Tuesday, April 15, 2014

summer fashion haul + bikini season prep {beach babe series}

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group™ and Dr. Pepper Snapple Group but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #TENways http://my-disclosur.es/OBsstV

There are few things in life that make me happier than a day at the beach. Laying out in the summer sun with the ocean breeze and calming waves makes all of my troubles float away. I've been daydreaming about summer vacation and tropical beaches, but the idea of wearing a skimpy bikini around my friends at the beach is pretty terrifying at this moment. When I'm relaxing on a summer day, I want to focus on having a great time with my friends- not how I look in my outfit. I slowly eased into a healthier lifestyle earlier this year, but like I mentioned a few days ago, I'm ready to push my diet and exercise routine into full gear. Crop tops, short shorts, and bikinis are calling my name, so there's no time to waste!

My favorite summer styles are fun and flirty, but they also happen to show a little skin. A girl's gotta stay classy, but let's be real. Who wants to be fully covered in 100 degree weather? Not me. These lace and denim Daisy Dukes just had to come home with me...and so did a turquoise crop top, tortoise shell cat-eye sunnies, and a bright tribal print beach bag. Oops! When I was at Walmart this weekend, I also picked up a fun watercolor-inspired beach towel and the cutest turquoise mason jar glass. It's made of insulated plastic and comes with a reusable striped straw, so it's perfect for any summer outing. 

When I'm prancing around at the beach in my new peach lace bikini, I want to feel confident and cute. I've been spending more time exercising, and I've already noticed a big difference in my physique and confidence. With all of the extra work I'm putting into my fitness routine,  I need to make sure my diet doesn't ruin the work I'm doing at the gym. I try to watch my calories, but diets that make me give up all of my favorite food and drinks just don't work for me. Instead of going on a formal diet plan, I've been creating healthier versions of my favorite drinks and snacks to satisfy my cravings for a lot less calories. My biggest temptations are sugary, high-calorie drinks. In the summer heat, sugary drinks are totally my weakness, and it's easy to consume hundreds of calories from only a few sugary drinks. TEN sodas are my new low-calorie drink of choice. Despite having only ten calories per serving, they taste like full-flavor, regular soda. 

In years past, you might find me with a pina colada or strawberry daiquiri in my hand on vacation. Now that I'm watching my weight, it's scary to think that I can consume half a day's calories with only two drinks. I've been filling my mason jar from Walmart with Canada Dry TEN, lots of ice, and a few lime slices instead of high-calorie drinks. The ginger and lime combination is perfect for the warm weather. Just the right balance of sweet, spicy, and sour. The great thing about TEN sodas is that you get benefits of reduced calories without sacrificing any of the taste. I can guarantee that if I gave a friend a sip of my drink, they would never guess that it was diet soda. TEN sodas are one of the ways that I can stay on my diet without feeling like I'm missing out on anything. I love the way they taste, but I may love the low calorie count even more.

People say that nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, but I disagree. You don't have to give up the things you love in order to look good in your bikini. Yes, you may have to eat a smaller slice of cheesecake or spend more time at the gym, but it's possible. There is one thing that I will be giving up, though. I can safely say that you won't find this girl drinking regular soda again. Who needs the extra calories when you can get the same taste for only 10 calories per serving? 

If you want to try TEN sodas out for yourself, click here to get a coupon for 50 cents off or share with your friends to get a coupon for $1.50 (Offer available while supplies last, from 3/27-4/17).

What's your summer drink of choice? Are you ready for bikini season?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

what's in my bag {spring edition}

By now, you girl know that I'm a complete and total bag lady. Since I travel so often, I'm always on the go and need to have all of the essentials close at hand. I basically carry my entire life with me in my car, but I'm trying (keyword: trying) to simplify what I carry each day to simplify my life. Less clutter means less anxiety, and I can use a lot less anxiety in my life right now. Less clutter also means that I can actually find things. What's the point of having a purse filled with everything you could ever need if your bag is a unorganized, bottomless pit of receipts, coins, random lipsticks, and gum? 

This spring, I've simplified what I take with me and created a new organizational system that works for my lifestyle. Every single item goes into a bag or pocket. No exceptions. Every item has a specific home in my bag, so I know exactly where I can find all of my necessities. I've even eliminated my wallet to discourage myself from carrying excess cards or receipts. I keep my IDs, credit cards, and important gift cards in a pouch with a few coupons. If I need to keep a receipt for taxes, I simply snap a picture with my phone and upload it to my computer. 

There is one thing that I refuse to eliminate from my handbag's contents: style. Each and every item is functional but also cute. I keep my items organized in soft pouches with fun patterns, and I try to find all of my essentials in bright colors and bold prints inspired by the spring season. Maybe it's the blogger in me, but I even like for my pens and Kleenex to be cute!  I blame it on my ballerina heritage, but whatever- it makes me happy! And now on to my bag...
My first pouch contains my most reached for items: keys, ID and credit cards, pens, sunglasses, and Kleenex slim packs. My allergies are notorious in my family- especially in the spring. With all of the new blooms, my allergies have decided to show me who's boss. I'm constantly sniffling, sneezing, and wiping my runny eyes, so Kleenex tissues are an absolute necessity for me. Sunglasses are another item that I can never be without. The Florida sun is unrelenting the spring and summer, and the glare can be horrible when you're driving on a sunny day. Plus, I'm an optometrist's wife, so I've got to keep my eye's healthy. Oh, and they also conveniently cover my face enough, so that I can look decent even without makeup on- hallelujah!

Without a doubt, Kleenex tissues are the most used item in my purse. I'm constantly buying the travel packs (the slim travel packs are my favorite!), so I like to buy new designs each time I'm at the store. I recently went to the Kleenex Style Studio website and found these adorable new prints designed by one of my favorite designers, Isaac Mizrahi. I love that the packaging is convenient and efficient but still cute and fun. The bright pastel floral print is my current favorite. In addition to my bag, I carry these little pouches of tissues in my car, suitcases, and in random drawers around my house. 

 I know I said that I was trying to simplify the items that I carry with me, but let's be real...I'm a beauty and fashion blogger. I've got to have a few beauty essentials with me at all times. I keep hand sanitizer, a few lip products, mascara, contact case/mini contact solution, medicine, band-aids, hair ties, hand cream, and a spray toner in a cute floral pouch. Some days I'm the car for 5+ hours, so there isn't a day where I don't need something from this pouch! 

I'm loving my simplified spring bag. It may seem like a small victory, but the fact that I haven't lost my keys or cell phone in a week is kind of unheard of for me. Let's see how long I can keep it up! 

What do you keep in your bag? Are you a minimalist or a take-everything-that-I-own kind of girl?

Thanks to Kleenex for sponsoring this post and helping me keep my life stylish! #KleenexStyle

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

cellulite sucks. {the beach babe series}

There's very few things in this world that I despise. Cellulite is one of those things. Cellulite is my number one nemesis every year when the sun comes out, and I am determined to win the war against cellulite for good this year.  I would describe myself as a fairly confident person, but bikini season always brings out my inner insecurities. Of course I want to look hot in my tiny bikini, but more importantly, I want to feel confident in a swimsuit. I've slowly been taking steps to improve my health and fitness for a few months, but now I am ready to take serious action. This week marks the start of my Beach Babe series, where I'll share everything that I'm doing with my health, beauty, and fitness regimens to get ready for beach/bikini season! I'll be sharing my favorite healthy snacks, workout DVDs, fitness inspiration, tanning products, and of course- my favorite bikinis! 

It may seem like a superficial thing to worry about how you look in a bathing suit, but my goal is to get to a weight and fitness level where I feel confident with my body. There's nothing worse than hanging with your friends at the beach and wanting to cover up your stomach or adjust your position to make your thighs look smaller. I want to go to the beach and not worry how I'll look playing beach volleyball or walking along the shoreline. Even when I was at my lowest weight and was as tan as an ad for self-tanner, I didn't feel good about myself in a bathing suit. I've come a long, long way with my self-confidence and emotional issues since then, but my fitness regimen has gone seriously down-hill. I truly believe that I'm at a place where I could finally be happy and confident strutting my stuff at the beach if I really push hard to improve my diet and fitness. 

Today, I'm starting my Beach Babe series with my battle against cellulite. Cellulite is pure evil. Seriously, the stuff won't go away, but I am determined to get rid of it for good this year. Here are the steps that I'll be taking to banish the evil bumps and lumps!

Maintaining proper hydration is a key aspect of good health. Not only does getting the proper amount of liquid each day make you feel better, but it makes you look better. I'll be making an effort to drink as much water as possible to keep my hunger under control, to stay properly hydrated, and to keep my skin looking fabulous! Maintaining a balanced diet is another no-brainer. I'll be eliminating fast food and trying to limit my beloved sugar!

At the end of the day, amping up your fitness routine is going to give you the quickest results in fat and cellulite reduction. I'll be going more in-depth into my fitness routine in a later blog post, but I'll be re-focusing on fun classes that combine cardio and strength training, like dance classes, yoga, and pilates to reduce my overall fat percentage. In terms of cellulite reduction, I'll also be targeting my trouble areas (hips/thighs) with lots and lots and lots and lots of weighted squats and lunges!

A good tan can hide quite a bit of flaws, including cellulite. This step is purely superficial and won't fix any of your problems, but it can help you improve your appearance in a pinch! Again, I'll be going into my tanning routine soon and sharing all of my favorite self-tanning products!

I've been hearing fabulous things about the Bliss Fat Girl line for years, and I'm not sure why I haven't tried it until now. This year, in addition to adjusting my diet and exercise routine, I'll be taking any and every beauty step I can possibly take to improve circulation in my skin and break up fat deposits. 

 This little baby is my new favorite. The Bliss Lean Machine (available at Ulta and Sephora) is a vacuum system that can easily be used at home in conjunction with the FatGirl Slim cream. This system increases circulation in your skin and helps to create a smoother, less dimpled surface. The clinical trials referenced in the manual showed incredible results, so I'm looking forward to continue testing this product out!

The bottom of the Bliss Lean Machine features two rollers and a vacuum mechanism. The vacuum suctions your skin, and the roller smooths the skin. Before using the Lean Machine, I apply the Bliss Fat Girl Slim cream all over my hips and thighs. Then I run the machine slowly over each leg. The suctioning strength can be controlled, but even the highest setting is not painful at all. For the past few days, I've simply applied the cream after my shower, started a YouTube video, and completed both legs and my stomach before the video was over. The system is easy to use and doesn't feel uncomfortable at all.

The massaging and suctioning action of the Bliss Lean Machine help to increase circulation in your skin, and the Bliss treatment gels help to amplify your results. I'm currently trying out the Fat Girl Slim cream on my hips and thighs, and I'm using the Fat Girl Sixpack on my stomach. I apply both creams before using the Lean Machine to increase my results. Both creams are light, non-greasy, and feature a light minty smell. I love how both of the lotions apply to the skin, and I'm hopeful for great results after hearing so many great reviews. 

Even if you're not able to purchase the Bliss Lean Machine, the Bliss Fat Girl Sixpack featured a textured, bumpy applicator that helps to massage the gel into your skin.

The same Bliss products are used in their high-end spas nationwide, so even though they're on the pricey side, they are still way, way cheaper than getting treatments done at the spa! I'll definitely keep you updated on my results after a few weeks of continuously using the products and amping up my diet and exercise program!

There's nothing more beautiful than seeing a woman comfortable in her own skin. I'm hoping to be one of those women at the beach this summer. My goal is not to be supermodel-skinny but to be confident and secure with my appearance. If you have any request for the Beach Babe series or any tips to share, please let me know in the comment section below! I think this series is going to be a lot of fun!

Are you battling cellulite too? Are you excited for bikini season?

This post was sponsored by Bliss as part of the #BeautifulConfidence campaign.

Monday, April 7, 2014

My Energizing Morning Routine + Free Herbal Essences Body Wash Sample!

I lathered up with #HerbalEssences4Body as part of a sponsored post for Socialstars by Crowdtap.

I am not a morning person. Not at all. My morning alarm is my worst enemy, and I'm sad to say that several alarm clocks have been destroyed in my lifetime from being thrown across the room. Ok, maybe more than several... Needless to say, I need a little inspiration to get out of bed each morning. If I stay in my pajamas or hit the snooze button once or twice a dozen times, it's almost guaranteed that I'll get nothing done and be in an off mood for the rest of the day. To get myself past my morning haze and into a happy and positive mood, I need to bring out the big guns: a power breakfast, an invigorating shower, a bright and cheery outfit, and a little bit of fun!

Once I open the curtains and curse the sun a few times, it's imperative that I make a breakfast that's healthy, delicious, and cute. It may sound superficial, but it's so much easier and more enjoyable to eat a healthy breakfast when it looks pretty! Oatmeal with almond milk, bananas, and blueberries is my breakfast of choice, and lately I've been pairing it with citrus infused water. Every morning, I make a small pitcher of water and add slices of lemon, lime, and orange. The citrus flavor diffuses into the water throughout the day, and the delicious taste and bright colors help encourage me to drink more water! Another morning staple is fresh flowers. A small bunch of flowers only costs a few dollars the grocery store, and I smile every time I pass by my mini floral arrangement. 

 By the end of breakfast, I'm awake, but I still need an extra boost of energy. That's where my latest discovery comes in handy. Herbal Essences Body Wash is the new star of my shower. Every little detail of these body washes is bursting with happiness. The bottles are cute and brightly colored (and photogenic!), but the product inside is even more incredible. Herbal Essences is famous for their amazing fragrances, and the scents of these body washes do not disappoint. I've been rotating through all of the scents depending on my mood each morning, but Hello Hydration is my current favorite. Who wouldn't want to smell like a tropical pina colada? They lather well and have just the right amount of moisturizing ingredients. Trust me- you will love these body washes! They smell like heaven in a bottle, and the scent seems to linger longer than other body washes I've tried in the past! If you want to try them out for yourself, head over to Crowdtap and sign up for a free sample! Don't forget to check out the end of this post for even more information on the Herbal Essences sampling program!

My morning shower is one of my daily escapes from my crazy life, so I love to use delicious-smelling products like my Hello Hydration body wash Herbal Essences each day. I'm also one of those crazy people that sings in the shower- loudly. Thanks to my lime green, waterproof / blue-tooth shower speaker, I can jam out to my favorite songs (aka the Frozen soundtrack) in the shower. Between the yummy scents of my bath products and my song and dance routine, I'm definitely awake and ready to go after my shower.

You may have already noticed another trend in my morning routine: lots and lots of bright colors. From the fruit in my breakfast to the colorful body washes and loofahs I use in the shower, I purposely surround myself with the brightest colors that I can find. The bold tones help to wake me up, and honestly, they're just pretty to look at! Whenever I need a little extra energy for my day, I always opt for bright colors and girly details in my outfit too. It's literally impossible to be tired when you're wearing a neon pink shirt, and you can never go wrong with a flouncy lace skirt in the spring. Add a few loose curls, light and fresh makeup, a pair of comfortable nude sandals, and you're ready to start your day in style!

Since my Herbal Essences body wash was so inexpensive (but still out-of-this-world incredible), I had enough extra money to splurge on a new nail polish. This baby blue color is called "Bikini So Teeny," so I couldn't pass it up. My monogram necklace and bracelet are daily essentials, and the gold really pops next to the periwinkle polish! Who says beauty on a budget can't be fabulous and fun?

 It may seem like a simple routine, but taking an hour to prep myself for the day makes a huge difference in my mood and productivity. As much as it positively impact my mood, I'm sure that my friends and family are also happy to be greeted with my cheery disposition rather than morning-monster/sloth Ashley. Little changes in your morning routine, like a yummy breakfast or fun new shower wash, can really brighten your mood and help you start the day off on the right foot!

Don't forget to head over to Crowdtap and sign up for a free sample of Herbal Essences' new fabulous shower washes! Haven't heard of Crowdtap? Well, it is a fun online community where you can test new products, interact with some of your favorite brands, create cool content, and spread the word about your favorite products/brands! I've been a Crowdtap member for years, and I absolutely love the website! One of my favorite features of the website are the Samplings, where a group of Crowdtap members get selected by brands to receive free products to try out! Who doesn't like free stuff? Right now Herbal Essences body wash is selecting crowd members to try out their products, share some with friends, and help spread the word about this awesome new product. After you try out the product, you get a chance to share your opinion and feedback with the brand. Sometimes even share your content! If you're interested in applying for the Herbal Essences sampling program on Crowdtap, click here to join! 

What's your morning routine? Are you a morning person?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Easter Fashion Ideas + $400 Coupons.com #EasterDealsHunt Giveaway!

This is a Fashionista Event and a promotional item was provided to me by Coupons.com. Hosts for this event are Still Blonde after all these Years and ModlyChic. #EasterDealsHunt

Easter has always been one of my favorite holidays. It's such a joyous day filled with deep religious symbolism, plus everyone is rocking an adorable pastel outfit and handing out chocolate bunnies. It's kind of the best holiday ever. With Easter only a few weeks away, I'm already planning my Easter Sunday outfit and decorating every square inch of our apartment in bright pastels. With so many cute items in the stores right now, I'm looking forward to a long weekend of spring shopping!

 It's not a secret that I'm a huge online shopping fan, but you may not know that I always head to Coupons.com to get the latest coupon codes before making a single purchase. I was pleasantly surprised that some of my favorite stores had amazing Easter deals at Coupons.com, and I will be saving tons of money on my purchases thanks to the awesome coupon codes. I put together a little list of my favorite Easter inspired shopping deals for you to take advantage of this weekend!

Kohl's has the BEST dresses- hands down. I'm partial to the Lauren Conrad line, but there hundreds of darling dresses on their website that would be perfect for your Easter celebration! In addition to their already affordable pricing, Kohl's is offering $10 off a $30 purchase online! Simply go the Coupons.com Easter Deals page to get the coupon code!

My favorite jewelry always comes from J.Crew, so I'll be stocking up this weekend during their incredible sale! J.Crew is offering an additional 30% off sale and an additional 50% off all final sale items! With tons of gorgeous jewelry in the clearance section, you can score a few beautiful pieces for nearly 75% off their regular price! Go to Coupons.com to get the coupon code for this promotion!

In my opinion, you can't go wrong wearing Jack Rogers sandals. They're high-quality, comfortable, and downright adorable with any outfit. I've worn my Jack Rogers sandals for years with everything from jeans and a t-shirt to a dress and pearls. These sandals never go on sale, but Macy's is offering 20% one pair of shoes, 25% off two pairs, or 30% off three or more pairs including clearance items! Run to the Coupons.com Easter Deals page to copy the coupon code because sales like this one don't come around often!

Now that I've tempted you to spend all of your money, wouldn't you like a chance to win a $400 shopping spree? Well, today's your lucky day! Coupons.com is hosting a giveaway where four lucky winners will receive a $400 Amazon.com gift card to help you with your Easter shopping! The giveaway is for US entrants only, and it will run from  April 7 12:01 AM EST to. April 21, 2014  11:59 PM EST. Simply enter using the Rafflecopter widget below!

Happy Shopping! Let me know if you pick up anything cute!

Saturday, April 5, 2014

saturday stroll in the park

With less than six weeks until our move, I have been spending way too much time indoors lately. E-mailing, job/apartment searching, and packing have taken up 90% of my life this week, and I woke up this morning feeling like I was going to go crazy if I didn't get out in the sunshine. Even my husband's offer of takeout and a Mad Men marathon couldn't subside my cabin fever symptoms, so it was obviously a very serious situation. We hopped in the car and had a mini-adventure around the city. We nearly crashed a wedding at a local park, stumbled upon a blues festival at the beach, and had the most delicious food at Maple Street Biscuit Company. After an afternoon of sunshine, beautiful scenery, a ridiculous amount of calories (totally worth it), and singing You Belong to Me (my favorite rendition) way too many times, I couldn't stop smiling. 

Dress: Forever 21 / Shoes: Jack Rogers / Bag: Vineyard Vines / Necklace: J.Crew (Similar) / Bracelets: American Eagle 
Lipstick: Revlon LE Jungle Peach (Similar to MAC Gotta Dash) / Nail Polish: Wet n Wild Sugar Coat

Do you feel the need to just leave and go anywhere? What's your favorite destination for a mini adventure?

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

sweet dreams

Sleeping is basically my favorite hobby. I would seriously take a nap every single day if I could afford to lose four hours of work time. My deep love affair with sleeping naturally led to a passion for comfortable and cute sleepwear. If there's one thing I know to be true, it's that a girl can never have too many pajamas. And let's be real...I'm a blogger, which means that I'm in my pajamas for half the day anyways. 

If you're looking for the cheapest and softest sleepwear ever, check out Forever 21. I just picked up the most amazing pajama set today, and if you're a blogger too...you need them. After lounging in them this afternoon (and posting a pic of them on Instagram), I've decided a need another set ... or two ... or three. Here are a few of my favorites!