A Few (More) of My Favorite Things

favorite things

I’m sitting here, windows open, on this lovely day in late August, listening to the dulcet tones of construction equipment and heavy machinery. There is no way that the high school football stadium behind my apartment will be anywhere near ready for the beginning, or let’s be honest, the end of the season this year. Wonder how that’s going to work out for them. Hmm. Anyway

Things are coming together for the wedding, which is pretty exciting. Once we find our DJ, I’ll probably feel like I can kind of relax for a while. I’m looking forward to looking at dresses for my BridesDames and my co-MOHs, and we have our engagement photo session at the end of next month. There is still much to be done, but just not right now. Since I announced that I was engaged on a previous favorite things post, I thought it could do another one with other things I’m loving right now, like…

1. Beauty: CoverGirl Outlast Lipstain

I currently have two different shades in my purse to go with whatever attitude of outfit I wear to work. I bought my first tube of it prior to my cousin’s summer 2010 wedding in Houston. I knew I was going to need something that would last all day and wouldn’t sweat or shmear off in the heat. CoverGirl had just come out with this line, so I thought I’d give it a shot. Besides staying on all day, it has more of a matte finish than a glossy finish, so that gives it more brownie points. I also like how light-weight it is, and the fact that its basically a Sharpie for your lips. My personal favorites are Teasing Blush (415) for everyday looks and Wild Berry Wink (440) for something a little more dramatic.

2. Food & Drink: Chobani Flips Almond Coco Loco

The first time I tried Greek yogurt, I wasn’t too impressed, and actually thought it was somewhat bitter. Of course, I love frozen Greek yogurt, especially Ben & Jerry’s Banana & Peanut Butter flavor, so when I saw this the last time I was out grocery shopping with Brian, I thought I’d give it another go. When I was younger, I loved the Yoplait Yo’Crunches where you’d mix in the M&Ms or Oreo cookie crumbles in the little tub on top of the yogurt cup, but they weren’t that healthy and slightly expensive. The Chobani Flips were on sale for 10/$10, so I couldn’t pass that up. I’m a fan of dark chocolate anything, so this was pretty tasty, in my opinion.  Now I just need to go pick up a few more… maybe the Key Lime flavor?

3. Music: Lorde – “Royals”

I heard this song on The Summit while heading home from work, and thought it was super catchy. (I discover so much good music on The Summit. I don’t care to hear One Direction or Miley on my drive to work.)  Ella Yelich-O’Connor (better known by her stage name Lorde) is a 16 year old New Zealand singer-songwriter. According to Huffington Post, Lorde is the first woman to be on top of the Alternative Music chart in 17 years… so.. since before she was born.

4. Internet: Disney Ladies From Last Night — Not entirely SFW

Somewhere near NYC, Wendy needs some assistance.

I think I came across this website via Imgur, another photo-sharing site that Brian and I like to look at together for the LOLs. The format is simple: take a random Text From Last Night and then superimpose it on a corresponding screen cap featuring a female character from a Disney (or Pixar, some people are so picky…) movie. Many of these are not suitable for work, considering the state most people are in when they send a text worthy of making it on TFLN, but here are a couple of my favorites:

Someone in Philadelphia is missing a kitten.

Can’t be Pittsburgh Dad. Jeffy stole all his books.

5. End of Summer Sales, Whaaaat??!?!

Clothes. (Treat yo’self.) Fragrances. (Treat yo’self.) Massages. (Treat yo’self.) Mimosas. (Treat yo’self.) Fine leather goods. (Treat yo’self.)

There’s not much I love more than a sale, online or otherwise, and this summer, I think I’ve done pretty well with my sweet, sweet deals. I’m signed up for email alerts and online coupons for pretty much all of my favorite stores. Some of my best scores include:

  • $120 of stuff from Bath & Body Works for $45, including gifts for all of my bridesmaids and a few treats for my mom and sister.
  • $111 of clothing from Old Navy for $37, all on clearance + 30% off, and then free shipping.
  • $60 in shoes from Target for $25 — 2 pairs of flats for work and a pair of strappy sandals.
  • $57 worth of stuff from Kohls for $1.25. Yes, the period is in the proper place. Two candles and a set of makeup bags for less than a vending machine soda.

Always wait for the end of the season, when stores start to put out things for the next one. My Old Navy and Target finds can all easily transition from summer to fall. My B&BW haul happened during their Big Semi-Annual Sale. Look for ways to stack coupons on top of in-store percentages off, which Kohl’s is awesome for. This past spring, I was able to get a Vera Wang purse for 27% of the original price through a combination of in-store sales + mobile coupons + a store grand opening gift card we got at the apartment.

What are your favorite things right now? Introduce me to something I might never have seen before. 🙂

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Last Minute Holiday Gifts Under $35

judgemental santa

Don’t look at me like that, old man. You don’t know my life. Wait….

If you’re anything like me, you wait until the last minute… for anything. Writing papers, doing your makeup, and especially at this time of year, sending Christmas cards and getting my shopping done. From middle school all the way to my last week of graduate school, however, I was only rewarded for my last minute efforts with good grades, so I haven’t had much of an incentive to change my ways. Since that Mayan apocalypse didn’t happen, I guess Christmas (and my student loans) are still on. (Yay?) I only have a few things to pick up/finish making, but everything to wrap. Between work and commuting to work, or driving to whatever Christmas event where my presence is required, I don’t have a whole lot of time left. But, in all of that time I spend commuting to my new job as a bridal gown consultant, I have a great opportunity to think about any number of things. This includes anticipating (possibly unnecessarily) any wedding dilemmas my fiance and I might encounter, what I need to throw in the laundry, or, this blog post. So, here are some suggestions for last minute gifts or stocking stuffers for your friends and family. Yes, most of this is from Target, and yes, I do wish I was getting paid for my endorsement of these products, but doesn’t it just seem easier when you can find almost all of it in one store? Plus, Target did an amazing collaboration with over 20 designers to create exclusive products for this holiday season, and in these last few days leading up to Christmas, the entire line is 50% off!

holiday gifts for girls

1. For some holiday flair: OPI Nail Polish in Skyfall – $7.99 (wherever OPI Nail Polish is sold… try Sally Hansen Beauty Supply) This deep ruby red, inspired by the latest James Bond flick, adds a nice pop of color to the dark wardrobes of winter.

2. For the Woman with A Plan: Greenroom Planner  – $7.99 (from Target) Monthly planner with plenty of space for everything she needs to organize in 2012-2013 made from recycled paper, featuring a cute floral-patterned cover.

3. For the Hostess: ScentSationals Mini Fragrance Warmer  – $10 (from Wal-Mart) Melt scented wax cubes without a flame — plug this warmer in to release an aroma of Lemon Chiffon, Soft Cashmere, or any of the other great scents available.

4. For the Gym Fanatic: Goody QUIKSTYLE Paddle Brush – $11.99 (from Target) Super-absorbent microfiber bristles remove 30% of water as you blow dry or brush your hair, reducing styling time as you go from the locker room to the classroom, office, or wherever you’re heading.

5. For a touch of glamour: Multi Illusion Gold Short Necklace – $14.99 (from Target) This necklace adds a bit of polished elegance to any party outfit.

6. For the Funny GirlIs Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling – $11.20 (from Target) In addition to starring in her own TV show while The Office wraps up its last season, Mindy Kaling found time to write an autobiography, detailing her unscientific observations on romance, friendship, and Hollywood.

7. For the Girl on the Go: Carolina Herrera Travel Bags – $19.99 (WAS $39.99!, from Target)  Three bold prints adorn this Carolina Herrera travel cosmetic bag set. Each chic bag comes in a different size with a zip top and brass Carolina Herrera logo pull to ensure you always travel in style.

8. For the Label Lover: Oscar de la Renta Tote – $29.99 (WAS $59.99!, from Target) This spacious canvas tote, featuring a print by Oscar de la Renta, has a timeless shape and an affordable price.

9. For the Jersey Shore Guid-ette: Downton Abbey, Seasons 1 & 2 – $32.99 (from Target) Is one of your gal pals sad that Jersey Shore has been cancelled? Give her something new to love, featuring all the drama and scandal, but none of the spray tan or fist-pumping….

holiday gifts for guys

1. For the Kid at Heart: Nerf N-Strike Blaster Maverick – $9.97 (from Wal-Mart) C’mon. It’s a Nerf gun. Even I love Nerf guns.

2. For the Dude with Everything: Porcelain Gnome – $12 (from Target) This little guy is a fun guest in any room. He’s a bit fragile, so I suggest putting him somewhere up high… but that may add a “creepy gnome” factor…

3. To stay comfy and cozy: Printed PJ Pants – $12 (WAS $16.94, from Old Navy) Guys can always use a new pair of pj pants. Get him a pair to open on Christmas Eve so he can wear them to open gifts in the morning.

4. For your James Bond: rag & bone Flask – $14.99 (WAS $29.99, from Target) This slim, stainless steel flask is great for a sip of his favorite adult beverage on a cold winter day.

5. For the Bros: Band of Outsiders Set of 2 Toboggans  – $14.99 (WAS $29.99, from Target) He can keep one and give the other to a friend, but you may want to convince him to let you have it with its 70% wool/30% cashmere blend. I couldn’t stop touching the inside of these when I was in the store — so soft and warm.

6. For the ComicThe Onion Book of Known Knowledge: Mankind’s Final Encyclopedia (Hardcover) – $21.83 (from Target) Everyone has that friend who posts articles from The Onion, only to have someone take the headline “Obama Paranoid Government Coming for His Guns” seriously. This is the perfect book for that friend.

7. For a stylish topper: Men’s Sweater Cardigan – $22.50 (WAS $34.94, from Old Navy) Even the most ironic t-shirt can still look a little classier when he throws this cardigan over it. My fiance pairs his with a white button down and a skinny black tie for a dressier look.

8. For the Blockbuster Buff: The Dark Knight Trilogy – $27.29 (from Target) Was your brother at the midnight premiere of the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s spin on Batman? Give him the complete set.

9. For the Mustachio-ed Gentleman: Silver-Plated 4 Piece Shave Set – $28.99 (from Target) Unfortunately, this one is online only, but you can give him an IOU. (Who hasn’t done that before?) This set makes his morning routine a little more special.

 

What’s on your wish list this year?

A Few of My Favorite Things

You kids need to get out of my room.... you're all up in my personal space.

You kids need to get out of my room…. you’re all up in my personal space.

I’m not entirely sure how it’s December already. Summer doesn’t seem like it was so very long ago, and I can’t remember having a distinct “fall” season this year. I’m sure no one needs to tell you that all of this means that the holiday season is well under way. Christmas trees were on sale before Halloween, and radio stations started playing every version of “The Christmas Song” the week before Thanksgiving. To the Targets, Macy’s, Wal-Marts, and other retail stores of the world, I simply say,

Stop it. Just staaahp, please.

One of the songs I’ve noticed on the radio is “My Favorite Things,” which I had never actually considered to be a Christmas song. I just thought it was the song Maria sang when the Von Trapp kids were afraid of the rain. My cousin’s daughter is in love with The Sound of Music, and it’s been quite a while since I’ve seen it. I recently read that Carrie Underwood will be playing the part of the rebellious nun-turned governess in NBC’s remake of The Sound of Music, which is scheduled to air sometime during the holiday season in 2013. (I think I’ll pass on that version.) The song made me think about a few of my favorite things, whether they’re cool products I’ve seen in stores, shows, holiday traditions, or other items… that rhyme with “things.” 😉

Bath & Body Work’s French Baguette Candle

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This candle is nothing short of amazing. It *literally* smells just like fresh-baked bread. Brian and my sister, Carmen, both make fun of me for my need to smell all the candles I see. I think it’s a tactile+smell thing; the act of picking up the candle and smelling it are soothing for me during a trip to a crowded mall. I’m sure you’ve smelled at least one candle in your life and thought to yourself, “You know, I wouldn’t mind living in between that space between the wax and the lid…” No? That’s just me? Ok, nevermind. Anyway, search for this one next time you’re in Bath & Body Works. You won’t be disappointed.

Adventure Time

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Is it weirdly animated? Yes. Is it aimed at young boys? Probably. But, over the past summer, I’ve become hooked on this cartoon. It’s about a boy named Finn and his magical dog, Jake, who encounter many strange adventures with plenty of odd characters in the Land of Ooo. Finn and Jake serve as the doers of good in Ooo, performing various knight-like tasks and protecting the citizens of Candy Kingdom, which is ruled by Princess Bubblegum. If my sister was a cartoon character, she would be Lumpy Space Princess.

Watching White Christmas

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White Christmas is one of the only holiday movies I actually enjoy watching. I remember my dad teaching me the song when I was little. Later on, one of my uncles introduced me to Bing Crosby, and I grew to appreciate the jazz standards. There’s something about the “Hey kids! Lets put on a show!” mentality that always seemed fun to me. When we were growing up, my sister and I would participate in “productions” with our cousins whenever they’d visit. They grew up on the other side of the world, so it was always a big event whenever they were here. One year, we performed our version of “The Nutcracker,” and I starred as Clara. White Christmas is a classic (and hello! Rosemary Clooney!), with so many great songs, including this one…

History Channel Series

history channel series

I’m fascinated by History Channel’s original programming, and this year, they really stepped up the game with Hatfields & McCoys, The Men Who Built America, and Mankind: The Story of All of Us. Hatfields & McCoys spurred my search this past summer into my family’s genealogy, since my mother’s family came from the same area in southern West Virginia where several events of this story unfolded. I really like how politicians, entrepreneurs and businessmen, news figures (like my manfriend, Brian Williams), and other public figures are used throughout the other series to help tell the story of the birth of America, the great wars, and the innovations that would change the world. Reruns of these shows are still better than new episodes of a lot of other shows.

Being Engaged!

my ring

I know, it’s on the wrong finger, we’re going to take it to get resized soon. I just really wanted to take it home to show my momma.

Yep, I’m engaged! The night before Thanksgiving, Brian made me a very happy gal and asked me to marry him. Two days before he asked me, I had interviewed for a part-time bridal consultant position, and after the interview, I met him for dinner at a Chinese restaurant. His fortune cookie wasn’t that great, but mine read “A good message is on it’s way to you.” Not twenty minutes later, I received a call from the store manager, offering me the position. I think my fortune cookie was extra-strength, since it held out for another few days. I’m beyond excited to spend the rest of my life with Brian, and I can’t wait to start planning, but first, I want to spend some time getting settled into my new job. Until then, I plan to start putting together my own wedding blog since I don’t want to overwhelm this blog with all of my wedding-related posts. (It’s a good thing I’ll be working at a place where I’ll be talking about weddings all the time.) Whenever that’s ready, I’ll share the link. I’m so happy that I’ll have my Dames by my side, too, along with my sister and best friend since pre-school, who is also in the process of planning her wedding. (All this wedding business makes that separate blog really necessary.) But anyway, yay!

What are some of your favorite things of the season? 

Managing My Curly Hair: How I Gave Up Shampoo and Became a Wen Convert

I’ve been carrying out an experiment over the last month or so. But before I tell you about it I want to assure you that it’s not as gross as the title of this post makes it sound.

First, a little background information:

If you know me personally, you most likely know that 1) I have long, extremely curly hair and that 2) I really don’t like it.

This is me, with curly hair, this summer on a cruise ship in the Caribbean. I usually wear my hair in a ponytail when it’s curly because I hate it so much and don’t feel like I can do anything with it.

I’ve had a love-hate relationship with my hair for a very long time. It used to be a lot worse, particularly because my hair used to be even thicker than it is now, but thankfully it isn’t as bad anymore. Mostly though, I’ve learned to finally manage it with a good hair cut, product and bobby pins.

I also try to straighten my hair as much as possible which makes it easier to handle (and I think prettier), but sometimes I just don’t have time to do it.

Overall, though, I have had little trouble with my hair (knock on wood) despite all of the bad things I do to it that you’re not supposed to – like highlight/dye it, use a flat iron, use gel, etc.

And now to the experiment:

Anyone with a television in the United States has likely seen the commercials for the product called Wen which is sold by hairstylist Chaz Dean.

For a quick explanation, Wen is a line of hair care products that use natural ingredients. The main staple of the line of products is the Wen Cleansing Conditioner that replaces your shampoo and your conditioner. Essentially, you are eliminating shampoo from your hair care routine and only using a cleansing condition that does the work of both products. Yes, no shampoo. No suds, no lather. Just conditioner. I was skeptical too, but I decided to give it a try.

These are the 32 oz bottles of the Wen Cleansing Conditioner.

The commercials seem to be on all of the time, and mostly when I see advertisements for such products I just ignore it. This time, however, the product caught my interest. If you’re like me and have curly hair, you know that there is no such thing as “brushing” your hair after it’s dry nor is there such a thing as not using copious amounts of conditioner or having tangle-free hair. Wen intrigued me, first because the thought of no longer shampooing my hair was very foreign to me. I have to wash my hair daily, unless it is straight, because my hair becomes so tangled at night.

I was thinking about trying it out, but the price on the infomercial is expensive, particularly in terms of what you receive for your money. However, about a month and a half ago, Chaz Dean was on QVC selling Wen, and the price and the amount of product you got (compared to what was sold on his infomercial) was too good to pass up.

For $50, I received 2 bottles of Wen cleansing conditioner. One 32oz and one 16oz, which is supposed to last 3 months. I also got a replenishing mist, but I’m not going to talk about it in this post because it is unrelated to my point.

I started using it the next day.

The Results:

I like Wen and I think I’m going to continue using it. I haven’t used shampoo since I started, and I am actually considering taking it with me the next time I go to the salon to have my hair highlighted.

Of course, you have to take infomercials and the promises with a grain of salt, but I have noticed differences in my hair.

1. My hair is definitely softer and easier to manage, and although there hasn’t been any kind of radical change to it I can tell that not using a chemical-based shampoo has made a difference.

2. Yes, my hair really is clean. At first I was worried that my hair would feel dirty or oily because it wasn’t being shampooed. I did have a momentary worry about that, but my hair feels and is clean.

3. My hair is also shinier and my highlights – which I pay more money than I probably should for – look better and brighter.

A caveat though: The instructions for the product suggest that you refrain from using products like gels (and buy the Wen styling product) or using a flat iron to prevent damage to your hair. Unfortunately, although I could probably find a way not to use gel, it is impossible for me to straighten my hair without a flat iron. So, my results may be slightly off.

Some Cons to Wen:

1. The Cost.

I’m not going to deny that the product isn’t cheap. If you are interested in trying it, I highly suggest you purchase it on QVC, even if you have to wait for it to be on again to get it. You will get a much better bang for your buck. If necessary, feel free to contact me for advice on what to buy to get you started.

2. The amount of product they suggest you use.

There’s really only one moderate issue that I have with the Wen product, and that is how much product you are supposed to use per application versus the amount of time one bottle is supposed to last you. The amount of product you use depends on how long your hair is. For example, for my medium-long hair (several inches below my shoulders) I’m supposed to use a total of 15 pumps of product. Doing this daily is supposed to allow my 48oz of product to last me for 3 months. However this would be impossible, and frankly, I feel that that much product is too much. I only use 8-10 pumps per application, including one pump as a leave-in conditioner. I’m nearly 2 months in and still have a small amount of my 32 oz bottle left and my entire 16 oz bottle left.

Note: If you are interested in trying Wen, I highly suggest you take a look at the Wen website, only because there are different formulas of the product for different kinds of hair. I use the Pomegranate formula, which is good for any hair type.

So, what do you think? Are you willing to give up your shampoo?