Friday, December 11, 2015

Birchbox Review: November

November Birchbox

For November, I chose the box curated by Tati Westbrook, aka Glam Life Guru on YouTube. I had never heard of her before because I'm not a big YouTuber, but I loved her choices, so she gained a follower. Since I'm not a Birchbox Ace (meaning you've reached a certain level of dollars spent/points earned), I don't get to make my monthly box selections a day early. That means I don't usually get the box or sample choice I want when they open it up to us commoners. But the last few months, Birchbox has had some website glitches on sample choice day, which usually did not work in my favor. This particular glitch did. For whatever reason, I don't think the emails went out on time to tell everyone to go select their choices. But I went to the website anyway and was able to make my selection and wound up with this awesome box. 

Avene Hydrance Optimale Hydrating Serum -- This is so nice and fresh! It has just the tiniest hint of a barely-there scent, just enough to not actually have a fragrance but at the same time, not smell medicinal. It's not greasy or thick and dries quickly. I love that I can put in on irritated skin. I use a retinol that sometimes bothers the skin on my neck, and this helped a lot. I use it in conjunction with my other products.

Jouer Lip Enhancer -- The best way I can describe this is luscious and luxurious. It feels great when you put it on and adds a soft shine. Although the curator of this box suggested wearing this at night, I think it's great for daytime, too. Looking through the bottle, it looks like the balm may be just the slightest bit pink, so it adds a teeny bit of color...or at least gives that illusion. It's not a tinted lip balm, per se, but it definitely looks different than other clear balms I've used. I have no clue if it actually enhances your lips, but it's great for moisturizing and for its aesthetic appeal.

Shiseido ULTIMUNE EYE Power Infusing Eye Concentrate --  The skin around my eyes tends to be sensitive, and I once had an allergic reaction, so I don't like to use eye creams with much scent. This was one was definitely too scented and slightly irritating around my eyes. It burned a little when I put it on and I noticed some redness the next day, so I stopped using it. The consistency is more of a gel serum and I prefer a cream for eye products. This is the one miss for me in this box.

Living proof Perfect hair Day (PhD) Dry Shampoo -- I am surprised by how much I like this dry shampoo! I'm very picky about dry shampoos and have tried many that I don't like. I knew this one was getting rave reviews, but I was still skeptical. I have other Living proof products that I really like, but none that I am 100 percent blown away by. But now this one is my favorite! I prefer dry shampoo powders to sprays, so I'm glad this one is like a spray powder. It gets rid of oil and adds volume, which is great! I spray it, massage it into my scalp and then use a round brush and hairdryer much like I would if my hair was wet. It really revives the style and looks pretty much like I have just washed my hair. I have not tried it on super sweaty hair, though. The one thing I do still prefer about powders over sprays is that you can see and control exactly how much you're using. Sometimes with sprays I feel like some of it is getting wasted in the air, so the can doesn't last as long.  But all of that considered, I am strongly considering purchasing this in the full-size.

LOC One & Done Shadow Stick -- This was another product that pleasantly surprised me! Although eyeshadow looks great, it's one of the makeup steps I frequently skip because it can be a pain in the butt-- it takes a while switch brushes for different parts of the eye, the powders fall on your eyelashes and undereye, etc. But this is a game changer. You can quickly and easily swipe it on, and it's smooth and easy to blend, unlike other shadow sticks I've tried. I received the Day Trip shade. I never thought I would wear gold eyeshadow, but I love it and I think it's really fun. I'm strongly considering purchasing this in other colors.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Comfy, Cozy

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm working but Max and I were able to have Thanksgiving lunch at Stonewood Grill, which has become our little tradition. Working in television definitely makes life crazy and sometimes stressful, but I'm grateful for my job and SO many other things. I truly do feel blessed, as cliche as that is. 

This was not planned as a Thanksgiving post, which is why it has absolutely nothing to do with the holiday. But I guess if you think about it, if you're hanging out around the house this weekend, you do want to be comfy and cozy. I am personally all about comfort - plush robes, soft slippers and snuggly blankets.  And while I didn't set out to make this a gift guide, I think all of these items would make lovely, luxurious holiday presents.  

1. Barefoot Dreams Cozychic Robe in Pearl -- I would live in a robe if I could, but alas, I'm not Hugh Hefner. Although it is the first thing I put on when I get home from work, and it's the best moment of every day. I've been eyeing this robe for a long time ever since it appeared in Oprah's Favorite Things and on "Kourtney and Khloe Take the Hamptons." Do not judge; I watch bad TV and I'm not ashamed. The company is family-owned and based in Malibu, where people obviously know luxury. Although I haven't sprung for this robe (yet), I did go check it out in person at Dillard's and it is just as soft as it looks. I'm also lusting after their leopard print Cozychic Barefoot in the Wild Throw. <---Seen on "Keeping up with the Kardashians," Okay, I'll stop with the bad reality TV references.

2. Tahari Faux Fur Throw -- I frequently stop in TJ Maxx and Marshall's just to browse their current selection, and they are going blanket crazy right now. Each throw was softer than the next. I didn't even buy one because I couldn't figure out which one was the softest; I'll have to go back and do a more in-depth assessment ;).  I think this Tahari one on the TJ Maxx website is nice, but the selection and prices were much better in-store than online, so I would suggest stopping by to find your favorite. 

3. Merona Chenille Open Cardigan -- I picked this up at Target in a cream color, which I think is called Sour Cream on the website. I bought it to wear in the freezing cold newsroom because it's so soft that it feels like you're wearing a blanket. I also ended up wearing it at a cold and wet Aggie game and it was quite warm. It's now on sale and you might even get a better deal for Black Friday.

4. Isotoner Signature Plush Velour Bootie Slipper - Don't laugh; these things aren't exactly stylish but they are so comfy. Even when it's 90 degrees in Florida, I often wear these around the house. But they're even more appropriate for people who live in places that actually experience winter temperatures. (on sale on

5. Beyond Yoga Salt and Pepper Long Leggings -- Yoga leggings just may be the most comfortable attire on earth and these just may be the comfortable yoga leggings on earth. I've blogged about these before but it bears repeating: This material is ridiculously soft. All of their stuff is nice, but the spacedye material is just beyond (pun sort of intended). Use code EXCLUSIVE through Sunday for 30 percent off regular-priced merchandise and 15 percent off sale. And these are on sale in some sizes and colors, including the above seaglass color that I own and love! 

6. Yankee Candle Simply Home: Pumpkin Chai -- I really wanted to share a candle I recently got at Target because it makes me feel all warm and toasty. Isn't it weird how scents can do that? But I can't find it anywhere online, so in case you're able to find it in-store, it's The Collection by Chesapeake Bay Candle in Tobacco Cedar. This one is great too because it's a very warm pumpkin scent, not overly sweet or cinnamon-y. There are so many pumpkin-scented candles out there that it's hard to choose, but I really think this is one of the best.

Have a comfy and cozy Thanksgiving weekend! I hope to snag some great Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals that I can share with you!


Thursday, November 12, 2015

How to Score at Sephora

For whatever reason, October is insane every year, so I was glad to see it go. Sarasota is full of events year-round, but the month of October is extra busy. Some of the snowbirds are just starting to arrive for season and the weather is usually getting a little cooler (although, not this year), so organizations really ramp up fundraising efforts. And that means my iPhone calendar has a bunch of those little dots on each day. BUT I always have a little extra time for new beauty products, always.

About a week ago, I was running out of my undereye concealer, so I headed over to That's the impetus behind this blog; more on that in a minute. But first I have to rave about this concealer, because it's my favorite and I've been using it for years and years. I highly recommend it, especially because it does not crease. I repeat it does. not. crease. I use it in the Porcelaine 1 shade, which is lighter than my skin color so it does double duty as a highlighter.

After I popped this in my cart, I was clicking around on the website and trying to maximize my freebies. I realized I've gotten pretty good at working the Sephora system and wanted to share!

-Do most of your Sephora shopping online.
As fun (and time-sucking) as it is to browse in store, you really get more benefits by purchasing on I've noticed you usually only get free samples in store if you ask for them. But you always get to choose at least three samples online, plus there is always some other promotion going on. Also, the customer reviews are really helpful. Thank God for those people who review products, because I surely don't as often as I should.

Shopping in the store wins when you want to sample a specific product. A Sephora employee will give you a little plastic container of the product to take home, which is a fantastic way to find out if a certain foundation, concealer, etc. really works for you on a daily basis.

-"Heart" the products you buy often or are thinking about buying.
With thousands and thousands of products online, you can easily spend just as much time on the website as you can in the store. It's hard to keep up with all the products you've browsed, so if you even think you might like it, click the little heart and "Love It." This will keep a running list of all of the products you're considering, and you can view that list every time you log in to the website.

-Check out travel-sized products and sets.
I love me some travel-sized products! I wish every product came in a mini-sized version because A. you don't have to commit to a product you're not sure you're going to like, B. some products take a long time to use, even in small quantities, C. they're cheaper and D. you can carry them on a plane. When you click on a product on, there are often multiple sizes offered, often times a small one. Plus, there is a travel-size section where you can find sets, which allow you to try multiple small products at one time. A great value!

-Enroll in Flash Shipping
Like right now, seriously. When Sephora first started offering this a few months ago, I signed up lickety-split because I thought maybe they had made mistake. It's almost too good to be true. You pay a one-time $10 fee and get free two-day shipping all year on every purchase, no minimum order amount! After just a couple purchases, it pays for itself. Plus you can take advantage of the system a little by spacing out your purchases to get more free samples and weekly specials.

-Speaking of, check frequently for those free samples, weekly specials other promotions.
The first thing you should do is click on the Weekly Specials tab on the left side of the home page. These are the really good freebies! There are often a few weekly specials to choose from and usually they require a $25 purchase. And let's be honest, how often are you spending less than $25? Makeup ain't cheap! The really, really good freebies are when they're running a special promotion, like the awesome Party Favors one going on now - eight samples inside a clutch/makeup bag! Then, when it comes to the three free samples you get with every order, those change often. So if you don't like any of them, check back in a few hours or the next day.

The three free samples I selected with my order.

Plus, this Party Favors - Mistletoe Moments set.
This promotion is still going on and there are four sets to choose from!

-Sign up for Beauty Insider and once your accumulate points, wait for a reward item you really like.
This is a no-brainer since it's free. Once you reach 100 points ($100 dollars spent), you'll be able to redeem them in the reward boutique. Like the samples, these also change frequently. (There happen a couple pretty good choices right now.) If you're not loving what they're offering once you reach 100 points, just wait because there's a good chance you'll love something in the near future. There are larger items for 250 point and 500 point rewards, but those are often fragrances, which I do NOT need any more of. So if I accumulate a lot of points, I'll often redeem them for multiple 100 point reward items. Voila!

The only negative effects I can see from becoming a master in the art of Sephora-ing, is suffering from Sample Overload Anxiety...which is a condition that occurs when you get anxiety from not being able to use all of your beauty freebies quickly enough. Simple solution, as soon as I start to suffer from this, I get a collection together and give them to a friend at work. Drawer space is then freed up and I can shop guilt-free once again!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

I am Not #InstgramWorthy, and I'm Perfectly Fine with That

Yesterday morning I woke up, made a cup of organic, fair-trade coffee, poured it into my Anthroplogie "H" mug, and sat down at a white, non-cluttered, well-lit desk, with a small vase of peonies to write in my Lilly Pulitzer planner and Rifle Paper Company journal. Then I got dressed in a perfectly-styled, very expensive, designer outfit, put my hair in a top knot and headed out to the market (market, not grocery store). Of course I brought along a canvas bag and bought a loaf of French bread that sticks out the top, with more flowers and maybe some produce. Obviously someone photographed all of this with a high-quality camera and maybe some lighting, and then I spent a couple hours editing those photos before sitting down by a fire with knee-high socks and a cashmere sweater. It's #fallyall (colored leaf emoji), so I hashtagged that a couple dozen times and talked about being cozy and doing pumpkin-y things on Instagram before falling asleep in my bed decorated with 42 throw pillows and coordinated pajamas.

Of course I did not do ANY of that. But somewhere out there thousands of fashion bloggers did, supposedly. Just another day in the life! I, on the other hand, woke up and rushed to a spin circuit class, ate yogurt in the car on the way there, stopped by Smoothie King, took a shower and went to work. None of it was cute or Instagram-worthy.

And speaking of Instagram, I finally joined it on a whim, quite possibly the last person on earth to do so. I had resisted for a couple reasons. Mostly because I just do not need one more social media account. It takes enough time trying to maintain a professional Facebook page in addition to my personal one, and I admit, I don't do that great of job at it. Plus, I have my Twitter account that I use personally and professionally. Also Pinterest, if you count that. I tried Snapchat, but that was way too confusing. And because of the nature of my job in live television, I'm sure Periscope will become a necessity in the future. It's all quite time-consuming and conducive to procrastinating. But besides that, the pretentiousness from some people on Instagram drives me crazy! Yes, it happens on Facebook, too, but it's worse on Instagram. Just how beautiful can I make this #PSL look? How can I perfectly photograph this muffin? Where's the closest tree-lined street for this #OOTD pic?

I will say the worst offenders of this phenomenon are fashion bloggers, and, I know, I can easily choose not to follow them on Instagram. I can barely stomach their blogs because they're all so cookie cutter and perfect-looking. I can't tell one apart from the other.  I guess for many of these people, this is their full-time job, so they can spend two hours staging a perfect breakfast. But that's just not my thing.

When I started blogging, I never aspired to be a "fashion blogger." If I was going for that, my blog would look nothing like it does. I would likely have to quit my job to have a enough time to curate a photographically-pleasing life. And I would have to be a lot more, um, fashionable. This is not to knock fashion bloggers. They look damn good most of the time, and every once and awhile I peruse their pictures for style inspiration. Plus, I'm sure it takes a lot of commitment and technology smarts to get noticed. The internet is freaking huge, it's basically a black hole, so if you have figured out a way to stand out among the crowd, you're obviously doing something right. I just probably won't follow you on Instagram. And you probably won't care because you already have 14,000 people double tapping the heck out of your #starbucksrun photo.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A Day in the Life of My Job as a Television News Anchor

Whenever I'm asked to give talks to organizations about my job, I usually do a "Top 10 Things You Didn't Know about Working in Television News" because I find most people are curious and confused about we actually do all day. (Hint: It's not show up 30 minutes before the show and get our make up done.) One of the things I share during that talk is what a typical day looks like and how the workflow differs for each job position within a newsroom. Earlier this summer, I chronicled one work day. This day was a little different, because I filled in on our Suncoast View talk show. But it's not unusual at all for me to have some work-related responsibilities before my scheduled shift starts at 3 p.m., whether it be promo shoots, interview shoots for an upcoming story, emceeing a luncheon, or as mentioned above, speaking to community groups and organizations. I hope this gives you some insight into the "glamorous" job of a broadcast journalist.

9:15 a.m.
In the make up room getting ready to co-host Suncoast View
This show is unsual (read: lucky) in that a very generous hairstylist has volunteered to come in to do the ladies' hair. This unfortunately doesn't happen on any other ABC 7 show; we do our own hair. But when I sit in on Suncoast View and there's time, I get my hair done! It's the best treat possible. And no, we don't have make up people either.

9:55 a.m.
On the desk about to tape Suncoast View
 While the newscasts I anchor at 5, 6 and 11 p.m. are live, this show is taped at 10 a.m. and airs at 4 p.m. It's live-to-tape, which means they don't stop and re-do segments. On the days I co-host this show, I don't get much sleep because I get done with work after midnight the night before. But it's worth it; it is a lot of fun!

10:43 a.m.
In the middle of taping Suncoast View - a segment on a local ice cream shop, Drago's
There are perks to this job! This ice cream was amazing. I got to try the salted caramel and it tasted like butter! It was absolutely delicious.

10:48 a.m.

Suncoast View segment with adoptable rescue dogs
 Any day I get to be on-air with pups is a good day! I wanted to steal this one.


Suncoast View segment with local attorney Sara Blackwell
In television news, we cover just about everything...which is why within the course of an hour we did went from ice cream, to dogs, to legal issues in the workplace.

12:08 p.m.
Writing and recording radio updates
 After Suncoast View was done taping, I decided to get a head start on a few things because I knew the afternoon would be busy. Usually my co-anchor, Scott Dennis, and I split up pre-show updates, (one day I do radio, he does TV, and vice versa) but he was on vacation, so I had to do all of them that day. Each day, one of us writes a one-minute spot that previews what is coming up in our 5 p.m. newscast, record it and send to a local radio station. This must be in by 3:30 p.m., but I sent it early this day to free up more time later.

1:23 p.m.
Break time!
I was able to head home for a little bit to take a rest with these sleepy snugglers!

3:20 p.m.
Taping afternoon updates
After getting back to work and touching up my makeup (remember, no make up people), it's time to tape TV "updates" that will air throughout the afternoon to promote what's coming up in our 5 p.m. newscast.

3:47 p.m.
Reading through scripts for the 5 and 6 p.m. shows
At this point in the day, I get to my desk in the newsroom and read the scripts for the newscasts. I try to catch errors and make revisions to make the scripts written by the producers and reporters.

4:38 p.m.
Live Suncoast View Cut-in
We do a short, live news and weather cut-in while Suncoast View is airing (the show I taped earlier). This photo shows Bob Harrigan at the weather wall.

Second live Suncoast View Cut-in
This is another one of those things Scott and I would have split up had he not been vacation, but when we solo anchor, we do both cut-ins. Pictured is my IFB, which stands for interruptible feedback or foldback. It's the earpiece we wear when on air so that we can hear programming, as well as the producer, director and audio operator when they need to talk to us from the control room, or booth. The weirdly-shaped thing on the right is the earpiece that was custom-molded to fit my ear. I clip this on to the back of my collar and hide the curly-cue wire behind my hair. The black box is the power source.

4:57 p.m.
Anchor 5 & 6 p.m. newscasts
We're just a couple minutes out from the start of the show. Normally I would be co-anchoring with Scott, but as mentioned above, he was on vacation. I anchor for an hour and a half, which is a lot of talking but it goes by very quickly when you're reading every script. Before I started anchoring evenings, I did a two-hour morning show, Good Morning America cut-ins, radio reports and a one-hour noon myself...every day. So this is nothin'! By the way, the tablet on the right is now what we use for our scripts. Previously we used paper scripts, but those have been eliminated. (Unfortunately, because we all know technology fails and that's not fun on live TV.)
 We aren't able to edit the scripts in the program on the tablet, so we still need a laptop. Some scripts will come in late, so we'll read through those while on the desk throughout the newscast.

5:31 p.m.
The start of the "E" Block
Newscasts are done in blocks separated by commercial breaks, starting with, obviously, the A Block. This is my view from the anchor desk. Straight ahead is the Suncoast View and ABC 7 News at 7 set. On the left is the kitchen used for on-air cooking segments.

6:35 p.m.
 Tape early-evening updates
After the 6 p.m. show is over, I tape updates that will promote the 11 p.m. newscast during ABC prime time programming. This is a photo from under the anchor desk of the foot pedal we use to run the teleprompter. The left pedal is what advances the prompter, and much like the gas pedal in your car, the harder you press it, the faster the script goes. So you have to be careful! The square on the right is the button used to reverse the prompter if we need to go back. 
After these updates are done, I usually take a dinner break, and on occasion, I have events to attend. If I have a special report coming up, I'll usually do some work on that in between the 6 and 11 p.m. shows.

10:13 p.m.
Finish taping updates for the 11 p.m.
At about 10 p.m. we tape updates to again promote what's coming up in the 11 p.m. show. These will air during the 10 p.m. show on ABC prime time.

10:56 p.m.
About to anchor 11 p.m. newscast
Finally, the last duty of the day!

During a commercial break in the 11 p.m. newscast
I always solo anchor this newscast and Bob does weather. It's only 30 minutes long, so it goes by quickly. I took a picture of me and Bob in the monitor. There are several monitors around the studio, so we can see if we're on camera or what video is airing. After the show is over, I usually catch up on emails, tie up loose ends and then head home a little after midnight.

As you can probably tell, television news is not your normal 9-5 job! Since I started in news about 7 years ago, I've worked just about every shift there is --- mornings, nights, weekends, holidays...and sometimes all of the above in one week! When I was primarily a reporter, the workflow of my day looked completely different. It involved setting up interviews, going out on multiple shoots, writing a script and reporting that story in the studio or out on a live shot. While reporting can be extremely stressful and less predictable than anchoring, it's a an exciting job that involves becoming a mini-expert on a different topic every day and always meeting new people. I still feel like a reporter at heart, so I try to get out in the field to work on stories as much as possible. I'm a health reporter at ABC 7, so I focus mostly on medical stories. 

While journalism does come with the drawbacks of any 24-7 business (sometimes working Christmas and having no social life ;), it does bring about opportunities and experiences I would never have otherwise. I cannot even begin to tell you the stories of the crazy things I've been through, good and bad! Many of us who work in TV daydream about more lucrative careers with better hours and less aggravation, but at the same time, we can't picture ourselves doing anything else. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

My First Post in Awhile --- August Birchbox Review

August Birchbox
Wow, what a busy several weeks it has been! I've been wanting to blog but haven't found a spare moment. Work has completely taken over my life and since I actually get paid to do that, I thought I should probably prioritize my real job over blogging. My goal is now to get back on track and hopefully even up my post quota. Thanks for reading!

LAQA & Co. Lip Crayon - This was a generously-sized sample, and I like that it's a smooth, crayon-like lip color. But I could tell just by looking that it was way too magenta for me! (I believe I got the Humble Brag shade.)

Ursa Major Fantastic Face Wash -- This has a great sweet/salty/minty smell that's like a mojito and/or margarita in a bottle depending on which scents you more strongly pick up. Either way it's a cocktail for your face. Since it's on the face for such I short time, I can't get overly worked up about face wash...unless is Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, which I'm obsessed with. I wouldn't purchase this Ursa Major face wash because I much prefer the creamy types. My second favorite to Liz Earle is Lancome Creme Radiance Cream-to-Foam Cleanser.

Scalisi Skincare Anti-Aging Moisturizer Broad Spectrum SPF 30 -- I hate reviewing anti-aging Birchbox products because the samples are way too small to use long enough to know if there are any age-defying benefits. So while I can't speak to that aspect, I liked the consistency. It was kind of thick and creamy, but not overly heavy. It's great that it's SPF 30. The Birchbox website states, "it smells amazing- the faintly floral scent is a far cry from eau de SPF." I beg to differ. It smells like sunscreen with a hint of some other scent. I find it hard for products to mask that sunscreen smell, although you probably wouldn't want them to load up on fragrances just to cover it up. While I don't like that SPF smell at all, I suffer through it knowing it's protecting my skin and preventing wrinkles.

I am Juicy Couture Eau de Parfum -- I really like sweet smells, but I wouldn't say I love them for an everyday scent. I like a confectionery-like fragrances much more for candles than for perfumes.  This one was a little fruity, a little musky and a little woodsy. When I'm in the mood for a sweet scent, this is a good one. Although, I tend to like sweet scents that are heavily vanilla-based, and I don't get a lot of vanilla out of this one.

PARLOR by Jeff Chastain Smoothing Blowout Spray --  I cannot fathom how anyone with fine hair can use this! I HATED it! It turned my hair into a flat, greasy mess. I had to use multiple dry shampoos to breathe some life back into it. If I had had time, I would have re-washed it. This was just terrible. The Birchbox description said, "This Smoothing Blowout Spray ensures a beautiful result every time." No, it does not. "The lightweight spritz adds instant volume..." quite the opposite! I guess it MIGHT work for someone with very, thick dry hair, but for me, it was just awful.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Treat Yo'self Tuesday

I wish I could say there was an inspiration or reason behind this post but really it's just a random collection of yummy, indulgent stuff I've come across lately!

Miraval Rosè -- I've always loved rosè, especially of the champagne/sparkling wine variety, even back when it was the red-headed (er, pink-hued) stepchild of the wine world. Suddenly it has gone from cheap to chic, and I'm all for it. (Read more about why that's happened here.) Summer is the perfect time for a cold, crisp rosè; it's great for entertaining when you don't feel like making some complicated cocktail. It will look festive and pretty in everyone's glass at your backyard barbeque...or your party-of-one gathering on your couch to watch Real Housewives. This particular rosè is produced at Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's Chateau Miraval estate in Provence, France. Now, that's a dinner party conversation-starter!

Malvi Marshmallow Confections -- Holy heaven! I'm all about anything marshmallow, then sandwich a huge flavored one between two cookies? Yes! These are made in the Atlanta area, available in some specialty shops across the country, and more importantly, can be shipped to you. I found this (and the above wine) on The O List in the August issue of O Magazine. Use code oprah for a 20 percent discount on the O List Sampler.

Frozen Sangria -- Another great summer cocktail option! This is so much easier and quicker than traditional sangria. And with all the antioxidants from the berries and red wine in this recipe from Gimme Some Oven, this is basically a health food, right?

Betty Crocker Rainbow Chip Icing -- It's baaaaack! For some unknown reason, Betty Crocker discontinued this frosting in 2013, thus ruining Funfetti cakes everywhere. Even Katy Perry was outraged about it. Thanks to a man seen in this video who started a petition, it's back on store shelves. I've since purchased some and am ready to bake a cake for no other occasion than to celebrate its return. I have a feeling it's going to taste fantastic with a glass of that rosè!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Friday Five: White Hot!

I love shades of white, ivory and cream; I think they are so fresh and elegant. White is part of the unofficial year-round uniform of the State of Florida and is now becoming acceptable everywhere outside of the old Memorial Day to Labor Day period. And since we're in the thick of summer, it's essential to cool off with this crisp color!

Essie Tuck it in my Tux - I'm all about a slightly-sheer white manicure, and this fits the bill perfectly. I'm IN LOVE with this polish! I had planned to buy a similar shade I really like, OPI Funny Bunny, but when I saw this one for half-price at Marshall's, I decided to try it out. It gives you the idea of a white manicure without looking like you painted your nails with Wite-Out. With two coats, I could see a little of the tips of my nails through the polish, which almost gives the illusion of a semi French mani. It was easy to paint on, was forgiving of mistakes around the cuticles and after a swipe of Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat, looked like a professional job. I couldn't stop looking down at how pretty my nails looked. I also think you could achieve different looks based on the number of coats.

Kira Grace White Hot Romance Yoga Collection - I'm lusting over these pieces, especially the Mesh Ballet leggings! White yoga/workout pants can be tricky, but I've found there is no reason to completely fear them. I bought the more budget-friendly Cozy Orange Aquarius Crops, and I love them. It's shocking, but they are actually slimming and do not highlight cellulite. Nude underwear is of course a must, and if you're still wary, pair with a longer top.

Schutz Gilberta Pumps in Oyster - So I'm cheating just a little on these, because they're not quite white, but close enough. And I love me a beautiful, neutral pump. I found out about this brand through a photo posted by Lilliana Vazquez. (She's a style contributor on Kathie Lee & Hoda...and can I ever get through a blog post without mentioning them?) Lilliana is wearing these fabulous pearl sandals in the photo that I can't seem to find online, so I'm guessing they are a past season. I did find some similar ones on Amazon. AND I found about a dozen other pairs on the Schutz website that I love. Although these Gilberta pumps would still be a splurge for me, I think they are a pretty good value for what appears to be nice quality.

RumbaTime Orchard Gold Watch in Snow Patrol - This watch was available, in a different color, as Birchbox Plus add-on item. I only found out after the fact, or I would have probably jumped on that since it was offered at a reduced price. But the good news is these watches are affordable even at the full price of $45. This company is based in NYC and was launched by two best friends in 2009. There are several different styles and colors for men and women. I was only able to find this style in white on Overstock, and they sold out of the gray one that was my absolute favorite. I just love that the style is so sleek and can be dressed up or down!

Lulu's Go All Out Ivory Sleeveless Dress - And finally, everyone needs a Little White Dress. I love that this one is fun and a little daring. Great price, too. (And those shoes! Need.) This one is also gorgeous. I found both on Lulu's, which has a huge selection of white dresses and just about everything else for that matter.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Recent Beauty Buys

Living proof full root lifting hairpray - For many years I've been in search of the holy grail. The holy grail being the perfect root boosting product that gives lasting volume without greasiness, stickiness or stiffness. This is not exactly it, but it's scoring pretty high in my book. I wish it gave a little more volume, and I do notice my hair is sometimes slightly more greasy the next day than it might be had I not used this. But it smells great and does not make my hair stiff or sticky; it gives just enough oomph at the roots. Since I use a generous amount of root boosting product before I dry my hair, and I dry it often, this is a little pricey at $26. But it's a large bottle that seems like it will last for quite awhile. I've been using it in conjunction with Living proof style lab prime style extender and Fekkai Brillant Glossing Cream. I'm interested to try more of Living proof's "Full" line, which I'll be receiving (12!) free samples of from a recent Sephora order. It's one of their weekly specials going on now with a $25 purchase.

Burt's Bees Lip Shimmer in Plum and in Fig - I want this in every color! I've always loved Burt's Bees products, but this is the first time I've tried any of their makeup. I picked this up after seeing on Pinterest that the Plum shade is a dupe for Clinique's cult favorite Almost Lipstick in Black Honey. I haven't worn that in years, but from what I remember, it's a very similar shade. For this little tube that looks like just a lip balm, it's actually highly-pigmented. It leans more toward a lipstick than it does a sheer, hint-of-color balm. The Plum can be a little dark if you don't have on makeup, but the Fig is great to wear at anytime. It feels wonderful on your lips and has a tingly, peppermint scent. It's a skinny little thing, so you can easily throw a few in your purse. And since they're less than $5 each, I'm looking forward to trying a few more shades.

Bumble and bumble pret-a-powder - I MUCH prefer dry shampoo powders to sprays, so I've been wanting to try this one for awhile. When I saw a travel/trial size was available at Sephora, I picked it up. My go-to dry shampoo powder is Oscar Blandi because it absolutely, 100 percent does not make my hair greasy or sticky. The only drawback is it doesn't give me as much volume as some other dry shampoos. I think this pret-a-powder is a happy medium. Although it's a little stickier than Oscar Blandi, it gives me more volume. And you don't need a lot to get results! I've also had great luck using both powders together- OB all over and this where I really want more oomph.

Cover Girl Outlast Longwear Lipstick in Magnetic Mauve - This may sound strange, but lipstick and gloss can make it difficult to talk when I'm anchoring the newscast. When your lips are sticking together, it's hard to get the words out correctly! Although not all lipsticks are bothersome on air, I decided I need to try more of a lip stain, something drier but not too dry. So this is the Goldilocks product I settled on, and I think it's just right. There's plenty of pigment and just enough moisture, plus it lasts through a newscast without being stuck on my lips until bedtime. I'm not 100 percent sold on the color, so I may experiment with a few other shades.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

It's Not Just a Headache: My Migraine Story

My mom first knew something was wrong when I was in 4th grade and my class was asked to write a short essay that started out, "If I could have anything in the world right now, I would_____." Most of the kids in my class wrote "get a million dollars," "fly around the world" and "get a puppy." I wrote, "go to lunch." As a child with big dreams who was already talking about anchoring The Today Show, my teacher knew this was odd and alerted my mom. Being a nurse, she realized I was probably getting hypoglycemic in between breakfast and lunch and not feeling well.

Many afternoons after school or evenings after dance class or swim practice, I would end up on the couch with an excruciating headache, nausea and an aversion to light and noises. I would lie there with an ice pack on my head while my family ate dinner, the smell of food further aggravating my upset stomach. While a lack of food earlier in the day is what caused this problem in the first place, eating at that point was completely out of the question. Plus, the headache was too far advanced and nothing but sleep would cure it. Luckily back then I was still able to sleep off what I now know, but had no idea at the time, were migraines.

I don't think I ever fully explained the scope of this problem to my parents. I've always prided myself on being a strong person who rarely shows signs of weakness. I only missed school when deathly ill and even then, if someone called the house while I was home, I would tell my mom, "Don't tell them I'm sick!" (Weird, I know.) Many nights before I went to sleep I would pray, "Please let me not get a headache tomorrow." Luckily at that point, I had been approved to have a snack in the nurse's office at school every day, which did help prevent some headaches. The following year my 5th grade teacher allowed the whole class to have snacks together so I wouldn't feel singled out. Boy, did everyone love being in my class!

It took until about halfway through college for me to finally be officially diagnosed with migraines. I think the reason it took so long was a combination of me not fully explaining my headaches and doctors not associating children with migraines, even though about 10 percent of kids have them.

I was prescribed Imitrex, which is truly a miracle drug for me. While not a cure by any means, my life would be dramatically different without it. Although it has side effects, it allows me to not be suffering in bed, non-functional, for 24+ hours. Pre-Imitrex, on those days when I had no option but to be somewhere even with a migraine, it was pure torture. I remember once in college I had to turn in a paper and just getting to the classroom was nearly impossible, even with help from my boyfriend at the time. I stumbled through campus, hanging onto his arm, having to stop every few minutes and sit down so I wouldn't throw up.

Migraine is a neurological disease, not just a bad headache. When you have a migraine, your whole body feels sick. Everyone experiences them differently, but the pain is usually on one side of the head and can be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, dizziness, fatigue, cognitive disturbances, and sensitivity to light, sound, touch and smell.

Mine often start off the same way: I get very tired all of a sudden. Then I yawn continuously and almost uncontrollably. After that, I get a strange feeling in my mouth, plus my newest symptom, I get really hungry. It's a hunger that feels like you could eat a whole pizza and it wouldn't go away. I've only had aura three times, which when you see geometric shapes and colors in your field of vision just before a migraine strikes. If you've had aura even once, your diagnosis is migraine with aura.

After all of those warning signals, the pain starts on the left side of my head, behind my left eye. The tricky thing is for me, it starts off dull so I always have this hope it will go away and won't turn into a full-blown migraine. That rarely happens. Acute migraine medicines work best when taken at the first sign of a migraine, and sometimes I make the wrong decision and wait too long, so it takes longer to kick in. (Read here why migraine sufferers sometimes skip their medicine.) Once the Imitrex takes away the pain, I'm not out of the woods yet. I experience symptoms of what's called the postdrome phase of a migraine: fatigue, weakness, difficulty concentrating and just an overall listless feeling.

Everyone's migraine triggers are different and from what I've read, multiple factors often combine to trigger an attack. Common triggers include stress, too little or too much sleep, weather pressure changes, heat and humidity, bright lights, strong scents, alcohol, and certain foods, especially those that are aged or fermented. Many of those triggers affect me, but my biggest trigger is not eating quickly enough when I'm hungry. Delaying eating is a 100 percent, guaranteed migraine. Also sure to cause a migraine for me, is running in the heat or right after I wake up. This is the toughest and most disappointing trigger for me because I love to run, but my head hates it. Both of those factors combined make trying to lose weight difficult, which is just another unfortunate side effect of my migraines.

The tricky thing about exercise and migraines is that working out is recommended to prevent and help manage migraines in the long-term, but if too strenuous, exercise can cause an exertion migraine in the short-term. This video highlights how indoor cycling may be the ideal workout for migraine sufferers because, unlike running, it doesn't have any pounding.

Over the years, I have tried many different preventative medications. I'm currently taking Toprol XL daily and Cambia before intense workouts. They've helped, but not enough, and my migraines have been more frequent lately. (Fluorescent newsroom and studio lights don't help and neither does the Florida summer!) I just got approved by my neurologist and health insurance company to have Botox injections. No, not for cosmetic reasons; it's been FDA-approved to treat migraines in more serious cases. Below is a look at where I'll have 31 injections in seven areas including, the trapezius muscle, head, neck and forehead. I'll have this procedure every three months and studies show I should start seeing more dramatic improvement after the second treatment. I'm optimistic about this and praying it works!

Photo courtesy:

There is not one single day that goes by that I don't think about migraines multiple times. Did I eat enough today? Did I run too hard? Did I get enough sleep? My eyes hurt from these overhead lights, will I get a migraine in a couple hours? Should I have had that cocktail? Is this wine going to give me a migraine? I'm starting to get a headache, should I take my Imitrex? What if I take too much and it eventually stops working? Will massaging my neck help? If I have to go home sick, will my boss understand? What if this weather front give me a migraine? Having migraine may increase the risk of stroke, do I need to worry about that? I have big day tomorrow, I CANNOT GET A MIGRAINE! 

I wrote this blog post because June is Migraine Awareness Month, and I know it's a condition that is quite a mystery to people who have never experienced it and even to medical experts who still don't have a cure or the answers to many questions we have about why we get migraines and how we can better treat them.  Mostly I want people to know, it's not just a headache!

Below is some interesting information I found on the Migraine Research Foundation website:

-Researchers still do not understand many things about the causes of migraine. They now believe migraine is a disorder involving nerve pathways and brain chemicals.
-There is also evidence that links a number of genes to migraine, so genetics is undoubtedly involved.  If one parent suffers from migraine, there is a 40 percent chance a child will suffer. If both parents suffer, the chance rises to 90 percent. 
-About 18% of American women and 6% of men suffer from migraine, a total of about 36 million people in the United States.
-Estrogen adversely influences the brain receptors that play a role in migraine development. About half of affected women have more than one attack a month, and a quarter experience four or more severe attacks per month. More severe and more frequent attacks often result from fluctuations in estrogen levels.
-After puberty, migraine in women increases until age 45 or so, when it begins to decrease. 
-Up to 14 percent of American women get menstrual migraine; the majority of these women also have migraine at other times of the month.  Menstrual migraine is usually more severe and harder to control than other types of migraine.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Friday Five XIII

1.  Beyond Yoga Salt and Pepper Long Legging -- The best pair of leggings I have ever owned! I bought these on sale in a beautiful turquoise color that is unfortunately no longer available. The Spacedye material is incredible, and the fit is super-slimming. This is one case in which the product description on the website is completely true:
 "...exceptionally soft Spacedye Performance material provides a level of comfort unparalleled by any activewear you currently own. You'll obsess over how your legs feel in our fabric, and you'll cherish how the designer fit makes you look. Because there is no side seam, these leggings have transitional appeal..."
Although I'm someone who is philosophically against spending a lot of money on workout clothes, I do splurge occasionally, especially on sale items. Compared to some other higher-end activewear brands, Beyond Yoga tends to have some pretty good sales. I suggest checking the website frequently, as they continually add more styles and colors to the sale page. And if you find something in your size at a great price, strike while the iron is hot, because it goes fast. Also, search the web for coupon codes for an additional discount. (Bonus: Beyond Yoga clothing is made in America!)

2. Seche Vite Dry Fast Top Coat -- From the best leggings to the best top coat. I can't believe I just recently tried this after hearing about it for a long time. It's truly a manicure miracle how quickly this dries your polish! I couldn't believe I could fully touch my nails and go about my daily activities just a couple minutes after using this. I was sure that this would smudge and it didn't, not one bit. It's also super-shiny and kept my nails chip-free a few days longer than other top coats I've tried.

3. Jack Rogers Georgica Jelly Sandals -- I picked these up on a whim during Macy's Friends & Family sale, and I'm really loving them! They take a little bit to break in, but are otherwise pretty comfortable. They look fantastic with a fresh summer pedicure. I got them in white, and I would love a pair in every color! Since they are jelly sandals, they aren't the best for rainy days because you'll be slipping and sliding a little. 

4. Laura Mercier Flawless Skin Face Polish -- I got a sample of this exfoliator with a Sephora order and I fell in love with it. Lately I've gotten samples of several exfoliators that I feel just don't work well or have too many "miracle" ingredients that get in the way of the primary purpose. A caveat: When researching this product further, I found out it is made with microbeads, which is probably why it does such a great job of not dissolving while you're using it. The drawback, though, is that these microbeads have been shown to slip through treatment plants and end up in waterways. Since this may not be the most environmentally-friendly product on the market, it may not be something I buy frequently. 

5. theBalm® cosmetics Read My Lips™ Lip Gloss in BAM! -- I received this in my Birchbox and I am loving the color! Birchbox desribes BAM! as a rose pink, but I definitely think it's a little brighter than that with some coral to it. I've worn it on top of a few lipsticks, which just further brings out the color and really makes your lips pop! It's not super sticky and at $15, I think it's a great value for a non-drug store brand.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Tuesday Top Five: Birthday Edition

Today is my birthday, so I decided to showcase items that are in some way birthday-related!

1. May's Free Julep Welcome Box: Use code MAYBABY and get these Julep products for free, complete with birthstone-inspired emerald shade. Just pay $2.99 shipping. Be aware this is a subscription box, like Birchbox mostly for nails, so your subscription will renew. But from what I hear, it's easy to call or email and cancel.

2.Claire V. Leopard Clutch: I'm obsessed with all things animal print! I've been eying this clutch for a long time, and then I found out it is available on Rent the Runway. I used my PRO membership birthday $50 rental credit toward this instead of a getting a dress this year. The four-day rental is $35, but I sprang for the eight-day, which is $56. That means it cost me a whopping $6 after applying my credit. It arrived a few days early and my return date is Memorial Day, and because it's a holiday, I don't have to return it until the following day. So it turned into more of a 12-day rental! Rent the Runway has been adding more and more accessories and casual clothing, which is great if you're looking to rent something fun but don't have a formal event to attend. If you haven't tried RTR, you are truly missing out! Read this post I wrote before you rent for the first time; I also explain why you MUST join PRO.

3. GiGi New York Mini Taylor Tote in Harbor Blue: This is my birthday gift from Max, complete with monogramming. This photo does not do it justice; it is absolutely beautiful! I cannot rave enough about this bag. It's entirely made of high-quality leather: the exterior, the interior, even the lining of the inside pockets. The price is quite reasonable for what you get compared to many other "designer" handbags. I recently discovered GiGi New York, I believe from a Facebook ad. I showed a photo of this bag to Max once in passing, so I was very impressed he remembered the color, style, etc. GiGi New York is a line of parent company Graphic Image. I've quickly become a fan of these Made in the USA products; read more about this family-owned company here. All of the colors and styles are gorgeous - I'll take one of each ;)

4. Jo Malone Wood Sage & Sea Salt Cologne: I received this as part of my birthday gift from my mother-in-law, and I love it! It's a little woodsy, very fresh and is the opposite of a flowery, perfumey scent. As she pointed out, it's hard to buy perfume for another person because everyone is so different about scents. But as it turns out, some of my very favorites I have gotten as gifts.

5. The Fifth Stand Still Playsuit: This was my birthday gift to myself. I'm all about jumpsuits and rompers right now, and I love this one. (It's difficult to see in the above photo.) I just ordered it, so I'm hoping it works out. I saw a blogger feature it, and it looked super cute on her. I had never heard of this Australian line, The Fifth, or the website where I bought it, BNKR (which I believe is short for Fashion Bunker). BNKR brings Australian fashion to U.S. shoppers. I love making these new discoveries! This playsuit was affordable and the website offers 20 percent off your first order with code "BNKRLOVE," plus there was no tax and free shipping on orders more than $39. Happy birthday to me :)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How I Said Yes to the Dress...and Survived Dress Doubt

It all started years ago, and many years away from getting married, when I was watching an episode of "Sex and the City" (clip above) with my sister, Whitney, and I told her, "If I could have that dress as my wedding dress, that would be perfect." Carrie was wearing a Badgley Mischka gown to a black & white ball, and it was simple but timeless and gorgeous. The ending wasn't quite that happy after Aidan suggested they run off and get married, but dang, that dress!

Fast forward to Christmastime 2013, a couple months after Max and I had gotten engaged. Our wedding was still more than a year off, but I knew it might be the best chance of me, my sister and my mom all being in the same place to go dress shopping. I made a few appointments and we went to a couple bridal boutiques in Atlanta. My brother-in-law even tagged along; he's a major trooper. But I will say it's quite helpful to have a guy's opinion in situations like these!

At the first place, I tried on just about every style, anything that caught my eye, plus a few selections that my mom and sister chose. I ended up finding one I really liked but I wasn't convinced just yet that it was the one. In the meantime, my mom kept bringing up Winne Couture, a beautiful bridal salon we passed by often when in Buckhead. Just by the looks of the place and the location, we figured it was probably out of our budget. But after checking the website, I found out they had two labels and the less-expensive one actually fell within my budget range. 

So the day after Christmas we were nearby at Lenox mall and my mom was insistent we stop by Winnie Couture just for the heck of it. I called and found out they were open for about another hour, so we went with no appointment and definitely no intention of leaving with a dress. But the ladies at the store did warn me three girls had found their dress earlier that day!

I started looking through the racks and the sales girl said to feel free to try on dresses. So I picked out a few and then as we were heading to the dressing room, another one caught my eye. The crystals on the neckline sparkled from halfway across the room. I almost didn't try it on because I couldn't exactly get the idea of what it looked like from the hanger. But why not? Might as well. Then the girl helping me let me know that the dress had just come in that day and I would be the first person to try it on. It was meant to be.

As die-hard "Gossip Girl" fans, it didn't hurt that the style name of my dress is Blair!

I tried on the first two and I liked them a lot, and then I put on the one with the sparkly crystals. I stepped out of the dressing room and looked in the mirror and said, "" I had a completely different feeling than I had in any other dress. We walked over to a larger mirror and we all just basically stood around and stared. In a good way. After staring for quite some time, I finally said, "Can we call you tomorrow and let you know if I want to order it?" My sister then yells out, "No, you are getting this dress tonight. We are not leaving until you order it." She went on to compare it to the Sex and the City dress and to remind me this was exactly the dress I had always wanted. She added, "This is your dress and I'm worried if we leave here, you'll never come back and get it." Whitney was right, as she always is with fashion choices and many other things in life. She's great at making decisions, I'm terrible at it, so I defer to her. I said yes to the dress!

Family Tradition: Celebrating at Bricktops, the same restaurant where my sister celebrated finding her wedding dress!

If you're ordering and not buying off the rack, there are often more decisions to be made: the color (yes, even if you are getting a white dress, there are multiple shades), the embellishments (I added buttons down the back), the cut in the back, the length of the train, etc. Then there is the sizing. Wedding dresses must be made in some bizarro sizing world, because they are not the size you would wear in a normal dress. And of course I was in between sizes. I also had to decide if I wanted "split sizing," (no) and specialized hallow-to-hem sizing (yes). And then you have to add the bustle. Almost all of this costs extra! Make sure to factor that into your dress budget, along with alterations.

Dress Doubt

After you've just ordered the most special dress of your life, you get to stew about it for months before it comes in, and there is no turning back unless you want to eat hundreds (or thousands) of dollars in deposit money. Not an option for me. Yet that probably won't stop most brides from continuing to turn their heads at every wedding dress they see. I envy those who chose their dress and were 100 percent confident about it from purchase to "I do." But that wasn't me. And not because of the actual dress, but more because of my constant over-thinking and terrible decision-making skills.

For a bride who already has a wedding dress, the enemy is Pinterest. You see all these dresses and think "ooooh maybe I would like THAT one better!" But here's what finally stopped that line of thinking for me: I had visited a few websites with wedding forums --- which, by the way, if you think your wedding is making you crazy, just go to Wedding Bee and you'll find out you're much saner than many other brides out there. On these forums people will post the professional photo of a dress, then one of them in the dress. They do not look the same! Do not trust professional photos of models in these dresses; they are unlikely to look that that in person or look like that on you! There were many instances when I saw I dress I liked online and that realized, "Wait a minute, I tried on that dress and I wasn't wild about it."

This was one of those dresses I tried on. Beautiful! But not right for me.

Whitney assured me many people go through this dress doubt. She did herself, but in the end, she knew the wedding dress she chose was the one. And that's exactly what happened to me, but not before I had to go through the even more serious affliction of dress anxiety. Once the dress came in, things got even worse because it was too big and needed somewhat major alterations to look the way I had envisioned it. I wanted to be able to fast-forward through alterations to see the finished product, but hello, reality. Patience is a virtue, unless you're a (temporarily) insane bride.

Celebrating at True Food Atlanta and picking up the dress!


Alterations are everything! Everything. A talented seamstress or tailor can totally transform clothing, and that's someone you want on your side when you're getting your wedding dress altered. It's a little scary when you're going through the process because the dress is torn apart in some places and there are pieces just hanging off. But I had total confidence in my seamstress, because she's been doing a spectacular job altering my clothes for a couple years now. Dina, Dina, Dina, you made my wedding dress dreams come true!

At my final fitting, it all rushed back, those special feelings I had the very first time I tried on the dress. All the anxiety disappeared, it looked exactly how I had envisioned it. It was without a doubt, The One.

I think finding the dress you're going to get married in is a lot like finding the person you're going to marry. There are so many out there, how will you ever find the one that fits exactly what you're looking for? Truth be told, you could have probably chosen a few others and been okay, but...when The One comes along, it feels completely different and you just know...and so does your sister :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Practical Bride's Guide: Part 3

While not everyone's experience as a bride-to-be is the same, I bet many can relate to the feelings and observations I had leading up to the wedding. Planning your big day isn't the most difficult thing you'll face in life, but it definitely is unique in the many moving parts that you'll be dealing with coming from all directions. You're joining two people, two families, two sets of friends, all while planning a major event. So don't worry if you feel just a little crazy!

-You will obsess over superficial things.
Some may argue that all of this wedding stuff, other than the marriage, is superficial. In a lot of ways, I agree with that. But I'm talking about the mostly beauty-related, very superficial aspects. For example, nail polish color. I have a master's degree and I spent weeks, maybe months, trying to decide what color of  nail polish to wear on my wedding day. Granted, I probably have an honorary master's in indecisiveness, but still!  It's really not that important, and I KNEW that, yet I still made it a concern. The way I finally decided was to narrow it down to a few choices, then each time I got a manicure in the weeks leading up to the wedding, I would get one of those colors. I chose the one I liked best, which just in case you're curious, was GelColor by OPI Funny Bunny with a transparent shimmer on top. (The ring below is the BEAUTIFUL "right hand ring" my mom got me as a wedding gift. She chose the green amethyst (prasiolite) stone because it was one of our wedding colors.)

-Not everything goes as you had imagined in your wedding fantasy land.
Think back several years and imagine how you pictured your engagement. You're probably in a constant state of bliss, working out every day, getting super skinny, spending all your time reading wedding magazines while you sip champagne, you're getting facials every few weeks, your hair and nails look absolutely perfect, your arms are really toned and your skin is beautifully bronzed and blemish-free. Cue reality. You have a job, your life does not revolve completely around wedding planning, you don't have nearly as much time to exercise as you thought you would, you're having breakouts, and you haven't exactly stuck to your wedding diet. Or maybe that's just me. But the point is, you will not have an endless amount of time (or even motivation) to become Wedding Barbie. And you don't need to!

I kept saying I was going to go on a wedding diet. I never did. I do have to admit I trained for and ran a half marathon a month before the wedding. And every time I train for a race, I lose a little weight, so I guess that was my "wedding diet". But I didn't have nearly as much time to run/work out in that final month as I thought I would. I did my beloved Pure Barre up until two days before the wedding, and that was for my sanity as much as it was for my body. But logging a bunch of additional workouts? That just didn't happen. Do what you need to to feel healthy and fit, but don't drive yourself crazy.

Pure Barre Bride-to-Be

On the beauty/skin care front, I promised myself I would be religious about using my face cleansing brush (knockoff Clarisonic), start my teeth whitening trays a week or two before the wedding, and get few facials. Seems simple, right?  In reality, I just didn't happen exactly as planned. I did my best. But what I did do was upgrade my skin care products a few months before the wedding. Most importantly I got a stronger retinol that I would highly recommend whether or not you are getting married: Paula's Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment. I got it while Paula's Choice was having a retinol sale and got a boatload of free samples as well. I'm really liking this line lately; the prices are much more affordable than many other skin care lines and I have loved everything I've tried.

Bottom line: Step up your beauty and fitness routine a little but don't obsess. Plus, it's amazing what anxiety can do for your waistline and airbrush makeup for your complexion ;)

-You will spend several hours on a wedding website and pack it with information and people will still ask you where to stay, where the venue is, etc.
I'm not all that crazy about wedding websites, but I thought it was a good idea for our wedding because we had so many out-of-town guests. I wanted to not only share the details of the wedding weekend, but also travel information and some recommendations for local spots. I'm technologically-challenged, but I spent a lot of time putting our website together. Apparently many people didn't use it, because I got tons of questions which would have been answered by a quick click on the site!

-Little things will drive you crazy.
You will inevitably have family drama and fights. Some people may mistakenly think your wedding is somehow more about them than you. Others will share their unsolicited opinions and advice. This issue was more challenging for Max and I because our station decided to have us do stories about our engagement and wedding. That meant the whole town of Sarasota wanted to know all the details. If I had a dollar for every time we got asked, "When are you getting married?" I would have paid off the entire wedding! People mean well and it was very sweet that they cared, but it can get overwhelming. Also, you will probably have stupid fights with your fiance, speaking of...

-You will do a lot more work on your wedding than your fiance. This will annoy you. He will ask what he can do to help. You will be apprehensive about leaving a task in his hands and realize it's probably easier for you to just do it yourself. 
But...there are guy-friendly assignments! For example, we had to put together an Excel sheet of our our guest addresses for our invitation place. I don't do Excel well on a good day much less a stressed-out one, so I assigned this task to Max. He wasn't too thrilled, but he did it.

-Weird things will happen right before your wedding.
I haven't been sick in YEARS (knock on wood), but the Monday before my wedding, I woke up with a minor cold. Really? Luckily it wasn't much more than a stuffy nose and itchy throat, and I could tell it wasn't going to turn into anything serious...but still. My skin started breaking out, we had last-minute scheduling issues with our rehearsal, my phone fell in the toilet at my bridesmaids' luncheon, heavy snowstorms hit just about everywhere we had guests coming in from, including Texas! A freaking plane slid off the runway at LaGuardia two days before the wedding causing a ripple effect of cancellations across the country, including one of my bridesmaid's flights. She and her family (her kids were the flower girl and ring bearer) got stuck in Charlotte, had to re-route their travel plans, and were left without luggage for two days. We had friends and family experience medical emergencies. And the list goes on. Just expect the unexpected!

-It is difficult to balance enjoying your wedding reception and greeting guests.
I have absolutely no advice for you on how to do this successfully. I had heard from friends they regretted spending their entire reception talking to guests instead of having fun. Yet I felt like I didn't have a enough time to spend with our guests. You'll be very busy, it goes by quickly and there simply is not enough time to do it all! 

-You CAN actually eat at your reception.
Everyone, and I mean everyone, told me, "You won't eat at your wedding." I told them I surely would eat at my wedding because you really don't want to see me with a low blood sugar. They tried to convince me you either won't have time or your stomach will be in knots. Wrong. We had a sit-down dinner, so well, we sat down and ate. All of my nerves were pretty much gone at that point. What was there left to be nervous or anxious about? It was much harder to choke down food at the rehearsal dinner because I still had a nervous stomach at that point. What I didn't get to eat were the desserts. Everyone snatched them up in a matter of minutes! And then by the time they served us our slices of cake, we were dancing and taking some photos with our photographer. I saw my piece from afar sitting on the table, and I still regret not going over there and at least grabbing a bite.

-You won't notice much of what happens during your wedding.
And this is coming from a very observant person! People mentioned all these things that happened during both the ceremony and the reception that I had no idea about. I think I had tunnel vision about what was happening right around me, and I just couldn't process anything else. I just have to laugh when people want to ban guests from using phones or cameras. People could have been doing flip flops behind me during the ceremony and I would have never noticed!

-You will still have a to-do list after the wedding and your house might be a disaster.
There will be many thank you cards to write, gifts to put away, suitcases to unpack and boxes of wedding decorations to go through. Depending on your situation, you may also be combining households and bank accounts and changing your name. I had family staying at my house for the wedding, so I scheduled to have it cleaned both before and after the wedding. Anything you can do to save your time and sanity, is a good idea. (Another tip: Start writing thank you cards immediately for gifts that come in before the wedding.)

-Planning your honeymoon may present its own challenges.
Traveling is expensive, so if you're planning a honeymoon, you have to take that into account alongside your wedding budget. When you hear "honeymoon," you probably think of a trip to an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean. But if you don't have the funds, don't like the beach or are getting married during hurricane season, you should probably look elsewhere. It's always been easy for Max and I to plan trips, so I did not anticipate how difficult it would be to choose a honeymoon destination. We literally looked at places from Canada to South America!

Downtown Santa Barbara

Speaking of the Caribbean, we got married in March, which is the high (read: expensive) season there, so we didn't exactly feel like spending thousands of dollars in airfare alone just to go do most of the things we can do here in Florida. So we started to look just about everywhere and strongly considered places where we could fly for free on air miles. At one point we had thrown out Napa as an idea, so I started looking at resorts there and found a chain that had properties all across California. One was in Santa Barbara. Suddenly a light bulb went off! I had always heard people rave about Santa Barbara. We could do wine AND the beach. We could escape the Gulf Coast for the West Coast and explore Southern California. We could fly to LAX for free. Done.

Dierberg - Starlane Vineyard

I still have people dumbfounded and asking me, "WHY did you go to Santa Barbara, California on your honeymoon??" I don't know how to answer that. Because we wanted to? I guess it's not your typical honeymoon destination, but it was absolutely perfect. Still dreaming about the Four Seasons, the vineyards, the beautiful weather and the breathtaking views. The company wasn't so bad either :)