Two Simple Wishes

My Top 10 Favorite Healthy Cosmetic Products

Recently, I tossed most of my makeup and cosmetic products in order to remove potentially harmful ingredients from my beauty routine.

Make up clean out

Since then, I’ve been on the hunt for replacements that work well, but don’t have harmful ingredients. Here is my list of healthy cosmetic products I have discovered and love.  They have been tested and approved…by me!  Put them on your shopping list if you are looking for healthier (and more simple) alternatives to makeup and beauty products.

Egyptian Magic 

Egyptian Magic

This stuff is kind of a modern-day miracle product because of its multiple uses.  I’ve used it for the following:

  • Make-up remover
  • Day-time and night-time facial moisturizer
  • Hand and cuticle cream
  • Lip balm
  • Heel and elbow softener

And there are many more suggestions on their website.

It’s a perfect product for simplifying your beauty routine since it has so many uses.  I love traveling with it because it has eliminated several other products I need to pack.  And it won’t spill!

Trader Joes Natural Facial Cleansing Pads

Trader Joes Facial Cleansing Pads

These cleansing pads are a great, inexpensive cleanser and exfoliation product, all-in-one.  I like to use them after I cleanse/remove my makeup because it removes any remaining dirt off my face.  And since they are from Trader Joe’s, these cleaning pads are also very friendly on the budget.

Vapour Beauty Illusionist Concealer

Vapour Concealer

This stick concealer comes in several shades.  Their web site suggests the foundations and concealers that go well together, taking out the guesswork.  It goes on gently, so it works well around the eyes for dark circles and provides great coverage for the areas that need a little bit of disguise.

Vapour Beauty Atmosphere Luminous Foundation

Vapour Beauty Foundation

This is a fantastic foundation that comes in an easy to carry (and travel with) stick.  I love the medium coverage that it gives and the base that it provides for adding a powder finish.  And I’m not the only one that loves it.  It also is a Allure Best of Beauty Award winner.  If you aren’t sure of the shade, they have samples available to order to help you determine the best shade for your complexion.

Bare Minerals MATTE Foundation Broad Spectrum SPF 15

Bare Minerals Foundation

This is a great mineral foundation that provides a matte finish and some protection from the sun.  I love brushing this over the Atmosphere Luminous Foundation to finish and set my makeup , as well get some additional sun protection.  Unless you are going to be in the sun less than 15 minutes, be sure to use additional sunscreen under it.

I also love…

Bare Minerals Blush

Bare Minerals Blush

This mineral blush comes in several shades.  My favorite is Cheerful…a good all-around pinky blush.

W3LL Expressionist Mascara 

W3LL People Mascara

I love this mascara!  I’ve tried a few different kinds of mascara that are ick free…but they weren’t anything to get excited about.  This mascara changed my mind.  It goes on great, stays on, and makes my eyelashes look long.  This fabulous stuff is an Allure Best of Beauty Award Winner and an Elle Essential Very Best Beauty Product winner.

No Miss All Natural Eyeshadow

No Miss Eyeshadow

This is a very affordable mineral powder eyeshadow.  It comes in lots of colors and lasts a long time.  Love it!

Eco Lips Mongo Kiss Lip Balm

Eco Lips Lip Balm

This lip balm was the first thing I found in my replacements search…and I love it.  Your lips will thank you!

Vapour Siren Lipstick

Vapour Lip Stain

This lipstick is another great product from Vapour Beauty.  Not only does it provide beautiful color, but my lips feel better using it.


The good news is that there are a lot of excellent healthy cosmetic products that don’t use harmful ingredients.  Some products are inexpensive; many are not.  Sign up for the email lists with the various companies and you will be notified about sales – and then stock up!

That’s the grand tour of what you will find in my makeup bag.  If you have any suggestions for healthy beauty alternatives, please share in the Comments section below.

(I don’t receive any compensation for promoting these products.  I just love them and think you will too.)

How to Renew a Passport…FAST

If you are ever in need of getting a FAST passport renewal – here’s how.


I have firsthand knowledge of how this works – something I’m not proud of.  But hey, if my poor planning, oversight, lack of organization, whatever you want to call it, can help someone else – that is my silver lining.

It’s important to note that the “fast” renewal means that you can get it done in a day.  Don’t expect the process that day to be fast.

Tips to Ensure Your Passport Doesn’t Expire

First, and foremost…DON’T LET YOUR PASSPORT EXPIRE, or even come close to expiring.  Here are some suggestions on how to make sure this doesn’t happen:

  • If you use an electronic calendar, put a reminder on the calendar 6 months before your passport’s expiration date.  In case this reminder system fails you (or in my case, I failed to pay attention to it), be sure to also do the next step.
  • Check the expiration date of your passport the minute you begin thinking about an international trip.  If it is within 6 months, start the renewal process immediately.  Many countries require that you have six months validity on your passport.

(Important note – The State Department anticipates a large number of passport renewal requests in 2016 and 2017, which will result in a longer processing time.  If your passport expires in 2016, start the process now and avoid the headache of getting a rush renewal.)

Instructions for Fast Passport Renewal

If it is too late to use the suggestions above and you have international travel in two weeks or less:

Resist the urge to panic.  You need your wits about you.  Then begin to take action…immediately.

Work through the “How to Apply for a Passport” wizard on the U.S. Department of State web site.  This is helpful for verifying your eligibility and getting important information about the process, including the closest regional passport office to you. (You will need to apply in person at an official Department of State Passport Agency.)

Call the National Passport Information Center.  If you are calling from the U.S. the number is 1-877-487-2778.  There is an automated scheduling system available 24/7.  Work your way through the automated system to check for the first available appointment at the Department of State Passport Agency that is closest to you.

If the first available appointment works for your travel plans, take it and begin preparing your paperwork.

If there isn’t an available appointment before you trip (via the automated appointment system):

  • Call the same number (1-877-487-2778). as soon as the business hours begin. (Monday-Friday at 8:00 AM EST; Saturday at 10:00 AM; except on Federal Holidays.)  At the beginning of the automated message, there is the option to press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish, OR (and this is important), STAY ON THE LINE – even if you have a touch tone phone.  This is the only way I could find to talk to a real person.  (Important note – These instructions are for normal business or pleasure travel.  If your last-minute travel is due to a life or death emergency, and you are calling outside the offices normal business hours, call this number – 1-202-647-4000.)
  • Explain your situation.  Be polite.  Be patient.  Remember that you attract more bees with honey than you do with vinegar.  Be the honey.
  • If they are able to give you an appointment before your departure date, take it.  And say thank you.

Gather your documentation. 

  • Your current passport
  • Proof of travel (travel itinerary showing dates of flights)
  • The appropriate passport renewal form – There is a list of forms on the web site.  The representative on the phone will tell you the appropriate form to use.  Fill it out before you go.
  • Passport photo – When attaching your passport photo to the form be to staple the photo to the application, using 4 staples vertically in the corners as close to the outer edges of the photo as possible.  Do not bend the photo.
  • Form of payment – They accept major credit cards (MasterCard, Visa, American Express, Discover), debit/check cards (not ATM cards), checks, bank drafts, money orders and cash (exact amount only).  You will have to pay the regular processing fee ($110) plus the expedited fee ($60).

Do your homework.  Use Google maps to get directions to the Passport Agency and locate parking – before you leave.  Also research some ways to kill time (in the immediate local area) while you wait for your passport to be processed.

Show up at least 30 minutes early.  You will be required to go through security.  Don’t bring electronics.  Mobile phones are permitted, but you cannot make calls.  Have a photo ID to show at security.  Also make sure to bring your patience and sense of humor.

Go to the office where the passports are handled.  There will be a security guard at the door.  Politely ask where to go for passport renewals with an appointment.

Wait in line.  I only had to wait 10 minutes.  The purpose of going to the window is to get a number for your passport to be processed.  You will be asked for your appointment confirmation number and documentation and then given a number.

Take a seat, and wait.  Bring some reading material to help pass the time.  Pay attention to the numbers being called.  I waited about 30 minutes for my number to be called.

Go to the designated window when your number is called.  Hand over the required documents.  You will pay for the processing at this point.  The agent will give you the time when your passport will be available for pick up.

Find something to do while you wait.  At this point you may leave the office.  I would suggest staying in the local area.  I had three hours to kill and was tempted to drive home; but better judgement prevailed.  I opted to stay close by because there was simply no room for errors.  My family was leaving for Aruba, early on Monday; and I was getting this taken care of the Friday before we left.  The great thing about the Passport Agency in Philadelphia is that it is located in old city – so there is plenty to walk around and see.  I needed a few things for the trip, so I opted to spend my time at the nearby Target, which was only 5 minutes away.  Close enough to walk back to get my passport if I had car trouble.

Return to the passport office 15 minutes or so before the designated time.  You will have to go through security again.  Tell the security guard in the office that you are there to pick up your passport; he or she will show you where to wait.

Pick up your passport.  Here is where it is a little crazy.  The designated pick-up time is not specific to you.  They process the passports in batches; so you and everyone else who was told to pick up passports at that time will be vying for a place in line.  Park yourself as close as you can to the area to line up.  When the call is made, there will be a rush to get in line.    Depending on the number of people, you may be waiting in line for a little while.

When you get up to the window, give the agent your pick-up receipt.    He/she will give you an envelope containing the new and old passports.

Check the information on the new passport to ensure it is correct.

Thank the agent, tell them they are awesome, promise to name your next child after them – or whatever other positive comments you feel led to say.

Offer up a prayer of thanks that this is done.  And promise yourself you will never, ever let it come to this again.  Once you arrive at your destination…BREATH A DEEP SIGH OF RELIEF.  And enjoy your trip!

Note – If you are unable to get an appointment or need a passport the same day you are traveling:  From what I read in a variety of places online, it can be done.  Show up early at the closest Department of State Passport Agency, before they open.  The web site says you need proof of an appointment; but I overheard a guard direct someone who didn’t have an appointment to a different line.  Have everything you need for your passport renewal.  And pray.

If you have advice to share about passport renewal, tell us in the comments below.

My Road to Emmaus

Remember the “Magic Eye” paintings – the paintings that just looked like a pattern; but if you started at it long enough you could see the hidden image?


A few years ago, we took a vacation to Italy.  We toured the Vatican Museum in Rome.  We had been there before, but some changes had been made, including a new modern art section.  On display was this painting by Theodor Werner.

Crucifixion painting

I was intrigued by the painting, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.  Until all of a sudden, it came into view.

It was a painting of Jesus and the two thieves being crucified.

It was a simple revelation, but it held so much meaning.  How long had I been looking at Jesus, but not really seeing Him for who He is and what He did for me?

It reminded me of the story in Luke about two men that were walking on the road to Emmaus.

Luke 24:13-35 (New International Version)

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Don’t miss Him.  He is standing there in plain view.

Happy Easter!