Out of the Notebook and into the blog

Monday, June 8, 2015

NO List: Makeup Remover Wipes

Photo: Enrique Badulescu/TrunkArchive.com

I've always been devoted to my skin.  When I was 13 I first became interested in avoiding future wrinkles at all costs, and have tried to be careful with my skin since.  

Every night, there are three things that cause the most annoying little nagging voice in my head.  Not brushing my teeth, not washing my face, and needing a drink of water.  It feels literally impossible to go to sleep without doing these tasks, and I must not be the only one who has relied on a stack of easy to grab makeup remover wipes to put that voice to sleep.  

I've purchased 4 difference packages of different brands ranging from Burts Bee's, Nutregena, Target Brand, Yes2, and they worked great to remove makeup, I was soaking up the easssseee of "washing" my face right after ballet and without leaving my comfy bed at night. After a few usages that magic wore off and my face would burn and turn bright red immediately after using the cloths.  That was the first warning sign...  

After discovering BeautyCounter and Gregg's (BeautyCounters founder) passion to get rid of chemicals and nastiness in the stuff we put on our skin, which clearly played a large portion in my face turning bright red like Rudolphs nose when using the wipes, I've been paying more attention to what I've been using.  

Why they make the No List

The first issue with makeup remover wipes is that many of them have toxic chemicals that are related to cancer and infertility - check out BeautyCounter's A-Z Glossary of ingredients that can be found in skincare (the good and the ugly).

Another huge issue with Makeup Remover wipes is that when you wipe your face with them, you are basically wiping your face with soap - and leaving the soap to sit on your skin, all night long.  Yuck.  It dries out your skin and causes acne.


Make sure to make a trip to the sink before floating into dream land.  I recommend using Tata Harpers Nourishing Oil Cleanser to remove your makeup because if the real ingredients and lack of toxins/chemicals.  If you must use wipes because of their convenience, be sure to rinse your face with water afterwards!  

Have you taken advantage of makeup wipes?  Will you be giving them up?  

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Transformative and Refreshing Meditation

Fun fact: Last semester I meditated at least once a day! St. Thomas is a huge advocate of meditation and has three free classes weekly that are aimed at helping students de-stress and meditate.  While I haven't taken advantage of these classes, which is silly because one of them includes yoga which I pay $15 a class for down the road at CorePower, I was introduced to it during a mentoring breakfast at school.

Pick a Mantra!

For me, the most important part about meditating is to pick a mantra or a word to focus on throughout the meditation.  Love, Kindness, Earth, Happiness, are all good ones.  The hardest part of meditating is to stay focused on nothingness - to draw your thoughts away from the world and inward - to you.

It's so Good for YOU!

For me, I have a hard time sticking with things unless there's proven value that I can recognize from doing it.  Studies show that meditating helps ones overall health, helps with depression greatly, helps you live longer, helps your memory, and decreases anxiety.  Meditating actually changes your brain, causing different parts of it to light up and be more engaged and active than if you weren't meditating!

Clearing your Mind? 

One of the goals of mediating is to not let your mind wander into "thoughts" of the outside world.  However, when meditating my guide/instructor constantly reminded us to not feel bad about it happening.  It's completely normal to think of outside thoughts, and you shouldn't punish yourself for it.  Simply reel your thoughts back in and focus again on meditating.  Repeat as often as necessary and never beat yourself up for it!

Where to meditate and how to do it? 

I like to meditate in my room with the free Calm app.  I love the Calm app because it has beautiful backgrounds to bliss out to, white noise for after you meditate, and a great selection of free guided meditations such as a body scan.  

Another even better choice for a free and huge selection of guided meditations is the University of St. Thomas's Project for Mindfulness and Meditation app that includes 22 different meditations such as Laughter, Purifying, Living from our True Self, and more.  

What's your meditating experience like?  Are you up to trying it?  I'd say challenge accepted ;) 

Monday, June 1, 2015

How to use Smoke Bombs to create Dramatic Senior Portraits

Jade wanted her senior portraits to be unique - something different than the rest.  We brainstormed and I suggested incorporating smoke bombs into our shoot.  The created drama and interesting portraits to fill her gallery with.

First things first is purchasing smoke bombs.  I at first debated making my own following tutorials online.  However, I passed up that idea because using a toilet paper tube looks much less professional than the packaging a real smoke bomb comes in.  The homemade ones also take quite a bit of time to make and end up costing about the same price.  Because I live in Minnesota, a friend and I went over the boarder to Wisconsin to pick some up at a fireworks shop.

These are the two types of colored smoke bombs that I purchased.  I wasn't sure which would be better, and the small balls had more color selections - or so I thought.  The salesman said that the larger (second image) only had red and white in it, but it ended up having yellow, purple, and even blue.

In terms of which of the two I would recommend purchasing?  Definitely the Jumbo smoke Canister.  It lasted long enough to get a plethora of images, the colors were vibrant and and it lasted for a good two minutes.  The smaller bombs that are shown in the first image really aren't worth it.  They last for about 15 seconds and aren't that vibrant.  You'll go through them way too quickly and will need a ton.

For every photo that is shown in this post, only one smoke bomb was used per shot.  If you want a smokier effect, I would throw a second canister in, but just one has a nice effect.

It is extremely important to have a helper with the smoke bombs - someone to light the bomb.  Jade's boyfriend was with her for her shoot, and he lit the smoke bombe when we were ready.  You could also have your senior's mom light it.  The smoke goes away quickly, so having someone else light it gives you more opportunities to get the shot you need.  

Before you light the smoke bombs, go over what poses you want your senior to do.  Practice them beforehand and direct where you want her to be moving, and what you want her to be doing.  There isn't enough time while the smoke bomb is lit to give her directions.  

Before lighting the bomb, do quite a few practice shots to ensure that your settings are correct for the bombs.  You may want to increase the shutter speed by a bit to ensure you get a clear shot, since their are no redo's with smoke bombs!  They literally only last for 2 minutes if you get the good ones - the small ball's that are shown in the first photo last for about 15 seconds - not enough time to make any changes to camera settings.  

When your shoot is done and you are editing photos, I find that burning the smoke creates a more dramatic affect and really brings out the color!

Smoke bombs are a great way to add some non-traditional excitement to your seniors session!  Creating dramatic photos for seniors is a lot of fun, and while their parents often will be purchasing the classic portraits that you take, seniors love having bold and expressive shots for Facebook and Instagram!

Summary of Smoke Bomb tips:

.Stock up - you'll go through more than you expect!
.Going to a firework store is often less expensive than using Amazon.
.Make sure to purchase the longer lasting smoke bombs - often this means you'll be purchasing the colored canisters which are awesome.
.Make sure to have an assistant to light the smoke bomb - your clients boyfriend, her mom, or your own personal assistant.
.Go over poses with your client before you light the smoke bombs.
.Make sure your camera settings are good before the bomb is lit - higher shutter speed helps with the movement to ensure you won't have blurry photos, and creating slightly darker photos than usual will make sure that the color of the smoke isn't blown out.
.When you process the photos in photoshop, burning the smoke can really bring out the color and make the smoke pop.

What's your experience with smoke bombs? Love them for shoots or no?

Thursday, April 16, 2015

College is Competitive And Common Core can Help

Photo by myself, more at Reyna Meinhardt Photography 

College is, and needs to be competitive.  

Things I've learned as a student at the University of St. Thomas, a competitive private college:

1) You must have a strong tool kit of critical thinking skills

2) Real life "soft skills" are crucial. 
3) A common core knowledge in maths and sciences is critical to success.
4) Classes aren't just about memorizing and getting the right answers every time.  
5) Classes are more about applying skills to real life situations, critical thinking, analyzing, and learning how to work with other people. 
6) Being competitive and competent in college is crucial to getting a great job after college.

The kids that enter college without these skills struggle, their grades suffer resulting in a low GPA that is hard to get back up, they end up having to pay more to re-take classes, and often drop out. 

Photo by Joy Prouty 

I was homeschooled and in Minnesota, a homeschooler isn't required to take the yearly  success competitive required exams.  One of the big critiques of these exams for parents was that teachers were teaching just so their students would get good grades on the exams - memorize, memorize, memorize.  My mom worked hard to not teach my brother and I in a memorization only way, but rather in a life skill gaining, tool box, curiosity filled style.  As a result, I feel that I was actually more prepared than my peers in college and I am excited that high school curriculum is making a change in this direction.  

I can vouch that memoriziation isn't going to help in real life - it's about the soft and critical thinking skills.  The new common core assessments are  replacing the previous end of year assessments (!!!) and are great because they ask students to demonstrate and apply what they know, instead of just picking the right answer from a multiple-choice question. (according to Be a Learning Hero)

Photo By myself, more at Reyna Meinhardt Photography

The new common core standards are setting higher standards and using better tests to see if students are reaching the goals needed to put students on a path to success.  It is exciting that we have already seen resulting in improved student performance!  Be a Learning Hero states that "In Kentucky, the first state to begin using the Common Core State Standards, the percentage of high school graduates ready for college and careers has increased from 34 percent to 62 percent in four years."  

Change is hard and it takes time!  Adjusting to new standards, new tests, new homework, etc. is a process, but it's what's best for students.  Be a Learning Hero, partnered with national PTA, is an amazing resource available to parents.  They have a bucket full of wonderful videos to watch that fill you in on the common core and answer questions that you likely have.  They also have some great apps that are approved by teachers and help supplement the common core!  A great tool to get your child ready for next fall.  There is also a homework help section which is a great tool to take advantage of.  

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Live Refreshed: 5 Non Toxic Candle Picks

Photo: William Sonoma

Burning candles are such a simple way to refresh your life, and a simple reminder to be more mindful.  As a downside - many of them are actually toxic.  

Scented candles often have paraffin wax in them (check the labels!), which creates extremely toxic pollutants.  Relaxing in pollution doesn't sound attractive.  South Carolina State University published this research on candles:

"The paraffin candles we tested released unwanted chemicals into the air.  For a person who lights a candle every day for years of just uses them frequently, inhalation of these dangerous pollutants drifting in the air could contribute to the development of health risks like cancer, common allergies and even asthma. said Massoudi a chemistry professor in the Department of Biological and Physical Sciences." 

Yuck!  Luckily, there's a few great alternatives.  

Beeswax candles are my new obsession, because they actually release negative ions - which means they are actually GOOD for the air and help clean and refresh the air in your apartment and homes.  Plus, you don't have to give up yummy smells, just look for ones that are scented with essential oils.  

Here are my favorite healthy candles for you to try: 

William Sonoma's lovely pink grapefruit (Hello Spring scents!) natural essential oils candle.  Plus it's only $15.96

The Smoke Ash candle from Baxter is to lust after.  It's meant to be a men's candle, but girl's, we'll enjoy it's yummy scent just as much. It's a soy candle, healthy for the environment, and healthy for our souls.  

Mrs. Meyer's soy candles are perfect if you are an avid candle burner - they are $9.99 and still healthy (soy) so you won't feel guilty splurging on all of her refreshing Spring scents, like the Geranium one pictured here.  Plus, how cute are the containers?!

Well, I had to picture this one for kicks.  A cannabis scented BEESWAX (yay for beeswax!) candle.  Better to light a candle than to smoke it! Plus your actually making the world healthier by indulging! Malin+Goetz also has some flavors on Amazon such as mojito, or dark rum.  

One of my favorite online places to shop is Nordstroms - free shipping and free returns. They have this lovely Malie candle that has a 100% cotton wick (always look for cotton wicks!), and completely soy, petroleum free candle.  Drift peacefully into the Hawaiian State of mind!

Have you tried any beeswax or soy candles? I want to try them to!  Leave a comment to give me the details, and let's start a discussion! 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Insta Monday - SeanGaleBurke

Sean Gale Burke

Sean Gale Burke.  Let me tell you.  There's nothing like following a preppy boy instagrammer that also happens to be an amazing photographer.  His stream smells of Polo Ralph Lauren, bow ties, and everything summer dreams are made of.

Take a peak into his life with me on Instagram here: https://instagram.com/seangaleburke/ or view his photography work on his website here: http://www.seangaleburke.com

1) leave your Instagram name in the comments so I can follow your pretty accounts!

2)Tell me who's Instagram accounts you've been drooling over?!

3) Follow me at: http:/instagram.com/reynagirl95

Friday, February 20, 2015

If you miss Serial...

Serial Podcast swept the world by storm in October and recently came to an end…leaving me with serious withdrawal.  I finally said enough is enough and looked up some new Podcasts that are worth listening to.

My favorite so far has been Invisibilia which resulted in me binge listening to all 7 episodes in a matter of two days.  Invisibilia looks into the psychological strangeness of life and us as beings.  It is interesting because it uses research to delve into the why's and what's of strange things we experience that we don't realize are even happening.  One of the episodes focuses on why people feel better in "categories" and other's explore fear, what would happen without it and why we experience it.

Photo: Invisibilia 

What Podcasts do you love?