Date Archives January 2021

My New Winter Skincare Routine

Earlier this week I walked about my 2021 goals which included more physical and mental self-care. One thing that included for me was developing a skincare routine. 

I was always one of those really annoying people who always had decent skin. For the longest time my only skincare was some off-brand “morning hydration” face and body lotion and baby wash. And micellar water to take off makeup, when I remembered. And with that, I only ever had at most a couple pimples or a few light bumps. 

A couple of years ago, the universe played a sneaky Uno reverse card on me and took away my simple, easy skin. Replaced it with oily skin summers and dry, cracking winters. I did the bare minimum to care for my skin, mostly just addressing things as they came up, instead of preventing the problems. The upside of all the spare time I had in 2020 meant I watched a lot of skincare Instagrams. Like a lot. And I actually started to learn about caring for my skin.

So when winter came again this year, the incredible dryness came with it. Even though it hasn’t been too terribly cold this year, and I’m not going outside that often, I’m still getting cracks on my hands, my lips, and around my nose. And yes, they all hurt so, so badly. But this year I am prepared! I’ve been using these products to keep my skin as healthy as possible, and I use just 4 products almost every night and have amazing results. 

Before we go forward, I am not a dermatologist, esthetician, or skin care expert. This routine is what works for my normal to dry skin. I recommend these products based on my experience, but if you are unsure on products, you should do your own research or contact a professional for assistance on your skin. 

Affiliate links ahead, I make commissions on these links to no extra cost to you. 

Morning Skincare Routine

Organized mornings aren’t necessarily my strength lately. The morning “routine” isn’t really much of a routine at all, but rather things I do to my skin at miscellaneous points of the morning.

Once I’m up, I’ll take my Invisalign trays out, brush my teeth, and just splash some water on my face. I’ll pat with a washcloth until my skin is damp and then put on a thick moisturizing cream. Usually, I’ll use a pump of Cetaphil on my hands and face, followed by Aquaphor on my lips.

During the day I’ll add more Aquaphor if I need, or any other chapstick I have stashed around my house. Most days I won’t need to reapply any lotion to my face, but will for my hands. I keep a bottle of lotion on my desk to use whenever throughout the day. Lately it’s been the Unfiltered by Raw Sugar Blueberry & Thyme Hand Cream that I got as a gift from a friend.

Nighttime Skincare Routine

I’m definitely starting to enjoy having a real nighttime skincare routine. I thought it would be a chore at first, but very quickly it started to feel like a luxury! I stick with the routine probably 5 nights a week, which is pretty good for someone who had zero routine at all a month ago.

If I have makeup on, I start off with the Garnier’s Micellar Water and use it with reusable bamboo cotton rounds. If I don’t have any makeup on, I’ll jump into the skincare routine with a quick rinse with water and pat with a washcloth.

Cluster of skincare products: The Ordinary's Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid 2% with B5, and Pond's Dry Skin Cream

Then I’ll dampen a cotton round with The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. I like it because it’s a very gentle toner and it’s alcohol free. It helps remove dead skin cells from your face and a faster acting hit of hydration for your skin. After that, I squeeze a few drops of Hyaluronic Acid into my palms and press that in my face, neck, and the top of my chest if I can. I use The Ordinary Hylauronic Acid 2% with B5. Hyaluronic acid helps replenish moisture in your skin and the B5 prevents moisture loss. Last on my face, I’ll use either Cetaphil or Pond’s Dry Skin Cream.

Stack of skincare products: Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment for lips and Burt's Bees Overnight Intensive Lip Treatment.

For my lips, I’ll put on some Aquaphor right after brushing my teeth, and then the Burt’s Bees Overnight Intensive Lip Treatment. I wanted to try the Laneige lip masks, but I just can’t justify a $22 fancy chapstick. My sister loved the Burt’s Bees one, and I’ve been really happy with it. 

Skincare product The Ordinary's Rose Hip Seed Oil

When it comes to keeping the rest of my skin healthy, I keep it pretty simple. I use The Ordinary’s Rose Hip Seed Oil on my legs, arms, and back, and then go use a shea butter lotion (whatever I can find on sale really) on my legs and arms. The rose hip seed oil is supposed to help with reducing scars, so I try to apply it every night. I have incredibly pale skin and I’m super sensitive to bug bites, so living not far from the bay has wreaked havoc on my skin in that aspect. I’ve been using it for a couple months now, so it’s probably too early to tell if it’s made much of a difference. I’m going to stick with it and update you all in a few more months.

Taking the time to care for my skin and using skincare products is a totally new thing for me. I really thought it would be a chore to have a skincare routine and a difficult time to find budget friendly skincare. Really though, developing the habit has been kind of a luxury. And most importantly, this winter skincare routine is saving my dry, crackong skin! Keep an eye out on future posts for a follow up on these products.

Setting Goals for 2021

2020 was a hell of a year, high highs and insanely low lows. I started this year having finished my Bachelor’s degree, having amazing interviews for jobs in DC, in the best shape of my life, and with some seriously high goals for the year. By June, I had spent 4 months away from my SO, had an amazing job of a lifetime offer rescinded, and was entirely unemployed. And then by the end of the year, I had moved into a house with my SO, I’ve launched a small business, really enjoying my blog, and am doing pretty okay financially.

I’m pretty sure I got annoyed earlier this year and deleted all my 2020 goals (which like, fair). So I can’t actually go over last year’s goals. But I can set some new ones for this year! I like to set a lot of goals, but I think I kept them all pretty reasonable. Most of them are a specific, measurable thing, and some are more vague, and vague on purpose. I keep some goals very general because I don’t want to commit to something too massive and regret it, and it lets me determine what “enough” was at the end of the year. 

Can sitting on my couch more be a goal?

This year I broke my goals into a couple of categories, Personal Finance, Health, Work, Home, and Personal. Finance is definitely the most important one to me. At the end of December, I established my own business and officially started working for myself after a year of job applications and a lot of unemployment during COVID. I’m really excited about the new branding and website to be launching before the end of this month. But I’m putting in a lot of work to make sure that I’m making enough money this year to build up my savings, plan for the long term, and start addressing my student loans. 

Personal Finance

  • Earn $5,000 per month
  • Earn $1,000 this year from Moira The Explorer
  • Pay off one Stafford Loan
  • Save $1,000 for a new car
  • Open a retirement account (this one is definitely a stretch goal!)


  • Incorporate more vegetarian/vegan meals
  • Workout 3 times a week
  • Get back into running


  • Launch my new website
  • Launch an influencer marketing newsletter
  • Launch a podcast
  • Write regularly (for Explorer Media, Moira The Explorer, and more!)


  • Paint the bedroom
  • Get home gym/workout corner set up
  • Finish Gus’s cage


  • Sew more
  • Read more books
  • Volunteer more often and do more in my community
  • Eat breakfast more
  • Cook more new recipes (and really just learn to cook better!)
  • Get back to the barn
  • Do more physical and mental self-care
  • Get up earlier, giving myself enough time to enjoy my mornings!

Like I said, a lot of goals this year, but I tried to keep them all pretty attainable. I want to keep on track with these, so part of my accountability will be checking in with myself and you every couple of months to update progress on my goals. Keep an eye out for those posts, and let me know your progress along the way too! What are your goals for this year? Do we have any similar ones? 

Sunday Sips 1.17

Good morning all! Writing to you on a Saturday night from the new couch, curled up watching Star Wars with C. It’s been a while couple of weeks, and I really wanted to take some time to sit down and write for a little. What’s on my mind, what I’ve been watching and reading, and whatever else. And of course, what made the name of the most, what I’m sipping while I’m writing.

Caption: Credit to Jenna Urben from

Today’s Sip: Dairy Free Hot Cocoa

Today’s post is brought to you by The Urben Life’s Dairy Free Hot Cocoa Recipe. For most of my life I eaten pretty dairy free, and doubled down on it a few years ago when I became lactose intolerant. One thing I hadn’t been able to find was an easy cocoa mix, and I missed it so so much. I found Jenna’s recipe last week and I have not been able to stop drinking it. It’s so easy to make, and tastes amazing with Vanilla Almond Milk. You should absolutely check it out, and I’m going to heat up another mug.

Girl Scout Cookie Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, Girl Scout Cookie Season is here! My neighbor down the street is selling them, and low key, I may have bought $40 worth of cookies already. I’m not proud, but it’s worth it for the thin mints. Order some here and support a local scout!

Stephanie McNeal – Influencer Reporting 

I started following Stephanie McNeal on Instagram a couple months ago and honestly, I love her account. I don’t follow too too many influencers on my own social channels, but I really enjoy her brief overviews of influencer news, updates on drama and businesses, and just providing the general view of the industry. Plus she’s friendly and funny and relatable, which makes everything way more fun.

Fleabag Season 2 on Prime

Fleabag is totally not a new show on Amazon, but I never got around to catching up on the show. I finally watched this week, and it’s totally worth it! Definitely more of a hefty PG-13 rated watch, and not for mixed company. But it is amazing. Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s writing is aggressively real and there isn’t anything better, currently, than Fleabag.

2021 Inauguration & Far Right Response

For those of you who don’t know me as well, the political process is something I hold pretty near and dear to my heart. I grew up in a very political family, I focused a lot on politics in high school, and I went to DC to major in Political Science. I have spent most of my life following politics, and one day I do see myself doing my civic duty to serve in office. For four years I was frustrated day in and day out seeing Trump’s disregard for this country and the office of the president. And every day it seemed to get worse, culminating in what we saw earlier this month, the President of the United States inciting a riot, inciting violence against congress, inciting an insurrection against the US Government. It’s horrifying to see what division Trump and Republican leadership has brought upon us, and the lack of appropriate response from both sides. And it’s horrifying to see the real sides of people, to find out who does and does not care for others beyond themselves.

Closing this post and opening a new week, I invite any and all of you to do all you can to raise your voice and raise others alongside you. This Tuesday is Nation Run for Office Day, and I’m challenging you to pledge to run for office, especially at local or state levels. Check out Run for Something and see where you can make a difference by running in your community. 

Book Explorer Vol. 4 | 2021 Reading Goals

We made it y’all! 2021 is here, the mood is up, and the hopes are high for this year. In hindsight, 2020 overall wasn’t a terrible year, but I’m ready for a fresh start this year and looking forward to seeing what it brings!
Reading-wise, I didn’t get through too many books in December. I spent most of it with my nose to the grindstone with work, putting the house together, and prepping for Christmas. Luckily all of it paid off, everyone loved their gifts, the house is looking beautiful, and January is looking to be a really growing and busy month (more on that soon!). What I am looking forward to talking about though, my 2021 reading goals and my current TBR list!


The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by VE Schwab


The Guest List by Lucy Foley
5/5 stars

I finished this book at literally 1 AM, stayed up because the last quarter was just that good and I Could. Not. Stop. I’m usually pretty good at catching the twists, but this one came out of nowhere and hit me like a freight train. SUCH a good read! My only critique is that it takes a few chapters to get used to the pacing and timeline structure of the book. Even with that, would absolutely recommend. It reads like a Netflix series and I cannot wait for this one to be picked up! Gonna go ahead and say it, I think The Guest List is the best book I read in 2020.


In 2020, for the first time in years I actually hit my reading goal! I set it pretty low, 12 books for the year. I got a little jammed up over the summer, a few books really held me up, but I tore through a bunch in the fall! In total, according to Goodreads, I read 4,343 pages this year! 

For my 2021 reading goals, I want to go higher, but nothing too crazy. Like I said, work is kicking up, and I don’t want to overcommit to a goal that I can’t hit! I’m thinking of setting a goal of 15 books, with a big reach goal of 20 books! If I don’t hit 20, it’s no biggie. I really want to get to at least 15 though! Biggest strategy for getting through all these books? Join as many book clubs as possible! Book clubs really help me finish the books, and I enjoy getting everyone else’s thoughts on the books. Plus, it’s nice to have the social interaction with my favorite subject!

And just like last year, reading diversely is a really important focus. In 2020, I did moderately better, but not nearly good enough. I read 75% female authors, 8% authors of color, and 16% non-American authors, one male and one female.

Going to go ahead and start with, wow that was terrible. It was my goal in 2020 to read primarily diversely, and I absolutely didn’t even get close to that. Sure, I read overwhelmingly female authors, which is good, but not even close to good enough. So, moving from that, I’m taking my 2021 reading diversity goals from Mackenzie at the Bad Bitch Book Club, 40% or less by white authors and 30% or more by women of color. While my total reading goal is pretty low, I’m also following Bad Bitch Book Club Book Prompts to help pick my books this year.


The ever-growing, never-ending To Be Read pile. There are so, so many that I’m dying to get to/through! I want to read through more of the books that I’ve had on my shelves for a while and decide whether they’re worth keeping. Then again, I do have a brand new full-size bookshelf and plenty of spaces to fill! Without further ado, the top of my TBR pile!

Tall Stack of books containaing Becoming by Michelle Obama, One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London, City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert, Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi, and an Amazon Nook e-reader

Becoming by Michelle Obama
One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London
City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert
Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi
An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
Big Friendship by Aminatou Sow & Ann Friedman

What are your 2021 Reading Goals and what’s on your TBR list? Let me know!

See My Previous Book Explorer Posts

Keep up with what I’m reading daily on my Bookstagram, MoiraTheBookExplorer and catch my reviews early on Goodreads. Looking for more non-book related content? Follow my main Instagram, MoiraTheExplorer, and keep an eye out for my email newsletter!

PS If you want to see any books I decide to sell, check the Books for Sale highlight on my bookstagram!