Friday, May 30, 2014

Love in a Box Blogger Swap (May 2014)

It's time for this month's Love in a Box swap (hosted by Megan of Lush to Blush and Kimberly of Kimberly's Chronicle)! Unfortunately, this is the final swap, but huge shoutout to Megan and Kimberly for organizing it for so long!

I got matched with Emily of Designs By Emily F, which was such a coincidence because we've been in contact planning a Michigan blogger meet-up! She lives about an hour and a half (maybe two hours?) away from me, and a bunch of us are going to meet up in the middle. Also, if you need any design help for your blog, she's your girl! Onto the goodies...

I was so excited about everything she got me! I'm constantly pulling my hair back, whether it's in a post-shower braid or ponytail for working out, so these hair ties will get used. And then the Eos Lip Balm in Summer Fruit...I've been wanting one for ages, but I've never felt like dropping $3.50 on a lip balm I'd never tried. Well, I've tried it, and I love it. I'm yet to try the clay face mask, but I can guarantee I'll love it. Face masks + chocolate + strawberries? Heaven.

She also included her favorite chocolate bar, a Hershey's Symphony. It's sitting on my desk waiting to be eaten, haha. And she did not disappoint with the Revlon Parfumerie nail polishes, i.e., scented nail polish! She gave me Wintermint (green) and Moonlit Woods (purple). I've already painted my nail using Moonlit Woods, and the color looked just gorgeous. While I couldn't exactly make out its scent, it was good. Finally, she included a ring she'd received in a Diamond Candle. Isn't it pretty? I love cute, shiny things like that!

I'd say this was a great way to finish off the Love in a Box program. Although I'll miss participating in it, I've made such great blogger friends through it, and can't wait to meet Emily in person next month! Thanks again, Megan and Kimberly!

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

My Fashion Basics: Europe

Everyone preaches to pack basics that you can mix and match, and I wholeheartedly agree. Out of excitement about my upcoming trip, I thought I'd share my favorite basics with you!


My four go-to shoes for travel are my Sperry Top-Sider Angelfish boat shoes, Jack Rogers sandals in Platinum, J.Crew black ballet flats, and the Hunter Packable Tour rain boots (Hunter boots that fold up!). I'd also recommend a pair of gym shoes for extended periods/if you're an avid runner or exerciser, but these four shoes would suffice me for any trip. They're all comfortable enough to walk around in, offer a variety for any type of weather, and the sandals or ballet flats can be worn out at night.


Besides luggage, there are two bags in particular that I always bring: a Longchamp Le Pliage tote bag and a black crossbody purse. The tote bag is perfect for day trips and carrying jackets, water bottles, etc., and the crossbody bag is best for quick trips (down the street to the boulangerie, perhaps?) and nights out. You really have no need for another bag!


A good pair of dark skinny jeans is the best thing you can bring to Europe. They don't need to be washed, they look sleek, and you can wear them around town or with heels for a night out. Plus, they match everything! I swear by J Brand, but there are plenty of cheaper options. As far as what I wear on top, I usually go with a silky camisole with a cardigan. I have this Topshop camisole in about four different colors, and they transition really well from day to night. More often than not do I go out to bars wearing dark skinny jeans, a silk camisole, and flats!

And don't forget about dresses! I just bought this nautical-inspired dress from Target for a whopping $22.99. Especially if you don't have much packing room, dresses are a great way to save space. I usually opt for dresses with longer sleeves (like the Target one mentioned above/shown in the widget below), but I pack a cardigan in my tote whenever I wear tank-top dresses.

As mentioned in the title, these are just the basics of what clothing I bring to Europe, but you can apply these outfits to just about any trip! Just make sure to account for the weather. ;)

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Packing for an Extended Trip Abroad (3 Months or More)

Check out my first eBay guide about packing for extended travel! You can find a packing list almost anywhere on the Internet, but how to pack? Just take a look.

c/o eBay

Thursday, May 22, 2014

France vs. the United States

I recently stumbled upon a New York Magazine article called "Smoking Around Bébé: Things Parisians Do That Stun New Yorkers. And Vice Versa." Of course, it piqued my interest. For all you fellow Frenchies out there (I'm looking at you, Nancy!), or even those of you who are just curious about the world, I highly recommend reading it.

Among other things, the article notes that Parisians don't eat and drink as they walk (i.e., you'll be hard pressed to find a French person strolling down the sidewalk with a cup of coffee in one hand and a croissant in the other) and that Americans are way more likely to venture out in public in sweats. Read the article for yourself, but these differences are all extremely true!

Inspired by the article, I thought I'd talk about a few more cultural differences between France and the United States. On y va!

Except for some restaurants and museums, most French businesses are closed on Sunday. If you don't buy your groceries on Saturday, c'est dommage, because you won't be able to buy anything on Sunday. Even France's biggest chains are closed on Sundays, except for maybe a three-hour period in the morning. Emphasis on maybe.

There are fewer chain restaurants in France. This is a huge plus in my book! Sure, it's easy to find a nearby McDonald's or Domino's (side note: I lived a block away from Pizza Hut), but most of the sit-down restaurants you'll encounter will be independent. Not only is each restaurant unique, but the food also tastes better (and is more-carefully prepared)!

French teenagers love PDA. Yes, even more than the U.S.--way more, for that matter. No matter where you are, you'll be bound to see a couple of lovebirds making out and being just a little too huggy. When I was in Paris, for example, there was an elderly woman sitting on the métro. Two teenagers sat in the seat next to her (one on the other's lap) and began fiercely making out. On the Paris métro! Needless to say, she got up and moved. Also, I worked in a building made of one-way glass that was next to a park. You can only guess the things I saw. Of course, there are many exceptions to this rule, but it seems to be a general trend.

France is about six months ahead of the American fashion trends. So, if something is in style in France, snatch it up before it becomes popular/more expensive! For example, when sneaker wedges became popular in the U.S. last summer, they were already on the French sale racks. I'm not too into keeping up with trends (I have a more classic style), but for those of you who are into fashion, keep your eye on France!

And lastly, my favorite. France has an amazing sale culture! During two five-week periods (one beginning in early January, the other at the end of June), French law mandates that all retailers have sales. While that doesn't mean that every item goes on sale (sorry, but the classic black Longchamp tote will still cost you 70 euros!), it does mean that there are fabulous markdowns. Bins marked 70% off, stores that mark down all of their merchandise by get it. And it's fabulous.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Who Wants (Almost-)Free Nail Polish?!

The answer should be everybody.

As some of you know, I'm a member of Julep Maven. Similar to Birchbox, Julep Maven is a customizable subscription-box program where you receive two new nail polishes and a beauty product each month for $20. (Note: If you choose a pay-as-you-go plan, it's $25/month, or pay $60 for a three-month subscription.) For example, this is the box I got for May:

The wand is a nail-polish applicator.
c/o Julep

The "choosing" window is open the 20-24 of each month, and that's where you customize your box based on the new nail polishes and beauty products offered! They ship out by the end of the month.

Anyway, Julep has a really great deal. If you join Maven, take the Style Profile quiz, and choose a pre-made welcome box, use code HELLOYOU and only pay shipping! (Rumor has it that this code includes extra stuff...check that out for me, okay?) In the past, it's always been $4.99 for shipping, but rumor has it that it's now only $2.99. Here are the welcome boxes from which you can choose (by the way, the silver stick is cuticle oil):

All photos c/o Julep.

I think my favorite is the box with the three nail polishes. The blue reminds me of Essie's Bikini So Teeny, and pistachio is a hot color this season! Of course, the orange is pretty, too. :)

I've been a Maven since October and love the program, but you can cancel at any time if you decide you don't want to continue beyond your free intro box (or at any stage of your membership, for that matter). Especially for those trying to grow their nail-polish collection, I think Julep is just great!

Interested? Click here to sign up, take the quiz, and get your free box! Don't forget to use code HELLOYOU!

Full disclosure: This was not a sponsored post, but I do have affiliate links. Julep Maven is a program I genuinely love.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Birchbox Unveiling (May 2014)

May 2014

This month's Birchbox theme was Free Wheeling, i.e., all things outdoors! Also, Birchbox partnered with Kate Spade Saturday this month, so the packaging was extra cute. I thought my box really fit the theme, as these are all products that will help me look and feel my best as I gear up for summer. Also, not all of the products I received matched up with the card/online sneak peek, but I actually like what I received better. Anyway, let's take a look!

This month's box, excluding the vitamin sample. Isn't the packaging adorable?

Here are the products I received.

Number 4 Volumizing Shampoo: full size costs $34; sample value is $4

This may or may not be the best thing I've ever smelled. I've also heard it's a wonderful shampoo, but I think I'm going to save it for France (it's a great travel size). But really, it's the perfect floral mix. If only I could find a flower bouquet that smells just like this...

Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream in Acai Grapefruit: full size costs $20; sample value is $2.93

This also smells great! Again, because of it's compact size, I'm saving it for France.

LAQA & Co. Sheer Lip Lube Pencil in Menatour: full size costs $18; sample value is $18 (received the full-sized product)

This lipstick is creamy, smells minty, and goes on smoothly. My sister and I have already tried it on! (She's fighting me for ownership of it....sorry, Daph.) I have very fair skin and she hasPmore olive skin, and it looks great on both of us. Plus, it's full sized!

Marcelle New-Age 8 in 1 Power Serum: full size costs $34; sample value is $8.16

As eager as I am to use anti-aging serums, my mom spotted this one and showed some interest. So, I'm passing it on to her--she's super excited to try it!

PIXI Beauty Shea Butter Lip Balm in Pixi Pink: full size costs $8; sample value is $8 (received the full-sized product)

Another full-sized tinted lip balm? This must be my lucky month! It's a delicate, sheer pink, and it smells like vanilla. It also feels heavenly, as the shea butter has great moisturizing power.

SmartyPants All-in-One Gummy Vitamins for Adults: full size costs $29.99; sample value is $0.33

These gummies were a Lifestyle Extra. While I was initially excited to receive them, I was disappointed when I realized I had to give them away. I'm a vegetarian, and the Omega 3 comes from fish oil. Oh well, you win some and lose some!

Total box value: $41.42

WOW was this a great box! I got two full-sized lip products (and y'all know how happy that makes me) as well as other amazingly scented deluxe samples. There was also a little printout of how to keep your skin safe from sun damage, as well as $25 off of $75 coupon for Kate Spade Saturday (but I gave that away). What a great way to start off summertime!

Do you subscribe to Birchbox? Let me know what you got in yours--I love seeing everything!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

POPSUGAR Must Have Unveiling (May 2014)

May 2014

POPSUGAR Must Have, while my favorite subscription box, is only an occasional indulgence. That $40/box price point is just too much for my post-grad budget! I grabbed May's box, though (this is my second), and I'm glad I did.

I've been on a workout/health kick lately, so I was super happy that May's box was all about that! I'll definitely use the video (especially next year, when I won't have cheap gym access), and my favorite item is definitely the water bottle. I'm going to try more than just citrus fruits...maybe strawberries and mint? And the perfume smells just like the beach, and the nail polish is a beautiful summer aqua. I'm not too crazy about the sleep mask, but I won't knock it until I try it, right? And, as I'm a super picky eater, I'm giving the Hi I'm Skinny Sticks to my dad.

A breakdown of the products:

Total box value: $109

If you want in on the fun, you can become a Must Have subscriber here! Also, use code MODNIQUE to save $10 on your first box!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Travel Wishlist for Next Year

Even though it's a few months away, I'm getting super excited about my upcoming move to France! And while I won't have a huge travel budget, I will have opportunities to travel. Here are my top choices!

Mount Toubkal, Morocco

Those of you who followed my Morocco series should be familiar with Mount Toubkal! I've been wanting to hike it for months now and see all of the goats in trees!

c/o Trek Morocco
c/o Trek Morocco

Venice, Italy

Who doesn't want to go to Venice? Take a gondola down the street, look at the beautiful architecture, and eat as much pasta and pizza and gelato possible? Sounds like heaven to me.

c/o Tourists 360
c/o Tourists 360

Lausanne, Switzerland

I have a couple of friends who live here, and I've been promising them for years now that I'd come visit! It's also really close to Geneva and has a beautiful view of the Alps.

c/o My Switzerland
c/o My Switzerland

Petra, Jordan

Part of this is to actually see one of the Seven Wonders of the World, but it's mostly to speak Arabic. I just love Arab culture and want to experience it firsthand!

c/o Wikipedia Commons
c/o Wikipedia Commons

Bruges, Belgium

Everyone's told me that Bruges is a much more interesting city than Brussels, and I'll take their words. Another beautiful country where I can speak French? Count me in.

c/o Short Breaks
c/o Simply Holiday Deals

Istanbul, Turkey

There is something really intriguing about Turkey I can't quite put my finger on. Maybe all of the bright colors and skyline full of minarets?

c/o Lonely Planet

Reykjavik, Iceland

Iceland is supposed to be majestical, and I want to see it for myself. I'll just have to make sure that I don't go there in the winter, when it's dark all the time!

c/o Amsterdam Fashion
c/o Visit Reykjavik

Seville, Spain

It seems like I'm the only person on Earth who hasn't been to Spain! (I'm not counting my stopover in the Madrid airport en route to Tel Aviv.) I've heard such wonderful things about Seville, and the architecture (and city) looks stunning.

c/o Lonely Planet
c/o The Smeal Synopsis (PSU)

What are your top travel choices from this list? Help me decide!

GlamST Review

There's no way that I'm the only one out there who loves to try on new makeup. However, between driving to Sephora, wiping my face clean between samples, and dodging sales reps trying to sell me the $30 lipstick I'm testing, it's more hassle than it's worth.

Enter GlamST. GlamST is an online start-up that allows you to sample makeup right from your home. Yes, you heard me! You can apply and reapply makeup to your little heart's content from the comfort of your bed (and, let's be real, what could be better than that?).

To get started after creating your account, all you need is a "headshot" (i.e., a photo of your face facing the camera) with little-to-no makeup in sufficient lighting. Here's the photo that I used:

Shoutout to my best friend Lydia for taking this!

Then, you're given a general questionnaire about your looks ("What color is your hair?") and the outline dots. You move these dots around to fit the outline of your lips, teeth, hairline, eyes, etc., in order for the virtual makeup to be correctly applied. After all, you don't want lipstick on your teeth or eyeshadow on your eyebrow!

Now for the fun part...creating your looks! There are categories for the face, eyes, and lips, and each has subcategories (e.g., lipgloss and lipstick). While the "application" really works for the most part, my only complain is that there isn't a huge selection. For each subcategory, there are only 5-20 products from which to choose. However, it does feature high-end brands, such as Bobbi Brown and Dior. I can't wait to how GlamST expands its product selection (hopefully including drugstore finds, too)!

A blooper. This powder looks terrifying on me!

Once you're satisfied with your look, you can save it to your account. You'll see a list of the products that you tested and, surprise! You can purchase them directly from the GlamST website! It's really one-stop shopping!

My "after" photo with all of the products I used.

You can also see a side-by-side of your before and after photos. I love this feature, because I didn't realize how different I looked until I saw the comparison!

A close-up of my look.

So, what are you waiting for? Go create a look of your own on GlamST today! Comment below with links--I'd love to see what you put together!

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post by BrandBacker, but all opinions are my own.