May Favorites

I know, this post is soooo late (SO Sorry! Arg!), but after debating between posting May and June Favorites together or separate, I decided it would be better to just keep them separate. Otherwise, we’d be here all day… Let’s get started!

Beauty
TangleTeezerI had several beauty favorites this month, but I couldn’t narrow it down any more, because all of these products are fantastic in their own way! First of all is the amazing Tangle Teezer. I have never used a brush that untangled my hair so effortlessly and painlessly! I use it both on wet and dry hair and it works through my hair without breaking or pulling on the strands. I’ve noticed fewer split ends and it’s great to blow out your hair because it’s less hassle than trying to work both a handled brush and blower dryer…at least I find it easier. I’ve never been graceful blow drying my hair with a brush… I highly recommend getting the Tangle Teezer, no matter what length of hair you have! I found my first Tangler Teezer at Target when they carried it briefly, but I’ve not been able to find it there since the one time, so now I get mine online.

Eva NYC Up All Night Volumizing SprayWhile we’re in the hair department, if you have fine hair like I do, I highly recommend the Eva NYC Up All Night Volumizing Spray. I got a sample of it in an Ipsy Bag and I was addicted! I ordered a full sized bottle from here. The spray is light enough to not weigh your hair down, but gives it texture and thickness at the same time. You can apply it as often or as little as you need throughout the day or even on your non-wash days to freshen up and give your mane a boost. It also helps extend your style longer throughout the day. I spray it on damp hair before I dry and style my hair and then on dry hair when it’s looking a little flat or tired. Plus, it smells amazing!

Garnier Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping CreamWith getting ready to turn 30 this year, I’ve been reminded more that I need to take care of my skin. I usually moisturize at night, but I hadn’t really paid attention to my eyes. I’d just use a little concealer in the mornings to hide any dark circles, but I’d yet to find anything to minimize the tired bags under my eyes. I started doing a little reading and research on eye care and discovered Garnier’s Ultra-Lift Miracle Sleeping Eye Cream. It comes in a little tube that looks like it would be gone in a week, but it lasts forever! All you need is one little dot under each eye, TAP it in gently – don’t rub it under your eye! – and you’re set for the evening. When I wake up in the morning, I look more rested and the tired bags have been disappearing over time. I rarely wear concealer under my eyes now, since the dark circles are gone. While I’ve learned most anti-aging skin products cause me to break out instead of helping my skin look refreshed, this little eye cream does the trick!

Simple Micellar WaterSpeaking of skin care, I’ve been using Simple’s Cleansing Micellar Water in my routine lately. I first discovered micellar water after hearing several of my favorite beauty vloggers rave about it. I had used toners in my routine, but my skin would always get dried out and get super oily after a few days because the toner would strip too much natural oil from my skin. Micellar water is not quite a toner, but offers many of the same benefits without over drying my skin. Simple Eye Makeup RemoverIt also removes all my makeup, so for days when I’m in a hurry or have stayed up too late to do my whole night routine, I can still go to bed with a clean face. I also use Simple’s Kind To Eyes Eye Makeup Remover, which is a godsend for stubborn waterproof makeup or mascara! It takes off EVERYTHING, so my lashes are completely clean, helping them both stay healthier and making it easier to apply mascara the next day! Plus, it doesn’t irritate sensitive eyes or contact wearers. If you want to find out more about how micellar waters work, check out this post by POPSUGAR.

Maybelline Lash Sensational MascaraI need to post my review of mascaras soon, but after a few months of trying out different formulas and brushes that promise curl, length, volume, and all around amazing-ness, Maybelline won out for me with their Lash Sensational Mascara formula. I absolutely LOVE this mascara. I wasn’t expecting to find a mascara this great in the drugstore, but that’s just the icing on the cake! I tend to have naturally straight, kind of stubby looking lashes, that don’t tend to stay curled. I tried this mascara, not really hoping for much, but as soon as I’d done one eye, I could see a difference immediately! Even when I don’t wear a smokey eye or line my eyes, you can actually see my lashes now! My lashes stay curled and look longer, they don’t look clumpy, and it stays on all day. So if you’re like me and have been struggling to find a mascara that works, give this one a go!

Entertainment & Technology
As I mentioned in my monthly recap, audiobooks have been the best way for me to tackle my reading list this year! I’m working towards blocking out time in my day to sit down and read an actually hard/soft cover, paper pages BOOk, but for now, it’s just not possible. I still want to get through my list, though and I love hearing stories throughout the day. So, I’ve taken up my audiobook addiction again. But if you buy audiobooks, it can really make a huge dent in your budget, because most audiobooks cost more than the paperback version. Enter Overdrive. Overdrive is a free app that allows you to connect with your local library system and borrow audiobooks, right through your iPod! No need to go to the library, browse, and listen to CDs anymore. Now, sometimes, it may be difficult to find an audio version of the title you’re looking for, but most best sellers are available. So, all you need is a library card and the app! I’ve been able to listen to books while driving, doing stuff around the house, walking Pepper, working out, etc. It’s the perfect solution for frugal multi-tasking bookworms. 🙂

I’ve found three great shows that I’ve been watching on Netflix and Hulu this month. If you’re like me and love food, check out The Pioneer Woman. It’s like stepping into her blog and almost like a mini-retreat to see her home on the ranch, while she’s cooking up delicious meals. This show makes me want to cook and just eat! But with that in mind, I don’t recommend watching this show while working out. I made that mistake and my workout was torture!

But if you DO want some motivation and inspiration while you’re working out or just need a reminder that there are awesome and happy people in the world, watch Behind the Mask on Hulu. This show is about sports mascots and what all is involved in being a mascot. It follows four mascots from high school to pro teams and you get to know the person behind the mask. Outside their masks, most of the mascots are facing up hill challenges, whether that’s being the unpopular kid in school or reaching a plateau in their career. Yet, all of them are some of the most positive, hopeful, encouraging, and kind spirited people! It’s so encouraging to watch this show and see what they’re dealing with in their personal life, but that they find such joy in cheering other people up and getting others excited for their team! Watch it, it will make your day!

The last show that we’ve been loving as of late is Parks & Recreation. I don’t where we’ve been and why we haven’t been watching this show before now, but it’s just as funny if not sometimes more funny than The Office. I adore Leslie Knope and she’s just deepened my girl crush on Amy Poehler. My husband has now ranked Chris Pratt as one of his all-time favorite actors this year and Jonathan’s now incorporating Tom Haverford-isms into his daily vernacular.  All of the characters are lovable and there’s not one episode where my hubby and I don’t just crack up over something! Even though we didn’t watch this show when it was airing, I like that we can binge watch it on Netflix and not have to wait an entire week for the next episode. If you need a heavy dose of humor, want to add some flavor to your vocabulary, or want to feel like taking on the world, this show is for you. 🙂

Food
HelloFreshWe did some fun cooking this month and discovered a few new favorite dishes! I got an intro offer with my Martha Stewart Living magazine for HelloFresh. HelloFresh is a meal subscription service that sends you all of the fresh ingredients and recipes for three meals a week, for two people. HelloFreshOur first box arrived with all of the ingredients completely chilled and refrigerated. We tried the Goat Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Roulades with Kale and Couscous Salad, Burst Tomato and Squash Fusili, and our favorite, Mustard Pork Chops with Green Beans and Crispy Potato Cakes! Everything was so delicious! We enjoyed trying new recipes and flavors, plus, I love that HelloFresh sends you just the right amount of ingredients for each dish so there are not a lot of leftovers, but the dishes are so filling.

And now we have the recipes to make our favorite dishes again! I love that the scheduling is flexible, even when you sign up for a subscription, you’re not locked in to receiving every dish, every week. You can skip a few weeks if you want to or need to, and you can also pick your preferred day to receive deliveries that works with your schedule. If you would like to try HelloFresh and get $40 off your first box, use the code: XVXVWR. Even if you’re a picky eater like me, I promise you’ll find something you like! 🙂

What are your favorite recipes? Have you found a holy grail beauty product that’s made your routine easier? What TV shows do you live to binge watch?
Tell me in the comments below!

Monthly Recap – May

Good grief! I’m sorry this recap post is soooo late. Better late than never, though, right…?

May was an extremely busy month, but it always is for us. Between both of our families we have dozens of birthdays and wedding anniversaries, along with Mother’s Day and any weddings or graduations we may be invited to in the middle of Oklahoma’s infamous tornado season…  Despite the busy schedule, May was a pretty good month!

30 for 30 Progress
During May, I realized that I focused on several of the money related goals from my list. I’ve been doing some freelance work for a few clients and during May, working from home began to take over my schedule. I’m grateful for the work, but I’m also realizing how much time building your own business and serving your clients takes when the separation between work and home is not as clearly defined. I’ve been putting together plans and doing research to officially start my business while also keeping up with my deadlines for my clients. I’m looking forward to getting more done in this area in the months to come. Prayers appreciated though. This is a bit daunting.
I also worked on our budget plan and tried to find more ways to utilize coupons and rebates. The encouraging thing that I realized in doing all of this was that in the first five months of this year, without having “a real job” outside the home (hope you caught the sarcasm…), I brought in a little over $800 of extra change here and there. Nothing steady, but it’s become really helpful and nice to get “surprise” rebate/reward checks! 🙂 

Books Read
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I read Amy Poehler’s, Yes Please book and it was really good! I thought it might be similar to Tina Fey’s Bossypants, and it is, but it is also so much more! I have a new appreciation for Amy and who she is as a person. I loved how open and honest she was in her book and how you can see her reflecting on her overall life growth. The book had depth that I wasn’t expecting. I “read” the book by listening to the audiobook, which was quite enjoyable listening to the author read it. Plus, she also had special guests read portions of the book, so it’s a great listen! I want to buy the hardcopy because I would love to jot down several good quotes to remember. Read it. It’s good. 😉 

Fitness
Ok, here’s the thing. I’m one of those people who rarely gets sick, but when I do…it’s bad! I noticed I had a sore throat for a few days that wouldn’t go away. I thought it might be strep, so we went to the doctor. It ended up being tonsillitis. Long story short, I ended up missing several workouts and got off of my workout routine. So my fitness progress took a little bit of a hit this month. 😦

Travel
No travel this month…

Watched
2015-04-06 23.09.11-1I watched a lot of season finales in May! Mad Men had to be the most memorable season finale, though. My husband and I are big Mad Men fans and have watched the series all the way through. It’s one of the few shows that we both “watch” without being off and on our phones or just having it play in the background… When the last episode aired, we both had different reactions to it. Most of the time, I can’t stand good shows, movies, books, or stories ending. I want them to go on forever because I love staying in those worlds. Sometimes I’m not a fan of endings because it’s telling that the writers didn’t know quite how to tie up all the loose ends, but I have to say that the writers for Mad Men did a fantastic job! I was pleasantly surprised and pleased with the ending. My husband was not so excited, he was left kind of miffed for some reason… But to each his own. If you haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy time traveling through Mad Men, I highly recommend it! 

Listened
As I mentioned above, I listened to a few audiobooks this month. I’ve been trying to catch up on my book list and the most efficient and realistic way for me to do that is to listen to audiobooks. Having worked in the publishing industry, I understand that there is a lot of debate and valid reasons as to whether audiobooks “count” as reading or not… I tend to approach is as another method to consume a story. Personally, I don’t have as much time to sit down and read a book. Unfortunately, I tend to fall asleep and loose my spot… #KeepinItReal
I listened to Yes, Please by Amy Poehler and then began reading The Girl on the Train. I’m planning on writing Pepper’s Bookshelf review posts on both, soon! Stay tuned!

Memorable Moments
Family Celebration
May is chock full of opportunities to get together as a family! Since there are so many birthdays, anniversaries, and holidays, we decided to just pick one day to celebrate everything! We all went over to my aunt’s house and celebrated two birthdays, two anniversaries, and Mother’s Day. It seemed like almost everyone got a card or gift, and then we also had everyone’s favorite desserts.
Since it was May in Oklahoma, we expected a few tornadoes, but this year had to be one of the most memorable tornadoes. Flooded StreetThankfully we didn’t experience any damage or have any close calls where we live, but the internet went crazy with #Tigernado. Read more here to find out more of why, but it was probably one of the most unusual storm days we’ve had… Along with the tornadoes, we had record breaking rainfall which caused flooding around the state. Thankfully, though we are now out of a long drought!
We celebrated our four year anniversary this year! It’s crazy to think that we’ve already been together that long, somedays it feels like we just tied the knot and other days, it feels like we’ve been married forever. It was such a good day! Read more here.
Two more milestones happened this month: we’ve officially been homeowners for two years and I left the corporate world a year ago. Time is just flying by so fast!

This Made My Day
Who I Carried Today
I had a guest writer on my blog this month! Memorial Day is an important holiday in our home. I had already planned on writing a post on how I’ve come to view the day and what it means to me. With my husband being a former Marine, I knew he was planning on remembering the day in his own way, but when he came home, he surprised me by asking if he could write a blog post to share his thoughts on Memorial Day. I was a bit surprised, but also excited that he wanted to share. If you knew my husband, the adage “still waters run deep” fits him perfectly. He tends to be a deep and internal thinker, so I love when he opens up to share those thoughts. He’s an excellent writer and I was so encouraged that so many people loved his post! His single post has been the most viewed post on my page so far. I’m pretty proud of him!

Monthly Moral
This month, “grace” was the dominant theme in my day. I began to feel like I’d failed at life or that I would never get caught up from being sick and getting behind on a lot of my projects and daily tasks. I was feeling so discouraged and overwhelmed. When I stepped back and looked at the situation or what was bogging me down, I was reminded to give myself grace. I am not a robot, life happens, I may not even have enough time in the day to tackle my mountain of tasks, but it’s ok. It’s not the end of the world, it will eventually get done. But just because I didn’t get it all done, all in a day, or all perfectly, does not mean that I’m a failure. It’s a challenge to hold onto that mindset, but I’m working on it.

Unboxing! Birchbox – June 2015

I got my June Birchbox last week and thought I’d share what I got in my box this month! I had been subscribed to Birchbox for over a year and left them to try some other subscription services, but I decided to go back to Birchbox for the quality and variety of products. I absolutely LOVE getting my Birchbox in the mail every month, especially since we’re still on a budget! It makes me feel like I’ve splurged, but I’ve not broken the bank, plus I get to try new products without having to pay the full price. Birchbox is one of the most affordable subscription product services out there. For $10 a month, you get 5 products, sometimes they’re full size and sometimes you get surprise lifestyle extra in your box!

So let’s dig in!

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I love how they decorate their boxes with the month’s theme! They’ve made their boxes more colorful and always have beautiful typography.

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Here’s a breakdown of everything that came in my box this month. This is one of my favorite parts of Birchbox! With some of the other subscription services I’ve tried, they didn’t always include a card or any description of the products. Birchbox always has a description of each product and they list the price for the full size product, which helps you both know how to use the product and decide if it’s worth investing in the full sized product.

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Products

1. Skyn Iceland | Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels • These felt soooo nice and relaxing! They de-puffed my eyes and were so cooling. They also peeled off really easily without irritating my sensitive skin. I’m pretty tempted to invest the $30 for the full size to have on hand when I need a relaxing spa night now and then, or need a quick cool down for extra puffy eye mornings!

2. Emi Jay | Hair Tie • I love these kinds of hair ties! They are never tight and don’t leave any dents  or bumps in your hair.

3. Beauty Protector | Protect & Detangle • This leave in hair protecting product works great and doesn’t weigh down your hair. Plus, it smells A-MAZING! I absolutely love this stuff! This is easily my favorite product in the box this month!

4. Marcelle | Waterproof Eyeliner • I can attest that it is INDEED waterproof! After washing my face, I had to use both an eye makeup remover AND a cleansing cloth to rub it off. I tend to wear more neutral/natural colors on my eyes for eyeliner, so I think I would only wear this on a fun date night or girls night out…

5. COOLA | Classic SPF 30 Cucumber Moisturizer for Face • I’ve used COOLA products in the past and they’re great for sun protection. With it being summer, I’m looking forward to using this under my makeup to help me not burn.

6. Marcelle | BB Cream Golden Glow • I originally thought that this BB cream might be too dark for my fair skin, but I wore it alone on an easy makeup day and it provided a little coverage, blended into my skin tone pretty well, and gave a little bit of a bronze glow. I was afraid it might be too greasy, but my skin stayed comfortably dewy (which is not easy to do, especially on my complexion!). The only thing I wasn’t crazy about was the scent…

June’s products full-sized price value: $134.95

Overall, I was pretty pleased with this month’s box! I’m looking forward to next month’s box!

Do you get Birchbox or another subscription beauty box?
Tell me your favorites or what you got in your box below!

#Birchbox

Fitness Update! | 6lbs

PurseGoal

Just wanted to make a quick update on my fitness progress. I’ve lost 6 pounds so far!

I’ve made a new page to help track the progress on my handbag budget, so I’ll be updating that as I continue to shed the pounds.

Overall, not much has changed in my workout routine other than I’ve been using my stationary bike more often for my cardio, since it’s a little more forgiving on my knees than my elliptical. I’ve also been walking Pepper more with the weather being warmer. I’m really looking forward to her learning how to walk with a loose leash though, instead of literally dragging me through the neighborhood. Just today, she did what I was worried might happen; she pulled so hard on her leash that I fell flat on my face and busted up my knees and hands a bit. We cut the walk short today, but we’ll get back out there and work on heeling (and healing)…hopefully.

With our Spending Freeze this month, I’ve noticed that our eating has been a little healthier. We’re trying to eat up what we have before we go shopping. So far, we’ve only eaten out twice this month and I noticed after the second time that my stomach didn’t feel so great after fried food. So I think my body is adapting to healthier options and it’s becoming less appealing to just go through a drive-thru.

I need to up my water intake. Unfortunately, I feel like that’s the only area that’s really backslid this month. I’m averaging about 4 cups of water a day instead of 16 like I’ve been shooting for, so I’m going to try to be a little better about that.

GymPact AppI discovered another app to help with fitness motivation. It’s called GymPact and it actually pays you cash to workout. It syncs up with other fitness apps like MyFitnessPal and MapMyFitness to log your food and workouts. GymPact allows you to set the amount of days you want to workout or log your food and then once you’ve met that goal, they pay you. If you miss a workout or a food login, you have to pay in. The app links with your PayPal account or bank account and offers breaks in your pact should you get sick, get injured, or go on vacation, etc. So basically, the people that don’t follow through on their goals pay in and in turn, the people who succeed get rewarded! I just recently started using that app and am still working on my first pact, but I’ll keep you posted on whether I keep using this app or not. So far, it’s definitely upped the motivation to workout!

So, some progress made, but there’s more to go! 🙂
Do you have a favorite fitness app or favorite exercise?

February Favorites!

No, I didn’t forget about my favorites post for February… I know this favorites post is a little late (now that we’re halfway through March!), but with my March Makeover, I’ve been so busy! Even though February was a short month, I found a few favorites that I enjoyed throughout the month… So, better late than never, here we go!

Products

2015-03-10 12.17.27So when I go grocery shopping, I like to carry my coupons that I plan on using with me for reference. It used to be a hassle trying to juggle all these pieces of paper, my phone, and picking out items in the store, but I finally found something to help keep all my coupons together! I found these great giant paper clips at Target in the office supplies. I love Nate Berkus’ products and these look classic, but also work well for keeping everything together! It’s the simple things, but I love these…

Beauty

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 2.43.26 AMLately, I’ve been loving several beauty products! First off, I lucked out with scoring samples of Benefit’s Roller Lash mascara at both Ulta and Sephora. I saw several beauty bloggers reviewing this mascara before it came out and I was really curious about it because it’s supposed to curl your lashes and keep them curled longer. My lashes will curl for about a minute before they start straightening out again, so I was really intrigued to try it. And I have to say, besides one other high end mascara I’ve tried, this has been the only mascara to hold a curl all day! I’m still not sure I want to shell out $24 for a tube right now, but it’s nice to know that my lashes will cooperate with a mascara for once! Right now, I’m using the Roller Lash as my first coat of mascara to hold the curl and add length. Then I apply a second coat with the Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes mascara that I mentioned in my January’s Favorites.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 2.48.24 AMSpeaking of eyelashes, I received a new eyelash curler in my Ipsy Bag and it has made a noticeable difference in my eyes looking more bright, open, and awake! The Emite Make Up Professional Eye Lash Curler is amazing. It gets in so close to your lash line and presses the curl into your lash without creating an awkward dent. Even when I’ve not used the Roller Lash mascara, my lashes have look more curled. I’ll be honest, if I hadn’t received this curler in my Ipsy Bag, I don’t think I would spend $25 right now on an eyelash curler, but it IS a quality beauty tool, so I still think it would be a good investment in your beauty tool collection.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 2.54.06 AMAnother beauty product I’ve been loving is the new L’Oreal Infallible Pro-Matte Foundation. I tend to have oily to combination skin that is sometimes a challenge to keep from looking too shiny throughout the day. I saw this foundation and had heard some good reviews on it, so with coupon in hand, I decided to give it a go. This foundation is awesome! It applies beautifully and smoothly, it goes on matter but isn’t cakey and my skin doesn’t get shiny. A bonus is that this line provides a light fair color that matches my skin tone perfectly. Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 2.53.56 AMSo for all you fair skinned ladies out there, this foundation might be for you! If you like to set your liquid foundation with powder like I do, I highly recommend using the L’Oreal Infallible Makeup Extender Setting Spray with this foundation to keep it in place and help set the foundation and powder together. The setting spray is half the price of Urban Decay’s All-Nighter or De-Slick (both great settings sprays, by the way, but a little expensive fore everyday use in my opinion), so it’s a great everyday option for your budget!

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 2.01.37 AMWith the new pro-matte foundation I’ve been using, I’ve started applying my foundation with the Precision Blending Sponge from the Grab ‘n Go section of Ulta. I wasn’t able to find it on Ulta’s website, but Amazon has it listed on their site. However, at Ulta, the sponge is half the price than what Amazon listed. I know that there are other blending sponges out there, but I tried this one since it was way cheaper than the popular, yet expensive, Beauty Blender and I’d never used a blending sponge in my routine. I don’t think I’ll go back to applying my foundation any other way! Using a damp blending sponge to apply my foundation has minimized the amount of foundation I have to use and gives my face a more smooth and flawless look. I’ve also noticed that it helps my makeup stay on longer than before. I’m hoping to try a few other blending sponges (this one is my next one to try) to find one that is reasonably priced but also made out of a quality material that will hold up well through cleanings. Regardless, I’m sticking with blending sponges for my routine from now on!

Entertainment & Technology

I tend to binge watch a lot of TV on Netlfix and Hulu, but lately I’ve been watching YouTube more often than TV. I’ve always loved YouTube and my subscription list is pretty long, but during February, I found myself watching a few channels more often than others:

TheKitchyKitchen – I recently discovered Claire’s channel and just couldn’t stop watching her videos once I found her. Her videos are so inspiring and refreshing. She has a lot of fun and simple recipes that are so sophisticated. Her dishes look like they would be challenging, but they are so easy and take hardly any time to make! Most of her recipes are pretty healthy too. It makes me want to bust out my mixer and start baking and throwing dinner parties. The design and editing style for her videos are very professional and it’s like watching a magazine. I absolutely love her channel! Her website is pretty neat too!

GlamLifeGuru – I have been watching Tati’s channel for a couple of years now and I love her reviews and tutorials! She shows a wide range of beauty products from high end to drugstore makeup products, but she also focuses on getting the best deal for your dollar. What I love about her channel is that she is so genuine with wanting to show her subscribers what they really want to see and goes the extra mile to answer their questions. She has a very down to earth personality that is so fun, it feels like you’re just hanging out with your friend and talking about your favorite things. She recently launched an app that allows her subscribers to interact with her and each other. She’s simply lovely and I look forward to watching her weekly videos!

PrettySparklyShiny – Kristina’s channel just makes my day every time I watch one of her videos. I feel like I can relate to her tastes and interests in a lot of ways. She does a lot of makeup videos, but she also does reviews on technology, designer handbags, and planners on her blog as well. Her vlogs are so fun to watch, since you get to follow her all over Houston and enjoy her weekends with her. She has a really positive and optimistic style to her videos while still keeping’ it real, if you know what I mean.

Clothing

Ok, prepare yourself, we’re about to get personal here. But ladies, this really is a crucial part of working out. Having the proper clothing can make a big difference in your confidence to work out and also at times, motivate you to workout. I find that when I’m wearing clothes that make me feel good, I feel better about working out, because I don’t feel frumpy. So, I discovered a new sports bra that I love. Typically, when you work out, there’s the standard sports bra you can wear…which can sometimes be a hassle to put on or take off and can discourage you from working out. At least, that’s how it’s always been for me. I decided I needed to invest in something that would make me feel feminine, be comfortable, and still support me. I discovered Victoria’s Secret Sports bras. They provide the perfect amount of support, comfort, and they make you look cute while you workout. They also offer different kinds of fits and closures which can make it way easier to wear. Yes, they are a bit more expensive than a standard sports bra, but if you’re signed up on their mailing and email lists, they send out coupons and have sales running all the time! I don’t think I’ll ever go back to another kind of workout gear. 🙂

Food

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.08.31 AMDespite focusing on my health goals in February, I did have a few favorite treats that hit the spot! Justin’s peanut butter cups are better than Reese’s in my opinion. I usually will keep a pack in my purse in case I need a little bit of protein or just a snack. My favorite are the dark chocolate cups! They’re organic and they taste so good.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.09.23 AMAnother chocolate favorite is Hershey’s chocolate spread (can you see the chocolate theme?). Since it was Valentine’s Day in February, I enjoyed some chocolate strawberries with this chocolate spread. I seriously could eat it with a spoon right out of the container, but I try to reserve it just for strawberries. 😉

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 3.10.28 AMI’ve given up soda with my new fitness plan and so instead, I’ve been drinking a lot of water and juice. I discovered Disani sparkling water and it has just a hint of flavor and carbonation. So, when I’m craving a soda, instead, I can mix some of the Disani sparkling water with some juice and get a healthy soda substitute. Plus, the sparkling water is good on it’s own, so when I’m enjoying a meal that I’d usually pair with a soda, I just get a sparkling water instead.

So before March is over, what have you been loving in February? Who do you watch on YouTube? What’s been your favorite snack or most motivating workout gear?

Pepper’s Makeup Bag | All About Those Brows

I decided to start a new series featuring beauty products that I use, products I’ve tried, products I love, and drugstore substitutes I’ve found for high end products. Please keep in mind that these posts are just my opinion, and know that I typically try products that I’ve heard good things about from beauty bloggers, vloggers, and people I know in real life. I am not sponsored to post these reviews. I am not a beauty guru, nor do I have any professional background in cosmetics, I just love makeup!

This week raises a few eyebrows, since we’re talking brow gels and brow pencils. Brow gels have caught my eye in the past year or so and have made a huge difference in my makeup routine. Until the beginning of last year, I had never really done anything to my brows and usually just ran a brow comb through them. I started hearing some of my favorite beauty bloggers talk about brow products and doing brow tutorials and began seeing the benefit of what finishing out your brows can do for your overall look. Brows frame your eyes, give more definition to your face, and help polish your look. I honestly can’t do even my most simple and quick routine now without doing something to my brows.

I’ve been using my favorites for the past year: 150227-BrowPost-BrowWhiz150227-BrowPost-GimmeBrowthe Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Brow Whiz and Clear Brow Gel! I’ve tried the ever popular Gimme Brow by Benefit in the past, too. However, since we’ve become a sin150227-BrowPost-ClearBrowGelgle income household, these high end products, while they’re amazing, they burn a whole in your budget quick! Benefit’s Gimme Brow is teeny tiny, and costs a whopping $22 and while the Brow Whiz by Anastasia Beverly Hills last longer (mine lasts on average 6 months with everyday use) it’s still a chunk of change at $21, plus the Clear Brow Gel at $22, they add up to $43.

So, I had been on the hunt lately for a drug store 150227-BrowPost-BrowMascaraand more budget friendly option. I was excited to see an ad for L’Oreal’s Brow Stylist Plumper Brow Gel Mascara as I was clipping coupons. On my next errand run I made sure to check it out and my jaw dropped when I saw the price: $8.99! My wallet breathed a sigh of relief and when I tried it at home, I was converted! The wand is the length of a mascara wand which offered much more control. I was able to have a lighter touch and not have to clean up or redo my brows, like I almost always ended up having to do with Benefit’s Gimme Brow’s short wand. The L’Oreal gel has fibers to help fill in your brows, a slight tint, and held my brows in place all day! Since I’ve had this in my makeup drawer, I noticed I’ve been grabbing this instead of my Benefit Gimme Brow or Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel. I like using this gel, because if I’m just having a light and easy makeup day, I can just use this gel and still have brows that look neat and filled in.

150227-BrowPost-NyxFor days when I’m wanting fuller more defined brows or doing a more glammed up makeup look, I use both a brow pencil and brow gel. I still have a special place in my heart for Anastasia Beverly Hills’ Brow Whiz, but I just recently found a drugstore alternative with the same concept. Most brow pencils have to be sharpened and don’t come with a little handy spooly which is why I fell in love with the Brow Whiz in the first place. Nyx finally came out with a twist up pencil (no need to sharpen) and a spooly combo brow pencil! Priced at $9.99, it’s a perfect dupe for the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Whiz. I can’t tell you how I excited I got when I found the Nyx Micro Brow Pencil! I absolutely love it!

So altogether, my brow budget has gone from $65 (when you add all the high end brow products I was using…OUCH!) to $18.98! These drugstore products are easier to find, cost less, and give you the same great results. I highly recommend them!

What are your favorite brow products?
What kind of beauty products would you like to read about next?

January Favorites!

I don’t know about you, but I always love monthly favorites posts. I love discovering new and interesting products to try! So, with January wrapping up, I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you for this month. Please note that I am not sponsored by any of the brands I recommend, I just love their products!

Savings
150131-RebateAppsAfter the holidays, for me, there’s always what I call the “financial recovery period” during January. With Christmas shopping, Christmas parties, holiday travel, New Year’s parties, the expenses add up quickly during the holiday season, plus it’s easy to get into the mindset of “spend, spend, spend.” After the festivities are done and all the pine needles are swept up, not only can the house look empty without all the decorations, but it can also feel like your wallet is empty, funds are extra tight, and the freedom to spend for fun things can be limited. So this month, I’ve been focusing on ways to save money and even earn extra cash for either saving or having “fun spending” money on hand. In addition to my regular budgeting and couponing, I’ve really gotten into rebate apps! With rebate apps, you can earn cash for buying items that you already plan on buying. The process is simple and takes only a few minutes after your shopping trip. You simply verify your purchases from the available rebates and upload your receipt, then watch your savings grow! When you reach the cash out minimum, you can either put your earnings into a PayPal account that you can transfer to your bank account, or you can earn gift cards for you favorite stores. Plus, the best part is that you can stack the savings of using your rebate apps with store sales, coupons, and other rewards programs! I mentioned ibotta and SavingStar, my top two favorite rebate apps, in my “What’s On My Phone?” post. A few of the other apps I use are Checkout 51, Snap, Shrink, Jingit, and Shopkick.

Another way that I’ve found to save money this month is by using SundayCouponPreview.com. I usually like to get a Sunday paper for coupon inserts from RedPlum, SmartSource, or P&G. While I know there are multiple sources for printable coupons, I personally still like being able to look through the inserts and clip the coupons I need without worrying if my printer will print them clearly. I’ve also found it makes the checkout process faster for the cashier and minimizes the chance of a coupon not being accepted. Before discovering SundayCouponPreview.com, I would buy a paper and sometimes get a load of coupons or none at all. With this website, you can sign up for a weekly email that lists which inserts will be included in the Sunday paper and all the coupons that each insert will include. This way, I can look ahead to see if I need to buy a paper or not. It’s become one of my go-to tools for saving money through couponing!

Beauty
150131-CurelI love when I find beauty products that just work! You know that feeling when you’re trying a new product and instantly fall in love because it’s like you’ve finally found exactly what you’ve been needing in your daily beauty routine? I’m no beauty guru, but the following products quickly became products I couldn’t live without this month, to the point that I’ve been raving about them to my family and friends. First, Curel lotion saved my skin this winter! Between the cold weather and harsh Oklahoma wind, my skin gets so dried out during the winter time. The lotions I’ve used in the past might feel nice when they’re applied, but don’t fully absorb into my skin to stay. Curel soaked deep to heal my dry skin without feeling greasy and kept my skin soft and comfortable through the winter weather.

150131-StyleSexyHairNext, I have been loving the Style Sexy Hair 450° Blow Out Spray! I received a full size bottle in my Ipsy bag this month and have used it every time I blow dry my hair. You can add it to your regular styling product or heat protectant before you blow dry your hair (even though it does offer heat defense). You spray it on your damp hair and use your favorite brush to basically create a blow out for your hair at home that lasts longer than your typical home blow dry. Usually when I blow dry my hair, I have some frizz despite trying (key word “trying”) to carefully angle my dryer, but with this blow out spray, the frizz is gone. Plus, my hair has less static, stays light and feels clean longer between washes. It’s a tiny bottle and a little pricey, but it’s powerful stuff and worth the price!

150131-PurityI know a lot of people rave about Philosophy’s Purity Facial Cleanser, but I had to include it. I’ve been using this cleanser for a little over a year and I wish I had discovered it years ago. It’s the only cleanser that removes all my makeup, including eye makeup, without leaving my skin feeling dried out or oily. I’ve purchased this product multiple times despite it being a little more expensive than your typical drugstore cleansers, but you don’t need very much and every bottle I’ve had has lasted a l-o-n-g time…

150131-TarteMascaraMy wonderful husband spoiled me this Christmas with a makeup gift bag of goodies from Sephora. Inside were several high end products that included both full size and sample size items. One of the samples was the Tarte Light, Camera, Lashes Mascara. Now, normally I don’t buy high end mascara since mascara doesn’t last as long as say, a powder or eye shadow before you need to buy a new one, but this mascara has won me over. While my lashes aren’t terribly short, they’re the kind that have a mind of their own and don’t really hold a curl, so they tend to look short as the day goes on. This mascara holds the curl all day and adds length to my lashes. The formula doesn’t get clumpy and coats the lashes evenly. I’ll be using my sample until it runs out, but once it does I plan on treating myself to a full size tube. 😉

Products
150131-GainThis may be old news to most people, but this month I discovered the amazingness that is Gain Fireworks Scent Boosters! I have become addicted to using these lovely pellets of aroma in my laundry. I love that I can wash a load of laundry and it still smells fresh and clean over a week later. Fellow LEOW ladies, this product is also great for your husband’s uniforms. Sometimes, depending on how my hubby’s police shift went, (like a hot and humid day wearing his vest all day, having to be around gross and stinky substances, or even wearing a uniform two days in a row during the winter time with of multiple layers underneath) after a wash his uniforms don’t always smell as fresh as his off duty clothes that don’t go through as much rigor. With the Gain Fireworks Scent Boosters, the fresh scent both eliminates any funky smells he might have come home with and keeps his clothes smelling nice for several days. 

150131-DymoSince we moved into our house over a year ago, I have yet to get my files all wrangled into a place where I can find them easily. It’s been driving me crazy! So this month I’ve finally carved out time to work on my office and have been working to make it more functional. One of the nifty tools I’ve been using to both motivate me and help me find files more easily has been my Dymo LetraTag Label Maker. It’s so fun and simple to use, plus it sure beats my hurried handwriting on file folders. There are several options for formatting and styles. The labels are bright and easy to apply, plus they stay in place on whatever you’re labeling.

Entertainment & Technology
150131-FriendsNetflixI admit, the TV is on quite a bit in our house, but I honestly use it more like a radio. I usually get hooked on a TV series on Netflix or Hulu and play episodes in the background while I’m doing things around the house or working on the computer… When my husband comes home for his dinner break or is off duty, we usually will enjoy watching TV shows together… This month, Friends was finally released on Netflix and my husband and I are hooked! Neither of us grew up watching it, even though we had both seen reruns here or there. We started watching it from the first season and it’s quickly become one of our favorite shows! Friends has joined both The Office and Arrested Development as a show that we both enjoy and can watch anytime together. 

150131-InvisibiliaI’ve mentioned how I enjoy podcasts in my “What’s On My Phone?” post. I recently discovered another captivating podcast called, Invisibilia. I got hooked on the first episode and look forward to each new one. Every episode takes you on a unique intellectual journey through various “invisible” topics. They dig into discovering and exploring the invisible things that affect humanity and society. So far, they’ve discussed things like how thoughts, fear, and expectations impact us.  

This last item has probably impacted my January the most! I’ve been trying to stick to daily goals I set and get more of a consistent routine down. As I mentioned in my “How I Use My Planner” post, I’ve always been overly ambitious with my goals or plan for the day and usually would end up getting discouraged when everything wouldn’t get done. 150131-TimefulIn addition to my planner, I’ve been using the Timeful app to help me gain a more realistic idea of how much time I actually have in the day to get things done. You can add appointments, tasks, or reminders for various things that you want to accomplish. You can either assign a specific time to the task or have Timeful add it where there may be an open slot. It allows you to rearrange items if need be and let’s you check off tasks as you complete them (That’s my favorite part! Nerd, I know…). From using this app, I’ve been learning how long it actually takes for me to complete a task and how much I can actually accomplish in a day. It’s helped make my days more productive and I notice that I feel more like I’ve put in a full day’s work instead of just roaming around from one thing to another without a sense of true accomplishment. I can’t recommend this app enough! Plus, it’s free! 🙂

What are a few of your favorites this month?