Toni&Guy – New Favorite Hair Products

I got a sample of their sea salt texturizing spray in one of my Birchboxes, and I finally got around to actually using it.  I have had bad luck with sea salt sprays in the past – they just made my hair crunchy and dirty-looking – so I was reluctant to try this.  I was happily surprised when, not only did this stuff smell amazing, but it also works great!  Adds texture and that beachy wavy look I wanted, without the negative side effects I had previously encountered.  I liked it so much that when I happened upon the brand at Target last week, I also decided to try the smoothing lotion and the heat protectant spray.  Both are also great!  Definitely impressed so far, so I recommend giving the brand a try!

toni&guy

New Monthly Box: Julep Maven

My Birchbox subscription finally ended, and I decided that I wanted to try something new.  One of my friends recommended that I try Julep Maven, and with their first box free, I thought… why not??  I wasn’t disappointed, and I have really enjoyed getting a new box each month.  Some of the pros of the Julep Maven box are:

  • The primary focus is nail polish, which, as you know, I LOVE.
  • You get to take a fun “style quiz” that pairs you up with a general style they think you’ll enjoy.  Not to worry, though, if you disagree.  You can always switch before your box goes in the mail! (See the next bullet point!)
  • You have a window each month that allows you to choose from a number of options for what you will be sent that month.  This is awesome because it gives you an opportunity to make changes and pick things you really want.
  • You can skip months if nothing looks good!
  • There’s an option to add items to your box each month at a huge discount from their normal prices.
  • Each item or box you order earns you points, which can later be applied to discount your orders!
  • The product quality is great.  The nail polish colors are fun and vibrant.  I am IN LOVE with their lip gloss (I picked Enchanted).  It doesn’t get sticky, lasts a long time, and really moisturizes.  Plus, the color is fabulous!
  • They have tons of promotions each month, so it’s easy to get good deals on their products.
  • You can get your first trial box FREE!  Just click HERE to get started!
This is the first box I picked after my welcome box!  They seem to always include a little surprise with your order.  This time it was this adorable pink and blue candy stick!

This is the first box I picked after my welcome box! They seem to always include a little surprise with your order. This time it was this adorable pink and blue candy stick!

 

Do you have any fun monthly subscriptions?  Please share them in the comments!

Favorites of 2013

This year, I’ve made an effort to expand my collection of beauty products.  I’ve tried a lot of new things, in part thanks to my Birchbox subscription.  I thought it might be helpful to share my new favorites from this year!  Here we go!

Favorite Leave In Conditioner

Seriously, this stuff is AH-MAY-ZING.  It’s $21.95 for the full-size bottle and is available exclusively through Birchbox.  I have never had a conditioner leave my hair so soft and silky, especially without weighing it down.  It’s also helped in my endeavor to grow my hair longer because it reduces tangling and makes my hair healthier.  Seriously in LOVE with this stuff.

Favorite Concealer

Fakeup concealer by Benefit is awesome.  I have really terrible under-eye circles because my allergies are so terrible.  There’s nothing I can do but cover them up, which has been nearly impossible.  I got a sample of this in my Birchbox one month, and I went to pick up the full size at Ulta within a week!  It moisturizes, conceals, and brightens… all without caking or creasing.  I opted for the light color, and it blends really well with my skin tone.  At $24 for the full size, it’s a bit on the pricier side, but definitely worth it!

Favorite Blush

My previous favorite blush somehow managed to break into a million little pieces, so I was searching for just the right replacement hue.  This perfect peachy pink shimmer popped up in my Birchbox at just the right time, and I really love the color!  It’s not too pink, not too brown, not too coral-y… it’s just the right blend of warm and cool tones for my shin and really brightens up my face.  At $20, it’s a little more pricey than its drugstore counterparts, but I looked everywhere and couldn’t find a color I liked even half as much.  Love it!

Favorite Shampoo and Conditioner

As I explained in my earlier post about growing out my hair, I discovered that using good hair products really does make a difference.  This is my favorite shampoo and conditioner duo.  Not only does it leave my hair silky, smooth, and healthy, but the conditioner smells fantastic and leaves a spa-like tingly sensation on your scalp.  Again, more pricey than the stuff you can buy at your local grocery store, but worth every single penny!

Favorite Eye Shadow Palette

I am such a fan of this nude-hued matte palette.  The range of shades lets you go from natural to dramatic, and there’s no shimmer or glitter to irritate my eyes.   It’s great for everyday makeup looks!  Not only that, but the quality is amazing.  It’s so much smoother and lasts so much longer than the drugstore shadows I had previously been buying!  It’s $27, which initially seemed like a lot to me.  Then I added up how much it would cost me to build my own matte palette like this one, and $27 started to seem like a good deal.  Besides, it blows the drugstore brands out of the water with its quality.

Favorite Eyeshadow Primer

I had never used an eyeshadow primer before I tried a travel size of this, but I’m so glad that I did!  It definitely does make a difference… eyeshadow goes on smoother and more evenly, lasts longer, and doesn’t crease or smear.  Awesome to use every day, but especially on special occasions!  At $12 for the travel size and $20 for the full size, it’s definitely worth the investment!

Favorite Mascara

One of my friends gifted me with this miracle mascara, and it’s great!  Makes my lashes look longer without any clumping, and comes off relatively easily without smudging.  Plus, since this isn’t one of the big name brands, it’s relatively inexpensive.  It’s less than $8 at most places I’ve seen it.  Good stuff!

Favorite Nail Polish

Anyone who knows me knows how difficult it is for me to choose ONE favorite nail polish for the year.  I am obsessed and feel like I love them all!  But I keep coming back to this one.  It works throughout every season, and it’s a good balance of sparkly fun without being overdone.  The holographic silver shimmers so pretty in the sunlight, but it’s not an overpowering chunky glitter that’s inappropriate for more formal settings.  I like it so much that I’ve already gone through about half the bottle!  Although butter LONDON lacquers are $15 a pop, I’m willing to spend the extra cash for colors that I adore, like this one.

Favorite Lip Color

I actually haven’t bought the full size of this one yet ($22.50) because I’m still working on the sample I got from Sephora.  I pretty much always forget about my lips when I do my makeup, so I appreciate that this is easy to carry along.  It is light and fresh and goes on more like a chapstick or lip balm than a gloss or lipstick.  I really like the consistency, and it adds just enough color to bring life to my lips without making a big statement.

What are some of your favorite beauty finds from this year?  Or classics that you just can’t get enough of?  Please share them in the comments!  I’m always looking for something new to try, and I’m much more likely to do so with a recommendation than just browsing a store.  Hope you enjoyed!

I’m not gonna tell you that you’re beautiful.

“How dare the world not tell you, right from the start, that you are some kind of warrior.”
One of my friends posted this on facebook, with the caption “Y’ALL. If you feel even the tiniest bit broken, or tired, or useless today. Read on. ‘I’m not gonna let you be the world’s largest living & breathing apology.’ Hannah is a wizard of words. ” And I cried as I read it.

hannah brencher

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I used to wait for my roommates to go to sleep so I could creep down the hallway into the kitchen and fill a bowl with food.

It was odds and ends of the things I could find in the fridge and I would eat until I reached the bottom of the bowl. I never told anyone how I was a vacuum cleaner at night, that I was trying to fill some kind of emptiness inside of me. It was a secret sworn between me & cutlery & the 1am hour.

I’d cry & I’d cry & I’d cry. And no one knew the desperation that visited me when I no longer knew how to control myself. How I just wanted to shrink smaller, smaller, smaller until I could disappear. Who taught me to be less? Who taught me to be so fragile?

My mama is like a gust…

View original post 1,418 more words

Mini Pumpkin Pudding Pies

It’s finally fall, and you know what that means…

Make everything pumpkin!

Here’s a quick and easy way to make mini single-serve “pumpkin pies.”  It’s just a twist on my recent post Mini-Mousse Pies.

Just replace the chocolate mousse with this Jell-o Pumpkin Spice Instant Pudding.  We made the pudding as directed on the box and poured it into the mini pie crusts before refrigerating for about an hour.  Top with a bit of whipped cream if you want (obviously, delicious), and enjoy!  This is so simple, so easy, so quick, and it’s great to have a single-serving option rather than having an entire pumpkin pie tempting me.

It tasted great, though I don’t like the pudding filling as much as real pumpkin pie filling.  If there’s a way to make the pudding a bit firmer so it’s more like pie filling, I’d recommend trying that, too.  Overall, though, this dessert was a great success!

So tiny, so adorable, so delicious!

So tiny, so adorable, so delicious!

Mini-Mousse Pies

I’ve been working on being more healthy, and one of the things I’m doing is trying to make better, healthier food choices.  I don’t think it’s possible to keep up a fad diet.  But I do think it’s possible to make good choices most of the time, and to make changes that can last. It’s not easy, but getting creative can help!

That being said, sometimes, you just really want something sweet.  This weekend when we were grocery shopping, we came up with an idea that I think solves that problem without totally blowing your calories for the day.  Give these mini-mousse pies a try!

Ingredients:

Mini-Mousse Pies Ingredients

To Make:

  1. Follow the instructions on the chocolate mousse mix box.
  2. Divide the mousse into four of the mini pie crusts. (I just used a big spoon!)
  3. Refrigerate for 2 hours, and enjoy!

See how easy that is?  SO easy!  You only need three ingredients and three steps!  The finished product gives you four single-serving desserts that are under 200 calories… How awesome is that?  Not only that, but if you’ve already got milk in your fridge, the other two ingredients will only cost you about $5 total. (And the mousse comes with two pouches, so it’s enough to make this dessert twice.)  Even better, you can make these however you like.  Feel like topping with some fresh fruit?  Go for it!  Maybe some chopped walnuts, coconut, mini-chocolate chips, or almond slivers… Go crazy!  You can also use different flavors of mousse or even sugar free or low fat pudding mix (though the instructions, ingredients, and nutrition information will change).  So many possibilities, so easy, and so much better for you than going to Dairy Queen!

Do you have any healthy snacks or desserts you love to make?  Please share them in the comments!  I’m always looking for new ideas!

So cute, right?

So cute, right?

Chocolate Mousse Nutrition Facts

Chocolate Mousse Nutrition Facts

Pie Crust Nutrition Facts

Pie Crust Nutrition Facts

Growing Out My Hair

I have been trying to grow out my hair for… years.  Granted, a huge part of the problem is that 1) I get bored easily and ask my stylist for a cut that “looks like I just got my hair cut” (often chopping off an inch or more) once in a while and 2) I had tons of relatively short layers that take ages to grow out.  But, I have a wedding in 6 months, so I’m getting more serious about hair health and growth.

 

Just today, I came across this really helpful blog post on Lauren Conrad’s site.  She has tons of great advice that I think is really helpful!  If you’re looking to grow out your hair, I recommend taking a look!

As for me, this is what I’ve learned:

  1. I didn’t believe it in years past, but I really think that the quality of the products you use on your hair makes a big difference.  About 4 months ago, I stopped using shampoos and conditioners that you can buy at your local grocery store or drugstore.  Instead, I only use the kinds I can buy at salons and beauty supply stores.  I get my hair highlighted, so it needs a lot of extra TLC.  I primarily use Pureology Hydrate shampoo and conditioner.  It works fantastically (my hair is healthier and silkier than ever) and because it’s more concentrated, it lasts a long time.  You only have to use a small amount, unlike some brands where you have to just pour it on.  As an added bonus, the conditioner has a peppermint ingredient that smells amazing and makes your scalp feel awesome!  I can’t say enough about this stuff!  Then, about once a week or every two weeks (depending on how my hair is looking), I use this purple shampoo and conditioner to cut down on brassiness.  Obviously, I’m a fan considering I wrote an entire post on it.  It’s still working for me, and I haven’t had to buy more since I wrote that post almost a year ago!
  2. It matters where you get your hair done.  If you go to a cheap stylist who doesn’t care about the health of your hair, it will be a problem over time.
  3. If you have processed or color treated hair, it requires a lot of extra help!  Everyone has different hair types and needs.  Just because your friend uses a certain product, doesn’t mean it will work for you.
  4. Always, ALWAYS use a heat protectant when you use straighteners, curling irons, blow dryers, etc.!
  5. Yes, these products and stylists are significantly more expensive than the stuff you buy at Wal Mart.  I know, that was why I didn’t used to invest in it.  But then I started thinking about it, and is it more important to save a few bucks, or have awesome hair?  I have to “wear” my hair every single day.  Why wouldn’t I spend the money to take care of it when I’m willing to spend that much on a shirt that I might wear once or twice a month?

After following all of these tips for the past few months, I finally feel like my hair is “getting long.”

 

I hope you find this helpful!  Do you have any tips for growing out your hair?  If so, please share them in the comments!