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! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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! :)

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Blogging Goals

Happy New Year lovelies! There's something so magical about NYE. I find myself consumed with it as soon as Christmas passes and I'm always excited to begin the year on the 1st. I really love starting fresh! I'm not one for resolutions, but I'm always excited to work towards a new set of goals. After reading some awesome goal-oriented posts from several blogging friends, I decided to try my had at it! This is my first time actually setting goals for my blog and I hope that putting it out there in writing helps me be held accountable throughout the year! Here are my current goals for A Peachy Sonder in 2016:
My 2016 Blogging Goals

Consistency. I've had a ton going on this year (read this recap if you missed it). I don't expect that to change too much in 2016, as I have an entirely new set of responsibilities and challenges that I'm facing, but I do hope to cope with it better. I'd love to be able to post 2-3 times a week, every week, and make an attempt to schedule out posts when I know I'll be away/unable to write.

Diversify my posting. With the exception of gift guides, I try to stay away from posting a ton of collage posts. However, I found myself resorting to these to share fashion posts and ideas since I didn't have access to a photographer to take my own style photos. I no longer want to let this be a barrier for me and am excited to try to incorporate more fashion posts. I also hope to include more recipes. You have no idea how much passion I have for cooking based on the amount of food-related posts on my blog. It's a huge part of my life and I hope to share more of that with y'all.

Finish my current courses and enroll in more. You may or may not know this about me- but I'm a huge nerd. I love to read and learn. Blogging has become a wonderful hobby for me because there are so many unknowns that provide learning opportunities! I've participated in several free webinars and am enrolled in 2 paid courses, Quit Your Job to Blog and Instagram for Success. I hope to take a DSLR course at some point this year to improve my photography skills- both for this blog and for my personal use of my camera!

Increase my social media presence. I am a lover and habitual user of twitter, instagram, and pinterest- yet I let life get in the way of regular posting. I hope to make this more of a priority over the next year, and in turn increase my followings across all platforms. Are we connected yet? If not, please give me a follow! I'm active on twitter, instagram, pinterest, facebook, and bloglovin'. I'd love to link up with you!

Blog Sponsorship. So far, I have had the opportunity to work with wonderful brands to create sponsored posts for y'all. I want to take this to the next level by focusing on ads and affiliate links this year. On the flip side of this, I'd like to sponsor other bloggers to see what that experience is like. If you have any sponsorship opportunities currently available, please shoot me an email so that we can discuss further!

I feel like this is a great place to start and I'm confident that I can reach these goals (with y'alls help!) if I keep my focus in the right place. In addition to my goals, I want to help you reach yours too so if there's something I can do to assist you, don't hesitate to reach out to me! Welcome to 2016!

What are your goals for 2016? Do you have any advice on staying focused on your goals throughout the year? Do you have any tips to help me reach my goals?
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