How to Choose Flooring for Your Home

We have tons of things on our wish list to swap out in our house to make it more us, but we agreed the first thing we needed to do was change out the flooring.  Hopefully, my experience will help you choose flooring for your home.

I went a bit crazy with the pinning and researching of flooring options, check out my Home Decor board to see what I mean!  We considered both  hardwood and laminate options.  I knew I wanted wide plank and a lighter color.  I was leaning toward gray washes and some barn wood options.

We needed something that could withstand some moisture and I wanted something relatively hardy and low care.  With a dog, we needed it to be able to withstand any errant nail scratches and random accidents.

We went to our local big box home improvement centers and brought home all the samples in our color range.  We were able to take our samples and try them next to the kitchen cabinets and in various rooms to see how they looked in different lighting.

This of course weeded out some colors.  I truly felt like Goldilocks.  Nothing was feeling exactly right and I was bummed.  My beloved gray washes were okay, but they just weren’t screaming yes to me.

We had pretty much ruled out hardwoods at this point, so I did some more research on laminates.  We found a Pergo product called Pergo Max Premier and it met all of our needs.

I turned back to my friend the Internet and found a color in Pergo Max Premier that I thought might work.  We went to several stores that said they had it in stock to see what it looked like in person, but unfortunately, all of their web sites were incorrect.  This was just the beginning of my annoyance with big box home improvement stores in this odyssey!

The color I thought was the answer to my flooring needs was Blonde Onyx Oak.  It was a blend of black, brown and a barnwood beige.  We decided to order a box of the shade to see it in person since no one had it in stock. Miraculously, we both loved it.  It looked great in different lighting and we were sold.

Photo from Pergo’s website of Blonde Onyx Oak

We went back to the store and ordered it and it was a nightmare from then on, but it’s over now and we love it!  I truly cannot recommend the store we bought it from, nor the installers, but we do love the product so far and we love the color.

I did have a minute of buyer’s remorse the first day I came home from work and saw it partially installed.  It seemed to have a lot going on and it took my eye a minute to get used to it in our house.  I chalk it up to being half of a room and the pattern not being completely throughout the room.  Now though, I think it looks great. The brown and barnwood beige colors tend to be predominate and the black is more of an accent to me.  I wanted something that worked with wood tones, black and gray and yet had a warmth and I think this flooring does that well.

It has also stood up to some pretty severe spills.  On Christmas, the Christmas ham platter spilled on to the floor and grease went everywhere.  It cleaned up, no problem!  I am anxious to see how it holds up in the coming years, but everyone we’ve spoken to said it is the highest quality Pergo product and should last a long time.

My 10 tips for choosing flooring for your home:

  1. Do research on laminate versus hardwood and choose what fits you and your family best.  There are pluses and minuses for both.
  2.  Grab every sample you think you might like and bring it home.  Some stores charge for samples and some don’t, but it’s a pretty nominal amount.
  3. Put the samples down next to your built ins and furniture and take a photo.
  4. Try them in every room and every time of day to see how the light affects them.  You can see in my photos how different my floor looks in my kitchen versus my hallway.
  5. Look at your photos and see what grabs you!  I was able to narrow down my choices via photos much easier than in person.  Weird, but it worked!
  6. Go back to the drawing board if you have to!
  7. Check the manufacturer’s website for colors not carried by the stores.
  8. Order samples of anything not in stock!
  9. Make sure you LOVE what you choose, flooring is not cheap and you are going to have it for a long time, be sure it’s a firm yes!
  10. Make sure your installers mix up the pattern with laminate.  Since the pattern repeats, you don’t want multiple pieces with the same pattern next to each other.

 

 

 

Must Have Monday

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!  Mine was relaxing with a ton of Starbucks and Gilmore Girls marathoning and a dose of shopping.  I’ve never been a middle of the night Black Friday shopper.  Having worked retail in the past, I always feel bad for anyone who has to leave their family on Thanksgiving to go open a store, so I try not to shop until mid day on Friday.

Did you notice how many stores had their Black Friday sales start earlier in the week?  I swear every other email was another early Black Friday notice.  I was definitely on board for that!

I bought a few things online and I did venture out later on Friday and then again on Saturday for a few quick gifts.  I don’t even know why I bothered, I should have just shopped online for everything!  It wasn’t the crowds, it was more a woefully under staffed Macy’s that was annoying.

I did find a couple things I consider Must Have’s and am sharing today!

Voluspa Goji Tarroco Orange Candle

First up is this beautiful candle I found at a local gift shop (Gifted Hands for those of you that are local to Pittsburgh).  Though Voluspa can be found online at Nordstrom and a lot of other retailers.  I loved the red glass container (it looks slightly orange in the photo above but in person it is a really rich red) and can’t wait to use it once the candle is used up.   The note I notice the most from this one is the orange.  It has a great throw and you can definitely smell it throughout the house.  The red glass looks gorgeous at night when lit!

 

Alpaca Pajama Bottoms

One of the sales I hit up this weekend was the Lane Bryant 40% off everything sale.  I grabbed these Alpaca pajama pants.  I am definitely seeing Alpaca’s everywhere this Christmas!  These are super comfy and I am actually wearing them as I type this!

 

Halo Top Ice Cream

Every dieter’s fave, Halo Top Ice Cream!  It used to be sorta hard to find, but it is literally in every grocery store now.  I even found it in my small home town grocer.  My freezer currently has Cinnamon Roll and Peanut Butter Cup.  Available in a million flavors, it is perfect to hit that sweet craving when you are trying to cut calories.  The entire pint is less than 300 calories (varies depending on flavor) and is definitely the best low cal ice cream I’ve encountered.

What did you pick up during Black Friday weekend? Any must have’s? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

 

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!

 

 

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!

 

 

 

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!

 

 

 

 

Fall Purchases 2016

I need new clothes like I need a hole in  my head, so I tried to be reasonable when adding some new fall additions to my closet.  I thought you might like to see some of my purchases and hear about something I am still on the hunt for.

My Fall Purchases

 

Plaid Camp Shirt

I bought this maroon and black plaid camp shirt at Torrid.  It’s extra long which I love.  I also love that it’s not your standard red and black plaid.  I’ve worn it a couple times and it’s really comfy.

My Fall Purchases

I also bought this AMAZING olive green military inspired jacket at Torrid.  I had to go to two different stores to find it, but it was well worth it.  I will admit, I did feel a bit Janet Jackson circa Rhythm Nation, the first time I wore it, but I got over that!  I seriously want to wear it everyday!  Apparently, I am not the only one, because it is currently sold out online.  You may luck out and find one in store.  Definitely worth checking out.

My Fall Purchases

Bow Blouse

I fell in love with this Ruffle Bow Blouse from Eloquii.  It comes in a deep red and a yellow also.  It’s hard to read it in the photo, but the detail on the blouse is awesome.  It’s super girly, yet in black it’s a real statement piece.  You can wear it with jeans or a suit.  Highly recommend this item!

P.S. For those of you who haven’t ordered from Eloquii yet, I always order a size up.  They charge a restocking fee, so I would always rather err on the side of too big rather than too small.

My Fall Purchases

Metallic Patch Jeans

Again, the photo doesn’t do these jeans justice.  They are boyfriend jeans with distressed patches and the patches are lined with metallic gold fabric!  Can you tell I am excited about these?!?!  I bought them on the loose side because they are boyfriend style.  I cannot wait to wear these!

My Fall Purchases

Those of you who follow me on Instagram, have already seen this beauty.  I bought this Plaid Bag at the Kate Spade Outlet in Florida.  I can’t find it online, but you can call an outlet and if they have it in stock they will ship it to you.  I may or may not have bought the matching scarf too!

I’m still on the hunt for the perfect booties, but haven’t found the right price point, style and fit yet.  I know Nordstrom will have what I want, but at a price I probably don’t want to spend!

What did you add to your closet this Fall?  I’d love to hear about it in the comments!