Friday, March 28, 2014

I'm Going To Get Draped - A Personal Color Analysis with 12 Seasons

Remember Color Me Beautiful from the 1980s? Did you get your "seasons done" back then like so many of us did? I was in high school, and my mom and I went and had our seasons done. Her season was very clear, but mine was a little confusing. She was a winter and I was a winter/summer borderline case. While she had a clear set of swatches with which to shop, I didn't really. The four season system just didn't really have something for everyone.

Now, a quarter of a century later, the science of seasonal analysis has advanced quite a bit. No more trying to squeeze everyone into four seasons whether they quite fit or not. There are many different seasonal systems out there, but the one I'll talk about is Sci/Art. One of the most well-known and respected analysts is Christine Scaman, whose website is called 12 Blueprints. Christine explains what seasons are and what a Personal Color Analysis is here.

The basic idea with Sci/Art is that there are 12 seasons. Within each of the four traditional seasons, there are three variations. They are as follows:
Bright Spring, True Spring, Light Spring
Light Summer, True Summer, Soft Summer
Soft Autumn, True Autumn, Dark Autumn
Dark Winter, True Winter, Bright Winter

I put together a collage of all 12 seasonal palettes, with images borrowed from Diary of a Colour Addict.
Just a glimpse of all 12 Sci/Art seasonal palettes
The point of all this is that once you find your seasonal home, you can focus your wardrobe and makeup on the colors in YOUR palette. These are the colors that will be your most flattering and beautifying.

There is quite a lot of science and color theory behind this and I'm not an expert so I won't try to explain it all here. Other sites that explain a lot of this: Truth is Beauty and Diary of a Colour Addict.

You can try to figure out your own season; some of the ways you can do this are explained in the Truth is Beauty link above. However, I've decided to get officially "draped" and have a PCA (Personal Color Analysis) with Christine. It will require some travel, in fact my mom and I are going together for a mother-daughter road trip adventure. It's all part of the journey I've embarked upon as I embrace my natural hair color while still striving to look my very best.

I am pretty sure already that I am a Bright Winter, at any rate, it is the palette I look at and see "me," but I will not mention this to Christine. I will just go into the draping with an open mind and see what results. I'm excited to see what the expert says! I'll be sure to write up my experience here once I'm done.

Have you ever been draped? Were you happy with your results? If you've never had it done, is it something you find interesting?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Blow Dry Bars: Take 'Em or Leave 'Em?

Leave 'em. Just kidding. Sort of. Well, I hate when the title of an article is a question and it takes four paragraphs to get to the answer. So there it is, the short answer. You don't have to read any more! ;) Unless you want the long answer...

You may have noticed this trend in your hometown. In mine, a plethora of "dry bars" have popped up in the last year or so. In case you're not familiar with the phenomenon: dry bars are upscale salons devoted entirely to blow drying hair. Well, they also wash it. And they do flat iron, curl, and do special occasion updos as well. But no cutting and no color services. Drybar is an example of this trend, although that particular chain has not made it to my area.

I was curious about these dry bars, but since the going rate around here is not cheaper than my regular salon, I couldn't really justify spending the money. After all, I have really and truly embraced my natural hair texture. (However, that doesn't mean I don't enjoy a good blow out once it a while!) Then one of the local dry bars selected my place of employment as the "business of the month" and offered all of us free blow outs! Well, how could I resist? Even though I had no special occasion on the dates the freebies were offered (weekdays of course), I figured it would be fun.

The salon (a local company, not the chain linked above) was quite nice. The stylist washed, blow dried, and flat ironed my hair - which took well over an HOUR. That was just way too long to have my hair pulled and messed with. Maybe some people enjoy spending that long in a salon, but I do not. I had a mild headache for the rest of the day.
Straight from the dry bar
Did it look good? Not bad - a little big and poufy for my taste, with lots of hairs sticking up on the top of my head, but the friends I met for lunch right afterwards really liked it as is and wouldn't "let" me pat it down like I wanted. However, as soon as I got home, I calmed it down a bit with a brush and some gel, and it looked much smoother and better.
After I calmed it down with a brush and some gel
So would I go back? I doubt it. My impression is that the idea behind these dry bars is that the blowouts are supposed to be cheaper and better than a regular salon. That may be the case for many, but it was not my experience at all. My regular stylist charges about the same rate and does a better (and MUCH faster) job. The only reason I might try the dry bar thing again is if I were unable to get an appointment when I needed one at my regular salon. If you are someone who does normally get their hair blown out every week, it probably is worthwhile, because there are usually memberships you can buy to get a cheaper rate. I'd still recommend that anyone who is interested, try it out. I'm just glad I was able to do so for practically free (though I did tip the stylist and buy some products).

Do you use dry bars? If not, are you planning to try one?

Monday, March 17, 2014

Fun With Makeup (and Other Green Stuff) on St. Patrick's Day

I'm probably too old for the whole green beer thing on St. Patty's Day. Though truthfully, that was never my thing. But you never outgrow wanting to have fun! And fun with color has been my thing as of late.
Green eyeliner and nail polish - why not?
I don't normally pose for photos with my hand draped awkwardly about my neck, but I wanted to get all of my green in one photo. :) I'm going to work today, my in-person job (not the computer one), where I have to look like a grown-up and somewhat professional. So, the bright teal eyeshadow (yes, I do own that) isn't going to happen today, holiday or no. Instead, I pulled out the teal nail polish, and just a teensy bit of teal eyeliner, only on the bottom lash line. On top of my lid, I stuck with neutral black liner, silver shadows (lighter on the lid and darker in the crease), and a highlight of pale pink shadow below the brow. I think it works ok, and doesn't make me look cray-cray.
If you don't "covet" a colorful eyeliner, you should!
The liner I'm wearing is Urban Decay's 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Covet, which seems to be discontinued now, but you could still probably buy it online somewhere. Deep End appears to be very similar, and that's a color they still carry. Incidentally, Covet was the very eyeliner that got me all excited about makeup again, in a way I haven't been since my early teens. I can't believe I wasted so many years wearing brown eye makeup when there is a whole world of color out there! I encourage everyone to try a colorful eyeliner sometime.
Kiwi Bikini
I'm also wearing Sally Hansen's Xtreme Wear nail polish in Kiwi Bikini. It's good stuff, cheap drugstore polish that looks great and wears just fine. Just know that you'll need two coats to avoid streakiness. It also appears to be discontinued, but I only bought it last year so I'd imagine it's still kicking around somewhere. It's a nice line of polish, if you're looking to expand your nail polish collection inexpensively. I own a number of colors of Xtreme Wear and like them all.
Festive green breakfast
And how could I forget breakfast? Green pancakes for the kiddos (green food coloring) and a green smoothie for me. I followed my usual smoothie recipe, using pears (canned in 100% juice - no sugar or sweetener added) instead of berries. I really should have used green grapes, but red were what I had on hand (thus the weird red flecks). Still tasted totally delish, though.

But green isn't just for St. Patrick's Day, although I probably wouldn't do all the green at once if it weren't. And I don't dye my kids' pancakes every day, either. ;)

Do you do anything special, or green, on St. Patrick's Day?

Friday, March 14, 2014

How to Go Gray with Style, Beauty, and Confidence

I've blogged about WHY I decided to go gray, and little bit about how I did it, but there is more than one way to quit the dye gracefully. It is not always an easy thing to do, but there are some ways to minimize the pain and awkwardness. To tell you the truth, for me, this has been an extremely positive experience overall, a journey of self-discovery. Here is what I've gleaned along the way.

Prepare yourself mentally. This may seem silly. It's just hair, right? Well, not exactly. The journey to gray can be bumpy; your self-image is about to change drastically. Whereas for years you have thought of yourself as a brunette, a blonde, or a redhead, you will have to let that part of yourself go if you want to do this. And that can be harder than it sounds. If you're not ready, I mean really ready, you may just find yourself back in the salon or drugstore procuring more self-affirming hair dye. If you are going through a difficult time in your life, now may not be the best time to go natural (assuming you don't have a dye allergy - if you do, there is no time like the present).

Enlist support. Your friends and family may not automatically rush to support you - if you ask their opinions or seem insecure/unsure/unhappy about your decision to quit the dye, it is natural for them to jump in to "help" by offering the suggestion that you NOT give up dye. You need to have confidence, or at least "fake it till you make it." Announce your intention with excitement in your voice and a confident smile on your face. Still, you may have nay-sayers around you. In that case, don't waste your time trying to convince anyone - it's YOUR hair, after all, and your decision. You can find support online from similar-minded ladies. I have found immensely generous and kind support on Cafe Gray.

Two "grayt" books
Find some inspiration. Pinterest has about one gazillion images of beautiful silver ladies. Many of these are professional models, but there are just as many just regular folk who happen to have head-turning silver locks. Collect them, pin them to your own board, or just take a look. You CAN be at your most beautiful with natural silver hair - seeing how many other women have achieved this can help you on your own journey. Read books. Two that I found particularly helpful were Diana Jewell's Going Gray Looking Great and Anne Kramer's  Going Gray. Read blogs on the internet. Two beautiful silver bloggers I really enjoy are How Bourgeois and Highland Fashionista. Neither blog is about gray hair per se (though the links I've given you are directly to their gray hair articles), but both have written about it and offer fantastic advice and inspiration.
A couple of the options available for demi-permanent haircolor
Ok, let's get down to practicalities. How to start? Well, if you're still really not sure, one option is to take the loooooooong way, which may or may not work. In other words, switch to demi-permanent dye for several years instead of permanent dye. This is what I did, and I got extremely lucky for two reasons: One, the demi-permanent dye really WAS demi-permanent for me. (I can NOT promise this will be the case for anyone else, regardless of what the box says. While it took more than 28 shampoos for sure, the color did fade entirely in a few months. However, many women I know report that the demi-permanent is actually PERMANENT for them.) Two, I did this for about five years before I even decided to let my silvers out of hiding, so in a way I got the hardest part (the long wait) over with before I even knew I had started. The permanent dye I'd used years ago was already long gone by the time I made the decision to go natural. And, I never really got a hard line between the dye and the roots, just a gradual fadeaway. Still, I can recommend this method ONLY for women who are on the fence. It's an easy switch to make, and if it doesn't wash out, you haven't actually lost anything but time (which you were using to make a decision, anyway).
My major highlights, which I liked at the time, but now look so yellow in retrospect...
So, you ready to bite the bullet and start growing out your glorious silvers? Then go for it! Either go cold turkey or ask your stylist for some pale blonde highlights and/or lowlights to ease the line of demarcation. Just be careful with those highlights, if you go that route: no matter how ashy or white they appear at first, they will likely oxidize and turn brassy. Plus, they can be quite damaging to your hair. I did go the highlights route myself, even though I was only doing semi-permanent color, because at that point I still really hadn't decided to go natural. Most people like them them at first, but over time wish they hadn't. I wouldn't say I regret mine, but if I had known then what I know know, I wouldn't have gotten them.

So now, the hard part: wait. For about a year, if you want to maintain a very short bob, two years for a "lob" or long bob, or even more for longer hair. Yeah. Hair grows about a half inch per month. I know when you are dyeing, it seems like the roots come in SO fast. But when you want the roots to grow, it feels a lot slowwwwwer. So get out your measuring tape, and measure the longest part of your hair. Say it's 10 inches. If you want to keep that length, you're looking at a 20 month grow out. So now you need to decide...
Photo of Charlize Theron from Daily Mail (story linked below)
Cut short, keep it long, or somewhere in between? A buzz cut can be the way to go for the "let's get this done" gal. Actress Charlize Theron sported a silver buzz for a hot minute back in 2012, though she is back to blonde (and growing it out) now. Less extreme is the classic pixie cut, which is über hot right now, with popular celebrities pixie-ing left and right. Either way, it is possible go from long and dyed to short and fully transitioned in a single cut (or maybe two). Conventional wisdom says to grow your hair out for six months before getting a pixie, to give your stylist something to work with. If you're buzzing, then I guess anything goes! A word to the wise, though: a short haircut is not exactly the shortcut it seems. You can still expect to have a mental transition that will take longer. The shock of very short AND silver hair can be too much for some women - I have seen women do that and go back to dyeing just to get back to SOMEthing familiar. And, of course, if you want your hair longer once again, there is the long grow-out. But: if you are sure you will love a pixie, you're 100% ready to be silver, and you feel really excited to do it (as opposed to chopping it off in frustration/desperation), then go for it, and enjoy your sparkly, spiky, sassy new 'do!
I've still got the ombré thing going on, darker at the top, lighter on the ends, a remnant of last year's highlights (see above)
Keeping it long just means a longer transition. A longer time wearing a skunk stripe. A longer time with multi-colored hair. It's a good thing that ombré hair is so fashionable right now! (Me? Trendy? Who knew?) My own unintentional ombré is the reverse of what most women in transition get, since my roots are actually darker than the highlights I had put in. I guess I overshot a little bit, not realizing that the top of my head was not as white as my temples. The advantage to keeping your hair longer is that you have more styling options: updos, twists, french braids, buns, and more. If you can't decide between short and long, well, go for a medium length. The key with medium (which was my route) is to keep it just long enough to be able to put it in a ponytail, at least. Because there will be days when you just want it off your face.
Some products to get you through the grow out: Roux (crayon, liquid),  root touch-up powder, purple shampoo
Indulge in some hair products to see you through. After all, you're not spending money on hair dye anymore, right? There are quite a few products designed to cover the roots in between dye sessions; any of these that don't stain will be fine to use while you transition. Some examples: crayon or liquid Roux (not so much the mousse; I've heard it can stain), Jonathan Product Root Touch-Up powder. In addition, to tone down too-yellow blonde highlights (like, ahem, mine), a good strong purple shampoo can help. I like and use Schwarzkopf Bonacure Color Save Silver Shampoo about once a month myself. I do also use the Roux mentioned above, but not on my roots - I use their dark gray shade (True Steel) on my highlighted ends to tone down brassiness. Not every day, just when I look in the mirror and the brassiness bugs me.
The Flexi8 is great for pulling those dyed ends back and off my face
Splurge on some hair pretties (see above logic). I love Flexi8s, if your hair is long enough for a tiny ponytail or even a half-up, these will work for you. In the photo, I'm wearing the Mini, which is the smallest size; they go much bigger. These suckers stay put, whether your hair is thin or thick, curly or straight. I'm not personally a fan of headbands, but if you are, now is the time to expand your collection. I've amassed quite a drawerful of clips (all sizes from "holds a few hairs" to "holds up a twist"), bobby pins (many blingy), barrettes, and ponytail holders. Scarves (think small, chiffon, not big, wool) can be a colorful, beautiful way to disguise your "skunk stripe." If you were never a hat person before, now is the perfect time to try it. You can even buy an attractive wig for complete stripe coverage.

Now, share YOUR best tips in the comments, share your grayt transition photos, and/or ask me ANYthing - I'll do my best to help!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Drugstore Makeup 2: Holy Grail Products - Lips and Nails Edition

As promised in my previous post about my very favorite drugstore makeup for face and eyes, in this post I'll write about my favorite budget items for lips and nails. Even though I have tried more expensive versions of some of these items in the past, I won't bother trying more expensive versions in the future - they are that good. You won't find any true lipsticks on this list, because I am a bit of a lipstick snob, and have tried many and not liked any. However, I have found a few lip products that are pretty awesome, that I'll buy again and again. As always, all prices below are approximate, depending on where you buy them and what sales/coupons/discounts you find. I have no affiliate links and all products were purchased by me.

Sally Hansen - Invisible Lip Liner
Sally Hansen’s Invisible Lip Liner - $5
I've mentioned this product before, but it bears repeating: if you wear bold lipstick, you should really consider wearing lip liner. And it doesn't have to be expensive. I can't tell you how many women I've seen with their lipstick spidering its way into the fine lines around their mouths. It's...not a good look. Lock that lipstick in place with lip liner, lovely ladies! (I can't resist a little alliteration.) Take 30 seconds to swipe some of this foolproof invisible lip liner around your kisser before applying serious color. It's worth every second - and every penny. The more expensive brands are great too, but - why spend more for a product that isn't any different, as far as I can tell?

Baby Lips, Baby Lips, Baby Lips! This is the Electro line
I'm wearing the shade Pink Shock here

Maybelline Baby Lips in Pink Shock - $4
Maybelline Baby Lips is such a popular product, you might even call it a cult hit. Google it and you'll find hundreds of posts about it from beauty bloggers across the globe. There are more than a few women who own massive (and growing) collections of Baby Lips. I won't expound its virtues here except to say that it's cheap, it's not drying, it feels nice, it doesn't smell offensive, and it imparts a pretty hint of color. They release a whole new line of Baby Lips from time to time so there are lot of shades and different formulas to love. Now, most of the shades really don't even show up on me so they're not worth even the minimal price tag. But Pink Shock, from its Electro line (shown above), does give me that promised hint of color. Just enough to perk me up, but not such so bold that I need lip liner or even a mirror to apply it. You might call it my MLBB (My Lips But Better) shade. It may not be for everyone, but for me it's the everyday lippie I keep in my purse for on the go application. If this color is too shocking for you, I'd hazard a guess that they make a color more to your liking.

Jordana Twist & Shine Moisturizing Balm Stain - the entire product line

Jordana Twist & Shine Moisturizing Balm Stain in Cranberry Crush (left) and Tropical Frenzy (right)
Jordana Twist & Shine Moisturizing Balm Stain - $3
This may appear to be lipstick in my photos above, but it's really not quite. Balm stain is a pretty good description, actually - it feels like a balm on (while not actually moisturizing to me, it's not drying, either). Its shiny finish lasts for hours, and then the darker shade in particular leaves behind an nice stain. These seem to be modeled after (or a knock-off of) the mega popular Revlon Balm Stains. However, I tried several of the (admittedly gorgeous) Revlon shades, and found them to be terribly drying - my lips hurt for days after. Not everyone has this reaction to the Revlon Balm Stains, but personally I strongly prefer the Jordana, which is actually half the price of the Revlon anyway. The Jordana Twist & Shine definitely has more color than the Baby Lips; I do use a mirror to apply it.  I really, really like both of the colors I have: Cranberry Crush (a dark, bright, pinky-purple berry shade) and Tropical Frenzy (a light, bright, hot pink). With eight colors in the line-up, you could probably find a shade just right for you. I realize that Jordana is not the easiest drugstore brand to find. Locally, I can only find it at Walgreens. I don't have a Kmart nearby, but they carry the Jordana brand as well. 

Northern Lights Hologram Top Coat

Wearing Northern Lights indoors (left) and outdoors (right)
Northern Lights Hologram Top Coat - $6
This little bottle does two amazing things. First of all, it's a quick-drying top coat - paint this over layers of wet polish, and it dries within minutes. Paint and go. I have on four coats of polish in the above photos - base coat, two layers of Essie's Play Date (a creamy lilac), and one coat of Northern Lights. I waited only seconds between each (thickly applied) coat. Just a few minutes after applying, I was typing away on my computer, and maybe a quarter hour after that, I was in the kitchen preparing a meal. Readers, I didn't get a single dent or smudge in my polish. And the second amazing thing? It is sparkly, glittery, holographic rainbow gorgeousness. My photos really cannot do it justice. You will have to take my word for it; this stuff turns ho-hum flat nail polish into something really special. It IS noticeable in real life, and it WILL bring you compliments. Best of all, unlike nearly-impossible-to-remove glitter polish, this comes off just like regular nail polish. You won't be picking off bits of glitter for days after removal, like I do with every glitter nail polish I own (I'm getting rid of them all in my next makeup purge!) Northern Lights Hologram Top Coat is all I need.

Do you have any favorite or holy grail drugstore makeup products for lips and nails? Do share in the comments below!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Drugstore Makeup: Holy Grail Products - Eyes and Face Edition

I am not averse to spending a bit of money on fabulous beauty products. The bulk of my makeup collection leans towards the department store brands. However, sometimes there is a cheaper option that does the job as well as the premium products. I've compiled a list of my very favorite drugstore makeup items. With these "holy grail" products, I have no interest in purchasing the comparable but much more expensive brands. Prices listed below are approximate; it will depend where you purchase them and what sales are going on.

Top to bottom: Aqua, Blue, Purple, Black
Milani Liquid Eye Liquid Like Eyeliner Pencil - $7
My love affair with eyeliner began in middle school, and it's never wavered for even a moment. I have always felt like my blue eyes simply disappeared without eyeliner, and now that my hair is lighter, it's never been more true. When I started wearing eyeliner in my early teens, I wore my mother's cast-offs or whatever my allowance would allow at the drugstore that week. After trying virtually every drugstore brand and never really finding one I loved, I turned to upscale brands. Clinique, MAC, Stila, and especially Urban Decay make some great eyeliners. However, based on advice from several beauty blogs, I tried one particular drugstore liner - and I was hooked. Milani Liquid Eye is as good as or better than the more expensive brands. I prefer the twist-up model, as linked and pictured above, but there is also a sharpenable version (I realize "sharpenable" is not strictly a word, but you know what I mean) if that's your thing. I do own one of the sharpenable pencils, in Aqua, only because it is a gorgeous color and not available in a twist-up version. In twist-up, I have Blue (almost navy with a hint of sparkle), Purple (blackened, metallic, sparkly, and plummy), and Black (SUPER black). I swatched each of my pencils on my hand in the photo above. Either style (twist or sharpen), you can't go wrong with these soft, highly pigmented, and long lasting eyeliner pencils. You can order them online, but the only brick-and-mortar drugstore where I have found them is CVS. At least once a month, CVS runs a buy-one-get-one-half-off sale.

Monistat Soothing Care Power Gel (as a face primer) - $6
I know what you're thinking. "Ewww. I am NOT putting va-jay-jay cream on my FACE." But - it's really not. It's just a silicone gel designed to prevent chafing in areas that may rub together. There is nothing resembling medicine in it. However, the beauty blogosphere has discovered another use for it: Face primer. Apparently, the texture, results, and ingredient list bear a very close resemblance to Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, which is six times the price for a container that's 50% smaller. I have not pitted one against the other, but many bloggers have. I really have no desire to try a more expensive primer. This one makes my face a much smoother canvas, and I find I can use about half as much foundation (I don't go cheap on that) when I've primed first. My large pores look less large, my skin looks better, and my foundation stays all day.

Zon Cosmedix 24/7 Oil Control Blotting Tissues - Rose Powder - $6
Instead of retouching my oily t-zone with powder all day, I keep these blotting tissues in my purse, my car, my bathroom, etc. They don't build up like powder does, but they remove all traces of oil in seconds, leaving behind the barest kiss of powder. If you really can't stand powder of any kind, these tissues come in plenty of un-powdered versions as well. Personally, I use and recommend the Rose Powder, or if your skin has a yellow undertone, then the Amber Powder. I have only seen these for sale at Ulta (in store and online), and the name brand is not readily apparent on the packaging. It's only written in small print on the back. I've tried the slightly more expensive Sephora and Boscia brands, but these do the job just as well for less (plus Ulta always has coupons available - if you're not on their mailing list, you can google one and use it at the register or the coupon code box online).

Pink Passion e.l.f. Studio Blush swatched heavily on the left; lightly on the right

e.l.f. Studio Blush - Pink Passion - $3
I'm not a blush fanatic like many beauty addicts are. I just need a wee bit of color on my cheeks to perk me up. I've never bought expensive blush, but I have gotten the likes of Too Faced, Lancôme, Clinique, and others as part of a palette or gift-with-purchase. Having tried e.l.f.'s blush for a whopping $3, I can't see any reason why I'd pay more than that for a blush. The bright pink Pink Passion shade may not suit everyone, but surely they have a shade for everyone.
Here I am wearing every item mentioned in this post; the eyeliner shade is Aqua
I hope you'll find something on this list worth trying for yourself. What are your absolute favorite "holy grail" drugstore products for eyes and face? Do share! My next post will be be the "lips and nails edition," so stay tuned!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Kitchen Sink Veggie Chili

I'm really not planning on this being a recipe-heavy blog, but I had to get this one out before winter ends, and today we had one of those not-so-horrible winter days that reminds you that yes, spring will come eventually...

I make a big batch of this stuff a couple of times a month in the wintertime. I love it, and it's super healthy. I freeze some individual portions and I have lunch for days. I make it a little bit different each time, depending on what I have on hand, thus the name.

This is the very basic recipe along with a number of options that I mix and match - feel free to throw in your favorite spices, leftover veggies, meats (I like it as a veg dish but it certainly doesn't have to be), whatever. You really can't mess it up.  Make it up quickly to eat right away (it takes about half an hour), or in a crockpot before you leave for the day and come home to deliciousness.

2-5 cloves garlic, sliced
splash of olive oil
1 large can of tomatoes (crushed or diced)
1/2 can of corn (use the whole can if you like)
3 cans beans, rinsed and drained (literally any kind you like - I like garbanzo, kidney, black)
1 Tbs chili powder (or so - I never measure)
optional: 1/2 cup to 1 cup of kale (or spinach or any other veggie you like, fresh or frozen)
optional: the rest of that jar of salsa sitting in your fridge
optional: one package diced and pan-fried turkey sausage or cooked meat of choice
optional: up to 1 cup as needed for extra liquid if it's too thick (chicken or veggie; I use bullion)
optional: salt, pepper, other spices to taste (if you like spicy - add dried chili flakes)
optional: something starchy to serve it over; some of my favorites include: a baked/peeled sweet potato, quinoa, brown rice, and pasta.
optional: toppers: cheese, sour cream, greek yogurt, diced tomatoes, jalepeños, bacon bits

Lightly brown the garlic in olive oil over medium heat in a large saucepan or pot. Add the tomatoes, beans, corn, and chili powder and any optional ingredients (except for the last two) you like. Simmer over medium heat until heated through. (Crockpot variation: brown the garlic in a frying pan and then put all of the ingredients in a crockpot at least long enough to get hot - you can hardly overcook it.) Serve over something starchy if you'd like, and top with cheese and/or other toppers, or just enjoy as is.