Happy Blog-iversary!

As of today, I have been blogging for an entire year! I’ve had a couple of blogs in the past, but none that have lasted this long or had any sort of following whatsoever, so this is quite exciting. I’ve been able to unpack thoughts on this blog, as well as share fun facts about my life and travels.

What does the future hold for Perfect Harmonies? Since this is purely a hobby for me, I don’t plan on trying to make any significant income from it. However, it is a very fun hobby and I’d love to grow my content and readership, so I do plan on making some improvements and implementing some new ideas around here. Look for fun changes over the next few months!

To celebrate Perfect Harmonies’ first birthday, here are some of my favorite and most significant posts from the past year.

The realization that my life struggles happen for a reason.

A solo trip to the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studios in London.

How I view my role as a wife, and what’s awesome about being married to T.

Top five things I’ve learned from working at a dental office.

One of the most life-changing decisions I’ve ever made.

Why every kid needs cousins, and why we will eventually give our nephew some of his own.

The story behind my right-hand ring.

Traveling to Brazil? Here are some of my observations about the Portuguese language.

How I overcame one of my biggest fears.

25 days of Christmas music.

The greatest trip of my life.

How to be awesome at public transportation.

I hope you enjoy reading Perfect Harmonies as much as I enjoy writing it! What are some of your favorite posts?

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Life Happens

Sometimes in life, everything goes exactly as you had planned.

Other times in life, you’re at rehearsal on Valentine’s Day and you get a text from your husband as he’s literally halfway to Mexico, saying that he just heard from your landlord and the two of you and your cats have sixty days to move out of your apartment so she can move back in.

What do you do in those times? Well, you go into panic mode in the middle of rehearsal. You immediately start searching on Craigslist for something, anything, that might be available in your price range in the next month. Your freakout is compounded by the fact that your husband will be crossing the Mexican border in a matter of a few hours and will be largely inaccessible for the next six days.

Then you happen upon a listing on Craigslist that seems perfect. You realize that it’s open today (thank God it’s Saturday) and you drive straight there after rehearsal, all sweaty and haphazard after dancing for three hours. When you meet the office manager, you are incredibly friendly and charming while making sure to communicate your state of panic. She is super nice, offering you water and as much time as you need to text your husband photos of the apartment and answering all his questions, while you silently thank God that he is still in San Diego and hasn’t crossed the border yet.

In order to hold the apartment for 48 hours, the manager says, you have to put in an application and make a relatively small refundable deposit. After getting the okay from your husband, you go ahead with those things. Then the clock starts ticking down the 48 hours. Your husband crosses the Mexican border. And you start having second thoughts, doubting all the little things about the apartment that might not work for you, like the fact that there is absolutely no storage or the fact that the floorplan is inefficient enough that your furniture might not all fit.

Your mom tells you to calm down, that it will all work out and that she would be happy to go look at the place with you to give an outside opinion. The next day, you get what seems like a miracle text from your husband, who turns out to have wifi, and you are able to continue discussing the place and your options. And among all of this, you go to church on Sunday morning and several people come up to you offering places to stay or help with moving, and you remember what a fantastic, loving community you have around you. Then you realize that God would never not come through for you in a situation like this… and then you pray, and then you wait.

Of course, this is all hypothetical.

Why MAC Makeup Rocks

I didn’t start wearing makeup until the summer before I started college. Insert gasp here.

In high school I was one of those girls who was determined not to care about her appearance, because I thought that made you shallow. I didn’t put a ton of effort into my hair, my clothing choices, or my makeup routine. In fact, I don’t know that I even owned a single beauty product that wasn’t a flat iron until I was officially a high school graduate.

Oh, how the times have changed. T knew me back then and is probably either appalled by how much makeup I own now or thanking God in heaven that I saw the light and figured out how to make myself look publicly presentable. Why he wanted to date me during that phase is, and forever will remain, a mystery to me.

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Me at my high school senior prom. Yikes. Why, why, why did I not wear makeup?

When I took my first reluctant tiptoes into that world, I had no clue where to start. The beauty blogosphere wasn’t really a thing yet, so I didn’t have easy access to guidance about which products were worth the money and which ones weren’t, or what types of products I should be using for my skin type (picture 18-year-old me thinking, “There are different skin types?”). I didn’t even really know how to apply these mysteriously-packaged beauty aides to my skin to create an even somewhat aesthetically pleasing result.

In my travels through the ridiculous number of makeup brands out there, I’ve experimented with only a tiny fraction of the products that are available, but I’ve always had a hard time settling on the foundation that works best for my face. I’ve tried drugstore brands and expensive, upscale products. I’ve tried mineral makeup, which didn’t provide nearly the amount of coverage I wanted for my far-from-perfect skin. Eventually I was able to narrow my choices down to liquid foundation, but I still had trouble finding the right shade for my face or a brand that wouldn’t make my skin look cakey or my pores look huge.

Then I started doing theater, and I learned about a brand called MAC Cosmetics, which was not only a consumer brand, but also had a professional line of stage makeup. I figured since it was designed to last for hours under harsh stage lighting without sweating off, I should try it as an everyday foundation. It turned out to be magical.

MAC products currently in my makeup arsenal.

MAC products currently in my makeup arsenal.

MAC’s Studio Fix Fluid lasts all day on my face without wearing off, and the NC-15 shade matches my face closer than any other foundation I’ve ever tried, especially with a color-correcting primer underneath. It feels smooth when it goes on and doesn’t smell nasty like many other similar foundations out there. I follow that with MAC’s Prep + Prime Transparent Finishing Powder, which is hands-down the best finishing powder of all time because it makes my skin feel incredibly soft to the touch and doesn’t flake at all. I’ve also used their Mineralize Skinfinish bronzer, which comes in multiple shades, including a light one that doesn’t make my skin look too orange. Throughout the day, I carry around a compact of Studio Fix Powder Plus Foundation in the same shade as my liquid foundation, for little touch-ups.

Recently I’ve added additional MAC products to my daily regimen. In the fall I started using the Prep + Prime Skin primer, which adds a nice subtle shimmer beneath the surface of my foundation. And every day I finish off my makeup routine with a spritz of the Prep + Prime Fix+, which sets everything and keeps it lasting all day.

Every once in a while I get tired of paying so much for MAC products and I go off in search of something comparable for less, only to find that I’m not as satisfied with those products. It really is the only brand of makeup that works on my skin across the board through all of their different products. I would definitely be open to trying out some of their other types of foundations and finishing solutions, given how much I have loved the ones I’ve used so far. Plus how can I resist their recycling program? If you bring in six empty MAC containers, you can trade them in for a free eyeshadow or a free lip product. It’s a win-win!

If you use MAC makeup, how do you like it? If not, would you ever consider using it?

Note: This is not a sponsored post.

Faithful

What does it mean to be faithful? It’s a broad subject, and it could mean a lot of things. How do we stay faithful to God? What about to ourselves or to other people? In what areas can and should we be faithful? And what about when people aren’t faithful to us?

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A couple of weekends ago, T and I and one other leader friend took twelve of our high school students to a weekend winter camp, where we attempted to help our students answer these questions. We attended large worship services/teaching sessions with youth groups from other churches, and the kids also had the opportunity to go to two smaller seminars taught by the youth pastors. Each of the seminars covered topics related to being faithful, such as “Faithful with Technology” and “Faithful in Stress and Anxiety.” There was one specifically for seniors, called “Faithful from High School to College.”

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Our whole group.

Along with all of my girls, I went to “Faithful in Relationships,” where we learned that that really means remaining faithful to God and yourself within a relationship as well as faithful to the other person. Every person has needs in five different categories (physical, emotional, social, intellectual, and spiritual), and each of us must have our needs met within our relationships in certain ways. According to the youth pastor teaching the seminar, in order to be in a healthy relationship, we should look for our needs to be fulfilled in reverse order of that list (spiritual, then intellectual, then social, then emotional, then finally physical). Of course, most of us don’t usually do that, but rather look first for someone who we are physically attracted to or who we think can fulfill our physical needs (or desires). Spiritual compatibility often comes as a last priority or an afterthought, if it’s even considered at all.

Listening to the speaker.

Listening to the speaker.

I also chose to attend “Faithful in an Anti-Christian World” because our current series in high school ministry is about apologetics (knowing and sharing why you believe what you believe) and various worldviews that are different from Christianity. The youth pastor explained how he began to question his faith in college because of people who were hostile toward him and his faith. As a history major, he did lots of research into the historical background of the Bible and the life of Jesus. Once he had gathered the facts, he said, he reached a point where he had to make a decision about whether or not to believe that it was all true. He encouraged the students to do the same.

For me, one of the biggest takeaways from the weekend was that God is faithful even when other people aren’t, and he is faithful even when we aren’t faithful to him. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like God’s presence in our lives is contingent on our presence in his life, but that’s absolutely not true. His faithfulness is unchanging no matter what we do, and because of that, we should strive to be faithful to him in return.

Faithfulness is one characteristic of God that I don’t think we talk about enough. I know in my head that God is faithful, and I’ve experienced his faithfulness in my life, but usually we focus on “love,” “mercy,” and “justice” when we study the character of God. Sometimes one of his traits can be highlighted for us because of our life circumstances, and for me right now, I need to know that God is faithful. I need to know that he will never give me more than I can handle, because I feel like I’m at that point. I need to know that even when I don’t necessarily follow the path that he has laid out for me, he won’t turn his back on me, but instead he will go in front of me and lay a new one. I need to know that I can trust him to guide my steps and my choices, confident that I’m going in the direction he is sending me.

Tell me how God has been faithful to you!

January Goals Wrap-Up and February Goals

One month of 2015 down, eleven to go! I was surprisingly successful on my goals for January.

1. Remove myself from any email lists I don’t use. I never actually did this, but I did do a lot of sorting of my emails into various folders so that they will no longer clutter my main inbox. I also took a big step in moving on from my former opera life by letting my account with YAP Tracker expire, so I will no longer be getting daily emails for auditions that I will never go on. #freedom

2. Organize miscellaneous areas in our house. Accomplished! It’s nothing spectacular, just some plastic bins from Bed Bath and Beyond, but I do feel better every time I search for an office supply or open up the drawer next to our dryer or need to find a tool.

3. Meal plan and grocery shop once a week. I was able to keep this up better than I expected. I had originally planned to go grocery shopping every Friday because it’s my day off, and while that didn’t always work out, I still managed to go roughly once a week. Because of that, we were able to cook at home more often and eat healthier than we had been before. I’d really like to be able to keep that up in the coming weeks and months.

And now for my February goals!

Truth be told, I’m busy almost every night in February. In fact, there are a bunch of nights when I am double- or even triple-booked. Let me just tell you, trying to work out a conflict schedule between church choir, San Francisco Symphony, and the musical I’m in was a nightmare. Did you know it’s really hard to make everybody happy?

All that to say that I don’t have very many specific goals for February. My main goal is to survive with minimal damage to my sanity, health, and relationships. But here are a couple of other things I’d like to accomplish.

1. Walk every day when I get home from work. A couple of weeks ago, I had had a tough day at both of my jobs, and when I got home in the afternoon, I felt like I really needed to go for a walk and clear my head. It was a pretty nice day, so I headed out and ended up walking the neighborhood for almost 45 minutes, just listening to music and letting the fresh air and exercise calm me down. It was so awesome that I vowed to do it every day, and of course I immediately dropped the ball on it. I figured if I wrote it down and made it public as a monthly goal, I might actually do it.

2. Continue blogging 2-3 times per week. My creative juices have really been flowing lately, and I’ve been able to come up with a bunch of fun topics (at least I had fun thinking of them and writing some of them). I would love to get a more consistent schedule going and maybe even create more of a series. Blogging is 100% a hobby for me, but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to get more involved with the community.

What are your goals for the month of February?