I wanted to post a quick follow up to my Sephora Sale Pregnancy Must Haves that went live yesterday. I got a few questions about how to sift through all of the recommendations and decide on just a few products that you can order so you don't break the bank.
I put together a few suggestions that will give you some great products while sticking to a reasonable budget. One of the things I love about Sephora are their mini sizes which allow you to try new products before investing in the full size versions.
The Acne Trifecta
When hormonal acne hits, this trio has been what has worked for me. In my original post the spot treatment I recommend is the Belli Acne Control Spot Treatment which is pregnancy approved. This is what I am currently using but I have used the Umbrian Clay Mask by Fresh as my go to spot treatment before I was pregnant. I actually ran out and figured out I was pregnant before I had a chance to restock so I went with a new one from a pregnancy brand. After doing some more research, I believe the mask from Fresh should also be pregnancy approved (still double check for yourself, I'm not a doctor!). If you aren't pregnant, no worries then and you should be adding this amazing gem to your cart right now. You can also get The Deep Cleanse from Tatcha and the ACV Peel that I recommend in mini sizes to try out. You can get all three for under $50 during the sale!
Best Bang for Your Buck
For under $100, you can revamp your whole skincare routine with The Littles set from Drunk Elephant. This set contains 8 products from the line that are total game changers. It contains the Marula Oil, Protini Cream, and Umbra Sheer Physical Sunscreen ,all three of which are on my master list for pregnancy. According to Drunk Elephant's website, all of the other products are pregnancy safe but I have been shying away from the Glycolic Night Cream due to the salicylic acid. You can always save that for after your little bebe is born or if you aren't pregnant than you don't have to worry!
Top 3 For Glowing Skin
You can get these three items (all on my favorites list) for just a little over $100. These are the perfect combination of products to achieve glowy skin and if you were going to only invest in three basic products, these are what I would recommend. The duo from Drunk Elephant gives you their bar cleanser and exfoliant (both of which I love). These you can start with in the mini size since a little really does go a long way. The Water Cream from Tatcha I would go big on from the start. You will be lathering this everywhere morning and night. Last is the Healthy Glow Tinted Moisturizer from Charlotte Tilbury which I have been living in instead of foundation during quarantine.
This post was super quick and I just wanted to get it out there to answer some questions! If you have any other questions I didn't answer or additional suggestions, just drop me a message!
In quarantine I have been capitalizing on every little exciting thing that is happening, making it something big to look forward to. Well this week I don’t have to create my own hype because the excitement for the Sephora Insider Sale is REAL. For VIB member is starts on Tuesday, April 21st and I am ready.
Swapping out your regular beauty routine for pregnancy safe products can be expensive so this is a great time for mamas to be to stock up. Just digging through the crazy advice on the internet to decide what you are comfortable with ingredient wise is a hassle enough, at least when actually buying the products you decide on you deserve a break.
I’ve went through my fair share of products as I’ve experimented through these first 18 weeks of pregnancy so I want to share with you all what has ended up actually working for me. Unfortunately not only have I had to make the usual pregnancy product swaps, but I also was blessed with some crazy pregnancy skin. I had the “pregnancy glow” for maybe two weeks until it turned into hormonal acne and stretch marks, so don’t worry, I have products for those too.
I know going through a list of all of these products can feel overwhelming, but remember I am a product junkie so I love trying new stuff and budget each month for it. Don’t feel like you need everything at once. Try a few that feel most relevant to what you need and go from there. This is by no means a list of things you MUST have, just a list of things that have worked for me. I also am not a medical professional so always check with your doctor if you are unsure about a product or ingredient. These are the products I have choose to use based on my research and conversations with my doctor. There are enough crazy mommy blogs out there shaming you into spending $500 on a new beauty routine so you don’t “harm your baby” (and most of those are bullshit in my opinion). After almost falling victim to that myself thanks to all of the guilt I started feel, I have made an effort to be super careful about how I word these posts. I want the takeaway to be, “here is what worked for me, hope this helps” because none of us are experts and even the actual experts have conflicting advice! The best we can do is make informed decisions based on our research, so I hope my trial and error can help you narrow down what you may want to purchase, and keep you from wasting money on products that don’t get the job done. I also have to say, a lot of these products I was using even before I was pregnant and based on what ingredients I am okay with, they passed the test to be used during pregnancy as well. I didn't decide, oh I'm pregnant, lets buy new everything. That is totally unrealistic, so I urge you all to take a look at the products you already have and see what you can make work. I'll say this again for the people in the back, these are just recommendations for the swaps you do want to make or when you are out of a product and looking to restock!
As I am super excited for the Sephora Sale, not every product I love can be found at Sephora, so I have included links to those too. Most are not super expensive so won’t break the bank even without a sale ticket price. A lot of these products can also be purchased in mini sizes so if you want to try them out before you invest, these are prefect. I find out about most of my favorite products through sample sizes and purchasing the mini versions. This is also a great way to stick to your budget if you want to try a few things at once instead of splurge on one big item.
This Tula Purifying Face Cleanser Is a product I used before I found out I was pregnant and luckily could continue to use into my pregnancy. I love Tula products because they are formulated by a gastroenterologist and the line focuses around probiotics. This cleanser is gentle but gets the job done so it is perfect for everyday use.
In pregnancy I have limited my chemical exfoliants big time so I started to notice more build up on my skin. Especially as I started to break out more, I also noticed these tiny bumps on my face, neck, and chest that could only be remedying with some good, old fashioned, physical exfoliant. The JuJu Exfoliating Bar from Drunk Elephant has become my 'go to' because I feel like I can really feel it making a difference. It leaves my skin feeling noticeably smoother but not irritated. I use it on my face and down to my chest.
Moisturizers are where I will spend the big(ger) bucks. I am a true believer that the right moisturizer is a game changer. After trying so many, these three have really stood out as hero products since I've been pregnant. The Protini Polypeptide Cream from Drunk Elephant is my usual night time moisturizer. I will layer the Virgin Marula Oil from Drunk Elephant under it when I need a little more love in the hydration department. My favorite daytime moisturizer is The Water Cream from Tatcha. It is so light weight and soothing, plus it really makes a difference on how makeup lays on your skin. For a while I was wondering if Tatcha was worth all of the hype and the price but after trying a sample size and falling in love, I have to admit, it is worth every penny.
Drunk Elephant's Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser is the easiest way to remove makeup. With a little bit of this stuff, your makeup will just slide off of your face. No pulling or scrubbing and it works really well on stubborn mascara too. I first discovered this product in one of Drunk Elephant's mini sets. I love these because you get to try multiple products for less than $30 and decide which ones you like. In this case, I ended up also falling in love with the moisturizer that came with it. The Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer is one of my favorite moisturizers, so you can try out two of my favorites for only $22. I am always surprised with how long these tiny products last for too. Tip: Even if I end up purchasing the full size product, I save the tiny containers so I can refill them for traveling.
These Josie Maran Bear Naked Wipes are so soothing and are prefect for lazy nights when you can't imagine leaving your comfortable bed to get up and wash your face. I leave these in my nightstand for convenience. These wipes are my favorite because they slide smoothly over your skin so you aren't pulling or rubbing to wash the day off.
Pregnancy fatigue is NO JOKE. I looked in the mirror when I was about 8 weeks pregnant and it looked like I hadn't slept in three months. Well I know I'm only going to get MORE tired once baby gets here so I'm locking this in as a long term staple in my skincare routine. While mamas to be may have to limit their caffeine intake, that doesn't mean we can't use a little on our skin. The Rose Glow & Get It Eye Balm from Tula is a savior. It is cooling, brightening, and moisturizing. With a mixture of caffeine, hyaluronic acid, and rosehip oil (nature's retinol) this eye balm helps to treat your tired eyes while making them immediately look better.
Even though I have been more acne prone during my pregnancy, I still also have issues with hydration. I love the Jet Lag Mask from Summer Fridays because it is hydrating without making your skin feel oily. This is a must for me to have whenever I fly and during the cold winter months. This is another product I used prior to being pregnant so I was thrilled I would be able to continue using it through my pregnancy.
Another hydrating favorite from Summer Fridays is their new Lip Butter Balm. Hydrating, not sticky, pregnancy safe, pretty self explanatory.
No chemical sunscreen was the first pregnancy skincare rule that I learned. Basically every product I had for daytime, whether makeup or skincare, had chemical sunscreen in it. I would say the chemical SPF was the number one reason for many of the makeup products I had to swap out. I am big on sun protection so I needed to find an alternative quickly, especially since in my first trimester I was vacationing in Hawaii for two weeks. The Physical Defense Protection from Drunk Elephant is the best physical sunscreen product I have found so far. I put a little on in the morning mixed with my moisturizer for everyday use. For serious sun exposure I use this on my entire body. It is light weight and didn't make me break out, which is always a big concern for me when it comes to sunscreen. There was a bit of a learning curve when applying it because it is a lot thicker than my usual formula. A little goes a long way with this stuff!
I know there are mixed reviews when it comes to getting spray tans during pregnancy. I decided against it based on the conversations I had with my doctor. As someone who religiously was getting sprayed, I was desperately searching for a comparable option. My search for these products was also escalated due to my first trimester trip to Hawaii. Both of these products have exceeded my expectations in delivering a bronze glow. I usually add the D-Bronzi Sunshine Drops from Drunk Elephant into my moisturizer to use on my face and neck. I use the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops in Dark for the rest of my body. I mix these in with my daily body moisturizer for easy application. I've also used the Isle of Paradise drops on my face which worked out perfectly fine as well. The Isle of Paradise drops pack more of a punch in delivering an immediate and darker tan, so I used these on my face while we were in Hawaii and will probably start to do so more in the summer. The color lasts about a week so you really only have to apply once a week which is super convenient. The D-Bronzi Drops are better for daily use in my opinion since they have more of a subtle, buildable color.
The Acne Trifecta
Pregnancy acne is NO JOKE. At first I thought a few little patches of hormonal acne would be no big deal. I was used to some weird break outs that corresponded with my Crohn's flares so I thought I was prepared. Well, I wasn't. I realized that the heavy hitters I was using to knock out my breakouts before were not safe to use in pregnancy. This lead me on quite a journey to identify what the heck I could actually use and what worked. I finally feel like I have things under control and I have seen a big improvement.
First off I had to bring in a bit of a heavier exfoliant to use every other day. The Deep Cleanse by Tatcha has really helped with the tiny bumps I have been getting and has been especially useful along my jawline. All of my usual peels were off the table, as were my spot treatments so I had to really get creative here. My doctor recommended trying to stick with benzoyl peroxide products for acne treatment but BP always does a number on my sensitive skin so that was not going to be good for me. Instead I use the Volition Apple Cider Vinegar Peel Resurfacing Pads once per week, specifically concentrated around where my hormonal acnes is occurring. Every other night I use Belli's Acne Control Spot Treatment. Belli is skincare specifically formulated for pregnancy and this specific product uses sulfur as the acne fighting ingredient. This spot treatment works great, but can be a bit drying, hence why I am using it every other night. The other nights I make sure I am focusing on hydration and usually layering my Murula Oil under my Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer.
So far Palmer's Coconut Oil Body Lotion has been my 'go to' for hydrating and trying to fend off stretch marks. I know they are pretty inevitable which was proven as over the past three weeks, despite my struggle to gain weight during my pregnancy, new stretch marks have made themselves at home on my sides. I am on the hunt for another product to add into my routine in conjunction with this body lotion, but nothing can replace this tried and true staple. This is also great to mix your tan drops in with and it smells like a vacation.
I've really paired down my everyday makeup routine thanks to never having to leave the house. This has made making my routine pregnancy safe a lot easier since I've eliminated a lot of steps. These products are the ones I have been wearing when I do wear makeup. This is all you will see me wearing on Instagram these days as well. As much as I love getting glam, I am holding off until I have somewhere to be.
Nail Polish (What I Have Been Using in Quarantine)
Last, but not least -- nails. I won't lie to you all and say I was going to stop getting my SNS Dip manicures while I was pregnant. I stopped getting them because I am in quarantine and can't leave my house. If you know me, you know my nail tech, Tracy, is an angel of a woman and has been doing beautiful things to my nails since 2017. I have consistently seen her every 3-4 weeks since July 2017, until now. I am a little lost and on my own since it has been a while since I've painted my own nails (first world problem, I KNOW). I remembered that one of the brands I loved when I was DIYing my nails was Deborah Lippmann. Well, not much has changed and the products are still great. As a plus they are also a lot safer when it comes to ingredients and they don't require UV exposure. I also am very horrible at painting my own nails and I can actually make them look decent with this kit. I recommend the Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro base and top coat as your initial investment. You can purchase full size Deborah Lippmann polishes from Sephora, but I really like the set of mini polishes since I rarely ever use a whole bottle anyway. These have been the six colors I have had on rotation since the beginning of quarantine.
I know this was a long one, but I hope it helps! I have really been so excited to share these products with you all because I know how challenging it can be to find advice on what to use during pregnancy. The Sephora Sale was just the icing on the cake to make this post that much sweeter since that makes a lot of these amazing products more affordable.
I am also working on a post detailing new items that I want to try and purchase from the Sephora Insider Sale and a post breaking down the best combination of products to get on a budget.
As always, let me know if you have any questions and I can't wait to hear what you all buy from the sale this week!
Time to talk about one of my favorite things! Disney dining! After sharing what I was eating throughout or last trip, I received a few requests to share more about the gluten free options at Disney World. I shared a roundup of my favorite gluten free options from the Food & Wine Festival on my story highlight, here. I also shared some of our favorite hidden gem destinations, some of which a food related, here. I wanted to put together a guide that is specifically around gluten free food options that you can get no matter when you are visiting the parks. All of these places I have eaten at an received awesome service and equally as great food.
If you’ve been to Disney World before and have a good allergy, you know the lengths they go to in order to make sure your food is prepared correctly. If you haven’t been, here is a quick rundown on their precautions.
Disney always goes above and beyond to provide top notch customer service, and their allergy friendly dining is no different. I hope you like my round up based on my great gluten free dining experiences! Of course, there are other places I love as well, these just happen to be the ones that created truly magnificent experiences for me.
Jungle Skipper Canteen - Magic Kingdom
Jungle Skipper Canteen is one of the best places to go if you’re looking for gluten free options that are so good, they’re actually served on the main menu. There are plenty of dishes that are gluten friendly, but I do have two favorites that I highly recommend. For a starter, the cheesy bread is a must. It’s technical a special they have so you won’t necessarily see if on the menu but definitely ask for it. This bread is naturally gluten free and served with a parmesan and chimichurri spread that I could eat by the spoon. For an entree, I 100% recommend the fried chicken, aka the “‘Tastes Like Chicken’ because it is!”. It is coated in a gluten free tempura batter, so you get all the crunch without the gluten.
Kona Cafe -Polynesian Resort
I love the food at Kona Cafe and it’s a staple for Matt and me on our Disney trips. They have great gluten free sushi and entree options, but the reason this made this list is because of their gluten free bread. The first time I had it I spit it out and asked our server if it was actually gluten free because it tasted so good I swore it wasn’t. Well, it was, and now I can’t get enough. They serve these warm, really fluffy rolls that have a bit of sweetness to them, think like Hawaiian rolls but gluten free. I’ve been trying to find a comparable kind at home with no such success, so it looks like they will stay my Disney treat.
Boma- Animal Kingdom Lodge
Boma is an African food buffet located in the Animal King Lodge. Not only is the environment incredibly cool and the food is delicious and plentiful, but there are also a ton of gluten free options. I’ve been for both breakfast and dinner, both of which were great experiences. Since it’s a buffet, they provide gluten free guests with a pamphlet complete with charts that note specific allergens in each item. This makes it really easy to navigate the food choices and the options are really extensive. For breakfast, they brought me gluten free donuts and waffles and at dinner they brought gluten free bread and gluten free desserts for me to enjoy!
Tony's Town Square- Animal Kingdom
You can read about my love for Tony’s Town Square, here, and, spoiler alert, a lot of it has to do with the gluten free options. It’s not everyday you can get a good gluten free pasta, but here you can. They have some good entree options, my personal favorite being the shrimp scampi. I also love that they provide separately packaged gluten free rolls to dip in the olive oil and herbs at the table. It’s so nice to be able to participate in this Italian restaurant ritual and I sometimes even take one of the prepackaged rolls for a snack later.
50's Prime Time Cafe - Hollywood Studios
The 50s Prime Time Cafe is a destination for the experience itself, but also a stellar option for gluten free folks looking for some classic comfort food. The gluten free pot pie is a personal favorite and reminds me of family dinners as a kid. The fact that they could make a classic home style dish gluten free and still taste so good seriously surprised me. Matt was making jokes about wanted the extra gluten I couldn’t eat on his meal. Well, in typical in character cast member action they brought out his Caesar salad with croutons overflowing over the side of his bowl. I couldn’t stop laughing at his ‘extra gluten’ special.
Be Our Guest - Magic Kingdom
I’ve been here for breakfast and lunch, neither disappointed! It can be challenging to get a recommendation at this popular spot in Magic Kingdom so I suggest booking early. If you don’t score that reservation though, don’t freak, checking a few days before or even the day of for cancelations can be your ticket in! The gluten free appeal at Be Our Guest is their ability to make almost any sandwich (for breakfast or lunch) gluten free with bread that still tastes great. The portions for the regular sandwiches are pretty big and they keep it consistent with the gluten free options. You actually get two sandwiches which is crazy! Not going to lie, I usually bring a plastic bag and take one to go. For breakfast they also provide gluten free breakfast breads to enjoy.
Nomad Lounge - Animal Kingdom
You can read my whole obsession with Nomad Lounge here, but for now I’ll kept it focused on the gluten free options. They are so accommodating and can make almost everything on their menu gluten free. The menu is already a limited (but delicious) one so this is definitely a good thing. My favorites for a savory snack are the chicken satay skewers and the ribs. Both pack a ton of flavor into a little dish and are the perfect size to share with your park buddy. The real showstopper here are the churros. They’re gluten free and taste like heaven in your mouth. They are a perfect consistency and not dense at all like most gluten free desserts. They also come with dipping sauces to sample which, no pun intended, are the icing on the cake.
Let me know if you try any of these recommendations and why you end up getting!
Okay, not all of us have the disposable income to be able to have every designer piece we are coveting in our possession. I certainly don't. That doesn't mean that I don't want to wear these styles or participate in the trends that high fashion is pumping out. That is where dupes come in.
I know some people are against dupes, which is fine, do your thing. I do want to go on the record here and say I appreciate the design/style/craftsmanship of the designers creating the original designs for these products. I rely on dupes for trendy, of the moment pieces that I am not going to invest a ton of money to wear for one or two seasons. I don't need the quality of a LV bag that is going to last me a decade if I am buying a style that I'll be over by next year. For the pieces I need, I will invest and I do invest in these brands that I love. To each their own, just wanted to share my philosophy.
Amazon is my GO TO SPOT for the best dupes for trendy pieces. I love these options for accessories and especially for traveling. Even if you do own the 'real thing' packing these lower cost alternatives can reduce the stress of lost or damaged items in your luggage. Also, with sunglasses for example, I am not going to bring $200 sunglasses on a boat excursion and most likely lose them. But $15 Gucci dupes? You bet. See, it is all about the convenience, the savings, and making these styles accessible.
Here are some of my favorites at the moment that have made it into constant rotation in my wardrobe.
So, I know I mentioned sunglasses and I am a firm believer in purchasing some cheaper shades for adventures.
These are two that I purchased a bit before my most recent trip to Florida and I love them. Both are under $20, and so far have held up nicely. Also looked very cute in my opinion.
These headbands are another favorite purchase. They're Gucci dupes and I CAN'T GET ENOUGH. I know I've posted about them like 10 times so far, but it's because I love them that much. They are also under $10 so you can ride out the headband trend while staying under budget.
Shirts are something I just recently started getting from Amazon and I am very confused at why I didn't do this sooner. If you are looking for something super high quality that is going to become a heavily worn and heavily washed piece -- don't go for these. But, if you are looking for a blouse to go with a specific outfit or for a certain look for an event or something. Definitely recommend. A personal fave right here...
The Gucci belt. The Gucci belt that every fashion blogger in the universe seems to have. #blessed, I got a real one as a birthday gift from my mother in law, but before I was making it work with Amazon finds. Anna from Lifestyle By Anna Elizabeth got me hooked on this one I am wearing here.
Unfortunately, that specific one isn't available anymore, but there are some other great ones like it. Even if you have the authentic Gucci belt in a basic color, you can always grab a dupe in a more exotic pattern or print as well. You won't wear it as much as a basic style, so the quality doesn't matter as much.
Last, let's talk bags. Specifically bags that you really want to be cute, but won't use as much as your everyday tote. Aka for me right now, backpacks and fanny packs. I ordered this LV dupe backpack for my trip to Disney last month, hoping it would be decent quality to tote around for a few days. It actually turned out being pretty good quality and I plan on using it to travel with in the future. The one I've linked below isn't the same exact one (that one is no longer available), but it is very similar. I love that it has multiple pockets, easy to use zippers, and if it gets dirty I don't really care because it is under $25.
Fanny packs are also the it thing these days but with no doubt will be out in a few seasons then back again when our future children are 20. Fashion is cyclical baby. Guess my semester at FIT paid off. I am not going to splurge on a design fanny pack unless I see them as a long term resident in my closet. Truth is, right now I don't. That could change, but for the time being, this one from Amazon will do just fine.
One of my favorite bloggers Anna (Lifestyle by Anna Elizabeth), who I mentioned earlier, just did a giveaway on her Instagram for a super cute LV dupe that I have added to my wish list. She also always has great recommendations for affordable style and is one of my go to's when I am looking for some outfit inspo. If you were into this post, definitely follow along with her as well!
What are your favorite dupes right now? What items are you trying to save on instead of splurging for the real deal?
For the past few months, I've been on this Apple Cider Vinegar trend. Before people were doing shots of it and then it transitioned to the beauty world where Youtube was flooded with bloggers hyping up the benefits. I'm not going to lie, I usually am a sucker to try out whatever the hot new beauty ingredient is. Obviously I hopped on the ACV train, but months later, I think I'm actually sold long term. There really are some great benefits that you can get from ACV based products that actually do live up to the benefits they boast. The main area where I've seen the benefits? My hair. I've consistently been using ACV products as part of my hair care routine for the past few months and I have to say, the results are pretty good. My hair always struggles in the summer with build up from swimming, sunscreen, and my usual excess of dry shampoo. I have cycled through various clarifying shampoos and treatments without a ton of success. These Apple Cider Vinegar products I've found are the first to actually clarify my hair without stripping my color or making my hair feel sticky/dry/gross -- you know the feeling I'm talking about. For someone who doesn't like washing their hair that much, my hair better feel damn good when I do wash it.
My favorite ACV shampoo that I've found is this one from Maple Holistics. I usually really love their products because they truly have great ingredients, their products really work, and they are SO cost effective. I highly recommend this for anyone really, but specifically if you have color treated hair and are swimming a lot during the summer. This stuff is a life saver because it actually conditions the heck out of your hair while removing chlorine build up. Another time when this stuff saves the day? After getting an updo or your hair done for an event. I know this sounds rather specific but hear me out, it is wedding season after all. Getting your hair styled for an event looks great in the moment, but the trauma of taking out all of the bobby pins and combing through the styling products when you get home at night is not on my top list of greatest feelings. I always feel like my hair is stiff, sticky, and dry, even after multiple washes. Good news, I've tested this shampoo out in that exact situation and it exceeded my expectation. Something about the clarifying properties mixed with the conditioning ingredients was the perfect combination to get the gunk out of my hair but also leave it feeling healthy and shiny. Who knew that hair miracles could happen for only $12 per bottle? And you can get it via Amazon Prime (my fave, you know).
So my Maple Holistics is my most used ACV product, but I do have a few others I like to keep in rotation for specific needs. DPhue has a great line of ACV products that are great supplements to your routine. They are a bit pricier (and worth if for sure) but that is why I like to use them a bit more sparingly. I'm really into the ACV Hair Rinse. I shared the details on my love for this product as part of my Budget Friendly Beauty Breakdown for haircare. You can get all of the details on how to use it and why I love it, there. The bottom line is, you can use this between actual washes to keep your hair looking and feeling fresh.
Another supplementary product I've looped into my routine this summer is the DPhue ACV Hair Masque. I've been picking these up in the travel sized packets and toting them around with me on vacation. After being in the water I pop this stuff in my hair BEFORE I shampoo. It helps to smooth things out before you comb through your hair. I leave it in for a bit then rinse and shampoo. It helps with the detangling and hydration without weighing your hair down a lot. Since I have pretty fine hair, I only need a little so one of the tiny packets can last me usually around three washes.
As I continue exploring ACV products and their benefits, I am branching out into skincare next and trying an ACV face mask this weekend. I'll report back, but for now, enjoy these gems of products that will certainly help your hair look and feel its best. Especially after this last weekend of summer when everyone is trying to get their last of pool and beach time in, you will need these come Tuesday morning......
Okay, we know Amazon is where its at for just about everything. I got great feedback on my Amazon Fashion Finds blog post I did a little while ago, so I decided to start to share some more of my Amazon faves. I’ve been on a serious budget kick lately as were trying to factor in revamping some areas of our house and (hopefully) a new car soon, without sacrificing our love for traveling and our upcoming trips. Amazon is a life saver for not only getting stuff delivered to your doorstep in record time, but also for finding quality items at great prices. I’ve decided to give you all an inside look on what my Amazon shopping list has looked like for the past month, highlighting the top five items that are budget friendly and have made my life easier in some way or another.
This COLOR WOW spray is a miracle for your hair. My mother in law recommended I try this stuff to combat the frizzy hair problems that summer brings. This heat activated spray works like a keratin treatment that you apply to your hair every three washes. I have super fine hair, but it doesn’t weigh it down. It gives me a silky texture and keeps my ends from getting dry and unruly. Its less than $30 and you only need a little bit every use so you really get a bang for your buck.
This here is a digital camera card reader that imports photos from your memory card directly to your iPhone. I bought this solely based on the recommendation of my friend and favorite photographer, Madison Short. She posted it as a must have on her Insta story and for only $12 I was sold. It makes updating your content while traveling so much easier so it’s a big must for any avid bloggers.
I haven’t stopped wearing these headbands. The Skinny Confidential posted these Gucci knockoffs the other day in Instagram and I purchased IMMEDIATELY. They are a current favorite for spicing up a boring outfit and ideal for days when you want to look put together but washing your hair is not in the cards for you. You can get all three colors for $12. Score.
I needed a new vanity mirror since mine just died on me, so I ordered this one on Prime Day. The mirror is way bigger compared to its circular predecessor and the lighting is perfectly even. It is battery powered so there is no annoying cord across your vanity, plus it has a really clean, sleek design that makes it aesthetically pleasing to stay out in the open 24/7. Great investment.
Last but not least, this god damn life saver right here. My husband is NOTORIOUS for losing just about everything, including his wallet. After a close call the other day, thinking we were going to have to cancel and reorder every credit card we have, I had to put my foot down. The Tile Slim is perfect for your forgetful hubby (or for yourself). It just slips inside your wallet or purse, or even on your phone, so that you can track the whereabouts of your items 24/7. The Slim is a perfect size for a guy to slip into his wallet and will help him stay on top of his game. Let’s face it, we can’t make them less forgetful but we can help proactively solve the problem instead of searching the house for three hours every other weekend.
I’m gearing up to do another Amazon Fashion finds post after I pull together all of my favorite pieces for transitioning into fall. I’ve already snagged a few, but I’m making sure they are tried and true before I can officially recommend.
What was your most helpful Amazon purchase this past month?
I've been thinking about a way to incorporate my love of reading into the blog somehow because it truly is one of my favorite things. I read at least a couple of books a month, usually a mix between novels, autobiographies, and self-help books. I am always dying to talk to someone about them so I'm pushing books of onto my friends like they are drugs or something, just begging them to read so we can compare thoughts. I also LOVE recommending books in general, almost as much as I love recommending beauty products. I figure, if I'm already doing all of the work of reading, why not start to share some of my favorites with you all! Then I have a place to publicly proclaim my obsessions with these books without annoying all of my friends and hopefully delivering some value to CB readers.
I am still playing around with all of the details on how I want to start sharing these book reviews. I'm not writing a book report or anything boring. Basically I want to communicate what the book is about, why I liked it, and when you should read it.... Is it a beach read or a curl up on your sofa and cry for five hours read? Is it a good read when you need to give yourself a pep talk or when you are going through a break up? These are things you need to know before diving into this type of time commitment!
A big reason why I think reading has become such a love of mine is because it is something you can do to escape in any situation. To me it is a stress relief. If I am feeling sick and miserable I can always pull out a book or put on an audiobook. It requires no physical activity and no contact with other humans so when you suffer from a chronic illness, that honestly sounds like paradise. I can bring books when I am in the hospital, waiting for doctors appointments, getting Remicade infusions, or taking a bubble bath. I can also use books to help calm my anxiety. I find that being outside of my own world for a little while really helps me to reset and come back into a situation more leveled. When you are reading you are 100% focused on something that isn't anxious thoughts running through your brain. I think about it like I do a workout class. Workout classes are therapeutic for me because for an hour I am responsible for zero other thoughts than focusing on my workout. Reading is the same, only a workout for your brain and imagination.
Anyway, I'm starting today by posting three beach reads to Amazon Prime for the long weekend. Grab a cocktail, dig your feet in the sand, and enjoy. (Cocktail recommendations also included).
My first pick for a beach weekend is "The Husband's Secret" by Liane Moriarty. For all of the "Big Little Lies" fans out there, this book was written by the same author so you know it will be full of plot twists. "The Husband's Secret" is one of those books that you just become obsessed with and can't put down until you are done.
The whole premise of the book is a wife finding out something from her husband's past that was kind of A REALLY BIG DEAL, that he wasn't planning on telling her. Immediately you are questioning what you, yourself would do in this kind of situation. Do you do the "right" thing? What even is the "right" thing? Cecelia (the wife) struggles with holding onto this secret that would 100% really throw a wrench into everyone's lives if she says something, but how can she live with her husband now? The books follows not just Cecelia's journey but also other women in the town and their internal struggles that are all somehow related to this secret. I found myself getting super attached to the characters and NEEDING to know what happened next. It isn't a super long read so it is perfect to knock out if you have a weekend at the beach or a solo weekend to yourself. There will most likely be some tears and some feelings of WTF, but that's what makes books like these good. I personally think this pairs best with a wine spritzer or a big glass of Pinot Grigio.
Next up is something a bit lighter, but totally wild. "Pretty Mess" by Erika Jayne is SUCH a good vacation read. It has the perfect mix of holy shit I can't believe that really happened moments with an equal dose of the sassy, savvy, personality that we know and love from the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Even if you aren't an avid Housewives watcher, this book is still a good read. In this memoir, Erika Jayne takes you through all of the ups and downs of her life and how she reached her level of fame and success. She spills juicy details about everything from her dancing days to her marriage, while focusing around the theme of making it work and getting what you want on your own terms. All done while give zero effs about what anyone thinks about you. When you close this book you will feel empowered to be a total badass, and maybe want to dance on a table. Best paired with a spicy margarita, extra spicy.
If you are looking for a productive read while you are relaxing in the sun, "Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t" by Steven Pressfield is a winner. If you are a blogger or writer, this one is certainly a must read, but it also is valuable for those whose professions don't revolve around the written word. While the book does focus around leveling up your writing abilities, I took it as how to level up your communication in general. We are telling stories all day and communicating in some way with an audience. This book is all about making sure you are adding value and interest in the way you are communicating and leading the audience to where you want them to go. This book challenges you to look inward and reflect on how you tell stories, share facts, and overall deliver what you want to say everyday. It delivers a bold statement that we can all use to gain a little more self awareness. This book is best paired with a spiked coffee, because you are going to be inspired to get working and get your shit together after reading this one.
All of these books you can buy physical copies of or you can purchase them via Audible! I'm a big fan of having a book in hand, but for long drives Audible is a life saver.
Drop a comment and let me know what types of books you want recommendations for and any genres that are you favorite! I can't wait to hear what you guys like to read and what you think of these recommendations!
Enjoy the long weekend!
Happy Thursday! I'm popping in to give a quick scoop on some fun things I can't get enough of right now. I've been trying to decide a good way to round up things I'm obsessed with for a long time. I'm experimenting with a little recurring feature on the blog to see what we think. So here we go, ready to kick this thing off.
Danny Pellegrino's Podcast, "Everything Iconic"
This podcast is one that I can't get enough of recently. I listen to it while I get ready in the morning, driving to meetings, while I take bubble baths at night, like ALL the time. Danny cracks me the FUCK up and puts me in such a good mood. He recaps Bravo shows (sometimes shows from other networks too) in the most hilarious ways. The best part are his "Danny Detours" where he talks about the most random stories that have me truly crying laughing in my car.
Better Wine Co. Nitro Rose
This stuff is so freaking good. I randomly found it at the liquor store and then realized it was made locally. Like true Maryland pride, ya'll. It's super light and tastes so good. The alcohol level is pretty on par with a can of beer so it is a perfect option for summer day drinks. Since I can't drink beer I always come in too hot with a wine at the pool at noon deal and I'm sleeping by 2pm #canthang. This might be the answer, but also, two cans of these and I'm still asleep, so who knows.
#JackieOFlow Instagram Presets
MY GIRL. Jackie O from The Morning Toast (which I am also obsessed with) launched two kick ass sets of Instagram presets to keep the flow good. I bought the indoor set and have been using them like crazy. They have such a bright aesthetic which is refreshing when the Gram seems to be mostly washed out or orange AF these days. 10/10 Highly recommend.
Lancome Monsieur Big Mascara
The mascara I didn't know I wanted, but I needed. I have been on a mascara journey since a year ago when I had the traumatic experience of having to get ride of my lash extensions. I looked like a sad, naked mole rat for a few months and am still trying to recover. My lashes have never been the same and I have been back and forth between mascaras. This is my favorite one yet. Truly it is. Tons of volume and length but not clumpy. Also not cheap, but I'd say worth it. Honestly, if I wasn't three margaritas deep and super sleep deprived on Cinco de Mayo, this purchase probably wouldn't have happened. I am oh so happy it did though.
This should require no explanation. One of my favorite shows to ever grace my television screen. Also, the reason I spend many nights Zillowing houses in Charleston, SC.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending my first ever Create & Cultivate conference. I’ve been wanting to go for a couple of years now and finally I was able to make it happen. Let me tell you, all of the hype I gave this event was totally warranted. The displays and installations were incredible enough to make the ticket well worth the cost. Live flowers, Insta worthy walls, and the most perfectly on brand decor was abundant. On top of the aesthetic, the content that was delivered was top notch and the room radiated serious girl boss energy.
I went with Amy (a la AmyScripts) and it was both of our first times attending Create & Cultivate. Since we were both rookies, we didn’t know what to expect at all. I mean we knew to expect as far as the content and flow of the day but as far as the dirty details and insider tips, we were pretty clueless. There were a few things that I wish a C&C veteran would have been able to share with us beforehand to help us prepare and make our day even better than it already was. I am volunteering myself, as the (now) experienced attendee, to share some insight onto what to expect and a few tips for making the most of your Create & Cultivate experience. Before I dig in, I will say, these are just my opinions based on my experience. Yours may be different if you attended in a different city or even if we attended the same conference! I want to hear your thoughts and tips! Please, please share! And, last, if you are looking for a recap of the event, you can watch my play by play via the Create & Cultivate story highlight on my Instagram.
Okay, here is the scoop…..
1. Dress for the day
This seems SUPER obvious but what I thought I should be wearing was not practical and definitely not sustainable for all day wear. I tried to dress cute but comfortable but also in something the represents me and my brand. My floor length kimono was cute in theory but was literally dragging through dirt by the end of the day. Plus, I was really cold. You certainly should pack a jacket and not make the rookie mistake I did. I didn’t understand that a lot of the event was going to be outside so I needed to be able to layer up or layer down based on the time of day and temperature.
I really tried for practicality by wearing heels but bringing flats. I wore my heels for a grand total of 30 minutes all day. And it was truly a pain to carry them around in my bag for the other 10+ hours. Next time, I am wearing comfortable flats and not bringing another option. There were tons of girls in the most adorable outfits with sky high heels, and if that works for them then go ahead babe, but for me I am not fun to hang out with when I am in pain.
Next time I’m opting for a more casual vibe; either jeans and a cute top or a jumpsuit paired with cute flats and a denim jacket of some sort. I’m telling you guys, I would have been SO much more comfortable if I would have followed this advice.
I've pulled together some items on my 'must have' list for next time.
2. Bring a big bag
*With extra room in it. The amount of swag and free stuff you get throughout the day is truly jaw dropping. I found myself wildly under-prepared to tote around my new goodies in my already stuffed (thanks unnecessary heels) bag. Next time I will probably go with a small bag to carry my essentials and a cute and large tote to store everything else. If you are traveling in from out of town to attend also keep this in mind. The gift bag alone is enough to set your luggage over the weight limit so make sure your re packing light and preparing to carry home your loot.
Here are a few of my suggestions:
3. The start time is a suggestion not a requirement
When it comes to schedules I love to abide. Having a solid plan and knowing where to be and when are two things that speak to my soul. That being said, it gave me MAJOR anxiety when Amy suggested we show up around 9am when the start time was 8am. Turns out, she was right. The world didn’t end, and this is a strategy I will follow next time. Create & Cultivate is a SERIOUSLY long day, so unless you can handle a 14-16 hour excursion, you need to get savvy with your scheduling. The morning schedule leaves a lot of down time for checking in and grabbing coffee/breakfast. We used this time to check out the pop ups and additional activities, which was great, but honestly, we could have fit that in later in the day. I also recommend prioritizing the panels you want to attend. If the morning panel isn’t hitting home with you as much as one of the keynote speakers at the end of the night, you may want to skip out in the morning so you can be engaged later in the day. By time we were exhausted, mid afternoon, we were seeing a whole new group of ladies roll in fresh faced and ready to go. They got the memo on how to do it!
This brings me to my last tip...
4. Prioritize and pace yourself
All of the pop ups, activities, speakers, and photo ops can be overwhelming. They jam pack the day with things to do so you are continuously engaged. I went into the day convinced that I needed to check every booth off my list and do absolutely everything. Have to get my money’s worth, right? That was another expectation that was wildly unrealistic. Going into the day, you have to prioritize what you definitely want to do/ what is worth waiting in line for, and make sure to plan accordingly. Getting to everything, while potentially possible, would be downright exhausting. Prioritizing and pacing yourself can ensure you have a fun day while still getting the most out the conference and not burning yourself out.
Create & Cultivate NYC was such a beneficial experience, like I really feel like I got a lot out of it. I came home inspired and ready to channel my inner boss babe. Now that I have the “insider tips” I can’t wait to see how great of an experience I have next time. To be honest, I considered booking a flight so that I could attend the Self Care Summit in Los Angeles in a couple of months, but somehow resisted. The next time C&C is on the East Coast, consider me in. Now, you have the tips to make the best of your Create & Cultivate experience, too.
So, tell me... have YOU been? What tips do you have that I should add to my list?
Saying a little proactive cheers to the weekend today. I’m counting down the days until this Friday when I’m going on a much needed long weekend girls trip to New York City. Amy Scripts and I are headed to Create & Cultivate. We’ve been dreaming of attending this conference for years and now that we finally have the opportunity, we’re making the most of it with a jam packed weekend in the city that never sleeps. As crazily excited as I am, anytime I look forward to an event, I enter the situation with an overwhelming amount of anxiety that honestly really sucks. There have been countless times that I’ve looked forward to events or trips, only to be hit with a Crohn’s flare or complication that has put a damper on my day. That’s the reality of IBD and while I can’t eliminate the possibility of feeling sick, I can make sure I am armed with the proper tricks up my sleeve to help me stay feeling as good as possible.
I scheduled my Remicade for today (a Tuesday ugh), but I needed to have it before the trip so I’d be feeling as good as possible. I stocked up on all of my prescription and OTC meds to throw in my extra large tote bag. And I’m making sure to throw ample amounts of DripDrop ORS packets in my purse. Everyone has their own way of navigating IBD and for me this is how I do it. I know certain things that will make me sick and avoid them. Then there are other things I have no idea will affect me until my digestive systems makes up its mind that day. When I’m traveling, I’m constantly eating at new places and trying new foods and cocktails. I’ve mentioned this before, but trying out a city’s unique cuisine and cocktails is one of my favorite things. IBD you’re not stopping me from that! I know the chances of me having a reaction to a food I eat out is higher than making something at home, but let’s be real, I’m going to NYC.... girl’s gotta enjoy herself. Where I’m really careful though (and where DripDrop saves me) is in the cocktail department. You know I’m a fan of a rosé or a cold glass of champagne, do not get me wrong, but the dehydration risk really does freak me out..... no matter how many times you see me post #roseallday.
Let me tell you, when you’re already dehydrated (thanks Crohn’s) and indulge in a few alcoholic beverages, things can take a bad turn. Most likely you’ll end up extremely hungover with GI symptoms to boot. Not fun when you’re trying to have a lively girls weekend, not fun when you are trying to make the most of your days exploring a city, and not fun when you are sharing a bathroom. SOS.
That being said, I am not saying see ya to my favorite NYC cocktail spots (While We Were Young and Pietro Nolita, I’m looking at you!). Life is about BALANCE. And enjoying the heck out of yourself when you get a well deserved break. After indulging in a couple beverages I make sure to drink a packet of DripDrop in my water before I go to bed AND when I wake up. This helps me to feel so much better when I get up in the morning and keeps my body from experiencing those negative impacts of dehydration. It’s like my secret weapon for not feeling like a total hungover human. My favorite packets to use in this case are the full serving sticks that you mix into 16oz of water.
This also makes me super popular on group trips because everyone is asking me for DripDrop. How popular now are those services who give you in home IVs to cure your hangover? I’ve basically got that in a little pouch. Dehydration is honestly one of the worst feelings and I’m incredibly happy that I won’t have to deal with that mess this weekend. I’m not saying this means you can go out and get college drunk and feel fine. I’m saying that you can enjoy celebrating with friends, trying cocktails at an event, and trying that bottle of wine you have no idea how to pronounce. You can live life without the constant anxiety of how dehydration will impact you. You can avoid that pit in your stomach that makes you feel like you are going to miss out. You can feel a little more like your 27 year old self who just wants to laugh with her friend at dinner and cheers to celebrating a well deserved weekend off.
Photos by Madison Short
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.