Dream Big & Buy The Shoes: March 2017

March 31, 2017

I'm Having Trouble Balancing It All

I didn't plan on writing a post today, but then I was straightening my hair last night and had a thought. I'm tired. I feel overwhelmed. I feel stressed...and I think it's all coming from having trouble balancing everything going on.
I really had trouble typing that title out and don't want to come off as complaining, because at the end of the day I'm really lucky to live the life I do but I feel like something has to give. I've been saying forever that I need to get on a regular exercise schedule and move every day. I can't tell you the last time I consciously worked out. That's awful and part of why I'm unhappy. 

I haven't been reading as much as I was a few months ago, and I was really enjoying how many books I was diving in to and sharing them here on the blog. I'm lucky if I read two chapters a day now...usually I'm falling asleep mid sentence.

I feel like my blog is slacking and as always, my pictures could be better. My sweet husband bought me this photography book for Christmas...in 2015. I haven't picked it up more than once. He did it in an effort for me to learn more things and play with the camera. All I do is get frustrated and give up because there's many more things I think I could be doing like a load of laundry or sorting mail. 

Are you sick of me whining yet? Honestly, I don't know how most of you do it. I know it always looks different from the outside, but you women who are putting up blog posts at 5 am staying fit and working and eating good and hanging out with friends for dinner...high five. I'm lucky if I make it out of the door on time lately, and don't even talk to me if I haven't had at least 7.5 hours of sleep.

I miss reading 20 blogs every night and commenting and not having to worry about the fact that I haven't even began to answer blog comments from last week...let alone this week. I just want to come to this space and feel like I'm doing enough...creating a community where people are happy and inspired to do something they love and be themselves. Today, I'm probably not inspiring anyone. I'm sorry for that, but sometimes I just need to get it off my chest. 

Maybe I need to prioritize some things in my life or take a break from some things (ahem, Social Media). I mean, I spent an hour tonight reading Facebook updates and watching Snapchats before beginning to dry my hair--that's just bad.

I'm sorry for the sob session today, but maybe you can help me. How do you balance it all? Do you ever feel SUPER overwhelmed? Please tell me I'm not crazy.

In better news...I'm attending a Mac and Cheese competition this weekend and plan on eating every noodle in sight (probably not helping that balance, but oh well!). Hope you all have a wonderful weekend--thanks for letting me vent today!

March 29, 2017

An Non-Sponsored Home Chef Review

It was after I received a few Home Chef coupons in the mail and my e-mail inbox that I finally decided to get online and see what this home delivery meal plan was all about. After trying Blue Apron a few years ago and not being too thrilled I was a little hesitant to shell out money on something underwhelming.
The coupon was a pretty good deal so I thought we would try it out. Long story short, a month later we are still loving Home Chef. This post has not been sponsored in any way...but that would be nice because free food is always good ;) . 

I just said to Chuck last week, we haven't had a bad meal yet! Actually, we have pretty much loved every single one and the variety they offer. The portions are pretty perfect- just enough food for the both of us, the meals come with sides and the recipes are easy to follow and help you prep in enough time too.

The first meals we received were the Sirloin Steak with Blue Cheese Compound Butter and Farmhouse Fried Chicken.

how does home chef work

home chef review
I won't lie, the first time I tried green beans was this first Home Chef meal. I thought to myself- you will not waste money and not try this food...so I did, and I really liked them. I enjoyed that Home Chef also pushed my a little outside my comfort zone.

The next delivery was Korean Pork Medallions, Pulled Ranch Chicken Sandwiches and Strawberry Colada Smoothies. The Pulled Ranch Chicken Sandwiches was by far our favorite meal- we both loved every part of it. It had some heat to it and those potato wedges were divine.
The medallions were another top choice for meal- so juicy and a lot of taste and coleslaw I could eat almost any day.
delicious home chef meals

is home chef worth it
The Parmesan Crusted Pork Chops and Classic Chicken Fettuccine Alfredo were some more everyday meals, but we still enjoyed them very much. The nice thing about these meals is the recipe cards that come with them, so that we can recreate them on our own in the future.
home delivery meals

home chef meals
We didn't pay full price for a single delivery thanks to codes I found online and coupons e-mailed to me. There's a variety of meals you can choose from and add-on's you can pick like breakfast, fruit baskets and smoothies. Each meal is $9.95 per serving unless it says otherwise online, which isn't bad if you think about how much you can spend at the grocery store or eating out. 
We tried Blue Apron a few years ago, and Home Chef definitely wins over them- 100%! Overall, I would highly recommend them if you are looking for some new dinner options.

If you would like to try it out I have a code for $30 off your order--try it out here. Enjoy!

Have you ever tried a home delivery meal service?

March 27, 2017

My Favorite Lip Colors for Spring & A Giveaway

Spring is probably my second favorite season coming in after Fall being on the top of my list. I love the anticipation for a beautiful time of the year and the mild temperatures mixed with lots of sunshine. I also get really excited to pull out all my favorite Spring lip products which means color, color, and more COLOR!
lip color for spring

One of my goals for this year on the blog was to do more beauty posts, and I'm really having fun sharing my favorite things and opinions on products with you.
best spring lipstick
Color swatches are shown top to bottom with the descriptions below :)

Colour Pop Lumiere is one of their lippie stix in a light pink with some mauve tones. It is matte and is a nice light color. I think it's a great every day look and was seriously impressed for the low price of $5. This is something I reach for often because it applies nicely and can be worn with so many looks.
spring colored lipstick
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick in Bella is one of my favorites to wear because of the beautiful bright pink color. It has a matte finish and glides on so easily which is a huge plus for me. I honestly prefer lipsticks that come in a gloss type tube because they are easier for me to apply. I wear this color all times of the year because I love it so much, but it totally screams Spring to me.

Maybelline Pink Sugar is from their Color Sensational Creamy Matte line and I picked it up at Ulta last year after Caitlin from Southern Curls & Pearls recommended it. I love the color, but it doesn't apply great which is a huge bummer. I even tried it with the MAC Prep & Prime and it still wasn't so hot. I haven't tried any other colors from the line after being bummed about this one, but it may work better for someone else.

MAC Candy Yum Yum is the prettiest pink color and another one I reach for all the time. It's a nice creamy color that I honestly think would look great on anyone. If you couldn't tell yet I'm a big fan of pink lips--I didn't used to be, but after taking a chance on a bold lip I haven't turned back.
new lip colors 2017
Kylie Cosmetics Valentine- I'm not going to lie, I was a nervous to purchase something on the pricier end without being able to see it in person and check it out first. I follow Jaclyn Hill on Snapchat, and when she tried them out and loved them I knew I would. She's very honest so I was excited to purchase this color. I'm so impressed with the quality and how long lasting it is- the pencil that it comes with is great and the color stays on pretty much all day. I do re-apply after I eat my lunch automatically, and honestly you could go without doing that if you wanted to. The pink is similar to the Stila Bella color but I love me a bright pop of pink, so I got this too.

Stila Color Balm Lipstick in Amelia- okay, maybe I purchased this because of the name ;) It's not the same spelling, but it's close so I had to try it out. It's very pigmented and also creamy so it looks beautiful on. It's more on the lighter side for me, but another great fun color that I enjoy.
MAC lip colors
Smashbox Dream Huge is a matte liquid lipstick that is actually used on set in their studio and of course, another one I LOVED for the name. Dream Big...or Dream Huge- I love it. Another pinky mauve color that seriously lasts forever. It has Smashbox Primer infused in it which must help with the long lasting effect, and I love the brush applicator too. Seriously amazing all around and I can't wait to try out more colors--I'm thinking I need a nude or neutral next.

Tell me--what's your favorite spring lip color?

To get you fresh and ready for a new season, a group of us blogger babes have teamed up to gift one lucky person a $75 Sephora or Ulta gift card --winner's choice and a bunch of my tried and true favorite products including a GlamGlow mask, Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara, a BECCA Highlighter and more. The giveaway ends Sunday April 2, so be sure to check back on the blog next week to see if you're the winner!

Thank you for all your support and constant love, good luck!

The Giveaway Gals:

Kate  Macy  Emily  

March 24, 2017

My New Favorite Pizza

I love pizza, and I know I'm not alone. There's so many good options out there and if you think about it, the possibilities are endless...especially with all the types of crusts and toppings.
I love making pizza at home, while I haven't attempted to make my own crust I do enjoy coming up with different flavors. This one was born when I ran out of pizza sauce making two different kinds and opted for olive oil as a sauce. This pepper pizza has become one of my favorites.

You will need:
Pizza crust- I like trying wheat or whole grain crusts
Olive oil- amount depends on the size of your crust
Garlic salt
Shredded cheese- I switch it up depending on my mood. This time I used a pizza blend of mozzarella, monterrey jack and cheddar- so good
Bell peppers- 1/2 of each, diced

To make:
Preheat oven to 450 degrees
Prep your crust by putting a small spoonful of olive oil and covering completely
Top with a few shakes of garlic salt and desired amount of cheese
Add your peppers on top and put in the oven
Bake 7-10 minutes, I do 9 because I love a crispy crust

healthy eating

pepper pizza

homemade recipes

pinterest pizza

It is SO good, the right amount of salty with a hint of sweet and I don't feel so guilty with all that meat or pizza sauce. It's a nice light meal that sometimes I take in my lunch to work to enjoy.

Remember, when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie...that's amore! Love and pizza, it makes the world go round. Happy eating friends!

March 22, 2017

Why You Should Always Listen To Your Heart

I'm a huge believer in doing your own thing or going your own way, because why would you want to live your life in any way but pure happiness?!
But there are often times where situations lead us to make a tough decision. Maybe we are doing what we think is right instead of what we really believe. There's always outsiders who don't know the whole story and are just seeing a page of our struggles, dreams, or plans. 

I find myself often questioning if I should be doing more with my blog like these bigger bloggers say. That I shouldn't get some free products and share a review about it unless I'm being paid in cash too. Then I'm reminded of why I started this blog in the first place- as a creative outlet, to do something for me, to express myself in a fun way. It's extremely fun and also a lot of work to partner with brands, but I go with my gut based on what a company is looking for when I collaborate on a post and what I expect in return.

We all have our own pace throughout our walk of life, and it's one I want to enjoy. I don't want to do things because other people my age are doing them, or my circle of friends have accomplished milestones and now I should. I want to beat to my own drum and make decisions for me that make my mind, body and soul happy.

Maybe you're contemplating a new career path, or wondering if you want to start a family, or don't agree with a big plan you and your partner are making...listen to your heart.

Listen to your heart, only you know what it's telling you--don't let anyone make you think you different. I want you to remember that even though our dreams may be different sizes, they are all still very meaningful. 

March 20, 2017

Chicken Fajita Sweet Potato Skins

Have you seen those video recipes on Facebook? You watch them and are thinking "oh wow look at that a delicious meal in a little 30 second video...I can do this" No. Have you ever actually read through one of them? Most are way complicated and have a million ingredients.
sweet potato dinners
Then I stumbled upon this one for chicken fajita sweet potato skins a friend shared, and wow was I impressed. I watched it two or three times to make sure I wasn't being tricked. Not to mention, I knew I had almost everything on the ingredients list at home which is always a win.

Chuck usually likes my cooking, or at least he says he does. But I also make a lot of things I know he enjoys or use things that we typically do when I make a meal. I would say I'm more adventurous with my tastes. I made these sweet potato skins for dinner last week before I went to yoga and he actually ate some, which I wasn't expecting. I had left a note that dinner was in the kitchen and came home to him saying he could have ate all of them, it was great.

The whole thing didn't take too long and they are really delicious and different. I love trying new things and especially enjoy when it's not too difficult ( a common theme among my recipe and DIY shares).

You will need:
2 sweet potatoes
1 chicken breast
1 onion
various bell peppers of your choice, sliced (use 1/2 of each)
3 tablespoons mozzarella cheese
olive oil
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper

To make:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
Poke holes down the center of each sweet potato
Microwave for 3 to 5 minutes, or until softened
 *I did 5 minutes and it seemed to be a little too long so I would start with 3 and go from there
Remove from microwave and cut each potato in half
Carve out the centers leaving a small rim around the outside of each sweet potato
Place parchment paper on a baking sheet
Place sweet potatoes on one side of the sheet and the bell peppers and onion on the other side
Drizzle olive oil over everything
Next mix the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper together
Sprinkle over the food on the baking sheet
Place the chicken breast on top of the vegetables
Drizzle additional olive oil and top with more seasoning
Bake 20-25 minutes or until chicken reaches 165 degrees
Shred the chicken with two forks and mix together with the veggies
Fill up the sweet potatoes and top with mozzarella cheese
Bake for 5 more minutes, or until cheese is melted
Add your favorite toppings if desired, such as guacamole and cilantro or salsa

*I forgot an onion so I used 1 teaspoon onion powder and it also worked great.
chicken fajita dinner

sweet potato

vegetable dinners

quick and easy meals

pinterest sweet potato recipes

sweet potato with chicken

I hope you make them and enjoy a nice meal--these are great for meal prep and lunches on the go. Warm up for a few minutes and eat throughout the week, yum!

Have a great week friends! Happy cooking!

March 17, 2017

Things I'm Loving Lately

I wanted to lighten things up a bit after Wednesday's post about sensitivity. While this is a bit random, I thought you also may want to know about some of my favorites this Friday.
While the whole world is currently obsessed with Ed Sheeran (me included) I am loving some of the remixes and can't stop listening to one in particular. A friend of mine is re-watching Jersey Shore...brilliant idea, and that led me to follow DJ Pauly D on Snapchat. He's pretty hilarious still and was sharing some of his DJ mixes...is that what it's called? He was definitely spitting fire- HA...and I'm in love with this Shape of You remix by Tdot Illdude- just don't ask me to pronounce his name.

Has anyone else tried the Girl Scout cereal? I may have already crushed a whole box of the Caramel Crunch (aka Samoas, why change the name?!) and yes we have the Thin Mints too. While my cereal choices aren't the healthiest, at least I haven't eaten a single Girl Scout cookie this year. Keep me away, I'll stick with the box of cereal I can eat throughout a few weeks...if the cookies come my way I can usually eat a whole box in just a few days--bad news bears.

I went to hot yoga Tuesday night. It was  great and I really needed to move my body like that. While I poured sweat for over an hour and had shaky legs on the drive home, it really felt good to push myself. I'm not a big exercise fanatic and I want to take care of my body so I'm trying new things. I used to occasionally go to hot yoga years ago and it felt nice to take some time for myself and venture outside of my comfort zone. Usually my free time is spent blogging, reading, watching reality TV or shopping so doing something other than that was refreshing. Call me crazy, but then I started looking up barre classes...it is on my 101 in 1001 list and I have still yet to attend one. I think that's going to change soon- I'm getting really excited to keep trying new things.

Speaking of reality TV, has anyone watched Summer House on Bravo? On one of the episodes of Vanderpump Rules they visited Montauk and met up with this east coast crew and a spin-off was born. Basically Summer House is the east coast version of Vanderpump Rules. This gang lives and works in New York City during the week and on the weekends in the Summer all head out to the Hamptons and live in a house together to party like rockstars. Short story, I love it. The drama, the hot messes, the relationships...it's all entertaining. If you're not watching it, you should.

I know it's not new, but does anyone else just LOVE the Gatorade Bars All of the Lights commercial? I mean I love the song in general, so much so it was our wedding entrance song but the beat of it and the people singing it in the commercial makes me dance in my living room everytime I hear it.


Last but not least, I am kind of obsessed with getting deals lately. Target is pretty much my favorite store and I usually find myself there a few times a week. I had the REDcard debit card years ago, but then I switched bank accounts and never did it with my card. I got a new one a few weeks ago and have been kind of crazy about saving money at Target. I find myself saying- Chuck, don't get milk at the store, I'll get it at Target- we get 10% off! Combining the deals on Cartwheel with the debit card is pretty much awesome and really exciting. I've saved over $15 both times in my trips this past week- score!

I hope you all have a great weekend, more snow is coming here. Grin and bear it, right?! Hope the sun shines wherever you are- that's the thing that keeps me going through Winter. Enjoy!

March 15, 2017

Are We Too Sensitive?

Lately a lot of conversations are turning in to deep thoughts, that then result in a blog post. I wonder if I'm thinking too much or if I'm just pondering a lot these days, or if I have a lot to say (well, that's always the case). 

I was discussing a sad situation that happened involving one of my stepson's friends. We got word that he was hospitalized after an attempted suicide. Seriously awful and incredibly upsetting, especially at 13. The whole incident occurred as a result of bullying. 
Then this comment was made to me... "People are just too sensitive these days, especially kids."

Really? No. This young boy was bullied and was affected so negatively by it that he wanted to end his life because of it. Now, there are a thousands different things that could have happened or gone through this boy's head and I don't know 100% of the story. I don't know how he was bullied or why he thought he should try and commit suicide, but I do know he tried...and that is enough.
Maybe people's feelings can get hurt a little too easy. Maybe we need to toughen up our children a little more. Maybe people are too sensitive. Or maybe you're just an asshole.

At my stepson's school they inform children how bullying is wrong, and go even further on the subject to implement pillars of excellence and they teach them about good morals and how to use them day to day. Some child felt like they didn't have to behave appropriately and in some way bullied another student. That child was then so affected by it that he tried to harm himself.

Bullying is a problem. In our adult world we call it mean girls. Whatever you want to call it, they're everywhere. Calling someone fat, ugly, or stupid is called bullying. If you become upset for someone saying rude things to you, you are not too sensitive. You are human.

Ethan was called fat last year by a student in gym class. He didn't want to talk to his Dad or I about it, and actually I found out through monitoring things on his phone and discovered he told his friend about it. That night he didn't want to eat dinner and wouldn't tell us why. We knew why. I cried myself to sleep that night thinking about the whole thing. I have been told that "I'm bigger than other women."I would rather hear that 500 times than someone call my stepson fat. Words can scar you.
Am I over-protective? Maybe. Am I sensitive? Sometimes. Am I a normal woman just trying to navigate through life the best way I know how? Hell yes. 

We are all allowed to react to situations in different ways, that is what makes us individuals. I want to live in a way that works for me. I want my stepson to know that I feel for him, and for his friend who was so hurt. I may say I love you to him and my husband 35 times a day, but I want them to know that I support them...I love them no matter what they are feeling...I am in their corner 1000% of the time and always will be. 
There are days I am a little more fragile, but I think after all the bullshit I have dealt with in my life I have earned the right to have bad days or sad ones too. Haven't we all? I think so. 

Life isn't always unicorns and rainbows, and sometimes people aren't too sensitive...they are just themselves. Spread a little love today--we all can use some.

March 13, 2017

The Numbers Game

I got this post idea from Always, Al and thought it would be fun to share. The numbers game is a way to get to know me a little bit better and share what's going on in my world.

Here we go....

5 - the approximate number of alarms I set each morning I'm a freak...I know. My husband probably cusses me out in his head, ha-ha.

1- I paint my nails about once each week at home. If I'm going on a trip I usually treat myself to a gel manicure.

3- books that I'm currently reading. No wonder I haven't finished any of them yet, it's a bit hard to read three at a time.

9- how many years this May that Chuck and I have been together.

30- the average number of phone calls I handle a day at work.

89- days until our family vacation to the Outer Banks. I am beyond excited for a week on the beach complete with a house full of family and fun.

51- the number of lipsticks and glosses I own. Yes, I counted them all.

7- lipstick and glosses were in my purse. You never know what color you'll need ;)

102- pins I knocked down in a game of bowling on Friday. I'm not that good, but I always have fun!

4- usually the amount of times I think about cupcakes in some way daily...what kind I'll bake next, the next cupcake shop I want to visit...the list goes on and on.

6- days until Beauty and the Beast...I'm SO EXCITED!

2- times I've purged items from closets and cabinets so far this year. Feels so good to really clean and get rid of things we aren't using or don't need anymore.

52- books I want to finish for my Goodreads reading challenge this year.

508- posts published on Dream Big and Buy the Shoes so far!

10-my soccer number and the number Ethan wears on his soccer jersey now :)

30- the number of items I bought at Target this weekend.

15- dollars saved at that last Target trip with my Cartwheel app and REDcard-score!

Share some numbers of yours with me--Happy Monday everyone!

March 10, 2017

A Thing Or Two About Moms

I realize that not all my readers about Moms, but it doesn't mean that I can't shed some light on what situations may seem like to outsiders or what being a Stepmom is like. I think the more people that are informed about the way they can come off, the better our world and conversations will be.

I had a situation occur that led me to wanting to get something off my chest...and resulted in this Facebook post.
I don't want to speak about the situation that happened, here in this space, because repeating the disgust that was said to me isn't necessary or healthy and definitely not appropriate. Frankly, as I mentioned in my Facebook post...I don't need the opinions of those who don't see my point.

I'm not the type of person who believes that if you don't think like me then you're wrong, or I don't agree with you so I can't speak to you. That's not it. The issue of ignorance is what fires me up. I have always been clear with people that I am not Ethan's biological mother. With that being said, that doesn't mean my love for him isn't endless.
I wasn't looking for a pat on the back or a high five with my post, but what I received was a ton of comments that made me really think about situations with Moms everywhere.

I shared a little bit about what being a Stepmom has taught me  and it's not the first time I've talked about Ethan on the Internet. I feel that most of my life is an open book and found that it makes me feel good to talk about what goes on, things I do, and parts of my life that others are willing to share along with me. I don't want to ever cross boundaries or do something that my family is not comfortable with. In fact, when I started my blog I asked Ethan's mother if she had any concerns if I were to share a picture or discuss Ethan. She didn't, so here we are.

Too many times things come up that make me somewhat uncomfortable and make me feel like I have to explain my love for my son. I did not give birth to him, and I wasn't there the first few years of his life. Ethan came in to my life when I began dating Chuck, and after he felt comfortable enough in our relationship to have me around his son. At first when I didn't know much of Ethan other than what I heard, I was a little hurt and felt I wasn't good enough to be around him. I realized that Chuck was not trying to hurt me, but he was protecting his son, and I totally respect that. It makes sense and looking back on the situation I really admire Chuck and his sense of what he wanted for his son. I understand it more now because I'm also in that position of protecting Ethan and what he experiences, being another caretaker in his life. 

You don't have to give birth to a child to be a Mom. You can become a part of someone's life and take on that position for anyone or anything you protect and take responsibility for. I never planned on being a Stepmom, but I can't see my life any other way now. Ethan is forever part of me and has a special place in my heart that some people don't understand since he wasn't inside of me growing for 9 months. I don't ever plan on explaining why I do the things I do for Ethan or the reasons I care so much about him, because it doesn't matter. What matters is that I provide Ethan a loving and caring home, a safe place, somewhere that he feels good enough to be himself, a fun place for him to express his silliness and get all the support and encouragement he deserves. 
Instead of him having to worry about having a Stepmom around or feeling like I'm trying to take the place of someone else in his life , I want him to realize that he has another supporter in his corner. I may be a little crazy and embarrassing sometimes when I'm that loud lady on the sidelines of the soccer field, but I will always be his number one fan (I'm sure Dad feels the same way, but we can fight for that spot-ha!).

If you're an important part of someone's life or an animal Mom, an adoptive Mom or a Mom to your co-workers...but not a biological Mom, you matter too. Mom's don't come in one cookie cutter shape, we are all different types and all special in our own way. See , the thing about Moms... is that you don't have to give someone life for them to make a difference in yours.

March 7, 2017

February Favorites

I found some great links, pictures and posts around the web in February that I am so excited to share with you today. My hope is that you find some inspiration and reasons to smile as you check them out.

Favorite DIY: Okay...Kallie is KILLING it lately with the fun DIY projects, but this dinosaur planter was by far my favorite. I mean, the cuteness is just too much and it looks so simple.

Favorite Outfit: I am loving Pamela's outfits- she always looks flawless and this one is perfect for casual weekend wear. Her edgy look is so chic and on point...I love every piece of it, her hair included.

Favorite Home Decor Post: Mary's decor is so cute and I love how she puts together her home. She gathered 15 different office decor pieces UNDER $15--amazing! I especially love the Boston skyline print.

Favorite Truthful Post: I really enjoy Dana's posts and this piece about her choice to skip New York Fashion Week this year was so raw and honest. Being so in to social media and always "on" gives us the chance to see so much of Fashion Week, but we don't get to see it ALL and I love what she shared in this post. Go girl!

Favorite Purchase: I bought a little toooo much makeup (oops) but guys, I can't believe how great the Kylie Lip Kit is. I bought the color Valentine and was shocked when I actually got one. I was on my phone, iPad and computer and all 3 screens were spinning...loading...and finally my phone popped up on the checkout screen. It came pretty quick and is the cutest pink color.
A post shared by emelia๐Ÿ–ค (@emeliaanne_) on
Favorite Advice: Brighton just purchased a beautiful house and broke down what actually happens when you buy a home for us. I loved all the real life advice and things you don't often know or really hear about in all those online articles you skim through.

Favorite Recipe: Did someone say skinny mac and cheese? YES PLEASE! Kenzie shared a round up of 15 super easy and healthy recipes that sound absolutely amazing and includes everything from breakfast to snack and smoothies.

Favorite Moment: That's tough...the month flew but we enjoyed a nice Valentine's date night and dinner out, a murder mystery dinner (first timers- so fun!), a few roadtrips to shop and some seriously gorgeous warm days! I can't get enough of the beautiful skies on these sunny days.
A post shared by emelia๐Ÿ–ค (@emeliaanne_) on
Favorite Sentimental Post: Nadine is seriously melting my heart with her posts about baby Zoe, and this reminder to love the little things is incredibly sweet. From belly laughs, random fun on a Tuesday and more....it's so important to enjoy every second.

Favorite Sweet Story: If you're on Facebook, I'm sure you heard of the Dad who made his daughter's dream come true with a Beauty and the Beast photo shoot. But even if you did already read it, it's too good not to share again...this girl is so cute and I would love to have photos like this, just sayin.

Favorite Instagram Find: Boop My Nose. Too cute...for real. Look at these animals. They post 2 pictures a day and have been cracking me up the past few days since I found the account. You can take your own and hashtag #boopmynose to get your furry friend featured.
A post shared by Boop My Nose ™ (@boopmynose) on
I mean...how cute is that nose? BOOP!

Favorite Dream Big Posts:
Maple Cinnamon Pancake Cupcakes
Bar Cart Love: Valentine's Day
My Favorite Perfumes
Dear Mom...

Hope you are having a great start to your week. Tell me some favorite moments or great reads from your month! Link up with Macy and I and grab a button below.

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March 6, 2017

Why I Prefer Sephora Over Ulta

I may be biased just because I like what I like, but I thought I would share my thoughts of why I prefer Sephora over Ulta. I enjoy shopping at both, but there's some things about Sephora that just win me over.
Return Policy: I'm not sure if you have heard about Sephora's return policy, but it's pretty amazing. There's things I have used and tried and simply did not like and was able to return them to my local Sephora and get something else instead, see my post about the Too Faced White Chocolate Chip Palette.
Sephora's return policy states: 

Items accompanied by a receipt but returned after 30 days will not be eligible for a refund. Instead we will gladly offer to you a product exchange or merchandise credit.

Items returned without a receipt but found within our system will be processed according to the Sephora refund and exchange policy.

I've never had to return anything at Ulta so I looked up their return policy and it states:
If you are not fully satisfied with a purchase that you've made at an ULTA store, the product may be returned for a refund or store credit. Any item returned must have all original components and the sale receipt. A full refund is issued if the return is done less than 60 days after the product was purchased.
So, I think Sephora wins this one...especially since I am AWFUL at keeping receipts. I used to be way more organized in this department, but I'm usually too excited about my beauty purchases and throw that bag in the garbage right away.
why sephora is better than ulta
Mobile App: They are both pretty easy to navigate and you can try on looks in both the Sephora and Ulta apps. I love that when you purchase from Sephora's app there is always mobile offers for you to take advantage of. You also get at least 3 free samples with purchases also.  The last time I purchased something through Ulta's app there was only a variety sampler available and it didn't even give me a clue as to what I would receive.
I get it, free is free...but I like the option of choosing with Sephora.
sephora favorites
ulta favorites
Shipping: Our local Sephora is located inside a JCPenney, so it's not the biggest store and I do most of my Sephora shopping online. I happily pay $10 a year for Sephora Flash which is two day free shipping. One thing I really can't stand is paying for shipping- so many stores online these days have free shipping or coupon codes to save on shipping. I was going to buy something from Ulta a few weeks ago online and you had to spend $50 to get free shipping. That can be easy to do...but when I run out of eyeliner I really don't want to have to spend the extra money to get free shipping from Ulta. I think $10 for a year of free shipping is an unbelievable deal.

Variety: While most Sephora stores are HUGE and I may not be the best example of options due to where I live, I think Ulta wins with this. Ulta offers drugstore brands to high end, and just a lot more products overall. If you're looking for a variety of brands and prices- Ulta is for sure you're go to.

Gift cards: I'm not sure if it's just due to my location, but our local grocery stores have Sephora gift cards. This means I can purchase a Sephora gift card and earn gas perks at the same time. Ulta doesn't offer them which is a bummer.  Although, both of the mobile apps at Sephora and Ulta allow you to purchase a physical gift card or e-mail a gift card which are nice options.

Employees: Again, this factor could change due to where I live, but based on personal experience I have unfortunately not been impressed with Ulta employees, except for at their Benefit Brow Bar. I have had my brows waxed on a few occasions and have always been pleasantly surprised with how above and beyond they go to help and offer suggestions and products. It's a very thorough wax which I enjoy. When it comes to browsing the store though, the employees fall short here. I have often had to seek out help and when I do, the employees are not the friendliest. When I'm spending money at your store I shouldn't have to feel like I'm a bother to get some assistance.
Sephora employees on the other hand are always so willing to help when I'm in the store. Whether it comes to asking for a sample, or for an opinion on a product they are so energetic and friendly and make me feel very welcome.
I truly hope that this isn't the way it goes at other stores, but unfortunately it has been my experience locally and it hasn't changed in the past few years...bummer.

As I mentioned, I really enjoy shopping at both Ulta and Sephora, but Sephora has my heart. 
I would love to hear which store you like more and why, so let me know in the comments.

March 3, 2017

What I Read In February

I managed to read a few more books this month, but it was kind of a slow month overall. I am excited to be working hard towards my goal of 42 books, with 8 down already. Hopefully I can finish a few that I've been on for too long (I'm not huge on self help books for this reason).

Sprinkle With Murder 2/5

I was really excited to read this book--come on, it combines two of my loves in one...mystery books and cupcakes! But guys, I just could not get past the awful grammar, spelling and cohesion in the story. Two friends are owners and bakers at Fairy Tale Cupcakes and take on their first big client who turns out to be a disaster to work for. This nightmare bride to be client wants unique cupcakes for her wedding and one day she turns up dead while all the members of the story try to find their way to find the real killer.
I mean, the story was kind of cute and obviously I enjoyed reading about the bakery and the cupcake flavors but as I mentioned, the grammar...beyond awful. I'm still deciding if I'll read the sequel to this.

This was such an interesting read that kept me hooked and definitely got better as it went on. A lawyer named Lily marries Ed and has some secrets that she's never shared with anyone, and it's no way to start a marriage. Soon after the wedding she takes on her first murder case of her career, and meets Joe who's she is drawn to in a strange way.
Lily and Ed have a young neighbor Carla who they take in on Sunday's and Lily learns that this girl has a powerful way about her. Carla knows that secrets can get her what she wants.
Several years later Carla ends up finding Lily and Ed again and the dramatic story really takes off and ends in a way I didn't see coming.

As a reality TV lover, I really enjoyed reading more about Kail's story in her first book. I think seeing more about her life in recent episodes and all the speculation surrounding her divorce and now new pregnancy had me anxious to hear what she had to offer in her latest book. I wasn't impressed. While I did enjoy her sharing what she's learned from her journey and how she is working hard towards being the best Mom she can...I felt like she repeated a lot of her advice. She continuously shared the same bits of information in different chapters which bored me. It was a very quick read with some decent advice for anyone going after what they want.

I'm excited to hopefully read more than 3 in March. On Tuesday March 7th, Macy from To Travel & Beyond and I will be recapping our months. Share your favorite reads, your best moments from February, or your goals and what you accomplished in our monthly link-up.

Enjoy your weekend friends!! Tell me in the comments what you're reading lately!

March 1, 2017

Be Grateful Every Day

Sometimes I get so mad at myself for the way I react to things. See, I can be short tempered and anxious which can lead me to say things out of frustration instead of expressing my feelings how I really want to.
I often am really bad at cooking dinner. I can make one thing really well...but who the hell can time everything perfectly being done together, at the same time and a decent temperature? It's like a juggling act with one too many balls on a tightrope, and I am certainly not that coordinated.
It was last week when actually cooking dinner (I usually leave that to my husband because of my above mentioned lack of skills) that I had this thought as I burned part of the meal. Instead of being super annoyed that I ruined part of dinner, I should be really grateful for the rest of what's on my plate. I sat down to eat and calmed down after angrily dropping a few obscenities and getting worked up over something so silly.

There's times I get frustrated when I don't feel like I have enough time in the day. I try to stay a few blog posts ahead of schedule or have at least one dinner planned for the upcoming week. But tonight I sit here typing with one hand while the other is rubbing my teenager's head as he lays on me snoring. He should have been in bed a few hours ago but wanted to stay downstairs with us. Instead of arguing, I let him lay here and fall asleep with one of my head rubs. For these quiet moments, I am so thankful.

So today...instead of being annoyed for having a bad hair day, be thankful you have a head of hair. There's some people out there who have suffered from something and don't have hair of their own.
Instead of getting mad for catching the train when driving to work, be thankful you have a car to drive.
Instead of being sick of your job, be thankful you have the opportunity to work and make money. Some people weren't given the skills or chances to do something so meaningful each day.

Take a moment to count your blessings, and be grateful for something each and every day. From a beautiful sunrise to a delicious meal, laughs with loved ones and a bed to sleep in each night...there's always something to cherish.

Hope you're having a wonderful week friends! What's something you're thankful for today?