From the view of a 20-something dream chaser.

How to be Beautiful

Friday, August 8, 2014

Being a beauty queen and all, I'm often asked for beauty secrets. The truth is: I don't have any. I believe in the democratization of beauty so I share what works for me freely. And when I say it works for me, I mean just that. The best way to find what works for you is to experiment with as many different products as your budget will permit. Subscription services like Birchbox and Glossybox are great resources for beauty experimenters. Both send you monthly samples of products you otherwise may never try. And the samples are always enough that you can use them several times so you know it really works. If you want to know what works for me, keep reading.

Miss Teen USA: The Bahamas

Friday, August 1, 2014

My friend, Olivia Fletcher (henceforth referred to as Livi), is competing for Miss Teen USA! Yeah, I know. I can't believe. I mean, I can, but you know. Anyway, so I flew down to the Bahamas with her and her sister Emily (Emmy). After arriving at the airport, Livi was treated like royalty, complete with a limo ride to her hotel. By default, Emmy and I got a ride, too. It was great. They carried all our heavy luggage--as gentlemen should--and basically waited on us hand and foot.

Emmy and I parted ways with Livi to go to our more affordable but still very nice hotel in a black SUV the airport provided. Pays to know important people, right? We knew she was in good hands because Miss Arkansas's Outstanding Teen and her mom were with her. We check in and get the key to our hotel room and with only slight exaggeration is it the most perfect room the good Lord could have made a way for us to have. I'm talking about the ocean being mere steps from our patio, which we noticed immediately upon entering.

We stayed only long enough to snap a few pics and freshen up, for on our first night, it just so happened to be BBQ Tuesday at our hotel. It was awesome! We ate pasta salad, hotdogs, ribs, chicken and apple pie...I'm sure we had some vegetables at some point...and did it all while sitting on the beach. Since we're in the Bahamas and all, I, of course, had to try the Bahama Mama. Emmy went for the Yellow Bird.

Back in our room, we decided that such a view could only mean one thing: we would let natural light wake us up the next morning. Before bed, we locked the sliding doors tight and left the curtains open. Then we chose breakfast items from a menu they had provided. Shortly after 8 the next morning, we feasted on chocolate chip pancakes, fresh fruit, breakfast potatoes and orange juice. Breakfast of champions.

Not long after we left the hotel to see what we could see in the neighborhood, we allowed a stranger to convince us to climb aboard an all-inclusive Booze & Cruise ship. He had us when he said, "Y'all aren't doing anything anyway." Actually, sir, we were just about to check out those lovely straw purchases, t-shirts and other souvenirs over yonder, but we'll skip that fine cultural experience for now if you insist.

So there we were, both feeling ever-so-slightly seasick aboard a booze cruise ship with strangers from across the globe. And boy, did we have a good time! While out to sea, we went snorkeling (my first time!), docked at a private beach with another booze cruise ship and even met some fellow Virginians aboard our own ship. Lunch included barbecue chicken, ribs, dirty rice, corn and unlimited drinks. And we danced the entire way back.

Back to the hotel, where we met up with Emmy's and Livi's parents who had just arrived in time to get changed for the meet-and-greet that night. I doubt there is any way for a group of teens to be cuter. They're so poised and fun. It just say the fish still had eyes and a tail and I could see his scales. That was totally new to me. And let's just say that it didn't set well with my stomach. But I did try cronch fritters for the first time and those were quite delectable.

Before we got to dinner, we were fish ourselves. We spent the entire morning and early afternoon on the beach and in the pool. Emmy and I kayaked with our friend, EmmaGrace Miss Roanoke Valley's Outstanding Preteen, who joined us here with her mom. We adults swam up to the swim-up bar to order drinks (how could we resist?) and we all participated in an aqua aerobics session. Later that night, we went back to the pool and were provided live entertainment from Juncanoo. We retired for the night soon after, but not before Emmy and I cut a mean rug in front of a live band. One of the singers even called us the Dancing Queens. And then they sang the song! I can't make this stuff up.

And the best part? We can only access iMessage and the Internet under the hotel lobby's wifi (you know, international rates and all) so we're forced to leave em behind on our daily escapades. Well, we bring em along to take the occasional picture, but you get my drift. Who knew I was vacationing with such incredible and fun people? We have stories for days, including riding in cars with men we just met  and compelling an Atlantis employee to buy a ticket in the row in front of us on finals night to cheer Livi on.

Tonight is Friday and the preliminary competition. I can't wait for the glam. Send positive vibes our way. We think we've got ourselves a winner!

Being in the Bahamas for Miss Teen USA and the adventure of a lifetime: that's what dreams are made of.

Life is Deleesh. All rights reserved. © Maira Gall.