Favorite small business #3

Alexandra Mainieri, LLC

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Photo by Sid Seruntine

This is my sister. She’s beautiful, she’ sweet, and she’s a bit sassy. You should probably hire her to do your event makeup.

You will probably walk away with more than just a pretty face. Because she’s personable. She’s insightful. Interested in your own happiness.

When Alex isn’t busily working away as a makeup artist on a movie set, you can find her promoting her new business Alexandra Mainieri, LLC. A licensed Aesthetician and certified makeup artist, Alex uses all that she’s learned through the Aveda Institute and California Makeup School to deliver perfection from a pallet. A true artist at work. So, if you’re a reader in the Baton Rouge / New Orleans area and in need of some expertise, holla at my sista.

Find her website at http://alexandramainieri.com/  and like her facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/AlexandraMainieriLLC?fref=ts .

Alex is my go-to expert for beauty tips. She’s been trying to enhance me for years. I think that’s the role of the little sister. You don’t argue, you just do whatever the big sister wants you to. Even if it hurts. Thanks for trying, Alex.

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I just had to get my eyebrows waxed at a young age because Alex was doing it. Wanted to always be like her. The problem was we got them done by “Shelia.” Yes, that was the exact problem. And in a questionable location in town. Mom insisted Shelia was our friend. Here we are, years and years later. Those eyebrows never quite grew back. We both blame Shelia. And Mom.

We also blame mom for some questionable apparel selections in our dress-up chest.

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Growing up with Alex had its moments. Primarily because of the innate wad of jealousy carried in most younger sisters’ stomachs as soon as they’re born. I reminisce on the time we both tried out for the Nutcracker. Alex got the part of the beautiful angel child who got to deliver to flowers to Clara at the end of the show. And me? Me? I got the part of the clown. The left-handed clown who came out of Mother Ginger’s skirt doing kart-wheels across the stage. And Mother Ginger’s stilts? She wasn’t on stilts under that skirt. She was sitting atop the shoulders of a very sweaty Chinese man who was cussing under that skirt the whole time in front of all of us clown kids, the rejects.

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I think it’s safe to say that growing up so close in age (16 months apart), we weren’t always the best of friends. Partially because Alex was never too keen on sharing with her baby sister. It wasn’t cool.

I was scarred for life when Alex, and our cousin Danielle together left me out of their lip-syncing home video of Billy Ray Cyrus’ Achey Breaky Heart. I will have my revenge at her future rehearsal dinner when i reveal that exact video in hi-def.

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She always had the prettier ballerina costumes. She also had a way smaller forehead than I was blessed with. She always got to lick the brownie batter from the bowl. Such better clothes and toys too. Well Alex, all those times when you weren’t home and left your door shut, I’d sneak in and wear those exact costumes. I’d snoop around your room, play JockJams on your boom box. I’d lay on your bed that had the bed-in-a-bag from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, that I wanted so badly with the yellow flowers and pink swirls. I’d try on your earrings sitting at your vanity. I’d snoop through your drawers and wear the charm bracelet from your boyfriend. Finally, the best part I’d save for last. I’d open your closet and see it. Top shelf, the highest spot to keep safe from little sisters. It was so beautiful, and it was calling my name.

Mall Madness. There it was. The lights from heaven were shining on it, and I could hear the “allelujah” song erupt.

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This was the ultimate board game for girls. Especially superficial ones like me. You could swipe all the credit cards. It was good practice for when I’d become an adult. I’d carefully open the box and lay out all the pieces, swiping card after card. I preferred it much more than the Sweet Valley High board game underneath it. I couldn’t even open that box as I was tortured all those times she did allow me to play that one with her, only so she could dub me as “Enid” or something like that. Whoever it was, it was the unpopular one with the green background. She’d always be the pretty blonde “Jessica” in pink of course. Because you were older you’d say. This was your rationale for lots of things- like riding in the front seat.

The high school years were ugly. I’m not referring to our acne, dental work, or crooked eyebrows either. Though, those were just as ugly. Our relationship was ugly, especially because we had to share a bathroom. You’d lock me out for hours before school started, only to emerge with the most beautifully tussled hair with a cut like Jennifer Aniston. I’d be lucky to get one quick comb through my bowl cut before we were out the door.

There was that one time I had so much anger built up inside me that I finally snapped. It was a freezing nothern Indiana winter day. Mom wasn’t home. I was tired of Alex “claiming” the TV room (because she was older) day after day before I even had a chance after coming home exhausted from school. I, with determination in my eyes and lips gripping my braces, darted towards her. Straight to Alex laying on the couch and… Smack! Slapped her right in the face. VICTORY! Though, the shortest victory ever lived. Within an instant, though it felt like slow motion, Alex looked at me with an expression that conveyed she couldn’t believe I had actually gone through with it. Her temperature was rising as she slowly started to arise from the couch. This was my chance. I booked it. I was almost to the top of the stairs when I felt the lock around my ankles stop me in my tracks. She had grabbed them and was hovering behind me. I had no time to think as she pulled me down the stairs, chin hitting every step. I prayed we’d never get to the bottom because I didn’t want to know what was coming. In fact, it must have been so traumatic because I don’t remember what happened after she sat on top of me once reaching the bottom. I must have purged it from my memory.

There was also that time I threw my retainer box right at her head when we had to share a cabin on a cruise. I vividly remember she didn’t want her little sister tagging along to the “night club” for pre-teens. Sorry for that.

In time, Alex and I did become closer, supportive. No more jealousy swam in my veins towards her for being prettier and cooler than me. My view of her wasn’t clouded anymore by the stigma of the younger sister. We became friends.

Though our college years were spent apart, our relationship stayed strong, knowing we were both a phone call away though in different worlds. I started to realize a quality that existed in Alex I may have not noticed before. That quality? Loyalty. Unshaken, strong loyalty. For me, and for anyone else in my family. I accredit this loyalty with Alex’s obsession with The Godfather series and our strong Italian heritage.

Mom and Alex took a spring break trip during one of these years. While on the beach, some kid threw a ball right at mom’s head. Within seconds, Alex immediately picked the ball up and pelted it right back at the thrower, yelling at him for hitting her mom. She was my hero.

The loyalty didn’t hinder as the years passed by, it strengthened in every experience. Protecting me. Protecting my naiveness from the corrupted world around. Never judging a decision made by me, but always supporting every one.

That loyalty especially came into play a couple years ago, as I found myself filing for divorce with a five-month-old son. Alex was there. Crying with me, holding me. Helping me with the baby. Reassuring me that my life would move on, that none of it was my fault. An even bigger aid in my healing than I’ve probably ever thanked her for.

We’d laugh so badly until we’d cry listening to her imaginative rants about just how far she’d go to protect me. I remember those conversations vividly as they were amongst the first times I laughed again. With one look, I’d see her temperature rise thinking of a hypothetical situation and what she’d do about it, much like the same face I got back in the day in reaction to me slapping her right on the face.

She’s the perfect combination of sass and a sweet soul, and she always has been. Even beneath all those bitter, hilarious memories of our childhood.

Alex really does inspire me. Despite our rocky relationship in the first half of our lives. Kidding though; it really wasn’t that bad between us. I have pictures to prove it. Though, I do sort of feel like there just must have been a camera present to capture these “one time” moments of occurences.

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Like, the one time she did share the brownie batter.

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Or the one time she actually let me dress up in her pretty ballerina costume. Even to play with her! Not having to sneak into her room and try it on when she wasn’t home. And pretend I was getting to play with her. This was the real deal.

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Or the one time we actually were hugging. I don’t know if it was genuine or if it was because we had new sets of “Quints” waiting for us in our Easter basket.

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And finally, when Alex let me be Princess Jasmine, and she Aladdin during playtime. The only giveaway to what this little picture was about was our magic carpet.

In retrospect, it seems like Alex was easily and always my biggest fan regardless of my memories. How time changes things, because now, I’m her’s.

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Favorite Small Business #2

Edna Belle Vintage Jewelry

I previously blogged about why I love to support small businesses, and I plan on periodically inserting my favorites here and there with discounts for my readers. Here is one meant for the ladies!

Edna Belle Vintage Jewelry was introduced to me not long ago. A friend of mine and founder Christina Nejedly was highly praised for her one-of-a-kind bridesmaids jewelry in her own wedding.

How adorable is this?

I have always loved arts and crafts since childhood; and now as an adult, I firmly believe when you can’t find what you’re looking for, just do it yourself! In anything, art, home decor… jewelry!

One thing led to another and Christina launched her business named after her grandmother who she says, “gave her inspiration to be unique, be herself, and be confident.”

The best part is that she finds vintage pieces to collaborate with her beautiful beads, “each with their own story”; furthermore, she is able to incorporate any piece of your own into something wearable. What a great idea!

I loved the style so much I donned one of these necklaces shortly after finding out about Edna Belle. This one holds two classic vintage gold earrings.

Christina is kind enough to offer a 20% off discount to my readers. To claim the discount, shop on her etsy site and enter “Twenty20” at checkout.

http://www.etsy.com/shop/EdnaBelleJewelry

And while you’re at it, feel free to “like” her facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/EdnaBelleJewelry?fref=ts

Thanks Christina!

Favorite small business #1

This is my first post for a category I am really passionate about… Shopping of course! But shopping with purpose. If you put a purpose behind anything that involves spending money, that makes it justifiable right? Well, that’s how it is in my mind anyway.

I’ve spoken a bit in previous posts about how I used to be more materialistic than I am now; however, these days I am materialistic in a different way. If you read my previous post on Fashionista, you will get the gist.

Wanting to support people more is something I’ve come to strive for since my life transformation of having a baby and going through a divorce- be it anything from donating to charities to being a good listener or adviser. People need other people’s support to make the world go round. I learned that during my Dark Ages.

(Furthermore, I’ll never forget one day during a summer internship at a major retail corporate office, listening in on the details of a litigation involving canceling a contract with a small farm, one of those Mom & Pop businesses, in order for the retailer to save some big bucks by buying elsewhere. It ruined this family’s world going round and it broke my heart.)

On any given day of the week I can go to any of these corporate, conglomerate retail stores to get what I need that day since they’re available to me. But, when it comes to personalized ‘things’ like a gift for a girlfriend, a special clothing item for Holden, even drapes for my house, I would much rather invest in the world of small businesses. Maybe it’s those traditional values within me, but I just believe in people working hard. Those people and their small businesses definitely fall into this category. Also, who doesn’t appreciate the quality of something made by someone you appreciate and know the item was created by their own hands? Pretty cool.

So I am going to simultaneously start sharing a few of my favorites. Here’s the first. I hope you enjoy!

Courtney Bock Designs

If you are a friend of mine on Facebook, you may have noticed some recent pictures appearing on my profile with some really adorable t-shirts personalized by this small business, or my dear friend Courtney. Another young mom like myself, Courtney knows how to prioritize and has it all together as much as she may admit she doesn’t on her own personal blog. She is single-handedly running her business while balancing one of the hardest jobs ever, mommyhood. It’s important to her to be able to raise her sweet boy, but at the same time stay focused on being a creative businesswoman. She pretty much rocks my socks off, and I am very grateful to have her as an inspiration. One strong, independent, driven, loving mommy.

Click the following to read more about CBD: http://courtneybockdesigns.bigcartel.com/blog.

Here is a collage of some personalized t-shirts she has put a little love into for Holden. I can’t wait for him to wear these!

Coupon!

Courtney is offering a 20% off discount to any of my readers! Yippy for coupons! Here’s what you have to do to redeem your coupon: Visit the Courtney Bock Designs Etsy shop at http://www.etsy.com/shop/courtneybock. When you check out, enter coupon code AOTSSM20 to get your 20% off. Easy as that! Use it now though, it only lasts for one week starting today!

Contest!

Courtney is so kind as to run a contest for one of my readers- $20 of credit! To enter this contest follow these steps:

1. Visit the Courtney Bock Designs facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/Courtneybockdesigns and “like” it.

2. Leave a comment on her page about which item is your favorite.

3. Return to my blog, and comment under this post which post of mine has been your favorite so far.

4. If you haven’t already, “like” my blog’s facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/AdventuresOfATwentySomethingSingleMom . You are exempt from this step if you already have done this. Thank you!

***The winner of the contest has to go through will all four steps in order to enter the contest drawing. I will post who wins in one week!***