lifestyle

Cleaning Hacks (and Products) for Keeping Your Home Tidy All Year

Hi friends,

Has everyone finished their Spring cleaning yet?

I know I haven’t…but my husband and I have been trying to make progress little by little whenever we have a few hours on the weekend.

I’ve discovered a few cleaning tips, tricks, and products that can help make things easier for you, just as they have for us.

Check out my recommended cleaning hacks and cleaning products below, click the images to purchase, and don’t forget to leave your own suggestions in the comments! ❤

Reusable Dryer Sheets: You’ve probably got these guys stored wherever you do laundry already, but did you know they can be used for household cleaning after you use them in the dryer? Used dryer sheets don’t need to be thrown away; they can be used to clean off mirrors and other glass surfaces, coffee tables, and even the inside of your toilet (preferably not all with one dryer sheet…lol). This is a great hack because it’s likely something you’re already using and therefore doesn’t cost you anything extra. Cheap (or free) hacks are the best hacks, no?

Drill Scrub Brush: I kid you not, my husband actually bought a drill just so he could clean our bathroom floor with this scrub brush. But hey, don’t knock it. Not only was the process a bit more amusing for him, he got our bathroom floor (grout included) spotless by using this drill scrub method. The brushes themselves are pretty cheap. We’re going to try doing the shower walls with it next so I’ll keep you all updated.

Dish Soap for Stains: This is more of a clothes cleaning than house cleaning hack, but still applicable, in my option. Did you know that dish soap can get almost anything out of clothing? Spill some marinara sauce on your white sweater? Get a grease stain on a t-shirt you love? Swipe your shirt sleeve with mascara while trying to get ready at the crack of dawn? Next time you get a tricky substance on your clothing, sheets, or a towel, put it under warm water, add some dish soap, and rub gently. You’ll be amazed at how well this works and all of the different things it works for.

Scrub Mommy Sponges: My aunt gave me these for Christmas a few years ago and I haven’t used another sponge since. These sponges are durable and useful, with one tough (yet gentle enough not to scratch) scrubbing side and one smoother absorbent side. They are great for washing any type of dish, cleaning counters, and cleaning off appliances as well. Plus they come in cute smiley-face shapes.

Robot Vacuum: Sure, having a robot vacuum probably feels a little bit like cheating, but you can’t deny how convenient it is that these things exist. It’s not as necessary right now as I live in a two bedroom condo, but once I move into a full-size house I know I’m going to appreciate our robot vacuum immensely. I can have it rolling around on the floor cleaning up while I’m taking care of other household chores. These are a little on the pricier side, of course, but if you invest in a well-made one, I think it’s totally worth it.

beauty, lifestyle

Natural Everyday Look with Drugstore Makeup

Hi all,

So, unlike many other bloggers (and many other girls in general) I’m not a huge fan of makeup.

When I was younger I was never allowed to wear it, and that’s probably why I wasn’t really interested in makeup when I got older.

I’m also pretty terrible at doing my own makeup; again, most likely due to my lack of practice.

However, I do like to wear basic makeup when I want to look a little more dressed up, so I’ll do a natural look for client meetings, parties, photo shoots, etc.

I wanted to share a super simple, natural makeup approach that is my go-to whenever I want to highlight my natural features and make my skin look more even-toned.

All of the products I use can be found in a drug store or on Amazon (all are linked to Amazon in this post) and are pretty inexpensive.

So here’s a step-by-step guide of how to create my natural makeup look; this only takes 20-25 min and is very easy to do, so it’s perfect for a daily morning routine or a once-in-a-while look refresh.

Step 1: Primer

Maybelline Master Blur Stick Primer

This product is actually a recent find for me, but I absolutely love it.

It has great coverage for a primer and the “Light” shade blends perfectly with my skin tone; I’ve actually worn just this primer with mascara when in a rush!

It is also available in a transparent color, which allow you to get the same pore minimizing benefits with an even more natural look.

Step 2: Foundation

Maybelline Dream Matte Mousse

I love this foundation because it goes on smooth and is still only light-medium coverage.

In the winter I use the Ivory shade but in the warmer months I switch to one of the Light or Light-Medium shades; they have a lot to choose from so you should be able to find the right one for your skin tone.

You can use any type of blender or sponge to put on your foundation, but I prefer the standard makeup wedges; they are cheap and disposable, so I can just throw them away after a few uses to avoid causing extra breakouts on my skin.

Step 3: Bronzer

Too Faced Chocolate Soleil Bronzer

This is one of the most expensive makeup items I own, but I actually got it from an Ipsy bag some time ago and it has lasted me a while.

A few things I love about this product: it smells like chocolate (!!!), it adds the perfect amount of color and slight tan to my face, and it (seemingly) lasts forever.

I would definitely recommend this bronzer, but if it’s a little above your price point, there are certainly others from trusted brands like Neutrogena or Maybelline that are cheaper.

Step 4: Mascara

Covergirl Bombshell Mascara

This mascara is literally the BOMB…it’s double-sided and adds both volume and length to your lashes.

I’ve read online that a trick to getting really great-looking lashes is to use two different mascaras, but you don’t even have to do that with this Covergirl tube because it’s already two in one.

I kind of bought this on a whim a few years ago when I saw the commercial for it, but I’ve loved it ever since and am always going back to get the same one when I run out.

Step 5: Lip

Baby Lips Coral Crave

I’ve posted about Baby Lips before; it’s basically a great lip balm with a few different shades to choose from.

My everyday go-to is Coral Crave, which is just slightly pinker than my natural lip color.

It adds a little more color to my face without it even looking like I have anything on, which is awesome.

That’s it! I don’t use eyeliner, highlighter, eye shadow, or setting spray for my typical makeup look.

As I mentioned, I like to keep it simple and I also aim to highlight my natural features rather than changing the look of them.

Of course, I’m not knocking anyone who likes a more intensive makeup look; I went the first 18-ish years of my life wearing virtually no makeup, so even this very minimal style sometimes feel like a lot on my skin.

The thing that I think is cool about makeup is how customizable it is; there are so many different products out there that you can choose something as bold or as tame as you want, and you can change it up every single day if you want to.

I hope you found this list of products useful, and I’m more than happy to hear any makeup tips you may have to share!

Comment below to let me know some of your favorite products, and what you think they work best for (every day look, costume makeup, extra glam, etc).

Thanks for checking out my latest post and I hope to see you back here again soon! ❤ 🙂

Top | Jeans | Necklace
lifestyle, tips

Tips for Saving Money Each Month

Hi all,

I can’t believe I almost missed today’s post with just a few days left in my blogging challenge!

But I made it in time, and I’m here to share some money saving hacks with you.

These are little things you can do each month to help you save here and there, and eventually you small monthly savings will add up over time.

All of these things don’t require much effort and are therefore easy to start or implement into your current monthly routine.

Let’s jump right in!

Set up a monthly budget. If you don’t have one already, you should absolutely create a budget ASAP. You can use online resources like Mint or do it on your own. Creating a budget doesn’t have to be anything complicated, just list out all of the expenses you know you have each month, then list out any luxuries that you splurge on regularly. Subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly income, and you’ll get an idea of how much money you have left over. If you notice that you don’t have much left over each month, you may want to consider spending less on luxuries or cutting some out altogether.

Contribute to a savings account. If you don’t already have a separate bank account just for savings, the first thing you need to do is create one. This is an extra account that is not meant to be used or even touched for a long period of time. Once you have the account, make sure you are contributing to it every month (or every 2 weeks, if you can swing it). I have a set transfer from my checking account to my savings account, occurring twice monthly. As my expenses and my salary change, I change this amount, but I do make sure it is always happening bi-monthly. I’ve managed to save up a nice chunk over the last year or so, and because my transfer isn’t a huge amount and it happens automatically, I hardly even notice the money coming out.

Bring your lunch. If you work full time, you may have fallen into the pattern of going out or buying lunch every day. Not only does this get expensive, it also probably isn’t the most healthy option. Since I started working full time 6 years ago, I have always made and/or brought my lunches to work, and it blows my mind to hear others talk about how much money they spend in a week on food. I light to eat multiple light meals throughout the day and then a big dinner at night, so I bring things like granola bars, fruit, rice cakes, protein shakes, cheese, raw vegetables, and nuts with me to work with me. Meal prepping is another great option; my sister makes all of her lunches for the week on Sunday, and she packs things like salad, guac and hummus with pita and vegetables, cooked vegetables, grilled chicken, baked sweet potatoes, you name it! When you’re buying and making your own food, you’ll likely save money AND you’ll know exactly what’s going into your food.

Don’t pay full price for things. Okay, so this isn’t always an option, but when you can manage it you’ll probably save yourself from spending a lot of extra money. Let’s talk shopping, for example. I have a post about apps you can use to save money while shopping, and one of them helps you to track items that you want to buy. It notifies you when they go on sale, so you can wait before buying something to see if the price goes down. I recently did this with a new pair of Steve Madden slides I’ve been wanting. They caught my eye weeks ago but I made myself wait to see if they would go on sale, and they did this weekend! I ordered them today at 30% off (plus 10% cash back!) and saved big! That money I would’ve spent by paying full price can now be saved for something else in the future. I know it can be hard to be patient living in this instantly gratifying world that we do, but forcing yourself to shop a little smarter (and not instantly buy every pretty thing you see) is a good exercise that I think a lot of us could benefit from.

Those are my quick hacks for saving a little bit each month.

Whether you want to have more spending money, are saving up for a house, or anything in between, I believe that these small efforts can pay you big dividends if you stick to them.

Feel free to share any additional tips you have for saving, or shopping smarter!

You guys know by now that I love a good shopping score. 🙂 ❤

lifestyle

Work Desk Essentials

Hi everyone,

Here we are again at the start of the work week.

I hope your Mondays weren’t too rough…I for one can say I’m super excited to be home and relaxing for the rest of the night.

Since I’ve got work on the brain, I figured this was a great time to do a post on my must-have accessories for work.

I spend a LOT of time at my job and, therefore, at my desk, so I try to make sure I have everything I need––or could possibly need––there with me.

Here’s a quick list of my work desk essentials.

If you’re getting into a new job or are just looking for a list of things you should keep at work, this may be helpful for you.

  1. Some cute writing utensils and stationary; my job provides me with basic stuff like this, but it’s always fun as a Creative to get inspired by pretty pens or paper)
  2. Gum; you never know when you might need to freshen up your breath, or when the 3pm snack urges will arrive and you won’t want to give in to them yet again
  3. Water; I keep a washable bottle at my desk and fill it up at our water coolers a few times a day. The bottle includes volume measurements on the side so it helps me keep track of how I’m hydrating and set goals to keep myself drinking throughout the day
  4. Lotion; those bathroom hand soaps make my skin feel so dry, so I always keep a nice-smelling lotion on my desk
  5. Tissues/napkins; tissues are obvious, but it also helps to have napkins in case you’re eating (most of my lunches take place at my desk during busy months) or have a spill you need to clean up
  6. Tea; I did a post not too long ago about my love of tea, so it’s nice to have a few different flavor options with me at work
  7. Chargers; especially one for my phone. I can’t count how many times that thing has saved me
  8. A blanket; or sweater…most offices keep the temperature pretty cool (I’m sitting at my desk shivering regardless of the season), so I keep a blanket at my desk to keep my legs warm when I’m feeling chilly. My blanket has Spongebob on it, so my coworkers get a kick out of it
  9. Headphones; my office recently changed to an “open seating” layout, which doesn’t bother me too much because I’m great at tuning out pretty much anything. However, on days when I’m tired or frustrated and need to shut out all the noise, headphones are a Godsend
  10. Snacks; I try not to keep too many snacks at my desk, because if I did I’d probably just sit there munching all day. I do keep some granola bars, oatmeal, and other emergency foods with me in case I’m feeling extra hungry or forget to bring food with me that day

So, what am I missing?

Comment below to share some additional things you keep at your desk…you may be helping me think of something I’ll need in the future!

As much as I wish this weren’t the truth, my job has become a bit of a second home to me.

I spend a lot of time there, and in recent weeks I spend a lot of EXTRA time there, so it helps for me to have things I need there and to make the space feel a little more comfortable.

I think part of dealing with a stressful job is making sure you take care of yourself as much as possible, and having some items that I need or enjoy at my fingertips every day helps make that a little easier for me.

I hope you all have a great Monday night, and are able to rest up for the rest of the week ahead.

We’ve got this!

beauty, lifestyle

My Daily Skincare Routine

Hi all, and Happy Easter to those who celebrate!

I’m on my way to our second family dinner for the day, but wanted to make sure I get today’s post in.

I’m going to share my daily skincare routine, including the products I use to wash and moisturize my face.

I don’t wear makeup on a regular basis, so I won’t be including that in this post.

I’ll probably do a future post with the makeup products I use and how I use them, though, if you guys are interested!

So here we go…daily skincare routine!

Step 1: Morning Wash

I wash my face once per day, in the morning.

I use a basic Cetaphil daily cleanser, which is unscented and great for sensitive skin.

I had a lot of acne and skin issues when I was younger, so I try to stick to tested and true products that are dermatologist recommended, which is how I found this cleanser.

I use it every day and it leaves my skin feeling clean and refreshed without drying out my face.

Step 2: Moisturize

After washing my face, I rub it dry with a clean hand towel.

I have been told in the past to pat my skin dry, but I actually feel that rubbing it with the towel helps add some extra exfoliation to my daily routine, and that’s been working for me.

I use Neutragena face lotion on my face immediately after washing and drying.

There is a sensitive skin version that works perfectly for me, but when I’m going to be running or spending time outside I use the one with SPF 15.

I do feel that the one with sunscreen in it makes my face feel just a little bit greasy; it’s not enough to make me break out or anything like that, but still enough of a reason for me to use the one without sunscreen if I’m going to be sitting in the office all day.

That’s really all I do to my face in the morning, and I don’t wash it at night unless I’ve had makeup on.

I use this Garnier makeup remover when I do wear makeup, and it works really well.

It is great for getting off any kind of makeup, including waterproof, and is gentle on the skin.

It even works well for removing eye makeup, and I obviously avoid getting it in my eyes but it doesn’t irritate them when it’s close to them or anything like that.

The only other thing that I do for my skin is derma roll about twice a week.

As I mentioned, I used to have a lot of acne as a teen, so I do have some scarring on my face and I just feel that my skin has gotten damaged over the years.

For those who aren’t familiar, derma rolling basically involves taking a tool with a spiked roller on the end and rubbing it over your skin.

It feels a little prickly but isn’t too painful, and it helps your skin regenerate itself.

I get lazy with rolling sometimes and don’t stick to the twice weekly schedule, but I do see an increase in smoothness, softness, and radiance of my skin when I’m doing it regularly.

There are also people who use derma rollers on areas of the scalp where their hair is thinning, and some see hair regrowth after doing it for a little while!

Those are basically all of the things that I use on my skin.

This is a bit of a simple post, but I feel that the less stuff I am putting on my face, the better.

When I was younger I put so many creams and treatments on my skin, I felt like it was always irritated and it got red so easily.

When it comes to skincare, I’ve definitely learned that less is more, and hopefully this approach can work well for some of you.

I hope you enjoy the rest of your day and have a great week! ♥️😊

See you next time.

books, tips

How I Read 50+ Books in One Year

Hey everyone,

Today I want to talk about a big goal that I accomplished recently.

Last year i set out to read 50 books in 365 days, and I was able to do it!

I read as often as I have time to, but this was still far more books than I’d previously read in one year.

Now, by some readers’ standards 50 books in one year isn’t a lot, but I was impressed with myself being able to read this many books while training for a marathon, planning a wedding, and working full time.

Here are a few ways I was able to maximize my reading time, and make progress towards my goal even with a hectic schedule.

Bring a book everywhere you go

We’ve all had to endure unexpected delays or wait times for things.

Luckily, with modern technology most of us are able to stay amused or pass the time on the Internet or playing around on our phones, but having a book on you during that time can make a big difference when it comes to reaching your reading goals.

I usually try to keep a book with me when I know I’ll have downtime, like when I’m getting on a plane or going to be waiting at the dentist’s office.

While trying to meet my reading goal last year, I started to become very aware of times that I could’ve been reading, but wasn’t able to because I didn’t have a hard copy book or one loaded onto my phone.

It was at that point that I started to carry a book with me wherever I went, even if I didn’t think I’d have time to pull it out.

I ended up having a lot more additional reading opportunities than I expected, so always having the book there allowed me to capitalize on those moments and, therefore, get further ahead in my goal

Use audiobooks and e-readers

So, I’m very much one of those people who doesn’t like to read books on electronic devices.

However, I decided to make an exception to help me meet my goal last year, and it did prove to be very effective.

For some reason it is actually socially acceptable these days to ignore others to stare at your phone, but if you pull out a book in a public setting you get a lot of weird looks and are deemed antisocial.

I don’t understand this, but there are a lot of other social “norms” that baffle me, so I decided to get a couple of books on my phone and in those very situations I was able to read quietly to myself without “disturbing” others by whipping out a few-hundred-page book and slapping it on top of a table.

I also made good use of my two hour round-trip commute by listening to audiobooks on my way to and from work.

Not only did my drive go by much faster those days, but I was able to get through even more books.

I was worried my attention span or retention level wouldn’t be as great when listening to a book rather than actually seeing the words, but I got really into the stories and, especially when there were talented narrators, the book stuck in my mind just as it would if I had read a hard copy

Set aside time to read each day – and stick to it

Saying you are going to read every day is one thing, but actually following through with that is another.

At the end of my workdays my brain tends to be exhausted, as do my eyes after staring at a computer screen for hours on end.

I often find myself getting lazy when it comes to reading, but because I had a goal to work towards last year I really made myself commit to nightly reading before bed.

Promising myself I was going to do so, and then actually pushing myself to do it, really helped me stick to reading on a regular basis.

Replace screen time (and other activities) with reading

Like I mentioned, I’m very tired when I get home from work.

A lot of times all I want to do, and all that I end up doing, is binging mindless TV series.

It’s much easier to stare at a screen and not have to think much, especially when you’re mentally overexerted, but it’s not nearly as rewarding as sitting down and reading a book after a long day.

In order to make time for reading in my busy schedule, I had to swap out a few other things.

Late night TV watching was one of those things, but I didn’t miss it much once I got into reading at night before bed.

I was actually much more relaxed on nights when I skipped my teen dramas for a novel, and found that my mind was a lot calmer, as well.

Share your goals and progress with others

This is a common method for trying to stick to goals; when you share your aspirations with others, not only are you holding yourself accountable, you have an outside source that’s holding you accountable as well.

By sharing my reading goal with friends and family, I was even more motivated to make it happen.

Whenever I was asked how the reading was going, it was a friendly reminder to me that I had to keep going.

In a way, my telling others that I would read 50 books in one year was me speaking it into reality, and after that it was up to me to keep that statement honest.

The bottom line is that, even though we all have so much going on in our lives, there is always time to do what we love or what we truly want to accomplish.

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to read so much last year, and I learned a few new ways to make reading more present in my life.

If you really want to make something happen, like reading a certain number of books in a year, all you have to do is take that plunge and fully commit to it.

Make the time to read, and then stick to it. Always have some form of a book with you, and use all of the extra time you have to read that book. And, of course, make sure you are enjoying what you’re reading.

There’s no shame in closing a book that just isn’t doing anything for you after 50-100 pages.

Reading is a way for us to gain knowledge but it’s also a form of escape for a lot of us.

If it starts to feel like a chore or if you find yourself dreading opening up a certain book, it’s time to cut your losses and move on to the next one.

I discovered so many wonderful and touching stories last year, and I can’t wait to discover more this year.

Happy reading, and I hope these tips help you maximize your book-devouring potential

Comment below to let me know some other ways you’re able to meet your reading goals. ❤ 🙂

advice, lifestyle

How to Be a Blogger Without Living on Your Phone

Hi all,

I’ve had this blog for about three months now, and I’ve been enjoying every minute since I started it.

However, running a blog takes a lot of time and effort, and one of my biggest concerns when starting was that it would turn me into one of those people who goes through life with their head constantly tilted down into their phone.

I have no problem putting in the effort; like I said, I really enjoy blogging, but I wanted to make sure that I maintained a balance between writing about my life and actually living it.

I think I’ve done a good job of keeping my blog going without neglecting my real life so far, so I wanted to share some methods I’ve used for running my blog and connected social media accounts while still being present in my day-to-day life.

Here are some ways I’ve been able to manage a blog without spending my whole life on my cell phone (or my laptop).

Set aside time dedicated to blogging, and time dedicated to not blogging.

Since I have a demanding full-time job outside of blogging, I need to make sure I set aside time dedicated to working on my blog and getting the word out about it.

I wake up a little earlier each morning so that I’ll have time to work on the blog and social media accounts that I have connected to it.

Then, when I get home from work, I’ll do some additional writing before dinner.

Late at night, when I’m relaxing in bed and watching TV, I’ll stay active on my Instagram and Pinterest accounts in order to make sure my blog has the highest possible visibility.

I try to stay off my phone during the day while I’m at work, when I’m spending time out with family and friends, or when I’m having meals. 

Because I have dedicated time to work on my blog in the morning and late at night I don’t have to be as stressed during the day knowing that I am taking some time away from it to do other things.

Use the proper resources to help run your blog.

There are so many resources available to bloggers these days, so I would certainly recommend taking advantage of them.

Apps like Tailwind can schedule posts on Instagram, for example.

So you can plan out your post when you do have time or want to be on your phone, and then have it post automatically at a time later in the day without needing to be on your phone to actually post it.

WordPress allows you to do something similar; we are all probably familiar with the post scheduling option.

When I have more time in the mornings or at night I write my posts and then schedule them to post later in the day at a more highly trafficked time.

Make your screen time as productive as possible.

Before starting my blog I used to spend a lot of time on personal social media accounts.

Now that I do have the blog, I have made it my top priority, which means I spend much less time active on other forms of social media.

When I set aside time to work on my blog, I try to avoid distractions or browsing on other sites.

This keeps me on track and helps me not to add extra amounts of unnecessary screen time.

So yes, since starting my blog I have ironically been less active on social media according to my personal accounts like Facebook and Snapchat, but I actually feel that this has been an improvement in my life.

Even since starting my blog, weekly notifications from my phone state that my total screen time has been going decreasing each week.

It has become a personal goal of mine to keep weekly screen time as low while still giving my blog enough attention and keeping my more relevant social media accounts as active as possible.

I am not yet at the point where blogging has brought me financial gain, but I am still serious about it and consider it a form of a job.

Just like with any job, you have to know when to unplug or to step away in order to still have a personal life.

Even though my blog is centered on lifestyle, it’s still important for me to have a work/life balance.

And with a job in the advertising industry plus blogging in my free time, it’s as challenging, yet as crucial, as ever for me not to let work take over my life.

That is why it’s so important for me and, in my opinion, for other bloggers to reduce the amount of time we spend on our phones or laptops.

With a whole world of readers and peers out there, it’s easy to get pulled in and to spend your whole life on the Internet, but I don’t think this is the best way to live.

What makes our lives so interesting and gives us the experience we need to write compelling stories is what we are doing every day, not just what we say about it.

So make sure you take some time every day to shut out the word on the other side of the screen, and make new memories involving the people and the places you love the most.

Happy reading, writing, and living.

I’ll see you next time. 🙂 ❤