Raise your hand if you’ve ever seen a photo on Instagram and been envious of that person 🙋 . It happens to me all the time. Sometimes it motivates me to do better, but sometimes I have to stop myself from comparing myself. This is becoming such a big issue with Instagram and other social media these days. Social media has become so standard today that it’s practically unavoidable. Instead of being a place of comparison and jealousy, why can’t it become a place of encouragement and inspiration? After all, that’s what it’s SUPPOSED to be, right?!
Summer’s right around the corner which means swimsuits, beach bods, wavy hair, and pops of color are going to be EVERYWHERE! In a (digital) sea of striped bikinis, crop tops with shorts, and #bodygoals make yourself stand out from the crowd with a bright white smile! What’s one of the first things you notice when you meet someone or look at a photo? Their features! Eyes, hair, face, SMILE. So what better way to catch someone’s attention than with your gorgeous smile. Imagine all the compliments you’ll receive and the confidence boost you’ll gain. Who WOULDN’T want that?! Right??
It was supposed to be a Sunday Funday this week – introducing a friend to Passion City Church, and then going to the first ever Atlanta blogger closet sale in Alpharetta, meeting some of the top bloggers from the Atlanta area! I had everything planned out – I had my hair curled, nails done, and outfits laid out the night before. But come morning time, the moment I woke up things started going differently. My friend bailed from church last minute, and I ended up getting to church late not even being able to sit with my other friend. So already off to a not-so-great start. But after church was the blogger closet sale!
What if I told you that you could get shampoo and conditioner made JUST FOR YOU? I’m talking fully custom – you choose the specific concerns it targets and takes care of, AND the scent! Haircare that’s made specifically by you, for you. If you’re like most other women, you want your hair to look it’s best and smell gooood. Amiright? Well what better way to do that than with a custom made-for-you formula?? A full size set of shampoo and conditioner formulated for you by an expert chemist. Sounds awesome, doesn’t it?! I thought so. So without further ado…
Let me introduce you to Formulate Co.
Formulate Co. is a cruelty free, environmentally friendly haircare company that creates a custom shampoo and conditioner formula based on your hair type and the concerns you wish to target and fix. The materials used for the bottles are environmentally friendly and the formulas are naturally derived. Their products are also paraben and sulfate free. Formulate is all for recycling and reducing waste, so if you happen to receive a re-formulation, your previous one can be used as a cleaner (I have a few sets :P)!
Formulate is the first custom haircare system that allows you to select the top 5 “benefits” you need for your hair. You can choose from benefits such as volume, color care, dandruff control, split end mending, moisture, and so many more. The process is super easy. You’ll fill out a hair profile with the details of your hair, select your main concerns, and then choose from a selection of scents (shown below).
Formulate is driven by individuality, positivity, and improvement. They want to help you end the “guess and test” way of buying and trying hair products. Their goal is to create a product that’s perfect for you so you don’t have to keep guessing. They currently only have shampoo and conditioner, but additional products are in the works.
My personal hair profile
Here are the top 5 things that I learned last year:
The holidays are a time of fancy lights, extravagant Christmas trees, and lots of festive decorations. All your favorite Instagrammers have picture perfect homes decked out with Christmas decorations EVERYWHERE, and you just want to have a cute home without spending boo-koo bucks. Anyone with me?? I feel ya – so do I. Luckily, I’ve found a few ways to do just that, and I’m sharing them with you here. So why not make your home or apartment fun and festive while saving that extra money to spend on gifts (or more decorations ;P).
All Christmas decorations in this photo were $3 or less!
$5 Holiday Garland
Need an easy, inexpensive way to decorate your counters and other hard surface edges? You can make this festive light bulb garland for right around $5. I’m not sure if you can even find a garland less expensive than that at Walmart! It’s super simple to make, and will add that extra touch to make your home feel extra Christmas-y and fun.
This is probably the simplest, most inexpensive way to decorate your place. And what’s so great about it is that you’re able to customize it to your exact liking! It doesn’t take much to make, and everything you’ll need is super affordable. I mean like $3 or less kind of affordable!
You can make it as simple or as extravagant as you’d like, and as short or as long as you need. This is great for decorating places like counter edges, TV stands, mantles, and other other edges that could use a little pop of Christmas fun.
Below I’ve made a step-by-step guide for you to create your unique holiday garland.
You just need a few items:
- Light bulb (or any festive/holiday) ornaments
- Embroidery floss
- Pair of scissors
- Packing tape or push pins
The number of ornaments needed will depend on the length of the piece you are attaching the garland to, and how spaced out you want them. I made mine for a 43″ wide TV stand and I used 8 ornaments about 6″ apart. I got mine at Kroger, of all places, on sale for less than $2! One embroidery floss will be plenty. You can find them for about $0.47 in the craft section of Walmart, or at a craft store. I suggest going with a color that will blend into the surface you are attaching to or hanging from.
How to make the garland:
- Using the embroidery floss, measure the width of the surface you’re hanging the garland from. Add an extra 12″ to that measurement to allow 6″ on each end and then cut.
- Lay out your ornaments the way you want them to be on your garland. This makes it easier to visualize and keep them all in order so you don’t miss one or mess up your order.
- Starting at one end of the floss, tie on the first ornament about 8″ from the end. This allows length for attaching your garland to the surface or edge where you’ll be hanging it. Do not double knot/tie on the ornaments!! Using a single knot allows you to move and adjust the placement of the ornaments along the floss which will be very helpful when spacing them out.
- Continue tying each ornament onto the floss one by one, spacing them out as desired. If they are not equally spaced, you can hold one end of the floss and pull the ornament to move and adjust it.
- Once the garland is finished, attach to the desired surface using packing tape or push-pins. I used heavy duty packing tape to attach the extra length on the side of the TV stand.
Dollar Store Centerpiece
Okay, so I don’t know about you, but I’m a huge fan of the dollar store (hello, Dollar Tree)! It’s a great place to find holiday decorations for just $1 a piece. If it looks good, nobody needs to know it only cost you a dollar! I created this floral centerpiece entirely with pieces $3 or less. Keep reading to find out how.
Clear Vase – Dollar Tree – $1
Floral Stems – Dollar Tree – $1 each, 3 total
Light Bulb Ornaments – Kroger – $2 on sale
Pinecone Ornaments – Kroger – $3 on sale
White Mini Trees – Target – $1 each
The size of your flower bouquet is totally up to you, but if you pair the right stems, you can get away with just 3 of them. To fill the vase, I used a couple light bulb ornaments to fill the empty space and hide the stems of the flowers. If you’re able to find flat glass stones to fill the vase, that would be even better, as you can see my stems are not fully hidden. I also added a couple glitter trees and pinecone ornaments surrounding the vase to make it feel fuller and more joyful.
$4 Festive Wall
Want a quick, super cheap, no hassle holiday wall? I’ve got it right here for you, and it only costs $4! All you need is some pushpins/tacs, or tape if preferred over pins, and these two pieces below. Oh, and of course, a wall to hang it on. 😛
Merry Christmas Felt Banner – Target value section – $3
I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is less than a week away. Which means that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are right around the corner! And we all know what that means… SHOPPING!! But how can you be smart about your shopping and how much money you spend? Obviously you want to get all those amazing deals on the items you’ve been wanting, but you still want to have money for the ACTUAL holidays. Amiright?
You want to get the best gifts for everyone on your list, but you also want to treat yourself and have money to pad your budget around the holiday times. Who wants to spend Christmas worrying because they spent too much money buying gifts and can’t afford a New Years party?! Not me!
Don’t get me wrong… I’m no money maven. But I HAVE suffered due to the lack of money basically my whole life. My whole known life has been living paycheck to paycheck. I’ve never been able to drop $100 on clothes simply because they’re cute. I can’t afford to go out to a nice restaurant on Friday night with friends to socialize and enjoy a delicious dinner. Why do I tell you these things? Not to gain pity, but to share where I come from and hopefully create a valid standpoint on this topic.
Through those hard times, I’ve learned a few tricks that help to save money for specific purchases and times of year. I’ve tried budgeting, and that’s never worked for me. Below I talk about how I’ve learned to save money and control what I spend.
5 Tips For Saving Money
1. Don’t Check Store Emails — Unless you specifically plan on buying something there
If you’re not already planning on spending money at a store, do not look through your 2,000 emails in your inbox from different retailers. The point of these emails is to market to the customer, showing you a sale or promotion in hopes that it will lead you to go buy from that retailer.
Victoria’s Secret just sent you an email advertising $30 any bra. What an amazing deal, because bras are normally $56! But you weren’t planning on purchasing a bra. And how many people are going to see the sexy strap or pretty ruffle detail? Likely not many, if anyone at all. Plus you already have 3 everyday bras you wear on a daily basis. Do you REALLY need that super pretty/sexy new bra? But since it’s only $30 you’re tempted to buy it.
The only time I will check my everyday email (my non-professional, non-blog email) is when I am actively searching for a deal or coupon at a certain place. In this photo above, I had Bath & Body Works coupons for a free travel size item and 25% off your purchase that expired that day. I was curious if they were having a sale on certain items I was looking for. And it just so happened that I received an email for $3.50 wallflowers, which was one of those items. So instead of spending over $25 full price, I got 3 wallflowers and a travel size body wash for $8.
Which brings me to my next tip…
2. Don’t Use Coupons Just Because They’re a Good Deal
We all know that holiday time means TONS of coupons from basically every store you’ve ever visited… which is great! But those stores are not focussed on saving you money – they’re banking on the fact that you will use those coupons to SPEND money because you’re “getting a great deal”. If you weren’t already planning on spending money, then you probably don’t need it.
Free items and discounts on purchases sound like a great deal, but think about what else that money could be going to. Let’s say you’re saving up for a vacation in the next couple months. If you use that $10 off a $30 coupon and spend $25 at BBW, treat yourself to a $6 meal, and buy those adorable sweaters you fell in love with at TJ Maxx, that’s over $50 spent that could have gone towards your vacation. And that’s $50 you could’ve used on drinks, treats, or shopping while on your vacation.
And again, leading into the next tip…
3. Pay Attention to How Much You Spend on non-necessities like food and clothes
I was given a rude awakening when I discovered how much money I was spending on food each week aside from groceries. I work at Panera 5 days a week and get a 65% discount on food (should be free IMO). So instead of paying $12 for a pick two, I pay about $3.50. I’d take a pick two for $3.50 ANY day! But unfortunately that’s pretty much what I was doing. I’d spend $3-4 each day (Monday -Friday) adding up to $15-20 a week. Multiply that by 4 weeks a month, and that’s up to $80 a month!!!
$80 is a LOT of money when you’re on a super tight budget like me. That $80 could’ve been saved up to go toward the desk I want; or my plane ticket for Christmas. When I realized how much I was spending on food, and how strongly I desired other things, it made it a lot easier for me to stop spending.
Instead of spending money on food every day, I started limiting myself to a $2 breakfast sandwich once or twice a week. And that extra money I had, I started saving for other things I desired (see how right after tip 5).
4. List Unwanted Items on Poshmark or Ebay (#notanad)
I will tell you that I have two large moving boxes of stuff that I’ve been trying to sell to make a few extra bucks. I have everything from clothes and shoes to undergarments, trinkets, and decor. What better time to list these items for sale than the holidays?! This is when everybody is shopping for Christmas gifts, so there’s a higher chance of your item selling, granted you take the time and put in the effort.
Listing items online is NOT AN EASY TASK though and it is very time consuming. You have to work for the money. It is very important to get quality photos with good lighting, proper set up, and the best angle. My trick for taking photos is a white bed sheet. I lay out the sheet on my bed, and lay out flat the item I want to sell. For most items the most flattering angle is a bird’s eye view from above. If you wish to stage your photos with props, that is also an option. But you have to be careful your props don’t take away from the actual item you are selling, and you don’t want your photos to be too crowded.
After I have the photos taken I crop if necessary and adjust lighting (exposure, contrast, whites, shadows, highlights) and color (saturation, warmth, blues). I will typically expose the background to make it lighter and slightly increase saturation on the item to make it pop.
To see an example of how I’ve set up my “closet” on Poshmark, click here.
Before pricing your item, look up other similar or identical styles or items and use those prices as a guide to price your items accordingly.
5. Give First, Save Second, Live Off the Rest
This is one of the most profound lessons I have learned in church. Passion City Church pastor Louie Giglio spoke a sermon on God’s plan for your money, and it has made a huge difference in my life. Think of your money in a pyramid. Most people are using the first-fruits of their income to live – taking vacations, buying clothes, going to dinner, etc. before saving or giving. When you live this way, you put yourself at the top of the pyramid and allow a very small surface area/opening to allow for blessings to come in. But if you flip the pyramid upside-down and give first, you put God at the top of the pyramid and allow for a much greater area to allow His blessings to come into your life. And believe me, He has certainly been faithful in blessing me since following His way for using my money.
See the “FAITH” highlight on my Instagram profile to see the actual photos of the sermon.
But probably the best way I’ve saved money…
Is by putting aside money into envelopes labeled for the item I am saving for. As a delivery driver, I get my pay-outs in cash each day. I use my hourly wage paychecks to cover my rent, utilities, and bills, and keep the cash to put into my savings envelopes. If you don’t get cash payments regularly, this may be tougher to do. But you can budget a certain amount of each check and take it out of your account for your envelope(s). The best thing about these cash envelopes is that you won’t touch the money until you need it, so there’s no way for it to get spent. I’ve already paid for a plane ticket and dental work just by doing this!
In light of taking a sick day off of work, I thought I’d share a little laugh for those of us with pets. If you’ve ever tried taking pictures with your furry friend, you know it’s not easy! Unless you have a perfectly behaved, never curious, statue as a pet. There’s expectations and then reality of shooting with your pet. Let me show you the reality.
They’ll run away from you…
They’ll photo-bomb your photos…
You’ll have poopy bags in your shots…
They’ll try to avoid your kisses…
You might get a cool walking shot… with a picture of their butt…
They’ll stick their tongue out at you…
Who here has been to Universal Orlando or Disney World? I may be the only one who HASN’T! So it was super funny to me that I was taking a vacation to Orlando and not even going to Disney or Universal! Seems silly, right? Until you discover the Marriott Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center. If you’ve never heard of the Gaylord chains you are truly missing out!! But I’m here to change that. I’ve created a detailed guide below with all the important info you need and a bunch of indulgent photos.
(This photo was taken from the Gaylord Palms website here. I do not own this photo. However I do own all other photos in this post!)
Like most of us, I get really stressed right before a vacation or trip. I feel like I have to have each day planned, all my outfits paired with shoes and accessories, and decided on what photos to take where. Once I have my full looks planned, I take time to set up a flat lay photo or two, and then pack it up when I’m done. Needless to say, it takes a WHILE to pack! Once all outfits, toiletries, and snacks were packed, Andrew and I began our roadtrip to Orlando (Kissimee if we’re being exact).
Kendra Scott Necklace
I’m sure you’ve heard the rule about picturing potential purchases with items you already own, right?! Whenever you find something you’re thinking about buying, you should always picture it with at least 3 items you currently own. Doing this allows you to gauge how often you’ll wear it, and the CPW (cost per wear) for it. If you buy a cute skirt that you can only wear with one specific shirt, how often are you really going to wear it?! Say you pay $30 for that skirt and wear it twice — that’s costing you $15 each time you wear it! If you’re a budget shopper like me, you definitely want to get the CPW as low as possible. Another way to do this is to shop with coupons, or sales only! I rarely ever pay full price for an item!!
This satin striped pajama top from Victoria’s Secret is a perfect example. I had a coupon for $20 off a $40 purchase with no idea of what I was even looking for when I went into the store. But VS and I have a very special relationship. 😉 (can I say an almost 8 year obsession?!) I’m bound to find something I love almost every time I enter the store. My only problem is sometimes I find TOO many items I want (anyone else?). This time was different though, in a good way! It took less than 3 minutes before I had decided this was the one. It’s one of those pieces you see and you know INSTANTLY that this is going to be one of your #1, best, most worn, favorite pieces of the season.
So into the fitting room I go, and the moment I tied that knot at the bottom and looked up into the mirror, it was a done deal. That shirt was going to be mine. It had to have been fate that the top was $42.50 and qualified for the coupon! At the time I bought it, I had really only known one way to wear it, but I didn’t care. I was so in love with the top that I was going to find other ways to style it, regardless of the fact that it’s a pajama top. And that’s exactly what I did. Here below are three different ways I styled this striped satin PJ top from Victoria’s Secret.
I learned long ago to add casual pieces to a look to dress down a dressy piece, and vice versa (see next look). This satin top felt very upscale and luxurious by itself, so I paired it with a black crop top, light blue denim, and cute sneakers to make it comfortably casual.
I love pastel colors – and I love mixing colors. So why not mix pastel colors?! I decided to go with these light blue jeans instead of a white to add a little color to the white and black stripes. The pastel pink shoes matched the top and added the casual feel to the look. And lastly, the quilted crossbody finished off the look with a bit of an edge, pulling out the black stipes from the top and tying everything together. Right now this purse is out of stock in black, but you can still get it in light pink here (which would still match the outfit)! For size reference for the top, I’m wearing a size Small in Millenial Pink/Ripe Apricot. They currently only have L and XL, so I’ve added a few similar styles at the end of this post. 🙂
2. Dressed Up
As I mentioned in the previous look, adding casual pieces to a look dresses down a fancy piece. But what if you actually want it to be kinda fancy?! My trick? Add a nice pair of heels to almost any look and voila! You’ve instantly dressed it up.
For this look, I wanted it to be dressy, but not too fancy. So I chose to add a leather belt and embellished heels to fanc-ify it while sticking to a flattering fitted jean to keep it from being over-the-top fancy. The nude cami underneath allows this top to show off the waistline without distracting with bare skin. This cami is actually from A New Day at Target, but I was unable to link it so I linked a very similar one for $1 less! I’m wearing a size 3R in these jeans from Celebrity Pink for reference. And I found this belt at Goodwill awhile ago, but I linked a similar, inexpensive alternative! These pretty embellished heels are still available online here!
And last but not least, why not wear this piece for what it was actually intended for? It’s lightweight, airy feel makes it super comfortable for getting a good night’s sleep. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s super cute, too!
When it’s time for bed, all we want is to change into something loose fitting and non-restricting to be comfortable right?! The less it touches your body, the better! Unless it’s a super soft fabric. Luckily, this top is the best of both worlds! It’s soft and silky with a loose fit that’s quite comfortable and surprisingly not too warm. And if you’re not ready for bed just yet, this is the perfect top to simply chill in and still look cute as can be.
P.S. I took these three pictures all by myself using a tripod and the timer — how did I do?!
I’ve worn this top at least 5 times! The three times for these photos, plus two other times. So let’s say after taxes the top cost me $25 to purchase. After wearing it 5 times, that makes my CPW only $5! And the next time I wear it, it will make it $4.17, and then $3.57, and… you get the idea!
So always try to envision a potential purchase with a few items you have and determine the CPW you’d be paying for the number of times you wear the piece. You don’t want to regret anything later!
Here are similar (equally cute) satin tops in addition to the one I’m wearing