Monday, May 30, 2016

Hask Charcoal Hair Care Review

Hask Charcoal Hair Care


I am a believer that Spring cleaning shouldn't be restricted to your closet. Spring is a great time to start fresh and really clean out your life. This applies to our beauty routines as well! Between hairspray, smoothing serums, and dry shampoo- I know my scalp could use some extra help this Spring! And after my last experience, I jumped at the opportunity to test out another Hask hair care collection!
I've been using a charcoal face wash for months now, but never even thought about the benefits this superstar ingredient could bring to my hair. Charcoal works like a magnet to remove impurities and leave you squeaky clean! It worked for my face, so I couldn't wait to see what it did with my hair. Before getting started with the line, I had a few concerns. First- was it going to smell good? I've always been concerned with how my hair products smell, and this really intrigued me. Second- would it impact the color of my hair? While I'm not blonde, my hair does get lighter over the summer and I didn't want to start seeing (more) gray hair thanks to my shampoo.

After my first use, my concerns were addressed. In addition to the charcoal, there are lemon and grapefruit oils in the shampoo. They leave my hair smelling WONDERFUL. I seriously want to get a whiff of my hair all day after my shower! For my second concern, Hask was one step ahead of me. The bottle is labeled safe for use with all hair colors and types, and gentle enough to be used every day. I did not even see the slightest discoloration after use and haven't noticed it since! All I notice is the clean and beautiful hair this line has helped me to have.

The entire line consists of shampoo, conditioner, and a purifying deep-conditioner. As I mentioned, you can use it every day without experiencing the unnecessary dryness associated with other purifying remedies. My hair feels light, clean, and moisturized. Want to know something that makes this even better? It's available for less than $6 per bottle!! It's a winner in my book! Interested in getting some for yourself? Check out their website!

Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary product sample from Hask Hair Care to review honestly. As always, all opinions and words are my own. I benefit in no way if you purchase this product. Thank you for supporting brands that support A Peachy Sonder!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Valentia Skin Detoxifying Face Mask Review

Is it just me or has the term "self-care" become a buzz word lately? Every social media platform I use is flooded with ways to do this seemingly difficult task lately. Is there a secret key or series of steps to follow to figure it out? I'm not sure. I certainly don't have that! But I agree wholeheartedly that self-care is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle and love that there are so many ways to accomplish it!
Valentia Skin Detoxifying Clay Mask
One of my favorite ways to take care of myself is an at home spa day or quick pamper session. My schedule changes on a daily basis, so sometimes I only have time for a quick face mask while other times allow for a long soak in a bubble bath. No matter the length, I always walk away from my pampering feeling refreshed and lighter. Due to this habit of mine, I love to try out new treatments and products. After my last experience with Valentia (read more here), I couldn't wait to try this detox mask!
Valentia Skin Detoxifying Clay Mask
For those of you who haven't heard about this great brand- prepare to be impressed. They use natural ingredients paired with effective science to address skin problems all over the spectrum. In addition to being natural, Valentia's products are also fee of parabens, toxins, and harsh chemicals found in other products. On top of that- this mask is vegan and cruelty-free. It seriously fits all of the criteria I look for in my skin care products. Hello, beautiful!
Valentia Skin Detoxifying Clay Mask
This detoxifying mask has to be the best scented clay mask that I've ever used. It had a light botanical smell as opposed to the earthy, well, muddy smells most masks have. But don't let the pleasant smell fool you. It packs a serious detoxifying punch! After applying a thin layer to your face, allow it to work its magic for 15-20 minutes. The mask stiffens up and lets you know when it's dry! The ingredients have natural fibers that will provide extra cleansing and exfoliation as you remove the mask. Simply massage in circles as you was it off! 

After use, my skin is soft and clean. As with most masks designed to extract impurities, this did cause a few pimples after use. Don't fret- this means that the mask did its job to remove the junk lodged deep in my pores. Just don't use it too close to an important event if your skin is similar to mine!  This product was a home run for me and I can't wait to continue to use it during future pampering sessions! If you want more of this great brand- check out their shop, Instagram, and Facebook!

Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary product sample from Valentia to review honestly. As always, all opinions and words are my own. I benefit in no way if you purchase this product. Thank you for supporting brands that support A Peachy Sonder! 

Monday, May 2, 2016

WHEN Face Mask Review

Hey y'all! Sorry I've been a bad blogger lately- work has been ridiculous and I'm barely keeping my head afloat. I had to break my silence to share a review of an AMAZING new product I was introduced to: WHEN face masks! This wasn't my first experience with sheet face masks, but was definitely my favorite one that I've used so far.
WHEN uses all natural, gentle ingredients to create a comfortable bio-cellulose sheet mask. The mask is derived from coconuts- how cool is that?! (I'm definitely glad I got over my hatred of coconuts recently or I would've missed out!) These masks are soaked in rich serums and can be found in bright, convenient single mask packs. WHEN has a few different types of masks to chose from that produce different results depending on your individual needs. I selected the 10:00PM and the Travelmate masks. These two masks in particular are designed to deliver serious hydration to your skin and keep you looking rejuvenated. They worked WONDERS for me!

My favorite part of my experience with these masks was the actual mask. The holes are arranged in a comfortable way and allow the mask to lay flat on your skin. With other sheet masks I've used in the past, the holes weren't in the right places and didn't allow for comfortable wear. I really appreciated how cozy the masks felt. The mask made contact with my skin in all the necessary spots- even around my nose!- and allowed me to soak up every bit of moisture during my 30 minute treatment. Upon removing the mask itself, I gave myself a mini-facial to make sure that I soaked in all of the serum that was still on my face. After each mask my skin felt renewed, nourished, smooth, and fully hydrated. It's such an incredible feeling after my dry, scaly winter skin!

It's no secret that I love a good pamper session, and these will definitely be present in my future at-home spa days! Interested in getting some for yourself? Check out their website or one of the convenient retailers that stock these beauties- such as Sephora or Ulta.

Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary product sample from WHEN to review honestly. As always, all opinions and words are my own. I benefit in no way if you purchase this product. Thank you for supporting brands that support A Peachy Sonder!


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

White on White

I'm so happy that spring has officially sprung. I was getting tired of all of the heavy fabrics and dark colors of winter. Don't get me wrong, I get excited to pull my sweaters out when winter rolls around. But it's felt like a long winter this year and I am ready to shed some layers. One of my favorite parts of spring is bring back out my white clothing! I love the airy, bright fabrics and am SO excited to expand my spring wardrobe with more of the trends from this year.

I wanted to share an outfit post to celebrate spring's return and I couldn't picture a better way than to share an all white look! I find these to be a little intimidating, because white seems to attract dirt. And, it's also unforgiving of your figure. Even with these challenges, I love this look! It's bright, happy, and feminine!

To my dismay, mother nature decided to rain on the day that I scheduled this shoot. My sister (who graciously offered to shoot with me) was so flexible and helped me get the best shots given our circumstances. We still had a blast and I hope she agrees to try again when the weather perks up- I have some great looks in mind to share with y'all!

jeans // purse // sam edelman wedges (similar) // watch // bracelet // jcrew necklace (similar)

My top is from a local boutique, but I've found some similar styles here, here, and here. One of the things I love about being back in Atlanta is the local shops. There are SO many unique retailers down here. I honestly forgot how great it was! Well, great for my closet, but not for my wallet. Anyways, I hope y'all love this look as much as I do!

Will you wear all white? Do you shop local where you live? What's your favorite spring outfit?

Monday, April 11, 2016

Pantone Spring 2016: How to Wear Buttercup

Hey y'all! Today is my third and final installment for my mini-series on the spring Pantone colors for 2016. (Here's the first and second if you missed out!) This color screams spring to me, with its bright shade and floral origin. Buttercup just radiates light and looks like sunshine!
Pantone Spring 2016: How to Wear Buttercup
As I've shared before, I don't embrace brights in my real wardrobe as much as I'd like to. I'm inspired by them, but tend to stick with my neutrals and soft tones. Being a Georgia Tech alumni, I've worn my fair share of gold and bright yellow! So I feel like this could be a great place for me to hop into the color wheel and begin to expand my personal color palette. Click to shop my favorites below!



Isn't the color just gorgeous! I love the off the shoulder dress and pencil skirt above. Additionally, who doesn't love a classic yellow raincoat?! I love the simple look of the one above. There are so many great ways to wear this color and I think it will work well into summer.

Thanks for checking out my mini-series! Let me know if you'd like more content like this in the future. I really enjoyed putting it together!

Do you own anything in the buttercup shade? How will you embrace this color through spring?

Monday, April 4, 2016

Pantone Spring 2016: How to Wear Lilac Gray

Hi again! I'm back with the second installment of my mini-series featuring the Pantone spring colors this year (see the first here). Today is all about another soft, sweet tone- lilac gray. This color is cool and relaxed. It's definitely a fun twist on a neutral for spring! I love the resemblance this has to my favorite blush tones, but challenges me to get outside of my comfort zone with the purple edge.
Pantone Spring 2016: How to Wear Lilac Gray
The traditional lilac gray is much more gray than it is lilac, but I think my interpretation still has a place in your closet. I love that this color is dark, yet bright at the same time! I hope y'all follow what I'm saying when I describe it like that. I feel as though you can truly wear it as a neutral but get a springy spin on things. Click to shop my favorites below!



I'm not sure that there's even one piece of purple in my closet right now, so this is probably a good place for me to focus. There's nothing wrong with purple, it just isn't what I gravitate to in the stores. I think this darker, more subtle take will make it easier to shop. I love the shorts and nail polish- as well as that lace trimmed top!

Stay tuned for my next and last installment of this mini-series!

How will you incorporate lilac gray this spring? What's your favorite piece above?

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookie Recipe

When I was younger, I was all about eating sweets. I loved candy, cookies, ice cream, cakes, you name it! After dinner, I always begged my mom to let me indulge in some sweets. Once I'd eaten everything she'd allow, I'd try to push the envelope and ask for just one more. It almost never worked, but I always asked anyways. I think I exhausted my sweet tooth as a little girl, because I always go for the more savory options now.

Even though I don't have a sweet tooth quite like I used to, I absolutely love baking. Honestly, one of my least favorite things about living alone is that I don't have anyone to eat what I want to make- so I don't end up making it! My family got together for Easter, so I decided to use the opportunity to try out a new cookie recipe. Y'all. It was AWESOME.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies

Before I get to the recipe, I wanted to share a little back story behind my ingredient choice. I've always been told that the choices you make for ingredients greatly effect the outcome of your baked good! I completely agree with this, but feel as though I was interpreting it incorrectly. There are some great butter alternatives and gluten-free flours that bake just as well as their original counterparts. These alternatives can help people avoid allergens but still enjoy their favorite treats. I've been experimenting with different butter alternatives when cooking and thought it was a great time to transition into baking experiments! This was my first time baking with County Crock and won't be my last. The sticks were just as easy to use as real butter and produced delicious, fluffy cookies.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies

This recipe is perfect for someone like me because it marries salty and sweet into one delicious cookie. The dough that I used for the base isn't overly sweet and can support some sweeter add-ins. I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao dark chocolate chips in my recipe, but feel free to use what you like best. Personally I don't think there's any other brand of baking chocolate that comes close to Ghirardelli's flavor, so that is what I use.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies
Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies
Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Cookies
Personalized from Country Crock's "Make It Yours" Dough Recipe
Yields ~4.5 dozen cookies

1 cup Country Crock
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour (I used gluten-free)
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
10 oz dark chocolate chips
coarse sea salt

Preheat oven to 375. Cream together Country Crock, sugar, and brown sugar in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Stir until well mixed. Using the stir setting, add in flour 1 cup at a time. Finally, add in baking powder, salt and baking soda until well blended. Using a wooden spoon, fold in the chocolate chips.

Cover baking sheets with parchment paper to prevent sticking. Spoon heaping teaspoonfuls onto baking sheet about 3 inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt then continue to cool completely. Enjoy!


This post was sponsored by Country Crock. Thank you for supporting the brands that support A Peachy Sonder!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Pantone Spring 2016: How to Wear Rose Quartz

Over the past few years, I've become a fan of the Pantone seasonal color palettes. For those of you who may be unfamiliar, Pantone curates a color of the year as well as palettes for the different seasons. The colors are representative of the season during which they're picked, and can usually be found in stores throughout the season! For spring, they have a gorgeous set of 10 colors (check them out here). I thought it would be fun to take a few of my favorites and do a blog mini-series for some practical ways to embrace these colors!
Pantone Spring 2016: How to Wear Rose Quartz
I wanted to highlight my favorite for the first feature- rose quartz. I've always been a fan of soft colors and my love affair with blush tones goes back many, many years. I'm thrilled with this color and love seeing it on racks and shelves more than usual! Rose quartz offers a feminine touch to any look but isn't overly pink or girly. Click below to shop my favorites!






I would be happy with a closet full of this color, but will settle for a few new pieces this spring! I absolutely love the lace top and chunky-heeled sandals above. I also think I will need to get atleast one piece of jewelry while the color is popular. I know I will continue to wear it past the springtime! It's just too great to resist. I'm leaning towards the Kendra Scott right now, what do you think?

Stay tuned for the next installment of my mini-series!

What is your favorite spring Pantone color? How will you wear rose quartz this spring?

Friday, March 18, 2016

Royal Rose Hydrating Serum Review

I'm absolutely a creature of habit- there's no denying that. I love a good routine and feel at peace when things run according to plan. My skincare routine is probably the least predictable of all of my routines, because I LOVE trying new products. My routine also gets modified often because I have so many different products at my fingertips that I've used that produce awesome results. I'm all for mixing and matching different types of products to achieve my best fresh face! Things have been quiet out here on my blog as it relates to my beauty/skin care favorites, but I have to break the silence to share a new great product that I've been using- Valentia's royal rose hydrating serum! (showcased here earlier this month)
Valentia Royal Rose Hydrating Serum
Valentia is a skin care brand that focuses on creating products that are natural, free of toxins, paraben-free, and effective. I was unfamiliar with their products before using this one, and am so glad to have been introduced! I'm very careful about what I put on my face and these products pass the scrutiny test. This particular serum packs a serious punch of moisture, antioxidants, and soothing botanicals. It's designed to smooth out you skin's texture and tone while nourishing. Hello, gorgeous skin! 

Valentia's royal rose hydrating serum is not only beautifully packaged, but it is potent. I could feel the hydration immediately after my first use. No burning, no itching, and no sticky feeling follows application either. Over my first week, I noticed more radiance in my skin and I felt as though my skin was glowing even before I put any makeup on! The serum is more of a thin lotion that a traditional serum. It's so easy to use and doesn't run all over the place or promote wastage of product. You only need 1-2 pumps to coat your entire face and neck, so this bottle is extremely cost effective at $35. It has a dreamy and light rose scent, not surprising given the ingredients. Overall, it's a hit!

A quick testimony to the results I've seen: unless I'm sick, I rarely leave my house without applying some form of makeup to my skin. I just prefer the little bit of confidence I get from having nice-looking skin when I go out. Even just a tinted moisturizer or BB cream will make me feel better before I leave. On Saturday morning, I actually went out to pick up some breakfast bare faced. THIS IS HUGE FOR ME! I definitely owe my newfound comfort with my skin to this fantastic serum.
Royal Rose Hydrating Serum Review
If you want more information about Valentia or the royal hydrating serum, check out their website. To purchase, you can head here. And as always, please reach out to me if you have any questions that are left unanswered!


Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary product sample from Valentia to review honestly. As always, all opinions and words are my own. I benefit in no way if you purchase this product. Thank you for supporting brands that support A Peachy Sonder!

Monday, March 14, 2016

My Favorite Ways to Use Coconut Oil (+2 I don't recommend!)

To be completely honest with y'all, I thought I hated coconut for most of my life. I basically got tricked into liking it! I didn't know that coconut was in my favorite Girl Scout cookies for years and that's what made me reconsider my hatred. I am still not a full-blown lover of the flavor, but I won't run the other way when it's in front of me (anymore). I'm thankful to have my newfound openness for coconut or I would've missed out on my new all-purpose product: coconut oil.
My Favorite Ways to Use Coconut Oil
The name is misleading because it's more like a solid gel than an oil in my opinion. Most oils are pourable, but coconut oil needs to be warmed up before it has a liquid consistency. It has a lovely smell and a light texture once it's thinned. I've been using this in many different areas of my life so I thought I'd share my favorite ways to use coconut oil, as well as 2 uses that I don't recommend after my experience!

Cooking. I originally purchased my jar of coconut oil off a recommendation from my sister, who is very health conscious and holistic. The obvious use for an oil is while cooking. Coconut oil does add a subtle coconut flavor to whatever you're cooking, so there's a definite time and place for it in my opinion. I love to saute veggies and seafood with this!

Removing eye makeup. Now this sounds extremely odd, but hear me out. I'm extremely careful about what I use near my eyes- my contact solution, my mascara, eye drops, eye makeup remover, etc. It all undergoes scrutiny before I make a choice on what to use. Why wouldn't you want to use something that's natural?! It takes a little bit of rubbing, but this removes my mascara, eyeliner, and eye shadow COMPLETELY. Simply take a small scoop, warm it between your fingers and gently swipe your fingers across your eyes. The makeup will melt right off! I wipe it all off with toilet paper or a wash cloth and then proceed with my nightly skin care routine. I've also noticed a change in how soft and conditioned my eyelashes are since I've started this!

Moisturizing your skin. It may seem strange to rub cooking oil on your skin, but coconut oil has antibacterial properties so it is great for dry spots or acne-prone areas! I love to lather this on after an evening bath/shower before I hope into bed. I wake up smelling like the tropics AND with soft skin!

Soothing chapped lips. This isn't a total substitute for my favorite chapstick or vaseline, but it's great at night. My nose has been stuffed up with allergies lately, so I've been breathing through my mouth at night. Sliding on a little coconut oil before I hop into bed keeps my lips from drying out over night.

Drawing a soothing bath. It's no secret that I love to pamper myself. One of my favorite ways to do so is to take a luxurious bath. I've drawn up a warm bath, added a scoop of coconut oil and a few drops of lavender essential oil, and been transported to relaxation station.

DIY deep conditioning hair treatment. My hair is pretty long right now, and I do whatever I can to treat it well (read more about my hair secrets here). I love to do a deep conditioning treatment every now and then, and coconut oil is a great alternative to some of the pricey treatments you can find. I will warm up a little between my hands and apply to my hair, concentrating on the ends. I usually braid my hair and sleep with it in, then wash my hair as usual in the shower the next morning. It's not particularly goopy or thick, so it doesn't require an extra wash for my hair.

My Favorite Ways to Use Coconut Oil (+2 I don't recommend!)

These are my favorite ways to use coconut oil, and really make the cost of a jar into a bargain price. These uses that I've shared just scratch the surface- there are so many great uses out there. If you use it in any way that you love that I didn't list, please let me know! I'm a newbie and would love to try out your recommendations. While discovering these great uses, I came across 2 uses that I did not enjoy and do not recommend.

Cleaning your makeup brushes. Given the fact that I use this miracle oil to take makeup off my face, I thought I'd give it a try on my favorite foundation brush. Major FAIL! The bristles were stuck together, even after I rinsed 5+ times with hot water. I was able to fix this by using my regular method of cleaning my brushes, twice, with VERY hot water. But I won't be deviating from that again.

Oil pulling. This is a popular phenomenon, so I thought I'd give it a go. I did NOT enjoy the experience any of the 3 times I tried to swish it, and ended up gagging 2/3 times. I'm all about whitening your teeth and removing bacteria from your mouth, but I'll stick to Listerine.

Do you use coconut oil? What are your favorite uses?

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

'Me Before You' Review

It's been a minute since I've shared a book review with y'all! Not because I'm selfishly keeping all of the good titles for myself, but because I honestly haven't been prioritizing reading. I hate when I do that. Thankfully, a good friend let me borrow this book for a business trip I had back in February. It really helped me break my streak of being "too busy to read" because it was too good to put down.
'Me Before You' by Jojo Moyes

When my friend recommended the book, she told me that I wasn't going to be able to put it down. For the most part- she was right! I had to get through a few unsuccessful attempts to make time to actually get into the plot of this book (due to my schedule, not the book itself), but once I did I was hooked. This is a well-written romance novel that really captivated me. It also has some darker twists and turns written into the plot. These caught me a little by surprise and really challenged me to think about my moral stance on the issues brought up. I love books that beg you to put yourself in the main character's shoes and evaluate the situation through your own lens.

I'm an extremely emotional person, so I love a good love story. This book kept me enthralled with the story and adventures up until the last page. And even then, I had a hard time putting it down. I really didn't want it to end! The main character, Louisa, is so easy to relate to and I was cheering her on throughout the entire book. I don't want to ruin any of the plot- but I know that I wouldn't have been able to handle the ending as gracefully as she did. But hey, that's why it's fiction, right?!

To my sheer delight, this book will be gracing our theaters this summer as a movie. I know it will be a hit if it's closely related to the book's storyline! I am one of those people who always wants to read the book before seeing the movie, so make sure to grab this book soon if you're the same way. June will be here before we know it!

What are you reading right now? Do you have any recommendations for what I need to read next? Have you read this book?

Monday, March 7, 2016

Independence.


Independence is an incredible thing, no? No matter the scale- possessing the freedom to make your own choices and to pursue your dreams is the ultimate luxury. I remember being a young teenager chomping at the bit to get my drivers license. Then, an older teen waiting to hit "adulthood" and leave my childhood home for college. Next, I waited to be able to drink and go out to bars with my friends. After that- all I wanted was to march across the stage in my cap and gown to take my career by the horns. I've grown up on the hunt for more independence and fewer boundaries, yet rarely took the time to ensure that I was ready for all of it.

I've always heard that as you gain independence, you also gain responsibility. This has been all too true. Getting a car comes with the task of maintaining it. Going to college meant learning to do the activities for myself that my mom did for me when I was still at home. Heading out to drink required planning to get home safely. Beginning my career came with a whole new set of responsibilities and well, work. So, how on Earth do you prepare for these things?!

If I somehow had the answer to that question, I probably wouldn't need to be working my full time job anymore. That would be a pretty valuable life hack to discover. I don't have it all figured out, but I do know that a little planning and soul searching beforehand can help make these life changes more enjoyable. You will not be a functioning adult for very long if you neglect the responsibilities that come hand-in-hand with your freedoms. In fact, overlooking certain aspects of these responsibilities can cause you to lose your independence completely!

One of my most impactful life lessons that I've learned in adulthood so far is that the seemingly small things in the short term can have a huge impact in the long term. Simply making a habit of considering what new freedoms will require of you is often enough to avoid those pitfalls. Be educated! Be aware! And relax- you'll be just fine.

What do you do to embrace the independence in your life? How do you handle what life throws at you?

Monday, February 29, 2016

11 Easy Ways to Interact With Other Bloggers

Something that I enjoy most about blogging is the community. I have had the pleasure of interacting with so many incredible creatives since I began blogging. As silly as it sounds, when I first started blogging I figured people would just find my posts after I hit publish. I mean- that's how I found all of the blogs that I was reading! Finding a community of others who understand the effort it takes to keep a blog up and running, people who enjoy what you write, and those who will offer constructive criticism takes effort but can be accomplished. How? By putting yourself out there to interact with other bloggers!
11 Easy Ways to Interact With Other Bloggers

Online community is extremely important as a blogger! It can be isolating to sit behind a computer screen putting the necessary time to run a successful blog. You and I both know how time consuming blogging is- and it's very satisfying to know that your hard work is being acknowledged.

This list is by no means all-inclusive, but I wanted to share 11 easy ways to interact with other bloggers. One of the keys to creating a successful community is consistency. Consistency with interaction as well as content creation on your part so that others have something to interact with! Everyone has busy seasons of their lives, but if you can commit time to interact with others I guarantee that you will begin to reap the benefits of community. And let me just add, it's absolutely worth the effort! Without further ado, here is my list:

1 Comment on other blogs, regularly.
2 Participate in a Twitter chat.
3 Write a guest post.
4 Share one of your favorite posts on social media.
5 Join a link up.
6 Participate in a photo challenge on Instagram.
7 Send an email to your favorite blogger.
8 Join a Facebook blogging support group.
9 Tweet a response to someone's newest post.
10 Co-write a blog post or series with another blogger.
11 Create a round up of your favorite posts/Instagram/Twitter accounts and let the owners know you've included them.

How do you build your online community? What do you do to connect with other bloggers?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

2016 Blogging Goals: Update

Hey y'all! Happy Wednesday! I wanted to check in and share an update on my progress with my 2016 blogging goals so far. I know we're only 2 months into the year, but part of putting my goals out there was for accountability- and I want to keep that up! So here's a little update on my goals.
To recap, here are my goals that I made at the beginning of the year:

1 Post consistency. I'd say that I'm doing ok with this so far. I've fallen off the bandwagon 1 week so far, but I've been able to put out quality (in my opinion) content 2-3 times a week so far this year! I definitely want to keep it up!

2 Diversify my content. I haven't made time to shoot for any fashion posts just yet- but it's still on the list. I've shared one recipe so far- but I still need to work out the best way to improve my photography for these posts. My kitchen is far away from any natural light, and makes for a difficult shooting location. That's definitely my greatest challenge thus far.

3 Finish my blogging courses and enroll in more. I haven't even re-opened my courses this calendar year, so I unfortunately have to report no progress here.

4 Increase social media presence. I've been steadily increasing my presence, interactions, and followers across my favorite platforms! I'm excited about my progress with this goal and hope to continue on this trajectory. Please, check me out on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest! And don't forget to keep sharing your favorite posts! I appreciate all of your support.

5 Blog Sponsorship. This is another goal with little to show right now, but I do have some items in the works. I need to take some time to research which blogs I want to sponsor myself, and I'd love to hear some feedback if you currently have sponsorship open for your blog or sponsor a blog you love! Any information I can get is helpful for me!

I'm hoping to have more to share next time I check in with y'all, but I feel good about this progress so far. I need to stay focused on the goals that I have and continue to come up with fun, creative ways to accomplish them! If you have any advice on how you'd approach these, let me know in the comments! I always love hearing from y'all.


Monday, February 22, 2016

Spring Wardrobe Wishlist

We got a tease of warm weather over the weekend, and I've officially come down with the sickness. Spring fever, that is. I am NOT a snow bunny by any means. So, visions of spring are a typical occurrence for me when winter starts to wrap up. Even though I'm plagued with allergies I really enjoy springtime. It is such a welcomed change after the drab, cold days of winter! Flowers, greenery, warmth, sunshine... I just love it.

With a change in season, I always think about what additions I want to make to my wardrobe. I've always maintained a fairly classic style, but I've flirted with some trendier pieces over the past year. To be honest- I've really enjoyed mixing in some new styles! I know spring is going to come with its own fashion refresh, but I've already spotted some items that I need to have when springtime rolls around!

silk blouses, gingham, stripes, sandals, wedges, scallops, embroidery


I'm craving lots of light weight materials after being buried under layers of sweaters and coats! Silky camisoles and blouses will definitely be go-tos. I also live in classic prints like stripes and gingham. I'm also really excited about reintroducing white into my wardrobe (read about my stance on that here) after the wintertime! Open-toe shoes are also a fun change, and I'm hoping to pick up some new sandals to show off my favorite bright nail polishes.

Shop my picks: tank / skirt / scalloped blouse / off-the-shoulder blouse / striped tee / tee / gingham top / embroidered topdress / gingham dress / lace-up wedges / sandals

What's on your spring wishlist? Do you have a favorite part about spring?

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

An Open Letter to The Single Girl

An Open Letter to The Single Girl

 My sweet friend,

I know that things are confusing right now. It seems like everyone else is progressing forward towards their goals, and you are too- just in different areas. You have a great job. Your family isn't perfect, but they love you. Your friends are incredible. Your apartment is gorgeous. You don't like to admit it, but you still feel incomplete.

Please stop and hear this: life isn't defined by your relationship status. I know that you have listened to it before and agree, but that doesn't mean that you remember how spectacular the single you is 24 hours a day. You're especially forgetful as you scroll through your social media feeds and are met with pairs of smiling faces. But their lives aren't all smiles simply because they have a significant other. In fact, many of the people on your Instagram feed posting the very photos that make you feel lonely are just as (or sometimes more so) incomplete as you are. Remember that the couple smiling in the photo on your screen posed for that snapshot. Right before that romantic dinner, they may have gotten into the same huge argument yet again. Or afterwards, when they head home, they might struggle to come up with meaningful conversation to have together. Don't let those shiny moments fool you. They are human, just like you.

I hope you know how outrageously amazing you are. You are smart, beautiful, selfless, funny, giving, thoughtful, and so much more. You don't need to be off the market to feel validated. And I hope you don't wait until then to appreciate all that you have to offer.

Just remember: you can't give your best love to anyone unless you are giving it to yourself first. What I mean by that, is that you can't expect to be in a fulfilling relationship with someone else before you are content with who and how you are alone. You will always be looking to your significant other to fill you up and fix you, when that's not their intended purpose in your life. You need to be able to build yourself up and fill your life with love before you can expect to do those things for someone else. You can't fill an empty cup from an empty pitcher, am I right?

Long story short- I hope you take time right now to recenter and appreciate yourself. You are here on this earth for more than just to be someone's +1. I hope that you focus on finding and fulfilling that purpose soon. The people meant to be in your life always find their way in, so stop worrying about that part of your life and enjoy the rest.


xo.

Monday, February 15, 2016

Office Decor Inspiration

Hey y'all! I'm happy to be back into the swing of things after some work travel last week. I know I said I'd be better about pre-planning posts, but life got in the way and it just didn't happen for me. I did however have a blast down on my business trip and managed to escape a snow dusting in Atlanta! I am not a fan of the snow. So, it's a win in my book to have been in sunny FL! Even if I was sitting in meetings most of my time down there!

Anywho, I've been in my new apartment for a little over a month now- isn't that crazy?! In the spirit of being completely honest with y'all, I have a confession. I still have 3 boxes full of things that I can't seem to find a home for! The layout of my new apartment is drastically different than my last (more space! yay!) and I've had a hard time figuring out these last few pieces of the puzzle. It'll happen eventually though. And if not- at least I have a head start on my next move!
Office Decor Inspiration
One of the biggest changes with this apartment is that I have a built-in desk with shelving above. My sister is graciously keeping my desk for me in the basement of her house until I have a need for it again. The desk in my new apartment matches the granite in my kitchen and is super spacious. I love it! But it needs some additional flair to truly make it mine. My current desk accessories are still gold and navy- and are the anchors for my design inspiration! I hope to add in a lamp, some fun and inspirational prints, and additional organizational items like the ones featured below:

Thankfully, I have some great bones and just need to fix things up a little bit. How cute are those prints? Although I have an office chair, I love the ones above! I wish that I got a chair with wheels. It's such a small detail, but really makes a difference when you're getting up and down. I also just love having little trinket details on my desk. They really cheer me up when I'm working! A pretty planner or a decadent candle are right up my alley.

What are your favorite desk accessories? What's on your wishlist? Where do you shop for office items?

Monday, February 8, 2016

10 Things You Didn't Know About Me

Don't you just love indulging your nosy side and learning little details about the people behind the blogs you read regularly? I was inspired by my amazing blogging friend Jordyn's post last week sharing some fun facts about herself. I've never done a post like this before, so whether this is your first time here or 100th- here's a little more information about little ol' me!
10 things you didn't know about me
1. I go by my middle name. This was a decision my parent's made when they named me and has caused so much confusion over the years. From roll call in school, to people confused by my monogram- I've experienced it all. My first name is shared with my Grandmother, who is thankfully still living. It would've caused major confusion at home if we both went by the same name, but I'm honored to be named after her! I love both my first and middle name, but find that my middle name just fits me. It's very unique and something I am proud of now!

2. I am practically a bubble child. I've tested positive for just about every single environmental allergen over the years and still haven't gotten used to it! I love hiking and being outdoors, so this is a huge challenge for me. I've done immunotherapy, prescriptions, and OTC medicine- but am still on the search for relief. In addition to environmental allergies, I'm also allergic to milk. So basically, hives are a regular occurrence in my life and I rarely can breath 100% through my nose.

3. I was a gymnast turned cheerleader for 18 years. I started as a competitive gymnast but realized that I didn't enjoy the whole spread of gymnastics around the start of middle school. I swapped over to competitive cheerleading and continued along that path until I graduated high school. I loved the competitions, people, and training behind both sports. It taught me time management, discipline, and a love for exercise that I will be forever grateful for.

4. I live alone. A little over 2 years ago, I moved to an unfamiliar city for work. I was a little intimidated by being forced to live alone at first, but it's definitely the right fit for me! Although I've moved back by home, I've decided to stay on my own. I feel very blessed to be able to afford it and enjoy where I live!

5. I love to bake and cook. My dad is absolutely the source of this love and I'm thankful to have inherited it! We really connect through cooking together and talking about food, as well as eating it. It's not only a great shared bond for us, but something I love to do on my own. I'd have to say that is one of my least favorite aspects of living alone- I don't have anyone to cook for right now!

6. I have a degree in Biochemistry. I started college with the intention of going to medical school afterwards, but realized my sophomore year that I wasn't interested in continuing school directly after my 4 years of undergrad. I quite literally had the wind sucked out of my sails. I switched from chemistry to biochemistry and am now so happy that I did. I work in a field loosely related to my major but rely heavily on my knowledge of science every single day at work!

7. I adore nature. What girl doesn't love a pretty bouquet of fresh flowers?! Not only do I love the colorful parts, but I can't describe the happiness I get from being immersed in nature. Walking along a scenic beach, hiking up a tall peak, or following trails along a river to a waterfall... There's just something so serene and fundamental to me about the untouched beauty found in those places. God truly is an artist, in my opinion!

8. I'm growing and restrengthening my faith right now. I've considered myself to have faith my whole life, but have definitely been more devout at certain times than others over the years. After going through a really rough patch last year, I have begun to recenter my life and have really enjoyed my journey doing so. Although hitting your low points in life is hard, it gives the most unique kind of perspective on things that you just don't see when life seems to be going well.

9. I love to read. I've totally fallen off the bandwagon as it relates to leisure reading. I was doing a great job of making time for this habit, but haven't been doing so for the past few months. Now that things in my life are settling down again, I've gotten back into it and am very excited about it! I'm reading 'Me Before You' right now and will definitely be sharing my thoughts once I'm finished. It's great so far.

10. I am a family gal. One of the hardest things about my move away was the distance between myself and my family. Unfortunately, proximity does have an effect on emotional closeness and I really, really suffered from the distance. My family is far from picture perfect but they provide a stability that I can't find anywhere else. Being closer to home has drastically changed my emotions  and has been a lovely change since the beginning of the year. Last month was the first in many that I was able to go out to dinner with my whole family to celebrate my birthday. I'm smiling just thinking about it!

I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a little better. If there's anything I left unanswered that you'd like to know, please shoot me an email so we can chat further. Also- I'd love to get to know more about you as a reader! Please, leave one fun fact about yourself in a comment below! :)

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Oatmeal Raisin Overnight Oats

I'll be the first to admit that I get into a rut with my breakfast routine. I eat the same thing every single day. To be honest, it only bothers me when I think about it (which doesn't happen often). Thankfully I have a few extra breakfast recipes hiding up my sleeve for when those thoughts hit. One of my new favorites has got to be overnight oats. I've been playing with a few different recipes lately, but I wanted to share one of my best go-tos with y'all just in case you're looking for something new!
Oatmeal Raisin Overnight Oats
Overnight oats are super easy. You combine everything into a sealed container and let them sit in the refrigerator for atleast 8 hours.It is so simple to throw together a jar and is a perfect activity for Sunday evenings to help the mornings run more smoothly during the week. The base of the recipe is just milk, oats, and a sweetener- so it's easy to dress this breakfast up with whatever flavor you like! These can be eaten cold right out of the refrigerator or heated to mimic a more traditional oatmeal! I would try to eat them within 3 days of preparation, for the sake of food safety. 
Oatmeal Raisin Overnight Oats
Oatmeal Raisin Overnight Oats
This particular recipe reminds me of my favorite cookies- oatmeal raisin! They are deliciously sweet and have chewy raisins to mix up the texture of this oatmeal. Also of note- this recipe is based on what I have accessible in my kitchen and could easily be tweaked based on what you have available. For example, if you don't have liquid stevia, sub out agave or honey or even maple syrup. I am sure they will still be delicious! Without further ado, here's my killer oatmeal raisin overnight oats recipe!
Oatmeal Raisin Overnight Oats
Oatmeal Raisin Overnight Oats
recipe creates one serving

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup almond milk
1 teaspoon liquid stevia
1/8 cup raisins (half of a single-serve box)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in mason jar and stir. Seal jar tightly and place in the refrigerator to chill for 8+ hours. Enjoy hot or cold, and within 3 days of preparing. If re-heating, you may want to add an additional splash of almond milk if everything got absorbed overnight (just to ensure they don't dry out!). Reheat for 1-2 minutes in microwave.

What is your favorite breakfast recipe? Have you ever had overnight oats?

Monday, February 1, 2016

My Monday Glow Experience

Happy Monday, y'all! I feel like those are actually rare, but I'm committed to staying positive this year and want to do what I can to make that statement true. One of the ways I've made my Mondays a little brighter has been with the addition of some lessons learned from my Monday Glow challenge I mentioned on Twitter and Instagram last week. I want to give y'all the whole story today!
Monday Glow Eating Plan
First off, some of you may be wondering what the heck I mean when I say Monday Glow. I was introduced to the concept by my friends Annie and Cat who blog over at Collective Passions. They've come up with this great eating plan to help you "reset" your body on Mondays to start the week out right. I've spoken before about how indulgent I can be over the weekends, which hasn't changed, and I love that this plan is designed to target those habits! I've never tried a healthy eating plan before and have failed to keep up with diets I've attempted in the past but the idea of a one-day plan seemed manageable to me. (Not to mention delicious after I was introduced to the recipes!) I decided to give it a go and was really happy that I did!
Monday Glow Green Juice
I think the best thing about this plan is how easy it was for me. I like eggs, veggies, protein bars, green juice, and smoothies- so why not put them all together for a strong start to my week?! These girls have laid out everything you need for success with this plan in their gorgeous eBook and have not missed a detail! They share every little step- down to how many days in advance you need to order your specialty items from Amazon. And don't worry- the recipes are totally approachable and don't require any special tools.

I've always considered myself a healthy eater, but I was surprised at how great I felt when I packed my day with superfoods. The title explains it all- I felt like you could see my glow by the end of the day! And believe me, that is not something I can typically brag about after a Monday! I learned some yummy recipes that I can't wait to try my own variations of and was introduced to some new smoothie boosters to help make my blends even more potent. All-in-all, this was a great boost for me and I will definitely be incorporating what I've learned into my everyday routine to help glow a little brighter every day!
Monday Glow Eating Plan

Aside from the great food, this plan comes with 2 important components: a "glow journal" to help you be mindful and capture your feelings throughout your Monday Glow day and a private Facebook community for support! Obviously, given the fact that I'm a blogger, I love writing and found the journal to be a great way to keep myself mindful throughout the day. It's easy to get busy, especially on Mondays, and neglect how you're feeling! The community is so helpful to me because I love having people to keep me accountable in my healthy habits and to bounce health ideas off of!

Does this sound as interesting to you as it did to me? Read more about the why behind the plan and have an opportunity to purchase the eBook here. Also, Annie and Cat are graciously giving away a free copy to one lucky reader! Enter using the widget below and GOOD LUCK!

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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

How I Shop on a Budget

I've always been a shopper. Whether it be in a boutique, or in my sister's closet growing up- I love looking at ways to expand my closet. And unfortunately- my situation is best described as "champagne taste on a beer budget". As I've shared before, I function on a pretty tight budget and am trying to stick to an aggressive savings plan. All together that doesn't leave a ton of room for shopping in my budget. Thankfully, I've found some tips and tricks to help me satisfy my urge to shop while sticking to my budget. And I'm here to share how I shop on a budget!
How I Shop on a Budget
Shop at bargain stores. TJ Maxx, Marshalls, and Nordstrom Rack have easily become my favorite stores thanks to the deals they harbor. I love being able to find my favorite designers for discounted prices! Not only do they carry awesome brands, but they have a broad selection of products. In my opinion, the key to success at these stores is to shop frequently and decisively. If you try to go back to find something that you passed up on a previous trip, 9 times out of 10 it will already be gone. They have a quick turnover, but this is also good news because they are constantly ushering in new merchandise.

Mix high end with low end. As much as I'd love to have a closet full of designers, I don't. I actually have a ton of pieces from stores like Target and Kohls that didn't break the bank. I think stores like that are great places to pick up basics like tees, tanks, scarves, and accessories. There's absolutely a place in my wardrobe for cheaper products, but the secret to pulling them off is to mix them in with some of the nicer products in your closet. Pair your new Target statement necklace with your favorite JCrew sweater. Wear your favorite tee from Kohls with your new Loft blazer. The possibilities are endless and mixing these pieces together can help to give off the look you're going for!

Utilize outlet stores. Many brands have their own line specifically designated for their outlet stores. This is great news! Instead of getting items that didn't sell from a prior season, these outlet stores are getting clothes that are seasonally appropriate and on trend!! If you don't currently know where the closet outlets are to you, look them up and make sure that you check here before buying something full price in a retail store.

Check out thrift shops. I know some people have negative stigmas associated with thrift shops, but I beg you to reconsider! Depending on the area, you can find amazing items and deals at a local thrift shop. I've found some amazing statement pieces- like cowboy boots and coats- from stores that were practically new! And if you're lucky, you can find brand new items with tags on the racks. You just need to hunt.

Hit up the clearance racks. Back when I was in high school, I had a job in a retail store. I was constantly surprised at the hidden gems I could find when we moved clothing to the clearance racks. These aren't just the rejects or odd sizes- there are some great steals in there! Make sure you do this when you have patience and time, but perusing the clearance racks can be gold. One of the things I do to make this easier is to have a clear idea of what I want to find before diving in. I'll shop Pinterest or magazines to find a particular idea, then search the racks to find deals on similar pieces.

These tips just scratch the surface, but are all ways that I use to stay in budget AND satisfy my urge to shop. Looking for some more ideas? Head over to my lovely blogging friend Rachel's blog, Sweet Simple Living, for the second half of this post! Her blog focuses on embracing the simplicity of life and she has some amazing frugality tips! Rachel and I were paired up as January Solidarity Sisters (kind of like blogger pen pals) to get to know other bloggers. Are you interested in participating in something like that? You can read about it and sign up for February's parings here.

How do you manage to shop without disrupting your budget? What are your favorite shopping tips?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

How to grow (and keep) long, healthy hair

I have a love/hate relationship with the length of my hair. It's actually pretty funny when I think about it- because I function on a pretty predictable cycle. I grow my hair out long, then get bored and want to do something drastic. I wimp out of anything drastic and just go for a shoulder-length cut. Then I try to grow my hair out again. Actually committing that to words makes me realize how crazy it all is- but it's true! Each time I get to the long length stage, I'm flooded with questions of how I maintain my hair, so I thought I'd share some of my best tips on how to grow long and healthy hair with y'all!
Let me start by saying that I'm blessed with thick strands of hair, and plenty of it! So my specific approach to hair has proven to be successful for me but may be different in some ways for those with thinner hair or fine strands. Aside from those details, these tips should be universal to help you along the path to becoming a long haired goddess!

The type of shampoo and conditioner you use matters. This is a natural place to start, as your shower products set the tone for the rest of your hairstyle. I have used many different brands and kinds of shampoo which has lead me to the realization that the type matters. I recommend starting your hair off with an oil-based shampoo. I'm currently using an argan oil based shampoo (read a full review here) but I've also obsessed over my macadamia oil shampoo. This helps keep my hair saturated with moisture from the very start and works to smooth out its coarse texture.

Use a gentle blow dryer when you use one. I've heard that the #1 source of heat damage for your strands comes from the blow dryer you use. Not what I expected, but I understand it! I love my Chi blow dryer and can seriously notice a difference after use as compared to my previous model. It not only dries my hair faster, but it's softer and smoother afterwards. I try to use the low heat setting when possible, and use a large round brush to avoid blasting one section of hair for too long. However, I try to air dry my hair to avoid this damage all together!

Pick your products carefully. Currently, I'm using a couple different products throughout my styling routine that contribute to the health of my hair. I typically use a smoothing serum, a heat protectant, and a hair oil to finish off my look! If you use heat to style your hair, make sure at least one component of your style routine has some protection in it. Also- I try to find products that provide moisture without weighing my hair down. So I tend to stick with the oils and serums. But remember- a little goes a long way with these products. Mixing and matching here tends to give me the best results when I'm finished!

Schedule regular trims. While this is an important part of keeping your ends healthy, I have to disclose that I don't usually keep up with this. My hair grows slowly and I find that my hair routine prevents split ends for a long while. Depending on your own hair, trims every 8-12 weeks will keep your ends fresh and hair healthy. I should probably make an appointment soon!

Deep condition sparingly. There are some awesome deep conditioning products out there and some fabulous DIY options that can help keep your hair looking healthy. I am a firm believer in these, but my advice is to do them no more than once a week. I will do this in replacement of my typical conditioner and make sure that my hair is rinsed thoroughly after use.

Shop some of my favorite superhero hair care items below:



Did I miss any crucial tips? What are your favorite hair products?

Monday, January 18, 2016

New Beginnings + GIVEAWAY!!

Good morning, y'all! Sorry for the silence last week. My move went a little less smoothly than planned- I came down with a horrible cold a few days before the scheduled move and was just exhausted through the entire process!! Thanks to this wonderful cold, I didn't take the time to set up my cable and internet before moving. So, I was a little disconnected until last Friday! I'm happy to be back and am looking forward to working towards my goal of increased post consistency.

With my move falling at the beginning of the year, I'm really overwhelmed with a feeling of newness. New apartment. New mailing address. New drive to work. New coworkers. New boss. New surroundings. Thankfully, most of the overwhelm is positive and is partnered with gratitude. But it's really gotten me thinking lately- why am I so scared of new?

It's so easy to fall into a routine and just settle in. Having an extremely "type A" personality, I actually look forward to this. However I'm realizing lately how dangerous this can be to my happiness and how important it is to stretch your boundaries. We truly don't give ourselves enough credit for the resiliency that we're wired with! I never pictured myself as a person who could move across the country alone and end up thriving. Or someone who could handle the break-up of the most serious relationship I've had thus far in my life while totally isolated from family and my main support system. Or the person who would take a job completely unrelated to their major and expertise but learn how to be successful. All of those descriptions are intimidating and sound impossible to me. But I did them all. And I'm better off than I was before any of it happened!

As I'm getting older, I'm learning that new doesn't have to mean scary. New should mean challenging but exciting, and I'm working to rewrite the definition within my life. Life should be more than just figuring out how to get by. I recently found a quote from Maya Angelou that articulates my current approach to this: “The question is not how to survive, but how to thrive with passion, compassion, humor, and style.” 

“The question is not how to survive, but how to thrive with passion, compassion, humor, and style.” - Maya Angelou

If you struggle with this as well, I hope you join me to reframe your thoughts on new beginnings to shed a more positive light and simply know you're not alone. As a celebration of new beginnings and the new year, I've partnered with a lovely group of bloggers to help you have a sweet start to 2016 with some AMAZING prizes! We are giving away a $150 Visa gift card, a $10 Starbucks gift card, the Naked Smokey palette, an Origins Charcoal face mask, three wire wrap bracelets, a custom koozie and a monogrammed keychain, and an adorable coffee mug! This giveaway will run from today, January 18 through Tuesday January 26! Enter using the raffle widget below, and GOOD LUCK! :)



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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Move In Must-Have List

As I mentioned before, I'm moving this month. I'm trying to be cool as a cucumber, but moving has got to be one of the most stressful life experiences ever! Especially moving across several states! While stressful, there is definitely some fun and joy to be found in the process. Specifically the unpacking process. There's just something so renewing about starting fresh in a new residence. You're able to find a place for everything and also find opportunities to change/expand your current decor. I just love it!

Throughout this process, I've felt lucky that I'm moving to an urban area. I have gone to the store multiple times a day as I discover new things I need! I love going to stores like Target when I'm in this situation, because you can get all types of things in one trip. There's a time and place for long, multi-store shopping trips, but right now I'm all about convenience. Before the move I was trying to use up many of my beauty and kitchen products that were replaceable so I was having to pack less. This means that I'm having to restock a ton of things, and I thought I'd share some of my move-in must have list with y'all.
moving, move essentials, move in must-haves
1 Basic Kitchen Staples. I love to cook and bake (especially with my new favorite kitchen toy!), so I have a few kitchen items that I consider to be staples. It's a short list, but will definitely get my kitchen ready for use. These staples include flour, white sugar, brown sugar, chocolate chips, powdered sugar, (almond) milk, unsalted butter, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, vegetable oil, eggs, garlic, vanilla extract, salt, pepper, cocoa powder, granola bars, and a frozen meal. It's a great start to your kitchen and can be expanded on to make delicious meals/treats!

2 Cleaning Supplies. Typically I'll use a few different cleaners around the house. I like to use one that's granite-friendly and food safe in the kitchen, a specialized glass cleaner, and a tough bathroom cleaner. I also like to keep wipes (like Clorox brand) for small in-between cleanings. Soap, paper towels and toilet paper are also some things I like to have right away, for obvious needs.

3 Beauty Needs. Target has really stepped up their game in the beauty department over recent years. Not only do they carry a variety of brands, they have some awesome products! A new-to-me favorite called derma e is coming to Target this month and I will be sure to grab some of the new products on my next trip! Derma e has been cruelty-free from the start (before it was trendy!) and creates products that blend modern science with powerful natural ingredients. I was introduced to this brand through their firming DMAE eye lift creme and love my results! Fine lines and crows feet have noticeably softened around my eyes through daily use. You can read more about it here and see the results for yourself in their video! Thankfully for all of us, this product will now be available at Target and I will be grabbing another tube ASAP. I've never used an eye-specific cream and have been SO impressed with this product's ability to keep my skin looking fresh through all of the stress I'm under right now.

4 Decor Needs. Another one of my favorite things about Target is their newly expanded home goods section. Not only is it HUGE, but their items are adorable! I think I will be needing a TV console, a floor lamp, and some new trinkets to really make my apartment feel like home. Additionally, I will be picking up some bath mats and a shower liner as well.

While I recognize that this list is specific to my needs, I think it's a great starting point for anyone going through the move-in process! Just remember that it is a process and you will be much happier with the results. Even seasoned movers still need time to adjust to a new home.

What are your move-in must haves? Have you ever moved before?

Full Disclosure: I received a complimentary product sample from derma e to review honestly through BrandBacker. As always, all opinions and words are my own. Thank you for supporting brands that support A Peachy Sonder!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

How I Blog Successfully

While I certainly don't claim to be a blogging expert, I feel as though I've fallen into a good routine when it comes to blogging. I love this because blogging makes me happy and since I've simplified my process, it helps me to blog more often. I've utilized many resources from reputable experts and my blogging friends to see how they have achieved success. By mixing and matching what works for others, I've found a process that works well for me and I wanted to share it with y'all. Hopefully you'll learn something new that may help you as well!

My post topics: To be completely honest, I write when I'm inspired by a specific thought. This is what helps me to create an authentic post and (hopefully) write about something that others will find enjoyable. I have the Blogger app on my phone for when inspiration strikes randomly, but mainly this occurs during the time I schedule out of my day specifically for writing. For those moments that I'm lacking inspiration, I keep a running list of ideas. The contents of my list vary: some are well-thought out post concepts while others are just words that will help me come up with a more detailed post concept around that idea later on.

The actual post: I typically sit down and write my posts in their entirety. If I have to break it up, I try to stop at a point where I can easily pick up my thought process again at a later time. Hopefully I end up with a cohesive post! After I've completed a post, I'll work on a main image. This is something that I try to make eye catching and pinnable- often by using stock photography. Depending on the nature of the post, this could just mean editing my photos taken prior to writing the post. After the images are inserted, I utilize Blogger's post preview option and proof read my post as it appears on my homepage. I'll make the necessary edits at this time. I rarely write my posts on the day they are published, so I select the date I want it to go live and schedule in advance.

Promoting the post on social media: I just recently learned through one of Helene Sula's posts that you can find the permalink for a post within blogger before the post goes live! This has been a huge help for me in scheduling post promotion across social media. I now use Hootsuite to schedule post promotion in advance so that my post is being advertised on the day it goes up- all while I'm at work. Hopefully this is not annoying to my followers, because I really enjoy the fact that it's on autopilot now! I utilize Ahalogy to schedule my pins on Pinterest and try to stagger them out throughout the week that the post goes up. These automation tools have significantly reduced the time I spend promoting on social media and these particular tools can actually optimize the posting times so that my content is most likely to be seen by potential readers! I rarely promote my posts through Instagram, but that's just a personal preference.

Other post promotion: I will promote my posts in a few additional ways to make sure it's seen by the most people possible. One of my favorite ways to do this is through Facebook groups. I've met some of my best blogging friends through these groups and recommend them to anyone looking to find their people online. I've gushed about this before, so you can read more about my favorite groups here. I'm also a fan of link-ups when possible. This is a fun way to get new readers on your blog and to explore some new reading material as well!

I hope you've enjoyed the peak into my process of how I blog successfully and that you've found something useful to your own process! I recognize that I still have a ton to learn, but I'm excited to add onto this method as I learn more. I'd love to hear about your own process, or if you have any suggestions to improve mine!

Monday, January 4, 2016

My Big Announcement

No, I'm not engaged, pregnant, or quitting my job to blog full time. So if that's what you were looking for- sorry to disappoint! But in my life, this is equally as exciting. I've been alluding to a big life change over the past few weeks, but I wanted to dedicate an entire post to it and wasn't able to fit it in before 2016 began. So here it is. I'm moving!
My Big Announcement
For those of you who have been around/reading for a while, you're probably aware that I moved up to Virginia for a job opportunity a few years ago. It was something I just couldn't pass up, although I was completely intimidated because I didn't know anybody in the metro-DC area when I moved. I'm a creature of habit (and human!) so this was a really difficult decision to make and an even more difficult transition to adjust to. But I couldn't be more excited that I took the plunge. I was slowly but surely able to make friends, become more independent, and really focus on my budding career.

In October it was brought to my attention that there was an opening in my company back home in Georgia! Y'all know that I'm a Christian and I can't explain the situation better than saying it was absolutely a God thing. The territory that opened up happens to include the town that I grew up in- that my family still lives in- and is close enough to Atlanta for me to live within the city near my friends. To put it plainly, I WANTED this position with every fiber of my being and began the process to pursue an interview immediately. Many conversations, tears, and plans later- I accepted the opportunity with a start date of January 4th!

Things basically transpired in a tornado-like fashion. I broke my lease at my apartment, signed a lease at a (BEAUTIFUL) new apartment in Atlanta, set-up a move, MOVED, and got my stuff settled into a storage unit all before Christmas. My apartment isn't ready until this weekend, so I've been lucky enough to be able to stay with my sister and brother-in-law until I can start getting settled.

This is a HUGE AMAZING WONDERFUL LIFE-CHANGING answer to my prayers and I'm so appreciative to have the opportunity to return home. I'm hoping that I'll be able to keep up my momentum here on the blog, but if things slow down for a little bit- y'all know why. I'll be back. Thank you for your support and Happy New Year! :)
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