My take on gel manicures (Hint: I’m in favor!)

I have a legitimate obsession with fingernails, nail polish, nail products and creating the perfect manicure. It’s slightly sick. I never get my nails done at a salon because I know I can do them better.

When the Shellac craze hit, I didn’t think much of it. I was still a student, I had plenty of time to keep up with my regular manicures. Once I started working full time I found I was unable to paint my nails the usual 2-3X a week, so I booked a shellac appointment to see what the hype was about. Of course I researched the proper application technique before I went- no oil on your nails, the polish should never touch your cuticles, make sure they cap the edges, etc. So I went in all amped that I would be leaving with super shiny nails that would last for 2 weeks!

Fast forward through my appointment…it was horrible. The woman who did my nails didn’t follow any of the rules, and I honestly wanted to grab the polish out of her hand to do it myself. It was torture forking over $35 dollars for something I hated (including the color!) but I’m not one to complain.Β So I bit my tongue and vowed that’d be my LAST trip to the salon.

Fast forward to today- I purchased an entire gel system over the summer, UV light included…

…and now do my own gel manicures at home (my Mom, sister and roommate benefit as well ;)). Β I don’t know how else to explain it, but gels are so amazing! I will never go back to regular polish.Β If you learn nothing else from me…remember this GEL MANICURES WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE! (That’s kind of dramatic, but I promise it’s true!)

I will do a post on “How-To Do Your Own At Home Gel Mani ” in the near future, but today I just wanted to convince you with pictures. I basically photograph my nails daily, just to document the longevity of each manicure. Below are a few gel manicures I’ve done- see for yourself πŸ™‚

Gelish Mini "Stand Out"
Gelish Mini "Bella's Vampire"
Gelish Mini "Sweet Chocolate"

I use a combination of OPI Axxium and Gelish products. You can see each manicure generally lasts two weeks- once in a while there is minor peeling in the second week, but the polish never chips, it withstands long showers, dish washing, and normal activity that a regular manicure would never sustain. The polish always remains shiny, and it makes my nails super strong- allowing them to continue growing (normally my nails are really weak). As you can see my cuticles grow out, and that’s when I’m usually ready to remove the polish and pick a new color.

I would highly suggest that if you haven’t tried a gel manicure yet, that you do so. Be sure to find a good salon and book an appointment- you will not be disappointed.

A few things I love about winter…

It is officially too cold to leave the house without a coat (snow or no snow)…in my book that means winter has arrived. I must admit while I dread the cold weather…it’s a nice change of pace in the wardrobe department. There are certain clothes, bags, colors, and shoes that are more acceptable in the winter time. Here are my seasonal favorites:

1) Scarves: I wear a variety of scarves year round, however this time of year the heavier knits serve as more of a necessity than an accessory.

Some of my go-to scarves
My good friend Kelly got me this maroon Calvin Klein scarf, it is so warm and has an elastic band thread down the middle which gives it a nice bounce. πŸ™‚ I've been loving it this week.

2) A winter hand bag. I recently got a Louis Vuitton and I am so in love with it! It is perfect for the season and I am trying to get as much use out of it as possible before the bright colors of Spring come back around.

My pride and joy πŸ™‚
I found this great Kate Spade winter bag in Marshalls this week and fell in love with it as well! (May have to go back....)

3) Moisturizers. I moisturize year round, but it is especially important during the winter. My skin get’s really dry, so I prefer to use a body butter. I have an apricot mango butter for every day, a lavender butter for nighttime and a regular floral-y scent when I’m in a hurry or need a quick pump.

All three lotions smell so good!

It is important to keep your face moisturized and hydrated as well. My regular Olay lotion doesn’t cut it as my skin gets super dry in the winter, luckily Ponds Dry Skin Cream works wonder.

You can find Ponds at any drugstore

Don’t forget a yummy smelling hand lotion to keep hands from drying or cracking.

This stuff smells amazing!

4) Faux Fur. Capitalize on the cold- you can’t wear fur in the summer! I got this amazing faux chinchilla vest which serves as a perfect substitute for a coat!

Surprisingly, this vest keeps me just as warm as my peacoat.

5) Dark Nailpolish Colors. I have tried nearly every polish color, but I must admit that the darker shades are my favorite. If you’re not accustomed to using crazy colors but want to try something new, choose a forrest green or deep blue; they are still very clean and professional looking but will definitely mix things up.

Browns and maroons and greens- oh my πŸ™‚

6) A cozy sweater! Take advantage of the opportunity to bundle up and wear something cozy. This sweater could easily substitute as a robe.

I swear this is so comfortable- I wish I could wear it everyday.
I had to take a shot of the back because I love the way that it folds over my shoulders.

7) Knee High Boots. I love wearing boots, they go with skinny jeans, leggings, skirts, and certain dresses. I have a simple pair of 3-4″ black suede knee highs that I wear at least twice a week-they are so versatile!

I've only had these boots for about a year and they've seen so much action I've already worn down the heels. Time for a trip to the shoemaker.

I look forward to pulling these clothes, products and accessories out every year. What kinds of things do you like to wear/use/do during the winter months?

On-the-Go Make Up Must Haves

We all doll up in the morning in hopes that our freshly made faces will last the work day. Unfortunately, we all know that at some point our eye makeup is going to run, our t-zone is going to shine and that freshly-applied look is going to fade. So I present to you my small collection of makeup that saves me at 2:00pm everyday!

I love my metallic BareMinerals make-up bag

Here are the products I carry everyday for a mid afternoon pick me up:

Blotting sheets, lip gloss and Chapstick.

The blot sheets are a lifesaver, I use these first to remove any excess oil from my forehead, cheeks and chin. This particular brand has a light powder finish on each sheet so in addition to blotting away oil, it re-applies a fine film of powder to help you make it through the remainder of the day shine free. A simple, shiny lipgloss and Chapstick are always a must πŸ™‚

Concealer and Q-tips

I broke the top to my Benefit Boi-ing concealer, but I swear by this stuff, so a make-shift plastic bag to transport works just fine. Q-tips I keep to remove any eye makeup smudges.

A mini- NYC shadow palette

I like this compact because it is super small and coordinates well with the bronze-y colors I usually apply in the morning. The small brush is included so it’s perfect for a mid day touch up.

Sally Hansen natural beauty pump foundation and an NYC bronzer. Almost time to replace these products!

I bought this Sally Hansen Natural Beauty pump foundation on a whim, but it has turned out to be one of my favorites! It has amazing converge and I love the pump top- no sponge or brush required for application. I am addicted to myΒ Hoola, and use itΒ in the morning but the NYC bronzer works fine mid-day to add a hint of color.

A capped kabuki brush, BareMinerals mascara, Mary Kay eye liner and NYC lip pencil

I like that this brush is capped because it keeps the interior of my makeup bag and the other products clean. As I mentioned in my mascara review post, I’ve recently fallen in love this BareMinerals product so I can’t help but take it with me. The Mary Kay eye liner is a simple black, twist crayon- it was an extra I was able to spare for my mobile makeup bag. Kind of random, but I love lip pencils! I have such tiny lips so any opportunity to make them look bigger, I’ll take advantage of. I like to use a slightly darker color πŸ™‚

These products are all fairly inexpensive, which is why I don’t mind toting them all over the place for touch ups. I save my more expensive, fragile makeup for at -home applications only.

What make up must-haves do you carry daily?

Eating Healthy Isn’t That Hard…

So I am on week two of healthy eating, and surprisingly it has been going SO well! The healthier food choices tied in with a little exercise already has me seeing results- and resisting temptation. My energy level has been so high, my body is feeling amazing, and getting into my pants is not as difficult as it was a couple of weeks ago.

I’ve found that eating a small breakfast in the morning, packing a ton of healthy snacks to eat throughout the day, and having a portion controlled dinner has been the best route for me.

In the morning I have been having either an english muffin, a hard boiled egg or a small bowl of Special K with strawberries.

English muffin with margarine and grape jelly.
Hard boiled eggs. I boiled a half a dozen at the beginning of the week, and kept them in the fridge.

Come lunch time I am not starving- which has been a change for me. I used to count down to noon; now I find lunchtime approaching before I’m ready for it. I’ve been bringing a variety of options all week:

Peanut butter, jelly and banana on multi-grain bread. I feel like a kindergartener, because I never end up eating the crust!
I love cottage cheese-these small containers are perfect!
Cinnamon granola and raisins, clementine, apple, craisins and baby carrots
Strawberries, yogurt, banana and a few ritz crackers- (I crave carbs and salt terribly)

For drinks it’s been water. I keep a cold pitcher of lemon water in the fridge at home. πŸ™‚

A few lemon slices make all the difference

Dinner has been salads, veggies, pork, sweet potatoes (I should have taken pictures)…I took a stab at my first stir fry last week and to my surprise- it had a stellar review! πŸ™‚

Yum!

Now, I haven’t been eating PERFECTLY every day, but I refuse to deprive myself. While visiting my family last weekend my Mom made an amazing dinner- I did my best to control how much I ate, but how do you say no to this!?

Home made mac and cheese, string beans with almonds, breaded chicken breast topped with bruschetta and gorgonzola and rice pilaf. She also made some amazing salmon, but I'm not much of a fish fan.

I am finding myself excited about my new eating habits. I can’t explain what a diet change will do to your body! My mind, energy, and esteem have been on a whole new level.

What are some of your favorite healthy meals and snacks? I’m looking for some new recipes and ideas πŸ™‚

Getting Organized for the New Year!

I spent this weekend organizing and cleaning my room- it was due for a head to toe. The biggest feat was my closet. I only have one semi-walk-in for all of my clothes, shoes, and handbags. I’ve needed more space for quite some time, so I took a trip to IKEA on Saturday and ended up buying a simple black dresser that worked wonders for my room! I assembled that bad boy all by myself! (With only a LITTLE help from my boyfriend ;))

It took a couple of hours to get the entire body and drawers built, but it was worth it!

I joke that this is dorm furniture, but it works perfectly in my room :). (I couldn't get an orb-free picture- freaky!)

I also wanted to find a solution for my shoes. They always end up in a big mess no matter how I organize them. I was thinking hanging shelves might be a good solution- IKEA had these for only $4.99 a piece. I bought five and hung them in my closet. *Life Saver!*

Best purchase ever.

The bottom slots of these organizers are perfect for storing scarves, hats and tanks.

I really went through my wardrobe and tried to clean house. Many clothes were moved into the dresser, and many were packed up to sell, give away, and donate. I can’t believe this was all that was left, but that just makes room for some new pieces, less is more πŸ™‚

I try to color code my clothes. This isn't necessarily my best effort-I was more focused on getting rid of things I no longer wear, I didn't spend much time getting them in rainbow order.

I used to have my television on this little book shelf in place of my dresser- it was so make-shift, and not very strong. It now has a perfect home next to my door.

I love those little candles, I try not to burn them. My Mom found them for me- they have an "AB" medallion on the front πŸ™‚

This is one of those picture/ribbon boards which I converted into a necklace holder.

I hang some headbands on here as well.

I got this jewelry organizer as a gift which works perfectly for my earrings, rings, bracelets and watches. I leave it hung on the back of my door.

Goal is to keep this organized year round!

I have two great night stands that I bought when I moved in. They are super sturdy and have some storage . I cleaned out the bottom cabinets and used them to hold misc. documents, products, chargers/cords, and throw blankets. I try to keep as little clutter on top as possible.

I love fake flowers. Is that tacky?... They never die!
(The candy dispenser is a little something I got my boyfriend-he is a legitimate sugar addict,)

My room is fairly small, but it is my little oasis. I am still looking for a few pieces to complete it- I’m trying to find the perfect French/vintage/sparkly mirror for over my bed, a standing lamp for next to my television and some tall pre-lit floral arrangements. Decorating is addicting!

For now, I just need to keep it clean πŸ™‚

Time to get cozy and retreat for the night! What are some ways you organize your room?

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