Gift Guide: Home/Hostess ($40 and under)

2017 Gift Guide: Home
Gifts for the home are great because they’re generally useful and can be really thoughtful as well. I think these options work well for family and friends or for a hostess you’ve never met before.
  1. Ceramic Picture Frame from Target ($13) – This is pretty but relatively neutral, so it should match most home decor themes. I’d recommend printing out a meaningful picture if you know the recipient.
  2. Mini Waffle Maker from Urban Outfitters ($18) – How adorable is this tiny waffle maker? It’s a fun gift that doesn’t take up too much room – something I’m hyper aware of in our tiny NYC apartment.
  3. Kate Spade Trinket Tray ($40) – I’m always dropping my rings, keys, lipsticks, etc. in mini dishes and love the “odds and ends” print on this one.
  4. Hot Chocolate and A Pretty Mug ($20 and $14) – Edible gifts are the best! This would also make a great gift for teachers.
  5. Cookies and Recipe Cards from Rifle Paper Co. ($12) – Again, love a gift that is edible and these recipe cards are so cute.
  6. Hammered Coasters from World Market ($20) – Coasters are a pretty useful gift, especially for a party. I love the gold color and hammered details; these look way more expensive than they are!
  7. Reversible Throw Blanket ($30) – It’s always nice to have a new, cozy throw. I love this blue one, but maybe stick with cream or gray if you don’t know the hostess’ color theme.

Let me know your favorite item from these home/hostess ideas and feel free to link to your gift guides as well!

Ulta Haul Update

Three new affordable favorites

I’m obsessed with this Hask Volumizing Dry Shampoo from my recent Ulta Haul. Being on crutches, my hair is not getting washed too often, so trust me when I say this stuff works. It absorbs oil, smells great, and does add a little volume to my thin hair. The best part is that is doesn’t leave a white cast at all! Even on day four hair, I just massage my roots a tiny bit and nothing is left! It’s seriously impressive and one of my favorite new finds because it was only $4!

I’m also loving this Real Techniques brush duo. The “Base Shadow Brush” is actually perfect for fluffing shadow into the crease. It blends color so nicely and effortlessly. Then the “Deluxe Crease Brush” is actually great for packing on color because it’s so dense. I think the naming is funny because I use them for the opposite purpose, but the brushes themselves are high-quality. The bristles are soft, the handles are a great length, and they feel sturdy. This was also only $5! For two brushes! I need to start shopping at Ulta more often.

Last, but not least, we have the Soap & Glory Smoothie Star Body Milk. This smells delicious – perfectly sweet and warm for the winter months. It is described as Almonds, Oats, and Brown Sugar scented and I definitely get that baked goods vibe. The lotion itself is really moisturizing, but not greasy and it sinks in quickly. I usually transition to a thick body butter around this time of year, but this is working well enough and I absolutely love that it comes in a convenient pump.

I’m so glad I picked up these items as they’re turning out to be staples! Have you hauled anything recently that turned out to be a favorite? Let me know in the comments. I’d love to check it out!

Gift Guide: Stocking Stuffers ($20 and under)

Stocking StuffersI absolutely love stocking stuffers! They’re such fun, whimsical surprises. These would also make great coworker gifts as they’re cute and affordable.
  1. Faux Fur Pom Beanie from Nordstrom ($15) – This is perfect for winter and such a pretty color!
  2. Voluspa Macaron Candle from Anthropologie ($16) – Smells amazing, burns well, pretty packaging. Check, check, and check!
  3. Euphoria by Lily King ($9) – One of my favorite books ever! It’s a mix between anthropology/historical fiction and a love triangle.
  4. Cozy Socks ($9) – A cute spin on a traditional gift. I wear these all the time in the colder months. I love the Nordstrom Butter Socks and this Target set with a sleep mask.
  5. Essie Gel Couture Set ($18.50) – Pearls of Wisdom is a gorgeous shade for the holidays and this top coat lasts for over a week on my nails with no chips.
  6. Benefit Get the Pretty Started Palette ($20) – Minis of the cult classic Hoola bronzer, the new Galifornia blush, and Watt’s Up highlighter in one convenient travel palette. Review coming soon!
  7. See’s Sour Stars ($6.55) – Delicious holiday candies that aren’t your typical chocolate or peppermint.
  8. Recover Phone Case ($20) – I love the evil eye design and iridescent colors, plus a new phone case is always nice to receive.

More gift guides to come! Let me know your favorite stocking stuffers below.

Weekend Wear (and why I’m on crutches)

An #ootd and background story

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I’m obsessed with anything cozy and versatile, so this wrap has been a go-to recently. It can be worn as a blanket scarf or poncho that buttons in front and the charcoal gray color goes with almost everything. This ribbed one was from Uniqlo last year, but similar options include this splurge-worthy Eileen Fisher Poncho and this adorable cowl neck from Steve Madden (only $36!). I also love this gorgeous red one as well.

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This Uniqlo Heat Tech Tee is a lifesaver in the colder months, especially because I’m always chilly. It layers easily, fits like a glove, and comes in several colors. These tees are also only $15 and the fabric is soft and stretchy (as demonstrated by my freezing fingers in the first photo!). I’m definitely going to pick up a couple more before my ski trip in January. I’m also wearing my favorite Loft jeans that are the perfect medium blue and a great length to wear with ankle booties. Speaking of boots…

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Last weekend, I went rock climbing for maybe the third time ever. I was trying to get to the top of the wall on a route that was just outside my range and my arms were exhausted after an hour of climbing.

I’ll admit that I’m incredibly competitive, even if it’s with myself, so I had to conquer that climb and only had a minute to do so because the gym was closing. I was at the final handle with my left hand and just needed to touch it with my right to finish. I went for it.

And fell. I fell hard and fast and wasn’t ready for it at all. I didn’t roll onto my back – I just crumpled. I knew right away that something was wrong and the next day got x-rays to confirm. Thankfully, it’s just a bad sprain and I’m only on crutches for a couple of weeks.

It’s the second time this Fall that I’m having trouble walking and I actually needed a wheelchair at the airport over Thanksgiving. It’s incredibly frustrating not being able to make dinner or even shower standing up. I’m extremely independent, so having to rely on others and ask for help doing simple things has been a challenge.

At first I was mad at my body for not being strong enough to make the catch on the wall in the first place. But after dealing with my fifth floor walk up and getting around NYC, I’m trying not to be so hard on myself. I’ve realized that our bodies are pretty incredible and I won’t take simply walking for granted ever again.

November Birchbox

Unboxing and first impressions

My November Birchbox finally arrived this week. I chose the curated box (which is rare because I like being surprised), but I really wanted to try the Smashbox liquid lip, Laqa & Co blush/highlighter, and Marcelle eye cream.

The Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lip in Driver’s Seat is described as a Warm Pink. However, it’s darker and more orange than I had expected. I don’t really like the color on me, but I’m still glad I could try the formula. It’s highly pigmented, long-lasting, and dries down quickly. The pointed doe foot applicator has a pocket in the center so you have enough product and don’t have to double-dip.

Laqa & Co is one of my favorite niche brands that I discovered through Birchbox years ago; I love their Lip Lubes and Avocado Lip Butters. The Laqa & Co B’Lighter in Peacher’s Daughter is interesting because it acts as a blush and highlight in one. You can see how reflective this product is when the light hits it, but the peach tint shows up as well. The texture is creamy and easy to blend as well, but on my skin tone, it’s almost too dark/pigmented for a highlight and too glowy for a blush.

The Marcelle Hydra-C Eye Contour Gel-Cream has a super lightweight texture that sinks right into the skin. It’s hydrating but doesn’t make my concealer crease thankfully. The cucumber extract helps with puffiness and vitamin C corrects wrinkles and brightening. I’ve only used it twice, so I can’t say much about those claims yet.

From the left: eye cream, body butter, and hair product

I’ve received the Juara Candlenut Body Cream before and love how thick and moisturizing it is. The scent is sweet and warm which is perfect for winter. Sadly, this sample is tiny and only lasted two uses.

My last item is the Living Proof T.B.D. Multi-tasking Styler. I had been wanting to try this and really appreciate the generous sample size. On wet hair, it is supposed to tame and smooth. On dry hair, it adds definition and, in my experience, helps with frizz as well. It also provides heat protection, so this really is a multi-tasker.

Overall I’m happy with this month and look forward to December’s box. If you’ve been wanting to try Birchbox, you can subscribe through my link and receive a free eyelash curler! If you’re already a subscriber, let me know what you received this month in a comment!