2016 in Photos

Well, 2016 was a zinger wasn't it? 

I can't tell you enough how ready I am for 2017. But I am trying desperately to remember that time is a gift, and rushing the last days of 2016...well, basically those 2016 things we hated, they still happened. No matter how fast 2017 comes. 

This year I've learned a lot about myself and most of those learnings came from experiences when I might as well have thrown myself in front of a moving train. (Poetic, I know.) But really, in those moments, that's exactly what it felt. I call it the self-inflicted struggle, friends.

But 2016 is almost over, and there were so many great moments in between that I'd be remiss to discount. I am grateful for every day spent with friends in my midst and love around me and within me. So, 2016 in photos, here goes nothing...

Trips and Tennessee. (and Tennessee, and Tennessee...)

Bachelorettes and Birthdays.

Babies and Browns games.

Beer buses and Beyonce.

Country concerts and CAVS.

Party at Napolis and Namaste.

Houses and Hillary.

Dogs and Dude(s)? Kidding.

Weddings and...Weddings.

Cheers to 2016! Wishing a blessed 2017 to all of my family and friends. 

XX

Holiday Gift Guide

‘Tis the season!

While I am all about being thankful for our blessings and spending time with family and friends, I’m also all about receiving some awesome gifts.

And giving them…I think

Kidding.

I could put together an endless gift guide with all of the ah-mazing goodies I’ve seen this year from many of my favorite brands. Instead, I thought it would be fun to do a guide based on those I actually gift in my life. (And no, to any of you on this list, these are not your gifts. Nice try!)

The Mom.

My mom is truly a saint. I’m pretty sure I’ve nearly killed her many times in my life from things like, being arrested; throwing parties in high school…you know the list goes on. She deserves a f*cking parade. I could create an entire guide just for her. But, here are a few things I think are perfect for mom.

A fab outfit. White House Black Market is the chic go-to for a professional woman over 40. I’ll admit, at first I was hesitant but now, I love their clothes. So well made, and nothing is too over the top. Pretty much everything you buy can be worn a million different ways. I love this this military jacket, these vegan leggings, and this long line vest.

 

The Dad.

If you know Jimmy, than you know he’s 1. A lunatic and 2. Hates everything everyone gets him. Every year, I play it safe and go with a tie. But if I were to stray, I love this rechargeable battery iPhone case and recharging dock. He’s always on the go and pretty much always on low battery since he discovered the world of Facebook.

He also loves vino. This Savino Enthusiast is amazing. It’s the best wine preservation system out there. No reason to toss a bottle you drank one glass of (I wouldn’t know because one glass is not in my vocabulary.) Recorking isn’t preserving. This puppy will keep your wine in tip top shape for the next glass.

 

The Man.

I think it is super important for a hot guy to have a few key items. Luckily, my man checks these off the list with grace (don’t get a big head.) They are: great shoes, great jacket (hello bombers), great denim, great watch, great sunnies and great wallet. OK maybe that’s more than a few.

So let’s focus on one or two. Wallet. By “great” I don’t mean full…but that too. I mean classy and sophisticated. If a man comes out on a date and whips out a velcro wallet? Bye. If a man comes out and whips out one of those card-only cases? Bye. I don't trust a man who doesn't carry cash. It's a personal rule. Canvas? Bye. This wallet from Louis Vuitton is gorgeous and perfect for the man in your life. Now, let’s talk jackets. A peacoat? Pass. I am all about a sexy bomber jacket this season. I love this version from Alpha Industries. Black goes with everything and this color in particular has the gold fastenings, which I think takes the jacket to the next level. Love.

 

Your sister.

My sister literally has everything so it’s hard to buy for her. But we have very different styles so I like to take the holidays as a time to buy her a few things that might be more me than her and spice it up a bit. Because what I might buy aren’t her day to day, I try to stick to more occasion wear, creating a “moment,” ya know?

I love this emerald ear crawler set from Baublebar. I can see a little black dress and these babies killin-the-game. Love. This nude lace top, and lace skinnys from J. Crew are perfection. Together it’s like jumpsuit meets pantsuit meets giving-me-life. With a red lip? A statement shoe? Just stop it.

She also was recently married so the girl is diggin’ a monogram currently. I love this adorable leather keychain in blush.

 

The future younger sister.

Maybe. Someday. But she’s younger and cooler than I am by far. So, I stick to what I know is cool—makeup. There are so many amazing discounted makeup gift sets available at the holidays. I love this Stila Bright and Bold All Day Liquid Lipstick set because it has the perfect holiday red and pink, plus a fun summer pink as well. I also know the flower crown of 2016 is the choker. And I know a choker. I love the basic black, but I also like an occasion choker like this option.

 

The kitten, lover, life best friend. Yes, that’s a thing.

Nicole loves to shop my closet. So I love to buy her outfits and accessories!

I love backless everything. But my boobs are way too big to ever make that work. Yes, I’ve tried everything. Nicole has the perfect body for anything! So, I love this easy t-shirt option from Lush. Wear it solo in the summer; with a leather jacket and moto-leggings in the winter. It’s versatile and stylish.

I love these fab destroyed jeans, too. The ankle detail takes them to another level. She would never buy them for herself but they would be ah-mazing in the winter with the shirt and a suede moto. I love the contrast of harsh winter wear with light denim for women. Ladies, winter whites are a thing! Don’t forget it!

Final touch? I love a cut out bootie. Love. I know we are moving past the season of wearing them but, it’s supposed to be 52 degrees this weekend so, hey! I’m also super in to a grey boot and over-the-knee is where it’s at. She would also never buy these for herself (she’s more of a clothing lover, less shoe lover) but they go with everything, which is important to my lady friend.

She is also a Pure Barre aficionado. While I would normally steer far away from giving workout classes to a lady, I know they are pricey and something she loves so, it’s different. Girls can give girls workout classes. Boys cannot. Got it? (Blogger Tip: Boys, if you know she loves PB, stick with an awesome PB outfit instead.)

 

The yoga loving best friend.

This is a toss up. I love the idea of a water bottle for Morgan as she is always teaching or taking a class. I am pretty obsessed with gifting Swells. They come in so many different sizes and patterns. It’s sentimental to pick out one that you feel best reflects a person you love.

And for this all-natural lover (or if you have an avid traveler,) I am obsessed with this This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray. It’s an amazing natural sleep-aid that clams nerves and helps you drift off. Pack it in every suitcase and store one bedside. Finally, she loves a good time. A great time. And I love this hysterical Sonix phone case.

 

The teacher, feminine-flower friend.

Kara loves a bun. She is the queen of buns. They always look fierce and she has a gorgeous face and bone structure so it’s a no brainer go-to. I love this bun cuff from Jen Atkin’s to easily dress up any type of bun (messy, structured, sock etc.)

A massage/blowout/facial/etc. Kara is such a giver, she’s always doing for other so I would absolutely gift her a service at her favorite salon. (Blogger Tip: If you gift a specific service versus a bulk monetary card to the salon, it feels a bit more personal! Also, many salons with have BOGO services and gift cards for the holiday. Maybe you two can go together and make a day of it!)

Plus, she deals with annoying, smart-mouthed teenagers all day so, the girl needs some knots worked out. I’m sure of it.

A few general gifts that I keep in my back pocket always:

  • Mugs. I love mugs. I love to collect mugs and I love to give them. I think they are homey, thoughtful and fun. If you’re like me you drink coffee daily, so it’s a nice reminder you’re loved first thing in the morning.
  • Coffee table books. Again, so personal to pick out a book you feel is just perfect for that person.
  • Subscription services. I love this, as it’s a nice reminder that you love and care for someone all year long and there are so many to chose from you are bound to find something perfect for that someone.
  • Booze. Never visit a house for an occasion empty-handed. Bring a bottle of wine or a fun mix and match six-pack with you.

Happy gifting!

Lash me.

You guys.

I recently discovered the madness that is eyelash extensions. I’m not sure if you all are familiar but basically the Kardashians started it (like everything good in this world...contouring, highlighting, lip injections, you know...) with their real mink lashes reaching sky high heights. Katy Perry, JLo, and Kylie are also fans of the eye fur. 

I am all about trying new beauty techniques and trends so, I hooked up with my girl Maggie from Lash Loft to get a full set of beautiful lashes. However, I am not about spending $300 on my lashes when I need some cash-o-la for the botox maintenance people! Those gorgeous real mink lashes the celebs rock will cost you upwards of $300 for a full set. So, synthetic mink is the way to go. That's what I chose for my lashes.

I was completely unprepared. I wore eye makeup and came straight from work so the poor girl had to basically wipe off some serious black liner for an hour. (Not really but,  awhile).

  • Lesson 1- Don’t wear eye makeup to your appointment.
  • Lesson 2- Be ready to sit. You won’t be able to do anything but sleep, meditate, chat, maybe listen to some tunes or a podcast for TWO HOURS.

I know that this sounds like a long time, and it is. But, Maggie has assured me that many people nap and relax during their sessions. I, of course, chatted. But, if you needed a break from the chaos of it all, two hours without a cell phone, with your eyes closed and collagen pads under them making you younger by the second sounds pretty damn good. Am I right?

  • Lesson 3- Oil free errrything. Oil is your lashes worst nightmare. So, make sure you are using a proper liner, bottom mascara, makeup remover and face wash so your set lasts longer.
  • Lesson 4- Love on 'em! The first few days I totally wiped my eyes WAY too hard when removing eyeliner and lost some lashes. But, then I perfected the art of makeup removal gently, and have been fairly good since.

Maggie gives you a take home brush for your lashes. Brush them every day, twice a day to keep them nice and neat. 

The process is so interesting and I swear, this girl must have the patience of a SAINT.

First, a lash cleanser is applied and it removes any oils from the lashes and lash line and then a fan is used to dry the lashes.

Then, the collagen eye pads are placed OVER your bottom lashes to keep them at bay while the lash tech works magic.

After applying a lash primer to the top lashes, they are dried with a fan again, and the process begins.

 Before any lashes are applied.

Before any lashes are applied.

Lash by lash, Maggie uses her two hands and two sets of tweezers to apply your extensions. The right hand to isolate a single lash, and the left to pick up the lash extension in the adhesive and place it onto the natural lash. ½mm away from your lash line. Insanity.

She moves from one eye to the next until your lash count is done. I did a full set, so that is every single eyelash. EVERY. SINGLE. LASH. PEOPLE.

 The tools.

The tools.

 Middle of the appointment, getting fuller and longer.

Middle of the appointment, getting fuller and longer.

When your lashes are done, you again fan to dry, they remove your eye pads and fan to dry again. No wetness (face wash water, sweat, face in shower etc.) for 48 hours to allow the adhesive to fully dry.

 Gorgeous, full final lashes.

Gorgeous, full final lashes.

Every 2-3 weeks you should get a “fill” and maintain the fullness and replace any lost or grown out lashes. 

 Before and after.

Before and after.

So, it’s a lot. There is maintenance and you do need to be a bit careful with these puppies. But, the benefits are a’ plenty.

  • They are gorgeously long. They can be super long, or medium or a mix. You can customize whatever look you are going for with Maggie and she’ll create it.
  • You look fierce with or without makeup every single day.
  • You never have to put on top mascara.
  • You take better care of your face and skin overall, because you’re maintaining your lashes. I’ve done more masks and exfoliating (being careful to avoid eyes) than I ever have. I want my skin too look as amazing makeup free as my lashes do so I can just run out on the weekend and feel confident no matter what!

The negatives: price can be an issue for some, time, the careful maintenance and the need to fill can also be deterrents, but in my opinion the benefits outweigh any negatives. 

I’m going back next week to get a fill. 

To make an appointment, email Maggie at maggieconlinmua@gmail.com or sign-up here.

To check out an awesome gallery of before and after, check out her Insta.

To get a look in real life, just check out my gor-ge-ous lashes.

PSA: The real issue with lash extensions right now is that you don't technically need to be certified to apply them. BEWARE of cheap Groupons or uncertified stylists. Be sure to ask if they are certified. If not, find someone else. You can have issues with glue ingredients, allergens etc. So, find a certified tech, or, duh! Just give my girl Maggie a call.

Until next time!

XO 

 

No Shirt, No Problem

Where did the summer go? I feel like just yesterday I was kidding myself—actually believing I'd be hitting the gym daily and not eating carbs. 

Also, Mercury is in retrograde so shit is getting weeee-hhhheeerrr-dddd up in here. That said, I decided to do a little something weird too, and craft my review of VMA fashion. That's right. The VMAs.

For all of you pip-squeaks who don't know, the VMAs are called the "Video Music Awards" because there used to be a little show (that shaped an en-tire generation) called TRL. Long before Carson Daily graced us with his presence on The Voice, he was kickin' it with Tara Reid and talking to Britney on - the - reg. Music videos were fire, and I ran home (that's dramatic, I took the bus), from school daily to sit and watch ALL of them. Now, the VMAs have many categories and only a select few focus on video production. (Sad face.)

If you recall, I believe the Grammys are the shit show of all red carpets. But, that was before I ever decided to review a VMA red carpet. In the end, I'd say they are pret-ty similar in their shit-show levels. So, let's table that contest for another day.

A few stunners from Sunday night's show that I won't even bother to include in my best and worst because you all know my clear bias. These include: Beyonce, Blue Ivy, Stella Maxwell, Kimmy K., RuPaul Drag Race and Ashley Graham—all on the best list. 

Who else?

Hailee Steinfeld in Giuseppe. 

I love the idea of a mini at the VMAs. It's the perfect venue for a fun, young ensemb and Hailee, is both of those things. She looks killer. Love the makeup, the only thing I may have changed is working a slicked pony versus a curl (but she probably knew Ariana Grande was going to have that shit on lock). Either way, it's magic.

Nicki Minaj in Bao Tranchi.

NEVER in my life have I EVER included my girl Nicki in a best dressed list. Love her, but I think we can all admit the girl is usually doing something cray cray. This gown fits her like a glove and peeked a little skin in all the right places—to die.

Hailey Baldwin in Georges Chakra.

Less is more and she really nailed that concept in her black sequin jumpsuit. Not trying too hard, but edgy and chic enough for the venue. Plus, we all know I love a jumpsuit. Total hit. 

DJ Khaled. 

Let me qualify this as only his red carpet look (not the other ten outfits where he didn't have a shirt). I love a man in a navy blue suit, and this navy happens to be a light giraffe print. It's just cool enough for the VMAS but classy enough to make him look like a million bucks! Plus velvet shoes? I'm on board.

My best dressed of the night however, goes to...

Hollan Roden. 

I'll admit, I had to look this one up. Apparently she is in Teen Wolf (the new MTV version). This white caped jumpsuit is in-sane! Her hair and makeup are perfection for an all white night. She even did a little sparkle of gold glitter down her center part and it was fierce! I loved everything about this look. Ev-ery-thing.

The worst begins with Miss. Ariana Grande in Alexander Wang.

I hate to do this, because I'm so into you, Ariana. Get it? She is currently my obsession and girl crush. Plus, we know I love Alexander Wang. The entire thing was so 90s—right down to the crimped hair. And that would be cool, if she was even born yet! 

Farrah Abraham.

I actually don't even want to give her the satisfaction of being on this list but I can't just ignore the fact that this wackadoodle wore an actual COSTUME to the VMAs. I've acknowledged it, OK bye. (Blogger Note: She is most definitely my worst dressed but I feel even THAT is too much of an honor for her).

Jaden Smith.

Jaden-Smith-2016-MTV-Video-Music-Awards-Red-Carpet-Fashion-Undercover-Tom-Lorenzo-Site-4.jpg

Public Service Announcement: Jaden Smith is 18. I literally thought he was like, 11. Mind blown. Mr. 18-years-young Smith decided to wear a bizarre cat print jacket to the VMAs this year and make out with his girlfriend passionately in the audience. So there's that. She must have really liked cats?

Alicia Keys.

tumblr_inline_ocndpaexRJ1rpqds5_1280.jpg

Loved your speech. So in-sanely jealous that you can not wear any makeup and look that gorgeous. Want to burn your dress or return it to The Duggars. Sorry.

There are so many terrible outfits that donned the white carpet on Sunday (Rita Ora, Justine Skye—I'm looking at you). So many of those that also involved not wearing a shirt...at all. So, it only makes sense to pick a worst dressed, that's half dressed.

The worst in this no-shirt-wearing-trend-category, is Cassie.

The yellow hair, the ridiculous spray tan contour, the blazer that in no way would EVER button even if she wanted it to, some seriously 70s pants (which I might not hate in the right context). It's just trying way too hard for me. Way. Too. Hard.

Then, there are those that have made trying to hard an art. I wish I could dedicate an entire section of this post to a category of "too cool" but you guys would be snoozing by the end of it. So, in my brief "too cool" round up:

  • G-Eazy. Like, we get it, your all grunge and rocker and sooooo cool. Button your shirt.
  • Ansel Elgort. Who are you again? And why do you shop at Hot Topic?
  • Nick Cannon. You're so cool in your workout attire. NOT.
  • Lance Bass. Love the message, hate that you can't pose without throwing up a peace sign.
  • Nev Schulman's fiance, Laura. I get it, your married to a docu film maker, so chic. EXCEPT HE WORKS ON A SHOW CALLED CATFISH. So not. 
  • Alessia Cara. I mean, a group of tweens will be wearing this exact outfit to school this week? Bravo?

Basically, the VMA fashion was mostly a mess, but I really enjoyed it—almost as much as I loved the fact that TaySway wasn't present because she's scared of Kimmy. And the debut Kanye's latest manic episode documented via video.

Until next time!

Summertime and the livin' is easy

You guys. It's straight up summer. I don't know if you've been in the city over the last few days but is is mother 'effin HOT in hur. 

I also don't know if you've been looking at my Instagram lately (probably because...duh.) but my hair has been permanently up in a half messy bun channeling Khlo-Money consistently for two months for a few reasons. 1. If you know me, you know I have a straight hair concept. Meaning if it isn't poker straight, I can't deal. 2. It has taken its good ole' time getting to blonde and that's left my ends just a little bit rougher than usual. But don't worry, I've got my appointment with one Kelly hair extraordinare next week to cut those puppies off. 

Trust me, we are getting somewhere here. 

I used to thrive in the summer. Endless days and nights in the sun, hair down every day—especially at the pool and beach, oily skin bronzed perfection. And then...BAM! (Think My Cousin Vinny Marisa Tomei and the deer...) AGE.

Standing in the sun for four hours at the CAVS parade (well worth it) brought out at least two dark spots on my face that I knew were there but had spent months covering up with makeup and applying skin lightener religiously to. It's not OK. 

Blogger note: Yes I am aware these are from the endless days and nights of my youth. But I can't exactly change it now, can I?

My skin was so incredibly dry and burnt and splotchy after the parade, it was atrocious. So, I thought I'd take this enlightening experience (and impending South Carolina vacation) to share with you all some of my older age beauty favorites for summer.

1. Hat. Yes. This officially makes me an old lady. But honestly, I totally take back everything I've ever said about the women covered in hats and shade at the beach because you know what? They are going to be bang-in' and I am going to be a sickly spotted leopard. Not a cute one either. I've learned that shading your face is the best way to avoid discoloration and prevent age spots and wrinkles.

2. Sunscreen. This is a duh, right? Clearly it isn't because I consistently have to remind my friends to wear it every single day! I put 50 SPF on my face every day before makeup and my concealer also includes 50 SPF. In the summer, I also use Lubriderm SPF lotion. It's amazing. A God send. SPF 50 all over my body, no sunscreen feeling or smell. Because trust me ladies, those wrinkles and spots don't just show up on your face (Cue: Angelina Jolie's hands.) On that note, don't forget an SPF in your gloss or chapstick. I didn't pay for these lip injections just to have nasty, sun damaged lips my friends. Protect your investments.

3. Bumble and Bumble Hairdresser's Invisible Oil. I love this stuff. It's like crack. (I imagine...) Not only do I put this in my hair prior to drying (I try to avoid drying in the summer all together) but I bring it to the pool or beach with me and put it in my locks before going in, and when I jump out to avoid tangles and drying out from the chlorine and sun. Be sure to pack a wide tooth comb and brush that shit out when you get out of the water. Remember: tangles are for amateurs and Disney Princesses.

4. Self-Tanner. I'd love to tell you all I found the perfect self-tanner, but I haven't. I've been using San Tropez In Shower, and it's okaaayyy. But the point is, get a spray tan before vacation or throughout the summer as needed. Somehow maintain a faux tan so that you never have to get a real one. Because the real one, es no bueno. 

5. Lip Tint. I lurrrvee product. So I'm not one to say, "it's summer, take it easy on the makeup" but I really dislike sticky gloss or a heavy lip in the summer. Maybe it messes with the taste of my margaritas? Regardless, I did my own review of lip tints inspired by Cupcakes and Cashmere and have found that Stila Cherry Crush is my fave. It gives great color! I will say however, that I don't think any stain can withstand a night out. I always end up reapplying. 

6. Coconut Oil. Perfect for the times when you literally just could not put enough sunscreen on (ahem CAVS parade.) Also perfect for a hair mask every week to keep your locks moisturized in the dry summer heat. Really, there is nothing that Coconut Oil can't do. If you're not drinking the Koolaid, you should be. It's everything.

7. Bug Spray. I seriously get eaten alive 24/7. I like to think it's because I have olive oil running through my veins but really, I think it's because I can't live without perfume. That said, bug spray can be full of chemicals and ya'll know I don't get down with that. I love Badger Bug Repellent with SPF 34. It's a pretty strong lemon scent, though. Not into that? I've heard good things about Malin + Goetz as well, no residue or overwhelming smell.

Help a sister out! What are a few summer products you can't live without?