One of the most ironic things about being a meteorologist... is often times, we never get to experience the storm because we're stuck inside the studio covering it from the green screen. (And rightfully so, all of our computers, forecast technology, etc. are all in-house... but the real lessons are learned out in the field.)
This past week, I was asked by my bosses to go cover Hurricane Delta expected to make landfall in southwest Louisiana on Friday. I had never covered a hurricane in-person before... but we were strapped for staffing with our hurricane expert/meteorologist on vacation & our Texas bureau reporters tied up with a political debate. So I was next on the roster - and I jumped at the opportunity.
Prepping for Departure
I got the call Wednesday afternoon... and once the logistics were worked out & the shock faded, I hopped in the car and drove straight to Cabela's for some gear. Mentally, I was ready to go... but I could not be more unprepared to go stand out in a hurricane with what I had to wear. The only 'waterproof' wardrobe I had consisted of a KXAN rain jacket, cheetah-print rain boots & snow pants. (Not sure how I survived 4 monsoon seasons in NM without ever needing rain gear, but that reality hit hard when looking at the lack of options in my closet.)
I ended up buying a pair of waders at Cabela's. I was going to wear whatever it took to not get soaked (the idea of water getting in my boots and having to stand in wet socks for +24 hours... would make for a long, miserable day). So I spent the $90 on waders. And looking back - this was probably the most well-spent $90 of my entire life.
I was paired up with one of our photojournalists (Todd) who had been through many hurricanes prior, which honestly, made me feel so much better about the situation. We left KXAN around 1PM Thursday and were off to Lake Charles, Louisiana where we planned to ride out the storm.
NOTE: It's important to know that Lake Charles was hit by Hurricane Laura (Category 4) just 6 weeks prior. We knew this... and had figured there would be some damage leftover... but we had NO idea just how bad it would be. (More to come on this later.)
Because of the debate back in Austin, those who usually help with booking hotel rooms when covering a story out-of-town were not available. So I was tasked with finding us a place to stay.
When I tell you I called every hotel in Lake Charles... I mean I called EVERY FREAKIN' HOTEL in the southwest corner of the state. There was either no one answering or no vacancy. It seemed almost impossible to find a room (we called phone numbers, tried hotel booking websites, etc.) Thinking the rooms were just booked up with evacuees, we finally found a hotel 10 miles outside of Lake Charles with limited availability. We booked two rooms for two nights... only to get a call back about a booking error on their end that resulted in us having to stay in one room with a King-size bed & a pull-out sofa. At this point, we were desperate & thought "good enough".
Driving into Louisiana was one of the eeriest feelings. The ~30 miles from the LA/TX state line to Lake Charles was stand-still traffic headed westbound. Everyone was fleeing. Our KXAN station car was one of only a handful headed east into Lake Charles. It almost felt like one of those apocalyptic movies. Although we were encouraged to see so many people heeding the warnings... it started to set in that "yea, there's something big comin' this way".
no food frenzy
Once reaching Sulpur, Louisiana, we stopped by the hotel (which had visible damage from Laura) to grab our keys before heading to Lake Charles to get video and set up for our 9PM & 10PM live shots.
Every restaurant, food joint and fast food stop was closed, primarily because of damage. Laura had destroyed the McDonalds, Taco Bell, Raising Canes, Checkers, any & every food-related business in the area. Even the Waffle House was closed... and if you know anything about Waffle House, you know they're known for staying open during & after a natural disaster. But this Waffle House was so badly beaten, the only letter left hanging on its sign was the "O". Todd and I started to get concerned... as the realization of not having any food for the next 2 days started to creep in. We had snacks... but no meals. We made a quick stop at a "24 hour gas station" as a desperate attempt... only to have the owner lock the door in our face when standing out front yelling "WE'RE CLOSED". It was 6:15PM.
Later that night, we ended up finding another gas station that was still open. It was very much picked over with only spicy chips, pre-packaged desserts & beer left. We ended up picking up a few things (for me, it was a blueberry muffin, Hot Cheetos popcorn & two 5-hour energy drinks)... and that was what lasted us for the trip.
laura's footprint in lake charles
The realness of the situation smacked us in the face once we drove into town. Lake Charles, the 5th-biggest city in Louisiana, was absolutely decimated. Almost every building in the entire city had sustained damage from Hurricane Laura. There were boarded windows on every business & home, piles of debris lined the streets, downed signed, and broken trees. Quite honestly, it looked like a war zone. Not only was the entire town destroyed but there was also no people around. It was an absolute ghost town. And perhaps the scariest feelings... Hurricane Delta was still +100 miles off the coast. This was what was left by Laura... and really, it was like that storm never left.
We ended up finding a street with a couple of homeowners around. We talked with one, Brian, who was incredibly kind and hospitable to us. He gave us a tour of his home (which was significantly damaged by Laura) and gave us a great, heart-felt interview. We used him in our 9PM & 10PM live shots that night. Once Todd & I knocked those out, we headed back to the hotel to gear up for the big show the next day --> landfall.
day of landfall
Friday was one of the longest, blurriest days of my career. It was a relatively slow morning as we feasted on the hotel's continental breakfast (finally- REAL FOOD) followed by driving around town to grab video. Really, the day didn't start moving until about noontime... from which it went 0 to 100.
We posted up in a badly hit neighborhood just south of the downtown area. My first live hit was with KXAN at 4:30PM... and from there, it was back-to-back live shots for our Texas sister stations. As we did more hits, the rain got harder and the wind got nastier. It was a fight both mentally & physically,.. trying to focus on what was I was saying while also trying to keep balance in 3"-4" of water & 50-90mph winds. Every time I thought "okay, it's starting to let up"... we would get hit by another hurricane-force wind gust that would absolutely destroy me. (Think trying to walk through one of the drive-thru car washes while having a normal conversation with someone. Rain flying into your sleeves and hood, spitting out water as you try to talk with your mouth as tightly closed as possible. Brutal.)
Now some people had asked "weren't you afraid?" or "wasn't it scary?" And I honestly tell you, I really didn't have time to be scared in the moment. I was too focused on making sure I hit my live shots and was calling the right phone numbers at the right times and tossing back to the right anchors, etc. There was so much going through my brain, I didn't have a whole lot of time to think about... "well what if this power pole comes down in front me?"
But that's where Todd comes in. And this guy is GOD-SENT. He was my eyes & ears while I was out there... keeping an eye on what was around me, what could be flying towards me or coming up behind me. He was truly my protector while I was out in the street getting beat down by the rain and wind. I relied on him to tell me if anything was looking sketchy, wobbly or dangerous. And outside of a few blown transformers down the street, we were okay. (And I credit him for keeping us safe.)
It was a solid 9 hours of relentless wind and rain out there in that neighborhood. At one point, we got in the car and attempted to make our way back towards the hotel.... but we ran into some flooded roadways and chose not to put ourselves in a hairy situation. So we drove back to the neighborhood we were at and just committed to staying until it was safe.
Over the entirety of the day, we maybe saw 5 trucks total? There was NO ONE left in this town... and rightfully so. But towards the end of our 10PM live shot, we saw a truck drive by the other end of the street (where the transformers blew) that didn't seem to be driving through any major flooded roadway. So after the newscast ended, we drove in the direction we had seen the truck and slowly made our way around debris back to the interstate. Initially, we had planned to take I-10 but a flipped over semi meant we needed to find another way. This resulted in having to drive back through town (and once again, navigating around all the debris we had just passed) back to I-210.
After having fought Mother Nature for most of the day, Todd and I crashed once we got back to the hotel. Luckily, there didn't seem to be any more damage than what was there when we left. But after a quick shower to scrub off the ocean water, it was lights out. (And looking back, I'm so grateful I took the extra 10-minutes to stay awake for that shower as when we woke up, the hotel had lost all running water. And THAT would have made for a longgggg drive home.)
Real talk - it's not the intensity of the storm that makes coverage tough... but just the amount of time spent being uncomfortable. What I mean by that - you're going hours without real food, sitting in wet clothes in a cramped car, needing to use the restroom but not having any place to do so (I'll spare you the details... but think camping-style squat, facing into the wind/rain & total darkness. Not a highlight of the trip.) And on top of that, you're on TV, trying your best to provide good information to those back home.
I felt comfortable enough with where we were (30 miles inland) & the storm itself that I knew what I was getting into. What I was more concerned about was (1) doing a good job during coverage and, more importantly, (2) the people of Lake Charles.
This town needs help. They've needed help for the last +45 days since Laura came and took out almost everything. It's a helpless feeling having to cover a storm in an area that was left vulnerable after the last... knowing it will likely go from bad to worse for many. Yes, Delta was a weaker storm... but it didn't have to be a strong storm. These people had spent the last 6 weeks starting over... only to have Delta come onshore and force them to start that process over. It's a guilt that I can't explain. A hurt for strangers and an ache to help people you've never even met.
Selfishly, yes - I was excited to be out covering my first hurricane. But the sadness of leaving that town in the state it was in, was a hard pill to swallow.
The science is was got me in this business, but the people is why I do it. Unfortunately, there will likely be another Laura, another Delta, another Harvey. And all we can do is make sure we're prepared... and shine a light on the stories of resilience.
Pray for Lake Charles, Louisiana.
Coming into this year, I knew I wanted to buy a house. I have a few years on my work contract and (God-willing) have no plans to jet anytime soon... I was tired of paying +$1000/month in rent downtown... and the Austin housing market was only getting more expensive by the day. So I set the goal to buy a home by the end of the year.
Little did I know, it would take less than a week to find my dream home.
Starting the Process
At the start of this year, I had done a little searching in south Austin to look at a few new builds - and drove up north to Cedar Park & Round Rock to check out a few areas up there. I had also gotten a quick tour of Georgetown thanks to the Miller family (coworker). I was quickly getting the impression that given my budget & my desire to have a backyard, I was going to need to get out of the city a little ways.
By the beginning of May, I reached out to a realtor by the name of Nicky whose real estate group came recommended to me by a friend (thanks, Izzy!) We had set-up an introduction call via Zoom (because, ya know, COVID) and we got right to work. I told Nicky that this was my first time buying a home and I had no idea what to expect, what to look for, the lingo, etc. And bless her sweet soul, she laid out everything in the simplest terms to make it easy for me to understand. We went over my 'hard no's' & 'must-haves'... and talked about what areas of town I was willing to move to and those I was not. That first call probably lasted about 45min-1 hour but I already felt productive in making that first step.
She had me create a log-in to their real estate group's housing portal so I could start filtering out what I liked and what I didn't like. The first day of house-hunting was scheduled for that following Friday and Nicky had lined up 3 houses to show me. Two of them were in south Austin (which was where I thought I wanted to be)... and the other was one that was not on my list but Nicky thought I should see anyways.
The first house we looked at was a house off Brodie Lane that I LOVED via the listing. It was an older home, very open floor plan in front, newly remodeled that had a cute white exterior. I thought "this will definitely due for a first home" ... but when Nicky started showing me around, she had mentioned that because of the age of the home, I needed to keep in mind that the roof, A/C, etc. would likely need to be replaced in the next 5-10 years. There was also an odd shower situation that would require a bathroom remodel. So the 'LOVE' factor faded pretty quickly. I was all for the house - but the idea of having to pay +$300K for a house that would need a new roof, A/C & bathroom in the next few years was not exactly giving me the "warm fuzzies" that I was hoping for. And on top of that, Nicky had said that this house was likely going to go into a multiple-offer situation... and being that it was already at the top of my budget, that was a big downer.
The second house was a total dud. As soon as we walked in, Nicky & I both noticed that the floors were all different in every room (carpet in one, tile in another, wood in some & cement in others - it was... interesting). She had also pointed out things that I didn't even know to look for - like the fact that the flooring was warped & cracked and could be a sign of foundation issues, the roof was made with the cheap material and would need replacing soon, the wood siding on the house was molding, etc. It was like she had this inner-radar that pinged when something was off or wrong - but I was so grateful this superhuman was my realtor! It quickly became evident that this was not the house for me. Lord knows I don't have the time, energy (or money) for major demo or remodeling.
The third house was the surprise find - it wasn't on my list but Nicky said that when she came across the listing, she felt it met all my needs and was worth scheduling a showing. So we drove out west - and at the time, I considered it FAR west. (On the way there, I thought 'where the heck is this gal taking me?'!)
It was a new build in a very nice development that was somewhat established - had a model home & an amenity center but still lots of construction going on. We first stopped at the model to meet the sales consultant. He had said this home was nearly finished and would be ready for move-in within the next couple weeks - which lined up perfectly with my apartment lease ending within those next two months. We drove out to the home and, of course, with having seen two much-older homes earlier that day and this one being so new that there weren't even light bulbs in the lighting fixtures, I was quickly mesmerized. It was open, bright and had all the things I was looking for: 3 bedrooms, backyard, attached garage, etc. And because it was new construction, 99% of the house was under warranty for the first year and things like the A/C and roof had 5-10 year warranties. I thought that was incredible considering it would be a nice transition into home-ownership - to still have help when something breaks and the comfort of knowing I won't have to dish out thousands of dollars to pay for it when/if it does.
The only hang up was the distance from the city. It was the only concern I had. From my driveway to my desk in the Weather Center was about 25 miles. I talked with Nicky, Jeff (sales consultant), my parents, coworkers, literally everyone about it (which didn't do much for me since the inputs were 50/50 of "that's totally doable" vs. "no way, that's too far"). Really, 25 miles didn't sound too far... but given that I'd been living 3 miles from the station in my apartment - plus the atrocity that is 'Austin traffic' (pre-COVID) - I was nervous about the distance.
A day or so went by and I kept thinking about that third house. By that Sunday (two days since first seeing the house), Jeff called Nicky & told her that the price of the house was dropping, it was likely going to be sold that day, and if I wanted it, I needed to pretty much sign the contract that afternoon.
I, naturally, went into FULL BLOWN PANIC MODE. I loved the house but was nervous & still had a million questions - was the drive too far? Did I look at enough houses? Was I rushing into something? Is this going to be a missed opportunity? Also - do I have the money to even afford this brand new house?!
I ended up throwing my hair in a bun, sliding on flip flops & immediately getting in the car to drive out and see the house again (still in jammies, hadn't brushed my teeth - it was a sight to see. But like I said - PANICKED.) By the time I got there, there were TWO OTHER FAMILIES in the house looking at it... which made me even more panicked. I was thinking "what if they love it & take it from right underneath me?!"
I called my parents, called my realtor, took about 10 minutes standing in the kitchen looking out at the backyard... and pulled the trigger. THAT DAY. THAT MOMENT. 48 hours from when I first stepped through the front door.
The fact of the matter is, this house was my dream house. It had everything I wanted... and by what I was told from Nicky and Jeff, the community was young and growing - perfect for the life stage I'm in. I ended up signing the contract that day to take the house off the market - quite possibly the scariest thing I've ever done and one of the most expensive things I've ever done. (And circling back to the "long drive" issue, I’ve spent about a month now making that commute and it’s really easy. Like I tell most people, I grew up in LA. I can show you what a real commute looks like & 25 miles ain’t nothin’.)
The next day, we went over all the formalities - closing day, title company, inspections, etc. It was VERY overwhelming - but I thought, the decision is made, and I'm that much closer to being able to wake up and drink my coffee in *my backyard while watching *my grass grow behind *my house. That was, ultimately, the end goal.
And fast forward 2 months, that's exactly what I'm doing now as I write this blog. :) Goal achieved.
SIDE NOTE: I was warned that the Austin market was hot - but I had no idea it was THAT hot. Having to make decisions so fast to avoid being beat out by others. STRESS OVERLOAD. But all I kept thinking was, thank you Lord for Nicky - she was truly a God-sent in this whole process... and not to leave out, she was the one who found the home to begin with! I would recommend her to my family, friends, to anyone & everyone thinking about buying or selling. My honest recommendation. This gal KNOWS. HER. STUFF. I have nothing but good things to say.
Reach out if you're interested: Nicole Marburger - Legacy Real Estate Group
Just to tie up a few loose ends on this 'beauty series', there are a few more things that I feel help me look more polished on-air.... and other hacks that I know my coworkers find useful but I haven't quite figured out yet.
1. FAKE LASHES - I cannot for the life of me get myself to wear fake lashes everyday. They are wildly popular in the industry... and when I do have them on, I feel like a rock star. But I'm just not consistent enough with the glue & application to really get good enough to make them look normal on TV. (I have okay lash length naturally... so I don't hate not having to wear them. But sometimes I feel like I'm the only anchor that doesn't wear them which make my already-mediocre natural lashes look even more wimpy in comparison).
2. BLUSH - I naturally have a lot pink/red in my face... so the idea of blush just confuses me. (Why would I add more pink to my face when I literally wear foundation to hide the pink?) I understand the high cheekbone placement and all... but I just can't get myself to wear it.
3. BOTOX - to be honest, I'm probably not too far from this. I have a few pesky forehead wrinkles that bother me... and one big wrinkle in between my eyebrows. I haven't bit the bullet yet but have asked my dermatologist about price/procedure/etc. It's pretty common in the TV industry because, when being honest, we work in a visual medium & unfortunately, for some messed up reason, an aging woman doesn’t quite have the same “shelf life” as an aging man in TV. But the Botox shots are not something I do personally (yet).
4. FACIALS - many on-air anchors/reporters I know regularly schedule facials - some for skin health, others for preventative measures, some even just for relaxation. I've gotten one or two in my 'TV life' but only as a way to relieve stress. The constant 'full face of make-up' and ungodly hours definitely takes a toll... so I hope to, in the near future, start getting these set-up more frequently. But until then, I'm using the basic night cream and moisturizer to get by.
5. TEETH WHITENING - when I was in high school, I use to whiten my teeth everyday using Crest's white strips. I noticed a difference & they weren't *too expensive. But then I hit a point where my teeth were so sensitive, it wasn't worth it to me anymore. I've asked my dentist about getting trays... but haven't committed yet. (I drink A LOT of coffee & am definitely self-conscious of the stains.) Whitening trays are maybe a "later on down the road" idea, I guess. Until then - I'm happy with the Crest White toothpaste.
6. NAILS - this is a big one for me because I have horrendously ugly nails (self-inflicted... I'm a biter and will literally bring my fingernails to stubs on a high-stress day) & very 'fluffy' (thick) fingers. I also feel like because I do weather & point in front of a green screen, that people are constantly staring at my hands - which makes me even more self-conscious of my fingers. So I pay to get them done every couple of weeks. For years, I wore pink & white acrylics... they were the only thing that seemed to stop me from biting. But recently, I've switched to dip + tips and LOVE IT. They don't seem to be as bulky and quite honestly, last longer. (And I'm told by my much-trendier-sister that dip "is in".) So I'm on-board. I usually go for a neutral pink, beige or white. Anything too crazy, the boss gets cranky (leopard print or super long talons are a no-go).
That's A Wrap
Between hair, makeup, tanning, nails, etc., I tried to cover it all in these last few blogs... just word-vomiting everything that comes to mind regarding each topic. Like I mentioned in the first post, I don't claim to be a "beauty blogger" nor pretend to even know that what I'm doing is correct / works for everyone. I'm just sharing what I know works for me - hoping that it works for you. No freebies or sponsorships - just some recommendations based on personal experience.
Again, I'm an open book on this stuff. If you have questions, I'm going to be honest with you. Feel free to reach out - I'd love to help!
Oof - makeup. The longest part of the "getting-ready" process for me. Because I have to wear quite a bit & reapply often (those bright lights + high-definition cameras are UNFORGIVING), I try to substitute as much high-dollar makeup with drugstore makeup as I can. There are only a few products I'm willing to pay a bit more for (ex. foundation, mascara)... but listen, in market #40 & one income, your girl ain't going to pay +$30 for eye liner. And the half-priced eyebrow pencil on the clearance rack at CVS will work just fine.
**IMPORTANT: I am by no means earning any freebies or sponsorships from this post -- I'm just sharing a few of my favorites with y'all. No paid endorsements, just my opinion (so take it for what it's worth) ;)
FOUNDATION - one of the products I use daily & am willing to shell out a little more for is foundation. I've been using MAC's 'STUDIO FIX' (color: NW20) for years - literally since day 1 on TV. It's not too heavy and it is matte (any foundation with shine or shimmer just makes me look sweaty on-air). I just apply it with a regular triangle makeup sponge. It's about $25 a bottle so it's a bit more than what you'll pay for most the foundations at the drugstore... but to me, the splurge is worth it. I can usually go 2-3 months on one bottle. And it's got sunscreen in it (bonus!)
EYE SHADOW PRIMER - another product I absolutely love is MAC's eye shadow primer (color: "painterly"). A handful of y'all have asked how I get my make-up to stay without creasing, cracking or melting... and this is the secret! I slather on a thin layer before I put on any other eye shadow & it keeps everything in place. It's AH-MAZING.
MASCARA - I can go either way on this one. The Easter Bunny & Santa Claus usually gift me one or two nice mascaras every year (both seem to have access to Mom's Ulta account) - and that will usually last me 2-3 months. My absolute favorite is Lancome's 'Monsiuer Big' mascara. Once the nicer one runs out, I'm usually at the drugstore buying Maybelline's 'Falsie' mascara (purple tube, turquoise writing). *On a related note - I do not curl my lashes. But I do coat the top lashes from below & above. And no mascara on my bottom lashes! (Makes my eyes look smaller on-air)
LIP GLOSS - one of my more recent finds is MAC's "Lipglass" (color: 'Love Nectar'). It's shimmery with a bit of pink. Subtle enough to not think "whoa that girl is wearing too much lipstick" but noticeable enough to say "hey, that girl has gloss on".
LIP PENCIL - another new find! I usually line with MAC's lip pencil (color: "Whirl")... fill in with lipstick (see below) and then put the MAC "lipglass" on top. Good combo for me!
CONCEALER - if there is anything that this job requires, it's a good concealer (our sleep schedules are MESSY). I use iT's 'Bye Bye Under Eye' (color: light sand) and LOVE it! It's a tiny tube but it goes a long way - I use a little less than a pea sized drop each day. It's worth the investment. I very highly recommend!
HIGHLIGHTER - I recently bought MAC's 'Sculpt & Shape' contour palette to give my face a little more definition. I use the 'sculpt' (bottom middle) color under my cheekbones & chin bone. This palette has great colors! I sometimes will use the light/white color to highlight (top of cheekbone) too.
BRONZER - I'm not very picky with bronzer. I'll usually find something on sale at CVS or Walgreens and eyeball something that looks 2 to 3 shades darker than my skin tone. Right now I'm using Physician Formula's 'Multi-Colored Custom Bronzer" (color: light). Good swath of that on the cheekbones & forehead!
EYE SHADOW - Between my Mom, sister & I, we usually gift each other a couple nicer eye shadows for Christmases/birthdays. If I'm buying for myself, I'm either picking a dark shimmery brown or light shimmery peach (shimmer on eyes is okay, but not on the rest of the face). I like the Ulta brand eye shadows - and I think they're reasonably priced. Right now, I'm using what's left of my Urban Decay 'Naked' palette that my sister gave me for Christmas a couple years back. It has lots of browns/beiges but I'm getting down to the "off" colors (blacks, purples, etc) so not sure how long that'll last me. I just picked up a shimmer brown eye shadow from Ulta yesterday to use on the outer crease of my eye. And every once in awhile, I throw in a color off of Smashbox's 'Petal Metal' palette (a Christmas gift from mama).
LIPSTICK - only recently have I gotten into actually wearing lipstick. It's never really been 'my thing' - I'm more of a 'nude gloss' kind of gal. As mentioned above, I'll spend a little more cash on the lip pencil & gloss, but as far as the lipstick itself, I go for Maybelline's matte lipstick (color: "Beige Babe"). Only a few dollars & you can find it at most grocery stores.
EYEBROW PENCIL - I never use to pencil in my eyebrows. I always thought they were dark enough where I didn't need to. But after visiting with our station's brow stylist (she's a miracle worker) I've recently found the value in using the pencil to help define the shape of my brows. So currently, I'm using L'Oreal's 'Brow Stylist Definer' (color: blonde). Cheap & lasts awhile!
EYE LINER - I feel like I fall in the minority of preferring gel liner over pencil.... but I've really grown to like L'Oreal's 'Lacquer Liner' (color: "blackest black"). It goes on easy (given the right brush) and it stays well - no smudges or smears unless I really work at it. I only apply to my top lid! Like mascara, lining the bottom lid makes my eyes looks smaller (more closed) on-air... and that's the last thing I need when working the A.M. shift!
I have a couple other favorites that I love but don't use on-air... mainly because of the shimmer/shine (like I mentioned earlier, shimmer looks like sweat on TV)... but I thought I would share anyway.
The iT 'Color Correcting Illuminating Full Coverage Cream + Anti-Aging Serum' is what I use for foundation on a normal off-day (and again - sunscreen bonus!) And the E.L.F. highlighting stick is fun - I usually put a little slightly above my cheekbone.
REAL TALK: This is the current state of my bronzer. It took a beating on my flight to NM recently... but I'm too cheap to throw it away. So instead of wasting it, I literally have to carefully crush little pieces of it with my brush before putting on. What can I say - I am the way I am.
Let me know if y'all have questions or need more info! I'd be happy to help!
I have somewhat fair skin - naturally pale with only a few freckles & a LOT of moles. I use makeup/bronzer to give my face color... but with any sort of short sleeve outfit, I tend to look very washed out under the studio lights (and the light blonde hair doesn't help).
I burn pretty easy out in the sun and only until I get that sunburn, do I tan. So I've had to find an alternative to the "sunkissed look" without actually being out in the sun. Que the orange hands & smelly lotions!
**IMPORTANT: this is not a paid post or sponsorship. This is just me helping out my fellow pale/ashy sisters & brothers. There's no paycheck at the end of this -- & I can promise you, there's a high chance L'Oreal doesn't know I even exist.
Like hairspray, I've tried 'em all when it comes to self tanners. Foams, sprays, mist, lotion... it's been a +10 year battle that stretches back to my high school days in finding one that works for me.
My absolute favorite is the Jergens' 'Instant Sun' foam. I've found it to be the one that spreads most evenly & shows a noticeable (but somewhat "natural"... or as natural as a self tan could be) color. It stains pretty good so it's definitely one of those that you want to wash off your hands as soon as you're done applying. But I found it to be the one that works the best so I use it most frequently.
The Jergens' 'Natural Glow' lotion isn't too bad - I've probably used this one the longest (again, we're talking all the way back to my high school cheerleading days). My biggest problem with it is the smell. It just wreaks of spoiled lotion to me. Not my jam... but when desperate, I'll use it.
The Neutrogena Micro-Mist is probably my least favorite only because it's tough to apply evenly. I always end up with darker spots/streaks - whether it be because I accidentally sprayed too close or too much in one area over another. It doesn't seem to smell as bad... but then again, nobody wants zebra legs. Be cautious of splotches & streaks!
The Coco Glow sunless tanner is another favorite - but also the priciest. I bought this at a fun product party hosted by my girls Steph & Rosie. I would buy this again... but because it's a little more expensive, it's not an everyday use for me. 10/10 on the smell though!
The L'Oreal 'Sublime Bronze' lotion is hit & miss for me. I like the color - it usually gives me a good "bronzed" look... but it has a shimmer in it that tends to shed glitter ALL OVER (dresses, bedsheets, etc.) Good if you need a quick darker shade... but also prepare for the "shimmer dandruff" all over EVERYthing.
There's just something about a fresh spray tan that makes me feel better and more confident in an outfit. (And in a visual industry like TV, a little boost in self-confidence isn't necessarily a bad thing considering there seems to always be a mean viewer email lurking in the inbox every week.)
I usually get one spray tan a week using the Mystic machine (no person, just a machine that sprays your front & back twice). If money grew on trees, I would get spray tans that are given by an actual person - but those tend to be much more expensive. So I'll stick with the non-judgmental machine.
Right now, I have a membership at one of the salons here in town. I pay about $60/month for unlimited tans... and then an extra $7 for each spray (this charge is for the dark spray, I think the medium is free). I'll usually go at the end-of-the-day on Tuesdays (my "Sunday") so I can sleep on it and no one will have to bear the smell or see me looking like a trash can for the 8 hours while it sets. But a shower is always a MUST the following day!
Spray Tan Fails
Spray tanning is like a recipe - there's a procedure that must be followed to get a certain result. And despite the fact that I've been getting them for years, embarrassingly, I still have many #SprayTanFails. Most commonly, forgetting to wash my hands afterwards, only to wake up with very dirty-looking hands the next day (we're talking, "planted in the garden for hours" kind of look). I've also gone too far the other way and washed ALL of it off my hands to the point where it looked like I went in wearing gloves (it left such a massive tan line, that a viewer messaged me the following day asking if I ride motorcycles. I was too ashamed to tell him the real reason - so I never responded. (I apologize to whoever that was!)
Most recently, the overhead sprinkler within the machine dribbled one drop of water while I was still in there... and needless to say, that left a mark.
it's not for everyone
Bottom line - I tan because it makes me feel better about myself. In no way do I think it's required to look good or needed for everybody. Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder. But for the pale girls like me looking for a little more of a darker shade, I would recommend a spray tan over the tanning bed any day. Back in high school, my mom let me use a tanning bed before prom. At the time, I loved it. But now, I would never. Not worth the health risk - and if you've never burned under the lights in a bed, let me tell you, it's horrible (VERY itchy & painful). I'm happy fakin' it with the spray or lotion!
Let me know if you have any questions, feedback or comments! I'd love to hear!
Hair is quite honestly one of my biggest struggles when it comes to my on-air appearance. Some days, my hair cooperates & I feel like a total rock star... other days, it's like fighting with a drunk person & I just want to throw it up in a ponytail and be done with it. (Then there's the really really bad days where I just want to chop it all off). I've spent the last 7 years trying to find a TV look that works for me... and although it's still a work in progress, I'm learning to love the big curls.
I have fairly thin hair... and if we're being real, I don't take care of it as much as I should. (I'm pretty rough with the brush and I show no mercy with my teasing comb - #CloserToGod). But I do splurge on a few quality products... and favor others that I literally find on the clearance shelf at the grocery store.
I don't know much - but I can tell you what I know... and just to be clear, the products listed are my favorites by personal experience. No freebies, sponsorships, or paid endorsements were made - just a regular gal sharing what I found works (and what doesn't).
I don't use a super fancy-schmancy shampoo or conditioner - it's usually whatever is on sale at Ulta / Target. Currently, I'm using Matrix Biolage shampoo & Kenra's conditioner... but I'm not too picky about either. I'll also rotate Tea Tree's conditioner in there but quite honestly, I only buy it for the smell (love everything Eucalyptus!)
Every once in awhile, I'll use Chi's 'Keratin Reconstruction Conditioner'. I use it when I feel my hair needs a good "drink of water" - I'll lather it in & let it sit for a few minutes while I shave or scrub my face. It works wonders but kinda pricey - so definitely not an every day thing for me.
I was born platinum blonde... but as each year passes, I feel my natural hair color gets darker and darker (I may have to give up the 'blonde ghost' one day, but I'm not there yet).
For years, I was on a pretty normal routine of seeing my hair dresser every 6-8 weeks for a full highlight & haircut. I always said the same thing - "I want to be brighter & blonder". The battle to fight the 'dirty blonde' color has been a long one.
But since the end of last year, I've been trying something different. I've been seeing Craig at Craig Piatti Salon for close to a year now. At my first appointment, he had asked if I was in love with the foils & the highlights, etc. I've never had a problem with 'em but he convinced me to try more of a balayage (a 'sweepy, very natural, transition' look) - and instead of using foils, he uses Saran Wrap. It's the oddest thing... but it works! I now get a partial balayage each time I go. It's much pricier than what I'm used to paying (+$200 for the color - a little piece of me dies every time I pay)... but I also only have to go back every 12 weeks. So the longer stretch between colors makes me feel a little better about the expenditure. (But I'm not going to say that paying hundreds of dollars for hair isn't absurd. Because it is. Lol)
My hairdresser turned me on to L'Oreal Professionnel's 'Serie Expert - Repair 10-in-1' - and I HIGHLY recommend. Like I mentioned, my hair is pretty thin and tangles very easily, especially with all the curling. For years, I was using the "It's a Ten - Miracle Leave In Conditioner"... but my stylist told me that wasn't doing much for me. (He literally compared it to putting Pledge on real hardwood.) So for the past several months I've switched to using '10-in-1', spraying a good amount right after I shower... and I've noticed a HUGE difference. Better shine, not as many split ends, just overall, healthier hair. I love this stuff!
I usually do my hair once I get to work so by that point, it's air-dried enough to start curling. I usually curl with a 1.5" curling iron (nothing fancy, it's a CON-AIR that I've had since college).
One of the best products I've found to help with volume --> Living Proof's 'Volumizer'. This stuff is HEAVEN-SENT. I usually spray it on my roots after teasing and post-curling. It's sticky enough to hold but it doesn't leave that 'greasy' look. Ulta carries the entire Living Proof line - all good stuff. Would recommend their dry shampoo too!
The deal-breaker for me is hairspray. I've tried everything... both high-dollar and cheap... and the one product I keep going back for is Tresemme's Extra Hold (4 out of 5 strength - green label). I've been using this FOREVER and love it. It gives just enough to still be able to comb after you spray but holds nicely once set. (And it's cheap, only a few dollars - I literally buy it at the grocery store. In bulk. Lol)
Bonus: a more recent product that I've found (via my hairdresser) is Tecni Art's 'Next Day Hair - Dry Finishing Spray'. I usually use this on my days off when I don't curl. It makes my hair feel thicker... not quite as wispy & weak as it actually is. I think it adds volume - just my opinion.
Let me know if you have any questions! I'd love to hear your comments & feedback.
Last weekend, I took a quick trip back to New Mexico to see friends - my first trip back since the move, and my first flight since the start of the current pandemic.
Background: I've had these flight plans for months. Originally, the trip was scheduled around a former coworker's wedding. Unfortunately, due to COVID19, the wedding was postponed. But given that flights were fairly inexpensive and I hadn't seen my NM friends in close to a year, I decided to keep the planned trip & burn a few vacation days.
Before I left, a few of my coworkers had asked if I was nervous about flying given current circumstances... but I had told them that I was no more worried about coronavirus than I was about the plane going down. We recently reported on all of the precautions airlines were taking to help prevent the spread of the COVID19... and airplanes are likely cleaner now than they've ever been. (Something I witnessed first hand - more on that a bit).
Below is my experience flying to Albuquerque from Austin - in the middle of the pandemic.
I took an Uber to the airport Saturday afternoon, about an hour and a half before my flight. Unsurprisingly, the airport was a ghost town. Very few people were there... and the departure drop off lanes were empty.
Once inside, I used a self check-in kiosk at the Southwest counter. I printed my boarding pass and tagged my bag. As soon as I walked away, there was a Southwest attendant spraying the screen I had just tapped, wiping down the entire counsel. She wasn't messin' around - speedy little thing!
With my bag checked in, I wandered over to the security gate only to see one person scanning IDs/boarding passes. There were only about 6 people in line, all 6 feet apart. It actually only took about 15 minutes to get to the front. Once there, the officer had asked me to pull down my mask to see my face while checking to make sure the ugly mug on my ID was actually me. Lol - it was. And she let me through.
The security process was as pretty close to normal as I remember pre-COVID --take off your shoes, put bags in the bins, nothing in your pockets, etc. I was wearing a mask through this entire process, and one of the TSA officers did ask to see the inside of my mask once I walked through the metal detector. But I didn't consider that a big deal.
I waited at my gate for about 45 minutes before the attendant got on the loudspeaker and informed us that they would only be boarding 10 people at a time. (For those who have never flown Southwest, they typically call up ~60 people at a time, lined up in numerical order given the time you checked in. But now, in order to prevent grouping, only 10 people are asked to line up and they called groups every 10 minutes or so in order to prevent congregation within the tunnel to the plane.
Once on the plane, we were told to spread out and avoid middle seats - windows & aisle seats only. I found a window seat in the middle of the plane, set my purse down and began the process of cleaning my seat. I came armed with a mask, gloves, hand sanitizer and wipes. So I wiped down everything... and I mean EVERYTHING. Seat, arm rests, window, air vent, tray table... ALL. OF. IT. And as soon as it was dry enough to sit, I took off my gloves and whipped out the hand sanitizer.
I didn't take my mask off the entire flight. (Mostly because I fell asleep halfway through... but also because I didn't want to take any chances.) I had a layover in Dallas with no plane change. It was then that most of the passengers deboarded... and a cleaning crew came on and wiped down every seat, window and tray before the Dallas->ABQ passengers were allowed to board. (Pre-COVID, I had seen flight attendants to a walk-through to pick up any trash of belongings left-behind... but I'm not sure I've ever seen a crew take cleaning spray to the inside of the plane and wipe down every unoccupied seat. I was impressed.)
The flight from Dallas to Albuquerque was normal, nothing out of the ordinary. But once landing in ABQ, I de-planed into an entirely empty Sunport (Albuquerque airport). Not a single restaurant, gift shop or mini-market was open. It was eerie. I walked to the bathroom and changed my shirt (just in case I missed a germ on the seat or something), then walked downstairs to pick up my bag.
The arrival lanes were just as empty in Albuquerque as the departure area in Austin. Only a few cars - no buses, shuttles or taxis.
Fast forward to the trip home, the experience was about the same. The Sunport was empty, my layover in Las Vegas was quick, and the flight home to Austin was easy. It's been about 24 hours and I don't feel ill or anything out of the norm. Texas has no mandated travel quarantine so I went back to work this morning. I did my best to maintain social distancing at work - and I'll probably make a conscious effort of that for the next several days (just in case).
Bottom line - I didn't feel "scared" or "nervous". Sure, there were things I had to do different. And I didn't see any problem with going over the top with wipes, gloves, sanitizer once on the plane. The only thing that really got me was the emptiness of the airports, parking garages, planes, etc. Big buildings, few people, weirdly quiet. Airports are some of the busiest places in the world. But not in these times. Not now at least.
The ongoing pandemic continues to create a new "normal" - impacting nearly every facet of life. "Social distancing", "self-quarantine", "6-feet apart", "less than 10 people", etc. I can't help but think that one day in the future, we'll look back and wonder how we carried out our every day-to-day activities with such limited interaction, contact and face-to-face communication. I'm not much of a history buff but I've tried to document these new challenges - so when that day in the future comes, I can reflect on how life continued - most of it, virtually.
So to future me, here's how we did it:
A virtual first date
An introduction meeting for an upcoming charity event
A birthday party
Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Join Me, FaceTime, etc. -- I now have an entire folder of video conference apps downloaded on my phone and computer. But as much as I miss the squeeze of a hug, the clink of glass at happy hour and even the simplicity of a high-five & handshake, I'm so grateful I can at least see the faces of the people I care about.
P.S. An apology - to all my coworkers & the screengrabs you got caught in. I love & miss your faces, even when at the mercy of a screenshot. ;)
A look back at some quick highlights of April 2020 - goals, progress & improvements:
A few weeks back, I decided to do 'Alcohol-less April' (made this up myself)- a month free of margaritas, cocktails, and of course, my personal favorite, wine. With COVID keeping all restaurants & bars closed for the past month and no family/friends allowed to come visit, I didn't want to be home drinking by myself (that only leads to overthinking & unneeded calories). So why not do a "comfort cleanse".
NOTE: I don't want it to sound like I'm a raging alcoholic -- I just definitely like a good pour at the end of a stressful day.
Well now that we've finished up day 30, I can happily say that I MADE IT! Not a sip of tequila, vodka or wine in the past 30 days. I did this back in January (see previous 'Dry-uary' post) and felt pretty good after I finished. But I honestly thought this month was harder than January. At the start of the year, I had all the motivation in the world to be healthy & disciplined. This time around, I definitely had more cravings... which I think were largely induced by stress regarding the current circumstances of the world and, put simply, boredom.
All-in-all, 'Alcohol-less April' was a success... even if I had to be shady during a drinking game on a Zoom birthday call with all my coworkers last week. Those "sips" I took were definitely just gulps of sparkly water out of a can. (Happy birthday, Rosie!)
Another goal I set for myself this past month was to log +50 miles out on the trail. I had reached 50.1 miles in March (according to my Nike tracker app) - and I had posted on Instagram that all I wanted to do was exceed that distance. And I did!... with only a few miles to spare. I ended up logging about 57 miles for the month. I found it more motivating to literally write down my miles on a piece of paper instead of just using the app. It's rewarding to see the page fill in up... and identify trends like the fact that I clearly don't like to work out on Fridays (LOL). But I liked this enough, I might even try this again in May.
One thing I definitely struggled with this past month --> the house hunt. I've made zero progress on that front. Mostly because of the pandemic and all the obstacles that have followed... I knew that open houses and such were no longer a possibility and many realtor offices had closed. So I kind of gave up these past few weeks. But I'm hoping to get a lot more done in May - realtor, house searches, lenders, etc. Lot of work to do and not a whole lot of time left on my apartment lease to do it. Yikes.
Now that we're approaching 4 weeks of quarantine, the "new norm" has set in. Traffic is still suspiciously non-existent, most people stay inside all day and those who do go out in public are wearing face masks, the newscast is still dominated by coronavirus coverage and businesses everywhere are shut.
It's easy for me to downward spiral in a time like this. Limited human interaction, lots of (& frankly, too much) alone time, not a whole lot to get excited for, plans/events/activities cancelled... most days it's a struggle for me to find even that natural happiness. Like I've said before, I'm the type of person who thrives on routine.. and coronavirus has thrown every aspect of my life (& many others) out of whack.
Despite all of this, I've done my best to "find the good". Reason being -- even on my bad days, the Good Lord knows I am blessed with far more than I deserve (and Heaven forbid I ever lose sight of that).
Whether it's in my own life, or reading and sharing stories about the helpers & heroes in the lives of others, I've made a conscious effort to seek, highlight and focus on the little bit of good that has come of this crisis.
Personally, one of the positives I've recently realized is how much more I've been able to talk to family. Pre-pandemic, I typically FaceTimed my parents and sister about once a week. Over the past 2-3 weeks, that's been upped to every other day. Even if it's just to find out what they had for dinner or what they bought at Costco the day before, I'm calling. I usually spend Monday morning (my "Saturday") out on my balcony FaceTiming as many friends and family I can before my phone runs out of battery. It's honestly what has kept me sane this past month.
I'm also "finding the good" in spending more time outside. One of the things I struggled with when working the morning shift for +5 years was that the early bedtime really limited my time out in the sunshine, which in turn, hurt my mood. (Never underestimate the power of Vitamin D.) Now that I'm working 50% of my shift from home... I'm finding more time to be out on the balcony and walking the trail. (I've also tried to remind myself that the days of blistering heat & constant sweating are not too far off - all the more reason to enjoy the more "friendly" weather we have now.)
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, I've found more time to read my Bible, watch online sermons & download praise music - more now than ever before. Despite not being able to go to church on Sunday mornings, I feel stronger in my faith and relationship with God. I've really leaned into Him over the past few weeks... praying for just about anyone and everything. (And as Grandma said to me a couple weeks back, "You don't need a church to pray. Gidget [dog] & I got a hotline to heaven, praying for everyone to stay healthy.") AMEN, Grandma. AMEN.
Yes, there are people who are sick, dying, losing loved ones, working +15 hour days, unemployed & hungry -- and for all those people, we pray. We pray for every single one of them.
But I firmly believe that there is a lesson to be learned in every hardship... and I feel God is showing me that His good work is everywhere, even in tragedies.
Find His work... 'find the good.' And let that serve as a reminder to be grateful for all of life's blessings.