Saturday, February 28, 2015

My Everyday Necklaces

I think we all have those pieces of jewelry that we enjoy wearing on an everyday basis. For me, it's necklaces, and here are the four that I keep on rotation.

The Key | I saw this adorable key necklace at Forever 21 when I was shopping for a small welcome aboard gift for me and my cousin on a cruise we were taking this summer. I was immediately drawn to the tiny design with a hint of bling. Forever 21 has some of the most affordable jewelry I have ever seen, and this necklace was no exception at a little over $2. I mean seriously guys, it does not get any better than this.

The Heart | This was a gift from my aunt this Christmas (another matching piece my cousin and I have), and I love it to pieces! It is sterling silver so I can wear it in the shower and not have to worry about taking it off. However, the chain somehow broke, so I'm going to take it back to Kohls to get it fixed as I really want to start wearing it again.

The Two-Toned Circle | This necklace probably looks really dirty to you, but I promise it's just scratches. I've worn this one more than any of the other necklaces here, so I wasn't surprised when I saw the wear and tear (sadly, the chain also broke on this one too.) It is a beautiful two-toned necklace featuring a silver half circle and a gold half circle. I always get compliments when I wear this as people assume it's one circle, but when they see it split apart, they are so surprised (see how easy it is to amuse my friends.) This was a present from my cousin last Christmas, and she told me she bought it from Urban Outfitters just in case you wanted to look for a similar one.

The Bar | This is by far my favorite jewelry find from Forever 21 as I had been searching high and low for a gold bar necklace for a long time. I just couldn't fork over a huge amount of money for a simple bar, so when I saw this one at Forever 21, I immediately snatched it up and knew I won big time (and yes, it was only a little over $2 again. I still can't get over the price!) I love pairing this with a chunky sweater or a plain long sleeve shirt as the simplicity of both the clothing and necklace compliment each other perfectly.

Do you have pieces of jewelry you wear almost everyday?


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Beauty and Non-Beauty Favorites | February 2015

February has flown by in a whooosh, and I am so excited for March as it's my birthday month! Oddly enough, I have no new makeup favorites this month, but nevertheless, I have so much to share with you guys.

SKINCARE | Origins Checks and Balances Face Wash
I received a deluxe sample when I made a purchase a while back, and I am so happy this was one of the samples I chose. It is a frothy face wash that is not abrasive or drying to the skin. It does an incredible job at cleansing the oils off my face in the morning and leaves my face feeling fresh. I love the slight hint of peppermint as well as it wakes me up in the morning.

BODY SPRAY | Bath & Body Works White Citrus
I think this is the epitome of fresh. White Citrus is a beautiful light scent that features a unique blend of crisp lemon, invigorating grapefruit and lush waterlily, layered with ginger flower

BODYCARE | Bath & Body Works Violet Lily Sky Shower Gel
This is my absolute favorite scent right now, and since I suck at describing scents, Bath & Body Works describes it as a heavenly blend of fresh violet blooms, sparkling bergamot & lily petals. completely agree with the heavenly part. I no longer see it on the website, but if it comes back, make sure to take a sniff if you're ever in B&BW.

PAMPER TREAT | Bath & Body Works Stress Relief Body Wash and Foam Bath in Eucalyptus Tea
Okay, by now you must think they sponsor me or something, but sadly, they don't (Please sponsor me B&BW. I love youuuu.) I've been trying to take weekly Sunday night bubble baths (relishing in having the ability to take a bath before college starts in the fall), and this has been the perfect accompaniment. Tons of bubbles and a lovely scent. Some of their aromatherapy products can be a bit strong for me, but this one features tea to give it a perfect balance.

HEALTH | Contigo Water Bottle 
My mom constantly reminds me to drink more water, but I find it so difficult! This pretty blue bottle was actually a birthday gift for mom, but we traded bottles, so now I get to drink from this beauty. I love being able to open it with a press of a button, and it's leak-proof if twisted tight as I keep it in my bag. I can honestly say that I've been drinking more water because of it!

SONG | "Shut Up and Dance" by Walk the Moon
I have heard this song before this month, but it was the first time I started listening to it on repeat. It's such a fun song to dance (aka awkwardly wiggle) around to when I'm doing my homework.

SINGER | Sam Smith 
Sam is my absolute favorite (okay, well Taylor Swift too) every month, but I was in need of some good Sam Smith therapy as I had a high (almost buying tickets to his summer concert), and then an ultimate low (not being able to buy the tickets because things didn't work out for one reason or another) this month.

TV SHOW | The Bachelor
I've been getting such a big kick out of almost every episode this season. These girls are so incredibly dramatic that it makes a ridiculously fun Monday night watch. My Literature teacher watches it too, so I love talking about the craziness with her the next day.

BLOG | The Sunday Chapter 
I often feel the pressure of choosing my "favorite blog" of the month, so my very "clever" way of seeing which blog was really my favorite was by looking at whose blogs I have the most saved posts from. It was no question Angela's blog, The Sunday Chapter (can we please talk about how cute her blog name is), was number one as I constantly remembered myself clicking save throughout the month. She loves lists (and so do I), so I was incredibly amazed by her posts on 150 Blog Post Ideas for When You've Hit Writer's Block. Not to mention, her photography is stunning. Photo goals right there.

I just discovered this a few days ago, and I gave it a go for the first time yesterday. I have never seen such a huge difference in my pictures! Switching from shooting in JPEG to shooting in RAW is my newest photography "find" (I know, I'm so late to the game.) The picture I took for this post was the first that I have used with shooting in RAW. Tell me if you see a difference in this picture versus my previous ones!

Tell me what you have been loving in February! 


Saturday, February 21, 2015

Blogging Tips | DSLR vs. Point & Shoot Cameras

The big debate in the blogging world. DSLR vs Point & Shoot. Photography has been a recent passion of mine as I have become more and more engrossed in the world of blogging, and the great question of the difference between the two has always intrigued me.

For my DSLR, I have the Nikon 60D, and I use the lens it came with which is their 18-55 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. My point & shoot camera is a Canon Power Shot S110, a popular vlogging camera for Youtubers. The zoom lens on this one is a 5.2-26.0 mm lens. Please keep in mind that this is my experience with these two cameras and these two cameras only. All cameras perform differently!

original, unedited photos
Background Blurring | Although the leaves in the P&S shot appear clearer, the real focus of the picture is the nail polish itself, as that is what I am trying to feature. I personally prefer a blurred background as that draws the eye to the product, and the background was completely blurred in the DSLR shot. My P&S can do a great job blurring a background, but it tends to only do this when I am getting a close-up shot (and by close-up I mean even closer than this). The P&S does have auto-focus as well as a manual focus by simply clicking on the touch screen (something my DSLR does not have), but in general, my DSLR does a better job at naturally blurring the background.

Photo Quality | The quality of the P&S photos are by all means great, but the DSLR shots are simply better when viewed close up. Everything from shadows to depth perception is handled seamlessly by my DSLR.

Zoom Capabilities | My P&S wins hands down. To be fair, the lens on my DSLR is not a macro lens (a zoom lens), but it still sucks when I am trying to get an up-close product shot. On average, I have to be at least two inches away from the product for the picture to be taken. Whenever I need detail in a picture, such as the tiny pores in a beauty blender or an eyeshadow swatch, I turn to my P&S. I am constantly amazed by how incredible the zoom capabilities are.

Brightness | My P&S produces much brighter photos, and it does a wonderful job at picking up light in the darkest of places. My family was eating dinner at restaurant one night, and the lighting was quite dim. We asked a waiter to take a picture of us, but he assumed he would need flash to take the picture (no way sir), so I asked him to try it without the flash. When he saw the photo afterwards, both he and my family were amazed by how bright it was. If I am ever taking pictures outside at night, I will always turn to my P&S. However, during the day, my P&S sometimes lets in too much light if that's even possible. As seen in the P&S photo above, the light washed out the color of the nail polish.

Photo Accuracy | I am not sure why, but my P&S has tendencies to "distort" my photos. Products appear in odd angles that I never deemed possible. It's very hard to explain what I mean by this, but all I know is that my DSLR gives me exactly what I seeing through my lens whereas my P&S takes on its own interpretation to a slight degree. Nothing drastic, just a bit odd.

Editing | Since my P&S takes a much brighter photo, it is a lot easier to achieve a white background when editing. My DSLR tends to leave a grey cast over my photos which is quite hard to edit at times. If you are a person who does not know how to edit at all, a P&S is the camera for you.

Conclusion | I prefer my DSLR over my P&S, but with that being said, a P&S can by all means make a great blogging camera. P&S cameras are quite multi-functional as they are most often video cameras as well, and the quality is superb for a reasonable price. My DSLR is my all around best friend, but my P&S is my faux macro lens as I like to call it. If you have the money to invest in a DSLR, do it, but if you don't, there is nothing to worry about as a P&S will leave you with excellent quality photos (I promise I won't tell your secret.)


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

The (Un)favorites No. 1

There are so many wonderful products out there in the beauty world that it's hard eliminating my long list of wants. That's why I am starting a new series I call "The (Un)favorites" (so original, right?) in which I delve into the products that just didn't cut it for me. Hopefully I can save you some money on a few products you might want to skip the next time you're at the drugstore.

Neutrogena Skin Clearing Foundation | This foundation has an incredible number of claims: won't clog pores, hypoallergenic, controls shine with natural-looking coverage, and rapidly cuts through oil for fast acne relief. What they don't tell you is that it will make your face look like an oompa loompa. I am not messing around with you. This product oxidizes like craaaazy, and you are left with a lovely orange face. I put this on my cousin once, and the minute I saw her out in the sunlight, I wanted to cry! It didn't do much with controlling my spots either, so this was a complete dud for me.

Elf Lip Balm in Nude | For starters, this is not a lip balm. It's a lipstick and a very soft (too soft) one at that. This product does not apply evenly and leaves you with shimmery brownish orange lips. The color on the tube is a dusty pink, but that is surely not what's inside. I hate it when a brand shows the incorrect color on the packaging. Like is it really that hard? Should we be left to the play the guessing game? What the heck, I'll go and be the new color consultant.

Sonia Kashuk Double Duty Brush Set | When my mom first brought this set home, I was in awe as this was the first time I had ever laid eyes on a complete set. Being the sneaky girl I was, I slowly took a brush at a time, and pretty soon, I had acquired the entire thing. I was quite naive for the longest time and used the set happily; however, I soon tried brushes from brands like Real Techniques, and I realized how not great these brushes really are. The bristles on the blush, contour, and eyeliner brush are all incredibly coarse. The latter is the worst as the hairs aren't evenly cut, so it actually hurts to apply eyeliner! The foundation and concealer brushes are okay but nothing spectacular. I've heard tons of people raving about the Sonia Kashuk brushes, so they must have improved since I first got these three years ago.

Have you tried any products from these brands that you haven't liked?


Saturday, February 14, 2015

Recipe | Blueberry Muffin Smoothie

I am a sucker for beautiful food, and this vibrant purple smoothie is not one to disappoint. I took a snoop around Pinterest and found this scrumptious blueberry muffin smoothie recipe from Iowa Girl Eats. Surprisingly enough, I had all the ingredients at home, so I set out to give it a go and was blown away by how filling yet tasty this smoothie was. I've been on a kale smoothie craze these past few months, so it was nice to have a delicious change that wasn't overly sweet. Try out this treat for a mid-day snack, post-workout boost, or tasty dessert.

Ingredients (Serves 1)
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 4-6 oz. Greek yogurt (one individual-size container) 
  • 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1/4 cup of raw, uncooked oats
  • 1/2 cup of ice cubes
What is your favorite smoothie?


Saturday, February 7, 2015

Bedtime Reads No. 1

Books have a way of making me excited in the oddest way possible. I love the smell of new books. I love turning a fresh page, eager to delve into what happens next. I love becoming the character, picturing myself in a whole new world (*breaks out into song* I can show you the world / Shining, shimmering, splendid.) There is nothing more relaxing than ending a long day with a few pages from a great book, so here is my new series, Bedtime Reads!

Buyology by Martin Lindstrom | Martin Lindstrom's book, Brandwashed, was the sole factor in sparking my interest in marketing. I became so fascinated with branding, case studies, and everything of the sort that I knew from that point on I wanted to pursue a career in business, specifically marketing (and not law as I originally planned.) I became inclined to seek out his other books, so when Secret Santa time came to ask for a present, I had my eyes set on Buyology. So far, I am a few chapters in and definitely not disappointed. Bloggers tend to be ones who love to buy, so I would recommend this informative, yet engaging book, to any shopaholics out there.

Mrs. Kennedy and Me by Clint Hill and Lisa McCubbin | The life of secret service men have always interested me, so when it came time to pick out a nonfiction book to read in my language and composition class last year, I set my eyes on this one. I am currently re-reading this book as I loved it so much the first time. Mrs. Kennedy and Me details the Kennedy era of the presidency but provides a first person narration from Clint Hill, Jackie Kennedy's Secret Service agent, in which he reminisces on his endearing memories with the First Lady. I cried at the end of the book the first time I read it, and the tears will most likely flow out again the second time around.

Humans of New York by Brandon Stanton | I mentioned this book in my January favorites, and my oh my does it deserve the recognition. I am a long time follower of the HONY Facebook page, as I'm sure many of you are, but this book captures some of his favorite portraits and quotes in stunning detail. I call it the picture book for adults as each page touches on something so simple in appearance, yet so profound in meaning.

What books are you reading at the moment?

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