Monday, April 24, 2017

Spring | FabFitFun

This is the only box you need. Buy it right now. I rave all the time about my PopSugar subscription, but my true favorite is FabFitFun, I really wish it was once a month rather than once a quarter. The fact that it's seasonal does in the very least make it more affordable, averaging out to $16.66/month.

If you have been under a rock recently when it comes to social media and have not heard of FabFitFun, it is a seasonal box featuring home goods, makeup, fitness, food, and jewelry items. I say under a rock because FFF is promoted by celebrities like NONSTOP.

Here's what I got in the Spring Box:

Left to Right: dr. brandt exfoliator- I will be passing this on as my skin will freak out if I use this, Briogio restoring milk conditioning spray (hmm, torn?), Deborah Lippmann nail polishes (x2,) and a lip kit!

This lip kit. The little inspirational sayings on them are just darling aren't they? I cannot wait to try these out- stay tuned, I'll let you know how their quality is.

And now my favorite part:

I actually received another one (Haute Mess,) but RAN to Poshmark to find these two- I mean come on, how perfect?!?! They are lined- perfect for keeping valuables safe on the beach or at the pool, and bonus- since they are lined they can hold a wet bathing suit!

I also received a set of rose gold earrings, valued at $85! I absolutely am obsessed with ear climbers recently and they're rose gold.

It was getting dark when I was taking these pictures, so I apologize for the clarity, but trust me they're stunning.

Next up?  A box of masks:

I've never tried this brand of masks, but I am obsessed with masks, and cannot wait to try these out.

I'm not done, there's more. I know, it's absolutely CRAZY what you get for the $50:

I was a little underwhelmed with this. I haven't opened it yet because I don't know if I am planning on keeping it. It unfolds into a giant circle picnic-like blanket with tassels around the edge. It's a gorgeous print, its just made from a super thin material.  About a year ago PopSugar provided a similar item that was a Terry cloth towel- same size but a thick towel which I think is more practical. Gorgeous though, and valued at $50! You can shop the different designs HERE for $35/each on sale.

In addition to everything above, FFF also threw in Hair Skin and Nails gummy vitamins and a sample of Burt's Bees new protein shakes.

So, what do you think? Impressive, right?

If you would like to sign up, CLICK HERE for $10 off your first box!

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Product Love | BeautyCounter Cleansing Balm

Since entering my 30's, I have been trying to be more vigilant with the level of toxic chemicals I am putting in and on my body. This has become an expensive struggle, constantly trying more and more organic and natural products, all in the effort to minimize what I am consuming. I have a history of cancer in my family, and considering I have had 2 growths removed from my body by age 31, I am hyper-sensitive at this point. I know there are genetics that I cannot avoid when it comes to the big C word, but I am determined to do what I can to prevent any other ways it can infiltrate my body.

When it comes to beauty products, it gets expensive. And frustrating. Much like other products, natural and organic beauty products do not stand up to the quality of others- those tested on animals, those with harmful and toxic ingredients in them. This is beyond frustrating, considering the ticket price on these items can be twice, if not three to four times the price. Enter BeautyCounter.

I found this brand thru my PopSugar subscription over a year ago in my monthly MustHave box.  Only upon researching it to repurchase did I find out it is a direct sales company- not that it's a bad thing, just figured I'd point that out.  Once I found that out, I reached out to my friend Andrea of Howe We Live to talk more about their products.

Before I dive into the benefits and details of the products, let me chat with you about BeautyCounter's  mission and goals. This is an amazing company, and the more I read and learn about them, the more I'm intrigued and motivated to support them. Side note, I am not an beauty consultant thru them, I just love love love everything I have tried of theirs.

From what Beauty Counter states on their websites and promotions, there have been no federal laws passed in the United States to regulate ingredients in personal care products since 1938. OMG WTH, right? Upon doing a little research for this post, I found countless studies conducted over the years of the harmful effects toxic chemicals we imbibe, inhale, or topically apply to our bodies are doing to us- there are rises in infertility, cancer, asthma, and other ailments as a result of it. This terrifies me and keeps me up at night, hence the efforts I take to limit reduced fat, fat free, formaldehyde, etc in products.

Take time from your day and watch the first 2 minutes of this video- you'll be hooked too. You can watch longer than 2 minutes, but the first 2 minutes are the meat of what BeautyCounter promotes.

The consistency of this product is that of coconut oil at room temperature, melting slightly when you rub it between your fingers. When you apply it, you are to rub it in, melting it more with your body temperature. Applied directly on dry skin and without water, this gives a refreshing, moisturizing feeling as you gently massage into your forehead, cheeks and eyebrows. The balm comes with a muslin cleaning cloth which you wet with as hot a temperature of water that you can stand to wipe off, followed by a wiping down with the same cloth in cold water. The hot water will open up your pores, while the cold will close them ones they are cleaned and have soaked up the nutrients in this balm.

As you can see, my PopSugar container is an empty- I replaced this about a month ago thru BeautyCounter's website. The cost is a little steep at $80 for 2.75oz, but this container will probably last me at least a year. I only use this to wash off my makeup which I wear about 1-2 times a week, and maybe an additional time during the week. So twice a week makes 104 times a year, at an almond size application, I'm thinking at least a year, right? They recommend using it nightly, but I have other rosacea products I prefer to use.

Speaking of rosacea, this IS friendly for those of us rosey-cheeked girls as well as sensitive skin. Of course I am not a dermatologist and not speak to your individual needs, but as someone who suffers from redness from rosacea, this product does not irritate those issues at all.

This picture above shows the products I use in my daily life from BeautyCounter, posts to come in more depth for the Nourishing Night Eye Cream, Rose Mist, Lip balm, as well as this special edition for Valentine's Day, 2 months late is better than never at all:

Again, these opinions are 100% my own, this is not a sponsored post- I just want to tell you how amazing this product is. Feel free to reach out to me or Andrea with any questions, and check out her blog and follow along.

Have you tried any BeautyCounter products? Any you think I should try?

Monday, March 27, 2017

Health & Wellness Vol. II

On my current to-read list...

My first Health & Wellness update was on January 9th...yikes. Needless to say, I've slipped in that department, fallen off the wagon and rolled down hill a few miles.  Time to rectify that immediately.

There were reasons excuses why I gave up- my knees started bothering me from tennis, a busy season in our Etsy shop we were not expecting, stressful weeks at work...I could go on, but these are all issues of life, and issues I need to overcome and not let affect my eating and activity plans.

I'll start off with my meal plan for the week, then follow with activity and wellness goals. I use a notebook that I received in a you-guessed-it PopSugar box a few years back, which I have since scoured eBay for and repurchased. I list out the meals by day, but it's just to get a food shopping list prepared, these meals and their order are always subject to change.

HF= Hello Fresh. When we're in the middle of a busy season for the shop, we find ourselves eating out more which adds up, not to mention is detrimental to our energy and health. I've blogged about my love for Hello Fresh in this post, and plan on a more comprehensive post comparing and contrasting multiple boxes in the coming future. Hello Fresh is definitely my favorite- for $69/week we get 3 meals for the two of us that are simple, healthy, and overall delicious. I will admit there are a few recipes I get skeptical about, but I trust the recipe and 99% of the time they turn out amazing.

Use THIS LINK for $40 off your first box- if you get the box we do, it's $30 for 3 meals, definitely worth the try! We receive our 3 meals on Wednesday, but Monday's meal will be a leftover from the previous week. This is way cheaper and healthier than eating out, and only requires me to cook 1-2 meals a week depending on our schedule.

I'm trying a new recipe for oatmeal this week- it serves four, so I may quarter it in the event I hate it. It's from Cooking Light, and it's called Blackberry-Citrus Granola Bowl. It involves soaking steel oats overnight in almond milk, adding blackberries, oranges, grapefruit, and granola to the top. I'm skeptical, but I'm always looking to spice up my oatmeal. My favorite oatmeal of choice is below, varying the flavors and usually adding almonds, raisins, or an apple to it. Very good, and very convenient.  I'm in need of some good oatmeal recipes, so if you have one- pass it along!

Lunches are pretty standard- half turkey sandwich with a slice of Swiss, lettuce, tomato, and a smidge of mayonnaise with veggies cut up on the side, sometimes with popcorn. Another regular in the rotation is a bowl of veggies, pita, feta, and hummus. I have cut it down to half a pita since this photo:

I already drink on average 64oz of water a day- it's easy for me, I prefer it over soda or any sugary drinks, plus I need to drink a substantial amount with a current prescription I am on. My goal is to get that up to 80- I work from home, so there's no reason I shouldn't be able to get that in- there's a bathroom across the hall from my office for crying out loud.


I wish this was me on the daily- this pic is from Emerald Isle last summer and I look at it all the time wishing I lived in a neighborhood that was bicycle friendly! Of course that's a ridiculous reason not to ride- I could take my March work commission, buy us 2 bikes and a bike rack, and drive somewhere to bike. I think this summer this will happen.

It's going to remain pleasant here in VA for a hot minute, so we need to get back out walking before it becomes unbearably hot. Working from home affords us a bit more time to walk before work, over lunch, or even afterwards. I work a pretty stressful job, so mentally afterward I am usually tired and not able to do the usual 3 miles, so we try to walk before work or over my lunch break.

Goal is 4-5 days a week. Raining? We have a universal gym membership with one of the gyms 2 minutes from the house. No excuses.


This is just as important as diet and exercise, so this will continue to be a routine for me. This includes face masks, manicures, reading, and daily cups of tea.

Oh and maybe self care this week will include picking up new Stella & Dot summer pieces on Tuesday. And by maybe I mean definitely.

What are your health and wellness goals for the week?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

PopSugar February Reveal

I better share this before February is over, right? Then again, if I share it March 1st, I won't spoil it for anyone waiting on their box, right?

I've been getting the PopSugar Must Have Box for a few years now, I think it's actually over 5 at this point! I will be honest, the quality is gradually declining as time goes on, but doesn't everything really? I know I have extremely high standards and I'm frequently disappointed due to these expectations, but recently the boxes haven't wowed me. Over the years I have found so many amazing products and brands, which keeps me subscribing and coming back every month.

They do offer special edition boxes ( I think) four times a year, which I have found myself looking forward to more than the monthly box. They are more expensive at $100/box, but they feel more like the original boxes did- bigger, substantial products, a bigger bang for your buck.

This box is valued at $223, and I have to be honest- not one product wowed me. I'll show a bit of the products below, describe them a bit, then tell you my favorite piece from the box.

Tribe Alive Folder-Over Pouch ($98) This is quite a nice clutch, I just don't think it's my style. It's a little too bohemian for me, if that makes sense? There is a good back story, with each bag being woven by hand and supporting impoverished women, providing safe working environments for them. This will go into the eBay bin, in an effort to be realistic and only keep things I'll actually use.

Battington Lashes & Glue ($28) Silk eyelashes that brag they can be used up to 25 times. This intrigues me, and I will report back! They are definitely natural looking which I like- a little bit of drama, but low key enough for every day.

Kris Nations Love Necklace ($48) I have a silver similar version of this necklace which has seen quite some use over the years. This is very tiny, definitely a very delicate necklace, but I will be keeping this to wear. Did you know statement earrings are coming back? This is perfect to pair with a pair of amazing Stella & Dot earrings, just saying...

Chuao Cinnamon Cereal Chocolate Bar ($6) This was super disappointing. You can't taste the cinnamon cereal at all- just tastes like an off market brand of a Hershey Krackle bar. I ate 2 small squares and threw the rest out.

Juara CandlenutBody Creme ($35) I wanted to love this. I need a new rich-creme lotion, but I just don't love the scent. Maybe after trying for 5 minutes to get it open I should have take the hint that it wasn't meant to be. It's definitely a thick creme lotion, very rich, and very hydrating. Just a little strong on the perfume! This will go in my giveaway box-- seriously, come visit me, I have bins of goodies!

Revlon Love is on Lipstick ($8) This is a gorgeous red lipstick, but I don't need another red lipstick, so this is going in the bay bin as well.

So, favorite part? I'd say the lashes. I'll give them a try this weekend and post on Instagram Stories my thoughts on them!

Another month goes by hoping next month will be better. Sigh.... Oh, and I prepaid for a few months, so no canceling for awhile. Popsugar is $40/month, keep your eye out for sales though! Black Friday/Cyber Weekend I was able to pick up 6 months, averaging $19/box- definitely an amazing deal! Makes for a good gift too.

So I don't end this post completely in the dumps, here's my favorite product from January, it's tea, are you surprised?!?!


Friday, February 10, 2017


The Clock Tower, Staunton VA
I absolutely love reading currently posts on other blogs or watching vlogs on this topic. It's a great way to find new shows, books, products, recipes, etc and a way to interact more on topics normally not discussed or as often.

For awhile I debated combining this with a Favorites post, but figured I'd keep that separate. I try to use products a few times before labeling them a favorite, it's easy in blogging/vlogging to label everything as a favorite, and it's hard to see the true opinions of the writers. I do not rely on the blog for income, it is purely a hobby, so I will be as transparent as I'd like when it comes to my opinions on products.

I would like to have some cool graphic I designed in Illustrator or Photoshop to express all these in a creative, streamlined picture, but for now a list works!

-The Crown, Netflix. Among a few other ongoing shows I watch, I've been enthralled with The Crown. Did you know that this week the queen celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee, celebrating 65 years on the throne, becoming the first British monarch to sit on the throne for 65 years? That is incredible and just astounding. Now I need to finish watching this series. I am dragging it out to savor every episode- so many shows I rush thru and binge watch, then find myself in a show hole. Maybe tomorrow night I'll create some ambiance in my office with lights, candles, a blanket, and watch an episode with a cup of tea. *Have I mentioned I'm a massive anglophile?!*

-The Quiche of Death, M.C. Beaton. My mother in law, my fellow murder-mystery enthusiast, found this AcornTV series in their catalog, pointing it out to me back in October. Well, on the way home from dinner that night I ordered it on DVD thru amazon.  I have since binge watched Series 1, and found myself in said show hole. For now the fan group on Facebook and the books are tiding me over. Only downside? Books are nothing like the show, so I'm having to re-picuture every character!

That big ass cup of tea above, didn't you catch that hint? That cup is just absolute perfection, and is my current favorite tea cup. I bought it for myself Christmas Eve, sitting beside a pool, at the beach, hand in hand with my husband, feeling sorry for myself. I know, pathetic. I'm working on dealing with holidays and expectations, and loneliness, and rejection...yada yada yada. This tea cup reminds me of the occasion and setting when I bought it, but in a good way. I have an amazing life and need to remember that daily- especially when sipping Black Currant tea and nibbling on Cranberry Almond thins from Aldi.  Here's another shot:

I'm super excited to start sharing videos on here and Youtube- well, maybe equal parts excited and terrified. I have filmed 2 get ready with me (GRWM) videos and need to hurry up and edit them so I can post them and not chicken out. I haven't really decided what else to film yet, maybe hauls, vlogs, ??? I seriously don't know yet. What I do know is I have a ton of fun filming them, so hopefully you'll like them as much as I do!

I have never been a fan of avocados, but have been trying them different ways recently in an effort to get us to eat more healthy fats. I've been making a simple guacamole recipe that I don't love, chopping them up over salads or rice bowls, and actually that's about it.

Chicken Fajita Salad with Cheddar and Greek Yogurt
I tried avocado toast over a year ago and hated it. Maybe I'll try it again now that I've eaten it more? I have been craving an egg salad sandwich recently, and upon grabbing this cookbook to flip thru this past weekend while meal planning, I flipped to a recipe for egg salad with avocado and pickled celery. That to me sounds divine and I cannot wait to report back.

This nail polish. OMFG. I just can't. I literally cannot. This is Alysha from Julep Maven, and it's in the top 10 polishes of my life. That is not trick photography, that's what it looks like in direct sunlight. I also picked up a nude and a cobalt blue holo the same month and cannot wait to use them now as well!

What are you currently reading? I have 20+ books on my kindle in queue to be read, but I'll always take a recommendation!

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

BareMinerals Dirty Detox Mud Mask

During the Super Bowl, or just Sunday night as it was called in my house, I had 15-20 minutes to kill until it was time to get a ham out of the oven. I had been meaning to talk more about my love for this mud mask for awhile now, and I was finally able to get some good pictures in the other day. So I popped it on again and was mindful of all the lovely details.

I am very hesitant when it comes to products I use on my face due to my *extremely* sensitive skin.   Although I'm overly cautious, I also like to promote self-care, and well let's face it, FORCE myself to relax. That's pretty much what a mud mask is, isn't it? Or any mask for that matter. You try not to smile, laugh, cry or frown, so you lay as still as you can. Turn on Pandora spa radio, dim the lights, burn some candles and voila at-home spa.

I decided to give this mud mask a try, as I can use most, if not all BareMinerals products, and trust them to be easy-going on my skin. I did purchase the additional brush and cloth kit ($18) and I am very happy I did. The brush is contoured perfectly, and allows you to get an even distribution and around eyes and your mouth with ease.

The mud mask itself is green in color, silky smooth, and smells divine, with hints of bergamot and eucalyptus. The mask itself contained 4 mineral-rich clays, charcoal, and papaya enzyme for a "fresh and ridiculously healthy looking glow ("

Immediately upon application, I had a cooling sensation, partly I'm sure due to the temperature of the product, but it was a refreshing, soothing experience. It took all of 2-3 minutes to paint my entire face, then I left it on as the instructions say, 10-15 mins.

You may notice two different outfits- pajamas and my Eagles sweatshirt.... I'm using pictures from my first experience using it and my most recent. 

While wearing it, my skin does feel tight and taunt, as to be expected when wearing a mud mask and it is drying. What I do like is that even when wearing it, I can smile and laugh- see photos below...smiling caused wrinkling, but no cracks!

When it's time to remove the mask, all you need is a wash cloth and warm water. Again, I purchased the add on brush and washcloth kit, which contains a black, waffle-textured cloth. The mask itself wipes right off, first swipe shown here:

Wipe, rinse, wipe, rinse, wipe rinse. Done!

I do want to add- in the picture where it's in the process of being wiped off, my skin is slightly red, but only because of the temperature of the water and my sensitive skin. Once it has a second to cool down, my skin is even colored. And feels divine. Soft, nourished, hydrated, and refreshed. No, seriously it does. This stuff isn't 5 stars on every site for no reason!

I did not immediately put on lotion as I wanted to experience all the benefits of the mask. About an hour later I threw on some of my night cream from Beauty Counter to ensure hydration overnight. 

Now, here's the bad news. It's AH-MAZING, so it's sold out like everywhere. It retails for $35 on their site, and you can sign up to be notified when it comes back in stock. I bought mine awhile ago on Ulta or Sephora, and will be replacing it when I run out. This is definitely a keeper!

Side note- please, please, PLEASE be careful when using masks. Please spend the extra money, read reviews, ask friends (OR ME!!) for referrals for safe ones, because there are some toxic masks out there. I know I am overly cautious and super hesitant to try most non name brand products, but it's usually for a reason. My sweet friend Jen just this week used a black mask, and the results were catastrophic- we're talking not able to be removed, horrible reaction, and red, puffy, irritated skin 24 hours later. PLEASE  be careful my sweet friends!

Do you have a favorite mud mask? Do you prefer sheet masks?

Monday, February 6, 2017

A Self-Imposed No Buy

August 2012 I had my first self-imposed no-buy, I survived to tell about it, and haven't been able to stick to one again since. FOR SHAME. Over 4 years I have bought what I want, when I want, and WTF enough is enough. My sweet blogging friend Elizabeth over at Cheers Elizabeth has inspired me to join along with her for the month, stop by and say hello!

I'm writing this on the 3rd, and it will go live on the 6th, but I did start on February 1st! Trust me, I binge shopped an Ulta and a Sephora order around 10:30pm on the 31st of January, but tightened the belt on the first.

I define my no-buy as any extraneous spending over my monthly "allowance" of spending cash. I haven't decided if I want to disclose what that amount is, but for now I'll say $XXX amount. I have already spent some of my allowance on my favorite subscription services, which I will break down below. Some of my subscriptions will come out of the house fund, but majority of them will come from my allowance. As will the pedicure I thoroughly enjoyed tonight after work. ($35)

I definitely have my fair share of subscription services, I've listed them below.

Monthly Subscriptions:

  1. ipsy ($10) I've talked about ipsy a lot, and definitely given out my fair share of free bags to try<<enabler alert: let me know if you'd like a free bag to try.>> This will be my last month of ipsy- I don't even really LOVE any products I receive, and frankly I'm kinda over the sample sizes. (I really wish I would have canceled before the no-buy, but that's ok!)
  2. Boxycharm ($21) LOVE this box- full sizes, amazing products, and without a doubt worth the price.
  3. Glossybox ($16) This is usually $21/month but I tried it out on a coupon code. I haven't decided my thoughts on this one yet- the last 2 months I got were excellent, but do I need another subscription beauty box? This is the last month at a reduced rate, so time to decide.
  4. Julep Maven ($21) I do love that with Julep we get to see what's in the box before ordering it, and most months I just skip out of meh-ness. I did pick up an AMAZING purple holo, and some gorgeous oil slicks recently, but I'd say in the last 12 months, I've ordered maybe 3 times. February was NOT one of those, so this will not come out of my budget.
  5. PopSugar ($20) This is normally $39.95, but Thanksgiving weekend they ran a special offering $100 off a 6 month subscription, making it $19.12/month for 6 months, I couldn't pass it up! I have been debating cancelling this box- they're not as good as they used to be, and I keep hoping they'll redeem themselves the next month. I still have 3 more months at this reduced rate, so I have time to make up my mind. 
  6. FabFitFun ($16.67/month) This is a quarterly box rather than a monthly, but I figured I'd add it to my monthly budget. Quarterly price is $49.99. This is an excellent box- what Popsugar USED to be. Comes with a great variety of products- I'll share a box soon I promise!
  7. Texture ($5) Have an iPad? YOU NEED this app. I used to have a TON of magazine print subscriptions, then I found Texture, which is hundreds of magazines for a monthly charge. It's normally $9.99/month for Basic Membership and $14.99 to make it Premium- which adds People, USWeekly, Time, etc. Definitely worth checking out. Send me your email and I'll send you a coupon code- they don't have a referral code/link.
  8. Plum Deluxe ($16) This is an organic loose tea subscription, and this comes out of the house fund. I drink water, 1-2 cups of brewed coffee, and a pot of tea a day. I LOVE tea.
All told, $88.67 in subscriptions. Yikes. And to be honest, I have a few months' worth sitting in my closet untouched. In my defense, I do only open and use products I know I'll like, everything else gets boxed up and sold on eBay in lots. I sell about 1 lot a month for $50, which brings the monthly subscriptions cost down to $38.67, much more manageable!

The second part of this no-buy is to sell $500 worth of excess STUFF and put it on debt. This includes subscription items/lots, planners and planner supplies, clothes on postmark, eBay, and Facebook sales. Oh, and I guess Stella & Dot. (This isn't realistic as any profit made from trunk shows is donated to a charity of the hostess' choice, but any outside internet sales will count.) Anything I raise OVER this, will go towards my allowance this month or next.

There are some caveats to this plan that I will deal with along the way. One such hiccup is my monthly work bonus. This is commission more than a bonus per se, with 100% of the bonus at my discretion. This month it will go on debt 100%. Or be invested into my Etsy shop.

So, who's with me? It's not too late to start! Let's close our wallets and put a little more away in savings together. I will be blogging about this along the way, and will summarize my experience on March 1st. 
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