10 Summer Beach Bag Essentials

10 Summer Beach Bag Essentials

10 Summer Beach Bag Essentials

Summer is officially here and you know what that means – time to hit the beach, enjoy some fun in the sun, and travel on a vacation or two. There are few things quite as glorious as a day soaking up the sun with the waves crashing nearby, and the summer season is the perfect time to enjoy it. If you’re looking to make a full-day trip to the sand, it’s essential that you pack your beach bag accordingly. Forgetting sunblock or water can quickly turn your day from fab to drab. Check out our list of 10 summer bag essentials. Continue reading

5 Common Reasons Your Skin is Breaking Out

SBOAlright, you’re tired of it. You are way past puberty, you wash your face regularly and you even splurged on that overly expensive miracle acne face wash! So what gives?! Unfortunately no matter how many precautions you may think you’re taking, you may still be missing some everyday habits that are causing your vicious breakouts. Here are 5 of the most common reasons you’re still breaking out:

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4 Reasons ‘BrainDead’ is Summer Must-See TV

BrainDead (Image Credit: CBS)

BrainDead (Image Credit: CBS)

Last summer, UnREAL and Mr. Robot proved that summer TV could be just as good as the real thing, and this summer’s new shows picked up right where those left off. But the number one show you need to be watching right now is CBS’s BrainDead.

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How to Look Your Best in Pictures!

How to look your best in pictures!

There unfortunately is no step-by-step manual on how to be photogenic, but being “unphotogenic” does not mean that you are not physically attractive. The most gorgeous person in the world could look like an absolute toad in pictures. There is a certain art to taking a good picture. Sometimes it is random, someone just catches you at the right time in the right place. But there are some tricks of the trade that can help you to make every picture a good one. Continue reading

Your First Time: Buying a House

Your First Time: Buying a House

When my husband and I started looking for a house, it was an exciting venture. It was going to be a place for us to just make a life together, but we had no idea how to even start that process. Other than stalking Trulia and making a wish list, we weren’t really sure where to go first. Beyond it being a fun time in your life, it can be stressful if you’re doing it alone or never had to handle a transaction as large as this.

So, here’s what I learned after going through the process, and what I wish someone had told me when we started looking to buy a house:

Know what you need in a house.

This is important and something that I think might be overlooked. What you need is different than what you want. You might want lots of land, a pool and an in-home movie theater, but you don’t necessarily need that, especially in a first home. Think of how many bedrooms and bathrooms you’ll need to be comfortable, the style of house, the location, what kind of amenities you want near by. These are the things that you need to keep in mind, and if you decide you want a pool you can always add that later.

Know your financial limits.

Just because you can afford a $1200 mortgage payment doesn’t mean you should. Many websites will have calculators that will max you out or tell you that you can afford half of what you make towards a mortgage payment. But I think we all know that’s crazy, and you need to remember that life happens. If you max out your budget or give half of it to the mortgage, you’ll be in a pinch when you need some extra funds. Lay out a budget and see how much money you could comfortably handle without feeling paycheck to paycheck. So to sum it up, if the calculators say you can afford $1400, look for something at the $900-$1100 range to ensure you have enough of a financial buffer for “life happens” moments.

Interview your real estate agent.

There are hundreds of agents out in the world looking to help you find your house, but not all of them are going to have your best interests at heart. Don’t be afraid to go in and interview your agent. If you don’t like them, try someone else. The right agent will make the process seem stress free and fun, instead of a stressful nightmare. Our agent was wonderful, and always said what she would do if she was in our place, rather than giving us the typical jargon.

Shop around for loans.

There are so many types of loans, and many banks will offer them. Every bank will have different interest rates, some better than others, so make sure you don’t just choose a rate because you don’t want to research. There are loans made specifically for people in the military, people looking to buy in rural communities, and even no-money-down loans. One word of caution though: any loan that says you don’t have to put down money for a house sounds great but the reality is you’ll be paying no-money-down mortgages.

Have a solid down payment.

This might seem like a “duh” moment, but it’s very important. Most places will recommend that you have about 20%, and that’s a very smart thing to do. Not only will that help reduce your mortgage payment, but it also avoids having to pay Private Mortgage Insurance (PMI). PMI is basically insurance that the loan office takes out to ensure you don’t skip out on payments and leave them with a huge debt. This happens when you pay anything under 20% of a down payment. My husband and I put down a little under 15%, but we were fortunate to have our PMI paid off at closing. The more you can save, the better you’ll be when you go to buy a house.
But the biggest tip is just to have fun. You only buy your first house once – duh – so make these moments the best you can. Do your research, understand what you need for a house, and enjoy your new home.

Is Your Sunburn Cause for Concern?

SCFCThe sun’s effects on our skin can range from some seemingly innocent freckles and a healthy glow to blisters and pain. It can be difficult to know when to let it go and when to freak out. Although all exposure to the sun is damaging and can cause skin cancer later in life, there are some warning signs to look out for when you get sunburn. Continue reading

The Twelve Steps in My Bravoholics Anonymous Recovery

WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE (Image Credit: BravoTv)

WATCH WHAT HAPPENS LIVE (Image Credit: BravoTv)

1.) I admit that I am powerless over Bravo–that my TV watching life has become unmanageable.

Every night after a long day at work, I plop onto the couch, grab the remote from where I last left it, and hit power on. Before my mind even realizes what my fingers are doing, I am in a trance, typing in the channel numbers to tune me into Bravo. It’s as natural of an act as turning on a light switch. It does not matter what day of the week or what time it is. I’m not even looking for a specific show to be on. I am paralyzed by the channel, tuned in with a half-conscious stupor, as the voices of The Real Housewives and Below Deck casts become white noise. My DVR is set to record each series, including “first looks” of new episodes, making watching any other channel or show impossible. I don’t make after work plans with friends if there is a new episode of Top Chef on and I would miss its live airing. Bravo consumes me, and I am powerless against it.

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DIY leopard print gold leaf tray

DIY Leopard Print Gold Leaf Tray by A Creative Day

DIY leopard print gold leaf tray

(Image Credit: A Creative Day)

Beautiful do-it-yourself projects that are so simple I wonder why I never thought of them always catch my eye. This DIY Leopard Print Gold Leaf Tray by A Creative Day is one such DIY. All you need to make this project at home is a gold leaf pen, a little creative flair and a tray that is in desperate need of some leopard spots!
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No Boyfriend, No Girlfriend, No Problem

HydraFacial MD Review: This Facial is Worth It!

HF

When it comes to skincare, I’m a big believer in prevention: monthly facials for anti-aging, SPF to avoid sun damage, and lots of water to stay hydrated (and to possibly stave off wrinkles).  

But, every now and again, I live my life a little too Patsy Stone. Speaking of, is anyone else as excited for the AbFab movie as I am? Anyways, because I graduated college in the last decade, as in before Britney Spears’ infamous 2007 breakdown, I just don’t have the kind of time that I once did to make such debaucherous rookie mistakes without taking action.

After one insane week in particular, I took a long, hard, squinty look at myself in the mirror, and I had to admit, I looked kind of like Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Quelle horreur! And! To top it off, my skin was freaking out because I went off birth control.  Mind you, I never really broke out, even as a teenager.  Yet, here I was looking like a disaster.  And I, being fairly vain (not conceited or narcissistic, just vain), had to do something.  IMMEDIATELY!

After much frantic Googling, I stumbled upon the HydraFacial MD. According to the website, the HydraFacial is a multi-step treatment that “cleanses, evenly exfoliates and extracts to remove impurities and dead skin cells while at the same time replenishing vital nutrients including Antioxidants, Peptides and Hyaluronic Acid.”  Super! It works through some futuristic-y sounding process called the “Vortex technology system,” and involves a machine that looks just as futuristic.

Upon further research, it seemed the HydraFacial addressed all my skincare issues: fine lines, skin tone, and congested skin. Brilliant. I consulted the handy HydraFacial MD locator and I was in with a same-day appointment. Once I arrived, I had a brief consultation, where I moaned about my skincare woes to a very no-nonsense aesthetician. Who incidentally, and completely irrelevantly, looked very much like Red from Orange is the New Black.  She agreed that the HydraFacial was a good choice for me and gave me a few facts as she ushered me into the treatment room.  

First, a HydraFacial isn’t like a traditional facial. Meaning, there are no masks (boo!), but my face would not be poked and prodded by those painful extraction tools (yay!). Instead, the machine would do everything, from deep cleaning to diffusing serums into my skin. Also, HydraFacials aren’t meant to take the place of conventional facials, but rather they serve as a sort of supplement to them.

The procedure takes about a half-hour, so it can definitely be a lunchtime treatment. However, some clients may experience redness, so for your first treatment it’s better to come when you don’t have any post-facial obligations. Some people may also notice that their skin will be sensitive to the sun after the HydraFacial, so be sure to apply a sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher, which we should all really be doing anyway.  Lastly, for some clients to see full results, a series of three weekly HydraFacials is recommended, with monthly appointments thereafter.  But many people look glowy and have clearer skin after the first treatment, so they just opt for monthly appointments for maintenance.  The smoother, plumped-up effects can last up to a week.

Then we got down to business. I braced myself and asked whether the treatment would be painful. I was assured that no, I may only feel a little suction on my face or a sensation comparable to microdermabrasion, which I’ve also had. And that was exactly right. I felt virtually nothing, except the coolness of the tool, which looks like this, gently brushing across my face.  

The treatment consists of four steps, and an optional Vortex-Boost serum:  

Step 1: Exfoliation

The Activ-4 serum sweeps away dead skin cells and makeup debris, revealing healthy skin.

Step 2: Acid Peel

I was slightly intimidated, as I’ve had fairly strong peels and I know they can burn. But I was pleasantly surprised that this glycolic/salicylic acid peel barely even tingled. And I had no redness, peeling, or flakiness post-facial.

Step 3: Extraction

This was a welcome, pain free-change. Standard facial extractions leave me awkwardly mouth-breathing and teary-eyed as an aesthetician seems to endlessly stab at my nose. However, here, all I felt was a slight sucking sensation while my pores were de-clogged.  

Optional Step: Vortex-Boost Serum

After the extraction you can add a Vortex-Boost serum, which includes “DermaBuilder” (for fine lines, skin tone evenness and texture), “CTGF/Connective Tissue Growth Factor” (for fine lines and wrinkles), or “Britenol” (for brightness and to diminish the appearance of dark spots and discoloration).  I did the DermaBuilder because it sounded like the most inclusive option.

Step 4: Serum

The vortex-fusion tool infuses an “Antiox+ serum” into the skin. Rich with antioxidants, peptides, and hyaluronic acid, Antiox+ reduces the production of melanin, which prevents the appearance of brown spots and discoloration, instantly firms and tightens, deeply hydrates, and promotes collagen and elastin production.

And that’s it!  

So how did I look afterward? Well, I wasn’t red at all, which was obviously good. And while my skin was definitely more hydrated, it didn’t look vastly different than it normally does after a traditional facial… Until the next day. I don’t know what happened, but when I woke up the next morning, my face looked incredible. As in, my skin was brighter and glowing, and my breakouts were gone, and those spots of discoloration that I always get after breakouts go away had greatly faded. Honestly, I didn’t need to wear any makeup at all, and I almost always like to wear a little bit.  Bottom line: I’m a convert! Because anything that makes me feel beautiful when I’m completely natural is a must-do in my book.

No Boyfriend. No Girlfriend. No Problem!

No Boyfriend. No Girlfriend. No Problem!

No Boyfriend. No Girlfriend. No Problem!

Let’s cut to the chase. I’ve been single for a fairly long time now and I’m okay with that. Of course there have been those moments at 2 A.M. where I can’t sleep and think too much and have cried for no reason at all, but 99% of the time, I haven’t been bothered by it. I haven’t lived these past several years thinking “Oh no! I’m single!”. Instead I’ve been focused on a thousand other things. Being single didn’t define me, it was only one of several hundred words that could be used to vaguely describe me.

However, 24 was a turning point for everyone having something to say about my singledom. Apparently, 23 had been the last year I could be single without it being an area of concern. When I turned 24, that age brought with it a heightened interest in my love life. Too many friends and family members had something to say. “You’re too picky!” “There’s someone, don’t worry.” “Aren’t you lonely?” “Don’t settle, my niece didn’t meet someone until she was 45.” “Let me go through all of my friends to see if there’s someone who might be interested!” What the hell? Each new and uninvited comment from some friend or stranger about me being single led to a type of thought process I had never had before.

Everyone’s opinions started swaying the way I viewed my own love life. For a few months, I was in panic mode. I downloaded a dating app. I tried to work out why I was single with whoever was willing to listen. Maybe I had been single for too long, maybe I was too picky. Worst of all, I was starting to feel bad for myself. However, I wasn’t actively working on trying to change my relationship status. There was still that little inner voice screaming at me that I really did like being single and that I wasn’t looking for a relationship right now. When I started to write this article, it was supposed to be about the important benefits of dating yourself. The longer I thought about it, the more I realized that wasn’t sitting right with me. This piece would have come out as yet another article trying to provide validation as to why it is ok to be single. Being single is a choice, not something forced upon you. That right there is the catch to society’s view of singleness. It’s treated like a disease that needs to be cured. I’m writing this for all my fellow single people in the hopes that you will realize this is not the case, and you shouldn’t have to justify why you’re single to other people.

Like I’ve already said, being single is an active choice. If I really wanted to be in a relationship, chances are pretty high that I could be. But I don’t want to be. People write that off as me being picky. I call it going with my instinct. I don’t decide to hang out with someone based on some list of factors I’m trying to check off, I go with what my gut is telling me. If something doesn’t feel right to me, I say no. And I’m sure this is the way for many other single people who are being told they’re too picky. You’re not being picky, and you don’t have to defend why you are being picky. You know you better than anyone else, and you know what is best for you better than anyone else.

There’s also the slight chance that people just aren’t actively seeking out a partner. On my current list of priorities, finding a guy is not near the top, and I’m even less interested in trying to make something happen by force. People are all about organic these days. Eat organic, use organic soap, wear organic clothing, take organic medicine, blah, blah, blah. We’re a society that is so focused on organic products, yet when it comes to relationships, we’re so quick to turn to apps and asking for set ups in order to find some type of relationship instant gratification. What happened to the organic relationship? One that occurs naturally without the assistance of a distance locator and the option to swipe right or left? A better question, why should you have to tell people that’s what you’d prefer to happen? An even better question, why is everyone so focused on other people’s lives and relationships?

Here’s the thing, the people who are focused on you being single are solely focused on what you might be lacking as a single person. Please, dear concerned friends and family members, ease up on the concern. We singles do not want your pity, or sympathy. In fact, it’s almost insulting. You may see your intentions as helpful. You may think that finding me the perfect setup could be a top notch good deed to add to your list. But here’s the thing, unless we’re asking for your help, do not assume we need your help. Stop focusing on the empty space next to us when we walk into a room. Again, that’s an elected empty space. It doesn’t mean we are sad or lonely. It just means we’re doing our own thing.

And that’s a good thing! Being single means really getting to discover who we are. It may sound cliche, but it’s true. In my case, I see my twenties as a precious and valuable time of life. They’re a time to begin a career, nurture your hobbies, discover what types of people excite you, find out who you are and aren’t compatible with. Yes, you can do this with a partner, but you can also do it on your own. The friends I seek out and enjoy spending time with definitely have the qualities that I’ll probably hope to find in someone someday. Because I’m single, I have the time to invest in all of these areas. But again, I’m not here to provide validation for someone else, we’re only validating it for ourselves.

I’ve come back to a point where the only person I listen to when the topic of me being single comes up is myself. I appreciate the people who want to find someone special for me, but if I’m not worried about it, they shouldn’t be either. I’m embracing this time for what it is: a time to explore, to create, to dream, and to do whatever the heck it is thatI want to do. I’m selfish, but I’m ok with that! There will come a day when I’m ready to stop flying the single flag and I’ll readily give up my time for the sake of someone else, but  for right now, I’m enjoying it for all it’s worth. I hope all my fellow singles are as well. Don’t worry about what others say or think- they were all single at one point too, and as I’ve said, that was anything but a bad thing.

Apple and Cucumber Cooler Recipe by Girl Cooks World

(Image Credit: Girl Cooks World)

Nothing is better on a warm summer day than a light and refreshing beverage. The Apple and Cucumber Cooler by Cate of Girl Cooks World is a healthy and incredibly easy way to quench your thirst. Cate’s been kind enough to share the recipe for this delicious two ingredient wonder with us and I can already hear your taste-buds thanking her!

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Your First Time: Ordering Sushi

Your First Time: Ordering Sushi

One of the most intimidating things I have ever done was order sushi for the first time. I remember sitting at the table at my favorite Chinese restaurant and internally debating if I really wanted to attempt it or not. What if I didn’t order it correctly? What if I didn’t like it? What if I accidentally ordered some with raw fish (I know a lot of sushi is raw, but not all of it and I prefer my fish cooked)??! Continue reading

Microblading: The permanent way to get fuller, sculpted brows!

They say the first step is admitting you have a problem, so my name is Ashley Gebhardt, and I am an eyebrow overplucker. I lived through the super thin brow trend and it was a very self destructive time for me. I plucked so frequently and so many hairs that I can’t even remember what my life was like before I overplucked. But now with all the products on the market there’s hope for me and everyone like me who has plucked their eyebrows into oblivion.

From pencils and powders to gels and fibers, there are tons of temporary fixes for overplucked eyebrows, but they’re exactly that- temporary. Anyone who has ever enhanced their brows with these products knows the fear of losing a brow to sweat or smudging. You can use waterproof eyebrow fixes, but even those aren’t foolproof. So what’s an thin eyebrower to do? How about trying the newest permanent fix for fuller brows, Microblading?

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Everything I Ever Needed to Know I learned from… ‘Clueless’

CLUELESS (Image Credit: Paramount)

CLUELESS (Image Credit: Paramount)

All my ‘90s girls out there know that, before the Mean Girls wave crashed in, there came Clueless, brought to you by the most loveable fictional character of all time, Cher Horowitz (Alicia Silverstone), duh. Continue reading