Monthly Favorites: March 2014

I can’t believe another month has completely blown by!  It’s already April which means amazing things like Easter and SPRING!  Hang in there, friends, we’re getting closer to warming up and getting outside to enjoy the sunshine again 🙂

This month I decided that since I am not just a beauty blogger, but rather sort of an all over the place blogger (beauty, health and fitness, food, housewife stuff, etc) that my favorites posts should reflect that.  If it seems like my favorites of the month are a tad all over the place, you would be right!

Let’s get this party started!

 

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Beauty/Skin/Hair Favorites 

1. Benefit Coralista–    Benefit boxed blushes generally have a solid reputation and I like to think this one had something to do with it.  Coralista is the most stunning coral color and it is perfect for many skin tones, my own included.  I feel like this coral gives me a nice pop of color without being too overwhelming or bright.  It’s a natural-ish flush but better.  THere’s a tiny hint of shimmer in it and the smell is awesome.  Yes..you read correctly: the smell is awesome.  Until I got this blush I had never experienced a face powder that was scented.  It’s a very pleasant scent.  Since this blush has been in my collection for quite some time I am impressed that I cans till smell the subtle fragrance even after so much time passing.  Coralista is, in my opinion, a must have for any blush fan.

2. Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Eden  I have loved this product for so long.  Primers for eyeshadows are pretty much a must if you want them to stay all day, and this product does that job just fine.  The reason I pick the shade Eden rather than the others available is specifically because of the matte, light flesh toned finish of this primer.  As someone with under eye and around the eye darkness, this does an amazing job of evening out my skin tone, making me look more awake and giving me an amazingly fresh and clean canvas to put my eyeshadow on.  I have tried other Urban Decay primer potion shades, and I always come back to this one.  I have yet to find an eyeshadow primer that does the same things that this one does for me.  I LOVE this.  

 

3. 100% Pure Fruit Pigmented Ultra Lengthening Mascara–  This mascara was in my Birchbox a few months ago and I fell in love with it.  It’s all natural and great for sensitive eyes like mine.  My eyes are incredibly picky about what I can put on them, and they loved this mascara.  It doesn’t deliver super huge va-va-voom lashes, but it lengthens and tints them enough to give a very naturally enhanced look to your face.  The only time I’ve experienced smudging is if I happen to take a mid day shower and get my face wet.  Other than that I have noticed it stays put, feels great and gives my eyes the little boost they need.

 

4. NYX Butter Gloss–  As many of you have probably heard by now, NYX butter glosses are fan-freaking-tastic!  This formula goes on so smooth and leaves my lips feeling super hydrated and comfortable.  The shades range from perfectly natural to a few in some bolder colors, which means there are endless options (seriously, there’s a shade for everyone.  Check them out at Ulta).  Now, the smell of these (at least the two that I own) is to die for.  It’s like slathering a delicious sweet treat right onto you lips.  That’s satisfying in more ways than one 😉   I can’t decide what my favorite thing about these glosses are, but it just might be the price tag.  Ringing up at $4.99, these butter glosses are budget friendly enough to be on everyone’s lips.  If you’re smart, watch for sales on NYX products at Ulta.  You can get them for even cheaper.

5. First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser–  Big thanks to my Ipsy Glam Bag for this one.  First Aid Beauty has gotten quite a bit of hype among beauty YouTubers lately and I really wanted to give the brand a try.  A small version showed up in my glam bag and I was thrilled.  This cleanser (most of their entire line of products, actually) is safe for the most sensitive skin and uses natural ingredients like red clay and rosemary leaf oil to reduce oil and help keep skin clean and blemish free.  It’s a shimmery red gel cleanser that foams up great and rinses away clean. I use it with my Foreo Luna Mini and I love how it makes my skin feel.  I feel deeply cleaned but not stripped of all moisture, as many acne related cleansers do.  I’m finding that to be of utmost importance as while my skin still breaks out like a hormonal teen, in certain spots my skin gets really dry.  I am the epitome of combination skin…seriously.  This stuff helps keep my testy skin feeling clean and looking good.  Now if I could only figure out the rest of the skincare equation to clear up my face…

 

6. Purple Cat Creatives Body Butter in Pumpkin Macchiato– While I might always be a loyal and loving Bath and Body works customer I still love when I find little off brands that are of awesome quality.  Thanks to a review done by the well known beauty blog Temptalia, I stumbled across a little Etsy shop, Purple Cat Creatives, that’s filled with new things to be discovered.  Her products started when her daughter needed skincare for sensitive skin and she found it was easier to make it then spend money on it professionally.  This particular body butter is my favorite of everything I picked up when I made my first order.  Thinking back (and looking forward to more) to my pumpkin obsession in the fall, this particular scent encompasses everything that makes the perfect fall morning; the delicious spiced pumpkin mixed generously with the smell of my morning cup of coffee all wrapped up into a moisturizing body butter I can slather on my skin!  What’s not to love??  Every body butter (and every other product in the store) is handmade.  A few of the highlight ingredients in the body butters are Shea Butter,  Jojoba Oil, Vitamine E, Vitamine A, Cocoa Butter.  Definitely a skin nourishing blend.  Check out Purple Cat Creatives and see for yourself.

7. Wet Brush–  This brush is specially made to brush through your wet hair.  Usually taking a brush to wet strands is a major no-no, but this brush changes that.  It works through my wet hair tangles with so much ease and it doesn’t damage my hair.  I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t have the time to slowly untangle my hair with a wide toothed comb after I shower.  This has my hair untangled and ready for blowdrying and styling in no time.  It took me forever to pick one up and now that I have I will never be without one again.  I already have a shiny new spare in my cabinet that I got for Christmas.  They cost somewhere between $10-$12 and are most definitely worth every penny!

 

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Kitchen Favorites

8. International Delight Cinnabon Coffee Creamer–  OMG you guys, this stuff is awesome!  It really is like giving me a little bit of Cinnabon flavored joy mixed right in to my favorite time of the morning: coffee time!  Did you know that one regular cinnamon roll from Cinnabon is 24 points Plus?  I get 26 Points to eat in a day.  That’s literally my entire day and that’s not even including the “must have” of the extra side of their special frosting, which is another 6 Points.  Yikes!

9. Starbucks Verdana Blende Blonde Roast K-Cup–  BzzAgent sent me these lovely K-Cups to try out and, surprise surprise, I love them.  For as much as I love Starbucks I tend to get a latte or something of the like when I go simply because their plain drip coffee tends to have this strong bitter taste to it.  I know many people love their coffee like that, but I do not.  Well it’s like they heard my plea, because they came out with blonde roast.  Blonde roast is a lighter version of their already high-quality coffee. Delicious taste with no bitterness!  This was a happy day for me, and now they are available in K-Cup form!  Thank you BzzAgent for letting me try these out.  It’s nice to have a cup of delicious Starbucks roasted how I like it.

10. Teavana Marshmallow Macaroon Tea–  Tea that satisfies a sweet craving? Count me in!  Mashmallow Macaroon is part of Teavana’s spring tea line and it is glorious.  The first time I smelled it I knew i had to take some home.  This tea is an amazing combination of macaroon sweetness and fruity brightness that makes a cup of this feel simply joyful.    Papaya, hibiscus and orange blend with sweet marshmallows and a tiny bit of coconut (which I can’t really taste, for you anti-coconut friends) to make this delicious cup of tea.  Anything that will help curb my need for sweets at 0 Points Plus is a win in my book.  Delicious!

11.  Fiber One Caramel Sea Salt Bar– I did an entire Food Find post on this bar so I’ll keep it short.  While the caramel flavor is a little underwhelming and the salt is barely there, the bar is moist and chewy, so for 2 Points Plus it’s pretty darn tasty.  These are limited edition and only available at Target.

12. Teavana Perfect Tea Maker– This little gadget is awesome!  Put your loose tea in, add the water and let the tea steep freely.  Allowing the extra space (rather than confining the tea to a bag) gives the tea a chance to expand and release more of its flavor.  When your tea is brewed, simply set the tea maker on top of your mug.  This action pushes on something at the bottom of the brewer causing all liquid to strain out and leaving the tea leaves behind, giving you a cup of tea with nothing floating around in it.  Brilliant!!

 

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Home Favorites

Mikasa Love Story ring holder– I think this little guy is so beautiful and really productive.  There are some activities for which I like to take my engagement and wedding rings off, but knowing my luck I would lose them or forget where i put them if I didn’t give them a home.  This beautiful accessory hangs out on my nightstand and is the perfect place for me to stash my rings during shower time, doing the dishes or applying hand cream.  I found it at Bed Bath & Beyond for only $20.  I love the romantic feel it has which makes it perfect for holding my most important pieces of jewelry.  The diver plating makes it feel more luxe than the cost leads you to believe.   The love story theme is an entire Mikasa collection.

14. Pure Beech Sateen Sheets– Also from Bed Bath and Beyond, these accidentally turned out to be the favorite bedsheets of myself and my hubby.  I bought a set for myself and he felt them and decided he liked them better than the ones that we registered for.  They have a heavier feel, not like flannel but more like jersey material, combined with a satin feel which is a great luxe feeling combination.  The added weight also helps keep me  warmer at night, which is a plus.  These combined with our down comforter create the most cozy bed ever, which makes for a good night’s sleep and leaves me with little desire to get up in the morning.  $79.99 for the queen set, but if you get your hands on a 20% coupon (which isn’t hard to do) they’ll be even less.  Here’s to feeling totally luxurious without breaking the bank!

15. Frozen– Shoutout to my Mother-in-law for surprising me with this on the day of it’s release.  It’s a great story with amazing music and Idina Menzel is one of the main characters.  If you know me, there isn’t really much else to say.  You need to at least see this movie once.  It’s a tad untraditional for a Disney Princess movie and that’s one of the things I love about it.  The music is most definitely the thing I love most.

Wow, that was long.  If you’ve managed to make it to this point in the post you get a gold star!  What were some of your favorites last month?  Is there anything you’re looking forward to trying in April?

 

🙂

My Wedding Planning Visit Home: Part 1

On July 31, 2013 Erik and I packed up the Green Hornet (aka my car, a 2012 lime green Ford Fiesta. The name is thanks to my dad…I have yet to come up with a better one) and hit the road to head back to Illinois for a long weekend.  Once we returned from this trip I would be officially losing Erik to the world of MBA (his orientation started that coming Monday) so this was the last real chance I had to get him truly involved in the wedding planning process.  The result of this fact was a road trip back home (home for me anyway) for 3 days of appointments, decisions and family time.

Thankfully Erik’s mom, dad, and sister, Kristin (also one of my bridesmaids), were going to be in Oshgosh, WI for an annual trip they take to an airplane festival type event.  This meant that Kristin and his mom were going to be able to drive to Illinois and come spend the weekend doing wedding planning with us, which was such a blessing, as I want them to be as involved with the process as they can be.

Erik and I are getting good at enduring long car rides together.  We spend a lot of the time talking about things, and yes, sometimes we hit metaphorical pot holes (to go right along with the real ones) and end up arguing for a bit, but the nice thing about that is we are both stuck in a car, so we tend to discover a problem, discuss it intensely, and come up with a solution all within the car ride.  If you and your significant other think your relationship could use some work, go on a 800 mile road trip.  It helps.  Maybe it’s because our entire relationship up until the move has been long distance (save maybe a month total of time spent in the same state thanks to various visits) so communicating is something we do well, but every time we hit a disagreement or problem, talking it out works, and even if there isn’t an instant solution, we figure out what conscious efforts each of us need to make to fix it.  Signs I know i’m with the right man 🙂

Anyway, after a 14 hour ride we arrived at my parent’s house around 9:30pm.  Romano’s pizza was there waiting for us (this was also the weekend of “make sure Brianna gets to eat (and Erik’s family gets to experience) all of the Chicago-area food that isn’t anywhere else”).  Romano’s is a place my family has been eating at my entire life, so it was nice to have that to refuel us after a long drive.  The best part about walking into my house was seeing my dogs.  That is the thing I miss the most about being home; I don’t have any furry friends to offer the unconditional love, cuddling, and allergy problems (okay, that one isn’t a loss) that I have been used to my entire life.   After a little bit of visiting with my family, we headed over to my grandfather’s house where we were staying.  He and Marilyn (his girlfriend)) live there now (for a time he lived at her place and I stayed there, until the epic flood that happened early spring), and were awesome enough to let us stay in the apartment upstairs while we were in town so I could avoid the allergy doom that would have come with sleeping at my parents house.  After visiting with Pops and Marilyn for a bit, we went to bed, having no problems passing out with a day full of driving and knowing the wedding planning chaos that was ahead.

Thursday

Thursday started easy, with being able to sleep in a bit.  Erik decided he and I should go out for breakfast, so we asked Grandpa and Marilyn to come along, and they did.  I’ve always loved watching Erik and my grandfather getting along as well as they have the few times they’ve seen each other.  We took the opportunity to sit and talk about life in North Carolina, church hunting, etc, because that was the only chance we’d have to really sit and talk to them without the rest of the family around.   Fueled my hearty grained pancakes, fruit, Egg Beaters and turkey bacon, we were ready to embark on our wedding planning mission of the day: the florist.

A friend of mine from college, Mike, is in the wedding business in the area and has been amazing with offering me recommendations for where to go for various wedding things (for which I owe him majorly), and the florist was one of the places he hooked us up with.  We went in and talked flowers with Annie, who ended up being very knowledgeable, helpful and straight forward.  Did you know that there are carnations that grow naturally in several magnificent shades of purple??  Yeah, me either.  Well now a few of those will be with me on my wedding day.  We spent about two hours with her discussing arrangements, ideas for the church, and even her nephew, who has Muscular Dystrophy as well.  I love when that sort of thing serves as an instant bonding agent between myself and people I’ve just met.  It’s sort of like finding another Alpha Chi Omega; you might have just met, but you’re now bonded in a way you weren’t before.

After spending time at the flower shop we went to church to meet with Pam, a woman from my church who has known me pretty much my entire life (as far as I can remember it’s my whole life) and is doing all of our invitations and other paper needs. We walked into a bit a of a welcome party with the group of people that happened to be in the building at that time, which was wonderful.  I feel so at home there, and have missed my church greatly since being away.  After some socializing we got down to business and spent some time discussing our invites, arguing over the RSVP cards (there were 6 people in attendance, all of which voiced opinions..it got intense at times), but finished with a good idea of what direction to go.  Ever since Pam and i have been shooting emails and PDF files back and forth, trying to find what’s just right. Today (8/24) is when I finally sent the “perfect! let’s do this!” email.

The only other thing on the agenda for Thursday was dinner with my Aunt Norene.  We went to Lonestar Steakhouse (just the 3 of us) and had good food and good conversation.  She also showed us our engagement present.  She was awesome enough to get us our crystal toasting flutes for the big day.  They’re beautiful.

After dinner we got a call that Pam was at my parent’s house with revisions in hand already, so we hiked it back over there for a bit before heading back to grandpa’s for the evening.  One busy day down and two more to go.

 

Say tuned for part 2, complete with photos.  When Erik’s mom shows up you know there will be plenty of photos.  🙂