Posts in Lifestyle

My New Budget Friendly 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 winter 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 Instagram posts. 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 my winter skincare routine with a quick rinse with water and pat with a washcloth.

Cluster of winter 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 winter 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. 

Winter 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, cracking 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!)

Health

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

Work

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

Home

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

Personal

  • 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? 

I Moved! Meet Hygge House

Big news folks, I moved! Readers, meet Hygge House. Hygge House, meet the blog

A while back, I mentioned that Beau and I would be moving into our own place soon, and we finally did! We’re in a cute little three bedroom, one bathroom home not too far from each of our parents’ homes and not terribly far from Beau’s office.

Fall exterior photo of Hygge House

Closing

It was a super stressful week leading up to it, the closing ended up being pushed two days, and the morning of, we weren’t even sure that we would be closing! So it was a very low stress time for me, obviously. But closing day itself went so smoothly, everything was signed, sealed, and delivered by 10 AM! Immediately we jumped into work mode. The hot water heater had to be replaced, we made the world’s largest Costco order of cleaning supplies, and everything started getting boxed up. It was a chaotic day that we ended with pizza, champagne, and our families over the house. 

That first weekend, we moved in so many boxes and made the first of many Ikea trips. It’s now been three weeks since we moved in, the place still looks a bit like a bomb went off (just a little!), and we’re so excited to be here. The house is a great starter home, and we couldn’t be more excited to make it our home. We’ve been slowly getting into projects, most of which so far have been fixing, cleaning, and prepping for winter! 

DIY Work

There hasn’t been too much work to do inside, nothing that can’t be proper DIY’d! We’ve replaced the hot water heater, a cabinet door, and I’m just about an expert on repairing toilets by now! Outside, our landlord had a company come in to do the heavy lifting work. Taking down a dead tree, repairing the old retaining wall, and upgrading the fencing. We still have to take down the old shed, seal the wood on the deck, mow everything, and the raking, my gosh, the raking we’ve had to do! It doesn’t help that the grass is super long and most of the leaves are wet from all this rain we’ve been having. It’s been a lot of work getting everything in shape again, but we couldn’t be happier to be doing it!
There are a lot more exciting DIY projects on the horizon too! Painting, furniture building, and maybe even a sneaky wallpaper, if I can get Beau on board with it! Keep an eye here and on my Instagram for more projects as they go!

Our Style

Finding our goal design was a tough one for us. Beau and I aren’t not boho or farmhouse or minimalist kind of people. It took a while for us (mostly me) to figure out what kind of style we wanted for our home. When we thought of our home, we thought about warmth, coziness, and feeling at home the second you stepped inside. After many hours on Pinterest (see the inspo board here!), we (mostly me) settled on a ~vibe,~ the aesthetic cabin core. We’re not going for Pinterest perfect right away, it’s definitely a work in progress to get there, but it helped us pick out our colors and first pieces of furniture!

Hygge House

Blame it on romanticism, blame it on the trend of naming cars, or blame it on the eight thousand times I’ve listened to Folklore, but the house needed a name. She just did. And it was so hard to come The house itself felt like she needed some TLC, emphasis on the L. There’s a bunch of small pieces of junk in the backyard, the shed’s seen better days, inside is a lot of hammer to fit/paint to finish. She needs some open arms, mom hug kind of house love and appreciation. That need, plus our ideal cozy cabin aesthetic lead us to one name pretty easily, Hygge House. If you don’t know what hygge means, it’s a Dutch word for the quality of cozy, charming, or comfortable that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being. Then, finding this adorable doormat at Ikea, it sealed the deal for us, our house became Hygge House.

Hygge Ikea mat in front of Hygge home

We’re so excited to be in our own place, be more independent, and make Hygge House a comfy, cozy home! Keep an eye out for more home-related content on the blog, or see it as it happens on my Instagram.

Things I’m Loving Vol. 1

Hey! One month blogging down! It was a slow start, and as I write this I still haven’t finished the branding (oops), but we’re getting there. Posting regularly is the first and biggest step though, you’re not a blog if you’re not writing!

This is the first in a regular series on my site. I know like, every blogger has one of these Things I’m Loving on the Radar in my Tuesday Thoughts. But it genuinely is one of my favorite kinds of posts to read. I’ve found great things to read or buy, as well as some great new people to follow. So, lucky for you, you get one of these posts every single month! 

In these posts, my goal isn’t to just try to sell you random stuff. If it’s made it to this list it really is something that I’m loving, have been using, or recently purchased myself.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga

First of all, I live for Eurovision. It is truly the highlight of my year, every year since 2016. We live, we love, we stan Jamala always. 

When Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga first came out, I went through a wave of emotions. Super excited at the idea, less so at Will Ferrel, and then pretty nervous as to what an American’s take on Eurovision would be. I put off watching it, in case it was terrible, but finally got around to watching it while I was in the Poconos. I was hesitantly excited going into it, and y’all. It. Was. SOGOOD. 10/10, would recommend. It’s a very fun watch if you know about Eurovision, but it explains enough to it’s still friendly for non-Eurovision watchers!

Universal Threads Shirt Dress

Since the summer started, I’ve been very into the house dress. I can toss it on in the morning and feel like I actually tried, without having to put on pants. It works for Zoom calls, quick errands, running laundry, or just hanging out. I’ve been buying a few more dresses during the QT to round out my wardrobe, and this one from Target, has been SUPER comfy. So much so, I bought it in blue and red. It’s almost out of stock now, but hopefully, it’ll be back soon! 

Outside Xbox Streams

Outside Xbox and Outside Xtra are two of my favorite YouTube channels. Since the start of the UK quarantine, the two sister channels have been streaming gameplay multiple days a week and the streams are great! If you’re not a gamer, streams make for good background noise for laundry days or something to have on while you work that isn’t Love is Blind for the third time. I really enjoy long and more story-heavy games, so the Bloodborne and Red Dead Redemption 2 have been right up my alley. For the non-gaming viewer, the Animal Crossing streams are super fun, as well as Fall Guys and the D&D streams as well!

American Royals

When my book club picked American Royals as our August book, I was pretty meh about it. I didn’t really know what it was about and I’m also one of those annoying people who doesn’t like a popular thing just because it is popular (it’s bad I know). But I decided to get it and read it anyways. I borrowed the e-book from my local library and then proceeded to absolutely devour this book. I didn’t read every day, but it only took three very late nights to finish American Royals. It’s so SO good, and I purchased the sequel, American Royals: Majesty today! I would highly recommend giving American Royals a read, whether from your local library, independent bookseller, or black-owned bookstore! And if you like this, keep an eye out for my next Book Explorer post and follow me on Goodreads.

Pocono Summer Travel Guide

Let me just start by saying, the Poconos is probably one of, if not my absolute favorite place on Earth. It’s beautiful, it’s quiet, and it’s cool all year round. The beau’s family has a house up here, and I fell in love with it the first time we came up here. 

This past trip was my first time visiting the Poconos in the summer, and it was beautiful. Also, cold! Being from New Jersey and knowing the house had no air conditioning, I packed lots of light clothes (shorts, tank tops, summer sweaters) and prepared for sleepless summer nights. Lo and behold, first night up there, I ended up searching for blankets in the middle of the night!

Despite the chilly weather, we still managed to get out and about, and see some new things on our weekend away. 

Friday

Friday was mostly nonsense day. We left the house around 11, making a very important stop for Pork Roll, Egg, & Cheese bagel. Unfortunately, the bagel was pretty lacking. In better news, we made great time, almost no traffic on the road! We had a quick stop to pick up some supplies for the house from family, and arrived around 4 PM. We brought everything inside and opened up the windows to get a breeze going, and then did a grocery run for the weekend.

Friday night we planned to do takeout, which was a good choice, especially after a day of driving. We hit up Jubilee, which is the best restaurant in the Poconos, and got some tasty dinner, and then had a nice low key night watching the sunset over the lake.

Blue and orange sunset over late with deciduous trees and reflection over the water.

Saturday

We were up early on Saturday to hike Bushkill Falls. It was a pretty long drive and a little crowded at the entrance. Everyone had masks on, and once we got inside and past the first map, the path was pretty clear. The hike was absolutely beautiful, but it was a bad time for me to learn how terrified I really was of steep, skinny stairs. Once we got through the initial climbs it wasn’t too bad at all, but it was touch and go for a little bit! The plan was to take the longest rail, but after my nerves, we opted for the second longest trail, and walked along the river for a while before heading back in.

Sunday

We had big plans for Sunday, including trail riding, but it ended up being a bit more of a lazy sleep-in Sunday. Plus, it was pretty chilly and I wasn’t too keen on trading out blankets for shorts and sneakers. Early that afternoon we headed out to Jim Thorpe for the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway. The town was a big change from the Pocono Pines area. It was filled with historic buildings, church bells playing, and a historic steam engine. But at the same time had a ton of young families, bike and kayak rentals, and some seriously delicious smelling restaurants. It was surprising to see a buzzing small city, and we definitely didn’t get to spend enough time there.

That being said, I loved the Lehigh Gorge Railway. Fun fact, I love trains. Like, really love trains. And this was a super fun trip. The ride was beautiful, with waterfalls, a bike trail, and the weather was great too. I really enjoyed it, got the chance to watch them reattach the engine, and checked out the small attached museum and tourism center. When life goes back to normal, I would highly recommend checking out the Railway, but not until after COVID-19 is resolved. As fun as the trip was, the lack of masks made the ride a bit uncomfortable. The beau and I had ours on the whole time, but most people took theirs off, and some had no masks at all. We both tested negative once we got home, but I wouldn’t go out there again until cases are even lower. 

Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway steam engine train on train tracks with trees and mountains surrounding

Monday & Tuesday

While it was a 5-day trip, we spend Monday and Tuesday hanging out in the house and working. The beau and I didn’t take time off for the trip, but relocated our home offices to the Poconos for the weekend. I love what I do, but it was way more fun doing so with a beautiful view and cool weather. I was responsible for breakfasts and lunches, so we kept it pretty simple. 

Monday was a workday, I caught up on some web design work, did more writing, and mostly hung around. On Tuesday, while the beau worked I packed our bags, did the laundry, and cleaned out the fridge. There was also a minor plumbing emergency, so I got to play home improvement for a few hours, which I thoroughly enjoyed too. 

Throughout the weekend I was also able to sneak in some reading here and there. Mostly still hammering through On The Road by Jack Kerouac. I cannot say enough bad things about this book. 0/10 would not recommend. But the only thing I hate more than this book is not finishing a book, so I have to finish it. At least I was reading in a beautiful setting

Image of book (Jack Kerouac's On The Road) in the Pocono Pines woods

Meals

We planned our meals out for this trip, which was a first for us. We usually just wing it, which leads to at least one meal being far too many chicken nuggets for two people. This time, we focused on avoiding multiple grocery trips, saving a bit of money cooking at home, and making sure every meal had a slightly healthy aspect to it. We also wanted easy to cook meals that we could make with as few pots as possible! The best meal of the trip was either the chicken masala or honestly, scrambled eggs. The beau makes the best scrambled eggs of all time! We also committed ourselves to snack less, and swapped out our chips for hummus, carrots, and grapes. 

Meal Plan for Moira The Explorer's trip in the Pocono Mountains

This trip was pretty low key and close to home, but it was a really enjoyable one. For anyone in New Jersey or New York, the Poconos is the perfect place to go for a quiet weekend away. Stay inside, stay safe, and keep your mask on of course, but it’s a beautiful, peaceful place to work away from home!

See All My Travel Posts Here