NYFW Spring 2018: Alexander Wang & Christian Siriano

NYFW has been in full swing, I used to post my favorite looks, then I let life get in the way.  Well, I’m not doing that this time around, stay tuned through the week for all my NYFW favorites!! I’m starting with to of my favorite designers, Alexander Wang & Christian Siriano.
I watched all the celeb Snapchats while they were at the Alexander Wang #WangFest last night and oh my gosh, I was so jealous I wanted to be there so bad!  The show looked awesome, and the after party looked even better.  I’m loving the grunge look, & the black and white color palette, because of course, I usually only wear black.  Check out my favorite looks below!
Christian Siriano always has a special place in my heart because I was a Project Runway fanatic when I was younger.  It’s been awesome to see him grow as a designer, and I love the collaborations he does with brands such as Target and influencers.  Not only is he now a top designer, but I think he remembers to keep it real, which is so nice to see in the fashion industry.
 
Photos from The Cut.
Looking forward to sharing more of my favorites through the week!
XO.
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Travel Tuesday: The Blue Lagoon, Iceland

If you missed it last week, I started my Travel Tuesday series with a recap of my trip to Reykjavik, Iceland!  Visiting The Blue Lagoon is def at the top of most people’s lists when visiting Reykjavik, so I wanted to have a little post for it on its own, especially since I talk about the face masks I used while at the lagoon!!

Make sure you check out my last Travel Tuesday post on Reykjavik, here!  & don’t forget to read about my Reykjavik food adventures, here!

 

 

Take a Day Excursion to The Blue Lagoon

Use Reykjavik Excursions as your transportation, as mentioned above, it takes about an hour.  & treat yourself by upgrading your admission to the Premium Package.  There are four options for admission into the Blue Lagoon, I think the premium package is the best option, it’s about $100 USD.  The difference between this package and the less expensive packages is this one includes an extra face mask, use of robe & slippers, and a guaranteed reservation at their restaurant, Lava, with a glass of sparkling wine.  I took advantage of securing the reservation at Lava, and had a light lunch there, which you can read about in my food post, here!

All transactions that take place while your visiting scan onto a bracelet (just like in Disney World), and then you pay for it all at the end.  They make it super easy fro you, which was great!

In terms of time, I spent about 5 hours total at the Blue Lagoon.  I had the earliest entry time, 7:30am, and loved being there so early, it wasn’t too crowed.  They have lockers available in the lounge/ shower area, there was such a long line for lockers by the time I left at 12:30pm.  I noticed some people just leaving their things unattended instead of waiting, something I’d never do, but as I said, there was a long line.  The locker room area had decent showers, plenty of changing room, hair dryers, and some amenities to use once you’re ready to leave.

PS: You can only buy 3 alcoholic drinks!!

 I was so shocked when I realized I had spent 3 straight hours in the lagoon, the weather was beautiful, it was slightly chilly but the water was so warm and soothing.  I had been having back issues before my trip, and sitting in the lagoon was the perfect remedy.  I brought a book, and was able to sit in the water, which was awesome.

Through the 3 hours I did 2 face masks and a scrub, all of which were incredible!  I started with the Lava Scrub, to exfoliate and prep my skin for the masks.  This scrub is made from lava that surrounds the Blue Lagoon- it was quite grainy and gave a great exfoliation.  Even if you have sensitive skin, I think you can still use this, you just might not want to scrub as hard.  After my scrub I let my skin rest a bit before applying The Blue Lagoon’s signature Silica Mask, which is the typical mask you see people applying at the lagoon.  This is a mud mask that aims to deeply cleanse, perfect after exfoliating with the lava scrub, strengthen & illuminate skin, & tighten pores.

The last mask I applied was the Algae Mask, this is a part of the Premium Package I bought.  The Algae Mask is geared toward preventing fine lines and wrinkles with The Blue Lagoon’s patented algae.  I found this mask to be super refreshing, and it’s strong, so you don’t need to leave it on for too long, just about 5-7 minutes.

These masks are def not cheap…I can’t say I would ever buy them solo, I think my favorite The Body Shop and other masks might be better.  At the end of the day, it’s about the experience with the masks, and the experience was top notch!!  I’m looking forward to visiting the Blue Lagoon again some time, it’s an experience not to be missed!

XO.
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Travel Tuesday: Reykjavik, Iceland

Back in July I went on a two week European adventure through six countries, only one of which I had been to before.  Aside from the perfect summer vacay, the main purpose of my trip was to attend the wedding of one of my best friends, Sabah, in Bulgaria.  I was more than honored to be her Maid of Honor, if you didn’t see my post on 5 Tips on Throwing an Unforgettable Bachelorette Party, you can check it out here!

Seeing that I’m a teacher, & having the summer off to recuperate from the school year, I wanted to take full advantage of being able to travel through Europe.  I did just that, and planned quite the trip over the course of two days.  I had been watching flight prices for months…yes, literally months, and I had finally found prices I was thrilled with, so I bought one, then just kept going!

I’ll be featuring a new country per post, for the next few Tuesdays.  I’m a huge planner, whether it’s in the travel, teaching, or party realm.  If you’re looking for additional tips on how to up your planning skills, in any area, feel free to email me & we can chat!  I can always be reached at lovelifebeauty90@gmail.com!

The first leg of my European adventure landed me in Reykjavik, Iceland, a nice little departure from the hot humid weather in Washington D.C.  The first question everyone asked me was, oh that’s so cool and all but, why Iceland?!.  Well, as I mentioned in my Reykjavik food post, which you can read here, Iceland is def having a moment!  I’ve seen countless bloggers visiting Reykjavik, the country has seriously upped their tourism reach out, and since it also has a connection with Game of Thrones, I feel like people are just flocking to visit the unique Nordic country.  Aside from the fact that so many people are visiting Iceland, I could not beat the one-way ticket I found, departing from Newark Liberty International in Jersey.  I was able to snag an evening flight, that landed me in Reyjavik at 5am, for $250.

View from the tower in Hallegrimskirkja.  The hotel I stayed in, Hotel Leifur Eiriksson, is the large white building in the front of the picture!

PS: Yes, I live in the D.C. are but I was going home to visit my family first, so it made perfect sense to leave from NJ!


Hotel Choice: Hotel Leifur Eiriksson
I wanted to balance having a great vacation with, ya know, not going broke.  So, I traded out my usual higher end hotel choices for a middle of the road, family run hotel, right in downtown Reykjavik called Hotel Leifur Eiriksson.  I was in Iceland for two days, and I knew I would be out of the room for the majority of the time, so I wasn’t really bothered by the hotel not having much amenities.  I had a single room, and the room was very small, one towel, one pillow- which is really no big deal to me, but I know can be a big deal to others.  It was a no frills environment, but it was clean, which is always my first concern.  Iceland is expensive, so the rate for this hotel did seem a little too much given that it was mid-range, but it was the least expensive mid-range I found.  & I quickly realized that with the location, the price was well worth it.

The staff did provide breakfast each morning, & it’s included with the room rate…it was a decent spread, with assorted hot items, waffles, cereal, meats & cheeses.  The owner is such a nice man, and let me know that if I had an early morning excursion before breakfast officially started, they would make me a breakfast to take with me.  The check-in, check-out process was easy, which is always helpful, and there were no hidden fees or anything like that when I arrived.

Overall, if you’re okay with a middle of the road hotel that’s not too updated, I highly advise Hotel Leifur Eiriksson.  As I mention below, the location is amazing, and since Iceland is already expensive in every way possible, if you can help the budget by staying at a 3-star hotel, do it, the customer service at Leifur Eiriksson makes up for it not being a Ritz!

What To Do in Reykjavik, Iceland

Use Reykjavik Excursions for Transportation 
I used the company, Reykjavik Excursions for my transport to and from the airport, and to and from the Blue Lagoon.  I had the best experience with them, and highly, highly, recommend this company over others in Iceland.  It was so easy to book the reservations online, I was able to leave within 10m of exiting the terminal at the airport, which was awesome.  Also, all buses have Wi-fi which is great.  The bus trip to and from Blue Lagoon was also perfect, and I could choose whenever I wanted to leave, there was a bus every 30 minutes.  They had great customer service, and the buses were all super super clean and well maintained.

Visit the Tower of Hallgrimskirkja Church 
The location of Hotel Leifur Eiriksson cannot be beat, it is walking distance to everything, and is right in front of the Hallgrimskirkja, an Icelandic church and national sanctuary.

I highly advise buying a ticket to go up to the top of Hallgrimskirkja, the view, as seen below, is so gorgeous.  It’s a $9 donation to visit the top of the tower, and I suggest getting there nice and early in the AM when nobody is there.  I was able to go right when it opened, seeing that I was staying across the street…when I walked back to my hotel later in the afternoon it was packed, and the line for the tower was out the door.

Walk Down Skolavoerdustigur Street & Laugavegur Street 
My hotel was on Skolavoerdustigur Street so on my first day I walked all the way down stopping at all different types of shops, it’s a busy street with tourists, but not too crazy.  The very end of it is Laugavegur Street where you can walk toward the main square area where there are tons of restaurants, and of course many more shops.

Check out my Reykjavik, Iceland Nomz post for all food related pics and info, especially the amazing restaurant I had dinner at, Sjavargrillid Seafood Grill, which is located on Skolavoerdustigur.

Stroll Through & Have a Drink in Ingolfur Square 
Perfect for people watching, a glass of wine and/or a hot dog, and live music.  I noticed a lot of the super touristy restaurants are around here, so you might want to go into a more quiet area for dinner instead, but there are so many bars for nightlife or just happy hour that seemed awesome.  I had drinks and an appetizer at Uno Bistro while they live streamed the Iceland Women’s EURO game on a big screen TV.  It was an awesome mix of locals and tourists.

Walk Around the Harbor Area
Great restaurants and some museums too!  Some of the old boats were fun to look at as well!


Visit the Blue Lagoon
Check back next week for my tips for visiting The Blue Lagoon!  It was such an awesome experience but you should def plan ahead a bit before showing up!

What I Wish I Could Have Done
I only had two days in Reykjavik, so I couldn’t do all that I wanted to do.  If I had had more time I def would’ve used Reykjavik Excursions for a full day Golden Circle Tour & Lava Tunnel in southern Iceland.  This tour takes you to Iceland’s beautiful hot springs and national park.  There’s also Fontana Wellness Geothermal Baths, which would be an interesting option too if you had more than just a few days in Iceland.

I also highly suggest going whale & puffin watching if you have the time, I really regret not carving out time to do this, but I guess it gives me a reason to go back!

Feel free to tweet or email me any questions you have about traveling Iceland, it was an awesome experience!  & remember to come back next week for my tips on the Blue Lagoon!

XO.

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VIIcodeT2 Oxygen Eye Cream Review

I’m always raving about my love for serums, I think it’s a major component to any skincare routine.  One part of my routine that I sometime slack on, and need to start focusing more on, is my eye cream game.  I’ve actually never been eye cream lazier that I was in the beginning of the summer, so when VIIcode reached out to me about their T2 Oxygen Eye Cream, I was too excited…now I’d have to stop slacking and start giving some love and care to my under eye area. 

One of the main reasons I slack is because I’m #blessed with very little under eye issues.  I don’t have circles or lines, and I’m never worried about looking dull.  I sometimes forget that this won’t last forever, and I’ll skip an AM or PM eye cream.  I was initially unfamiliar with VIIcode, but by the time my T2 Oxygen Eye Cream showed up at my door I had learned a lot.

The brand was started in Austria at the end of the 18th century, with a focus on luxurious skincare for the eyes.  VIIcode has two products, the Oxygen Eye Cream that I was able to test out, and a variety of Oxygen Eye Masks for a range of under eye concerns.  As you can see, the packaging is sleek and gives that luxury vibe.  My first thought was that it’s a small amount of product, and for a $99 price tag, it’s not the most budget friendly eye cream on the market.  But anyway…
I’ve been using the T2 Oxygen Eye Cream at night, for about a month now, and I’m almost done with the little pot.  I traveled to Europe, and it came with me, because I knew I was going to wreck havoc on my skin from long flights to late nights out.  I needed something hydrating and healing to deliver some love to my under eye area.  I was so pleased with how the T2 Oxygen Eye Cream kept my under eyes hydrated and bright.  
The thick consistency of this product is what I enjoy most, it prevents you from using too much, and is perfect for PM skincare routines.  I mentioned above how pleased I was with the hydration this eye cream delivered, jojoba oil and elderberry work together as the key antioxidant and hydration ingredients.  Aside from being intensely hydrating, this eye cream also battles under eye wrinkles with evening primrose .  Luckily, I don’t have wrinkles yet in life, but I love using products that help to combat any fine lines and wrinkles.  Prevention is key in your 20s.
Overall, the consistency and obvious hydration is what made me fall in love with the T2 Oxygen Eye Cream.  In order to extend the life of the product I only used at night, I know I would not necessarily purchase this right off the bat, the cost is just too much for an eye cream in my opinion.  However, I do think it is a great product, and if you’re going to spend this type of money on an eye cream, make it your nightly eye cream so that you can use it longer.
[Disclaimer: This product was provided to me by VIIcode for review.  All opinions are my own.]

XO.
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Recipe Wednesday: Reykjavik, Iceland Nomz

Happy Wednesday!! My teacher life is back in full swing, we just moved back into our renovated building, setting up our classrooms, etc…there’s a lot going on.
I’ll be sharing my European travel adventures in a Travel Tuesday series, but since there are so many pictures of well, food, I figured I’d separate my nom-ing pics from the actual sightseeing.
So, for the next few weeks, Recipe Wednesday will be recipes someone else did a fine job creating, that I enjoyed while abroad!
My first stop was Reykjavik, Iceland…I think we can all agree Iceland is having a moment..amirite??  I feel like everyone is talking about it, and it’s so trendy to like…go to Iceland. The city of Reykjavik is so beautiful, but let me tell you, the food is not cheap.  At all.  It’s so expensive, but also, as I quickly learned, so worth it. 
After walking around the city for a few hours the day I arrived, I was looking for a quiet place to have some lunch and read, and I stumbled upon Bryggan Brugghus Bistro & Brewery, located on the water.  First of all, the location of this restaurant is top notch, they have a great outdoor patio, and the inside had a rustic chic feel.
This seems like a great place to gather friends and enjoy drinks on the patio, the picnic table set up made it friendly for larger groups, and the overall vibe of Bryggan Brugghus is chill and fun.  It’s a brewery, and they offer tours, which was awesome too.  Even though I’m not a beer drinker, I still took a tour, the man who took me around was so nice and answered all my silly questions…I know nothing about beer, so I’m sure I sounded ridiculous to him, but whatever.
I enjoyed some Chardonnay and had the fish soup for lunch.  It had the taste of a bisque, filled with shrimp, and other local, Nordic, fish…i.e. mussels.  Perfect first meal in Iceland after traveling!!
Later that night, after so much more exploring, I stopped by Sjavargrillid Seafood Grill, which was on my possible list of restaurants to try.  This restaurant is definitely not a cheap eat, it was quite expensive for one person, but it was so worth it.  I mean, so so so worth it.  If you’re visiting Reykjavik any time soon, you need to put this restaurant at the top of your list, I’m 99.9% sure it was the best dinner of my whole trip!  Also, make a reservation, it was a Monday when I went & I was thankful they could fit me in, but it got packed quickly.
I was exhausted from walking everywhere, so I was really looking to a relaxing, slow, dinner.  Luckily, I got just that at Sjavargrillid, my server was excellent, and I was truly able to relax and just chill out after a long day of sightseeing. 
I opted for Sjavargrillid’s 3 course summer menu, which had great choices.  As a first course I had fried Brie cheese, I learned in Iceland they love their Brie, which is awesome because I too love my Brie.  It was so delicious and had a rhubarb jam, honey, and toasted bread.  I cannot remember the name of the delicious cocktail, I should’ve written it down, ugh!  It was so fresh, pretty sure it was vodka based, and according to my server, their most popular original cocktail.

The second course was langoustine tacos with figs, but I ordered it sans figs.  In case you’re wondering what langoustine is, it’s the Nordic lobster…I honestly didn’t know that beforehand, but apparently most people know what it is…I didn’t. Ha.  THESE TACOS WERE SO GOOD I WISH I HAD THEM RIGHT NOW.  They were garnished with garlic, red onion, and an aioli, my mouth is watering thinking about them they were so delish. 
Lastly, for dessert, the second food dish from Iceland I can’t stop thinking about, I had a deconstructed creme brûlée with cocoa pieces, strawberry, caramel, and sorrel, which is a more bitter herb that balanced out the super sweetness of the dessert perfectly.  I loved the presentation of the creme brûlée too, it was so funky, and I wish I had been able to finish it because I’m not sure where I’ll find a dessert so impeccable again.  Le sigh.    
The next day I went to the Blue Lagoon and with my ticket I was able to get a reservation at their restaurant, Lava.  Since I was booking the reservation that day I was only able to get an 11am by the time I got there, which was fine since I hadn’t eaten breakfast.  I did the two course set menu, and had langoustine soup and then creme brûlée, again.  They love their creme brûlée in Iceland just as much as they love their Brie, which totally works for me.  The langoustine soup was not as filling as the fish soup at Bryggan, and the creme brûlée was also quite light with main flavors of vanilla & orange.  Yum.  
Side note, loving how the Iceland versions of creme brûlée look so much different than ours!
I had a great lunch at Lava, everything was yummy, but nowhere near as jaw dropping as the night before.  My ticket into the Blue Lagoon included a complimentary glass of sparkling wine with my meal which was a nice touch.  If you visit the lagoon, try out the restaurant, it’s worth it!  Make sure to make a reservation when you arrive, it’s not so easy to just walk in and get a table.
When I got back from the Blue Lagoon I took a nap and then went walking around the city again.  I really wanted to try the hot dog stand, Baejarins Beztu Pylsur, everyone told me to go to.  I mean, even Conde Nast Traveler wrote about it back in 2014!  I’ve also had a few friends go, so I knew I needed to stop by and get a dog.
BTW this translates to “best hot dogs in town”.
It was about a 25 minute walk from my hotel, so I was ready for a hot dog by the time I got there, but didn’t really know what to expect.  I ordered it with all the traditional condiments, ketchup, sweet mustard, fried onion, and raw onion, but passed on the sweet relish mayo.  If you know me, you know I’m terrified of pickles.
Okay so, I feel really weird saying this, but…I didn’t love the hotdog.  It was okay, but I was prepared to be in love, and I…wasn’t.  I’m a grilled hotdog type of girl, and this was not grilled, so I’m thinking that was part of my issue?  Also it’s a bit crunchy, without being grilled, which I found a little weird.  I waited so long in line for it, and while I’m happy I tried it out, I guess I’m just confused about the crazy hype around it all.  Or, I don’t know what I’m talking about & I’m not hotdog cultured.  Not sure which it is.
After my famous, yet slightly underwhelming dog, I continued to bop around Reykajavik while I listed to my favorite Podcast, Casefile True Crime, and eventually I started to head back to the hotel.  I heard a lot of noise & what I thought was a concert in the main square, so I walked on over to see what was going on.  It’s an amphitheater-esque set up, and they were showing the Iceland women’s soccer game.  There were tons of people gathering around to watch, and locals leading chants.  So, I grabbed a seat outside at the super cute Uno Bistro, ordered some wine and baked Brie, watched the game, & read some of my book!
 My Icelandic food adventure ended a couple of hours later at Eldur & Is, an ice cream & crepe shop close to my hotel, apparently the best in the city.  I should’ve ordered a crepe, not sure what I was thinking, but I opted for a mint chocolate chip sundae instead.  Um, it was so yummy and the perfect ending to a great 2 days in Reykjavik!! 

Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s post, where I go in-depth on my trip to Reykjavik, and give some helpful hints, tips, and must sees for the city!
XO.
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Face Mask Monday: The Body Shop Chinese Ginseng & Rice Clarifying Polishing Mask

If you missed out on the first Face Mask Monday, be sure to go check out my thoughts on the first two Body Shop Masks I reviewed, the Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask and the British Rose Fresh Plumping Mask.

Today, I’m focusing on another mask from this collection, the Chinese Ginseng & Rice Clarifying Polishing Mask.  This is a great exfoliating mask that doesn’t actually feel like it’s exfoliating, which is perfect for those that have more sensitive skin.  The key aspects of this mask aim to reduce pore size and smooth the skin.  I was beyond impressed with the sight of my pores after using the Charcoal Purifying Glow mask, and since the Chinese Ginseng & Rice mask is more of an exfoliant, I noticed it def did its job of smoothing my skin and minimizing larger pores around my nose.

As far as ingredients go, The Body Shop is known, and praised for, for it’s use of fair trade ingredients.  The ginseng and rice extract comes from China, and the sesame seed oil from Nicaragua.  You get a great sense of the ingredients from the texture, and I apply it to my face after makeup removal, and drying.  I once applied it when my face was a bit damp and it didn’t set as well as it had when my face was dry.

I’ve left it on for about 15 minutes each time, and right before taking it off, I massage the mask into my skin, and focus most on trouble areas where I have slight scarring.  The ingredients don’t scratch your skin, which I’ve experienced before and, obviously, is no good for sensitive skin.  It really does just feel like a deep cleanse thats getting rid of any dead skin cells or leftover makeup/ dirt.

Since the mask is a skin smoother, I think it’s a great option for lightening acne scars or dark spots one might have, a mask in addition to other skincare products can do wonders for getting rid of these annoying little things!!  I might try to use this mask once a week so I can really track how well it lightens, but since my skin looks incredible after each use, I think it does have somewhat of an immediate effect.

My next few Face Mask Monday’s will continue to feature The Body Shop face mask line, so stay tuned for the next edition!

Chinese Ginseng & Rice Clarifying Polishing Mask | $28

[Disclaimer: The Body Shop provided me with these products.  All opinions are my own.]

XO.
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Thursday’s Fab Five

After an incredible European adventure, I’m back and prepping for some new content, and a brand new school year.  I report back to work on Monday, so I’m trying to have a solid line up of posts done before that!  Between using a ton of new products, #TravelTuesday’s, and some new recipes, I think I have a great line up for you!
Thursday's Fab Five

In the meantime, here’s my Fab Five for this week!
As I cling on to my last days of summer, I need a candle that aromatically transports me to the beach.  I’m a huge fan of Voluspa, they last forever, and the scents are so fresh & clean.  Laguna mixes white freesia and Cali verbena to create a well balanced flowery beach scent through the apartment- I love it!  I know this candle is a bit pricey compared to others, but I always buy Voluspa during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, they have both the large (this size) and small sizes in the sale, sold in a pack of 3.  Last year I bought a the pack of the large candles, and Laguna is my last one.  This year I bought a pack of the small candles and use them in the bathroom.
New school year = new planner.  I’m always switching up the planners I use, and now I’m making the move to the Day Designer, created by Whitney English.  I opted for the less expensive version English created for Blue Sky.  They’re sold at Target as well as the Blue Sky website, and seeing that I had a Target gift card to use, it just made sense.  $25 for an in-depth planner like this is a steal-  I highly advise checking out the Day Designer line, it has caught my eye for years, I can’t believe I’m just using it for the first time now!
Nordstrom Anniversary Sale purchase, so no, I did not drop $88 on a sweatshirt.  It’s so comfy, peep the neckline, super cute, and describes my weekend life perfectly…so of course I needed it.  Oh, and the color is super unique yet goes with everything, love it.
Casey Holmes is one of my favorite YouTuber’s, so when she released a highlight palette with Smashbox I knew I needed it!  There are two versions of this palette, I bought Pearl for lighter skin tones, and then there’s Gold for more tan/ darker tones.  I love that there are 3 highlights in the palette, they’re all soft, and range from the amount of sparkle.  I found myself mixing the colors a lot, and using the lightest shade as a eyeshadow base since it has the least shimmer, but highlights the brow bone perfectly.  It’s a versatile palette of highlights, and I used it every day when I was in Europe!  
My best friend, Heather, got me an array of Lush products for my birthday- she knows me too well.  One of the things in the box was this lip balm, and OMG IT IS AWESOME. I’m a big Burts Bees girl, but this lip balm smells so good- honey, vanilla, and white chocolate…it’s great!  Aside from the great smell, it’s super hydrating with almond oil, beeswax, and Shea butter.  Next time you’re in Lush, try it out, it’s perfect to keep on hand in your purse, or on your desk. 
Connect with me on social media, and let me know what you’ve been loving lately!! 

XO.
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5 Tips for Throwing an Unforgettable Bachelorette Party

On July 29th one of my best friends from college, Sabah, is getting married in Sofia, Bulgaria!  I was honored when she asked me to be her Maid of Honor, but was so nervous about making sure everything was perfect leading up to the big day.  So, we all know what that means, making sure the Bachelorette Party was top notch, & everything she wanted and more.

Photo: Catherine Ker
This outrageously gorgeous cake was created by Pastry Chef Cassie Holcomb from Pearl Dive DC (@pearldivedc)
Sabah decided she wanted the weekend in Charlottesville, VA, which is our nearest wine country, so the co-MOH, Cat, & I went to work immediately planning the June weekend.  This was my first time planning a Bachelorette party, but I’ve been told I’m decent at party planning, so I knew I could pull this off and make it the best weekend ever for her.
While going through everything, and trying to plan out all the details, I came up with 5 tips I think are helpful for anyone planning, or helping to plan, a Bachelorette party.  We couldn’t have asked for a better weekend and I’m so happy Sabah, and the rest of the girls, loved everything!
Tip #1: Try to Make the Cost All-Inclusive for the Guests 
Everyone loves being part of a wedding, but the truth is that it can get expensive.  For a Bachelorette party, or weekend, not only do you need to pay for the party festivities once you’re there, but some people may need to fly or take a train to wherever it is your going, and that can get expensive!! 
In order to make this weekend a financially stress free time, I wanted to make it all-inclusive, and have people pay as little as possible for things once we were there.  So, to do this, I included the price of the Airbnb, all food and alcohol for the house through the weekend, 3 winery tastings & private bus to vineyards, goodie bag/ decorations, and an array of appetizers when we went out to dinner, in the price the ladies paid.  & can you believe, the total came to a little less than $500 for each girl.

Breakfast at home is much better than spending $$ to go out!
I’ve heard of some people dropping $1,000+ for a Bachelorette Party, and I know that can be a huge financial burden, it’s important to avoid that at all costs.  Now, I know that the location of where we were (not Vegas or Miami) contributed to the smaller cost, but honestly, Charlottesville isn’t a cheap area.  I made sure to stick with my budget and constantly explore other options until I found what I wanted for the cheapest price.
Tip #2: Search the Internet Over, and Over, and Over Again for the Best Prices
Etsy is the most popular website for Bachelorette and wedding everything, and understandably so.  However, it’s not always the cheapest option, & I think people underestimate just how easy it is to find what you want for much cheaper prices, especially when it comes to decorations.  
I was able to find the very same banners I favorited on Etsy, on Amazon and Ebay for significantly lower prices.  Proof: I found the Bride to Be banner below on Amazon for $8, Prime, and the very same banner was $20 on Etsy, plus shipping.  I saved all of the personalized items for Etsy, but other decor I made sure to search high and low for the best price.  Ebay was great to search since people sometimes sell the banners they already used for a party, for half the original price.  I also hit big with Pier 1, those Hello Gorgeous wine glasses were on clearance for $3 each…seriously…$3 each.  Since they weren’t personalized glasses I bought wine charms from Target that were, you guessed it, on sale, so we could tell our wine glasses apart.

When it came to the personalized goodies, I made sure to search through multiple sellers and looked for high quality, low cost items.  I ordered Hangover Survival Kits for the girls, and purchased the bags from the AlfandNoop Etsy store…$18.50 for ten bags was a great buy.  The best price for customized hair ties I found was through the LittleChiefFavors shop, $2.50 each.

Inside the Recovery Kits: Bottle of water, hair ties, Burts Bees Lip Balm, Advil packet, Neutrogena face wipes, Hershey Kisses, & Life Saver Mints.

Most of what was in the bag was purchased from Walmart, where I was able to buy in bulk online, and save a lot of $$$.

Tip #3: Use Airbnb if Possible
Hotels are lovely and fun, but in order to cut costs, stay in an Airbnb!  We stayed in this gorgeous home, about 15 minutes from downtown Charlottesville.  I would advise it to anyone and everyone looking to stay in that area.  The hosts could not have been more awesome, they left a gift for the bride to be, an arrangement of snacks, Champagne, and breakfast foods.  Not every Airbnb has hosts that pay attention to detail like this, we seriously lucked out.  But, every Airbnb will help you cut costs on food and drink, which you’d, for the most part, have to purchase out when staying at a hotel.

I was able to do grocery shopping for the weekend online through Harris Teeter, used a ton of coupons, and then picked it up before arriving at the house.  We were in Charlottesville for a Friday and Saturday night- I planned a dinner out in town on Friday, and since we were doing a vineyard tour all day Saturday, I had Saturday dinner catered by Wegmans.  Seriously, Wegmans catering is delicious, and well worth the price.  I also ordered some appetizer trays, and a fruit platter for breakfast through Wegmans- the presentation was beautiful and it fit the budget.

Staying in a home, or apartment, with a full kitchen is definitely helpful and not only gives the weekend a more cozy and personal touch, but allows you more freedom to just relax and snack & drink when you want.
Tip #4: Always Bring a Gift, No Matter 
How Small 
As I’ve mentioned quite a few times in this post, we know shelling out $$ for a Bachelorette weekend, or night, can be a lot.  One aspect that can be easily overlooked is getting the bride to be some sort of gift to open up with her friends.  A night or weekend like this will, hopefully, never happen again for the BTB, so it’s important her girls pull out all the stops.  A big go to gift is always lingerie, but you don’t need to buy lingerie, or even something more than $20.  It’s the thought that counts, and even if you’re traveling far to the event, a chic lipstick that the BTB can wear for her man is something nice and thoughtful to open up.  & after you open up some gifts, play a game or two, it’s fun, and if you’ve been drinking it’s hilarious and allows for some true girl time.
Tip #5: Relax, it’s Going to be Great
I was so nervous about having Sabah’s Bachelorette Weekend be absolutely perfect.  She’s my first bestie getting married, I’m the Maid of Honor, & there were a lot of factors in play that made me want to make this the best weekend for her ever.

Well, I guess second best, after her soon to be wedding weekend in Bulgaria of course.  

Everything went off without a hitch because a lot of planning was put into it, but also because we just chilled out and let it all flow…and it came together perfectly.  Worrying about when someone drops out of the weekend or if you’ll have enough money to get one more thing, is pointless.  The main point is being with your girls and celebrating a friend who is about to embark on a crazy journey of marriage.

Sabah’s Bachelorette Weekend landed a bunch of us with new piercings and tattoos, that definitely was not on the schedule, and it totally pushed back the nice at home sit down dinner I had planned in the agenda…but who cares…it was so worth it.  At the end of the day, it’s all about the ladies you’re with, and for this weekend it was a group of spectacular young women.  & the most important part…Sabah was as happy as baby goat the whole time.  Which for her, equates to being happy as a clam.


XO.
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Face Mask Monday: The Body Shop’s Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask & British Rose Fresh Plumping Mask

If you’re an avid reader of Love. Life. Beauty., or, if you know me, you’ll know I’ve been obsessed with The Body Shop’s face masks for years.  I’ve owned every one they’ve ever had, and have always repurchased.  Using The Body Shop masks are what started me on my serious face mask routine, I just couldn’t, and still can’t, get enough of them.
I was beyond excited when The Body Shop launched five new face masks, each geared toward a specific skin need, and ideal for multi-masking.  If you’re unfamilar with multi-masking, it’s basically the idea of using more than one face mask at a time depending on your skin needs.  For example, given the masks I mention in this post, if your T-zone/ chin area is oily, but your cheeks are more on the dry side, you may want to use two different masks on these areas, at the same time.  I don’t always multi-mask, I more so use one, and then follow up with another, but I know the multi-mask phenomenon is real.

I was so stoked to try each of The Body Shop’s new vegetarian & cruelty-free “Expert” masks.  I’ve been using them regularly, and since there are five of them, I’ll write about them in installments, don’t want to overwhelm you with too much face mask realness! =)

The Body Shop was kind enough to send me a gorgeous box with all of the Expert Masks.  When I opened the box, I immediately got right to it using the Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask, which is a mud mask that exfoliates to help clear clogged pores and and remove any yucky toxins or whatever else we don’t want.  Mud masks are my absolute favorite, and this one is excellent. 

It applied perfectly, not too chunky of a texture, but also not thin which always make me think a mask isn’t good enough, or not doing its job to the full potential.  The main ingredient is bamboo charcoal, which is a powerful charcoal when removing toxins from the skin.  The sensation of the mask a perfect mix of the tree tea oil and green tea leaves ingredients.  It tingles, but is refreshing, not annoying.  
I left this mask on for about 20 minutes, when I removed it I used warm water and a towel.  It wasn’t difficult to remove, which is sometimes an issue with charcoal/ mud masks.  My skin looked incredible once I took it off, I seriously examined the pores bridge of my nose, and they looked clear as could be, I was so impressed- it lives up to the Glow in its name for sure.
Another option, for a more hydrating experience, is the British Rose Fresh Plumping Mask, which I have to say, looks like you have smeared strawberry jelly all over your face when applied.  It’s a little startling, but so very worth it.  The rose and aloe vera ingredients feel so cool and relaxing while you let it sit.  A much different experience than the Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask, but still great nonetheless.

I have found this mask a bit more difficult to apply due to the consistency, but given the ingredients I think that is to be expected.  Since I have rosacea, I’ve been using this mask most often when I’m experiencing a flare up, since it has such calming ingredients.  The rose hip oil and aloe vera give a refreshing light scent, I wish I could just smell the mask all day!  On my Spa Sunday’s sometimes I’ll do two masks back to back, especially if the first one is like the Charcoal Glow Mask or a deep cleansing mask.  The British Rose Fresh Plumping Mask has been the perfect follow up mask to calm and hydrate my skin.
The price point of these Body Shop masks is a bit higher than what you’d find in Target or the drugstore, but these give both luxury and results.  Also, if you want to try the mask out before making the full size purchase, The Body Shop now makes these in single use, which can be perfect for traveling too!

British Rose Fresh Plumping Mask | $28
Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask | $28
Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask Single Use | $2.50


[Disclaimer: The Body Shop provided me with these products.  All opinions are my own.]

XO.
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Behind the Scenes: Life Update

I’ve had a lot going on this summer, so I figure I’ll start taking Saturday’s to share with you all what I’ve been up to!  I’m hoping to make this a regular series, but I need to get better with saving photos that I Snapchat or InstaStory.  I’m so awful at actually taking pictures that won’t disappear within 24 hours on social media.

I’ll break up these Behind the Scenes posts into different categories, as you’ll see below!  Feel free to Tweet or Snap me your thoughts…@elizabethmayce for both!

I seriously can’t believe it’s about to be the second week of July…where has all the time gone?!  This is the first summer as a teacher where I’m not working some additional job.  I get paid through the summer so it doesn’t really matter, but it’s always nice to have a little extra moolah for brunch…or, as the adult me should say, credit card bills.  Le sigh.

What I’m Doing…

This first picture is a throwback from the last day of school last month where we left as quickly as possible to go to a bar.  Any teachers reading this totally understand where I’m coming from, and if you know me, and the year I had, you’re probably surprised I even made it to this day…& so am I.  We ended up having a great staff party, organized by yours truly, and brought in the summer exactly how it should be brought in…lots of drinks and great food.


I’ve also been up in Jersey quite a bit, I think more than I have been since in a summer graduating college, which I’ve been loving.  I spent some time at my Aunt’s beach house in Bradley Beach, she recently redid her patio and I’m obsessed.  It’s the perfect little outdoor oasis where you can enjoy your morning coffee in peace and quite, or grill and have happy hour!

Of course I have to share Leo pictures, he’s my pride and joy and has recently been living the life of a human.  In addition to visiting Bradley Beach this summer, Leo also took a spur of the moment trip to Atlantic City over July 4th weekend!  Since we booked so last minute, his day care couldn’t take him, so Rob & I looked up pet friendly hotels in A.C.  Showboat, which closed in 2014, reopened last year as a non-gaming hotel, pet-friendly, so we stayed there.  I loved Showboat when it was a casino, I actually had my 21st birthday party there, and we stayed in the House of Blues suite…all 20 something of us.  Showboat has so many memories, and memories I wish I could remember, so seeing so much of it blocked off and unused made me sad.  The entire gaming floor is empty and is covered by a huge curtain basically, it was kinda creepy, but all of the rooms are the same and are really nice.  I hope A.C. can be reborn again soon!!

 

PS: I have a huge trip to Europe coming up July 23, I’m looking forward to sharing tons of travel tips and pictures with all of you!

Where I’m Eating…

On the beach…of course.  Bradley Beach held it’s annual Lobsterfest so my family and I went.  So. Much. Food.  It was heaven.  There are tons of vendors, great options to shop, and eat local, which is important for our Jersey beach towns!  PS: That’s a lobster grilled cheese, and yes, it was to die for.

While walking along the A.C. boardwalk Rob & I decided to treat ourselves to a nice Italian dinner.  We chose Capriccio, in the Resorts hotel, and it was incredible.  This award winning restaurant did not disappoint, we laughed because we literally felt like back in the day this was probably the ultimate mobster restaurant for fancy dinners…maybe it still is?  I ordered the shrimp and crab salad, with a side of broccoli rabe, and it was so good.  Rob ordered chicken parm, and since there was nothing left on the plate at the end, I’m assuming it was pretty yummy.  We shared blackberry cobbler for dessert, it was delish.  If you’re in Atlantic City looking to treat yourself to a great restaurant, I highly, highly, recommend Capriccio.

 This week I had a lovely girls dinner at Rose’s Luxury, in D.C.  If you know about the D.C. restaurant scene, you know Rose’s doesn’t take reservations, so you need to get there early and wait in line…which we did.  This was my second time visiting Rose’s Luxury, but since the menu is constantly changing, it felt like a completely new experience.  The attention to detail in the service, and the menu, is why this is has been a top rated restaurant in D.C. since it opened.  My suggestion: arrive around 4:30pm to make sure you’re seated as soon as it opens at 5.

What I’m Loving… 

Every month I change my desktop calendar, and I’ve been using Designer Blogs calendar template to do so.  It’s free, and Designer Blogs emails you the new template each month, so it’s super easy to download and change.  They also have the themed template for your tablet and phone, so if you love consistency, here ya have it.  & for other bloggers out there, Designer Blogs has quite a few freebies, such as tips and tutorials, and great blog templates if you’re looking for something new!  Maybe I’m biased because it’s my birthday month, but so far the July template has been my favorite this year!

Okay, so I always see celebrities hawking Fashion Nova on Instagram and I questioned so many things about this brand…are they legit…if I buy something will it be five sizes too small….is the material cheap?? So. Many. Wonderings.  Well, I bit the bullet after a few glasses of wine and a coupon code last week, and I’m so pleasantly surprised with what I ordered!!  
I only purchased two things, since I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the brand, but I can’t wait to buy more.  & Fashion Nova is always sending coupon codes, 20% off, free shipping, etc…and since the prices are already so reasonable and inexpensive, I think this is my new go to shopping site…and I’m so shocked I’m even saying that because I really thought the clothing was going to be low quality and awful…oops.
The maxi dress I ordered is the Ensenada Tie Dye Dress, which is perfect for a pool or beach day.  I love the kimono style of this dress, and it fits perfectly. & I ordered a pair of leggings, because I figured you can’t go wrong with leggings, and I love the mesh pattern on these…it’s different from what I own, and will work perfectly for a going out night.
 

Where I’m Shopping…

Fashion Nova: 20% off with coupon code HAPPY20

The Body Shop: 40% off almost all items, so stock up on some of their body butters!

Macy’s: Their having another One Day Sale, which I feel like they have every day…but whatever the prices are incredible.  You can save 50% off a large selection of kitchen items, with code FIFTY, and there are tons of clothing items on sale for 20% off or more…bathing suits are 40% off!

LOFT: 50% off sale styles, and an automatic 40% off certain full price items…not bad at all.

Gap: 40% off with code DEAL, I love Gap for summer dresses & jeans!

Bath & Body Works: Aka, the only place I buy candles from.  $1 shipping with orders over $30, code SUNTAN.  However, I always prefer to shop in store, today candles are $10 off!

I hope you all have a great weekend!  & I promise to start taking way more, and way better, pictures for this series, but hey, I gotta start somewhere!! 

XO.
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