no-no these days.


Ah, summer 2010 hair. This I loved. We cut it shorter and put in some new, sunny highlights. This was also the first year that I started actually enjoying summer. I’d always considered myself a fall/winter girl, but some trips to the beach alone along with tracking my severe dip in mood and energy during the winter lead me to realize that the sunshine may actually be quite good for me. The hair matched.

Fall 2010 hair

And then I went dark again, just for autumn of 2010. This was a rough season for me and for some reason, and the hair just brought me down. I should’ve kept up with the highlights, but I wanted “fall hair” and I felt that that meant it needed to be darker (and Meesh, you were blonde!!). I still wasn’t the greatest at styling it on my own, though (and I don’t know what was up with my eyebrows or face either– I look funny and I’m not sure why). However, hope was on the horizon- Jessica Biel had debuted an incredible hair style that became known as “ombre” during her press tour for “The A-Team” during that past summer. I’d been trying to go for something similar about a year beforehand and had adored the natural “roots” look, and here was a celebrity showing off the very look I’d wanted for so long (and all before it literally EXPLODED and devolved into the strange dip-dyed Pinterest-pandered look I see everywhere now). And so, in late December of 2010, Justin and I put our heads together and he gave me my first ombre’d hair.


I loved this. I LOVED this. It came out perfectly, and he placed the highlights closer to my roots so they could grow out and blend even more with time. This is one of mine and my husband’s kick-butt engagement shots by my amazing bridesmaid Kara Lackey, and there are few un-Instagrammed pictures of me in which I truly love my hair. This is one of them.


And this was the goal! Grow it out, keep up with the ombre’d color, and do a half-and-half look for the wedding in June of 2011. Achievement unlocked! My friend Kat Thompson styled my hair for the day and I probably sent her such a weird combination of pictures for inspiration that made absolutely no sense. How she managed to know what I wanted through all of that mess, I’ll never know. And speaking of my wedding, I still need to do a post on my hair and makeup just for that day.


During the autumn after the wedding, Justin cut some blunt bangs for me. I liked it, but they were difficult to style everyday. I don’t think I’ll do bangs again until I’m much older (because they make you look younger), but they were good to try just for a season. And I got to do this fun shoot thanks to the fabulous Laura Licata and her talents!

August 2012 hair

The ombre’ adventures culminated in long, wavy, grown-out beach hair by August of 2012. This was good. Very good. A lot of oil masks and a lot of tender, cautious care with natural products and little washing, but it was worth it.

Fall 2012 hair

And then we chopped it! And went back to fully brunette! I think I finally felt confident enough to style it and Instagram it myself by this point. I employed the use of larger irons and, ironically, just started caring less over all. Less became more in 2012. It was a good year for hair.

More Fall 2012Winter13 hair

And here we are today, basically. A little grown out (and I’m going for long again!), and my natural color. I’ve been wearing it straight; I’ve been wearing it wavy. I like to sleek it up, and I like leave it down. Who knows what I’ll say in a couple years, but for the moment I just feel like this works. Justin recently put an ashier single-process color that took out any red and put me back at a basic, natural brown that’s probably the closest thing I’ve had to my natural color in years. It’s good to be back, but the sun’s been out a lot lately and I just don’t think I’ll be able to resist some ombre’d highlights for long. We’ll see. xo, MR

How to become a filthy beast.

So, one of the more peculiar aspects of my beauty routine revolves around my hair-washing habits.  I figured I’d share this because friends of mine often tell me they hate me (out of envy or something) after first hearing about it, and I’m here to say that this habit can be yours, too.

I wash my hair twice per week.  Maybe.

Now, when I tell folks this, the most common response is something along the lines of, “Oh, you’re so lucky.  I can’t do that.  I have to wash it every day.”  Nine times out of ten this is the response, followed by the reason why they believe they have to wash it every day, which is usually oily scalp.  Well, I have something to say to those that believe my my hair routine is the result of sheer luck and “good genes”- Nope.

Let me give you a small dermatology lesson.  When you over-work your skin, your skin over-works itself to compensate for what you’ve taken from it.  Just think about that for a minute.  When you wash your scalp every day, your scalp is stripped of its natural, essential oils.  Yes, some of that oil is good for you.  Such oils keep your hair and scalp balanced and moisturized.  Stop trying to get rid of it!  And so, as a reaction to being stripped of its essential oils, your scalp actually overcompensates by working twice as hard to produce more oil.  Get into the routine of washing your hair once a day (or more), and you’re asking your scalp to work overtime.  Keep this up, and you’re guaranteed to have oily roots every evening.  And of course, this will freak you out, and your impulse will be to “wash out the oil”.  You don’t need to wash your hair everyday because your hair is oily- your hair gets oily because you wash it everyday.  I must add too that what really doesn’t help is the fact that most of the shampoos we use contain harsh detergents that don’t work gently to clean our hair.  If you find the word “sulfate” anywhere on the ingredients list of your shampoo bottle, know that that’s some rough stuff going into your hair.  In fact, I’d say that if you can’t identify or pronounce the majority of the ingredients on your shampoo bottle, I would suggest finding a new kind.

As for my own journey toward not washing my hair more than twice a week, I can tell you that it began with a little something called dry shampoo.  Now, I started using this stuff in 2007, and since then pretty much every drugstore brand has come out with their own version of it.  My advice?  Go for the natural, more expensive stuff. Two brands I can highly recommend from experience are Frederic Fekkai Au Naturale and Klorane.  Both are sold at Sephora.  I remember reading about dry shampoo in a magazine and thinking it sounded like a miracle product.  Extend the life of my blow-out by another day or two?  Are you kidding?!  And what do you know- it was a miracle product.  Slowly but surely, I started going two, three, four days between washes.  I felt filthy for doing such a thing, but my hair was showing no signs of filth!  And if a little oil ever cropped up in my bangs or front layers, just a touch of dry shampoo whisked it away.  I’d even rub a little on the crown of my head (where it can get really oily after four days) just to see if I could go one more day without washing.  Additionally, I began being conscious of how I washed my hair.  I started rubbing shampoo just into my roots and trying my best to keep it off my ends (as in not piling your hair on top of your head and lathering it all up).  I also took care to condition just my ends for the most part, as conditioner can create lots of build-up.  I’d only cover my whole head in conditioner when giving it a deep treatment with oils.

I began to notice after a couple months that my hair wasn’t a total mess after just twenty four hours anymore.  I’d wake up, and it would be manageable and relatively similar to what it had been like the day before.  No more extreme oiliness, no more nastiness.  I just didn’t need to wash my hair that much anymore.  My schedule loved me for it, my scalp loved me for it, and even on the days when a washing seemed much needed but I didn’t have the time or energy, why not just throw it up in a knot or use a headband?  Take advantage of your already-greasy hair and go swimming!  Or work extra hard at the gym!  Your hair does not need to control your time.  It.  Can.  Wait.  And what was even more freeing was when I started air-drying my hair ten times more frequently than blowing it out.  My hair hasn’t been the same ever since, and for all you color-treated ladies, let me tell you that my color lasts forever now.  I just went full brunette thanks to Justin Kamm (as pictured above!  Weeeee!) at Salon 9, and I know it’ll be looking fresh for a looooooong time.

So let me challenge you- tomorrow, don’t wash your hair.  Leave it.  Will it be oily that evening and the next morning?  Yes.  Will it bug you?  Yes.  But stick with it.  Commit to washing it every other day.  Use a little dry shampoo on oily patches that bother you after the long day or after the gym.  But stick with it.  Then, try switching up your shampoo.  Do some research on natural kinds with minimal synthetic ingredients (and not just ones that say “no sulfates”- you can do even better).  Have tough standards and be willing to spend a perhaps five extra bucks (because if you aren’t washing as much, the bottle will last longer anyhow).  You can do it!!  I believe this is the solution for oily scalps and dry scalps.

Please fill me in on your questions, comments, and your own experiences in this area.  I really am curious!  Cheers to filthy habits!  xo, MR

Hair today ……..

This is me, waving a fond farewell to my long locks (the longest they’ve been, I believe, since high school). They’ve made for some of the greatest summer hair I’ve ever had, complete with ombre’ color, and they’ve not been cut since … February? Yup, February. They’ve maintained their health thanks to my regular routine consisting of washing just twice a week, cold rinses, deep conditioning with every third wash, air-drying almost 100% of the time, and a little miracle product from Kerastase called Fibre Architecte, which probably extended the life of my ends by at least two months.

However, it is now late August, and the children shall be returning to school which means that I’ll be returning with them. I’ve also begun my usual routine of incessantly picking at my split ends that probably weren’t as bad to begin with until I got my paranoid hands on them. And then there’s also the fact that I just love a good cut to transition into a new season (even though it’ll continue to seem like summer out here for at least two more months, probably).

And so, I bring you the long bob as styled by the great Justin Kamm over at Salon 9 in Orange:

Inspired by one of Anne Hathaway’s cuts from the not-quite-so-recent years, I decided to steer away from layers and go for a more blunt look. I love it unquestionably, but I also love how my hair was less than five hours ago. That’s a good thing though, right? I like it most any way these days, and that should be enough to shut me up and keep me pretty satisfied. Thanks Justin! xo, MR