March Hits List!

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Good Morning and Happy Tuesday, everyone! I’m up bright and early today- not only because it’s my day off and I don’t want to waste a single minute of it- but because I’m also going to look at a beautiful studio loft apartment in Western Massachusetts a little later on this morning to see if it’s a good fit for me. I’m excited, a little anxious, but hopeful. Even if I’m unable to secure the apartment or even if it’s not “the one”- it’s still a step in the right direction- and it’ll still keep me motivated.

My end-of-the-month wrap-up will be up on the blog this coming Thursday- but before I get around to discussing some exciting news about my job and the details of an even more exciting mini-road trip I’m embarking on at the end of next week- I wanted to share some of the random things that have helped to completely make my March!

As usual (well, usual since I’ve started writing these posts every month, anyway)– I thought I’d start with the products/pieces I’ve been coveting over these past few weeks and then go into the stuff that I can’t exactly photograph easily.

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With Spring (kinda’) here- I’ve been preparing to trade in my favorite pair of knee-high black boots for more seasonally appropriate flats, sandals, and sneakers- and since I haven’t bought myself a decent pair of kicks in a while- I thought I’d splurge a little bit on these limited edition, glow-in-the-dark Andy Warhol-inspired high-tops from Converse. I’m absolutely loving the bright pops of color on these shoes- and like my other (and much more weathered) pairs of high-tops I’ve owned since high school (!!!)– these sneakers are just the most comfortable things to wear. My feet never get tired in Chuck Taylors. They just don’t. They are my favorite shoes- even if they make my feet look gigantic- and I intend on getting plenty of wear out of these ones, too.

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Of course, if I’m going to start rocking flats and sandals again- that means I have to make sure my feet look and feel good, first. I’m always down for a good pedicure (it’s the calf rub, honestly. I could sit in that cushy chair at the spa and just have my calves rubbed for three hours)– but I wanted to try an at-home treatment prior to my first pedi of the season so that I could spend more time getting my calves massaged and less time getting abused by the pumice stone. After reading many, MANY reviews (and being both horrified and fascinated by the post-application photos I saw)– I caved and ordered a package of Baby Foot Exfoliation Peel off of Amazon.

For those who have never heard of ‘Baby Foot’- the package comes equipped with two gel-soaked booties you strap onto your feet and leave on for an hour before rinsing the gel off and going about your business. Within a few days, however- the dry, dead skin on your feet begins to peel- and when I saw “peel”, I mean you are essentially a shedding snake for a good week/week and a half. Your skin comes off (painlessly!) in SHEETS. It’s disgusting and awesome at the same time- and when all that dead skin is gone- all you’re left with is super soft heels and toes. The stuff is incredible.

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Is it possible to fall madly and deeply in love with a liquid foundation? Because I think I did- and the love affair is still going strong. Some of you my recognize this full coverage Amazonian Clay Foundation from Tarte from my most recent Sephora Haul, but this stuff has truly been a lifesaver in ways I hadn’t even anticipated. Not only does it match my skin (FINALLY!), but it doesn’t feel like I’m wearing anything at all while I have it on- which is an amazing feat in itself for a product that covers every imperfection so ridiculously well. Please, Tarte- I beg of you- don’t ever discontinue this. You don’t understand how much it means to me.

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Even though we’re only in the early days of Spring, I’ve already opted for citrus, beach-y fragrances to get me through the next few months (I can’t do florals this year. I just can’t. Every year I do florals and I just needed a break from them.) I recently stocked up on body washes, lotions, and spritzes from Bath & Body Works‘ Hawaiian-inspired collection, specifically their Honolulu Sun (coconut and warm sand!) and Golden Pineapple Luau fragrances. Now every shower transports me to the beautiful beach-side communities in Southern California that I adore so much. I love smelling like I just sipped a smoothie by the ocean. Even if it’s only March.

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One other product from B&BW that made it onto this month’s ‘Hits List’ was this Mahogany Coconut 3-wick candle. Now, I’m devoted to Yankee Candle 100%- but sometimes, on occasion- I like to stock up on these ones, too. They don’t last very long- but they’re strong- and the scent lingers well after the candle is done burning. This fragrance, a mixture of sandalwood and coconut- smells crisp and refreshing- and is perfect to have lit while Spring cleaning and preparing to open the windows to let in some fresh air this season.

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Over the weekend, Sean and I headed to Somerville to redeem a birthday present for me that he’d made reservations for back in January. The event- “Trapped in a Room with a Zombie” is exactly what it sounds like. You, and a handful of other participants, are locked in a puzzle-filled room for an hour with a zombie. Your objective is to work together to solve each puzzle in order to find the key and escape before your clock runs out. The kicker? Every five minutes- the zombie’s chain gets a little longer- and you lose if he grabs you.

Years of playing ‘Resident Evil’ and ‘Silent Hill’ had pretty much prepared me for this moment- and my team escaped with a scary-close three minutes to spare. It was an absolute BLAST– one of the most unique and fun things I’d ever participated in- and I highly recommend checking it out if you’re in the Boston area anytime soon! You won’t regret it!

VICTORY!

VICTORY!

And now, for the stuff that couldn’t be photographed:

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

  • ‘Schitt’s Creek’ – One of my favorite Canadian comedies returned for it’s second season this past month, and it’s even better than the first season. Starring Eugene Levy (and his totally dreamboat son, Daniel Levy) and Catherine O’Hara- the 30-minute show follows the Rose Family, who move to the small, dead-end town of Schitt’s Creek after businessman and father Johnny (Eugene Levy) loses the family’s fortune. The show is so witty and genuinely funny- and Chris Elliot plays the mayor- Roland Schitt. It doesn’t get much better than that.
  • ’10 Cloverfield Lane’ – John Goodman might be one of the most lovable people on the planet, but good God- when he wants to terrify the living Hell out of you- he DOES it, and really, really well at that. I might be in the minority of people who really enjoyed the original ‘Cloverfield’ movie (motion sickness and all) so I was excited to return to the world of a still unexplained and very vague alien invasion. I liked how this was a completely different take on the events unfolding in the first movie- but was twice as scary and unsettling.

– MISCELLANEOUS –

  • Costume Designing! – With the 2016 Comic-Con circuit officially getting underway, I have a couple of months before things kick off here on the East Coast with Boston & Rhode Island Comic-Con, ‘Walker Stalker’, MegaFest, etc. Last year, despite being pretty busy- I had managed to pull of a really great Agent Carter costume I was very proud of. This year, now that my schedule is a little easier to manage- I have a series of three costumes I’m going to attempt (two of which are ‘Walking Dead’-related, of course!) The process of getting started is always the most fun- and I’ve been having a blast browsing tools and fabrics and writing out my plans. I’m hoping to share my progress once I get going!

And I think that’s everything for the month of March! As always, I’d love to hear your favorites for this past month and/or recommendations for things to try and do in April! Leave a comment or drop me an e-mail!

I’m off to look at the apartment. Wish me luck!

xx

February Hits List!

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Good Morning and Happy 50%-Off-Valentine’s-Day-Candy-Day, everyone!

With temperatures staying consistently in the negatives since Friday night, and wind chill statistics causing a statewide safety alert- even in the afternoons when the sun has been shining brightly- I’ve been in a bit of a hibernation mode over this past weekend- only stepping outdoors if it was absolutely necessary (I’ve even forgone my usual coffee/tea runs at my local cafe!) Poor Oliver, who loves rolling around in the snow unlike any dog I’ve ever known in my life- has refused to go anywhere near the door when it comes time for him to take his daily walk. He wants no part of it.

Of course, a couple of days spent mostly confined to hot baths and warm blankets isn’t all bad. It’s given me a chance to catch up on my e-mails, update and re-organize my makeup collection- and prepare my monthly “Hits List” post for February!

This month I admittedly got a little swept up in ‘Valentine’s Day Fever’. I’m not talking about not-so-subtlety hinting to the guy I’ve been seeing for a romantic, candle-lit three-course dinner or six dozen roses or anything like that, since that’s never really been my thing- but I’ve picked up a couple of holiday-inspired finds in recent days and my current, mostly-neutral makeup and wardrobe color palette has been flushed with touches of romantic pinks, ravishing reds, and bold purples throughout February so far.

Like I did in my first ‘Hits List’ post last month, I’m going to start with my products and pieces, first- and then move onto the other stuff that couldn’t quite be photographed properly for this month’s collection!

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Starting in the bottom, left-hand corner of my laid out spread for February are my Valentine’s-inspired products from Lush Cosmetics. Not too long ago, I ran out of my absolute favorite lip scrub of all time, Lush’s ‘Popcorn’ scrub- and I was looking to replenish my little tub by re-ordering online. Instead, I saw this limited edition mandarin/cherry infused version, ‘The Kiss’ (with edible hearts mixed in it!) and knew I had to have it. It works incredible, tastes delicious, and the hearts are pretty fun. I’m not even going to deny it.

To pair with the scrub, I also purchased it’s matching lip gloss of the same name- which applies like and has the same moisturizing texture of a lip balm. I like that it doesn’t feel sticky/tacky on my lips and that the light pink color is really, really faint- since I tend to apply this a lot in the car or at work and don’t want to have it all over my face.

Finally, nothing says Valentine’s Day quite like Lush’s ‘Sex Bomb’ bath bomb! The last time I used this floral-scented moisturizing bomb was when I was in Las Vegas last October and wanted to unwind after a long day in the desert on the strip in the gigantic bathtub inside my hotel room. It’s been really nice having a couple of these on hand- especially when it’s been so frigid outside! I leave my bath feeling relaxed, refreshed, and with touchable soft skin.

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Moving upwards are two pieces from my wardrobe I’ve been adoring lately. The first is a knitted and embellished headband that I’ve been using to keep my ears and scalp warm when I’ve been in need of a break from my Winter hat collection. This thing definitely comes in handy in-between stylist appointments since it covers up my roots really well, but it’s also versatile since I can wear it indoors, too (just as long as I push it back behind my ears!)

Next up is my new favorite pair of leggings, the ‘King of Hearts’ printed stretchy design from Black Milk Clothing! It’s been a while since I’ve made a BMC purchase, but I saw these leggings and couldn’t resist. I love a good statement piece- something that is unique, comfortable, and really stands out- and these met all the requirements. I’ve been pairing these with my favorite slouchy black sweater and my black leather ankle boots in recent weeks and I get stopped wherever I go so people can take a look at them! I posted a photo of me sporting these over on my Instagram, if anyone wants to see how the print looks when it’s on!

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Moving a little to the right on the spread-out of this month’s favorites are these three crystals (rose quartz, amethyst, and obsidian) I recently obtained from a spirituality-centered store in Western Massachusetts. Now, I’m not an expert when it comes to crystals, their uses or meanings- but I like to keep an open mind- and I’ve been placing these around my home and my work space (or holding them in my hand when I’m being absent-minded or driving since they’re smooth and cool to the touch) and they’ve just been nice to have within reach. I’d like to pick up some larger ones for decorative purposes in the future, but these pocket-sized ones are good for now.

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Next up are my three “go-to” beauty products for the month of February. While January was all about nudes, light browns, and grays- I’ve been infusing my lids, lips and cheeks with more pink/red shades. My favorite shadow palette to create the perfect “romantic” inspired look has got to be my Urban Decay ‘Naked3;’ mirrored compact. I love blending the shimmer and matte rose and gold tones with my neutral shadows. It just gives my eyes such a beautiful sparkle that will be a nice way to transition into Spring (if it ever arrives!)

One of my all-time favorite drug store finds that I keep re-purchasing are these Color Sensational Creamy Matte lipsticks from Maybelline. They’re long-lasting, highly pigmented, non-drying, and affordable. While a nice bold red lip has become my trademark of sorts- I’ve changed it up a bit for this month and have been wearing a more subtle rose shade that works well with my ‘Naked3’ palette and my overall fair complexion.

Of course, I wanted to have a fun pop of color somewhere in my everyday look, and I turned to my longtime favorite ‘Hypnotic’ nail polish from Sephora’s Formula X line to give my digits a burst of beautiful, prismatic purple to brighten things up. I swear, I don’t have any kind of endorsement deal with Sephora or Formula X for constantly plugging the polish. I just absolutely love the longevity, range of shades and overall quality of the line.

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I was fortunate to have more than one Valentine this year in the form of friends and family- and in true V-Day tradition- those friends and family made sure I had plenty of chocolate to get me through the end of the month. This box (and bear!) was a gift from my aunt, uncle, and cousins- and I managed to hold off on eating each piece until I knew I had a decent photo of the not-destroyed box. Talk about willpower!

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I’ve been making my own juices and smoothies lately (anything with mango is an automatic favorite for me!) but on those mornings when I don’t have the time or the ingredients- I’ve been turning to Naked Juice to keep me going. My favorite is the ‘Green Machine’ beverage– a mix of fruits and vegetables (but thankfully tastes more fruity and sweet) but I’m also quite fond of the banana-chocolate smoothie and the orange-mango juice. I stock up on these weekly to bring with me to work or when I’m on the run. They’re delicious!

And last, but certainly not least- ‘THE WALKING DEAD’ IS BACK, YOU GUYS! Can we talk about last night’s mid-season premiere? I need to talk about it. At length. In detail. With lots of flailing and unintentionally raising my voice in excitement. I’M SO HAPPY.

But I digress- this past Christmas, my best friend Sean not only bought me a real Samurai sword designed to look just like Michonne’s (and there haven’t been any injuries or extensive property damage when I’ve swung it around for fun, by the way)– but he also picked up this “Mrs. Daryl Dixon” wallet for me, too! My current wallet, which I’ve had for roughly seven or eight years now- is in it’s final stages of falling apart- so I’ll be switching over my IDs, cards, and cash over to this hard-cover clutch-style one this week! It’s quite fitting, after all.

My friends know me so well.

And now, onto the other things I’ve been loving this month!

– MUSIC/MOVIES –

  • ‘Deadpool’, ‘Zoolander 2’, ‘The Witch’ and ‘Triple 9’ February has proven to be the month filled with movies that I really want to see. Although ‘Triple 9’ isn’t out for a couple of weeks and ‘The Witch’ is out later this week- that gives me plenty of time to get caught up on ‘Deadpool’ (I might go see it today since I have the day off!) and ‘Zoolander 2’- which is surely the guiltiest pleasure out of the four. Sean and I re-watched the first ‘Zoolander’ over the weekend to refresh our memories, and it stands up to the test of time. I’m really excited to see how ridiculous the sequel is.
  • #TeamIronMan and #TeamCap – While Marvel fans are flying high on ‘Deadpool’s record breaking success at the box office so far, I’m still reeling from the most recent trailer for ‘Captain America: Civil War’ that aired during the Super Bowl and the resulting hashtags that took off on social media afterwards (I’m Team Cap all the way, for the record.) Tickets for San Diego Comic-Con go on sale this coming weekend, and if I can get in- I have a feeling I’ll be creating a Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier costume for the occasion…

I’ll probably make a Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier costume anyway, but that’s besides the point…

  • ‘Off The Wall’ – I’m a huge Michael Jackson fan, so it goes without saying that I thoroughly enjoyed Spike Lee’s documentary that premiered on Showtime earlier this month which details the making of Michael’s pre-‘Thriller’ album and broke down it’s brilliance and catchy-ness track by track. With commentary from fellow musicians, producers, choreographers, celebrities and Michael’s friends & family- it was a really interesting look inside the mind of a late, great genius during a tumultuous era and one of my favorite records to put on when I’m having a glum day and/or want to dance.

– TECH/APPS –

  • The Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset – Sean had received an Oculus Rift headset from his parents for Christmas last year, and whenever I get the chance- you best believe I have a ball playing with it. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been having way too much fun blowing my mind with horror games and short animations/films. Maybe I’m just showing my age here, but the technology is seriously incredible- unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. I’ve been recording my friends playing the game ‘Sisters’ (it involves creepy dolls and a power outage- need I say more?) and their terrified reactions are always priceless. I’m thinking of getting my own headset eventually- but only in the hopes that there will be an influx of zombie-themed games by the time I do. I want to really feel like I’m in that post-apocalypse setting, you know?
  • CLUE – Ladies, this one is for you. If you’re on a funky form of birth control (that isn’t the pill) or if you’re off birth control and you’re trying to monitor your cycle- you’re gonna’ love this app- which is completely free for the iPhone and Android. CLUE allows you to enter daily stats on your body’s behavior- from your mood to your complexion to your food cravings and your amount of sleep per night/energy levels- to make it 110% easier to be prepared for your impending period or ovulation. It takes a few weeks of daily data entry to get an accurate calendar established, but once you do- you’re golden. You’ll never be caught off guard again! I’ve been using this for a couple of months now and it’s been really, really helpful to me to better understand my body.

– MISCELLANEOUS –

  • Hey, New Yorkers – are you familiar with NeXT Stop Project? For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s a MetroCard recycling service of sorts. You can mail in your low balance MetroCards to the address provided on the website, and the service combines the low fares into full fares for subway riders in need. Pretty cool, right? I only recently heard about it after going through some of my own MetroCards I’ve accumulated from weekend stays in NYC over the past few months and didn’t know what to do with them. I’ve since mailed them in- and I hope they can help someone get to where they need to be on time! I don’t know for sure if Boston has a similar program for the T, but if not- they should definitely look into it.
  • The Lush Spas in NYC & Philadelphia have a Beatles-inspired treatment – I know I’ve already talked at length about my recent Lush purchases, but I’ve been meaning to share this for a while and thought I may as well do it now! At my last job, booking any sort of spa treatment always proved to be difficult since I typically only had weekends off and spas were either fully booked or closed on those days. I’ve known about Lush’s ‘Hard Days Night’ treatment since it was launched circa 2014, but until now booking the service was nothing more than an unlikely dream.

But now, with a new work schedule that includes a weekday off, too- I’m actually able to book the service- and much sooner than I expected! I’m working out the appointment details now- but I cannot wait to share the experience with you all once I go!

  • Starbucks’ ‘Molten Chocolate Cake Latte’ – If 50% off Valentine’s Day candy isn’t enough chocolate for you, may I recommend what could very well be one of the most indulgent treats I’ve allowed myself? For a limited time, Starbucks is offering a line of ‘Molten Chocolate Cake’ beverages (cocoa, lattes, and frappuccinos) to get a pretty good sugar rush. With steamed chocolate milk, chocolate whipped cream, and a shot of chocolate syrup- I think I’ve reached my cocoa quota for the month. I might even have to skip my next cheat day in order to fully recovery from this one.

And I think that’s everything I’ve been loving/coveting throughout February so far! Although it doesn’t feel like it right now, Spring is on it’s way- so I’m sure I’ll have some fun, colorful things to share in March’s “Hits List” post!

And as always- if you have anything you’re crushing/loving/obsessing over this month- feel free to share!

xx

January Hits List!

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For 2016, I thought I’d try something a little different and check in every mid-month to share the products, pieces, food, tech-stuff and anything (and everything!) in-between that I’m coveting and craving for a series I dubbed the ‘Hits List’. I still intend to keep my reflective month’s end ‘In A Nutshell’ posts, of course- since those are more about touching on the personal and emotional milestones I went through over the course of the month- but I thought this would be a fun way to offer a glimpse into the more “every day” part of my life every few weeks. The part typically only seen on my Twitter feed or my Instagram photos.

January for me- thus far- has been about long overdue organization, self-care, and keeping cozy in the ever-changing New England climates (one day it’s warm enough to go outside wearing only a sweater. The next day- it’s like snowshoeing through an Alaskan wilderness.) I have a lot of big plans this coming year, but I’m also still adjusting to my new job and work schedule- and with my birthday only a few days away- I’m trying not to overwhelm myself or prematurely burn myself out by taking on too much at once this month.

For that reason, January’s ‘Hits List’ is pretty low key and laid back.

Let’s get into the products and pieces first!

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Starting in the center of my laid-out belongings is one of my most important and valued little pocket-items: my 2016 planner- gifted to me by my Aunt this past Christmas. I think I have a pretty good memory most of the time, but this booklet has become a lifesaver when it comes to jotting down meetings, appointments, deadlines and other to-dos weeks in advance that I may have otherwise overlooked or forgotten about. It’s also been really helpful at work when I’m trying to remember co-workers phone extensions or office numbers! The size is perfect, since it doesn’t take up a lot of room in my purse- which means I can bring it everywhere with me.

Moving upwards is my new knitted cuffed beanie from Love Your Melon. I am a hat lover- but unfortunately I can rarely, if ever- pull off cute Spring/Summer floppy hats or baseball caps. I always end up looking weird. For that reason, I have a wide assortment of berets and beanies to adore throughout Fall and Winter (and they also keep my head warm, duh!) that I never take off from late September – early April. This year, I wanted something a little more durable and a little heavier- and I turned to the good folks over at LYM for a neutral-toned beanie I could wear with pretty much anything.

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I’ve mentioned LYM on here before, but for those who missed the memo- with every purchase of one of their hats, the company donates one to a child battling cancer. If that’s not a good enough reason to make you want to run out and order one in every color- I don’t know what is. The hats themselves are really great quality, too. They will last you a lifetime if you take care of them!

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Moving onto the yearly casualties of cold and unpredictable Massachusetts Winter weather every year- my hair and my hands. I am a lotion fiend. I vigorously apply it all over every morning after my shower, and then again at night before bed- but for some reason, my hands and my cuticles still take a beating. They always feel stiff, dry, and scratchy to me. Enter these fuzzy hand warmers (which I have dubbed my “Chewbacca Gloves”) that I’ve been putting on, post-hand cream application, each and every time I step outside- even if it’s just to check the mail for thirty seconds. They’re super soft, still allow me to use my phone without complications or annoyances, and they keep my hands toasty and protected from the elements.

I’ve also been obsessively using this ncLA peach-scented cuticle oil morning and night (first introduced to me in one of my POPSUGAR “Must Have” Boxes)– and I’ve noticed a significant decrease in hangnails and dry patches along my fingertips. It’s a miracle oil, and for those interested- it’s available other fragrances, too!

If the shade of my hat and gloves weren’t enough indication that I’ve been sporting nothing but neutral tones these past couple of weeks- then let me introduce you to my current favorite Nail Polish, Sephora Formula X’s nail lacquer in ‘Elite’, from their 2015 Fall collection. It’s a long-lasting mocha color that compliments my current wardrobe and makeup choices perfectly. It goes with anything!

Finally, for my hair- I’ve been doubling down on hair mask applications and ultra-hydrating conditioners in recent days to keep my ends from breaking and my roots from frizzing up- but I’ve also integrated this Hawaiian Kukui Nut oil from OGX into the mix pre (and post!)– styling. It strengthens my hair through and through, gives it an incredible shine, keeps frizz and flyaways at bay- and it smells really good, too!

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While my hands and cuticles might require a little more TLC throughout January- my face remains relentlessly oily/combination at all times. In a way, it’s good- because I don’t have to really change my morning and nightly cleansing and moisturizing regiments too much- which means less hassle and more time. These past few weeks, I’ve been relying on two products to ensure a deep clean, enough hydration (without building up excess oil on my skin) and SPF protection- because even though it’s Winter and most of my time is spent indoors- the sun is still a sneaky, tricky devil.

In the morning, after cleansing my face and applying any serums- I like to slap on some of this Cetaphil moisturizer with SPF 15. It just gives my skin a little something extra when I’m braving frigid temperatures for any amount of time- and it keeps my skin soft and smooth. It’s suitable for all skin types and can be found in pretty much any pharmacy around.

At night, after removing my makeup- I apply this two-in-one mask/exfoliating cleanser from GLAMGLOW. The product applies like a mask, quickly drying on my face- and turns to foam after water is added and massaged into the skin. I swear by this stuff. Not only does it leave my skin feeling super clean without drying it out- but it brings any blemishes to the surface so they can be extracted and dealt with then and there!

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Thanks to POPSUGAR, I’ve also been obsessed with these candles from Capri Blue lately. I’ve ordered a few that I’ve been keeping lit around my home- since they smell clean and crisp and that’s just sort of the refreshing vibe I’ve needed and have been going for since New Years. I’ve kept one lit next to my bed- almost nightly- while I catch up on reading or do any stretches or end-of-the-day meditation in the designated section of my bedroom. These are just really great candles (in a beautiful, reusable tin!)

And now, for the stuff that couldn’t be photographed:

– MUSIC/MOVIES –

  • ‘The Revenant’ – Can we please give Leonardo Dicaprio an Oscar before he dies filming his next movie? ‘The Revenant’, although a little on the long side (by the two hour mark I was getting a little fidgety in my seat), the movie is beautifully shot and can get pretty intense at times. Although Dicaprio doesn’t do much more than crawl, grunt, and cry throughout this film- he’s still mesmerizing to watch. The fact that ‘The Revenant’ has been cleaning house at recent award shows gives me hope that the poor guy’s work will FINALLY be recognized and he can go a little easier on himself.
  • The Last Shadow Puppets – As a longtime fan of Arctic Monkeys, I had no problems falling in love with frontman Alex Turner’s side project- The Last Shadow Puppets- with former The Rascals’ singer, Miles Kane. Their debut album, 2008’s ‘The Age of The Understatement’ was pretty incredible from start to finish- but the band disappeared shortly after it’s release and success until a few days ago when they surprised everyone by dropping their first single, ‘Bad Habits’, off their yet-to-be-released second album. It’s awesome to have new music from them, and I’m hoping for a U.S. tour at some point this year.
  • David Bowie tributes – I was just as shocked and saddened as everyone else to hear of David Bowie’s passing last weekend (and the hits just kept on coming when the late, great Alan Rickman also passed away a few short days later,) but it’s been really touching to see the outpouring of love and admiration for such a brilliant and innovative artist in the form of many special tribute events and celebrations of his life and his work around the city. From karaoke nights, to cover bands, to art exhibits- and even to cupcakes– I’ve been having so much fun dancing and singing along to some of my favorite Bowie songs in recent days with friends and strangers alike.
  • ‘Ash Vs. Evil Dead’ – I’ve only recently caught up and finished the first season of this show (I don’t get the Starz Network- so I’ve been relying on a friend to DVR episodes for me that I binge watch whenever I’m over her apartment) but I’m already itching for the second season. This show- just like the ‘Evil Dead’ film- is campy, gory, and very, very funny. My friends and I have already committed on a group costume inspired by the show’s characters (with me as Kelly because OF COURSE)– so I’m just really excited to see more of it. I think it returns in October, making it the perfect companion series to get into alongside ‘The Walking Dead’ during my favorite time of year!

– TECH/APPS –

  • Lose It! – A free app. available for Android and the iPhone. This carb-counting/exercise monitoring application lets you set weekly/monthly goals for yourself, offers tips, tricks, and challenges- and allows you to scan in the bar codes of any packaged foods you’re eating to automatically calculate it’s nutritional value- to help you reach any and all weight loss goals you’ve set for yourself in 2016. I’ve been using this since New Years, and am already down five pounds by following the daily carb allowance I’ve set for myself since punching in my goals. It’s super convenient and helpful- and to make it fun, the app. encourages you to unlock badges and trophies with every goal met or surpassed.
  • Galaxy Tarot – Another free app. for Android and the iPhone- this one is, as you probably guessed- a Tarot Card reading application. Whether or not you believe in Tarot (or horoscopes or anything,) this one is pretty fun to use with your friends. Apart from giving you the ability to perform detailed readings- the app. also has a ‘Card of the Day’ function that teaches you about one of each of the cards every morning. The app itself is designed beautifully and is easy to control and use. My co-workers and I always have a pretty good time with this one on our lunch breaks.

– MISCELLANEOUS –

  • theSkimm – As I begin the grueling process of the yearly unsubscribing from 99.9% of the e-mailing lists I never wanted to be apart of in the first place (those in-store clerks are ruthless and online shopping has turned my inbox into a nightmare of promotions, sales, special codes, and spam)– I can never unsubscribe from the daily news round-up e-mail, theSkimm. Every morning, before work- this service sends me an e-mail containing quick and witty recaps of news stories from around the world: from politics, entertainment, music, etc. It’s a quick and fun read to stay informed- and I love their occasional book and wine recommendations, too!
  • PureWow.com – Another daily e-mail list I could never shake (and wouldn’t want to) are the fun reads I get from PureWow every day. With recipes I try ALL THE TIME, round-ups of happenings and hot-spots in and around NYC (where I frequent as much as I can) beauty recommendations, gift ideas, and contests- these e-mails make for good reading during my lunch hour or throughout my evening wind-down.
  • Last Message ReceivedThis fascinating Tumblr account is pretty self-explanatory. People anonymously submit the last messages they ever received from friends/family members/ex-boyfriends or ex-girlfriends/etc. either through text or screencaps. Some of the messages are heartbreaking, others can be downright cruel- but each one comes with a story from a real person somewhere in the world. It’s an intimate and sometimes shocking read- but it has really made me think about the people in my life and how I end each of the conversations I have with them. This site just makes me want to reach out and hug some of these people who are hurting so much.

And I think that’s everything for January right now! I’m sure whatever didn’t make this month’s list will be featured in February.

If you have anything you’re crushing/loving/obsessing over this month- feel free to share!

xx

Inspired By: Penny Lane

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Cameron Crowe’s cinematic love letter to one of the greatest eras in rock n’ roll, “Almost Famous”, was released in 2000. I was 14 at the time, and although I grew up with much of the music that comprised the film’s outstanding soundtrack- I didn’t actually see the movie until my early twenties. As endearing as William Miller, the main protagonist played by Patrick Fugit was, and as seductive and sincere as Billy Crudup’s portrayal of Russell Hammond- the lead guitarist in the film’s fictional band, Stillwater, turned out to be- it was Kate Hudson’s character, Penny Lane, who really stole the show.

With a 1970s backdrop (and the fashion to match) Penny is the leader of the “Band Aids,” a group of women who travel with various bands and their crews and in Penny Lane’s own words, “inspire the music.” Although they vehemently deny being groupies- there’s plenty of sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll debauchery going on behind the scenes. Penny and Russell are in love with each other, although neither one will admit it to the other- but Russell’s growing ego and on/off again girlfriend back home complicates things. William is a witness to the shows, the fights, the antics, and even some of the tender moments as he grows and matures while on tour with Stillwater- and writes it all for Rolling Stone’s cover story about the band.

In my early twenties, I could relate to Penny. Not just because she had curly hair like me or because she lived in the city I can’t wait to make my home- San Diego- but because she had fallen madly in love with an up and coming musician who was too proud (and maybe a little bit too selfish) to admit that he cared for her as deeply as she cared for him until it was too late and she had jet-set off to Morocco to start a new life on her own. As someone who once got mixed up with my own up and coming musician for a few years- seeing Penny’s struggles, with the highs and the lows of the rocker and touring lifestyle- resonated with me. She was a mix of strength and vulnerability, charm and compassion- and I will always and forever covet her shearling coat.

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Wearing this peasant-style top reminds me of a scene in the movie where Penny is dancing to music no one else can hear in an empty auditorium following a Stillwater show. She’s twirling and gliding across the floor barefoot, and it’s the most serene and peaceful we see her. I paired the top with a comfortable pair of denim capris and sneakers- also inspired by another scene in the movie where Penny is sporting a similar ensemble as she listens to William accidentally confess that Russell (after a moment of hesitation) has traded Penny and the other Band Aids to the band Humble Pie in exchange for $50 and  a case of beer. It’s a sharp contrast to the auditorium scene- and it’s also the first time we see Penny’s confident front crack- if only for a moment.

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Some of you may remember my sunglasses from my Practical Festival Wear post a couple of months ago, and although they’re a bit rounder than Penny’s were in the movie, they make me feel like shouting “it’s all happening!” whenever I put them on, anyway.

My makeup was easy. Penny is effortlessly beautiful. She doesn’t need a sharp cat eye or a bold lip to be alluring. She looks natural and radiant in her simplicity. Although the Polaroid effects make it hard to tell- I wore nothing more than a matte-finish foundation, a light pink shimmer blush on the apples of my cheeks, a bit of highlighter around my brow bone, mascara, and a clear lip balm. Quick and easy!

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And finally, to complete my ensemble(s)- I’ve owned this replica Stillwater t-shirt- complete with out-of-focus goodness ($14.99 HERE)– for quite some time, and occasionally like to wear it out and about on my more casual days. I love when other “Almost Famous” fans recognize it. Although I don’t recall ever seeing Penny sporting the t-shirt of her most beloved band- I’d like to think she owned a couple.

I’d also like to think that Penny and Russell eventually had their happy ending. It didn’t happen for me and my own musician all those years ago- but I want to believe true love exists!

Side note: I’m aware my little white Kia isn’t as fabulous as a tour bus named Doris, but it’s how I get around and “tour” the country!

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xox

Closet Crushes: Practical Festival Wear.

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Oh, “Closet Crushes” posts- how I’ve missed you. It’s been well over a year- maybe a year and a half- since I’ve shared some of the contents of my wardrobe on here. With work, travel, geeking out at comic-conventions, and more recently- unpredictable weather- I haven’t had much time or motivation to primp and pose outdoors in some of my favorite pieces in recent months- and the “Closet Crushes” posts sort of fell to the wayside as a result.

But now, with beautiful weather here at last and my closet recently cleaned out and organized from a LOT of Spring cleaning- I’ve been inspired to start them up again- and with the first leg of Coachella wrapping up this past weekend (and the festival fashion recap posts emerging online)– I thought I’d share two of my favorite, practical, but still stylish ensembles to wear for such an occasion.

Here’s the thing about Coachella. Over the years, the festival has become less about music and more about which celebrity can show up wearing the most outlandish, impractical, and uncomfortable looking outfits (sometimes engaging in some cultural appropriation along the way.) How someone can enjoy a band’s set in 75+ degree weather, surrounded by a mass of other sweating, sticky bodies, and trying to decide between succumbing to dehydration or spending $12 on a bottle of water- all while wearing layers upon layers of leather, fringe, suede, feathers, tulle (the worst fabric imaginable,) and three pounds of metal bangle bracelets- is beyond me. That sounds like a miserable time!

I’ve been to a few outdoor music festivals throughout the years, and I’ve always made it a point to dress in clothing that was comfortable and suitable for the elements. Jeans, t-shirts, and waterproof boots in case of rain or puddles were pretty much mandatory- but sometimes the heat and the sun beating down during the day could make me feel like I was roasting- and I turned to more flowing, breathable fabrics that let me stay cool and able to move around (and dance!) freely without looking like an insane person.

I love my shin-length, nude-colored cotton crochet skirt (in the left hand side of the photo above,) which I usually layer with a tank top and a lightweight sweater in case it cools down at all during the day- and my white, cotton crochet dress (right side of the photo above,) is loose-fitting and feminine- making me feel pretty and comfortable. I especially love the design of it’s bell sleeves- which give me some serious BoHo vibes.

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For accessories, I try to keep it simple. Too much dangling from my neck and arms is uncomfortable, at least for me- so I tend to stick to one or two pieces- like a unique and lightweight necklace and one or two chunky bracelets that won’t interfere with my movements too much. I like these pieces since I can barely feel them whenever I wear them.

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Lastly, the finishing touches- my footwear and my sunglasses. I love these faux-leather cowboy style boots year-round, since they’re comfortable and look pretty chic with jeans and dresses alike, regardless of the season (I once paired them with short shorts when I was in Las Vegas- and it looked pretty cool.) Best of all? They keep my feet dry in the case of an unexpected downpour, and are easy to clean should I encounter the dreaded outdoor festival mud pile. Ick.

The sunglasses, large and round- are back in style this season, and have been all but permanently attached to my face as of late. They’re also going to be making another appearance in an upcoming “Inspired By” post!

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And those are just two of my favorite, and practical- outdoor festival looks.

Do you have any practical festival fashion must-haves? Feel free to share in the comments!

“Is It Summer Yet?” Giveaway!

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In some of my recent posts, I had hinted at an upcoming giveaway I was putting together in celebration of the Spring and Summer seasons finally arriving after what was undoubtedly one of the worst winters my neck of the woods has seen in a very, very long time. I wanted the giveaway to be seasonal, fun, and have a more personal touch with reflections of some of the items and essentials I covet in the warmer months. I’ve been carefully curating the contents (say that five times fast,) over the past couple of weeks, and I’m excited to announce that it’s finally time to share what one lucky, randomly selected winner will receive in my Summer-themed giveaway!

The “Is It Summer Yet?” giveaway is pretty self-explanatory- consisting of accessories, cosmetics, a bit of home decor- and a little something for the foodies out there. Each item was selected to help jump start a Summer/beachy frame of mind for the winner and are all products that I also own and use regularly every year after I dig myself out of the snow and welcome the sunshine!

*This giveaway IS NOT limited to United States residents only! Since I will be paying for the shipping and handling out of my own pocket- it’s open to those of you across the pond, below (or above) the border, and anywhere in between, too!*

Here’s what’s included:

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Lush’s Ocean Salt Scrub:

The first step to getting glowing Summer-ready skin is exfoliation, and I turn to this incredible face and body salt scrub from Lush to do just that! A scoop of this bright blue, Margarita-scented scrub is enough to gently buff away dead and dry cells, revitalize the surface of my skin, and leave my face, elbows, knees, etc. super smooth.

Bath & Body Works “Cool Amazon Rain” Body Lotion:

After exfoliating, I turn to lightweight body lotions that quickly absorb as they’re applied to keep my skin soft and hydrated all day and night. I love this newer lotion from Bath & Body Works which has an energizing, citrus, “tropical” smell to it.

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Harney & Sons Fresh Brew Iced Tea Tins in Peach and Raspberry Herbal:

I love iced coffee, especially before I go in for a long day at work- but in the warmer months I find myself taking afternoon iced tea breaks, too. These individually packaged fruit-flavored teas- made specifically to be iced- are especially nice and refreshing.

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Good Housekeeping Juices & Smoothies Recipe Book:

Iced coffees and iced teas aside- Summer is also the season of smoothies and healthy juices (and milkshakes and frozen margaritas on “cheat days” from all that healthy eating.) This hardcover book from Good Housekeeping has really great recipes that cover all ends of the frozen-beverage spectrum and will be sure to come in handy when you’re ready to have a picnic, BBQ, camp-out, beach day- or any other outdoor get-together.

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Maybelline “Baby Lips” Lip Balm:

When it comes to my Summer lip care, I stick to the basics. Hydrating glosses in bright corals and pinks, and sunscreen-packed balms. One of my favorites is this colorless “Baby Lips” balm from Maybelline with SPF 20. It keeps my pout soft and smooth for all-day wear and I don’t have to worry about any color fading since it applies clear. I just throw this in my bag on-the-go for quick touch-ups.

Sephora’s Formula X Nail Polish in “Prism” and “Incandescent” :

I love bright, tropical colors on my nails in the Summertime- and this year I find myself already gravitating towards bright blues, greens, and orange tones. I picked out two of my favorites, “Prism,” a metallic turquoise with a hint of pearl, and “Incandescent,” a bright and solid cantaloupe-tone. Both are from the Formula X line at Sephora, which is long-lasting and isn’t packed with harsh chemicals.

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Bumble and Bumble “The Surf Set”:

Despite having coarse and curly hair, I’ve managed to develop a relatively quick and simple step-by-step process to achieving beautiful and healthy-looking “beachy” waves over the past couple of years- no flat-iron required- thanks in part to Bumble and Bumble’s “Surf” line. In this giveaway, I’ve included three travel-sized bottles of the set: the shampoo, conditioner, and my personal favorite- the salt spray- guaranteed to get your hair looking like you’ve spent a day at the ocean.

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Old Navy Mint-Colored Beach Tote:

To store all your giveaway goods, I’ve included this faux-leather, mint colored beach tote from Old Navy. While I definitely love bold colors and floral prints in the Summer- I thought this lovely pastel was too pretty to pass up and would be suitable to carry along in the Spring, too.

Old Navy Sunglasses with UV Protection:

Rounded sunglasses seem to be a big trend this year (whereas last year was the Summer of cat-eye sunglasses,) so I opted to keep the shades simple for anyone’s tastes with this pair of chic rose-hued and thin wired sunglasses from Old Navy. I own a very similar pair, and I’ve been loving them so far! I feel kind of like Penny Lane in “Almost Famous” whenever I have them on.

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Bath & Body Works 3-Wick Candle in “Island Margarita”:

And finally, since I couldn’t include actual alcohol in this giveaway- I settled for the next best thing- this margarita scented candle from Bath & Body Works. With the lime part of the fragrance being the most distinctive, this is a great, slow-burning candle that will make your entire space smell amazing and tropical.

IMPORTANT STUFF:

The giveaway is running from now through midnight (EST) on Monday, April 13th, 2015, after which time a winner will be selected  at random through Rafflecopter and contacted directly to obtain additional information to process shipping. If selected, you’ll have 72 hours to respond to the confirmation e-mail. If I don’t receive a response in that time, I’ll unfortunately have to select another winner, instead!

Nothing in this giveaway can be traded or swapped for something else. What you see is what you’ll be receiving if you win!

HOW TO ENTER:

Like each of my past giveaways, I’ve set up an official page for this one using Rafflecopter – CLICK HERE to head over to it, review the guidelines, and make sure your entries are properly counted!

There are two ways to enter the giveaway and you can do one or both of them!

1. Comment on this post with your name and e-mail address. Please keep in mind that I have comment moderation turned on to avoid spambots- so if your comment doesn’t appear right away; don’t panic! I’ll put it through as soon as I’m able!

2. You can tweet about the giveaway and link back directly to this post or to my homepage: LegallyRedhead.com

Good luck, everyone- and remember to check the Rafflecopter page to make sure your entries have been counted!

xo

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Legally Redhead Loves Rocksbox!

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I love jewelry. All kinds- and the bolder it looks- the better. On any given day I can be found wearing chandelier earrings, or unique pendant necklaces, or brightly colored and sparkly bangles. I never shy away from costume jewelry and typically reserve my classier, minimalist pieces for special and/or formal occasions.

When a representative from Rocksbox, a fairly new jewelry-centric subscription service, reached out to me to see if I wanted to try their monthly box (free of charge!) for a little while- I jumped at the chance. When I was told that generosity would be extended to my readers- I was elated.

For $19 a month, the team over at Rocksbox select a few pieces of designer jewelry they’d think you’d love based on the results of a quick survey you take at their official website. Using your answers to determine your personal style preferences and gaining insight from the wish list you can create at any time by browsing and picking/choosing some of the jewelry they have available- they send you three pieces for you to try and wear for as long as you’d like! From there, you have the option of purchasing any of the pieces you want to keep in your collection forever, or returning one or all of the pieces using the free, pre-paid shipping label provided to you in exchange for 1-3 more pieces to try!

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The three pieces I received in my first box!

Each set is well-made and worth an average of $200 all together, and the service is quick and convenient for those who want to try different jewelry styles without necessarily making the commitment that comes with a purchase.

On top of all that, for every month you’re subscribed to Rocksbox, you get $10 to spend towards any of the jewelry pieces you received and want to own. It’s a nice little way to treat yourself from time to time!

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If you’d like to try Rocksbox free for a month, sign up and enter the promo code “ashleydelargexoxo” at checkout! From there, you’ll immediately be able to curate your wish list while Rocksbox puts together an introductory box specifically for you!

The promo is good until 4/12/15, after which it will allow new subscribers to get 50% off their first box (instead of free,) so be sure to take advantage of my promo code now!

The staff at Rocksbox are really friendly, very helpful, and prompt with their responses should you have any questions or concerns at any time- and of course, I can do my best to assist anyone, too. Just leave a comment or send me an e-mail (AshleyDeLarge@gmail.com)!

Enjoy!

xx

Game On!

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It wasn’t exactly a banner season for the Boston Red Sox this year, which was a hard pill to swallow given last year’s triumphant World Series win. Even still, I remain optimistic for 2015- and am prepared to root on the team I’ve come to love so much next Spring.

Of course, I always try to stay fashionable- even if I’m just enjoying a game and having a couple of beers at Fenway Park with friends- and inspired- I created a look based around one of the countless MLB hats available on Fanatics.com to showcase what I’d wear/bring for that very occasion.

For those of you who have never visited Fanatics.com, they are the ultimate go-to source for any and all officially licensed sports apparel. From the MLB, NHL, NFL, NBA, etc; they have you covered for affordable, high-quality merchandise should you need to look on point for a big game or simply want to add to your collection of sports memorabilia.

For my collection, I stayed in the Autumn frame of mind, since I’ve enjoyed a couple of games in recent years during the chillier months (and because it’s hard to think Spring/Summer style when I’m currently wearing a sweater and drinking hot tea.) I chose the Boston Red Sox New Era Cuff Striper Beanie, because it’d keep my head warm once the sun sets in Boston (and hide my brunette roots should I not have time to touch them up before the first pitch.)

Here’s what I’d pair with it:

  • Boston Red Sox Women’s Cooperstown Fan T-Shirt by Nike: I love the simple design of this comfortable shirt that I can wear, with pride, inside and outside Fenway. Best of all are it’s sleeves- which can provide a little bit of warmth to my upper arms should I choose to shed whatever sweater/hoodie I bring with me to the game.
  • Urban Decay’s Revolution Lipstick in the shade “F-Bomb:” If I’m going to the ball park, then I am participating in all the unhealthy, regrettable junk food eating I can. Hot dogs? Popcorn? Overpriced beer? I’m all about it. The thing is, I want a lip color that can outlast all of that pigging out. Enter my favorite formulated Urban Decay lipstick in a bold shade of red to match the Sox logo and compliment my hat.
  • GUM. After all that chowing down on the aforementioned hot dogs, popcorn, and overpriced beer- I still want to have fresh breath while I’m cheering and/or jeering. A pack of gum is always in my purse- but I have to be discreet when opening it or everyone else seated around me is going to want some.
  • My ‘Boston’ charm bracelet from Alex and Ani: I’ve started a growing collection of Alex and Ani bracelets, and whenever I’m headed to a game or out of town- my Boston charm comes with me. It’s like having a piece of home with an etching of the city’s skyline resting comfortably around my wrist- and maybe I’m just superstitious- but it feels lucky to wear on game days (although it didn’t work out too well this season.)
  • A wristlet. I’m not a fan of carrying around a big bag at sporting events. I try to keep it simple- something small that I can carry my money, I.D., CharlieCard, lipstick, and phone in and hold onto with ease without fear of losing it or it’s contents in the excitement. Wristlets, any color, pattern, or style- are my must-have for a Sox game.

Not pictured are a comfortable pair of skinny jeans and my favorite pair of black boots or Converse high top sneakers- which I wear all the time on casual days/evenings out.

Do you have any game day style must-haves or go-to’s? Or any pre-game rituals? I’d love to hear them!

Odds & Ends.

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“Ashley, I’m wearing my ugly sneakers. Don’t show the internet my ugly sneakers.” Me (left) and my mom. Mother’s Day 2014.

In my teens, my relationship with my mother was strained and tumultuous, to say the least. I was a stubborn, rebellious, and often ungrateful pain in the ass who thought I was right about everything- and my mom, who was just as stubborn, had the common sense- and what I considered to be audacity at the time- to tell me I wasn’t, in fact, right about everything- and what an obnoxious twit I was being. I vividly remember shouting matches between us being a weekly occurrence while my poor father or older brothers tried to play referee before tempers flared too much and something in my parents’ house got broken. I’m pretty sure I damaged more than one door from slamming them so hard on a regular basis.

In my early twenties, things hadn’t improved much. My mother and I could never really see eye to eye on a lot of things- be it my wardrobe, my impulsive and sometimes reckless travels, my circle of friends, or the guys I dated (in her defense- she did end up being absolutely right about them- although back then I’d never have given her the satisfaction of letting her know that.) I never thought things would improve between us, and I had vowed that if and when I had children of my own- I would never be the type of mother to them that mine was to me.

But naturally, as I got older, matured a little, gained some perspective about myself and the world around me- the underlying bitter tension between my mother and I seemed to diminish slowly but surely and was instead replaced with patience and understanding as we started to connect and bond. When my dad became ill a couple of years ago, my mom and I drew strength from each other, and came to rely heavily on one another to get us through the toughest of times when he passed away a short time later. We grieved together. She’d lost her husband- the love of her life, and I’d lost my father and best friend. In the wake of that loss and the grieving, we’d finally fully-developed the mutual respect that had been missing during my teens and early twenties.

It’s not always easy. Sometimes I drive my mom nuts and vice-versa. Sometimes we argue or make each other cry- because, like I said- we’re both stubborn- but we both finally understand how much we truly love each other and how that love comes with no strings attached.  I love my mom. I respect her, and I’m grateful for all the sacrifices she’s made for me (including some of her sanity, I’m sure.) I don’t have kids- and probably won’t for a long time- but if and when I do- I can only hope to be at least half the type of mother to them that my mom is to me.

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For Mother’s Day this past weekend, my mom and I spent the day shopping (including buying each other lovely candles!) disregarding our healthy diets to scarf down a platter of deep fried seafood and fries- and go for a nice, long drive through the back roads of picturesque Western Massachusetts to take in the scenery, sunshine, and fresh air. It was a beautiful, relaxing day- and set the tone for the remainder of this week.

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Another thing that set the tone for this week? An AMAZING belated-birthday (or on the flip side- a very, very, very early birthday present) from my wonderful, beautiful, incredible friend Imogen across the pond! It was on my table when I came home from work yesterday afternoon, and I admittedly teared up- in a good way- while reading the very kind words she wrote inside my card. I will cherish it always.

I was more than content with the card and the caramel mini eggs, but Imogen had included a couple more surprises for me, too!

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In the world of Harry Potter, my favorite house has always been Slytherin. Save for a few genuinely bad eggs, I’ve always thought Slytherins were misunderstood, or, such as the case with Draco Malfoy, misguided- as opposed to just genetically downright evil (yes, I’m aware I’m talking about fictional characters. I just have a lot of feelings, okay?!)

Anyway- any quiz, game, or questionnaire related to determining which Hogwarts House I’d belong in, I’ve hilariously always ended up in Slytherin. Imogen (a Ravenclaw for sure,) knows this, and sent me a pair of Slytherin leggings to wear to proudly show my support for what is CLEARLY the best house.

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And last, but certainly not least, Imogen- who is a huge “Walking Dead” fan like me- sent me the full collection of TWD-themed eye shadows from Geek Chic Cosmetics. With fun names like “Stay in the House, Carl,” and “He’s Korean,” I CANNOT WAIT to try these out. I’ll be doing a separate post within the next few days dedicated entirely to these shadows- including swatches and reviews.

Imogen, THANK YOU. THANK YOU. THANK YOU. I’m seriously at a loss for words right now because of how surprised and appreciative I am. I adore you! This was one of the best belated/super early birthday presents ever!

These past couple of days have been so phenomenal!

My Holiday Essentials.

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Every season, I try to do an “essentials” post of the things/products that are getting me through the changing weather, temperatures, travels and seasonal activities. With snow falling heavily as I write this, and having attempted on more than one occasion to get some Christmas shopping done over the past couple of weeks (side note: nearly finished!) I thought that I’d forgo a “Winter Essentials” post and create a more festive one, instead.

Here are the things that are currently getting me into the holiday spirit:

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1. Anything Gingerbread or Peppermint Scented: In November’s Sephora Holiday Haul, I had picked up two body washes from Philosophy – one in “Spiced Gingerbread Cookie,” and the other in “Peppermint Stick.” Those were just scratching at the surface of what I consider to be my two biggest scent-obsessions this time of year. Also included in my collection are the above-pictured products from Bath & Body Works. From left to right:

“Iced Gingerbread Antibacterial Hand Soap,” which I keep in the bathroom for guests and myself since it smells delicious.

“Twisted Peppermint Hand Cream.” This one stays in my purse. It’s a refreshing burst of mint fragrance that keeps my hands nice and moisturized without making them feel greasy.

“Iced Gingerbread Foaming Hand Sanitizer.” Another purse-product. This foam is pretty strong in terms of the scent, but it’s not harsh on hands the way other liquid/gel sanitizers can be. It absorbs quickly without drying my skin out.

Each time I get a whiff of any of these products, I feel especially cheery.

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2. Thermal Pajamas: There is nothing more comfortable than rocking a pair of thermal pajamas and fuzzy socks while wrapping Christmas presents and listening to some Bing Crosby and Perry Como holiday classics, or watching “Home Alone” or “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.” The ones I’m wearing in the photo above, a long sleeve shirt and matching leggings combination, were a splurge from Victoria’s Secret, and worth every penny. They keep me warm and cozy, and I’m looking into buying another set (or two) really soon.

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3. Peppermint Hot Chocolate: I’ve drastically cut back on my caffeine intake as of late (and by “cut back,” I mean I haven’t had any coffee at all in weeks,) which means my beloved peppermint mocha lattes at Starbucks are off limits. I’ve found solace in peppermint hot chocolate, however- which gives me the same great taste without the jitters. Starbucks will always be my favorite go-to for this drink (it’s served at the perfect temperature, and with those little dark chocolate curls they sprinkle in!) but making it at home is easier, less costly, and still tastes just as good.

I make my own in one of two ways- by either melting an actual peppermint stick in scalding hot cocoa and letting it cool before I enjoy it, or, if I’m in a rush to drink it- adding a splash of peppermint-flavored creamer to it to give it a minty kick. Sadly, I do not have those delicious dark chocolate curls- but I find crumbling a York Peppermint Pattie or an Andes Mint on top works just fine.

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4. A Festive Sweater: While ugly Christmas sweaters are pretty fun, sometimes it’s nice to just have a festive one- with no bells, fringe, sequins, or poof balls glued or sewn onto it- to wear around the house or to holiday gatherings without having to don a Santa hat to look Christmas-y. Enter this oversized “Home Alone” inspired sweater from BooHoo.com (special thanks to Imogen for showing me where to buy it!) that I plan on rocking to the office Christmas party later on this week. I’ve paired it with a basic black skirt and black tights in the photo above, and it matches my annual holiday manicure perfectly. Speaking of, this year’s nail art is snowflake inspired:

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“Holiday Essentials” not pictured: Sugar cookie eggnog, evening drives to look at Christmas lights/decorations, making individual and unique Christmas cards for friends and loved ones, sporadically tuning in to the 24-hour marathon of “A Christmas Story” throughout Christmas Day and knowing all of the lines no matter what scene you’re watching, Advent Calendars, setting up and decorating the tree- then trying to keep your pets from destroying it or knocking it over, the annual ‘Toys for Tots’ donation delivery, listening to Christmas music while curling up beside a crackling fire, seeing how excited (and sometimes better behaved) little kids get as Christmas Eve approaches, those Little Debbie Christmas Tree snack cakes that are so bad for you but so delicious at the same time, snow ball fights, the last minute gift shopping trip, and of course- visiting/spending time with family and friends.

What are some of your “Holiday Essentials?”