Must Have Monday

I’ve been away from the blog for awhile now and have got a stockpile of things I’ve tried out and loved, so I thought I’d start off with a new series called Must Have Monday.   Let’s get started right away!

First off, the most delightful find of the season so far!  I’ve tried both the Dark Chocolaty Sea Salt and White Chocolatier Peppermint flavors and both are delicious.  There’s also a sugar cookie version, but I can’t speak personally for that one (though I am sure it is just as great).

For those of you that are local to Pittsburgh, I even like them even better than Pittsburgh Popcorn (shhhh!don’t tell!)  I really like Pittsburgh Popcorn and buy it all the time, but sometimes I find their chocolate mixes a bit overwhelming, meaning they clump together in giant clumps which are hard to eat.  This brand doesn’t do that giant clumping thing and I find it much easier to limit how much of it I eat.

They are a perfect answer to that sweet and salty craving.  Super easy to just throw in a cute bowl and on your holiday party table to make it look like you made an effort ! Go ahead and tell people you made them yourself off a Pinterest pin. 🙂

I found them locally at Giant Eagle in Pittsburgh, but they are also available online.  Get thee to the grocery store stat people!!

I picked up this set of 3 stud earrings a couple weeks ago at Nordstrom locally and have worn all of them ever since.  I wanted some studs that weren’t your typical and these definitely fit the bill.  I bought gold, but you can find them in a rose gold and silver (along with the gold) online.  They would make a really cute Christmas present and you could even split them up for gift giving!  Check them out here!

I’m loving all the “fancy” sweatshirts out right now and couldn’t wait to pick up a couple for the Fall/Winter. This isn’t the greatest photo of it, but this shirt from Lane Bryant is all kinds of adorbs!

It’s got bell sleeves and a black tie ribbon detail on the shoulders.  It’s not quite a sweatshirt, but heavier than a regular top.  Really cute with black skinny jeans!  I love how it’s both comfy and a little bit special at the same time.  It’s in heavy rotation for my weekend wear!  Check it out online here or in store.

I’d love to hear about your latest must have’s in the comments!

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Everything!

 

Sorry for my prolonged absence from the blog, but I’ve had a ridiculous amount of stuff going on in my life the past few months.  I hope to have some more time in the near future to blog, but most likely I won’t be back to regular blogging until November.  I appreciate each and everyone of you that has been checking in over the past couple months to see any updates!  I promise, more to come on what’s been going on in the future! (Some BIG things)

In the meantime, it’s pumpkin spice season and I can’t let it pass without blogging about it!  I broke out my Pumpkin Spice and Everything Nice tshirt last week while enjoying my fifth pumpkin spice Starbucks of the season and realized when someone asked me where I got it, that the company who made mine went out of business.  🙁

I decided to check out Etsy to see if anyone else sold a similar one and found an amazing amount of PS inspired stuff.  There are tons of tees, but I also found a lot of other stuff.  I thought I would put together a quick round up of my faves for everyone.


Basic AF Mug

How hilariously appropriate is this mug?  I absolutely need this one!  I might be basic, but I don’t care cause pumpkin spice is freaking delicious!!

 

Pumpkin Spice Socks
These socks crack me up!  I definitely need these for around the house.  Perfect thing to pair with a Starbucks gift card.

Pumpkin Spice Girl Tote

How cute is this tote for Fall?  Easy to tuck into a care package for your fave college student to use around campus.

Pumpkin Spice Tee

If you are like me and can’t say no to a PS, this is the shirt for you!

 

Pumpkin Spice Card

The perfect card to include with any gift this Fall!  And the shop (LilyandVal) is based in Pittsburgh, my hometown!  Even better!

Want to see the rest of my picks?  Check out my Pumpkin Spice Pinterest board here!

Thanks again for checking out the blog and I promise lots more to come soon!!

 

 

 

 

Essie Gel Couture Review

Essie Gel Couture Review

If you’ve read the blog for any length of time, you know I love salon gel nails and nail art.  I wore them for about a year straight and there are a ton of great things about them.  The one thing I hate about them though, is the difficulty in getting the gel polish off without a trip to the salon.

For the last couple weeks, I’ve needed to be able to take my polish off with very little notice.  Since it is difficult to do a last minute appointment via the salon I prefer, and taking gel polish off a home is a giant PITA, I’ve opted to not have my nails done lately.

I looked for an alternative and thought you might be interested in my experiences.  My first try was the Essie Gel Couture system.  It’s a two step process, one being the color gel polish and the second being a clear gel top coat type polish.  The big selling point for me was that you are able to take the polish off with regular nail polish remover.

Since my nails were pretty beat up after stopping my salon gel, I opted for a pale pink color.  The consistency of the polish was pretty streaky for the first coat.  I actually had to do 3 coats to get a solid color and it showed every bump in my nails.  The brush is a bit larger than I was used to and is rounded, which some feel makes it easier to apply with. I personally found I needed a couple minutes to get used to the brush.

I thought the 2nd step might smooth out the polish a bit and it did to a certain extent.  I applied one coat of the clear gel like topcoat. No light is needed to cure the gel.

It dried fairly quickly considering I had to put on 3 coats of color, plus a top coat. I couldn’t wait to see how long it lasted.

I painted my nails on Sunday and this is what they looked like on Wednesday with very little abuse.  I am pretty easy on my nails in general and these absolutely did not hold up.  By Tuesday, I was noticing wear on my first two fingers on my left (non dominant) hand and as you can see, but Wednesday they were chipping.  You could also see every bump or knick in my nail bed through the polish.

Essie Gel Couture Review

I left the polish on til Friday just to see if they got worse.  It stayed about the same, but of course, my nails started shredding where the polish had worn off.

The polish did come off really easily with regular non-acetone nail polish remover.

Overall, I wouldn’t spend the almost $25 to buy both steps (each bottle is about $11.50 on average).  I had much better results with my Shellac Hack method I explained previously here.

I’d love to hear if you’ve tried Essie Gel Couture and how it worked for you in the comments!

 

Best Wrinkle Treatment Serum

Best Wrinkle Treatment

I have tried a lot of wrinkle treatment serums in my life and I have never really declared one was great.  Until now!  Sunday Riley’s Good Genes is as amazing as people say.

Over Christmas, Sephora had a two piece set of Sunday Riley products.  Since Sunday Riley is an expensive brand,  I figured the set was the best way to try it out, especially since I bought it during Sephora’s VIB event.  Here’s a link to what I bought on Sephora’s website.

The kit had both Luna Sleeping Night Oil and Good Genes.  I’ll talk about the Luna Sleeping Night Oil first.

From Sephora’s description:

Luna Sleeping Night Oil contains a powerful, yet gentle trans-retinol ester and moisturizing botanical oils to reduce the appearance of pores, fine lines, and sun damage while preventing flakiness and irritation.

The Luna Sleeping Night Oil comes in a glass bottle with a dropper dispenser.  It makes for a slightly messy dispensing of the oil, but feels substantial and has held up.

The Luna Oil is odd.  It has a strong smell, which I had read about before trying.  It wasn’t horrible, but it wasn’t pleasant either.  It also goes on your face blue and you rub in until it blends into your skin and is absorbed.  I had high hopes, but really didn’t love it.

I like the idea of a night oil, especially because I have pretty dry skin in areas, but this just wasn’t it for me.  I saw a bit of change in my skin for the better, but nothing huge.  I think if I were using any moisturizer on a regular basis, I would have seen the same result.

Now on to Good Genes!

From Sephora’s description:

Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment exfoliates and moisturizes the skin while smoothing the appearance of fine lines.

The Good Genes formula is in a glass bottle with a pump dispenser.  Nice and substantial and has held up well to my use since December.

I had very high hopes for this stuff after doing research and reading about it online and I was not disappointed!  It is a bit stingy when you first apply it.  Like an astringent burn is what it was like for me, but that goes away quickly.  I use a about a pump and a half for my face and forehead and rub in well.

I have honestly noted a difference in my skin since I started using it.  How do I know this? I took pictures of my wrinkles and dark spots prior to starting and compared to photos after I used it for a month.  (And no, I am not sharing my wrinkles on the internet 🙂

I have never seen a change in wrinkle deepness before with any other product.  The other noticeable thing is the brightness of my skin.  Since the cells are turning over, my skin looks much brighter than it normally would in the dead of winter.

I personally use Good Genes at night, but I do know many people use it during the day.

Would I buy them again?  The Luna Sleeping Night Oil is a no.  The Good Genes is a yes!

I do have one other brand for wrinkle prevention/improvement to try from my VIB purchases, but if it isn’t better than Good Genes, I will be re-buying asap.

Have you tried Sunday Riley products yet?  What did you think?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 

 

 

Keep Tulips From Drooping

I love to have tulips in the house during the winter, because they make me feel like Spring is still a possibility no matter how cold out it currently is!  I found tulips for $3 a bunch at our local grocery store the other day and had to grab some since it was artic here this weekend.

The one thing about tulips that can be a bummer, is their tendency to droop, as soon as you put them in the vase.  I tried a Pinterest trick this time and it worked!  I actually combined two common tricks, so not 100% sure which one was the secret, but both are so easy, I don’t mind repeating them both.

First, I left the tulips in their store binding overnight.  Meaning, I took them out of the plastic envelope/bag thing you carry them in, but I left them attached to each other by the bindings/bands and stuck them in a vase of water.  The reasoning behind this trick, is because tulips are hollow stemmed, keeping them together allows them to absorb the water without drooping.

I also added a penny to the water in the vase.  I’ve read about this trick for a couple years and always forget to do it.  I honestly don’t know the reason for it, but I am sure it changes the alkaline of the water.

It’s been a few days, and so far so good as you can see below.  Aren’t they so pretty?   A few of the leaves have drooped and the tulips aren’t standing straight up and down like a soldier, but I like them a little more natural myself.  This is a huge improvement from the last time I bought tulips, so I am declaring this a Pinterest Success!!

Keep Tulips from Drooping

Have you tried these tricks? I’d love to hear about it or any others in the comments!

 

Best Dry Shampoos

I know a ton of you are dry shampoo addicts like I am, but there are still some of you who don’t get it.  Why do I use it?  For one thing, I spend a decent amount of money on my hair color and the less I wash it, the better my color holds.  It saves my hair from blow drying too. My hair is overall healthier since I stopped washing it every day.  Secondly, I like to sleep.  To be honest, sleeping in longer is probably my biggest motivator in using dry shampoo.  I still shower daily, I just don’t wash my hair.  I’m lazy, not disgusting!

Thirdly, sometimes, it’s just too much to do my hair from start to finish.  I am sure that sounds ridiculous to some of you, but sometimes I am just not in the mood to start the process of styling my hair from wet head to finished product. I just don’t always have that much time, especially in the morning.  I wasn’t blessed with the kind of hair that can air dry or even just get blown dry and be presentable, so it’s the whole she bang every time.   And lastly, I like my hair better with some texture to it.  There’s no frizz, it holds curl better, its smoother if I want to straighten it, just overall easier to style on day two or three, than day one.

I don’t know about you, but I love using dry shampoo!  Prior to it becoming available everywhere, I used baby powder and I have to say, I didn’t love the smell.  It’s great on a baby, but not so much in your hair.  Plus it was super messy and ended up everywhere.

Fast forward to the era of dry shampoo, I’ve used a ton of different brands and now feel I’ve narrowed it down to the best of the best.  Without further ado, here are the best dry shampoos!

Best Dry Shampoos

Buy Batiste Dry Shampoo Here

I mentioned this one as a fave product before, Batiste Dry Shampoo.  It’s easily applied, available everywhere (Amazon, Ulta).  Comes in many different scents and has special versions for brunettes and blondes.  I like the tropical and the original clean and classic scents, but over Christmas, I bought a trio of travel mini’s that are all different scents, so I might end up with a new fave.

How do I use it? I shake the bottle, spray a couple squirts into my part and underneath my layers  and let sit while I do my makeup.  I usually come back to it after I apply my foundation and brush it through a bit (depending on how I am styling my hair that day) and hit it with the blow dryer and a round brush.  It honestly looks like I had a blow out after.  Then, I style as usual.  If I am in a huge hurry to run out the door, I spritz my part and sides and underneath, fluff a bit and head out.  Super easy to use, smells good.  Can’t go wrong with this one.

 

Best Dry ShampoosBuy Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo Here

I went from using baby powder to Oscar Blandi Pronto Dry Shampoo originally.  I still love it and use it off and on.  It’s a powder formula with a narrow tip on the bottle, which allows you to flip through your layers and squirt the powder on your roots.  You then need to massage it lightly into your scalp.  It immediately makes your hair get a ton of texture and I think it is best used on pretty dirty hair.  I usually recommend this stuff to people who work out and don’t want to wash their hair in between.  It’s more absorbing than Batiste due to its consistency.  You can buy Oscar Blandi at Sephora or Amazon.

It has an okay smell, not offensive, not my fave, but definitely better than baby shampoo.  It’s super easy to transport in your travel bag or purse.  I would think it might be hard to use if you had dark hair, but since I don’t have dark hair, I can’t confirm.  It does help with dark roots though by lightening them a bit, which is a plus over Batiste. One huge pro is that while small, the bottle lasts forever!  A solid choice if you prefer a powder consistency in your dry shampoo.

Best Dry Shampoos

Buy Dry Bar’s Extend Your Blowout Kit Here

Tons of people love the scent of Dry Bar’s dry shampoo.  I personally do not and found it a bit overwhelming to use in the morning.  It was super strong to me at least.  If the scent doesn’t bother you, it works pretty much the same as Batiste, it’s just more expensive.  I used it the same way I did Batiste as described above.  I don’t usually recommend this one, but I know many people who swear by it.

When I bought my Dry Bar shampoo, it came with a sample of their Detox Dry Conditioner (see kit above).  I honestly thought dry conditioner seemed like a gimmick and wasn’t even going to try it, but I did and loved it!

If you are a regular dry shampoo user, you will know what I am saying, when I say sometimes, if you dry shampoo several days in a row, your hair tends to feel a bit tangled and weirdly textured.  Spray some of this Detox Dry Conditioner on your ends and it is gone.  It is amazing how it completely changes your texture.  It helped me detangle and smoothed out my ends and overall I loved how my hair felt.  I’m still using my sample and am debating whether I would buy it again.  I don’t use it often for one.  If I had longer hair, it would be a resounding YES, but since mine is mid-length, I can’t really make a strong case for needing it.   Would definitely recommend for those with long hair!   also recommend buying a Dry Bar Kit, like I have shown above, to try out a couple of their products since they are more expensive.  You can find Dry Bar products at Sephora or Amazon.

Do you agree with my picks for Best Dry Shampoo? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

 

 

 

 

Quick and Easy Christmas Crafts

The countdown is upon us and Christmas is almost here!  December is going really fast I think.  I am all set on my gifts, but because of our dog, I haven’t been able to decorate like I usually do.  Because of that, I feel like I am not quite prepared yet!

I also haven’t done one Christmas craft this year!  To rectify that situation, I gathered up a couple quick and easy Christmas crafts that I thought you might want to see too!

Quick and Easy Christmas Crafts

This Merry craft is super quick and definitely super easy!  It’s made with pipecleaners and  pre-wrapped burlap.  Full tutorial is found here.   PS: I need to find this pre-wrapped burlap for some other crafts stat!

 

Quick and Easy Christmas Crafts

I fell in love with this Gingerbread Hula Girl felt ornament!  They used a cutting machine to create the Gingerbread base, but you could use a cookie cutter and trace it on felt too.  I’m going to have to make some of these!  Find the tutorial here.

 

Quick and Easy Christmas Crafts

 

Pom-pom garlands are super quick and easy to create and can be modified for every holiday.  This one was created for Valentine’s Day, but I think it fits for Christmas too.  Find the tutorial here.

 

Quick and Easy Christmas Crafts

 

I saved my favorite for last!  How cute is this Snowman place setting?  Super easy and festive!  Details can be found here.

Looking for more Christmas ideas? Check out my Christmas Pinterest board.