November 4, 2016

Five on Friday | Sephora VIB Rouge Wish List

Happy, happy Friday! Only a few more hours of work stand between me and another Penn State weekend. As usual, I’m excited to be heading up to State College to watch PSU take on Iowa under the lights. But today is also another important day – the beginning of the 20% off at Sephora for VIB Rouge members! I have an on-going wish list of items from the beauty store, so for today’s Five on Friday I’m sharing what I really, really want this time around.

1 // Drybar Big Blowout Bundle

Right now I’m using a cheap hairdryer from Target. It works, but it’s slow and bulky. I haven’t actually held the Drybar dryer in my hands, so sadly, I don’t have a true idea of its size and weight, but it gets great reviews. The included curling iron, brush, clips and styling spray are all items I would absolutely use, too. Even with the 20% off I’m not sure I can justify this price tag, though.

2 // Josie Maran Nirvana Hydrating Treatment Mist

I had my foundation done at Sephora last week and the makeup artist used this spray to finish off the foundation. My skin is so incredibly dry and peeling (Already! We don’t even have the heat on yet!) and this spray added some great moisture without ruining the makeup. I’d love to get one to stash in my office at work and another to keep at home.

3 // Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush Palette Color Wheel

I freaking love blush. It might be my most favorite makeup product, seriously. And Tarte is my current favorite brand for blush. The colors and pigments of the Amazonian Clay products really are as great as the reviews say. This colorful palette is definitely getting added to my cart!

4 // Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Face Cream

Again, with the dry and flaky skin! I have the Fresh serum but I’d love this to layer over top at night. I currently use the Ahava daytime moisturizer, which I highly recommend, but I’m looking for a nighttime option. Fresh is such a great brand, too.

5 // Viseart Eyeshadow Palette

People went absolutely batshit crazy over these palettes last year; I swear I saw them on every blog and every YouTube channel! The price is so, so steep for shadow, in my opinion, but it’s on my wishlist in the neutral and cool matte options. It’s too much, though…right? Someone needs to talk me down off of the eyeshadow ledge. I already have some great palettes and I’m not an every day wearer of shadow, but they’re so pretty! Decisions, decisions.

So those are my top five Sephora wish list items. Is there anything I’m missing? Have you tried anything on the list and loved/hated it? Recommendations are always, always welcome!

Linking up with Five on Friday!

October 28, 2016

Five on Friday | Welcome, Weekend!

Happy Friday! I’m so glad to see this week behind me. Jason had his wisdom teeth out on Wednesday and I was sick, so we made a lovely pair sleeping on the couch in our pajamas all afternoon. Fortunately, we are both on the mend and looking forward to a great weekend! I’m keeping my fingers crossed for another Penn State win as the Lions take on Purdue in West Lafayette and I’ll be enjoying the game with some spiked cider and donuts from the farmer’s market.
I’m glad to be linking up with Five on Friday again this week – this time sharing a few random life updates. Ready? Okay!

1 // Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

With both Jason and I under the weather this week, I took the opportunity to make some chicken noodle soup, and I must say it was one of the best batches I’ve made in a long time! I wish I had taken photos and been more careful with the recipe so that I could share it here and remember exactly what made it so delicious. Oh well, I’m sure there will be more opportunities to perfect the recipe and share it this season.

2  // Boo Baskets

My coworkers are “Boo-ing” one another with little baskets filled with Halloween treats! The baskets are put together along with a little poem and dropped on the desk of an unsuspecting coworker as a holiday surprise. I received my Boo Basket on Thursday morning and put two together to surprise people with this morning. I haven’t picked my recipients yet but I can’t wait to share in the holiday goodness!

3 // Fall Décor

Speaking of Halloween, I just couldn’t find the motivation to decorate for the holiiday this year. I did manage to grab a few pumpkins and some mums and put them out on the front porch, but that’s the extent of it. I’m looking forward to continuing to purge and clean out our house, so hopefully that will be done just in time to pull out the Christmas decorations!

4 // Junior League of Harrisburg Fall Tailgate and PSU Viewing Party

Our JLH fall fundraiser has been announced! Our League is hosting a PSU viewing party on Saturday, November 19th at 7pm. We’ll have food, drinks, a silent auction, and lots of cheering! Penn State takes on Rutgers that evening, and you better bet I’ll be there screaming for the Lions and bidding like a crazy person on the food-related silent auction baskets. For any local friends who want to attend, please let me know!

5 // Weekend!

Honestly, I can’t even come up with a legitimate 5th for my five today! I’m just so happy it’s almost the weekend. Tonight I’m volunteering at a Dress for Success event, which is a cause I can completely get behind. After that, I cannot wait to put on some sweatpants and binge watch How To Get Away With Murder with a warm drink and a snuggly little dog. Does anyone have any other exciting Friday night plans?

October 26, 2016

Autumn Reads | Book Reviews

Earlier this week I posted a little poll on Facebook asking for book recommendations. I’m well into my goal of reading 52 books this year, but I’ve recently hit a standstill after finishing my backlogged pile. Thanks to my friends and family, I have a few books that I picked up from the library last night and a few more that I’m on the waitlist for! If you’re looking for a good read to curl up with this October, here are a few I’ve recently finished and loved:

1 // The Woman in Cabin 10 – Ruth Ware

This murder mystery was a Book of the Month choice that I passed over in August. However, after reading reviews I knew I needed to get my hands on it, and I’m glad I did! This novel follows Lo Blacklock, a travel journalist aboard the maiden voyage of a luxury yacht. On her first night, she hears (or thinks she hears) a woman being murdered in the cabin next to hers. But Lo is an unreliable narrator, and I found myself wondering what was true and what was being covered up. Pick this one up and read it in a day or two!

2 // Siracusa – Delia Ephron

Oh my goodness I loved this book, if only for the oh-so-talented writing style that is Ephron’s. Told from alternating points-of-view, Siracusa chronicles an Italian adventure full of deceit, love triangles, and of course food and wine. The different voices of each adult character (Lizzie, Michael, Taylor and Finn) were so perfectly written and captured the turbulent thoughts and feelings that each one was experiencing. This was another Book of the Month choice, and I’m so happy I picked it!

3 // The Curated Closet – Anuschka Rees

This book by the author of the minimalist blog Into Mind has been the perfect jumpstart for helping me create my capsule wardrobe. Although I know myself well enough to know that I will never be a true minimalist, I am concentrating on paring down my wardrobe and becoming a more conscious consumer. Anuschka helped me work through my closet and understand that a curated selection of clothing that I love is more important than having a true capsule. One of the most helpful parts of The Curated Closet was taking photos of outfits for a few weeks and using those pictures to analyze why or why not I loved what I was wearing, as well as how I felt in the clothing. I’m still in the process of solidifying my wardrobe after a KonMari purge, and this book has really helped me plan by solidifying a color palette and creating a specific list of what I need to fill in wardrobe gaps. If you’re a fan of Anuschka’s blog, I definitely suggest picking up the book! (Disclosure: I received The Curated Closet from

4 // The Devil in the White City – Erik Larson

A non-fiction book that seems like it can’t possibly be true, The Devil in the White City has a dual focus: the building of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and the disappearance of women (and men) who came to Chicago to take part in this once-in-a-lifetime exposition. While reading this book, I had to remind myself that it was a completely true story. Building the World’s Columbian Exposition in the late 1800s seemed almost impossible as it was, but add in the murderous mindset of Dr. H.H. Holmes and this is a book that just seems unreal. I’ve had this book on my “to-read” pile since last year, and I’m unsure what got me to finally start reading it, but I’m glad I did. If you love historical fiction and twisted murder, this is a great story to check out!

So those are the most recent books I’ve finished; is there anything else I should add to my list? Too many books is never a problem!

October 24, 2016

Weekending | Penn State Wins!

What a weekend! Saturday marked one of the most exciting Penn State games I have ever attended! For those of you who may not love college football like I do, please allow me to share with you that PSU pulled off a HUGE upset against Ohio State on Saturday night! The spread was 17.5, and while I had 100% full faith that the Lions would easily stay within 18 points of the Buckeyes, I was one of the 107,208 people in in Beaver Stadium who witnessed a comeback win with shock and awe.
Anna, Jason, my friend Kim and I all loaded up Dan's truck (sorry you missed such an awesome game, dude, but thanks for the truck!) on Saturday morning and headed off to Happy Valley to watch the game. It was freezing cold and somewhat rainy on Saturday, but obviously we stuck it out. The game was a White Out, which make such a great statement under the lights. The game was all over the place - it would get exciting, calm down, and it seemed like there were so many TV timeouts that paused the action and slowed everything down.

Obviously the most exciting moment of the game was Penn State blocking OSU's field goal attempt at the end of the fourth quarter and running it back 90 years for a touchdown. Or maybe the most exciting moment was the two sacks against JT Barrett at the end of the game. Who knows? All of State College was absolutely going crazy and I'm so glad I was part of it!

This weekend's game easily ties with the best game I ever attended at Beaver Stadium against OSU in 2005, where PSU pulled out another after-dark win! It's regarded as one of the best Nittany Lion home games, and I would certainly agree. I don't think I could talk for three days afterward because of all of the screaming and cheering I was doing, which seems to be par for the course as my throat is still sore today!

How did your team do this weekend? The college football rankings are certainly shaken up a bit today, right?!

October 21, 2016

Five on Friday | Fall Favorites

Happy Friday, friends! This was a pretty short and easy week (thank goodness!) and I have an exciting weekend coming up. Tomorrow is Penn State’s White Out game against Ohio State, which will be chilly but fun, I’m sure. It’s a night game, too, so that leaves plenty of time for tailgating beforehand.

Anyway, today I’m linking up for Five on Friday and sharing some of my current favorite products. There’s skincare (duh), food, clothing…no discriminating with this week’s favorites! Here’s what I’m bringing to today’s virtual party:

1 // Soap & Glory Hand Food 

Dry fall weather = icky skin, especially on my hands. This hand lotion is my new must-have for those dry and peeling hands! As with the other Soap & Glory products I've used, it has a strong scent but it fades nicely and the quality of the lotion outweighs any smells. Plus it's only $8 for a tube that's over 4oz, so it's basically a steal. I purchased it at Ulta and will probably gift everyone a tube of it for Christmas!

2 // Merona Bi-Stretch Modern Ankle Pant

These slightly cropped dress pants are my new favorite for work. They're very, very similar to the Exact Stretch from The Limited, but with a slightly thicker (read: more coverage) fabric. These pants are so comfortable that I don't mind sitting in the office for eight hours and then running errands in them after work. I picked up the dark teal shade and I'm going to try to hit up another local Target for the burgundy. The colors are gorgeous and perfect for this time of year, plus the price point of $27.99 can't be beat. Get yourself to Target before they're all sold out!

3 // Tate's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since I started allergy shots over the summer, I've been eating wheat-free to help reduce some of the residual inflammation in my body as a result of being allergic to basically everything. Fortunately, it's not too difficult to find wheat-free products on the market these days, and the best one I've found so far is Tate's Chocolate Chip Cookies. The reason I love these cookies more than their wheat-filled counterparts is because they're so perfectly crisp and crunchy. If you're a lover of soft-baked cookies, these aren't for you. If you like thinner and crispier cookies, give these a shot, even if you're not wheat (or gluten) free!

4 // Sunday Riley Luna Night Oil

So this cult-favorite nighttime face oil is the absolute furthest item from a bargain on this list. It's incredibly expensive at $105/bottle and seemed so over-hyped to me, but it really has been amazing for my skin. I'm always afraid of using any retinol product in the summer because of all the time I spend outdoors, so this is the best time of year to start a new product. I apply this oil after I wash my face at night and I wake up to soft, hydrated skin. I have a fairly large sample of the Sunday Riley Good Genes which I'd love to try in combination with this, but right now my skin is feeling so wonderful that I'm afraid to change anything. 

5 // Candles

Now that fall is officially here and the weather is chillier and more damp, I've been burning candles at home more frequently. I'm by no means a candle snob and I've been rotating through my Voluspa Apple & Blue Clover, Bath & Body Works Pumpkin Pecan Waffles, and Grove Collaborative Blood Orange. They're all equally fantastic and leave the house lightly scented long after I've blown out the candle. What are some other good autumn candles I should try out?

So that's what I'm currently loving, although  I'm sure I'll find even more favorites soon! I have a box of skincare samples to try and some apple recipes saved on Pinterest, so be on the lookout for another edition of fall faves soon ;) Anything else I should be on the lookout to try?

October 5, 2016

October Spending Freeze

I could spend half of an afternoon reading posts about spending freezes and scouring Pinterest for budget ideas and templates. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems as if no matter how much money I have coming in, it seems to leave just as quickly! Now that I have a new job, I need to be more conscious of what I’m spending my hard-earned dollars on. What better way to do that than implementing a spending freeze for October!

Although we’re already a few days into the month, I’m committing myself to a “no spend” month. Why “no spend” in quotations? Because of course I’m going to spend; there are bills to be paid and groceries to be purchased. What I’m talking about is banning all excessive and non-planned spending. I’ve already budgeted my $100 allowance for the month, and that cash will have to last me through happy hours, Junior League events, and work lunches. If I tell myself I’m not allowed to buy lunch out at all or force myself to only drink water at a restaurant, I’ll hit the wall fast and end up saying “SCREW IT” to the whole plan.

I’ve chosen October for this challenge for a few reasons. First, I’m hoping to get some extra mileage out of my birthday. When my parents asked what I wanted for my birthday gift, I requested a 10-pack of classes to my favorite barre studio. Second, the holidays are coming up quickly and I’d like to have a little extra cash in the bank for the unexpected holiday spending that always seems to pop up in December. Finally, I have a pretty busy schedule this month, so I won’t be tempted to shop out of boredom. Plus, there’s so much that needs to be accomplished around the house, and this is the perfect month to take care of that to-do list that I’ve been putting off.

As far as the big events I’m aware of for the remainder of this month – two Junior League happy hours, two JL meetings, book club, two home PSU games and one away game, a JL fundraiser, a Dress for Success gala, and our four year wedding anniversary – a plan is in place and I’m ready to go. I’ve withdrawn some cash, hidden my credit card, and gathered as many coupons as possible. Plus, I’ve decided that if I have a gift card, I’m allowed to spend it, as it’s not money that affects my bottom line. So here’s to this month’s money challenge. Bring it on, October!

October 3, 2016

Weekending | Sports Edition

Another Monday, another weekend behind us! This past weekend marked another trip to State College for a PSU game, which will be a frequent event this month.

My sister and I decided that between no one to watch the doggies and the rainy forecast in Happy Valley, we wouldn't drive up early and tailgate before the game this weekend. It actually turned out to be a great decision, as we sat in ZERO traffic on the ride up and the ride back. Our parking spot was perfectly convenient, it only spritzed rain for about 15 minutes, and Penn State pulled off a win in overtime! Aside from a very rude player from Minnesota being ejected from the game on an unsportsmanlike conduct call for a late hit on my #1 fave player Joey Julius, it was a great game to be there to watch. 

Sunday was spent being lazy and watching NFL games, all while stalking MLB scores to see if St. Louis will end up in a playoff game for the last NL Wildcard spot. As I'm typing this, it isn't looking likely that the Cardinals will wind up in the postseason, as San Diego is beating Los Angeles in the 8th inning. Whomp.

This week is slated to be a busy one, between extra hours at work to help out, meetings, happy hour, and cleaning up our disaster of a home, I certainly have my work cut out for me. I'm so glad October is finally here, though! It means I'll soon be celebrating my birthday and our wedding anniversary, and I'm trying to convince my sister and her husband to do a nighttime corn maze with Jason and I. Seriously, between college football, NFL games, and the World can you beat October?

September 19, 2016

Weekending | Junior League, Football, Beer, Brunch

Welcome back, Monday! I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend. I can't believe this past weekend was the actual last weekend of the summer. It certainly didn't feel like it - the weather was cool at points, the pool wasn't open, and I didn't have a single hot dog all weekend! Lucky for me, I had Friday off of work, so I spent some time saying goodby to summer by swapping my summer wardrobe to fall. That task itself has made me want to Konmari everything all over again - I just have too much clothing! So that weekend task will take me a few more weekends, I'm sure of it.
On Saturday, the Junior League of Harrisburg put on its second "Super Saturday" event, which is a crash course where new members learn about our organization's history, our setup, how we contribute to the Harrisburg community, plus all of our signature events. It's a 3.5 hour day that really crams in a lot of information, and this year all of the new members took it in stride! I'm especially thankful to our current members who came out to help present. Y'all are the greatest!

After Super Saturday, I settled down at my parents' house to watch the second half of the Penn State game. Obviously, my most favorite person on the team is the kicker, Joey Julius. Watching how excited he gets when he has the perfect kickoff always makes me smile! 

The moment the game was over I headed to the Friends and Family sale at Athleta. Now that I've been taking barre classes on a regular basis, I've learned that the Athleta leggings are my absolute favorite for workouts. I also picked up a few tops and a pair of yoga pants (for lounging, not yoga!). Today is the last day of the sale and it's 25% off your purchase. I highly recommend the Sonar leggings and the Fastest Track Tank!

I rounded out my Saturday by attending a Beer and BBQ Fall Fest, which was a fundraiser for the Harrisburg YWCA's Camp Reily. Camp Reily is a summer day camp for children in the Harrisburg area who may have otherwise not had the opportunity to spend time at camp during the summer. The camp offers swimming, sports, a color run, hiking, and field trips. My friend, Caitlin, and I sampled a few beers, ate some delicious BBQ, and talked with quite a few people. Overall, it was a great event for a great cause and I can't wait to go back again next year!

Sunday, of course, was brunch day. And nap day. And football day. It should have also been laundry day, but that just wasn't happening. This week, I'll be winding down at my current job at the airport and starting up my new job just across the street from the airport in HR. I'm beyond excited to have this opportunity to learn more about this industry that I just can't get enough of! I should also probably get back to that goal of purging my closet...who wants to come help me do it? I'll buy you wine and let you listen to My Favorite Murder. And you can keep the clothes! 

September 12, 2016

Weekending + A Lazy Recipe

So how was everyone's weekend? Mine was equal parts fun and relaxing with a slight bit of disappointment from Penn State's loss thrown in. I was off work last Thursday and Friday for a minor outpatient procedure, so I got a few extra days to do nothing, which was a welcome event. 

Saturday my sister threw a 30th birthday party for my brother in law, which was so much fun and only slightly tainted by the outcome of the PSU - Pitt game. As much as I love going to games and being at Beaver stadium, it was so nice to be able to go right home and not have to wait in traffic and sit in the car for 2+ hours. Such a first world problem, right? Sadly, I only took one photo the entire afternoon, which means it was a good party, but I'm shitty at social media. There's always Kinsey's birthday on Thursday to make up for it!

The food spread was delicious, and I brought my Pinterest-favorite "crack dip" to share. It's so easy to  make that calling it a recipe would be a cop out, but I'll share anyway! It's a 16oz container of sour cream (go for the full fat kind!), a bag of shredded cheddar (about 1.5 cups), a packet of dry ranch dressing mix, and a container of bacon crumbles (I used Hormel, found in the salad dressing aisle of th grocery store). Mix it all together and serve with tortilla chips. So simple and so addicting. It's probably a good thing I don't make this every weekend!

Sunday was rounded out by cleaning the basement and watching some NFL games. I feel surprisingly relaxed and ready to head back to work, despite the fact that this is a busy week coming up. I've got my to-do list ready and a Starbucks gift card burning a hole in my wallet, so let's get this thing started, Monday!

September 7, 2016

101 in 1001 {An Update}

101 in 1001 | List | Goals

This seems to be the week of updates around here! I'm less than a year out from the end of my 101 in 1001 list, and I'll be honest - I haven't made much headway on it. Of course, circumstances have changed and I know that some of the items won't be crossed off the list, but I'm still trying to accomplish as many as possible. It's been quite a while since I last updated it, and it served as a nice reminder of things I'd like to do in the near future. Here's what I've accomplished recently:

10.    Visit three out-of-state friends - I'm almost there! I need one more trip. Anyone in a far-away location want a visitor? 
14.    Host a brunch for Junior League members - Done! It was small, but it was awesome. Mimosas, bagels, and girl talk on a rainy Sunday. Can't wait to do it again!
20.    Send a surprise package to a far-away friend - Check! I sent my friend Katie quite a few packages while she was deployed. It was so much fun putting everything together to create a fun surprise for her.
38.    Save for and plan kitchen update - So this isn't quite happening like I'd imagined. However, I'm being flexible and instead of a big kitchen re-do, Jason and I have picked out some new paint colors for the entire downstairs. We're also doing low-budget updates, like adding a backsplash, painting the cabinets, and adding some shelving. 
49.    Create a jewelry storage system - I'm calling this one finished. Instead of creating storage, I just purged my jewelry and kept my few favorite pieces. My rings live in a ceramic egg crate, my necklaces hang in my closet, my bracelets are on a display rack, and my earrings are in little tiny ziplock bags. Simple!
57.    Take a new-to-me group fitness class - I started barre in March and I love it! I've been going on a very regular basis since then and it's so great to have a workout I look forward to.
66.    Complete a Whole30 challenge - This may or may not happen. I'm currently not eating wheat as a result of allergy tests, which has me feeling great, but I'm not sure I'm willing to commit to the entire Whole30.
78.    Clean out closet and donate / give away / toss all clothing I no longer wear - Almost finished with this one! I have about 35 more items to take to the consignment store in September and then I can cross this one off!
83.    Go to a Harrisburg or West Shore Symphony Orchestra performance - I went to a concert with my parents in July! It was wonderful and I can't wait to get to another one.
90.    Find an organizational system for all of my digital photos - Done! I backed all my photos up and now I regularly upload to Dropbox and organize them.
99.    Find and join a book club - So I didn't find a book club, but I started one! We had our first meeting last week and I can't wait to continue this new little tradition.

So that's where I am with everything as of now. I'm excited to work on some of my decorating related items (front door wreath! Christmas lights!) next season and travel plans (Boston! Charleston!), too. Do you have a 101 in 1001 list? My entire list can be found here!

September 2, 2016

Five on Friday | Tailgate Edition

Tailgate - Football - Penn State - College - Blog

Happy Friday! I'm extra excited for this weekend because it marks the beginning of Penn State football season! Tomorrow morning I'll be loading up the car to head up to State College to see PSU take on Kent State. In honor of my favorite fall event - tailgating - I've rounded up five of my favorite tailgate items. Happy Valley is frequently mentioned on the "Best Tailgating University" lists, and it couldn't be more true. Let's Go State!

1 // Corkcicle Canteen - This insulated bottle is my new addition to my tailgating arsenal this year. It holds an entire bottle of wine and keeps it cold for over 24 hours! Not that I need the entire 24 hours to spend drinking prior to the game, but it's a great way to avoid glass bottles in the cooler. When I'm not in State College, it makes a great water bottle for work!

2 // Sunglasses / Sunscreen / Hat - I know north of the Mason-Dixon, college football and tailgating seem to be synonymous with jeans, comfy sweatshirts, spiked hot chocolate, and riding boots, right? But the first few games of the season can be quite warm and sunny, so sun protection is a must! Spending all day outdoors can be so rough on skin and we're not all young undergrads anymore, so cover up and don't get sunburned!

3 // Hot Dogs - Judge away, but a tailgate is not a tailgate to me without hotdogs. Early game, late game, whatever. These are the perfect food to eat one-handed while you're balancing a beer or a cornhole bag in your other hand. Top it with onions, cheese, mustard, relish, whatever, and enjoy!

4 // Portable Speaker - You'll find most tailgates in Happy Valley have their own source of music, ranging from pre-game radio shows to top 40 hits. Personally, I'm a big fan of an iPod playlist with classic rock with a few Blue Band marching tunes mixed in. Nothing better than getting pumped up with a sing-a-long to Sweet Caroline followed by the alma mater!

5 // A Community Spirit - Cheesy? Totally. But tailgating is such a great way to feel like part of a fun party community on a Saturday morning. Forgot your paper plates? The guy parked next to you will gladly share his. Need another member for your cornhole team? There's plenty of people around who want to play. Some of my most favorite college memories involve singing, drinking, cheering, and playing all while getting pumped up to watch football on a fall morning. I can't wait to get back there tomorrow morning!

Is anyone else planning on getting out to tailgate and cheer on your favorite team tomorrow? Get pumped for college football, people! WE ARE!

Linking up with Five on Friday today!

August 30, 2016

Summer Reads {Part I}

2016 Summer Reads | books | reading | novel | Book of the Month Club

Growing up, summer was always the time of year when I read the most. Our local library had all kinds of programs aimed at getting kids to keep reading over break and I couldn't get enough. Free amusement park passes for just reading a few books? Duh, sign me up! Needless to say, I still do quite a bit of reading over the summer travel season. I just finished Before The Fall by Nathan Hawley for my book club meeting tomorrow night, and it was a great read. For those of you who might be looking for some new reads, here are a few others I've finished recently:

It was Kondo's first book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up that fueled my desire to get my entire home organized. After a few weeks of purging and tidying, however, I lost my desire to keep slogging through my belongings. When I saw that her second book, Spark Joy, was available as a choice through Blogging for Books I jumped on it! Compared to her first book, this book is more of an instruction manual. It has detailed descriptions on how to fold your clothing (illustrations included!) and dives deeper into the different categories of miscellany that may need decluttering. If you're not a fan of the feelings behind a purge and prefer a straightforward to-do, I'd recommend this book. However, if you need a good jumpstart, I'd pick up The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

The best book I've read recently was The Hopefuls by Jennifer Close. I adore Close's writing style and this book about a young couple managing the DC political scene was absolutely engrossing. I can't even describe why I loved this book - perhaps it's because the characters just seemed so relatable? If you're looking for another great book, Girls in White Dresses, also by Close, is a book I've read multiple times and highly recommend!

Another book I finished recently was Modern Lovers by Emma Straub. I've seen this book all over Snapchat and Instagram (are you following me? @cwestguillet on both!) and I purchased it as an add-on to my June Book of the Month selection. It revolves around the lives of three former bandmates, two of whom are married to one another, in their small Brooklyn neighborhood. It combines all of the parts that make for a good summer read: relationships, mid-life crisis, growing up, and growing apart. I feel like the first half of the book was somewhat slow, but picked up toward the end. A good summer read, for sure!

Also, if you're an avid reader, I'd highly suggest checking out Book of the Month. It's an online book club that allows you to receive your choice of one of five new release hardcover books each month. I was hesitant to join at first because I'm a huge fan of the library, but so far it's been worth it. I have been on the waitlist for Modern Lovers since it was released, but through BOTM I've already read it! You can use the code REFER50 for half off a three-month subscription.

Up next I'll be reading Jaime Primak Sullivan's The Southern Education of a Jersey Girl and Rumaan Alam's Pretty Girls. Anything else I should add to my list? Do share! 

June 20, 2016

An Adventure in Beyoncé

So y'all have heard of the Ticketmaster voucher news, right? How there was a huge class action lawsuit against Ticketmaster and now people who have purchased tickets for certain events between 1999 and 2013 will receive vouchers via their account to use for future events.

Clearly, I was pretty excited when I found out about this as I've purchased many concert and sporting event tickets via Ticketmaster. So I immediately logged into my account, clicked on the "active vouchers" link and...nada. Nothing. Such a bummer! I would've loved to use those vouchers to see a baseball game at a new-to-me stadium this summer, but I'll survive. But you know what? It's really not that big of a deal as last Sunday I got to see Beyoncé FOR FREE. That's right! But first, let's back up.
My sister, her friend, and our cousin arrived at Hersheypark Stadium last Sunday night with about 40 minutes to spare before the concert began. We went to the gates, made our way through the metal detectors, and held up our tickets to be scanned. BEEP BEEP BEEP! The usher sent us away because our tickets showed in the scanner as refunded. What?! Sarah's Taylor Swift story immediately came to mind and I panicked a little bit. They were purchased from StubHub! They're legit, freshly printed from my sister's computer! We were sent to the will call window and told to call StubHub. Thanks to their customer guarantee, within 15 minutes we had new tickets in an even better section of the stadium. We were in!
However, the story doesn't end there. We got to our seats, only to find there was another party of four in them. So we grabbed an usher who came over to get the squatters out so we could get settled. The people in our seats claimed that those seats belonged to them and quickly whipped out their tickets to prove it. And prove it they did - they had the same seats, same row, same section for the same date. Seriously?! So once again we called and tweeted StubHub. We didn't get those seats, but we did get to stay and enjoy the concert; we just had to be sneaky and move from open seat to open seat. But the best part? We were refunded 100% of the cost of the tickets, so we got to enjoy Beyoncé at no cost to us! I'll admit I felt like a baller after that.

So the moral of the story? The StubHub customer service is fantastic and you'll always catch more flies with honey. Be nice to the ushers, be nice to the lady at the will call window, and be nice to the customer service reps on the phone. It's not that person's fault your tickets were screwed up and it pays to be kind!

June 6, 2016

Mini Sephora + Ulta Roundup

As we all know, I can't exercise restraint when I'm shopping in Sephora or Ulta. Sometimes when I get home from a big shopping trip, I pull items out of the bag like I'm doing an awesome haul video on YouTube. Hah! I can't imagine myself behind the camera doing that, but I do love watching some hauls, that's for sure! But I digress...back to some of my most recent  purchases. Mini reviews, if you will. 
First up are the Sephora color correcting concealers. I purchased these in North Carolina in April, gave them a try for a few weeks and now they're retired to the bottom of an old bin. I wanted so badly for them to give me a glow and cover my redness, but the formula just felt goopy under my base and looked silly when left uncovered. Thumbs down. 

Also from Sephora, I picked up the Marc Jacobs #instamarc contouring kit. Every time I saw someone exclaim how huge it was while filming a haul, I'd roll my eyes a bit. But no eye rolling is necessary with this palette - it's gigantic and perfect! The powder is so finely milled and blends nicely. I picked up the shade 40 (Mirage Filter) and it's a good match for my skin right now. I use the yellowish powder to set under my eyes and around my nose and I use the tan powder as a subtle contour. The palette comes with a little card with three different ways to contour to go from every day to ultra dramatic. Definitely worth the money!

One final thing I picked up from Sephora was originally not even originally for me! My mom asked me to grab her a new bottle of Givenchy Photoperfexion foundation, so I did. By the time I got it to her, the one she had ordered online had shown up, so she graciously let me keep the first one. The price was a little much for my budget, but I decided to see if I liked it. And WOW - I understand why it's expensive! This foundation goes on so smooth and lasts all day, plus some. This isn't an everyday base, either, it's more for those days where you need to look A+ from 7am breakfast meeting to 1am uber ride home. 

I haven't picked up much from Ulta lately, but one of the recent items was a new bottle of dry shampoo. Of all the brands I've tried, I like Batiste the best so far. This time, though, I thought I'd branch out and try the Living Proof dry shampoo that ladies seem to love. No mini review here, though. I just purchased it and still haven't used it because my mother just gifted me a different bottle to try, which I opened first. 

The last item I grabbed from Ulta was somewhat of an impulse purchase. I have a few different self tanners at home, but none of which I really liked. I noticed that St. Moriz was on sale, so I picked up the light mousse and an application mitt. I tried it almost immediately when I got home, and wow. I don't know if it's the formula, the fact that it's a mousse, or what, but this self-tanner has made me a convert. Goodbye Jergens, goodbye Neutrogena. I've definitely got a new favorite self-tanner! 

It would be remiss not to mention I'm now on a makeup/beauty/skincare spending ban until my 32nd birthday. I have such a fantastic collection of everything from blushes to body wash and it would be a shame to let it go to waste because I feel the need to run out and pick up the best new thing. I won't even put a dent in my collection by October, but using only what I have will be a great way to discover some new (old?) favorites and finally get into some of the stuff I received for Christmas! 

January 22, 2016

A 2016 Reading Challenge + Book Reviews!

I've set a challenge for myself to read 52 books this year, and luckily I'm on my way! Between taking five flights in early January to bouts with insomnia last week, I've had quite the opportunity to read quite a bit already this year. 
The first book I finished this year was Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter. If you're into psychological mysteries like Gone Girl, I highly recommend this book. It's not for the fainthearted, as it's creepy and odd and sickly all wrapped up in one hardcover novel! This story is based around a decade-old missing woman case as her sisters unravel the mystery of her disappearance. It's difficult for me to really explain this novel without giving too much away, so I'll just say that if you liked Gone Girl or Sharp Objects, you need to pick up Pretty Girls! 

And speaking of Gillian Flynn, I also just finished The GrownupI was surprised at how short this short story really was! I read this book in an afternoon because it kept me guessing and I had to know what the heck was going on. It was written in the typical Gillian Flynn style - very smart and manipulative characters who manage to keep you guessing. Without giving much away (which is difficult with a short story!), this twisty story left me thinking all of the characters bordered on confusing - who was conning who? And the end was the most puzzling to me, as I wanted so much more. Overall, this was a good quick read, but I'd really like to know what happened after the last page! (Full disclosure: I received this book from Blogging For Books)

Most recently, I finished The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore. First, I loved the clever title! This book weaves the stories of a mother, father and their oldest daughter as she prepares for one of the most stressful moments of a high schoolers' life - college applications and the much anticipated admission letter. Beneath the surface of each character lie the secrets that the characters need to admit to one another, but instead they keep them hidden to ensure their perfect lives remain perfect. This would be a perfect summer beach read and it's made me excited to seek out Moore's other novels.

I also finished two other books through my Kindle Unlimited subscription, both of which were okay but ultimately forgettable. Currently, I'm getting ready to start Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams and also planning a trip to the library before this snowstorm comes through our area this weekend. If you have any recommendations, please let me know!

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