Category Archives: Holla Holla, There Goes Your Dolla!

September: Sparkle or Dull????

I need smacked.

I was sitting here this morning going through some blog emails and realized I had completely forgot to post my Sparkle or Dull for September, which was a review of my Fit Fab Fun box! I had done this with my last box and had many of you ask me to continue to review the products in each box I get. My Fall box arrived when I returned from Myrtle Beach and I had intended to get the review up the beginning of October as I usually do with my S or D blogs.

But….life happened, as always. Those of you who follow me on social media know that my grandmother Bubu, passed away earlier in the month, and I was a little bit of a mess for awhile. My family has had a rough few years. First we lost my dad, then my paternal grandmother, and now my maternal grandmother, and all of those losses happened in the Fall months. This time of year isn’t my favorite anymore, and sometimes I tend to become a little distant.

Regardless, I totally spaced on this blog. Good news for my beauty buffs: you’ll get this late blog, then a new one for the month of October in about a week or so!

So let’s talk about my Fall Fit Fab Fun box!!!!!!!!!

This is my second time receiving this quarterly subscription box, which is full of goodies tailored to your likes. If you want to read my review of my first box, click HERE.

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Here’s a breakdown of everything that came in my box! I will include the link so you can check the items out for yourself or purchase if you would like!

Coxet Wire Heart Ceramic Jewelry Holder : I loved this minimalistic holder….it almost looked like a little piece of art! Initially I wasn’t sure if I was going to use it for jewelry and thought about using it on my desk, but eventually I realized I liked it better holding my daily essentials. This retails for $33 and would be great for the jewelry lovers in your life!

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Deco Miami Lavender Cuticle Oil : I was excited to get this item because lately I have been crazy busy and have been skipping my nail appointments, and these cuticles have suffered for it. They are a hot ass mess! I loved the smell of this and really liked how my cuticles felt after. It’s definitely one of my favorite items in this box!

Trestique Matte Color and Shiny Balm Lip Crayon : We all know how I feel about a quality lip color! I knew Trestique was a brand carried by Sephora, but I had never tried it, and the color sent, Florence Fig, was gorgeous. I was pumped to try it! One end is a lip crayon, and the other is a BB lip balm to help with extra shine. I also read the balm could be used as a primer! Overall, I loved this product. The color was light, rich in pigment, and stayed on. It didn’t claim to be a long lasting lip product, but it was, and I loved it. If you are interested in this product, it does come in other colors!

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Mytagalongs Hot and Cold Gel Pack : Guys!!!! This freaking hot and cold pack is THE BEST! As an athlete and as someone getting a little older, sometimes I need to ice or apply heat if a muscle is a little wonky after a strenuous workout or class. The problem with a lot of ice packs is that they cannot double as a heat source, and ice packs I have used tend to get hard and rigid, as ice does when it sits in the freezer for a bit. This gel pack though….it is great because it doesn’t become rigid and can truly help. Since it can form to your body, it can provide more relief, and after heating it up for a few in the microwave it provides the heat you may need, too. At only $15, this is a great purchase for anyone.

B-Low the Belt Mia Belt : Each box there is something that is called a “fashion boost”, meaning you get one of two fashion items. This month you received either a cable knit beanie or this Mia belt, which is what I received. I received the black belt with a silver buckle, but it is also available in tan with gold. I don’t wear belts often, but I really liked this one. It was simple, yet modern, and I liked that I could wear it numerous ways. It retails for $55 (more than the actual cost of the box), and I couldn’t say I’d pay that for it outright, only because I’m not a belt person. For someone who dresses up for work or dresses up a lot, this would be a good purchase.

Private Party Gym Bag : I was over the moon stoked when I found out that a gym bag was   included in the box. Hellloooooooooo I work in the health and fitness industry! Of course I need a gym bag! There were three options for bags, and I was hoping I got the Gym and Juice bag…..and I did!!!!! It is such a great bag, and I use it every day when I go to the kickboxing studio. My mom got the one that says “Will workout for cupcakes.” They are a heavier jean material and great size to tote your gym gear! My favorite item in the box by far!

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Whish Beauty Renewing Mud Mask : I’m a diehard fan of Glamglow line and have been using it on my skin for quite some time, so it’s going to take something crazy amazing for me to replace their mud mask with something new. Yet, I am always open minded to try new products just in case. This product ended up being surprisingly good. Did I like it better than my Glamglow? No….but only because the smell of Glamglow beat it out. Otherwise it was very similar; it left my skin nice and smooth and did not feel harsh at all. It was a great exfoliator, so I will definitely use it again. Definitely worth a try, and definitely a quality product!

Dphue Apple Cider Vinegar Rinse : Just like there is a fashion boost choice in every box, there is also a beauty innovation boost. This box included a coconut teeth whitening powder/toothbrush combo or this apple cider rinse. I really wish I had gotten the toothbrush after trying this product….I’m kind of particular about what I use on my hair, and I love new teeth products. I did try the product a few times, but I was not pleased. I’m not a fan of the smell, plus I hated that this product did not lather up. My mom, however, tried it and liked it, so you may like it….I just didn’t.

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Mer-Sea & Co Scarf: This scarf is the coziest thing I have ever touched! I got the one in blush (perfect since I love pink!) and love the ombre look of it. I’ve been using it as a little throw when I’m in my office working, but now that the temps are dropping outside, I will be using it as a scarf! It’s a great size, so it can easily be used as both….and it retails for $98, which means I got it one hell of a deal!

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Once again, this box surpassed my expectations. I would’ve been happy with just one of the items. Aside from the Apple Cider stuff, I will be using everything in the box. Already looking forward to the next one!

sparkleon

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Hello, Hello Fresh!

If you follow me on Facebook, you’ve seen that for the past few weeks I have been taking advantage of a weekly food delivery service called Hello Fresh. Chances are you have heard of this company….they market like crazy on pretty much every social media avenue known to man.

I was skeptical to try this food delivery service because I had previously tried Blue Apron, one of Hello Fresh’s competitors, and I was extremely disappointed. I felt the quality and selection of food items was poor, and for the cost involved it was not worth it (at least to me). But….I had a lot of things coming up and really wanted to try the Hello Fresh for the sake of convenience. I had a lot of people I know tell me it was fabulous, so I gave it a shot and used a $40 off coupon on my first box (Click HERE to get your own $40 coupon).

Since you may be a little skeptical, I’m going to cover the things everyone has been asking me about: the process, the quality, the cost, the portion size, and my overall opinion.

THE PROCESS

Hello Fresh’s ordering process is very simple, especially from their app. Once you create an account (you’ll have to do this), you select what plan you want. There is a vegetarian plan, classic plan, and family plan, and you have the option to easily modify if you want to down the road. I signed up for the classic plan because I knew I would be the only person eating the food and was curious how portions would break down for me since I follow a pretty regimented meal plan when it comes to portion size.

Once your account is set up and you have determined your plan, you get to pick your meals and the day of the week you want them delivered! On the classic plan, there are 8 dinner selections, and you pick 3. If you would select the veggie plan, you unfortunately don’t get to choose; there are 3 selections, and those are the 3 you get. I have had mine set up to arrive on Tuesday, but I have decided I am going to change the date so I have them delivered on Friday, giving me the weekend to prep.

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A look at my choices in the app

 

On delivery day, everything arrives in once giant box. When I say EVERYTHING, I mean EVERYTHING. The only thing I have had to contribute to the meals is olive oil for when I need to cook meat or sauté veggies. You get recipe cards, nutritional information, and each meal in its own bag with the ingredients for that recipe. In the bottom of the box, packed under the largest ice packs I’ve ever seen, you will find the meat you need for your recipe.

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THE QUALITY

I have been incredibly impressed with the quality of the food I’ve had thus far. Every week I choose at least one steak option, and the steak I have gotten has been thick cut with very little fat. This week I had a salmon that was as good as the salmon dishes on the coast. Most of the ingredients that accompany the meat selections are organic. There has not been any item I have received that wasn’t excellent quality.

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Everything I need to make Cherry Drizzled Pork Chops!

THE PORTION SIZE

My biggest complaint about Blue Apron was that I felt like their meal sizes were more like snack sizes, and I was worried it would be mine with Hello Fresh, too. However, I was pleasantly surprised. Most of the meals I have gotten have easily served as three portions for me instead of the two they claimed to be. I liked that….I liked that a lot!

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Chicken Parm Salad…this is ONE of the three servings I had!

THE COST

I started this experience with a $40 coupon which made my first box $19. Was it worth it? Absolutely! The quality of meals was well worth that and much more, so I didn’t have a problem with it. Full price for 6 meals is $59, so it equates to a little over $9 a meal (shipping is free), and that is before any additional coupon codes. Initially I thought this was a little high, but when I sat down to think about it I spent more when I ran to Panera to grab dinner and spent about the same when I meal prepped at home. Since getting Hello Fresh, my grocery list is minimal, as I don’t need to get much other than breakfast and some items for lunch, so really I am at about the same for my grocery tab for the month.

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One of my fave recipes thus far!

MY OVERALL OPINION

Super worth it! The recipes have all been delicious and most are all things I will make again. Did I mention you get the recipe to recreate them whenever you want? That makes it really easy to expand your recipe collection with healthy options down the road. Only one recipe I didn’t care for much, but that was only because I burnt the fish a bit….oops!

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This was the only recipe I didn’t love. 

I love the convenience of getting everything sent to my house, and I love getting to try some foods I don’t normally try. That’s the other nice thing about this program….you can pick those normal “safe” meals (like salmon and jasmine rice) or try something a little outside of your food comfort zone (like bibimbap). Sometimes we need a little push like this to try new things!


Guys, I 100% recommend you give Hello Fresh a try. Even if you just try one box, I guarantee you will be happy you gave it a shot! You may love it and stick with it…..you may learn more about eating healthy and portion sizes….you may just fall in love with cooking. Regardless, your taste buds will be happy!

 

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My favorite finds of 2016

At the start of a new year I love to share some things that I fell in love with during the year prior. With my Sparkle of Dull monthly segment and just overall love for shopping I always come across way more than I could ever review on the blog, so a yearly wrap up is the winning solution. Plus, I find things that aren’t necessarily beauty related but are worthy of a shout out, too! Here are some of my favorites from 2016!

(And because someone will ask….no, I’m not paid to promote these items. I just really freaking love them, ok?)

1. Glam Glow Mega Illuminating Moisturizer.

I am very focused on taking great care of my skin, and this product line has a lot to do with it. I use the moisturizer every single day, and have some of the masks as well. This product has an amazing smell to it and is lightly tinted, so if you are someone who doesn’t like to wear a lot of makeup, this can help you with a little coverage while still moisturizing your skin. Some people may be scared away by the price, but you don’t need a lot every day, therefore, it lasts quite some time.

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I purchase mine at Sephora!

2. Matcha Green Tea Powder

Before we bought our house I began a very healthy/unhealthy addiction with a green tea smoothie from a local smoothie shop called Pulp (if you are local check them out). After going there countless times I determined I wanted to be able to make my own version of this treat, and I found the secret to the recipe to be a quality green tea powder. You can do a lot with this product….it’s also fabulous when mixed with hot water and a little creamer!!!! To duplicate the smoothie you just blend the matcha powder with soy milk and greek yogurt. All the Yesssssssss!

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Miss my Pulp smoothies these days!

3. Altar’d State clothing

Honestly, the entire store makes it on this list! I discovered this company earlier in the year and spent quite a bit of time trolling on its website. Then, out of nowhere, the shopping gods provided a Christmas miracle and put a brick and mortar store in local mall. I almost peed my pants! This store is full of Boho-chic clothing options, cute home decor, and whimsical gifts, and the company itself has a strong philosophy on charity and giving back. I really like that in a company and support their mission 100%. If you haven’t heard of this company yet, check them out!

4. Kuhn Rikon Stay Clean Scrubber

Let’s be honest here…if you are someone doing the dishes, you have probably encountered a little situation called the Smelly Sponge. It’s gross, right? This product (which you can also find on Amazon, Walmart, Sears, etc) is made of silicone and dries faster, eliminating bacteria that can thrive on a sponge. They also come in cute colors! Mine is green to match my green kitchen decor!

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5. Best Friends by Sheri Cuddle Cup Dog Beds

I’m guessing 99% of you know that I am crazy about dogs, but for those of you who don’t know….I’m crazy aboutdogs, especially my little guys. One is a Pug and the other is a Boston Terrier, both breeds known for loving to cuddle. In October I found the Cuddle Cup while wandering the aisles of our local Homegoods and decided to buy one for the dogs. The next day we went back and bought two more for our house and two for my mother in law. They are extremely  soft, come in several styles and sizes, and allow dogs who like to curl up to do so and feel protected. I have two in my office so the boys can hang with me while I work….Bubba (on the left) is in the Deep Dish Cuddler and Murphy (right) is in the Round Cuddler Bed, also known as the Mini Throne Cuddle Cup. The outer part is a gray suede to match my office decor and they feature a sherpa lining. If they were big enough I’d cuddle in them………

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My little loves

6. Marc Jacobs Under(cover) Coconut Primer

For real for real….any time something says “coconut” I have to try it…..coconut is my #1 scent of choice! I had read many reviews on this product earlier in the year and finally gave in to try it….it did not disappoint. The coconut smell is not super potent if you aren’t in the coconut fan club like I am, but the coverage is great and it has awesome hold. It also makes my skin feel super soft after application, and I like that a lot! If you are someone with dry skin, this won’t dry you out or make your skin flake out…it actually doubles as a moisturizer!

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Coconut, how I love thee. Let me count thy ways.

7. Everfitte Workout Tanks

I’ve always favored the small shops on Easy…heck, the majority of my wedding was made possible by the vendors on the site! I was pleasantly surprised when I stumbled across this shop earlier in the year and immediately fell in love with their sassy workout tanks. They constantly have deals on tanks if you are shoppertunistic, and the quality of the shirts is great…super soft and breathable for workouts or just relaxing! They have a saying that can work for anyone….whether you love workouts, wine, or The Bachelor……

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Because I love carbs….and I’ll never quit them. 

8. Layer Cake Soap by Lush

I am forever raving about my love for all things Lush, but I was pleasantly surprised this year when I traded in my Shooting Stars soap for the Layer Cake soap! I’ll be honest…I was drawn to the product because of its beautiful rainbow colors, but once I smelled it I knew it was a winner. Each piece will look different, some more rainbow-like than others, but all smell fabulous, as it is made up of juices like orange, pineapple, and raspberry to name a few!

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Even Murphy agrees…it is fabulous!

9. Beat by Dre Headphone Stand

This item is a must have if you have headphones! I recently was gifted a pair of Wireless Beats from my coach Laura after hitting the huge business milestone of Success Club Legend, and I knew that 1) I would be using them constantly so I needed them handy and 2) I wanted to make sure they wouldn’t be damaged. This stand is sleek, stylish, and a great to ensure my headphones are nearby when I’m doing work (I use them for personal development every morning) and out of the reach of little dogs who may mistake it for a cool toy/bone.

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Ahh…the romantic glow of my Pink Himalayan Salt Lamp in the background…..

10. New Balance Studio Skin

This product is for my fellow sock haters….and those of you who need a little something to help you get your workouts done if you are barefoot. The studio skins have just the right amount of traction and cushioning without feeling like a shoe, and I think they are super cute, too! I heard about them from some of my yoga buddies who had been wearing them for class….definitely worth the investment!

11. On Demand Fitness Membership

Guys….I’ve been talking about this a lot of Facebook because I am just so freaking in love with Beachbody On Demand. This is what I use every day for my workouts and is similar to Netflix….I log in from my iPad, computer, tv, wherever…pick what workout I want to do, and bam! There it is! Last week it was announced that through the month of January there would be a special bundle giving you access to every single workout every created by BB, plus portion containers plus a month supply of my beloved Shakeology for the super low price of $199…..I was floored! All that for an entire year of resources to help you reach your goals? Yes, please! I’m excited to help everyone find their soul mate workout with this system….and did I mention that everyone in your house can use it, too? Talk about a great deal!

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Best $16 a month I’ve ever spent!

12. Tarte Rainforest of the Sea palette

Tarte is one of those staple brands for me when it comes to makeup, and this palette is at the top of the list. It seems like I get more compliments on the colors in this little number than any other eye shadow palette I own. It’s a great combo of browns and purple-brown colors, and they have a rich shimmer to them. This palette is great for those of you who like more natural colors on your lids or don’t like to do a bunch of fancy schmancy smokey eye techniques.

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As always, I could include about a million products on this list, but I have to draw the line somewhere…otherwise your wallets and bank accounts would hate me! The items included in this list can be purchased from multiple sites (for the most part), so do some research and find the best deal for you!

Here’s to a happy, healthy 2017 full of lots of wonderful Sparkle Babe approved items!

sparkleon

 

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Flower Power!

When it comes to flowers, I have a major love/hate relationship with them. I love love love how beautiful they are and how they have the capability to brighten my mood…..but I hate the fact that I ALWAYS seem to kill them prematurely. That whole green thumb thing….yeah, I did not get it…….surprising since my grandmother used to run her own flower shop.

Flowers are the one part of decor that I absolutely have to have and am constantly buying them during the spring/summer. I can’t help it….I love what they can do to a room! When I finally got my home office set up there was one thing I knew for sure: I wanted pink flowers on an all white desk to make my happy as I worked each day. My original plan was to use my wedding bouquet, however….stupid me had placed them on their side not realizing what I was doing, causing one side to rot and look weird. Bye, bye flowers.

Chillier temperatures outside meant that the end of a beautiful flower adorned desk were coming…..at least for a few months. This also meant an empty gap on my desk, and my OCD self just could not have that.

Spending as much time on Facebook as I do definitely has its benefits. As my flowerless desk conundrum surfaced, I randomly saw a post by my friend Stephanie that instantly provided me a solution. She shared her brand new business venture, The Pretty Paper Petal, and a photo of two roses she made, which you can see below.

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Photo courtesy of The Pretty Paper Petal

Immediately I messaged her about making a pink floral arrangement for my desk. I had no clue what the flowers were made of, but I knew that I had to have some. After some discussion I decided that three pale pink peonies would be absolutely perfect for the vision I had.

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My beautiful peony delivery!

I was so pleased with the final product that I had to ask her some questions I was dying to know about this paper flower talent she had been gifted. Since some of you may have the same questions, I thought I would share our quick interview here!

How did you learn how to make such gorgeous flowers out of paper?

Stephanie: I consider myself a figure it out person. I started this project after being inspired by so many wonderful papercrafters on Instagram. Thinking to myself “Could I really create something as beautiful as them?” So I started watching youtube videos, printing out tutorials and ordering paper and just really dove head in! I would make the same bloom over and over again with different types of paper just trial and error with my technique. Once I felt like I had that particular bloom down I would move on to another type of flower and start again with the learning process.

 

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The artist, Stephanie Morehead, in her shop.

 

How long does it take to make one flower?

Stephanie: Some flowers can be extremely labor intensive, I’ve made flowers that can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2 hours! Each bloom can vary so much, from the amount of petals to cut and different sizes….to shaping the petals or painting the paper, then attaching, finishing the stem and even creating leaves. Thats why each bloom can look so unique and customized, the whole process is just so hands on and wonderfully personal.

What is your favorite flower to make?

Stephanie: There are so many flowers on my “OMG I have to try that list” but my favorite and most rewarding flower has been a ranunculus. They are so small, delicate and have layers upon layers of tiny petals. It takes over 100 hand cut, formed and placed petals per bloom. To me they are incredibly rewarding and realistic. Once I really figured out how to construct them I couldn’t stop smiling and taking pictures of the finished bloom.

What is your favorite thing about making these handcrafted flowers?

Stephanie: I love crafting, the sense of satisfaction that you created something beautiful, unique and special with your hands. It is also incredibly relaxing making each flower, the process of creating each petal is very enjoyable and almost serene!

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The artist at work!

What is the best way for someone to order?

Stephanie: The best way to order, say hi or ask questions is through my etsy page, Custom handmade crepe paper flowers by The Pretty Paper Petal. I am constantly adding new single blooms and arrangements to my store front.

Do you do custom orders?

Stephanie: Absolutely! I consider every order to be a custom order. Variations is color, length, size, leaves, each bloom can be hand crafted to you specifications. For bouquets and arrangements the possibilities can be endless!

 

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The beginning of a beautiful masterpiece.

 

How long does it take for a customer to get an order?

Stephanie: Each project can vary slightly in productions time, factors being size of the order or if custom paper colors need to be order. Generally custom orders can be delivered or shipped within 2-3 weeks, and ready to ship blooms within 1-2 days.

For customers who love flowers, why should they choose these?

Stephanie: To me they are so much more than fake flowers. Each is so unique and special looking, just like a real live flower but without the shelf life. I am excited for the day when I get married holding a hand made paper bouquet of beautiful, colorful lush blooms, and then on my ten year anniversary being able to see that same bouquet still in its full beauty.
But that’s what its all about, creating a forever moment with flowers. A perfectly styled desk arrangement, a valentines bouquet that will not end up in the trash, or a a recreation of your wedding bouquet to relive to magic of one day.

When it came to my beautiful peonies, I made them even more realistic by purchasing a product I found at Michael’s called QuickWater, a product that creates the illusion of water while hardening and holding your flowers at the same time (Be shoppertunistic….if you download the Michael’s app or visit their website, you can access a 40% off coupon so it is a little cheaper). You want to be very careful when mixing the QuickWater so it doesn’t bubble or look unnatural….and you definitely want to find a cute vase to display your arrangement! The vase I found was $1.99 at Michael’s and absolutely perfect! Here is a look at the final product in its new habitat!

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The finished product in its new environment!

I absolutely am obsessed with my flowers from The Pretty Paper Petal and look forward to having Stephanie craft a few more arrangements for me! And now I never have to feel bad about lacking the green thumb gene…..because my flowers will look all day errryyyyddddayyyy!

In addition to her etsy shop, you can find Stephanie online @theprettypaperpetal on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

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Thanks Stephanie for this beautiful addition to my office!

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Easy like Sunday morning.

Raise your hand if you love Amazon Prime!

I LOVE Amazon Prime…if you haven’t checked it out yet, I want this to be your formal invitation to look into it.

Cliff Notes on what Prime is: A way to order the things you need and get them delivered to your doorstep in two days, even on the weekends. It’s a flat $99 fee per year…..$50 if you are a student, and it waives the shipping costs on everything. The first year we used this I really only used it around Christmas time, and I realized how great it was. The amount I saved on shipping during that time made it completely worth it. Since then, 90% of the things I order online come from Amazon. It makes me feel better if I slack when it comes to ordering something for someone’s birthday or a random event, and honestly, the prices are competitive, so I like that.

A few weeks ago my cousin Kaley enlightened me on something she had purchased through Prime, and I jumped all over the chance to own the same thing: Dash buttons.

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Dash buttons are a product exclusive to Amazon that allow you to purchase an item with one push of a button…items that you tend to run out of around the house that can really be a pain to go buy. I purchased buttons for two items I always hate running to the store to grab: toilet paper and Clorox wipes. The list of products you can buy goes way deeper….paper towels, razors, Slim Jims, Red Bull, trash bags, Doritos…even condoms! The list goes on and on and on!

These buttons are small, as you can see above, and have an adhesive on the back so you can stick them wherever you would like. The button for toilet paper is right in the bathroom vanity because obviously that’s where we would realize we need the product….the wipes button is under my kitchen sink. These buttons connect through Wifi and cost $4.99 per button; that $4.99 will be credited to the first purchase you make using the button, so the buttons are essentially free.

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Add the convenience of Prime to these buttons….you get these items delivered to your doorstep in two days. There goes pesky trips for a pack of toilet paper or Huggies when you realize you are almost out. Easy like Sunday morning.

My only warning with your buttons…..be careful where you stick them! My cousin had an issue with one of her cats stepping on one and placing a large order on her behalf, and heavens knows what kind of order a child could place for you!

Moral of the story: Prime is worth it. Buttons rock. And cats can be dangerous.

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The Last Straw

I knew this blog post would have to happen. I just knew it!

Yesterday I shared with my followers over at The Sparkle Fitness Babe that I had found a three pack of stainless steel straws during my Starbucks stop and was beyond excited! I had been looking for some this week and was very happy to randomly find them while I was getting my caffeination on. Since stainless steel straws aren’t super popular yet, I knew I would have a bunch of people asking me why I wanted them and what the deal is with them.
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This blog is for you, questioners of the straws.

As we know, I pay a lot of attention to my health and the quality of things I put in my body. Something that is just HUGE to me that I have been working hard to eliminate: chemicals. Something that is also pretty huge to me: lipstick. Yes, I love wearing it, and I don’t always want to mess up cups with my “Katie was here” lipstick marks, especially when I am drinking my frothy daily Shakeology….milkshake mustaches and bright pink lipstick shades can be messy! Because of that, I have always been a straw gal. Prior to this purchase I was using biodegradable  paper straws.

Reasons why I opt for stainless steel straws (say that five times fast):

-They are reusable so you are eliminating waste. I really try my best to do little things daily that can help impact the environment in a positive way. By eliminating the use of plastic straws I am eliminating the daily tossing of plastic, so they are better for the environment. They are also extremely durable and unbreakable, meaning they will live a long and happy life in my kitchen cupboard.

-They are cost effective. A three pack of stainless straws from Starbucks runs you $5.95. A twelve pack of plastic straws from Target costs about $3. Those, obviously, are for a one time use. I can use my stainless straws over and over and over and over, saving me money. When I was using the biodegradable straws, six straws would cost me $2.

-They are chemical free. Many plastics have traces of BPA and Phthalates, toxic chemicals that can harm your body. Stainless steel: none. They are BPA free and non toxic.

-I love how they look. There are other kinds of great reusable straws on the market, such as glass straws or bamboo straws, but I just love the look of stainless and prefer those over the others.

You may not be a straw person, and that’s ok, but if you are I recommend going a more eco friendly route and trying stainless!

Off for my daily straw and shake date! Have a happy Friday, friends!

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What to Expect When You are Expecting…

Ahhhh, yes.

What to expect when you are expecting.

No, I’m not talking about that movie with Cameron Diaz. Or any new additions to the Kramer household.

I’m talking about what to expect when you are expecting……to buy a house.

Kyle and I recently purchased our first home after a year long search, and boy, was it an exhausting experience. I learned a few things I wanted to share with all of you who are expecting to purchase a new home in the near future….a few things that I hope can help you!

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So what should you expect on your house hunting search????

1. It’s pretty much the same as giving online dating a try. I can’t begin to tell you how many people fooled us with the pics they listed of their home. It’s like on an online dating profile where someone claims to be 6’4 but ends up being 5’6. Seriously people….using the panoramic picture option on you iPhone camera won’t work once someone steps into your kitchen and realizes it is the size of a shoebox. Also, much like photoshop, I can tell when a doorframe has a weird curve because of your editing. Not everyone is a moron. Just show the house like it is.

2. Ok, it’s a lot like dating in general. Dating can be an emotional roller coaster. House hunting…..I actually think it can be worse. You find something you love…..you get your heart set on it…..you start visualizing how you will decorate rooms….you might even start putting things into your Amazon Prime cart…then you find out that you lost the house to someone who was faster with an offer. Then you get bummed out. Then you begin the process again. I felt like my heart got tap danced on by football cleats over and over and over again.

3. Have a list of non-negotiables when you start the search. Kyle and I had many long talks about what was important to have in our home before we started looking. We knew things we absolutely HAD to have and things we just wanted to have. This helped us when we were searching by eliminating houses right away. You should never settle with a house, so make that list of non-negotiables so you don’t regret it later.

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One of my non negotiables…..an awesome kitchen. Got it!

4. You no longer spend hours on Pinterest…..you spend DAYS! The best part about the house hunting/purchase process was no longer having to explain to Kyle why I was on Pinterest so much. I think he actually realized what a great site it is during the whole process! Honestly though….I logged some serious Pinterest hours and show no signs of stopping soon, but that is ok! Finding DIY solutions for some of the projects I want to do will save us money and be fun……score!

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Part of my beautiful makeup room, thanks Pinterest! All I have left to do is have the Hollywood lights installed!

5. Always do a drive by. I fell in love with two different houses based on the pictures. When we drove by the first one, I realized it was in a shady neighbor where I am positive that I saw a prostitute walking down the street. The other we skipped the drive by and realized when we showed up that the beautiful house pretty much was located on a car dealership lot. After that we made a deal: no drive by, no appointment set to view.

6. Hire the kind of realtor that will get the job done. We started the process using one realtor who was nice but not a good match for us. I am very much a no nonsense kind of person and a shark when I want something, and we wanted a realtor who was the same. After all, if this person had to negotiate for us and go to bat for us, I didn’t want some timid mouse. Fortunately, a friend of mine who knows my style recommended Mark Young, who got the job done. If you are in the Cleveland/Akron area and looking for someone awesome, this guy is the one to call.

7. Cross reference like it’s your job. Don’t just look on one site or one app. Look on THEM ALL! In the beginning I focused on just one app…what a mistake. I found so many different listings on other sites that I would’ve missed if I didn’t check out everything. In fact, the house we ended up buying was listed on a random website when I first noticed it. Thank heavens I did!

8. Strike while the iron is hot. I understand you shouldn’t make any rash decisions, but you don’t want to miss out on your dream house either.Don’t take days or weeks to determine what to do. Go with your gut and make moves. We lost out on multiple homes we loved because we didn’t move fast enough.

9. Be prepared for unexpected expenses. The joys of home ownership means unexpected random expenses. People always say that buying a house can be a money pit, and that sure is the truth! The house we bought had brand new EVERYTHING and we still had random things come up, like the unexpected visit from a fat raccoon and her babies who decided to live in our chimney for a week. Prepare for the unexpected. Pay for inspections. Cover your butts!

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This raccoon weighed more than our dog!

10. It’s not over until it’s over………So true! The house we bought was put on the market Easter weekend. Since we were out of town we couldn’t see it until Tuesday morning. The minute we saw it we knew we wanted it, so we put the offer in that minute. Seriously, we didn’t want to lose it. Our realtor contacted the listing agent to tell him the news…..and then found out the seller had accepted an offer literally about an hour before. I was so upset. After crying and cussing like a madwoman, I contacted Mark and told him that if ANYTHING fell through on that deal to let us know. The next night he let us know that the initial deal had fallen through. YESSSSSSS! Of course we submitted everything and had an accepted offer late that day.

Kyle and I are still working at getting settled in, but I love how the house is coming together. It’s been a crazy and emotional process for me, but at the end of the day I love that I have closed the nomadic chapter of my life….the one that included 24 documented moves in about 12 years (yes, that’s a lot) and started a new one with my husband. There have been moments of frustration and sadness, as I am finding things of my dad’s as I unpack all of my things and being forced to accept that all of the big milestones in my life will take place without him physically being here. At the same time, there have been so many wonderful happy moments that I know will only continue.

Here’s to FINALLY getting rid of my storage unit and adulting!

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Favorite Finds of 2015

As a self admitted beauty addict, I am always interested in finding products to add to my ever growing collection. 2015 brought a lot of new products into my life….some good, some bad, some cheap, some expensive. I wanted to take a quick minute to share with you my absolute favorite finds so you can check them out, too! My goal was to share my top ten, but I couldn’t….there were twelve items that had me jumping for joy this year, and I have to share them all!

Let’s meet my favorite finds of 2015!

12. Aloha Coconut Chapstick

I am always after great lip products (there are a couple on this list) because  I hate chapped lips. Running outside in the winter often wrecks havoc on them, so when I find products I love that help with it, I get excited. My mom got me this chapstick this year (she knows about my love for all things coconut), and it not only smells great and tastes great, it works great, too.

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11.  The Wet Brush

Hair care is important to me….have you seen this mane? It can go from a perfectly manicured hairdo to a rats nest very quickly if I fail to take care of it. I’ve tried about a billion brushes in my day, but this one takes the cake. I can have a major tangled mess, and this bad boy has worked wonders on my hair. There are various sizes (I always have a mini one in my purse for emergencies), and if you do some searching, you can find these super cheap….even Groupon runs deals on them from time to time.

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10. Bare Minerals Bareskin Perfecting Face Brush

Makeup brushes are one thing that I do not skimp on. If you buy cheaper ones, I have found you have to replace them more, bristles fall out, and you end up spending more. Invest in quality brushes. Trust me, your face will thank you.  This foundation brush is my favorite ever. See how the middle is kind of cut out? I know it looks strange, but this really helps evenly distribute your foundation on your face for a flawless look.

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9. Kat Von D Lock It Foundation

Speaking of foundation, this year I finally found my soul mate shade and brand. With my wedding approaching, I went into a Sephora and had the poor sales associate try pretty much every single foundation known to man on my face to find the perfect shade and coverage. Prior to finding Kat Von D I had dabbled with Becca foundation, but having to mix two colors to perfect the shade for my face was not only annoying, but costly. The minute this angelic foundation from Kat was on my face, I knew I had found the one. The coverage is amazing, it is light and doesn’t feel or look cakey, and even though it is a little pricey, you don’t use a ton with application. Worth every penny. Before buying it, I advise you go into a Sephora or Kat Von D retailer and have someone shade match you. You don’t want to spend $35 on a bottle and get home only to realize it is too dark for you.

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8. Lush Space Girl Bath Bomb

I am obsessed with Lush and obsessed with anything that makes a bath feel like a spa day. I’ve had many items from Lush in my day and have never met a product of theirs that I hated, but this year I met the Space Girl bath bomb, and a new favorite was born. The smell is great, there’s some sparkle to it, and there’s some sparkle to it, and it is just cute to look at (I’m such a girl).

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7. Nyx Bloody Mary Matte Lipstick

I accidentally found this lipstick when searching for the perfect shade for my engagement photos. We all know I am obsessed with red lipstick (my signature shade is Mac So Chaud), but I wanted something a little different with a bit more of a pinkish/reddish hue. One day I strolled into Ulta and realized Nyx was having a huge sale, so I figured it was worth a shot. There, for about $3.00, I found Bloody Mary. It’s a quality Matte and stays on without reapplication. This purchase started a really healthy relationship with Nyx that I don’t see ending anytime soon.

Bloody Mary lipstick in Action!
6. OGX Coconut Milk Serum

I’ve blogged about this fabulous stuff earlier in the year, but I have to talk about it again. It’s ah-mazzzzzz-ing. Again, I love coconuts and having healthy hair, and this combines both! I take a small dollop of it each night and run it through my hair to keep it healthy and shiny. Plus, I go to bed smelling of the beach, and I’m ok with that. A little of this goes a long way though, so word from the wise…..don’t use too much!

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5. Lilly Lashes 3D Mink Lashes

False eyelashes are my thing….I wear them pretty much every day, so I like to think I know a thing of two about them. This year I cheated on House of Lashes, my usual go to lash place, and purchased some mink lashes from Lilly Lashes. I was beyond pleased with the quality, how long they last, and the look. I’ve worn them for pretty much every big occasion this year and won’t be quitting anytime soon. My favorites are Mykonos (seen below) and Miami (which I wore for my wedding). If you aren’t sure how to apply them or the hype behind them, I made a quick tutorial awhile back that may help you……you can access it here .

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4. Lush Honey Trap Lip Balm

All time best lip balm, right here. This is intensive and has helped me on even the coldest of days. I don’t even know what else to say about it other than it makes my lips happy and has prevented me from problems in the cold weather!

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3. Daily Grind Snarky Bar

Oh-Em-Geeeeeeeeeee. As a coffee addict, I usually jump at anything with coffee in the title. When I saw this soap, known as a snarky bar, I had to have it. Made with coffee grounds? Ok! I don’t know if I thought maybe the coffee on my skin would give me an extra boost or what, but needless to say, I tried it, fell in love, and now will always be using one.

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2. Urban Decay Naked on the Run

I can’t live without this set.Urban Decay is my #1 makeup brand of choice, and when I was purchasing some other items, a kind sales associate suggested I consider buying this palette. Best suggestion ever. In this you get 5 eye eyeshadows, blush, bronzer, highlighter, lipgloss, eyeliner, and mascara (my favorite mascara FYI). At $54, it is a steal. Now whenever I am on the go, I grab this and have pretty much everything I need! I love it so much that it is something I gifted to some friends this year at Christmas. Great for anyone on the go! P.S. Right now it is on sale for $32. Buy it. You’ll thank me!

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1. Tony Moly Banana Hand Milk

I cannot live without this item….I’m dead serious. It is my absolute favorite find of 2015 and is with me everywhere I go. Besides loving coffee, I am obsessed with bananas. This lotion is not only packaged like a cute banana, but it smells just like one and moisturizes better than anything else I have tried. You’re welcome.

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Here’s to lots of great beauty finds in 2016!!!!!

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Let’s talk dirty.

Dirty hair that is, ya creeps!

Hair is one of those topics that I feel always come up during a conversations with girls. I guess it’s a good one….I could talk about hair and makeup all day, especially my weird hair routines (we all have them, c’mon).

One thing that I think drives Kyle nuts is the number of hair products I accumulate. It’s just not my fault!!!!

The thing is…..I don’t go through them very quickly, so they do tend to multiply faster than a hamster in heat. I really don’t have a big secret regarding prolonging the life span of a hair product. I just do one thing.

I let my hair get super dirty.

First of all, let me just say it gets dirty in a good way. I’m not walking around with an oil slick on my head or smelly hair or anything. I have just learned after years and years and years of hair abuse a better way to care for my hair and style it.

And that, my friends, is thanks to my little friend……dry shampoo.

Back in the day I would really pull a number on my hair every single day. Wash it, condition it, dry it, curl it (or straighten it), tease it, hairspray it, fluff it later. Oh yeah, and I used to color it constantly, too. Not a good routine when it comes to having healthier hair. On a trip where I didn’t have much time to be focused on hair, a friend asked me why I wasn’t using dry shampoo. I lacked a reason, so she let me try it and <<<<BOOM>>>> Mind Blown.

Let’s talk about what this dry shampoo does for me, and why you should give it a chance.

-I now wash my hair 1 or 2 times a week maximum! This means that I am not going through as much shampoo/conditioner and saving money there.

-Washing hair 1-2 times a week means I am now only blowdrying my hair 1-2 times a week. To you that may be nothing, but to me that saves me a lot of time. It takes me about 35-40 minutes to blow dry my hair…that’s time that could be spent doing other things! It also means I am not damaging my hair like I used to do.

-My hair actually has more texture and holds hairstyles better. If you have ever been to a wedding and needed a great hairstyle, chances are your hairstylist told you to come with dirty hair. There’s a reason! Freshly washed hair cause hairstyles/curls to fall. Dirtier hair makes the hair stay and look great!

Back to dry shampoo….how do I use it?

When I get up and my hair is a mess I follow a very simple process. Here are my easy steps:

  1. Brush hair and remove anything that may be in it (bobby pins, hair ties, etc).
  2. Take the dry shampoo of your choosing and spray it on the oily parts of your hair…..usually for me I spray it right at the scalp, my part line, and sometimes on the tips of my hair if they need some freshening up.
  3. Wait a few minutes (usually I wait about 5 or so). This is a great time to start putting on your makeup, flossing, etc
  4. Using a blow dryer, dry the spots where you have applied the dry shampoo. I usually just blast the rest of my hair for a few seconds. Sometimes I use a brush while drying, other times I use my fingers to finger comb it. This takes about a minute.
  5. Complete styling, whether it be curling your hair, straightening, whatever.

Since I met and fell in love with the benefits of dry shampoo I have tried a number of products. Has anyone else ever noticed how many options we have when we walk down the hair care aisle at the store? Eek! Products for dayyyyssssss. In true Katie fashion I have tried about a thousand of them and have two favorites that I wanted to share with you today, and both are brands that I use presently.

My little saviors.

My little saviors. Batiste and Big Sexy save my life day after day after day after day after day.

Batiste Dry Shampoo : I love this brand because it is inexpensive and comes in a variety of flavors, plus the bottle looks really cute. The kind that I use most is the cherry scent (as you can tell by the cherry adorning the can), but I can say that I honestly have tried them all, and they are all great. You can purchase this at drug stores, Tj Maxx (if it is in stock), or my favorite place, Ulta. Right now it is buy one get one half off PLUS you can use Ulta coupons on it, so be shoppertunistic. It usually runs about $7.99 a pop.

Big Sexy Volumizing Dry Shampoo: This whole product line is amazing, but it is a little pricey. Some drugstores carry the brand, I’ve seen it at Walmart and of course Ulta, and some salons carry it. A small can is about $18. You don’t use a ton of this at a time, so a can will last you for awhile.

Why do I use two brands? Let me share with you.

Batiste is amazing, but when you spray it on your hair it makes your hair white (hello, baby powder). This goes away when I blow dry, and I love it because it is giving me a no brainer where I need to blast with my hair dryer….you know, for those days where Im not quite caffeinated or awake.

Big Sexy does not have any visible markings, so I use this when I need dry shampoo in a pinch and don’t have the option to blow dry.

Both smell great. Both work. Both make my hair happy.

I encourage you to get dirty and see how you feel about dry shampoo. It may just become your new best friend!

Holla Holla: My Obsession

***Disclaimer*** This is a total girlie girl post. Any male reading this probably won’t want to read any further.

I have many girlie obsessions, and I am upfront and honest about them. I like shoes, baking, 80’s music, tutus, glitter, unique pieces of jewelry, Mac lipstick, aprons, trashy television,scarves…..I can go on and on…..

However, something has catapulted to the top of my obsession list recently. My EOS lip balm.

One of the many

One of the many

It is a rare occasion where my lips are without lipstick. I can’t help it…I like when I look put together, it’s kind of my thing. When that moment comes when the lipstick comes off….that’s when the lip balm goes on.

I first purchased this amazing little lip treat awhile back, and I bought it strictly on its appearance. Since I was over the age of 16, I felt it was time to retire my trusty Bonne Bell and move onto something a tad more mature. While checking out Walgreens, I saw a colorful little egg calling my name….and you know me….something colorful and a fun shape…..I was sold. The only thing that could’ve made it better would’ve been if it was covered in glitter.

Such cuteness in such a tiny little package!

Such cuteness in such a tiny little package!

Since that first purchase, I have taken my obsession to another level with EOS to another level (learn more about them by clicking here.) I presently own every flavor, and I rotate them based on my mood. My favorite is the Mint (so freaking great!). Yes, they look a little funny, but they are the best lip balms I have ever purchased…and I’ve tried pretty much anything.

And then…just when I thought my mind couldn’t be blown more….EOS made this:

Whhaaattttt?????!!!!!!!

Whhaaattttt?????!!!!!!!

I can assure you I do not own stock in EOS, I just really love their stuff, and I had to share with my lady followers who also love great things.

Your lips…and now your legs…will thank me.

You’re welcome.