Category - 31 Days of Favorites

Day 16…Health & Beauty Favorites

One thing I haven’t really discussed on this blog (except for the occasional mention in my favorite monthly ‘What I’m Into’ linkup posts) is my favorite health & beauty products.  Thanks to a request/suggestion from my new blogging friend Sarah,  I’m sharing my favorites today.    {Some of these links are affiliates – any compensation goes directly back into this blog – thanks!}


1. Whole Foods 365 Lavender scented body wash:  I discovered this heavenly scented and affordably priced body wash on my last trip to Whole Foods.  It’s all natural, and doesn’t irritate my uber sensitive skin.

2. EO lavender natural hand sanitizer:  I first grabbed this as an impulse buy when in the grocery line at Whole Foods in NYC.  I needed a quick hand sanitizer, and it was right by the checkout counter.  I was happily surprised when I used it over and over on my trip, and fell in love with the lavender scent, the way it didn’t feel sticky like most santizers, and its all natural ingredients.  Unfortunately, its not cheap, but its definitely high quality.  I honestly don’t want to use regular hand sanitizer again.

Bare Minerals lipstick – 3. Buxom Lip Gloss in Dolly;  4. Marvelous Moxie Lipstick in ‘Stand Out’:  I’m a creature of habit, in general, when it comes to my makeup products.  A friend of mine let me use her ‘buxom’ lip color a few years ago, and I’ve been using this gloss ever since.  My favorite shade is ‘Dolly’.  I love the natural sheen, the cooling tingle when I apply it, and the fact that its quite moisturizing.  I found the lipstick shade ‘Stand Out’ at a local spa/nail salon.  Its a wee bit dark and matte, but looks great layered under or over lighter gloss, and stays put–its my new favorite fall shade.

5. Pressed Face Powder (Makeup Forever Duo-Mat):  I got this powder at Sephora, on the recommendation of an awesome sales associate, who understood the needs of my crazy skin. (After a few rounds of Accutane in my 20’s, my skin is quite sensitive and doesn’t react well to a lot of cosmetic lines).  This silky powder would provide all the coverage needed for someone with good skin, but I use it over a light layer of Bare Minerals powder foundation.  I love the coverage, and the fact that it covers the rosacea on my cheeks quite nicely and naturally.

6. Triple Action Cleansing Water Makeup Remover:   Confession time: for many years, I didn’t use makeup remover–just soap and water.  Usually makeup remover made my skin irritated, or dry or tight.  I discovered this ‘triple action cleansing water’ remover at Sephora, and love it.  I now consider this product a new permanent fixture in my skin care regime. 

7. Puressential Headache Roller Natural Oils:   I suffer from headaches pretty regularly.  Last year, when my husband and I were in Paris, I ducked into a pharmacy quickly to buy an over the counter pain reliever.  I thought I was buying a bottle of ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but quickly discovered a ‘happy accident’ because of the language barrier.  When I asked for a pain reliever for my headache, I was given a small natural oil headache roller.  (And it was cheap at under 8 euros!)  Its one of the best natural oil remedies I’ve ever used for a headache, and I’ve tried plenty.  It actually contains 9 different natural oils, whereas most products have one or two.   I carry it everywhere in my purse.  It most definitely takes the edge off of a migraine.   You can purchase it on Amazon–just watch out for the high overseas shipping. {If you suffer from headaches regularly, I think its worth it.}

(Not Pictured) Mygrastick  (headache) natural oil roller:  My friend found me another natural oil headache roller when I was out of my favorite one above – this one is a very close second – and a wonderful treatment if you don’t want to pay overseas shipping.  The main ingredient is peppermint oil, and it smells wonderful!

8. CeraVe Face Wash (for normal to oily skin):  I had the hardest time finding a face wash that wasn’t a gazillion bucks, and still made my skin happy.  My dermatologist recommended this one, and I love it.  {I was using Cetaphil for oily skin previously, and FYI:  my derm didn’t like the fact that it contained castor oil.}  You can find it at most grocery and drugstores, and the large size is under $15.

9. Natural Muscle Rub ‘What’s Hurting You’ – Organic Pain Relief:  This muscle rub lives regularly in my gym bag, and soothed my sore muscles and shin splints during multiple dance/tap classes last year.  I also use it regularly on my neck and shoulders when a headache strikes.  It’s made entirely of natural oils that help decrease inflammation, and is handmade in Texas.  If you are local to Dallas/Fort Worth, its available in a variety of stores, but otherwise, order it direct here.

10. Clinique Moisture Surge Gel Moisturizer:  I fell in love with the light and cooling feeling of this gel-like moisturizer when I first found it in my free Clinique freebies bag last year.  Its not cheap, but a normal sized jar lasts me almost a year.  If your skin is sensitive, and you want a light moisturizer, this one’s great.

11. Redken All Soft Argan Oil: My superstar hair stylist Sally turned me on to this hair product, and its now a staple in my hair care regime.    A little goes a long way – this bottle has lasted me over a year.  The oil used in the popular Moroccan oil products, it has a variety of good benefits to the hair.  Apply it to wet, clean hair to help it dry quicker, and keep your hair soft and nourished.  It’s a great styling tool to rub into your hair before flat ironing (I usually use a smaller amount when applying to dry hair).  It also gives your hair a lovely shine without weighing it down, and smells wonderful, too.  Sally has said if she was forced to only use ONE product on her hair, this one would be it.

12. Bare Minerals Foundation (Barely Light):  I have used Bare Minerals foundation for a good many years now–its one of my favorite makeup products.  I had terrible acne in my early 20’s, and in my early 30’s, struggled to find makeup that didn’t irritate my face.  I don’t know if it was serendipitous timing, or hormones, or what –but as soon as I started using this makeup in place of liquid foundation, my skin cleared up completely.  They have great colors to match various skin tones, and has an SPF.  Bare Escentuals claims the makeup is gentle enough to sleep in, and while I’m sure skin care experts would cry, “No! Don’t do it!”, I confess I have slept in it a time or two with no breakouts.  If you’re looking for a good mineral makeup, look no further.

13. Dolce & Gabbana – Light Blue Perfume:   I hesitated to put my perfume on this list, because I’m gonna be honest – it’s not cheap.  {And I am nothing, if not a thrifty beauty product girl.} My sweet husband has given me the larger size  as a Christmas gift, but I found a travel size priced at around $20 at Sephora.  I’m sharing this beauty product with you because it is hands down, my favorite perfume on the planet.  I have terrible allergies, and haven’t been able to use many wonderfully scented perfumes, but this one is light enough that it never bothers my allergies, but has the staying power to last a long while, and be used lightly.

I’d love to hear what you think if you try or use any of these products.


 What are some of your health and beauty favorites?

Let me know in the comments!

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Day 15…What Love Is All About – {An Interview & Giveaway With Reeve Coobs}


I first discovered Reeve through her blog about a year or so ago.  I was thrilled to find a kindred in the online world who was a musician, and a beautiful, creative soul, who uses her online space to share her music and her life with the world.  She shared a fantastic playlist on my first guest post ever at All Manner of Inspiration.  She wrote one of my favorite 31 Days series last year about her music-filled life.   This year, she has been sharing another of my favorite series – What Love Is All About – reflections on her record and her music–with a giveaway every single day!

{If you haven’t heard Reeve’s music, here’s a recording of one of my favorite songs on the record.  You’re welcome.}


I was thrilled to meet Reeve in real life last year at Allume, and our conversation about family and music around a conference dinner table for a few precious minutes was one of my favorite moments of connection I experienced that weekend.

This year, she has released her first full length album {and one of my favorite album releases this fall}

What Love Is All About.  

{Click the link above to purchase her record and fun merchandise–including t-shirts, keychains and more.}

I was honored and elated when Reeve obliged me and answered some interview questions about her musical influences and new record.  She’s a consummate musician, and I love how she always recommends such incredible music.   Hearing more of her story just makes me love her record all the more.  {Check out the rest of her ’31 Days’ series for insights into her new songs and some fantastic performance videos!}


An Interview with Reeve Coobs

Sarah: Have you lived in North Carolina all of your life?  How does where you live influence your music? (nature around you, community, friends, etc.)


Reeve: I have lived in North Carolina all but two years of my life. I moved to Tennessee in 2001 and loved my little life there, but I’m definitely a North Carolina girl through and through. I would say that the South in general influences me. My music has a subtle Southern sound. Sometimes people that aren’t from the South will immediately think I write “country” music. It always makes me giggle because in the South, we don’t necessarily consider steel guitar or a slight accent as “country”, it’s just music to us. But, I think that’s my home coming out through my music.


Sarah: What {or who} were the strongest musical influences for you on this album?


Reeve: Most definitely my electric guitarist/producer/musical soul-mate, Jeff Williams. He worked so very closely with me on this project. [He] always pushes me to become a better writer and gave me [the]constructive criticism I needed. Without him, this record would have NEVER been made.


Sarah:  Who are your Top 10 favorite musical artists?


Reeve:  In no particular order, cause I just can’t…

Gemma Hayes
The Beatles
Over the Rhine
Those Bastard Souls
Jill Andrews
Patty Griffin
Ryan Adams/Whiskeytown
Sarah Harmer


Sarah:  Six word memoir that captures your life as an artist?

Reeve:  She turned her pain into beauty.


Sarah: Top 3 albums to bring to a desert island?



Gemma Hayes – Night on My Side
The Beatles – White Album
Those Bastard Souls – Debt and Departure tied with Over The Rhine – The Trumpet Child


Sarah: Favorite lyricist?

Reeve: Gemma Hayes


Sarah: Favorite guitarist?

Reeve: Gemma Hayes


Sarah: Favorite songwriter?

Reeve: Gemma Hayes (do you see a pattern yet?)


Sarah: Any plans in the works to  tour/perform in support of this album? (along with the CD release party November 1st?)  If so, when and where?


Reeve: I have hopes to,  but no shows outside of North Carolina/South Carolina area as of yet. If anyone wants to host a house concert in their home… I’m there!


Sarah: What is one of your favorite things about your album?


Reeve: The pedal steel guitar on Night Owl. It was played by my friend Rodney Lanier who passed away a few months after he recorded it. I love that I have this memory of him with me forever. And that I can just press play and feel like he’s sitting right next to me.


{This giveaway is now closed.}

I’m giving away a copy of Reeve’s new album to one lucky reader!

{Simply leave a comment on this post, and tell me your favorite musician and album/song by that artist.  Be sure and leave me your email address, so I can contact you if you’re the winner.}

Good Luck!

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{Affiliate links used go directly back into the support of this blog.  All links to Reeve’s music are NOT affiliates, and go to her and her website directly – thanks!}

Day 12…My Favorite Blog Designer {New Design Reveal}

I have been over the moon excited about this blog design for awhile now. I am thrilled to show you my blog’s recent makeover, and the artist and friend who made it all possible!


Abigail Kraft has the sought after talent of being both a brilliant creative artist and a technical whizbang. She both designed and helped me launch All Manner of Inspiration right around this time last year. I was so thrilled with her results, I asked her to help me dream big, and come up with another blog re-design.

She’s integrated many lovely elements into this design, but my favorite is the category bar featured in the header. Simply hover over each picture to read various posts on different aspects of life and inspiration.


Most of the reason I gave my blog a makeover is I wanted to shift focus. I realized that while I love the concept of writing out ‘a life mosaic’, I have another dream for this blog. I’ve enjoyed both nurturing my creative spirit in this online space, and encouraging other creatives.

Thus, I began to realize that All Manner of Inspiration’s main vision is Cultivating The Creative Life.

IMG_4983You hopefully won’t notice a huge shift in the kind of posts I write. {Especially not during this month of 31 Days of Favorites. } I will continue writing out my life, and sharing various forms of inspiration I discover along the way.

I also hope to continue to curate interviews with creatives in various fields, and create a strong sense of community. Look for more linkups {like the current weekend/Sunday linkup}, Sacro Speco. A bigger blogging/artistic dream is podcasting, video interviews, and perhaps a creative community involving online classes and things I’ve yet to dream??

If there is something specific you’d like to see me address on the blog that you haven’t already seen {or perhaps something I’ve written about that you’d like more of}, please drop me a line–I’ve now got a handy-dandy message field for you to fill out that goes right to my inbox under ‘contact me‘.

Another thing I’d love to tell you about is one of the main projects Abigail is working on these days.

Illustration by Abigail Kraft


Abigail’s talents extend into her amazing family. Her mother, Lynnette Kraft, is an author and blogger, and her brother Jared is a composer. The Kraft family has been collaborating on “Ingrid”, a youth novel experience, and is seeking publication later this year. I’m thrilled to feature some of Abigail’s incredible hand-drawn illustrations here. {Can I just say I was so tempted to have her hand-draw graphics for my new blog design? Sounds like the next blog re-design goal!}

Illustrations by Abigail Kraft


Check out Ingrid’s website for more information on the book, {as well as how you can donate to a publishing fund)and its beautiful accompanying soundtrack. I hope to feature Ingrid as a book giveaway when its complete!

I can’t thank Abigail enough for her vision, patience, dedication, artistic spirit and beautiful heart. If you are thinking about a blog or website update, consider Abigail as a collaborative partner — her skills and professionalism are first rate!

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Do you have a favorite artist/designer you’ve collaborated with on your blog?

I’d love to hear about it in the comments!


Day 11…Favorite Scripture ~ My Life Verse


I never expected such a well known passage of Scripture to become my life verse.  I honestly can’t even remember exactly when I ‘claimed’ it, if you will.  I think the Lord has shown me over and over how important it is to truly delight in Him.  He has surprised me and gifted me with so many of my heart’s desires – including the most wonderful ones I didn’t even know I had – but without question, they all came into being out of my walk with God.

This verse fills me with hope.  This verse reminds me I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  This verse reminds me I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  This verse assures me I have no need of a spirit of fear.

This verse draws me back to all of the other promises, assurances, commandments and covenants Scripture holds for me.

Do you have a life verse? 

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Day 10…The Liebster Award! – My Favorite Blogging Surprise

I was unexpectedly delighted and surprised to learn that All Manner Of Inspiration received a  Liebster Award!


The Liebster Award is given by nomination from a fellow blogger.  It’s an award for bloggers with under 200 subscribers made to encourage one another in the blogging trenches–how wonderful is that?  Liebster is a German word for sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing & welcome.  {With a definition like that, I think it just became one of my new favorite words!} 

My real life friend and fellow blogger Nyleen nominated me for this unexpected and lovely dose of writing encouragement!  She has a wonderful blog – Mulling Spices – and is a regular contributor to the Elephant Journal.

Part of the award is answering the 11 questions passed along from the previous winner to help your readers get to know you better.  Since I’m sharing favorites in my answers, I thought this was a perfect addition to my 31 Days.

1. Why did you start blogging?

In 2008, I went overseas to China to perform in a New-York based tour of the musical, The Sound of Music.  I had NO aspirations to be a writer, and my first blog (on blogspot) was a very rambling, unedited online journal of my travels and performing adventures abroad.  I think that first blog had the funniest and wittiest title – Confessions of A Protestant Nun.  I started All Manner of Inspiration in 2012 as another creative outlet after getting married and moving permanently to the Midwest.  I feel like I’ve taken my blogging seriously only the past few years.  I have an insatiable need and calling to write these days, and I am grateful to consider it part of my creative process and calling as an artist.

2. What is your favorite book?

Honestly, picking just one favorite book is like picking a favorite child. (What? Clearly I have no children other than my puppy dog yet.)  I wrote about one of my most favorite reads, Walking On Water, Reflections of Faith & Art by Madeleine L’Engle here, and I also shared some life-changing-for-me reads in this post.  Recent favorites would probably be Bread & Wine by Shauna Niequist and Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me With Apples.  I’m sure there’s a gazillion others I could name, but those are the first titles that came to mind.

3. What makes you laugh out loud?

Random things, I think.  Funny people, my husband when he surprises me with a goofy joke or statement, animals, the classic comedy video, Bill Cosby, Himself; the movie and stage version of Noises Off, Melissa McCarthy, ‘Cam’ on Modern Family.

4. What is your favorite social media medium?

I’ve surprised myself in the last few years by really getting into social media.  I begrudgingly joined Facebook in 2008 when travelling overseas, and for awhile, took a break from it because of a then-cringe-worthy relationship.  If I had to pick a social medium as my favorite, it would most likely be Instagram – I LOVE it!  A close 2nd is Twitter – because I can follow so many interesting people, and find interesting links.  I have to admit that I am probably a little too addicted to social media these days–probably in part because I’m living in a place where I don’t have many, if any close friends.  Its actually been a saving grace in that regard, but I need to continue to learn to balance my social media time.  I think my husband is a rockstar, because he refuses to be on any social media other than LinkedIn.

{I’d be honored if you followed me on Instagram and/or Twitter}

5. Who would play you in a movie?

Hmmm.  The only actress I’ve ever been told I looked like was Julie Delpy of the Before Sunrise movies.  I think I definitely looked like her before I gained weight from hypothyroidism, and I think she’s a very pretty and lovely actress – I was flattered by that compliment.  So, perhaps her.  In my fantasy world – Meryl Streep would play me, and make me seem so much prettier and more interesting than I actually am.  My Dad used to say I reminded him of Kate Winslet in Titanic. {???} I think she’s another great actress, so that wouldn’t be bad either!

6. How long have you been blogging?

Technically, since 2008, but there were HUGE breaks in there.  I blogged at a now-defunct, pretty mediocre blog in 2011.  I’ve been at this site since 2012, and I love it!

7.  What time of the day do you write?

I’m kind of all over the map with this one, but that’s most likely because my schedule is much more free these days than its been for most of my life.  I used to journal in the mornings, and late at night.  I’m trying to be diligent about writing at least 4 hours a day, so lately – its been in the middle of the day.  I tend to get the midnight oil creative inspiration juices flowing at night, after everyone but me is asleep.  So, its a hodge podge, I guess.

8. What is the most annoying song in the universe?

Ugh.  I can never think of these type of songs right off the bat when asked this type of question.  My first thought is Red, Red, Wine by UB40.  When it first came out, it felt like the radio station in my town played it ONE BILLION TIMES A DAY–thereby ruining the laid-back vibe of the song for me.  To this day, if it comes on my radio, I immediately turn it.  I also have to admit I really don’t like most anything by Weird Al Yankovic.

9. What part of your home is your favorite?


There’s this beautiful small sun room in our house that has become my absolute favorite place to read, write, pray and just ‘be’.  There’s a rocking chair that’s been in my husbands family for generations, a comfy couch that the dog has claimed as her own, a ceiling fan when its too hot, and lots of sun streaming through the windows.   I keep Scripture art on the walls and my favorite piece of art I inherited from my grandmother there to help me stay centered during my quiet time.  I’ve never lived in a house with a sunroom before, and its quite lovely.

10. What is your favorite recipe?

I LOVE salad dressings – especially the homemade variety.  Since I learned how easy it is to make your own, I’ve pretty much been doing that regularly these days instead of buying bottled dressings.   In terms of a favorite, it would be hard for me to narrow it down to one particular favorite recipe.    I’ll be posting some of my personal favorite recipes in this 31 Days series in a few days, but here’s one I’ve been making non-stop recently.

I’ve been making Brannon’s Caesar Dressing featured in Shauna Niequist’s book, Bread & Wine almost weekly since reading her book.  Its not  a ‘ceasar-like’ dressing at all, in that its not creamy.  It tastes like a somewhat tart and vinegary vinagrette – and its DELICIOUS.  Combine all of the ingredients below in your food processor, or shake them up in a mason jar, and enjoy:

Salad Dressing You’ll Be Making Every Week

  • 1/4 cup of white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 teaspoon of dijon mustard (I usually add a little extra)
  • 1 tablespoon shredded parmesan cheese
  • a few dashes of hot sauce to taste
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves  (minced with a microplane if you’re not mixing it in the food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

11. What is your favorite season?

It used to be spring all the years I grew up in Kansas.  When I moved to Pennsylvania for about 5 years, I discovered the glories of a real fall season, and fell in love. I now love the changing of the leaves, finally feeling chilly when I go outside, pumpkin-flavored products, and the anticipation of the holidays.  I suppose spring is now a close second, but yep, now I’m a fall-lover.


Thanks so much Nyleen for this lovely award!  I’m honored that someone who writes with such beauty, truth, humor and wit would think to read my blog – love you friend! {And yes, you would kill me in a nonsense word rhyme-off…but I could probably win if we were singing it. Har.Har.}

Check out Nyleen’s blog, Mulling Spices, and give her some love!

One of the best parts of this award is that as soon as you win it, you get to pass on the award love to one of your own favorite bloggers.  I’m excited to nominate one of my blogging kindred spirits for her own Liebster Award:

Katie of Cardigan Way!

Head over to her blog, and give her some love in the comments.

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