Ashley Brooke // Florida and Los Angeles Beauty and Fashion Blog by Ashley Nicholas

Monday, September 15, 2014

from the office to the dinner table

As a fashion-obsessed twenty-something in the work force, it can be challenging to create outfits for the office that are stylish and appropriate for the professional setting. Since I work in a creative field, it's important for me to create a look that's polished and put together without appearing old-fashioned. I recently picked up a few new pieces from the fall fashion lines at Sears that help me achieve a modern look for business meetings, but the items are so cute that I've been wearing them after work as well! Keep reading to see how I mix and match my new Sears finds to create a look that seamlessly transfers from the office to a night out with friends.

My new fall office staple is this tweed skirt from Sears. The chic black and white pattern provides an interesting detail to the outfit without being too flashy. This week I've loved pairing my skirt with button-down blouses, and this teal top adds a fun pop of color to the outfit. I think the rolled sleeves and unique neckline keep this blouse interesting while still remaining professional. 

I paired this outfit with my new Studio S handbag from Sears, which is the perfect size for toting around your laptop, notebook, planner, and any other office essentials. The black leather and gold detailing is timelessly chic, and the buckle accents give the bag a modern edge. This bag and my gold chain link bracelet are two office accessories that I'll be wearing every day of fall .

I like to keep my makeup simple and subdued in professional settings, but that doesn't mean I can't add a pop of sparkle with my accessories. These sparkly flower stud earrings were quickly added to my cart at Sears, and they provide the perfect amount of glitz to the outfit. 

Also, did you check out my new Kardashian Kollection black patent pumps? Go buy them- immediately. The classic shape and color are the ideal addition to any fall outfit, and they're actually really comfortable!

While I'd definitely wear my first outfit after work, I decided to mix things up a bit for an after-work dinner date with my husband. My outfit change took only five minutes, including time to change my shirt, add a few accessories, and touch-up my makeup!

The first step was to trade my professional blouse for a sheer navy lace top that shows the perfect amount of skin while still remaining classy. It's amazing how something as simple as changing your shirt can change the entire look of an outfit!

While the tweed skirt looks traditional paired with my teal button-down blouse, the contrast of the navy lace against the black-and-white tweed gave the pattern a more modern look.

 I added this gold chain link necklace to highlight my top's beautiful neckline. Gold link jewelry is another fall staple for me. The classic design adds the perfect accent to any outfit, so it can easily transition from day to night!

 Of course, I also had to add a little bit of drama to my makeup for the events of the evening. A quick swipe of eyeliner, an extra coat of mascara, and a slightly brighter lip turned my subtle morning makeup into a bolder nighttime look.

I'm such a fan of both of these looks, and I know that my new pieces from Sears are going to be weekly staples in my fall wardrobe. I'm sure most people would be shocked to find out that I purchased all of the items for both of these outfits for under $150!  If you're looking for a few new fall fashion items, don't forget to check out your local Sears. I've purchased so many items from their store recently, and I'm always impressed with the quality of their products. Sears is quickly becoming one of my favorite stores because the prices are phenomenal, and I can always find fashion items that I love! I'm going to be spending the next few hours flipping though the digital Sears catalog, so click here if you'd like to see even more great fall fashion!

How do you transition your look from day to night?

The hottest trends, celebrity style and fashion tips you can afford to try.

Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Sears via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Sears.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Captain America Shield Double Decker Rice Crispy Treats with M&M's® Recipe

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #HeroesEatMMs #CollectiveBias

I take movie night seriously- very seriously. When I found out that Captain America: The Winter Soldier was being released on DVD, I immediately started planning an all-out superhero bash. After carefully perfecting the lighting,  creating the most comfortable seating, and decorating every inch of my living room with superhero regalia, it was time to plan the menu. I knew that I wanted to make rice crispy treats, but I just felt like that was a little too boring for a superhero-themed party. I headed to Walmart to buy some food for the party, and I ended up stumbling across the display of M&M's®. As usual, my sweet tooth led me to fill my cart with each and every variety of M&M's®, and I arrived back at my house with eight bags of M&M's®...not kidding. As I was unloading my groceries, I was still thinking about rice crispy treats. I glanced over at my newly purchased mountain of chocolate, and the idea hit me: double decker rice crispy treats stuffed and topped with M&M's. These rice crispy treats are so good they'd make Captain America fall in love with you, and they might even be better-looking than Chris Evans. Well, maybe not...but they're pretty close, and that's saying something! 

The secret to good rice crispy treats is using double the amount of marshmallows and butter that are called for in the original recipe. The extra marshmallows create a deliciously soft and gooey texture, and the extra butter adds extra flavor. Don't think about the calories right now. They are worth it- believe me.

You'll also need to pour out a few bags of regular and candy corn M&Ms and sort out the blue, red, and white chocolate candy. Lastly, you'll need to open a bag of mini M&Ms and resist eating any of the delicious candy before the recipe is completed!

After assembling all of the ingredients, it's time to start cooking! Pour half of  the marshmallows and butter into a large saucepan and melt the mixture over low heat until it's smooth and gooey. Quickly pour in half of the crispy rice cereal into a 9x13 pan lined with parchment paper. After allowing the rice crispy treats to cool on the countertop or in the refrigerator for several minutes, add a layer of mini M&Ms. To create a double decker effect, simply mix the remaining marshmallows, butter, and crispy rice cereal using the same technique and pour it over the top of the first layer. 

After allowing the rice crispy treats to cool for several hours, use a circular cookie cutter to cut the rice crispy treats into circles. Create each Captain America shield by pressing red M&Ms around the perimeter of the circle, followed by a layer of white M&Ms. Complete the shield, by creating an inner circle of red M&Ms and finish with a small circle of blue M&Ms in the center. To create the full Captain America effect, you could use icing to add a star over the M&Ms, but my guests honestly just wanted to tear into this delicious dessert as soon as possible!

Captain America M&M-Stuffed Double Decker Rice Crispy Treats 
Makes 18-24 servings

12 cups of crispy rice cereal
4 10 oz bags of mini marshmallows
10 tablespoons of butter

To create the first layer, melt half of the marshmallows and butter in a large saucepan over low heat. When the marshmallows are completely melted, quickly stir in half of the crispy rice cereal. Press the mixture into a 9x13 pan lined with parchment paper and cool for 10-15 minutes. Top with mini M&Ms candies and continue to cool for 5-10 more minutes. Create the second layer by melting the remaining marshmallows and butter and stirring in the remaining rice cereal. Press the mixture over the top of the first layer, and allow the rice crispy treats to cool for an hour.

After cooling completely, cut the rice crispy treats into circles with a circular cookie cutter. Line the outer perimeter of the circle with red M&Ms and create the next circle with white M&Ms. Create a third circle with red M&Ms and fill in the remaining space with blue M&Ms. Add a white star with icing if desired.

If you're looking for an easy and affordable dessert for your next get together, head to Walmart to pick up a few bags of M&Ms and create these delicious chocolate-filled rice crispy treats! Before you go to Walmart, don't forget to print out a coupon to receive $5 off any two bags M&M's® Brand Chocolate Candies (15.4oz. or larger) and a Captain America: The Winter Soldier DVD!

Needless to say, my Captain America movie night was a major success. Between the movie's amazing story, Chris Evan's handsome physique, and my delicious dessert, everyone had a smile on their face throughout the evening! M&Ms saved my movie night's menu, and I can't wait to create even more recipes with the new seasonal flavors!

Who is your favorite superhero?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

My Ideal Summer Day + Up to 70% off Laser Hair Removal Services at Ideal Image

This post brought to you by Ideal Image. The content and opinions expressed below are that of Ashley Brooke.

There are few things in this life that I love more than the summer season. The bright sunshine, blooming flowers, and ocean breeze all come together to create my ideal atmosphere. I honestly can't think of anything I'd rather do than spend a summer day by the water.  What could be better than soaking up the sunshine in your favorite bikini and frolicking along the beach with your best friends?

My ideal summer days are always spent by the beach, and if a choice of location, I'll choose the California coast every single time. The cool breeze makes the outrageously high temperature bearable, and every single of the endless coastline is breathtakingly gorgeous.

Once the location is set, picking out the perfect summer outfit is my next priority. I love mixing and matching colors, textures, and patterns to create the ideal summer look. In addition to a cute and comfortable bikini, pretty sandals and classic sunglasses are absolutely essential. No matter how many outfits I try on, I always end up wearing a sundress over my bikini on summer days. I may have a closet filled with shorts and skirts, but dresses are always my first choice for a day in the sun! While summer fashion is laid-back and carefree, the prep work can be a bit high maintenance. Bikinis, sundresses, and sandals are easy enough to style, but exposing that much skin means shaving more often...and shaving is pretty annoying my least favorite activity in the world. Can you imagine how incredible it would feel to get ready for a day at the beach and not have to worry about shaving? I'm hoping to make that dream a reality with a few laser hair removal treatments from Ideal Image
I've been looking into laser hair removal for several months now because I dread my daily shaving regimen. Now matter how much time I spend shaving, I never seem to get the results I want. I'd like to get rid of the hair once and for all. I've been looking into laser hair removal services for a more permanent hair removal solution. I'd love to have the convenience of not having to shave each day, and I will definitely feel more confident in all of my summer styles knowing that I don't have to worry about stray hairs. After conducting a little research on laser hair removal services, Ideal Image is my top choice! They have the most highly trained providers in the industry and for a limited time, Ideal Image is offering up to 70% off all Laser Hair Removal treatments and 25% off Facial Rejuvenation treatments! I'm so tempted to take advantage of this amazing deal.
If you'd like to find a more permanent way to remove hair forever, I highly recommend that you request more information from Ideal Image while they have their laser hair removal services up to 70% off! In addition to laser hair removal, also consider investing in Ideal Image Facial Rejuvenation treatments while they're 25% off! 

What's your ideal summer day? Have you ever considered laser hair removal?
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Monday, September 8, 2014

my health and fitness journey + the best green smoothie recipes

This shop is part of a social shopper marketing insight campaign with Pollinate Media Group® and Aloha, but all my opinions are my own. #pmedia #MyAloha #AlohaMoment

This past January, instead of making a New Year's Resolution to lose weight, I made a promise to simply take better care of myself. While I've definitely enjoyed losing a few pounds, my goals were bigger than a superficial desire to look better in my bikini. I wanted to change my lifestyle for good and become a healthier and more balanced person physically and emotionally. The small, incremental changes I've made to my lifestyle don't produce quick or dramatic results, but I feel like I'm truly developing habits that will last a lifetime. The two main goals of my health transformation have been to move more and to add more healthy food to my diet, and I'm happy to say that I've succeeded for the most part. I've found creative ways to fit good food and exercise into my daily routine without sacrificing precious time with my family or adding extra stress to my life. One of my newfound secrets is the Aloha blend box

If you're on Instagram, there's no doubt you've witness the green juice revolution. It seems like every blogger these days starts their morning with by posting a picture of their big glass of green juice. While I'm completely on board with the taste and nutritional value of green juice and smoothies, it can be time consuming and costly to either make or pick up fresh green juice on a daily basis. Thankfully, the Aloha Daily Food Greens powders are the perfect way to fit all of the nutrients you need into your busy schedule. I recently ordered the Aloha Daily Good Greens free trial (and you can too!) and received the Aloha blend box, which contains the original, berry blend, and chocolate cacao versions of the Aloha green powders. 

I bet you're wondering why I think this green powdery stuff is so special. Well, the Aloha Daily Food Greens powder is 100% natural and whole-food product that is also completely vegan. The mix of fruit and vegetables gives you natural energy while helping to hydrate your body and boost your immune system. This powder isn't your normal chemical-laden product with 1,000 ingredients you can read. The ingredients are simple: organic spirulina, spinach, moringa, green pea, wheatgrass, blueberries, raspberries, coconut water, lemon, king trumpet mushrooms, enoki mushrooms, oyster mushrooms, ginger, and Hawaiian red alaea salt. The fine powder makes adding nutrients to your meals/snacks incredibly quick and convenient. Simply stir the powder into your favorite water, juice, smoothie, shake, soup, or really anything you'd like to for a boost of nutrition and flavor. I've fallen in love with these powders because they make my goals affordable and easy to accomplish. I've been adding the different varieties of the Aloha blend box to my daily morning smoothie before I hop in the car to complete the day's work. It's also the perfect pre or post-workout snack. The individual packets are also the perfect size to keep in your purse, so I always have a healthy meal or snack within reach.  

My favorite smoothie that I've created so far is my Triple Berry Green Smoothie. I combine frozen strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and half of a frozen banana with the Aloha The Daily Good Berry Blend powder and a bit of orange juice to create a perfectly sweet smoothie. 

While I'm adding a big boost of nutrition to my smoothie with the Aloha powder, I don't taste any bitterness or "green" taste at all. If you know someone who's wary of eating vegetables, I guarantee you they'd never know they were eating anything green in this smoothie. 

After the gym, I like to add a little bit of protein to my smoothie. To create my Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana green smoothie, I combine the Aloha The Daily Good Chocolate Cacao powder with a frozen banana, plain greek yogurt, honey, peanut butter, and almond milk. 

This creamy shake is so filling and tasty, but I don't have to feel guilty because I know that I'm also adding all of the nutrients I need to the shake.

My Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie is the perfect meal for before or after any physical activity. While I do spend a fair amount of time in the gym, I really prefer to exercise in a more creative way most days. Whether I'm biking on the beach, doing yoga by my pool, or attending a new dance class, I love to find new ways to move that make me smile and feel great! There is an exercise out there for everyone, so if you don't like working the machines at the gym either, go out and find a new way to move. It doesn't matter why you're sweating- it just matters that you're burning calories! If you can find a physical activity that you enjoy, go for it and don't worry about what you "should" be doing at the gym. Treadmills and running aren't for everyone!

In the mornings, I like to have a smoothie that's a little bit tangy and bursting with fresh flavor. I call my morning smoothie my Rainbow smoothie because I use ingredients of every color. The combination of the Aloha The Daily Good powder with frozen pineapple, peaches, raspberries, strawberries, blueberries, bananas, cherries, and coconut water creates the perfect, refreshing flavor. 

This smoothie may pack a serious healthy punch, but it tastes like a treat. It's nice to know that I can make a delicious meal easily and affordably - that I actually enjoy - thanks to my Aloha powder. 

I still have quite a few health goals that I'd like to accomplish by the end of the year, but I'm so happy to know that I won't have to worry that I'm not eating enough fruit or vegetables. I was so happy with my Aloha blend box free trial, that I'm thinking about signing up for the monthly delivery service from Aloha! Becoming a healthy a balanced person is a lifelong journey, so anything I can find to simplify the process is something I want to invest in! 

Don't forget to sign up for the free trial of the Aloha blend box! The trial includes a total of six packages of Aloha green powders (two packages of each of the three flavors). The free trial lasts for 14 days, and after that you'll be auto-enrolled into the monthly subscription service.  I'd love to hear about your experience with the product, so keep me posted with your thoughts on social media!

What's your favorite healthy meal? Are you a green juice fan?

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

twice handbag ootd + 50% off twice coupon

Every trip to the mall is a dangerous expedition for a young girl. If you're anything like me, the the beautiful window displays make it tempting to throw caution to the wind and deplete your savings account. Thankfully, I've discovered a way to buy the designer clothes and handbags that I love for up to 90% off. Yep, that's right. I know a magical place that sells my favorite items (think Lilly Pulitzer, J.Crew, Madewell, Coach, Tory Burch, Kate Spade) for next to nothing! Twice lets you buy and sell your lightly used designer clothes at great prices, and the shipping is free both ways...and it gets better! Today, Twice is launching their handbag division, PLUS Twice is offering Ashley Brooke readers 50% off their first order! Keep reading to find out more about one of my favorite online stores and to see how I styled my new purchases!

To celebrate their new handbag division, Twice sent me this gorgeous mint green leather Coach bag. The bag arrived in perfect condition with absolutely no signs of wear. Honestly, I'm not sure that I'll ever pay full price for a handbag again. I mean, how can you resist picking up 2-4 designer handbags for the price of one? 

My new Coach bag is just so pretty, so I had to pair it with this navy floral Lilly Pulitzer dress. I love the way the bright green leather contrasts with the navy, purple, and blues in the Lilly floral print. Can you believe that I picked up my Lilly dress for nearly 75% off at Twice? It fits perfectly, and the ruffles and cinched waist are extremely forgiving! 

Twice is completely different from a traditional consignment or re-sale store. Twice has really high standards for the items they buy. Even though the prices are over half off retail prices, you're getting high-quality merchandise. All of the items I've bought from Twice are in immaculate condition and look/feel as if they're brand new. In fact, some of my purchases have even come with the original store tags! If you're a shopping addict like myself, I'm sure you have quite a few items in your closet that don't get the love they deserve. Simply head over to Twice, print out a free shipping label, and trade your lightly-worn extra clothing and handbags into cash or store credit! 

Don't forget to use the 50% off coupon for your first order to get an even better deal! If you purchase a handbag from September 2-8, you'll also receive a coupon for 15% off your next Twice purchase. This offer is such a great deal, so definitely don't miss out on the opportunity to save!

Monday, September 1, 2014

gray stripes + mialisia giveaway

Now that Labor Day is over, kids are back at school, and the store shelves are already being stocked with holiday decorations, I'm officially beginning to transition into my fall wardrobe. Now, don't get too excited. There's no way you'll catch me rocking my fall cardigans and boots in the 90 degree Florida weather, but I am attempting to move away from the light fabrics and bright colors of summer and to move toward fall neutrals. A light neutral palette is perfect for early fall, and it couldn't be easier to style. Lately, I've been pairing pale khakis with different shades of gray and gunmetal to create a subdued look that's feminine and professional.

Top: Sears  //  Skirt: J.Crew from Twice  //  Shoes: Forever 21  //  Jewelry: Mialisia

This adorable fall outfit couldn't be easier to put together. The pale khaki skirt looks so delicate paired with the light gray striped tee, and the lace shoulder details adds a feminine touch. While this outfit looks great with ballet flats, black pumps make this look perfect for casual business meetings or social events.

To add a glam touch to this neutral outfit, I added my favorite gunmetal jewelry from Mialisia. The Central Park Ring is absolutely gorgeous paired with any fall outfit, and it's appropriate for work or play! I converted my Mialisia Zefra Versastyle Necklace into a bracelet using the signature Mialisia Versastyle hooks, and the gunmetal chain design adds a bit of edge to this otherwise girly outfit.  

I can already tell that my Mialisia Lush Necklace is going to be one of my most-worn fall pieces. The combination of the different shades of silver helps this necklace work with any outfit, and the mix of textures automatically makes any look a little more interesting!

To finish the outfit, I added my Mialisia Broadway Earrings. These earrings are beautiful, but more importantly they're light and will not tug on your ears. If you're looking for the perfect birthday gift for a friend or family member, I'd suggest buying them these earrings and the matching Broadway ring! Both pieces are classic designs that will work with any look!

Neutrals may seem a little plain on their own, but this look is so fun when all of the pieces are put together! The mix of solid and patterned neutrals along with the lace accents and gunmetal accessories really bring personality to the look. 

If you're looking for new pieces to add to your jewelry collection, stop by the Mialisia website and browse the VersaStyle collection. These classic pieces are easy to style, and they can be worn in a variety of ways: necklace, bracelet, headband, belt, and more! Next month, I'll be sharing a "Get Ready With Me" video where I'll show how I style my Mialisia jewelry and how easy it is to convert each piece into different types of jewelry!

And now onto the giveaway! If you'd like to win the Mialisia jewelry that was featured in this post, simply enter the Rafflecopter below.
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Busy Girl Secrets: How to Get #LifeProofSkin

Over the past 8 days, Vichy Idéalia has helped me live my life to the fullest as part of a sponsored post for SocialStars #LifeProofSkin

I'm your typical twenty-something woman. My days are a constant battle to meet deadlines, attend as many events as possible, network my little heart out, and be the best wife/daughter/sister/friend I can be. That means most of my time is spent crossing things off my to-do list instead of getting 8 hours of sleep each night. All week long I dream about naps and luxurious lazy mornings, but lately I haven't had time to sleep- let alone sleep in! Even though I'm still young, my skin doesn't respond well to lack of sleep. My undereye circles are constantly out of control, and my tired skin is constantly breaking out. Thankfully, my secret weapon allows me to life my life to the fullest without looking like a tired mess.

Say hello to my new best friend: Vichy Idéalia. This wonder duo and I have become inseparable over the past eight days, and my skin has loved every single second of our friendship. The Vichy Idéalia Life Serum helps to refine your pores, illuminate your skin tone, and moisturize your complexion to keep your skin looking young and bright no matter how late your nights may be. The Vichy Idéalia Eye Cream helps to reduce dark circles and fine lines while leaving a beautiful illuminated finish. After applying these two products every morning and night for the past eight days, I've noticed that my skin is calm, moisturized (but not greasy), and fresh-looking no matter how little sleep I've had in the past few days. If you're a busy girl like me, you'll want to add these two miracle workers to your shopping bag ASAP.
Now that I don't have to worry about my skin each morning, I can live life to the fullest without thinking about how my face will react. I do still have to bribe myself to get out of bed each morning, so I have a few treats hidden in my fridge for especially bad mornings. Knowing that I can roll out of bed to fresh flowers, pretty fruit tartes, and fancy lemonade always seems to perk me up in the morning.

While I'm enjoying my breakfast, it's time to plan the day. This week, my life is revolving around packing for our big move and finishing up a few business deadlines. I always schedule in mini-breaks throughout the day to keep myself sane! Whether it's a mini manicure or a dinner date with my husband, knowing that I have a few fun things planned always helps me push through boring business stuff!

I've also learned that I absolutely must get dressed for the work day no matter when my first appointment starts. The longer I sit around in my pajamas, the less I'll get done. Lately I've been obsessed with business basics in light neutrals like pale khaki and gray to transition from summer to fall. It's hard not to act like a businesswoman when you're dressed in a power ensemble and killer heels.

The last part of my morning routine is always applying makeup, but thanks to my beloved Vichy Idéalia serum and eye cream, it's been drastically reduced over the past week. My skin has stayed clear despite changes in the weather, my sleep schedule, and natural hormonal shifts, so I've been saying bye-bye to extra concealer and hello to light and fresh makeup! I've had four people compliment me on my skin this week, so I will not be changing my skincare routine anytime soon! Vichy products help me to have lifeproof skin that works with my schedule, and I couldn't be happier with the results. If you're looking for a new serum or eye cream to add to your daily routine, check out the Vichy Idéalia line. These products will help you smooth and moisturize your skin texture, while brightening your skin tone and providing a more youthful-looking complexion! You can also find Vichy Idéalia at your local Ulta store.

What's your skincare secret for busy days?