How Do You Measure Success?

What is success to you?

The last several months have been quite a whirlwind, between making the decision to quit school & also trying to find a new job that will turn into a career, it feels like I’ve been running around in circles with no progress. When I turned 26 and was feeling completely behind in life, I refused to let myself have another quarter life crisis. I’ve learned a lot about myself over the span of these days & I’ve realized I’m so much stronger in every aspect than I realized and than I ever have been before. I’m still constantly looking for something to keep me busy & no matter how hard I want to, I can’t seem to sleep late & spend the days doing absolutely nothing!

 

*UPDATE: Many of you all know, I have since found a full time job, but am definitely still not where I want to be on my own scale of success.

 

How many of you guys had a quarter life crisis? Make any crazy decisions? I know they’re real yet I know to some of you, freaking out about turning 26 seems ridiculous. I just feel like I should have myself together by this point in life!

 

It seems like so many people ultimately measure success by how much money you make or how high standing in society you are. Over the last year, I’ve realized it’s so much more than that. I admit, money sure does help when times are hard & it seems like more money would bring instant happiness. Of course we all know, sure money can aid in happiness, but it certainly does not create it.

 

Even still, it seems like so many people are worried about how much money they make or how big their house is. Lately I’ve learnned that my success can be measured by how happy I am with the life I’m living & by the steps I take every day to make the best of every moment in my life every single day. I know not every day is perfect and days at the office are often super difficult & just plain draining. But I also know there are people in this world who love their job & who love the career they’ve chosen.

 

I’ve learned that success is best defined by each individual person. To me, it’s measured by genuine happiness & a feeling of accomplishment day in & day out. It’s displayed in the way we carry ourselves from the time we wake up until the moment we fall asleep each day. I know it may be so much harder to see success so simply when you have a family to raise, mortgages to pay & a day job you’re not in love with. What if we all took a step back & revisited one the scariest words we try to live each day? What if we redefined what this word means to each of us, in hopes of easing in to simpler, more fulfilling lives?

 

What kind of advice can you all give? How did you find your passion? What is your passion & how did you know?

 

 

From my experience, success & leading a fulfilling life have so much to do with your morning routine. I used to work at Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, working a 9-5, Monday-Friday & for the most part, it was pretty great. I loved getting up at 5 am to go to the 6 am Pure Barre class, walk for 3 miles, shower & head to work! I always carry teeth whitening strips, a green tea bag, my mascara & eyeliner with me & with those few things, I’m always good to go! I have at least one cup of green tea every day because something about it just helps me feel like I can conquer the world! Crazy right? But really. On days that I didn’t go to Pure Barre or the gym before work, I was sluggish and just plain irritable. Very quickly, I realized how important that ‘me time’ before work every day really was.

 

We are all constantly connected via email, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever forms of social media we like best. So that hour or so every morning completely for me is always the best way to start my day disconnected from the outside world so I’m able to get myself feeling good!

 

What are some of your morning routines that help get you going every day? What is your go to, no fail item/workout that you have to have every morning?

 

Your takeaway from this one: success is what you make it. Try not to let the neighbors next door or even your sister make you feel inferior about where you are in your life compared to theirs. Everyone is on their own path to success. Work on yourself without worrying about how you measure up to the guy next door. At least that’s certainly what I’m trying to do.

Advertisements

Halo Top. Arctic Zero.

Well, it’s finally time to address one of the more popular debates in the world these days: Artic Zero or Halo Top? Which kind of healthier ice cream option is the best?

It seems like every time we turn around there’s another option for healthier snacking & sometimes it’s just too hard to choose! Plus, when you’re spending $5 on one pint of ice cream, you wanna be able to make an educated choice. That’s where I come in. 

For a little over a year I was all about Artic Zero. I love how icy and refreshing they all are, even the decadent ones like brownie or cookie dough. The flavor is so good and I tried just about every single flavor option they sold in my local Kroger. My favorite creamier flavor is the cookie dough. It has real pieces of cookie dough and it’s oh so wonderful. I also love the pomegranate as an icier option that is so delicious and refreshing during the brutal summer months. They recommend you leave it out for 10 minutes before eating, or they say you can put it in the microwave for 30 seconds to speed up the process. It is a lot better when you let it sit, but it’s awfully hard to wait sometimes. Artic Zero has a good amount of protein and doesn’t taste powdery or like it’s chalked full of protein. It comes in a pint and has the nutritional values for one serving, as well as for the whole thing. I know we’re not supposed to eat a whole pint of ice cream ever, but when you can eat something that’s so delicious for less than 300 calories that will keep you full, sometimes it’s difficult not to!

I’ve always been one who loves fruity sorbet and sherbet rather than heavy chocolaty ice creams or custards. Until recently, that is.

Halo Top. I was so hesitant to give in to yet another brand of healthier “ice cream” because I really thought that Artic Zero was as good as it was gonna get. Then my sister came home on Weight Watchers and informed me that Halo Top was better on points, a whole lot creamier, and still had the protein that I felt like I needed to keep me full. I hate to admit this, but little sister was right. I cannot get enough. Red Velvet, Mint Chocolate Chip, Pistachio, Black Cherry, Brownie Batter, give me all of the flavors. I truly need them all. I didn’t even know I liked Red Velvet and last night I looked down and the pint was half empty! If you’re looking for something creamy like real ice cream is, this is definitely the winner. It’s so satisfying and also has the protein I like to have in a snack. It’s just that good. They do recommend you leave it out on the counter for about 15 minutes and it helps to reach the maximum consistency we look for when we need to satisfy our ice cream craving. Just like Artic Zero, it’s really hard to wait, but it’s SO much better when you do. Just don’t forget about it!

Ultimately, if I had to choose, I would go with Halo Top. But I really do think it depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re on a program like Weight Watchers, it seems Halo Top is also the better option. But if you’re looking for something icy to cool down or ease a sore throat, Arctic Zero is the way to go, no doubt. If you’re looking to combat the need for a half-gallon of creamy goodness of custard or ice cream, go with Halo Top.

Now I wanna know which one you love! Are there some other new brands that are better than either one of these?

And now of course I need to know your favorite flavors of each so I can try them for myself!

This is one of those posts that I really want all of the advice and recommendations on!

Can’t wait to hear from you guys!

What Are You Planning On?

Alright y’all, I’ve been working on this one for a while and I am entirely too excited to talk about it! I absolutely LOVE to plan. Plan the days, plan the weeks, plan the months. I think it’s so much fun and I absolutely love all the colorful pens and pretty stickers, along with all of the place holders, rulers, and just about any office supply you could imagine. I love notebooks, wall calendars, day-by-day planners and month-by-month planners and any kind of print-out that helps me step my game up. You name it, I’ve tried it and chances are, I love it! It’s rare that you’ll catch me without my planner, a notebook, and my daily notepad at any given time. Of course I know things come up that it’s impossible to plan for everything and I really still do love some spontaneity in my life! I just like to lay out the things I know about the week or month in advance, especially with my work and now that I’m trying my best to run this blog! I’ve also found that by putting my workouts in my planner each week, I’m a lot more likely to attend every day!

I’m going to list some of the essentials that I use and I know I wouldn’t be able to make it through the days without. These are all items I have used and continue to use and I would honestly not have them on this page if I didn’t really feel like you all could benefit from them too! *This post contains affiliate links.

Day Designer Wall Calendar
I’ve recently started to love Day Designer by Blue Sky after using their wall calendars for the last three years. Their designs are always so cute and the layouts are always perfect for my needs. Check out one of their adorable 2017-2018 wall calendars here! This one is very similar to the one I purchased here last year, with the ability to not only write in daily tasks and events, but also include monthly projects and notes in the side bar. I can’t get over how cute the floral is! They offer January through December or July through June formats.

Day Designer for Blue Sky Lined Pad, 3-Pack
This is a product that I just ordered and I can’t wait to use. After downloading a few print outs, I knew this note pad was gonna be a game changer. They’re perfect to use with a clipboard or even tear a few off, fold them up & put them in your pocket to take quicks notes on during a meeting. From there, it’s super easy to transfer any special dates and times to your planner when you have time! Plus this an awesome deal for a three pack!

May Designs Notebooks
My absolute favorite notebooks on Earth are from May Designs. They literally blow any other product out of the water. You can special order your academic planners, notebooks, and stationary from maydesigns.com and their products are gorgeous! I’m not kidding when I say I’ve purchased over 20 books from them and tons of stationary. The designs they offer are perfect for every mood you’ll experience and for each of the seasons! Plus they have excellent customer service. They also have food & exercise journals, as well as agendas and adult coloring books. Be on the lookout in the coming weeks for a giveaway and more on my Instagram page!

Only a small portion of my May Designs collection!

Erin Condren Planner
I’ve ordered a LifePlanner from Erin Condren for the last three years, and I could not be more impressed with the designs they offer and with how the inside layouts look. You can choose from vertical or horizontal layouts, and from colorful or black and white. The horizontal is nice for academics, but I prefer the vertical layout so I can break down my days by morning, day, and evening. They come with tons of stickers that already have events written on them and also some blank ones to write in your own events and appointments. Of course you have the option to order and create as many extra stickers for any events you could dream of. All orders and be placed through erincondren.com. Go order for 2018 and let me know which design you’ve chosen!

Erin Condren Life Planner

Daily To-Do List
This is another great alternative that’s similar to the one I currently carry around everywhere. It’s like the notepad version of a planner. It’s broken down into sections for the easiest daily organization possible, without the bulkiness of an actual planner. Each day is broken down by hour to list meetings or special events, there’s a to-do list section, a place to list the 3 things you absolutely have to do that day, and one of my favorite parts is the area where you can write down everything you’ve eaten and how much water you’ve had to drink! How cool?! You can grab yours here!

BIC Atlantis Original Retractable Ball Colored Pens
These are the exact pens that I use for all of my note taking and planning needs. The ink seems to last forever and the colors are so vibrant and pretty! It makes it easy to categorize different events on my calendars. Typically I use green to symbolize pay day or when bills are due, I usually use pink for social events, purple for special work events, the list continues. I also change it up when I’m getting bored of the color coordination I’ve been running with for too long. Regardless of color, these pens write smoothly and it’s like an actual ink pen instead of a marker, so there’s no bleeding through the paper or smearing like the old school gel pens do. Plus these are the perfect, fun colors!

And that’s it! These are some of my favorite things that help me get through each day without going crazy. My job keeps me busy with people telling me little details right and left so with notepads and planners always within reach, my mind is at ease and I’m able to do my work so much more efficiently.

What are your favorite brands and products for planning and organization of every day life? Anything I’ve just got to try? Can’t wait to hear from you!

*I know I’ve been referring you guys to Amazon a lot in my posts, I just think it’s awesome how much you can order and how quickly you can get it! You can literally get anything you could possibly need! Another thing that’s awesome is the opportunity for Amazon Prime. I’ve linked a 30 day free trial for Amazon Prime to get free shipping in 2 days on thousands of products on the site. I definitely encourage you to at least try Amazon Prime, if you haven’t already. There’s always an option to cancel after the initial 30 days, but the benefits are totally worth it!

Going the Extra Mile.

“Go the extra mile, it’s never crowded.”

How insanely true is this quote? I took this picture after lunch with my parents last week and all I wanted to do was keep running. It ended up being a gorgeous day regardless of it being overcast with a major chance of storms. The perfect temperature for a run, yet there was no one around. I started thinking about how often the path is wide open for us to start working and follow our dreams, whatever they may be. Then it occurred to me how infrequently we advantage of these opportunities. Why? Is it because we’re scared of failing? Don’t feel like putting in the extra work? Too tired when we come home from our day job to work on ourselves and our own goals? There are so many things that keep us from accomplishing our goals, big or small.

It was 2009 when I first thought I wanted to be an orthodontist. I was born with a severe underbite and a crossbite and spent most of my childhood with mouth pieces, face masks, and retainers before having braces in 8th grade. I literally had every kind of contraption to straighten my jaw that you could imagine. And it all worked. My teeth were straight and my jaw was (& still is!) perfectly aligned. I had an amazing orthodontist through those years- he made the process bearable and even enjoyable. I wanted to do for people what he did for me. His passion for his profession showed every day in the office and it made me want to be that. Once he retired, I shadowed a different orthodontist several times. She was not only running her dental/orthodontics  practice alone, but she was a single mom, worked out twice a day, and was seriously killing it every single day. We spent a lot of time together before the office opened and after it closed and it quickly became official- that’s who I wanted to be like. For a few years, I felt that same passion, too. Then it took me 5 and half years to finish my undergrad and I decided I didn’t want to spend 7 more years in school. That’s what I convinced myself, anyway.
Or was it that I was afraid I wouldn’t get in to dental school? What if I wasn’t as good at it as those two were? I didn’t have the most exceptional grades, but I’d visited the advisors at UofL and they were encouraging every time I was there. Still, something in my mind was too scared to act on what I once felt so strongly about.

Then there’s Pure Barre. It was 2011 when I first heard about the studios in Louisville. I wanted to try instantly. I even had a friend who told me I could go with her. I was so excited, motivated, a little nervous, but actually terrified. I started talking myself out of it because it was too far from home, I didn’t look like the other girls there- the list goes on. It was 2015 before I ever even tried a class! This is the perfect example of why it’s so important to push ourselves to our limits because we never know how perfect it can turn out. Y’all already know how much Pure Barre has changed my life in the last two years so I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer.

It was also 2011 when I first wanted to start a blog. Now 6 years later and I’ve actually started one! I feel so proud to have this thing up & running, no matter how successful it currently is. I’ve achieved one of my biggest goals and it feels so. freaking. good.

I’ve always been one to put in the extra effort at work especially. I haven’t loved every job I’ve had, so it definitely hasn’t been easy to give 120% day in and day out. But in my experience, it’s worth it. At my last job, I started out selling tickets at a museum on the weekends during college. Then I started going on the trips with the mobile museum and quickly became the full time manager and Brand Ambassador for the museum. It was an absolute dream job. I moved up quickly and felt successful for the first time in my life. I reached this point because I was reliable, worked hard every day, and made sure to leave lasting impressions on the customers. Obviously not many other people around me had worked like that because there wasn’t anyone else who moved up like I had. And I’m proud to say I’m the only Brand Ambassador that museum has ever seen.

It’s so easy to give up on ourselves and our own goals because so many of us spend every day working for someone else to achieve their goals. I’m not saying quit your day job. I’m only saying take time to prioritize your own life. Time management is one of the biggest things that has helped me do things to benefit myself. Make bettering yourself each and every day a habit.

I challenge each of you to push yourself out of your comfort zone, no matter what it is. Sure we might not succeed the first time or even the second, but we certainly will never succeed if we don’t try. I recently participated in a 5 day boot camp that helped lay out visions and goals for my life and it’s insane how much something like that will help! Write down your visions and your goals, short term and long term. Then write out the smaller steps you’ll have to take each day to lead you to achieve those visions and goals.

Tell yourself failure is not an option and just keep going. Go the extra mile, unlike so many people we encounter each day. You will be amazed with yourself, I promise!

 

Imagine all the things we could achieve if we would just do them. Make yourself proud, you deserve it!

What are you going to do today that your future self will thank you for? Tell me! 

Asia-Pacific Study Abroad- Australia

Part 1 of 4:

Australia Travels:

As part of my month long Asia-Pacific Study Abroad program as a student at Ball State University, I was lucky enough to go to Sydney, Australia. We spent 4 days there in 2011, and still to date, it’s easily one of the top 5 experiences of my life. During this trip, we didn’t have any classes or assignments until the very end, and as a result, we were able to be fully immersed in the cultures every day in each country we visited.
We left from Indianapolis late on July 20th, 2011 and landed in Singapore on July 22nd. I’ll share events from my Singapore visit in a different post, so be on the lookout! After spending a few days in Singapore, we flew to Sydney, arriving there on July 25th.
Everything about Australia was perfect. Absolutely perfect.
 Summer in Louisville is winter time in Sydney since it’s in the Southern Hemisphere. It was around 50 degrees the whole time we were there and we only needed a light jacket in the mornings and evenings. Coming from the humid and scorching Ohio Valley summer, this type of weather was too perfect.
We landed in Sydney and after getting over the panic of being separated from the rest of the students at the airport, we all caught the tram to check in at The Great Southern Hotel in downtown Sydney. Being lost in a foreign country by yourself is not pleasant but the hotel was beautiful!
As you could imagine, the days were packed with activities.
On the first day, we took the city bus to a ferry ride that would eventually take us to Manly Wharf. The ferry took us through the Sydney Harbor, giving us our first look at the Sydney Opera House. Once we got to Manly Wharf, I was able to take my shoes off and stand in the Pacific Ocean. How cool is it that my first time in the Pacific was in Australia? I’ve never even been to Cali! We visited several shops for souvenirs and got the best gelato I’ve ever had for lunch. There’s something about the chocolate in Australia- it’s SO much better than it is in America so we had to get plenty to bring home with us!
Before we even arrived, our instructor was raving over these delicious homemade noodles we had to get at this little restaurant two blocks from our hotel. We went for dinner on the first night and our group filled the restaurant. And it was absolutely delicious! Just simple noodles with veggies and a soy sauce based dressing made for the perfect end to our first day.
The second day was the winery day- my favorite! We visited two wineries and one pub after driving through true Australian countryside. Seeing kangaroos in the wild was incredible! I literally never thought I would ever be able to experience that in real life! We visited Tempus Two Cellars and Hunter Valley Winery, making sure to bring home a few bottles of wine from each place. Australian wineries are probably what got me started on my love of wine, to be honest. The grounds were so beautiful & the wine was even better. This was day five of being out of America and the day I made so many new friends. There were 20 people on the trip, 16 of us being girls, and to this day, these are still some of the best people I’ve ever known.
Once we got back to the hotel, our instructor went to bed and we all decided to go out for a night on the town. I will never forget using my passport to get my into a club! The drinking age was 18 in Sydney so we all went out and had the most fun! Let me tell you, this was awesome for a bunch of 20 year old kids. 
The next morning was an early one as we got up to hike through the Blue Mountains. We took a cable car up to the highest peaks to see the Three Sisters. It was foggy and cold on the way up, but worth every shiver. The Three Sisters are a strange mountain formation, named after three Aboriginal sisters, who were allegedly turned to stone in order to protect them from harm after falling in love with three men from a different Aboriginal tribe. Have any of you visited the Blue Mountains or Three Sisters? Is there more you can tell me behind the story about them?
The Three Sisters, Blue Mountains
We took a steep train back down the mountains, where I felt like I had to hold on with both hands the whole way down. From the mountains, our group went to a wildlife center where we were able to feed kangaroos and pet koalas. This was definitely an experience I’ll never forget. Ever since my aunt visited Australia when I was very young, I always wanted to visit there and bring home memories of koalas like she had. I’ll never forget the little koala she brought home that she still keeps in the chair in her bedroom. Memories like she still has make me so thankful I was able to create my own.
Later that evening, we visited Olympic Stadium and the Opera House before calling it a night after an extremely long, but definitely fun filled day.
On our final full day in Sydney, we walked to the aquarium downtown from our hotel. This aquarium was my first experience with black tip and white tip reef sharks, which are still my favorite species. Ya’ll know how much I love sharks so being able to experience them up close & personal was a dream. We had lunch in Chinatown that day and spent the afternoon shopping at Paddy’s Market, where I found some pretty pearl earrings that I’m still in love with.
On the streets, you can find Aboriginal Australians, people indigenous to the area, who play music on their handmade instruments. We were lucky enough to talk to this man for a while and he was kind enough to play us a song from his tribe. He was extremely friendly and absolutely thrilled to teach us about his family.
Aboriginese. 
 We went out to the bars one last time before saying goodbye to Sydney and we made it well worth it. I have never met so many consistently kind and welcoming people. Everywhere we went, from the moment we landed to the second we took off back to Singapore, everyone welcomed us with open arms and warm smiles. I never wanted to leave!
If you haven’t been to Sydney or Australia in general, please put it on your list. It is stunning, the people are amazing, and the experience is one you’ll never forget.
How many of you guys have been to Australia, and what part did you visit? Help me decide where I should go when I go back!! I want to hear your stories!

Pitaya Smoothie Bowl.

This one is my absolute favorite & I could really eat this every single day. I am all about eating what you love, but I know as well as anyone that you’ve got to give your body the good stuff. My go to in the morning, especially in the summer, is a smoothie or smoothie bowl. Seriously what is better than a frosty smoothie on a hot summer day? I have recently become absolutely addicted to pitaya smoothies. Pitaya is basically just dragon fruit & after using this product for almost two years, I still cannot get over the beautiful color & how good it tastes! You can buy frozen packs from pitayaplus.com to freeze, add a few ingredients, blend it up, & hit the road. Pitaya has a very mild flavor that can be enhanced by the different things you put in your smoothies. Below is my favorite recipe. *This post contains affiliate links.

1 pack frozen Pitaya Plus

½ c. pineapple

2 kale cubes (recipe below)

¼ c. orange juice

1 tbsp matcha powder

1 banana

Optional: juice of half a lemon, 1 scoop maca powder

You can get my favorite maca powder here Navitas Organics Maca Gelatinized Powder, 4 Ounce and this is by far my favorite matcha Matcha Green Tea Powder Organic, 100gms (3.5oz)!

Kale Cubes:

This is so easy. I usually buy a few bags of kale that is on sale because of a close expiration date. As soon as I unpack the groceries, I add the kale to the blender with just enough water to allow for blending. It ends up being about ½ cup for a big bag of kale. Once it’s all blended, I pour the mix into ice cube trays & freeze them. That way they’re ready to go & you don’t always have to have fresh greens for your smoothies!

You can put these in any smoothie you make. I literally add them to acai bowls, wheatgrass smoothies, regular strawberry banana smoothies…basically everything! For those of you who don’t even like kale, you really can’t taste it but you’re still getting all the benefits!

Some days when I’m not rushing out the door, I like to make smoothie bowls, which I like to be thicker than a normal smoothie, so I just add a frozen banana instead of one that’s room temperature. The lemon juice just brings out the flavor of the pitaya and the maca powder has tons of vitamins and doesn’t add any flavor or bad taste to the smoothie.

When I make a smoothie bowl, I mix it up with different toppings, but usually leave the blended ingredients the same. If I have fresh fruits that need to be used, I’ll toss them in the blender to sweeten the base a little bit. Pineapple or kiwis are so good in the base whether I’m turning it into a smoothie bowl or not. Sometimes I slice a kiwi & a few strawberries to put on top or put some granola & low sugar dried cranberries. Pineapple is also amazing as a topping! I’ve used Manitoba Harvest Organic Hemp Hearts Raw Shelled Hemp Seeds, 12 Ounce & goji berries, drizzled almond butter or used sliced almonds with any kind of fresh berries. I’ve also been known to use shredded coconut for added sweetness or raw pumpkin seeds for an added crunch and extra protein. My method is usually something that’s crunchy, a fresh fruit, & something like hemp seeds for an added boost of all the things that are good for you! Below is a picture of the recipe given above with a frozen banana poured into a bowl & topped with sliced almonds, shredded coconut, sliced strawberries & a sliced kiwi. See how pretty?

As you can see, pitaya bowls are an art- one I am obsessed with!

TIP: I also love to add hemp seeds or granola to yogurt for quick, easy lunch!
This is my favorite granola for all things and it’s so indulgent with big pieces of dark chocolate Nature’s Path Organic Love Crunch Premium Granola, Dark Chocolate Macaroon, 11.5 Ounce. YUM!

What kind of smoothie bowls or smoothies are your favorites? Do y’all have any recommendations for some better toppings for smoothies or smoothie bowls for me? Have you tried pitaya?

You can literally make anything from it! I’ve made pitaya jam just by adding ½ teaspoon of chia seeds to a pack of thawed Pitaya Plus. I like to use it on rice cakes or drizzled over fresh fruit. I’ve also completely thawed out 2 packs & made ice cubes out of it. I’ve found the ice cubes are so good with Cran-Raspberry La Criox. Try it out & let me know what you think!

Acai Bowls have been really popular as of late and I make a lot of those, too. They’re still a delicious treat that also use a lot of nutritious ingredients. The recipe I normally use is pretty simple and it is listed below!

1 scoop (about a tbsp.) of Navitas Organics Acai Powder, 8 oz. Bag

1 frozen banana

½ c. frozen fruit blend

¼ c. orange juice

Throw it all in and blend until smooth. Some of my favorite toppings are pineapple, granola, and shredded coconut. I’m telling you guys, try it! And then let me know how much you love it!

Beauty Staples I Can’t Live Without.

I previously mentioned that even though I don’t wear a lot of makeup or use a ton of beauty products, I’m still absolutely obsessed with them. I especially love all of the anti-aging, skin brightening, under-eye targeting creams and lotions that I can possibly find. Dry shampoo has also become one of my biggest beauty staples over the last few months. My nursing school friends would be so proud! My basic beauty bag seriously consists of only a few items but I just swear by them!

Whether I’m getting ready at home & have all the time in the world, or I’m getting ready in just a few minutes between Pure Barre and work, my routine is pretty much the same. It’s simple & quick & does the job for me. Here are my favorites! *This post contains affiliate links.


Dry Shampoo: I used to wash my hair every single day and had no idea how damaging that really was for my locks. I’ve finally gotten to the point where I only wash my hair about every three days so my favorite Drybar Detox Dry Shampoo 3.5 oz is essential. Although I’ve only used the original, they now have a shampoo for brunettes, which is awesome! Having dark hair, I realize how tough it is to keep from having white spots from the shampoo throughout your hair. So if y’all have tried this, I wanna hear reviews! I’ve experimented with a lot of different kinds and this is by far the best. It works the best and smells amazing. I know it’s a little pricey so Not Your Mothers Shampoo Clean Freak Dry 7 Ounce is a great alternative. It works quite well and smells good, too!

Mascara: There are at least a million options for mascara out there and a lot of brands insist their product is the best but it costs a fortune. So many times the expensive ones aren’t even worth it! But if you’re looking for sky high, voluminous lashes without the sticky, cakey mascara feeling on your face, this stuff is for you. It is undoubtedly the best mascara I’ve ever used and makes me feel like I don’t need any other kind of makeup. I use Maybelline New York Lash Sensational Luscious Waterproof Mascara, Very Black. My eyes feel brighter and I just plain feel better with this stuff! Even other Maybelline products haven’t lived up the expectations I’d hoped. It’s extremely waterproof and comes off best with some coconut oil instead of eye makeup remover.

Which brings me to my next staple.
Coconut oil: This stuff is a miracle and is without a doubt, my favorite beauty product. For everything. Makeup remover, deep conditioning hair mask, I even use it like body butter sometimes. It’s all natural, of course, so it works for people who are trying to keep any chemicals out of their lifestyle. I even use it around my cuticles before I go to bed. As makeup remover, I just put a little on my finger and rub around my eyes until the mascara & eyeliner come off. It’s the only thing that takes it all off completely, and without much effort at all. When I use it in my hair, I put it from scalp to ends and make sure every hair is completely saturated. I massage it into my scalp, use a clip to tie up the hair, and then put on a shower cap to intensify the conditioning. Usually I try to leave it on for about 2 hours before washing it out with regular shampoo. I also sometimes put it on any dry skin, focusing on feet, elbows, knees or ankles. It works like a gem and you can find one of my favorites here Carrington Farms Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, 54 Ounce.

Nail Polish: When I was younger, I would bite my nails down until they hurt so bad I practically needed band aids on each finger. Gross, I know. It was a terrible habit and NOTHING was working to get me to stop. We put cayenne pepper mixed with clear polish on my nails, we tried no bite, we tried putting little fake nails from Target on them. Everything. Then out of nowhere, I looked down and my nails were long one day! I had stopped biting them without even realizing it. Crazy how that works. Anyway, now nail polish is one of my greatest obsessions. I have more bottles than they carry at the store and can identify each of the colors in a heartbeat. I always paint my own nails instead of getting them done somewhere, mostly because I change my mind about colors so frequently, but also because it’s a little bit of a stress relief for me. My favorite brand of polish in general is Essie, and my favorite color is Peach Daiquiri. You can find it here essie nail polish, peach daiquiri.. Since gel manicures are becoming so popular and they’ve created gel polishes you can use at home to do yourself, I’ve definitely taken advantage. My favorite brand with gel polish and top coat is Sally Hanson in Red Eye. Its the perfect red for all occasions. They have the combos so you can buy the top coat & color together or you can buy them separately. Usually I pick them up at Target! You don’t need the special light or anything fancy to finish the manicure off, the top coat works perfectly. I always use this when I go to the beach for week and it lasts the whole time!

Whitening Strips: Crest 3D White Luxe Whitestrip Teeth Whitening Kit, Glamorous White, 14 Treatments. These are a game changer. So easy & they work better than any other whitening product I’ve used. I drink a lot of tea and coffee, so these babies are definitely an essential! I wear them on the way to work in the mornings or right before bed for 30 minutes about three days a week. They also make ones for people with sensitive teeth that work just as well!

And that’s it! These five items make life easier and help me feel my best. Couldn’t live without them!

What are your beauty staples?

 

*I know I’ve been referring you guys to Amazon a lot in my posts, I just think it’s awesome how much you can order and how quickly you can get it! You can literally get anything you could possibly need! Another thing that’s awesome is the opportunity for Amazon Prime. I’ve linked a 30 day free trial for Amazon Prime to get free shipping in 2 days on thousands of products on the site. I definitely encourage you to at least try Amazon Prime, if you haven’t already. There’s always an option to cancel after the initial 30 days, but the benefits are totally worth it!