The new year is upon us, and many people (myself included) use the new year to reevaluate, reset, and set some stellar goals for the year. A trend that I’m seeing in many goal setting workbooks and tools nowadays involves choosing a word of the year. This word is the word you use to inspire and remind yourself of your primary focus for the next 365 days. There are so many words to choose from that I’ve often found it difficult to narrow it down to just one word for the year in years past, but this year I’ve managed to do it. This year’s word of the year is: flourish.
The definition of flourish is:
to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment.
develop rapidly and successfully
to be working at the height of one’s career during a specific period.
Basically, this word completely sums up what I hope to do in 2017. 2016 was a year where, while some awesome things happened, I didn’t do a very good job of working to achieve any of my goals except for one (getting back on stage), and I find that very disappointing. I have nothing or no one to blame but myself. I have since forgiven myself for my failure that was 2016 and am ready to move on and embrace this new year with some new goals (and some of the same goals), a new game plan, and a fresh dose of motivation. Read more…
Well hello there! It has been a hot minute (or 5!) since I’ve sat down to write a blog post on here! A lot has been going on in my life the last few months, and with my show, the holidays, some family changes, and other life things that just get in the way sometimes, I haven’t been good about dedicating time to sit down and create blog posts. While this site hasn’t been very active, I have been doing quite a bit over on my YouTube channel doing Vlogmas. I’m happy to announce that my hiatus is over and I’m back and ready to hit the ground running with my blog and channel for 2017. First, let’s recap what’s been going on.
I managed to achieve my goal of getting myself back on stage in 2016 by being in a production of Pippin in November. It was so much fun and made me feel great, but it definitely messed with some of my routines, especially on the weekends. Great times for me, not so much for my blog.
We’re homeowners now! On 11/30/16 we closed on the condo we’ve been renting for the last year. Now we’re plotting and planning some of the organizational changes we want to make now that it’s ours to change.
I traveled to Florida for Christmas to spend time with my husband’s family. You can see all of my adventures in December in my Vlogmas videos on YouTube. Again, tons of fun for me, but no time (and no desire, if I’m being totally honest here) to sit down and dedicate time to creating content on here.
Biggest change: we got a puppy! Our newest family member, Gracie (a 2 month old Yorkie) joined our little family on 1/1/17. Anyone that has had a puppy probably knows how we’ve been spending our time. While pups are adorable and so much fun, they are a TON of work ad require constant supervision if you’re trying to potty train them. Since we live in a condo and it’s currently single digit temperatures in Chicagoland, we decided that pad training Gracie is the way to go for us. My husband actually took a week off of work for “paternity leave” so he could bond with her before he starts traveling again, and while she’s loose, one of us has to be watching her. So not only has all things Diva and the Divine suffered this past week, but house chores and such have as well.
The icing on top of the crazy cake is that I’m also suffering from a cold. A big deal? No, but it does complicate things just a tad. Thank goodness for Sudafed, NyQuill, and a puppy that now sleeps through the night.
That’s the quick life update, and honestly, that’s probably all you need. Now that Gracie has been with us for a week and Mister goes back to work tomorrow, it’s time that she and I learn how to balance our lives together. It’s time to get back to work on my body, my home, my blog, and my life back in order. I’ll be training my pup, working on losing weight and creating content, and making 2017 the best year yet. Stay tuned for a lot of exciting things starting with some discussions on 2016 reflections and 2017 goals.
Happy New Year, friends. I hope your holidays were amazing and I can’t wait to see what 2017 has in store for us!
With Christmas looming a mere 12 days away, this coming weekend is bound to be filled with holiday parties galore. Winter is when we break out darker colors, smokey eyes, and bold red lips. While I’m not usually a bold-lipped kind of lady, being in a show and rocking a bold red lip in Pippin has forever changed my opinion of red lippies, and I now have faith that I can rock them. Here are 6 lip products I’ve been using this holiday season.
Smith & Cult Lip Gloss in The Warning: This is the sheerest of all of my picks, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t a perfect look for the holidays. This bright red gloss brings a pop of Santa red to your lips without forcing you to panic about getting red lipstick everywhere. It’s hydrating, not sticky, and even has a little bit of subtle glitter in there for an extra pop of party bling. ($22 @ Smithandcult.com)
Too Faced Melted Berry Liquid Lipstick: Melted berry is a stunning shade of berry red (almost deep, dark pink. Almost.) that will surely pop on your lips this season. I’ve found that I really enjoy the formulation of the Too Faced Liquid Lipsticks, and this is a bold shade I found I wasn’t afraid of even on the very first wear. ($21 at Ulta)
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetic Stained Gloss in Nomad: I’ll be honest, at first I thought this shade appeared to be far too dark for me to even consider trying on. Turns out that this deep colored gloss sheers out into a great winter maroon. It can be sheer or be built up for a more intense coverage. I was incredibly surprised by how much I liked this shade, and have been wearing regularly. ($18 on Amazon)
Dolce & Gabbana Dolce Matte Lipstick in Dolce Flirt: I got a mini of this lipstick from an Influenster campaign a year or so ago, so I had to try it for review purposes. This was another product that really surprised me by how much I liked it. This matte formula was very comfortable and non-drying. The shade “dolce flirt” was such a beautiful, flattering true red color that I loved wearing it to my husband’s office Christmas party. I felt sexy, feisty, and very festive. (available at Nordstrom $38)
Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella: This lip pencil is in a shade that feels like it was inspired by Miss Cruella DeVil herself. This is a deep scarlet red that definitely feels like the perfect bold winter lip in a long wear, top rated formula by Nars. ($26 @ Sephora)
Bite Beauty High Pigment Pencil in Pomegranate: This lip product is the one I used in my show that made me accept that I could pull off a bold red lip color. Pomegranate is a gorgeous rich red that made my lips pop on stage, made my teeth look a bit whiter, and made me feel like a sexy little vixen going out on stage. This is definitely a shade I will now rock on a regular basis. This product felt great on, stayed put, and lasted my entire show ( and afterward) without needing to be reapplied. This baby is the reason I’m no longer afraid to rock a bold lip, so shoutout to Bite Beauty to opening my eyes to a world beyond nudes and light pinks. ($24 @ Sephora)
What are some of your go-to lip products for the holiday party season? Do you wear the bold statement lip, or do you have some deeper neutrals that you enjoy? Let me know in the comments below.
*This post is not sponsored. All opinions are my own. Some links may be affiliate links*
At the base of any good skincare routine is a solid cleanser. After all, you need your skin to be squeaky clean so all of your lotions and potions can work their magic. When I got this new cleanser in the mail, I couldn’t wait to try it out. Exuviance was kind enough to send me their Purifying Cleansing Gel to review, and while I did get it for free, you know that my reviews will always be honest. Let’s dive in and see what it’s all about.
About the Product
The Exuviance purifying cleansing gel is an anti-aging face cleanser with Alpha (AHA) and Polyhydroxy Acids (PHA). The acids offer chemical exfoliation and help clarify the skin. The gel is soap-free which is gentle and prevents the skin from drying out. Conditioners soothe the skin and help improve the skin’s texture. It’s also allergy and dermatologist tested (in case that’s important to you).
Basically,this cleanser foams up to wash away makeup, impurities, and surface oils without stripping the skin or altering skin’s natural moisture balance and is suitable for all skin types .
The second edition of my Too Faced holiday 2016 review (I also reviewed the Grande Hotel Cafe set) is the Merry Macaroons palette. This is an Ulta exclusive and retails for $39. Of all of Too Faced’s holiday palette releases, Merry Macarons is hands down my favorite.
The packaging of the entire line is stunning, featuring a Christmas in NYC theme. All of the palettes feature packaging decked with beautiful pastel pinks, purples, and mint, and is accented with gold foil. Merry Macarons takes place ice skating next to a pretty famous tree in NYC, only this one is made of colorful macarons. Next to our skater is a deluxe mini of Too Faced’s best-selling Better Than Sex mascara.
The 12 eyeshadows ( 0.03 oz each) are an excellent balance of mattes and shimmers in a mostly neutral color range (aka my perfect palette), save a purple shade. I’ve had to resist using this palette in order to focus on using the other palettes from the line to review for the blog.
Coconut: Matte beige
Champagne Rose: Champagne Rose gold shimmer
Praline: Gold shimmer
Dulce de Leche: Matte milk chocolate brown
Mint Chocolate: Matte, cool, dark mauve
Honey Lavender: Lavender purple shimmer
Banana Cream: Dark brown shimmer
Tiramisu: Deep peach nude
Violet Cassis- Bright purple with shimmer
Almond Mocha- Dark chocolate brown, satin
Chocolate Raspberry- Maroon shimmer
Cookies and Cream- Matte black with silver micro glitter
As I said, the Merry Macarons palette is my favorite of all the Too Faced holiday releases this year. I find that the quality of these shadows is somehow better than the quality of the shadows in the other two sets. Seeing how this is the least expensive set of the 3, that is both a positive (for those wanting to buy only one of the sets) and a negative (for those that spent more money and got poorer quality). Granted, this is just my personal opinion, but it is an opinion formulated after using all 3 sets pretty thoroughly.
Like the other Too Faced sets, Merry Macaroons is scented (vanilla), but like my statement in the Grande Hotel Cafe review, don’t let the scent be a big selling point for you, as it isn’t very strong to begin with, and it fades over time. The real stars in Merry Macaroons are the shadows themselves. I love the neutral shades and the variety of finishes this palette offers. It’s very easy to create many looks suitable for every day with this palette.
I always use an eyeshadow primer before applying shadows, and I find the longevity of the shadows in the Merry Macarons palette reasonably substantial. These shadows are also soft and blendable. While some shades are powdery, none of them are dry. Overall, I really have been enjoying this palette, and it’s something I’ve been reaching for frequently since it’s arrival.
I’m a sucker for the holidays in pretty much any way, shape, and form, and the holiday releases from my favorite beauty brands are most definitely my weakest spot. Since I wasn’t overly impressed with Too Faced’s releases from holiday 2015, I swore I wasn’t going to get hooked this year..and then I saw the holiday collection. Christmas in New York is like a dream to me, and with the stunning shades and adorable packaging, I quickly broke my vow. I knew the collection had to be mine. I ended up buying all 3 eyeshadow sets, as I couldn’t decide on one. Today, we’re taking a look at the Grande Hotel 3 palette set.
The Too Faced Grande Hotel is a collection of 3 individual eyeshadow palettes (Eggnog Latte, Peppermint Mocha, and Gingerbread Cookie) that can be given as gifts (there’s even a To/From label on the back of each one) or can be kept as a set and includes a deluxe mini of Better Than Sex Mascara.
First, let’s talk about the packaging. Grande Hotel Cafe comes in a gorgeous box that’s shaped like a hotel you’d find in the heart of NYC. When you remove the roof and open the doors you see the stunning interior decorated with Christmas trees (complete with famous Too Faced products underneath them) and you’re clearly meant to be sitting at the hotel’s coffee bar, where you would order one of the holiday beverages the palettes are named after. It’s genius packaging, and I’m not going to lie, the packaging definitely helped sell me the products. Read more…
While I don’t have enough space, cash, or desire to throw a giant Halloween bash, I love celebrating seasons and holidays, and Halloween is no exception. I have a few decorations out, some spooky treats in the kitchen, and some of the latest Halloween goodies from Erin Condren in my office. Only EC could make Halloween fun and functional.
For those of you that don’t know, my all time favorite musical is Wicked. Wicked centers around Elphaba (more commonly known as the Wicked Witch of the West) and Glinda from the Wizard of Oz starting before the events that we know from the movie. It’s brilliantly written, the music is incredible, and I’ve been hooked for years. To say I’m obsessed is putting it lightly. When I lived at my parent’s house, I color matched my bedroom to the musical’s poster. My college senior recital was titled “Defying Gravity,” and I even got a lime green Ford Fiesta before it was cool (ok..it might not ever be cool, but there are definitely a lot more of them around now) because it was the perfect shade of “Elphaba green.” See? Obsessed!
When I saw one of the Halloween releases from Erin Condren had Wicked written on it, I knew I had to have the collection, so I picked up a few (okay..all) of the “Wicked Fun” items EC offered to give my office a little bit of a Halloween flair.
My Life Planners both got makeovers to stay current with the holiday, and while my blog planner is sporting last year’s October cover, my personal planner is sporting the new “Wicked Fun” cover in my favorite wicked colors: Elphaba green (aka to the rest of the world as lime green) and good old black.
I have been obsessed with the bound journals that EC released this year, so when I saw “Wicked fun” was offered as a journal cover as well, it went into the cart in the same custom colors as my ECLP cover. This journal proudly bears a quote from my favorite song in the musical, “Defying Gravity.” Not only does the journal make me smile, but it’s great for writing down my ideas for various Halloween festivities.
While my planners and notebooks rarely leave the office, the EC Halloween offerings can be used in other parts of the holiday too.
For some baked goods to serve at a party (or just to myself and the Mister), I had my sister (who is the baker at Deanna’s Delights) make and frost some yummy, festive cupcakes for my acrylic tray. While many people don’t necessarily think of purple as a Halloween color, I find it goes perfectly with my “Wicked Fun” acrylic tray insert from EC. I customized the colors so they felt a little more “Wicked the musical” and less wicked witch with the giant wart on her nose, and the purple and orange treats matched perfectly.
Holiday Tip: Add a few drops of food dye to your frosting or cake batter for an extra festive feel. You can give something as simple as boxed cake and canned frosting that extra special flare.
EC also has a gift label for every occasion, and Halloween is no exception. I decided on some with the bats to complete my Halloween collection, and they’re perfect for labeling the cookies I’d love to give to friends for the holiday. All you need is a clear plastic bag and delicious treats to put in them. Ta da! A cute, personal Halloween treat.
As with most EC products, the personalization and customization of their products is practically limitless, and Halloween is no exception. If you want to get your hands on these wicked fun goodies before they fly away, you should head to the site and order soon. First-time customers can rel=”nofollow” sign up using this link and get a coupon for $10 off their order.
What are some of your Halloween party or home decor tips?
*I was sent these products in collaboration with Erin Condren, but all opinions are my own. Using my referral link also grants me $10 credit to EC. Thanks for supporting my obsession and my blog*
It’s October! There’s a chill in the air, it’s officially acceptable to enjoy pumpkin spice everything, and sweaters are a wardrobe staple again. It’s my favorite time of year (except for the non-stop clouds and rain that we’ve had for a week now..that really needs to go away).
I’ll be honest: September was a really rough month. Out of all of the September goals I set for myself, I managed to achieve a whopping 1..ONE!! The goal I managed to achieve was to get my CMT story out there for the world to hear, and I did. The video is on my YouTube channel and has gotten a great response, so I’m thrilled about that. Everything else on that September goals list…well, I’d rather not talk about that..
But alas, it is a new month, which means it’s time for new goals (or if I’m honest, repeat goals with the intention of achieving them), so here we go! Read more…
Your repairman has his truck full of tools, a teacher has supplies, and even Batman has his utility belt. Everyone has some sort of toolkit so they can do their job to the best of their ability. Losing weight is no different. In order to successfully lose weight, it really helps to have a toolkit (or a utility belt, if you want to go the superhero route) to help you get the most out of your weight loss efforts. While everyone’s toolkit will look a little bit different based on personal preferences, I thought I’d share my tools with you to give you a basic guideline to help you create a toolkit of your very own. Some of my tools are actual physical items while others are more mental or non-tangible, but I find both categories to be equally important as I go along my journey to the healthiest me I can be.
I am never without a water bottle, and if for some reason I am, I promise I’m not happy about it. At any given time I have 2 “active” water bottles; one with a straw for while I’m at home, as I find I drink more water when it’s through a straw and one that is more secure for when I’m on the go. Hydration is so important, both for health and for weight loss, so I always have a water bottle nearby to encourage me to get my daily requirement of H2O.
A Food Scale
No matter which plan you use to lose weight, odds are it involves portioning your food in some way. I find this easiest when I’m using an electronic food scale. When meal time comes around, I just put the plate on the scale and can measure each meal component separately (hit the “zero” button to start fresh) and easily so I know exactly how many Smart Points (or calories) I put on my plate. I find there is a lot less room for error measuring the weight og your food rather than cups or tablespoons.
Whether you join Weight Watchers, Beach Body, you use My Fitness Pal, or you decide to just count calories on your own, you need to have some sort of plan when it comes to losing weight. You can’t just say “I’m going to lose weight” and have it magically happen (I wish!). You know there are going to be lifestyle changes and maybe even a sacrifice or two in order to see changes in your body, and to achieve that successfully, odds are you have some desired method to get there. That’s also known as a plan. Get one.
Sleep is another one of those life essentials, but it’s something that many of us take for granted or forget to place importance on. Have you ever noticed what happens to your food intake on a day that you don’t get enough sleep? It’s very likely that your day is played out in one of two scenarios. 1: You stick to your diet plan all day (good for you!), but you spend the day drowsy, grumpy, and likely overcaffeinated but still unable to perform to the best of your ability. Scenario 2: You are likely making poor food choices because you’re using food to not only satiate hunger but to gain extra energy to make up for the lack of sleep. Guess what type of foods we usually reach for.. sugary and fatty quick jolts of energy that last until the next time we can put something in our mouths to refuel. This is not helping your diet at all. Getting a quality night’s sleep as often as possible will help you stay away from impulse eating due to hunger. Get those Zzzzs to lose the lbs.
A Food Journal
I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again. Studies have shown that people who write down what they eat will consume 30% fewer calories than people who don’t. Whether you use an app like Weight Watchers or My Fitness Pal or you decide to use the tried and true notebook and pen, use something to keep track of your food intake. This helps me to see what I’ve eaten, or more importantly, what I can still eat and remain on track.
A Goal (or several small goals)
Goals help keep me motivated. I typically set large goals (to get back to my goal weight) supported and broken up by smaller goals (to drink 100oz of water daily or to reach 12,500 steps) to help me stay on track. When we reach a goal we get to enjoy the positive feeling of accomplishing something, so smaller goals are great for giving us little things to accomplish while we work toward the bigger goal.
What is your “why?” In other words, why do you want to lose weight? Is it so you can run around and play with your children, so you look better and feel more confident naked? Maybe you just want to fit back into your favorite pair of jeans. Having a “why” is not the same as having a goal. Your “why” is the motivation behind your goals. It’s the big picture and the reason you got inspired to set your goal to lose weight in the first place. Once you’ve established your “why” take the time to embrace it. Leave yourself little motivational reminders that constantly inspire you to make the better food choice or to go for an extra walk. The “why” is the root of everything. If you haven’t figured out what it is yet, take the time to do that now.
A stash of go-to snacks
Once you’ve figured out your plan of action, it’s incredibly important to find your favorite foods in that plan. I have a stash of go to Weight Watchers friendly foods and snacks that are easily available should hunger strike in between meals. Having diet friendly snack options around is an easy way to save you from yourself at a time when willpower won’t necessarily be at its strongest.
An Activity Tracker
I love my Fitbit. It turns every single day into a goal and a game. Every day I compete with myself to make it to my daily step goal, but if I want to take the game to the next level, FitBit allows me to compete with friends. There have definitely been days where I’ve been pushed harder simply because I was in a race to get more steps than a friend of mine. All competitive games aside, an activity tracker is a great way for you to get more accurate insight on how much activity you’re actually getting on a daily basis. I’m willing to bet a pretty high percentage of people greatly overestimate how much activity they’re getting on a daily basis. Whether FitBit is your tracker of choice or you prefer another brand, I highly suggest investing in an activity tracker to help you take your weight loss efforts to the next level.
A selection of easy to make recipes
Just like being prepared for a snack attack is important, it’s also important to have a few easy, diet-friendly recipes that you enjoy enough to make regularly. When you have simple recipes to pick from it’s less of a hassle to make dinner at the end of a long day when your desire might be to run to the nearest fast food restaurant to grab dinner because the thought of making it is exhausting. In my house, we often eat basic chicken with quinoa and veggies on the weekend and I will often spend a few hours in the kitchen chopping all sorts of veggies and meat to meal prep for the entire week. Then, when dinner time for one comes around, all I have to do is turn on the oven and pull out one of my pre-made meals out of the fridge. Easy and healthy.
I am a very reward driven person. If I’m told I can earn something awesome for finishing a task, I’m much more likely to do it. I love applying this principle to losing weight. If I’ve had a good week where I stay on track and hit the gym regularly, I might treat myself to an at-home spa night. If I’ve lost 5 lbs, it’s probably time for a pedicure. 10 lbs = a new pair of cute pants. See what I’m getting at? It’s a little bit easier for me to think twice about the late night snack attack or skipping the gym when I know that new lipstick I’ve been dying to try is on the line. While the rewards themselves can look different for everyone, a rewards system is a nice way to treat yourself for a job well done.
Those are some of my favorite items in my weight loss tool kit. Becuase everyone’s journey is unique, everyone will have a slightly different tool kit. What is important is you find the set of tools that work best for you. A good tool kit is like an awesome sidekick. You might succeed without it, but it will be a heck of a lot easier to get the job done with the extra help.
What kind of items are in your weight loss tool kit?
With the weather cooling down I start to appreciate hot beverages even more than normal. Along with my hot coffee, there’s tea, apple cider, and of course, hot cocoa. The perfect addition to hot cocoa is obviously fluffy, delicious marshmallows.
Why am I telling you this in mid-September? I’m glad you asked!
I want to tell you about a Kickstarter that went live today by a local to me (Chicagoland) marshmallow company, XO Marshmallow. I happen to know one of the two lovely ladies that runs XO Marshmallow (Lindzi from The Trendy Sparrow), so I jumped at the chance to get a sneak peek at their latest creation and give it a try. Meet XO Marshmallow’s latest creation: the Monut!
The monut is XO Marshmallow’s delicious recipe transformed into a doughnut shape. Now, some of you may be asking “why do I want a marshmallow shaped like a doughnut?” Well, it just so happens that the size of these monuts happen to fit perfectly inside a mug, which means you can take your hot cocoa and marshmallows to a whole new level.
Since I didn’t have any hot cocoa laying around to have with my new treat, I decided to make some decaf coffee (my new thing if I want coffee in the afternoon. All in the effort to get better sleep.), although if you wanted an extra shot of sweetness in your morning cup, I say go for it. I made the coffee, added some chocolate salted caramel creamer (yum!) and put the cocoa dusted marshmallow monut on top. After a few minutes, it started to melt and the result was an amazingly delicious cup of afternoon coffee. It also gave me a very Instagram-worthy photo. 🙂
I ate the vanilla one on its own to get a true sense of what XO Marshmallows tasted like, and I was quite pleased. They were soft and delicious; not overly sweet, but they had a great flavor. I was quite impressed and immediately wished I had more flavors to try.
While this is their latest creation, XO Marshmellow has some awesome designer sounding flavors of their regular marshmallows too, such as salted caramel (which I really need to try), Kaluha coffee, matcha, honey lavender, and more.
Seriously, how amazing do all of those sound? Boozy champagne is perfect for a girl’s night out (or in!), and there’s even a beer flavored one, which would make a really interesting and unique gift for any beer lover in your life
XO Marshmallows are egg free, gluten free, dairy free (except salted caramel), and contain no high fructose! The ladies choose only the finest local ingredients to include in their marshmallow making, so it’s will truly be a gourmet experience. What a treat!
As I mentioned, today they launched their Kickstarter to help fund not only their Monut but their desire to become bigger and better. Lindzi and Kat are looking to get a bigger kitchen space as well as upgraded packaging, and equipment to help send XO Marshmallow to the next level, and you can help. Head over to their Kickstarter campaign and consider backing their project. They’ve got some great rewards for backing XO Marshmallow, which include Monuts and their original marshmallows in whatever flavor you want. I know that’s the route I’m going to go, as I’m now dying to try some other flavors and I can support these amazing lady bosses at the same time. It’s a win-win all around.
What flavor of XO Marshmallow would you be most interested in trying?
I was sent my monuts, but only after I expressed interest in helping these ladies get the word out. There should be more spreading the love and the word, don’t you think?