How to Apply False Lashes: The easy way!


I have been attempting to create this video for an embarrassingly long time! I've shot footage multiple times, but each time the close up shots have gone out of focus, or just looked so awkward I couldn't bring myself to attempt to edit and finish the video. I finally invested in a new, table top tripod that allows me to manipulate the camera's positioning so much easier, and it helped so much!

For anyone who's wanted to try falsies, or who has but didn't have luck, here is my simplified tutorial video on how to do it, as easily as possible. I hope you like it! :)

Trader Joe's Treats: A compilation of grocery guilty pleasures

Trader Joe's is like a toy store for food. Filled with novelties and joyful surprises, yet not lacking the basics, I genuinely look forward to getting groceries at Trader Joe's each week. The cherry on top of my shopping experience tends to be the friendly cashiers who often comment on how smiley I am. How could I not be smiley when I'm buying sparkling wine and marinated mozzarella?! How is anyone buying food from Trader Joe's not smiling? Explain this to me because I don't get it.

Even amongst a veritable treasure trove of fabulous foods, I still have a few items from TJ's shelves that stand out to me, and when my friend Morgan of Mrs. Priss asked if I'd like to do a Trader Joe's collab, I couldn't resist taking this opportunity to share ten of my favorite treats with you.

The Thinking Blonde's Top Ten Trader Joe's Treats


#1 Sweet Sriracha Uncured Bacon Jerky

If you've ever had candied bacon, and thought that was good, but you also like spicy foods - this is your holy grail splurge. Perfectly spicy and not-too-sweet, these thick-sliced pieces of cooked, ready-to-eat bacon are basically sticky strips of heaven. I had to stop buying them when I started on my weight loss plan last spring, because I can't trust myself to stop at one serving. Maybe I'll let myself try again after the one year mark of having lost the weight. If you have better self control than I do, you should buy a package and enjoy some for me, too, because these are one of the most satisfyingly complex tasting foods I've ever eaten.

#2 Marinated Mozzarella Braid

This tender, chewy piece of quality mozzarella is marinated in herbs, garlic, olive oil and crushed chili. It's delicious cut into small pieces on placed on an appetizer tray, or if you're not that fancy and just want to tear off pieces to snack on, well - you won't be alone! If you don't like spice, this may be a bit much for you, as the crushed chili packs a little kick. 

#3 Toffee Chips

Have you ever eaten See's Candies Molasses Chips? Like them? Then you'll love these. Trader Joe's Toffee Chips box boasts both dark and milk chocolate covered toffee rectangles that are significantly thicker than the Molasses Chips and every bit as good (for about half the price). 

#4 Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches

These are truly sublime. The dense, chewy and soft cookies are like homemade chocolate chip cookies with the perfect amount of sweetness and that tiny saltiness that makes chocolate chip cookies taste really good. The little chocolate chips rolled on the outside of the sandwich add great texture, and the ice cream is rich and smooth, and very vanilla-y. They're not remotely diet friendly, but every bit as good as a trip to an ice cream shop, if not better.

#5 Creamy Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce

As an Italian, I am risking extreme scrutiny and judgment by saying what I'm about to say, but I'm a woman of authenticity and truth, so I must be forthcoming and share with you that: THIS IS MY FAVORITE PASTA SAUCE OF LIFE!! There. I said it. I love, love, love this sauce, and as long as I have it and some random pasta in my cupboard, I will always have a dinner option in my house no one complains about.

#6 Joe's Diner (Frozen) Mac 'n Cheese

If I ever have to choose a final meal, it would definitely be macaroni and cheese. If you want to pack a really yummy frozen lunch for work sometime, and don't mind it not being calorically in line with Smart Ones or Lean Cuisine, this Joe's Diner version is rich, creamy and loaded with real cheese. No powdered cheese sauce packet here. No time to bake up the homemade version yourself? You won't feel like you're missing out choosing this TJ's comfort food fave. 

 #7 (My dogs' favorite treats!) Chicken Breast Wraps

Our family has three sweet mutts, and though I'll admit, I'm probably not as picky about their food as I should be, I really don't want to buy them mystery-playdough-meat treats pressed into the shape or bacon or cartoonic t-bone steaks. These chicken breast wraps are clearly made from actual chicken, so I feel good buying them and my dogs love eating them.  

#8 (my skin's favorite treat!) TJ's Spa Face Wash

This refreshing, gentle yet effective cleanser smells great, is infused with tea-tree oil (a natural acne and bacteria fighter) and helps keep my skin clear. I often use it with my Clarisonic in the shower. Since I use a very moisturizing, heavy conditioner on my hair, I always wash my face with this face wash after to help ensure my hair products don't end up clogging my pores. It seems to be doing a great job of keeping my skin near my hairline clean and clear. 

#9 Balsamic Glaze

My husband and I LOVE balsamic glaze. If we go out to eat, and something on the menu is described as being accentuated with a balsamic glaze, we're sold. "Dried out crusty fishing boot with dirt clod side and old weeds salad, drizzled with balsamic glaze and..." "YES. We want this." (Ok, exaggerating slightly.) I love to sauteed halved brussel sprouts in olive oil, salt and pepper, then, when tender toss them with this glaze and a little crumbled bacon. My whole family loves that dish, in fact, we actually fight over seconds. I never would have thought we'd fight over brussel sprouts!

#10 Mini Milk Chocolate Bars

When I was a kid, I loved me a plain Hershey bar, but as an adult, they taste greasy to me. These Trader Joe's Mini Milk Chocolate Bars offer the perfect snap (a mark of good chocolate, or so I've read) when you bite into them, and they don't taste greasy at all - just smooth, rich and delicious. These are my favorite treats to keep high up in a cabinet for myself on rough days, and I don't feel too guilty reaching for them because they're perfectly portioned and just 100 calories each. (Each bar will give you 5 solid bites, these aren't as mini as you might expect!) 

Now that you know my ten favorite treat items from Trader Joe's, I'd love it if you left me a comment with some of your favorites that I might be missing! For ever more Trader Joe's joy, hop on over to Morgan's blog to read up on her current faves from our food happiness haven here!


Building a Makeup Toolkit from Scratch (with printable shopping list!)


One of the questions I am asked most frequently is, "What blush, lipstick, foundation {insert cosmetic product here} do you like best these days? What should I get?" It's no secret among my friends that I am a beauty product junkie, and I get a lot of enjoyment from trying as many new products as I can get my hands on, to see what performs best. I can't afford to buy them all of course, but I do buy more than what I believe the average person does, and I put each item to the test to see what's actually stellar, and what's mostly hype before I recommend it to others.

I've found over the years, that a lot of my favorite products are inexpensive and available at the drugstore or Ulta Beauty on the less expensive side of the store. I've also found a few high-end products that trump every other product in its category. 

As a way of helping those who may not enjoy trying beauty products in mass quantity the way that I do, I've put together a list of favorites, separated by category, that I feel confident in recommending based on personal experience and/or research. 

Below, you'll find a link to a printable shopping list that provides you with suggested products from foundation to mascara and everything else you'd need to create a basic makeup kit for yourself. Keep in mind, this isn't an advanced kit - I'm not including things like shimmery highlighters, setting sprays, pigments and cream contour products - this is a list of awesome staple products, and the quantities needed to create, what is in my opinion, a fantastic starter kit for anyone looking to try new makeup or just starting out in creating a makeup routine. 

Please note - there may be other products out there that are also amazing, and I just haven't personally discovered their awesomeness just yet, so don't discount something or feel like I disagree with your personal favorite, just because it isn't on this list! :-)

I hope you you find this tool helpful as you wander the cosmetic aisles
near you! 

XOXO
-Nat

Click here for the FREE Printable Makeup Shopping List!

January 2016 - Stitch Fix Review!

It's been awhile since I've done a Fix reveal, and I finally was able to set aside time during daylight hours to get some semi-decent photographs of the clothing from a Fix actually on myself - so I thought I'd share with you the items in my most recent box + a bonus item I haven't previously shared online, from two Fixes ago.

I'm hardly a fashion blogger, and even less a fashion model, so please bear with my photos. I feel really strange in pictures by myself/selfies - but I really wanted to show you what these cute items look like on an actual 3D person, so I suppose I'll suck up my insecurities and hope for the best!

 

Item 1

The first item in my Fix was the Abela Open Cardigan from Skies are Blue.


I received this cardigan in teal, which is a color I typically enjoy, and the style of cardigan seemed nice - a good potential layering piece. I was a little concerned about the ribbing on the arms, because sometimes if the arms fit snugly, and the ribs become curved with the shape of my arm, it can make my arms look bulkier than they are. This rib issue did occur, and kind of bothered me, but I didn't hate the sweater. Ultimately however, I felt that the sweater wasn't quite unique enough to justify its price ($48) and I thought I'd be able to find something similar at Target or somewhere locally for less if I really felt I needed something like it in my wardrobe. Verdict: Not kept.

 

Item 2

The next item I received was the Nilla Button Back Sweater from Pixley
 

Mustard yellow/gold is one of my favorite colors to wear, and my stylist Michelle mentioned in her note to me how happy she was to find such a great sweater in one of my favorite shades to send to me. This sweater was incredibly soft, and though I wouldn't call it thin, it was relatively light weight and didn't add a lot of bulk despite its textured weave. In theory, this sweater was amazing. Unfortunately, on me - it didn't quite work so well. I think the fit was supposed to be oversized, however on me, it looked like it was supposed to be a fitted sweater that was too big. Also, the cute wooden buttons that went down the back of the sweater brought the eye to my backside curviness in a not so great way. Prior to returning my unselected Fix items, my good friend tried on this same sweater - and it actually looked great on her! We have a different body type, and the sweater looked oversized in the right way on her, and really cute, so she decided to buy it from my Fix. Verdict: Not kept (for myself) but purchased by my friend.

 

Item 3

The third item in my Fix was one I was really excited to receive - the Shara Herringbone Vest from 41Hawthorn.


This vest is almost identical (if not actually identical) to one I've admired on one of my favorite fashion bloggers, Audrey from Putting Me Together.

If you haven't read Audrey's blog before, but would like ideas on how to put outfits together for those of us not on a Prada-Gucci-$300 jeans budget, she does a fantastic job of creating a formula for make many cute outfits out of a few key layering pieces. Check out her "Building a Remixable Wardrobe" series to learn more, it's wonderful!

Audrey's blogged about this vest and how to style it several times, and it really opened my eyes to the versatility of vests and made me want to find one for myself. Apparently, my stylist read my mind and sent me the exact vest! On me, the vest looks slightly bulkier than it looks on Audrey, but I still really like it. I was surprised at how much warmth it offered, despite the fact that it's not super thick. I'm looking forward to finding more ways to style this item with the current items in my closet and hope to find a few more basic long sleeve tees, perhaps on end of season clearance locally to pair with it as well. Verdict: Kept!

 

Item 4

The next item in my January Fix was the Yancy Plaid Top by Skies are Blue.


I have to admit, right off the bat I didn't love the colors in this otherwise cute plaid top. I just have a weird aversion to yellow being with black and red. Yellow and red make me think, "McDonalds. Fast Food." Yellow and black make me think, "Bees. Roads." I dunno. Together, this color combination just isn't feminine to me, and I prefer more feminine clothing, personally. The cut of the top is cute, and the contrasting inner fabric is a fun touch, too, but ultimately, I didn't feel this top did much for me and I just didn't love it. Verdict: Sent back.

 

Item 5

This last item, the Ashford Reversible Plaid Scarf by Octavia, was such a win in my book.



I've jumped on the plaid blanket scarf bandwagon this year (yes, I realize I'm a full year behind the trendy people, who figure out this trend last winter) and I requested a blanket scarf from my stylist. She sent this, stating she felt it would bring out my eye color and I absolutely love it and have nothing else like it in my existing winter wardrobe. One of the neatest things about this scarf, is that it's reversible - so I can wear it with one of two patterns showing, or, depending on how I tie it, I can wear it with both patterns showing, making it almost like three scarves in one. Verdict: Kept it!

 

Bonus Item:

 



The last time I received a Fix, money was a bit tighter as the holidays were coming, and I didn't want to spend too much money on myself. I did however receive one top in my Fix that I just loved, and I haven't found anything locally that I loved as much, in a similar style - so I kept it. Here is the Hover Lattice Detail Blouse I kept from my December Fix. The fabric is so soft and silky and I love the dainty flowers and navy background. It's a very lightweight top, so I will probably save it for warmer days, but I look forward to wearing it more soon!

Your Thoughts?

So, what do you think? Did I make the right calls on my most recent Fix?

Overall, I just genuinely love receiving my Fixes. It's such a fun experience, and I try things that I never would have thought to try, because they're there - right in my home, selected just for me, the least I can do is give them each a shot! Often, trying something on helps me to open my mind to new styles and outfit combinations, and that helps me when I do shop at local stores, too - because I become more willing to try things I previously would have dismissed. If you haven't tried Stitch Fix yet, I highly encourage you to give it a shot. Come into the process with an open mind and a willingness to reach outside your comfort zone a little bit, and I'm willing to bet you'll be pleasantly surprised!

Stitch Fix generously provides their customers with a $25 referral credit when new customers try the service using referral links. If my posts have inspired you to try Stitch Fix, I'd be so very, super-duper grateful if you'd consider using my link when you setup your own Fix. Thank you so much! (I encourage anyone who is a customer to share their links with friends and family too, it's a wonderful way to receive beautiful clothing at a lower cost, while helping those you love look fab, too!)

Last Minute Gift Ideas - My 5 Personal Favorites

Just in case you're at a loss for what to get a lovely lady in your life, here are the 5 things I have absolutely been loving in my own life, and would highly recommend:

1. Skechers Chugga Boots or Goga Go Flash Sneaks


These are the most comfortable shoes I've ever owned. I walk about 3-4 miles a night with my good friend, year round. I've had the Go Flash sneaks for about a year now, and they are made with a recycled yoga mat insole. If you'd like to feel as though you're walking around on supportive marshmallows all day, these are the shoes for you (or your gift recipient of course!). The Chugga Boots are ankle height fuzzy boots with a memory foam insole. Since the weather has gone cold, I've been wearing these on my night walks, and they are super warm and comfortable. I even wore them throughout a long day in Disneyland and my feet felt great! Similar warm fuzzy boots have totally flat, not supportive insoles and I hated every pair I tried, but the Chuggas are winners. You can get the Go Flash shoes at the Skechers Outlet on Blackstone or at Kohl's, and the Chuggas should be available at the outlet as well. Worst case - you could pay for one-day shipping on Amazon. ($35-60)

2. Tarte Energy Noir Palette
Image via Sephora

I may or may not have purchased this for multiple people on my Christmas list and myself. I LOVE this little palette! What's neat about it is that every color is very wearable and flattering. Often people end up buying a palette for a few colors they fall in love with and tolerating/ignoring the rest. This palette is the exception and I use every single shade in it. (Not necessarily in the same look all at once, but you know what I mean.) This is also the perfect travel palette, as it has liner colors, blush, highlighter and eye shadows that all coordinate, so you can cut down on what you pack and just toss this pretty and study palette into your bag. This palette can be purchased locally at Sephora. ($38)

3. Stitch Fix Gift Card

Stitch Fix is a personal styling service that hand picks 5 articles or clothing or accessories that they think would look fabulous on a person, based on their carefully completed style preferences and body type profile. The 5 items ship straight to the house so the recipient can try them all on, and they come with a prepaid mailing envelope so it's easy to return items that aren't keepers. Stitch Fix is great for people who love clothes or trying new styles, are too busy to shop (or can't enjoy shopping with kids in tow), those who are tired of seeing the same styles at every store, or people who say "I have no idea how to put cute outfits together, but I want to!" If you purchase a gift card, you'll be able to print it out and place it in a card for presenting, and you can put any amount you like on it. They can schedule a shipment (called a Fix) anytime, and there is no commitment to get more (but it's perfectly possible to request more). The amount you put on the gift card will cover the styling fee ($20) and clothing the recipient chooses to keep up to the value of the card. The price of each piece varies, but can be somewhat controlled by your recipient when she fills out her style profile.

P.S. A similar service, not affiliated with Stitch Fix, for men is Bombfell.com :)

4. Knit Infinity Scarves in solid colors

Image via Target
I adore these and pretty much never feel like I could have too many. Most women I know love them too. Easy to pick up locally at Target. (Check Target.com for specific store availability before you go so you don't end up driving all over town.)

Suggested scarves:
Option 1
Option 2
Option 3 (This is a shorter scarf, not recommended for women who are self conscious about having a "round" face or double chin, etc. - which is a boat I've definitely been in in the past - a great choice for thin women and women who are often cold.)

5. Contigo Coffee Thermos
Image via Contigo

I LOVE this coffee thermos. I love it because it keeps my coffee hot for a long time and auto seals after each sip. I only need one hand to drink from it and it fits in my cup holder. Everyone I've recommended them to (or gifted them to) loves them, too! You might be able to find a two pack at Costco (dare you brave Costco today) but for sure you can find them individually at Target. (Be sure to look for the one-button, auto-seal version.)



Two Years of Stitch Fix Personal Styling Service - My 8 Favorite Items (So far)

Yesterday was one of my favorite days - it was "Fix" day! I received the email from USPS telling me my Stitch Fix package had been delivered at home pretty early in the day - but it was a busy day at work full of deadlines and I forgot about it until I was heading home. Coming in the door and seeing that box inside the entry (my mom was watching my kiddo and had brought it in for me, thanks Mom!) put a big smile on my face! Even when I don't love everything in my Fix, it's still really fun to come home to a mystery package. It's like a mini-Christmas morning.

Since it’s been quite some time since I’ve blogged here on my personal blog, I’ll quickly explain how Stitch Fix works, in case it’s something you may be interested in, or know something about but need more information on.

How Stitch Fix Works:

Stitch Fix is a personal styling service that’s accessible at a reasonable price, which provides you with a box of 5 carefully selected pieces of clothing or accessories, mailed right to your home. You can sign up for a Stitch Fix account and schedule a Fix (shipment of clothing) any time. When you first create an account, you’ll complete a personal style profile that will give your stylist information about your sizes, favorite colors, styles, fits, least favorite colors and styles and your body type. You will also be able to add the price ranges you are comfortable with for each type of clothing.

When you request a Fix (can be done on a subscription basis, monthly, every 2-3 months, alternating months) or on a one-time basis (these is NO ongoing commitment required! A lot of people don’t realize this) you will pay $20. This $20 is your “styling fee” however, it will also be applied toward the cost of any item you receive that you decide to purchase. When your Fix arrives, you’ll have three days to try on your items and decide what you like. Whatever you want to keep, you simply keep, and your $20 styling fee will be deducted from the purchase total. Anything you don’t want goes into a prepaid, preaddressed envelope that’s included with your Fix, and you simply mail it back to Stitch Fix. Easy-peasy!

Stitch Fix is especially great for people who struggle to put outfits together, have little time to shop or are tired of seeing the same things in stores and want to try something different. It’s also really helpful when you have a special occasion and need a specific type of clothing. Each time you request a Fix, you’ll have a chance to send your stylist a note about what you’re hoping to see in that shipment. (The more specific you are, the better!)

Another nice thing about Stitch Fix, is that they are generous with referral credit. Each time you refer someone new to the service, and they receive their first Fix, you get $25 in Stitch Fix credit to use toward your next Fix! (That can add up to a lot of free clothing!) If my blog or posts about Stitch Fix have helped you decide to give the service a try, I’d be so appreciative if you wouldn’t mind using my referral link. Thank you so much in advance! J (And be sure to share your own link afterward with others, so you can enjoy the referral credits, too!) Click here to use my link. (You are the nicest ever! Thank you!) Questions about Stitch Fix? Feel free to leave me a comment or email me!

And now... on with the rest of the post!

I received two items in this week's Fix that I absolutely love and am keeping. I like them so much, that I thought, "These definitely rank up there in my favorites ever received from Stitch Fix..." which then made me think, "Hey, this is my two year anniversary of using Stitch Fix! I should do a blog sharing my favorite items!" 

So, bear with me, as I am nowhere near being a talented fashion blogger - (if I try to stand in that cute way other bloggers do, with their toes turned in and their knees slightly bent, I just look pigeon-toed!) and I felt super awkward taking photos of myself with a tripod, but I really wanted to show you the clothes, as I know personally it helps me a lot see how clothes fit on a person rather than hanging on a hanger. 

Favorite Items 1 & 2 (worn together):

Pulling on my cardigan because I've seen that in pictures of people cooler than myself.
Not sure if it's working for me. Oh well. I tried. :-P
41Hawthorn Abrianna Longsleeve Knit Cardigan in Navy
I have gotten so much use out of this open cardigan. I love the length, the soft, lightweight fabric, the color (you'll quickly notice a pattern in my favorites on color... one I didn't even fully expect!) and the fit. I believe I received this in my February 2014 Fix, and I still use it all the time. Every time I travel, I always pack it as a layering option I know that I'll enjoy wearing. (I've also received this cardigan in a sunny yellow shade, which I like too, though the navy is more versatile.)

Underskies Abby Pintuck Sleeveless Blouse
This blouse has a lot of feminine detailing, which makes it a total winner in my book. It has buttons down the back, pin-tucks down the front and the laser-cut lace/scalloped bottom hem is really cute, don't you think? The blouse also has a little bit of stretch to it, making it comfortable to move around in. In the summer, sometimes I'll wear it alone, but it's also a great layering piece year round.

Favorite Item 3:

I'm looking at my dog chewing up something he wasn't supposed to be.
But, pretend I'm daydreaming and gazing at the horizon or something cool like that.
Street Level Huron Reversible Magnetic Closure Tote (Vegan)
I really enjoyed using this tote as my summer purse. It's really big, even big for me, who is used to large purses, but it's also really lightweight, so as long as you don't overload it (just because you can, given its capacity) it's very comfortable to carry. The inside of the bag is white, and it's completely reversible (though I confess, the soft gold was so pretty, I didn't end up reversing it this past summer) making it even more versatile. 

Favorite Item 4:
Side head tilt means I really like this cardigan! Or... I'm tired of attempting to look less awkward in photos. Or both.
Market and Spruce Margerie Stripe & Dot Open Cardigan
I just received this cotton knit cardigan in this week's Fix, but I absolutely love it. I get really excited when sleeves extend halfway down my hand. There's something very cozy and comforting about it to me, and this cardigan does that. It also has contour stitching that keeps the back and sides from becoming so flowy that it gives me a boxy shape - so that's a really great added touch. I'm pretty much in love with all things navy and white, so the color scheme was an instant win with me, and the handkerchief front drape actually balances out the contour stitching and keeps the cardigan casual instead of blazer-like. 

Favorite Item 5:

I'm wearing a scarf and a tank top because it was hot when I took this. It's like Uggs and shorts.
Both combos = bad. Do not try this at home.
Octavia Tina Checkered Infinity Scarf
Oh how I love this scarf! It is SO warm and cozy and soft! I got so much use out of it last year - I wore it constantly on my evening exercise walks with my neighbor, and most cold weekends with jeans and booties. I liked wearing a simple long sleeve black fitted tee, burgundy cords, black booties and this scarf a lot. I think it was my favorite winter outfit in 2014. Often, large infinity scarves look goofy on me, they get too bulky and make my neck disappear, but this one, it just works. (At least I think it does. Please don't burst my cozy, plaid bubble.)

Favorite Item 6:

Oh hai rubber Fitbit! So fashiony. Oops.
Corinna Striped Dolman Top
This was the second item I received in my most recent Fix, and I absolutely love it. A quick Google search revealed that it actually comes in several colors too, so I'm kind of hoping my stylist Michelle can send me another one next month. (If you like it, buy it in every color, right? Kidding! But maybe two colors...) The fit and drape of the top is really nice - not so baggy that it adds bulk to my appearance (I don't think) and the stripes going down the arm vs. across is slimming compared to the alternative. I am sure I'll be wearing this top a ton this fall and winter.

Favorite Item 7:
Suddenly realizing these shoes are very blah! Hindsight is 20/20.
Andrew Marc Brodee Envelope Collar Sheath Dress
I had requested a dress to wear to a fundraiser and I received this. I tried it on and immediately fell in love. At the time, I was about 25 pounds heavier and having a very hard time finding a dress I felt confident enough in to wear in public locally, so when this dress arrived and fit nicely and comfortably, I was so happy and relieved. I thought the neckline was classy and unique and the sheath style minimized my backside, while still giving me a waist. While taking photos for this blog post, I realized that sadly, I think the dress may be a little too big now, but I like it so much, I may just have to take it to get altered. I don't remember the exact price, but I do remember being pleasantly surprised that it was less expensive than I expected it to be.

Favorite Item 8:

Um, didn't realize I was bald behind my ear! Interesting.
Papermoon Crissy Space-dye Cross-back Knit Tee
When I saw this top in my box, I was feeling lukewarm about it, but when I put it on, I just really fell in love. The fit, lightweight fabric and crisscross back make the tee unique and feminine. One thing I must say - the placement of the pocket on my particular tee seemed a bit off for me, so I actually very carefully removed the pocket using a seam ripper and sewed it back onto the tee in a spot that seemed to work better. I'd never sewn a knit before, and I wasn't sure if I'd be successful, but thankfully, I was and I'm really glad because this is a favorite weekend tee now.

Final Thoughts...
Though these 8 pieces are those I consider my top faves right now, there are many other close runner ups. Stitch Fix has been a really fun service over the last two years for me, and I do plan to continue using it. I've had a few so-so Fixes here and there, but I've found that by adjusting my profile, leaving specific notes for my stylist and linking her to my Pinterest style board, I've been able to communicate my preferences better and improve what I receive. Overall, I would say about 80% of my clothing has come from Stitch Fix in recent years, and I would highly recommend the service to others. *Of note, currently, Stitch Fix carries sizes 2-14 and maternity clothes. There is not yet a men's or plus-sized option, however based on popular demand, I would be willing to bet it will happen in the future. (I hope so!)



Ten Fantastic Beauty Finds Under $10

I have the bad habit of getting super excited about makeup, then passing that excitement along to friends and unintentionally being the source of them overspending at Ulta. (Oops!)

So, I thought that today I'd share with you 10 absolutely fantastic beauty finds, all under $10 each! That way you'll feel glamorous and you and your checking account will still be on speaking terms.

In no particular order, here are ten products I adore, that I'm willing to bet all my mascara that you'll love too!


Body Lotion: Suave Moroccan Infusion (under $5 at Target)
I tried this when samples were being given at the entrance to Target one weekend, thinking it wouldn't be life changing, buuuuut my hands were dry so why not? Turns out it is life changing! This lotion absorbs super quickly, making it fast to apply and it spreads really well - 6 pumps takes care of my entire body after a morning shower. (2 for each leg, 1 for each arm, 1 for my neck and shoulders and 1 for stomach and back) And, the best part? My skin still feels silky and soft late at night when I'm getting ready for bed.



Eyeliner: NYX Super Skinny Marker ($9 at Target)
This felt tip marker style liquid liner is easy to apply, even if you struggle a bit with lining your eyes because it's point it very small and precise, making it easy to control. The liner itself is super black and dries matte (I have black eyeliner that dries shiny personally) and it stays put without smudging all day long.


Mascara: Maybelline Lash Sensational ($6 at Target)
This stuff is such a win for me! (Yes, I talked about it in my recent post about fab new finds as well - but it's definitely sticking around as a major favorite!) Volume, length, definition and a curved brush all in one product? Finally, my holy grail mascara has been found! Just buy it. Seriously.


Lipstick: Lippie Stix from Colour Pop ($5 online, Colour Pop)
Colour Pop is a relative newcomer to the cosmetics scene, but they're making a major impression with their gorgeous "powder-gel" Super Shock eyeshadows and gorgeous lip sticks and liners. Their "Lippie Stix" come in a slender white tube and the product comes out in a slender stick as well, allowing for a nice, precise application. Their satin and glossy formulas feel amazing on the lips and look fantastic, too! Their wide color range makes it easy to find a favorite and the low price makes it possible to purchase a few.


Eyeshadow: Makeup Geek Single Pan Shadows ($5.99-$9 online, Makeup Geek)
Self-confessed Makeup Geek and YouTube beauty guru Marlena offers one of the most fantastic lines of eyeshadows out there. Each comes in its own magnetized pan, making it easy to place into your own palette. (Z-palettes are a great option for creating custom palettes for your favorite shades). Marlena's entire line offers shades every bit as stunning and varied as MAC Cosmetics for a lower price and contain quality ingredients with minimal fillers (more fillers = less pigmentation). My favorite shades are Peach Smoothie (the ideal blending, crease shade) and Grandstand (from the Foiled shadow collection) which is a gorgeous bronzy rose metallic which looks beautiful all over the lid.


Blushes: Milani Matte Baked Blushes ($7 at CVS)
So far the matte baked blushes are only available in two shades, but both are phenomenal! The brighter, bubble gum pink shade looks beautifully sheer on and the deeper shade would be amazing on medium to deep skin tones.


Hair Product: TRESemme Tres 2 ($4-$6 at Target or CVS)
This is the only hairspray that tames flyaways, helps support curls in typically stick-straight hair and doesn't leave your style looking stiff, dried out and like a helmet. It's fine spray preserves volume and softness. HIGHLY recommend. End of story - it's fantastic!


Nail Product: Essie Good to Go ($8 at Target)
If you find yourself putting off painting your nails because they take so long to dry and you hate being paralyzed for an hour after you do it, you'll love Good to Go! You can literally layer on two coats of your favorite nail color, then paint on Good to Go and your nails will be dry and shiny as a gel manicure in 2 minutes. It's an absolutely fantastic product that I no longer ever paint my nails without.


Lipgloss: NYX Butter Glosses ($5 at CVS, Target and Ulta)
These glosses feel as smooth as... well, butter! And the shade range is beautiful! There lightly fruity-vanilla fragrance adds to how pleasant they are to apply and the comfort in wearing them takes the cake. They have become a staple item for most of my makeup loving friends.


Soap: Dove original beauty bar ($4 for 2 bars at Target)
Never, ever, ever underestimate the power of Dove soap. It works miracles! It is amazing not just for the body, but for the face. Breaking out? Use Dove. Dry skin? Use Dove. Sensitive skin? Use Dove. It is a powerhouse in a palm-sized package. It's the gold standard in my house and has been for years. My husband won't even use anything other than Dove.




My Favorite Beauty Products of 2014

First of all, I know it's almost February, and I probably should have completed this post sooner. But, on the other hand - hey, January is still hanging on by a thread while I write this so it could have been worse! :-)

For my favorite products of 2014, I decided not to choose one product for every single type (i.e. primer, moisturizer, BB cream, liquid foundation, etc. etc.) but instead I chose the products that I picked up time and time again throughout the year (or constantly once I purchased them if later in the year) and that I know I would repurchase. A good way to determine how much you love something is to ask yourself if you'd replace it if you lost it - I learned that from my organization and decluttering mentor, Ashley, and I think it's such a great rule of thumb!

So, for 2014 these are the items I would have definitely and immediately replaced if I lost them:

1. Hoola Bronzer by Benefit (Macy's, Sephora, Ulta, Benefit online, $28)
Hoola is my ride-or-die, tried and true favorite bronzer. It's deep enough for skin tones darker than my own, but natural enough for fair skin. It's not too warm, so it never turns orange-y and it doesn't have any obnoxious glitter or frost to it. I used to think the brush that came with it was useless, but the more I learn about contouring and highlighting, the more I realize it's actually quite cool. Though Hoola isn't the cheapest product, I find that it lasts me a solid year or more, even with very frequent use. It's finely milled, pigmented but blendable formula makes me always come back to it, no matter what other bronzers I test during the year.

2. Good to Go Fast Drying Topcoat by Essie (Target, Ulta $8)
This was a new-to-me product in 2014, and ohmygosh did it change my life. What's amazing about it, is that you can literally slap on two coats of your favorite nail polish, then add a coat of Good to Go and your nails will be completely dry in less than five minutes. We're talking pull clothes out of the dryer, change the sheets dry. And that's dry people! Not to mention I find the shine to be fantastic and to give a nearly gel-like appearance to my manicure and chipping has also been minimized. Gone are the evenings where I had to set aside a solid hour to paint my nails and let each coat dry for what felt like ages in between, thanks to this magic stuff. Plus, I've recommended it to a minimum of ten people who've tried it, and they all are just as in love with it as I am it seems.

3. Maybelline Lash Sensational (Drugstores/Target, under $7)

I believe this mascara came out in mid-fall but I fell hard and fast for it. I'm always a fan of a curved brush, I feel like it's just easier to work with and build length with, and this curved, rubber bristled brush is fantastic in my opinion. The top bristles are long, and I use them to build up my top lashes and also lengthen them, whereas the bottom bristles are shorter, making it easy to dab them on shorter, bottom lashes without making a mess on the skin beneath the eyes. I have not had flaking or smudging with this mascara, and it comes off relatively easily with soap and water. This mascara gives volume, length AND definition (the nearly impossible lash trifecta!) and the black is deep and rich. This has become my #1 mascara, even surpassing Urban Decay's Perversion (though that is still a top three runner-up, along with Milani Runway Eyes and Almay Triple Effect).


 4. Mac Mineralize Lipstick in Dreaminess (Macy's, Mac stores or online, $22)
This lipstick is my favorite. It's just so very lovely. I in fact did lose it, and did buy a replacement, but shortly after found the first one and was still happy to have two. At $22 it is a splurge, so I don't use it every day - but whenever I'm feeling a little blah or want to just grab something I know will work for me, this is a sure bet. The formula is very creamy and soft and the opacity is medium to medium-heavy, so if you are like me and want your lips to actually appear the color of your lipstick vs. a skin + lipstick mish-mash, you'll like this formula. Dreaminess is a perfect mix of pink, with hints of purple and nude. Not too light, but definitely not dark, it's just fantastic.

5. Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette (Ulta, Sephora, Too Face Cosmetics online, $50ish)
If I had to choose one eyeshadow palette and that's all I could use for my eyes each day, this would be the one. First of all, it's infused with real cocoa powder, so it smells amazingly like chocolate cake and that's just a delicious experience in and of itself - but besides that, this palette's mix of neutral mattes and metallics range from pale highlights to perfect mid-toned blending shades and deep liner-worthy colors are just endlessly versatile and universally flattering. My only complaint about this palette is that the names of the colors were printed on the plastic insert that came with the product, but not on the permanent product package - and that would have made referencing shades used in tutorials a bit easier.

6. It Cosmetics Your Brows But Better (YBB) Retractable Pencil (Ulta, $20)
I have almost no eyebrows of my own, so brow products are super important for my daily routine. When you literally have to create an eyebrow each day, you worry a lot about things like sweating, the summer, Zumba, swimming, and oh yeah - not looking like you drew your eyebrows on with a Sharpie. Though it was a close match between this YBB pencil and Anastasia's Brow Wiz, ultimately, I feel the YBB wins by a hair (pun intended) because it stays put better when exposed to water/sweat. Both have fine tips that allow you to draw small, hair-like lines precisely and though YBB comes in just one universal shade, I find that it works just fine for me.

7. It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Concealer (Ulta, $24)
This is something I discovered through my monthly Ipsy subscription (if you're not familiar, Ipsy sends you a cosmetic bag filled with 5 beauty/hair/skin products once a month for just $10, and the products always well exceed the $10 you spend) and instantly fell in love with. You only need the teeniest, tiniest dab of this product that melts between your fingertips and erases away under eye circles and imperfections immediately. This concealer lasts all day, is waterproof and won't sink into fine lines - in fact, it has anti-aging ingredients, too. Seriously, it's simply a stellar product.

8. Gerard Cosmetics Lip Gloss in Sugar Mama (Gerard Cosmetics online, $24)
Oh how I adore the Gerard Cosmetics glosses! They're really more of a shiny, liquid lipstick than a gloss and they are incredibly creamy, pigmented and opaque. A tad bit sticky (if you can't handle a MAC Lipglass, these may bug you a little bit) but in my experience if you want a long-wearing color, you have to put up with a tiny bit of stickiness. Honestly though, it's not that bad (if it were, these wouldn't be my favorite gloss formula on the market, and they definitely are) and the color range is just amazing! Sugar Mama is my favorite pink lipstick topper. It's pale and almost completely opaque, so it lightens and brightens anything it's layered with. I just reordered this for the first time and I used the first tube almost daily for a solid 9 months - that speaks to the pigmentation of the product because you literally just need a tiny bit for each application.

9. NYX Butter Glosses (My favorite shade is Eclair, available at Ulta, CVS & Target, $5)
I think I own 6 if not 8 of these in different colors, but Eclair is my favorite. If you can't handle any stickiness in your gloss, you'll love the Butter Glosses. Not sticky at all, just creamy and beautiful the Butter Glosses offer medium to sheer opacity (mostly medium) and a wide range of flattering colors. So comfortable to wear and delicious-smelling, you'll look forward to applying these pretty lippies.

Mac Dreaminess, NYX Eclair, Gerard Sugar Mama (left to right)

10. MAC Powder Blush in Coppering (Macy's, MAC stores, $22)
Though Coppering is not my first MAC blush, it quickly became a most-reached-for shade throughout the year, especially in summer and fall. Coppering doesn't look exceptional in the packaging, but on it is just so amazingly flattering and pretty. It's almost a warm peach with a hint of rose, but it seems to make everyone look fresh, healthy and a little tanned. MAC blushes last forever, too, which is nice. (Though I use them almost daily, I've still yet to repurchase any because there's tons of product left.)

Now, it's your turn! I'm dying to know, so please do share... what were your favorite products of 2014? (If you have a post about them, please comment with your link, too!)


Stitch Fix Reveal: January 2014


This month's box was my favorite to date! So much fun to open and try on. I was instantly excited to see navy peeking out of the box, and happy to find gold-toned jewelry as well. I have requested Michelle as my stylist for the last several boxes, and I'm really pleased with her taste overall. I can't wait to share these items with you - so here we go!

Item #1: Aleah Heathered V-Neck Dolman Top by Market and Spruce



I wasn't sure if I'd like this top, as it's very drapey on top, with a wide v-neck, but when I tried it on, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the fitted sleeves and waist made it quite flattering, yet still very comfortable. The deep teal blue color is very nice and the fabric is lightweight so this can easily transition to spring and even summer for days spent inside the office. (Maybe with crisp white pants or capris?) Verdict: Kept it.

Item #2: Benetton Striped Cardigan by Renee C


 This is a little bulkier than what I typically like to wear, seeing as I'm slimmer up top than below - so I like to keep tops and sweaters sleek and feminine - but, this sweater is actually really cozy and it's navy and white - a favorite color combo. I thought it would be cute to throw on with a white tee, jeans and boots for those cold early spring baseball games I'll be watching my son play. Verdict: A little bit of a style stretch for me, but kept!

Item #3: Kristan Ruffle Knit Blazer by Market and Spruce




So... this is totally my all-time, hands-down favorite Stitch Fix treasure yet. I am SO in love with this adorable blazer! First of all - though it looks structured and nice enough for meetings at work, it's made from a silky smooth, stretchy navy knit making it crazy comfortable! The chiffon ruffle detailing on the back of the blazer stretches down to cover my behind a bit, which is very nice - and the ruffle is flat, so it doesn't add poof back there (Lord knows I don't need any more poof there). I'm pretty sure I'm going to wearing this a LOT. In fact, I've already worn it once this week and I just got my box on Tuesday! ;-) Verdict: KEPT.

Item #4: Phelan Abstract Chevron Print Short-Sleeve Blouse by Collective Concepts



I typically love black and white clothing, and I love chevron, but to be honest I'm not totally in love with this broken chevron pattern. It seems a little busy to me. I like the pleats down the center of the top, the sleeves aren't too snug, they actually fit well - and the v-neck is nice. Unfortunately, the waist hem of the blouse is a bit snug on the hips (like most non-stretchy blouses on me) and I'm just not in love with the silhouette of it. Verdict: Sent back.

Item #5: Leighton Metal Bauble Necklace by Pixley



When I first saw this necklace in its box, I wasn't sure if it was going to feel cheap - judging by the texture of the gold discs, but when I took it out - I realized the necklace was nicely weighted and well made. The length (which is adjustable, too) is very nice at all points, making the necklace versatile for many different top styles and necklines. Verdict: Kept.

So there you have it - my favorite Fix yet! If you receive fixes and blog/Instagram/share them online somewhere - please link me in the comments, I love seeing what other people get!

If you haven't tried Stitch Fix yet - you totally should! It's SO fun! I look forward to it every month, like Christmas morning 12 times a year. :-) You can do a one-time fix too, you don't have to commit to monthly fixes and YOU set the price range for each item. Ready to try it? It's just $20 to have your Fix personally selected for your taste, and you can use that $20 towards any item(s) you decide to keep. I'd be ever-so-grateful if you'd use my referral link (box below) to get started. Thank you from the bottom of my clothes-loving-heart! :-)

Click below to get your own Fix!





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