My 24th Year

Last Wednesday I celebrated my 24th birthday which is still really crazy to me, not because I’m afraid to get older, but because I feel like I just turned 21. Either way, it’s here and honestly I’m excited for this year.

I was lucky enough to have a great dinner and celebration thanks to my amazing boyfriend Tom.

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I’m going to commit to regularly posting on my blog and taking it more seriously because it is a passion project that I really do care about. I started this blog in Spring 2015 and now I have 72 published posts, almost 400 followers and I have had the chance to connect with and get to know some of you, which has been such a great experience for me.

There are some incredibly personal moments that have happened in my life over the last few years that I hope to share with you soon, because I really believe it can help someone else out there.

I can’t say how grateful I am to have this community and outlet… so thank you. I look forward to posting every single time because of your support and kind comments.

I am pretty active on Instagram, so follow me there! I try to keep up on my Instagram Stories pretty much daily.

Please let me know what you guys would like to see more of in future posts by commenting one or a few numbers below:

  1. Travel Posts
  2. Health/Recipes
  3. DIY
  4. Mental Health/Self-Care

 

UNTIL NEXT TIME,

Emily

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Natural Products I’ve Been Loving

Winter is here again. The time that my skin decides to wreak absolute havoc and I am forced to stay indoors thanks to the chilly, snowy Chicagoland weather. Any other Midwesterners out there understand the pain right along with me?

I have to admit I have a horrible tendency to let my skin dry very badly, which isn’t the best idea for someone who has eczema, but to be honest it’s always the last thing on my mind. I finally started using many more natural, cruelty-free products to take care of my skin and my body, so I  figured that I would tell you guys about a few of my favorites.

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I recently purchased the Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Night Cream with Clary Sage and wow.. it has helped my face tremendously so far. Before I was using this my skin was actually cracking from lack of moisture. The packaging claims this product is 99% natural and not tested on animals, so it’s some good stuff. It does have a fragrance, which I would describe as kind of “earthy”. I personally like the smell, but I would say try to sniff it if you can before you buy. The price point isn’t bad either at only $7.59 on Amazon.

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Sticking with Burt’s Bees, this is not sponsored at all…I’m just a fan, I have also been using their Ultra Conditioning Lip Balm with Kokum Butter. This is a 100% natural product and it has done wonders for my lips. If you have dry lips, try this out because you will be so relieved.

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Over the last year or so, I’ve been really wanting to get away from “normal” deodorants that contain aluminum and I finally found one that I really love to use. The Tom’s of Maine Long Lasting Deoderant (wild lavender scent) has been my go-to. I will say that if you are prone to sweating, are going to an event or stressful situation or just want more assurance that you won’t sweat through your clothes, this product probably isn’t one you want to use. It does not contain anti-persperant, so it’s just going to act as odor protection. I love the lavender scent, but if lavender isn’t for you, they have several other options to choose from.

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Tom’s is one of my absolute favorite natural, sustainable and cruelty-free brands. I have been also using their toothpaste for the last 6 months or so and love it. It doesn’t have any of the sweeteners that most toothpaste brands contain, and they have a variety free of fluoride if you’re looking for that. I use the one containing fluoride. If you are looking for a better alternative to your current toothpaste I think this one is a great one to try.

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Shea Moisture has the BEST conditioner that I have ever used, and that I’m convinced I ever WILL use, and it just so happens to be cruelty-free, organic, natural, fair-trade and family owned. It’s called the Raw Shea Butter Restorative Conditioner and I could not recommend this enough, if you have to try one thing on this list this should win 100x over.

I am looking for more recommendations, specifically for body lotion, makeup products, etc. so let me know in the comments what you love.

Thank you so much for reading, as always,

Emily

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Health Kick: Cutting Processed Foods + Sugar

Here’s a little history: A few years ago, I got in SHAPE. I made the decision to change my absolutely awful diet and work out as often as I could. I lost a good amount of weight and for the first time in my life, I had a flat stomach. It felt amazing! 

Not only did my body feel great, but I was feeling so much better mentally. I was constantly motivated and energized. 

For the past year or so, I have kind of found myself going back to my old ways. I eat whatever I want, and I’m not necessarily gaining any weight, but I feel like crap all the time.

So, I’ve made the decision to start eating healthy again and to start incorporating more exercise into my week. 

  
I am going to cut out most (nobody’s perfect) processed foods and stick to a whole food diet. I also want to try to limit sugar as much as I can, aside from natural sugar in fruit. 

These are my personal goals for right now and I’m very excited to see how I start to feel.

Kind of ironic that I’m staring this on Fat Tuesday..

I will post updates and other health related posts as I go along on this journey. 

Thanks for reading, I hope you all have a lovely Tuesday!

-Emily

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Hellos and Goodbyes

When you’re young, everything feels infinite and wonderful; there are butterflies flying around outside, you can be a princess or a dinosaur, and the sun is shining all the time. There is no time to worry or be sad, unless we don’t get ice cream when we REALLY want ice cream (or was that just me?).

We never thought about sickness, until we or someone we know is suddenly battling with it. We never thought about death, until we saw our first relative or family friend die. We never think about life fully when we’re young, because there is no need for us to. I think that preserving innocence is one of the most beautiful things in the world, because after it’s gone, it’s gone.

But, now that I’m all grown up, I’ve witnessed a decent amount of things. Some of them have been absolutely beautiful, like seeing and feeling love and embracing nature for it’s true beauty. But, some of them have been the hardest things in the entire world, like witnessing all the sickness and death of my loved ones. That’s life. It isn’t meant to be easy for anyone, and we all go through things, both good and bad.

So, this last week has been a total roller coaster..

I had mentioned in one of my last posts that my Grandpa was put on life support and was fighting for his life. I didn’t get into detail because I didn’t feel it necessary. After over a week battling, I am very saddened to say that last night, around 7 PM, we lost him. He had finally let go. Through all his suffering, he has finally found peace and this makes the pain a little bit easier to cope with for my family and myself.

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My Grandpa and Grandma several years back

Death is never easy. It isn’t like once you see a few, you’re able to brush it off like it’s nothing. Each individual death drills a hole through the heart. This one was especially difficult.

We all love my Grandpa so much, and he we always be in our hearts. It’s good to know that he is reunited with my Grandma once again. RIP Grandpa Arias.

But, through all the sadness and disaster, there has also been some good.

On Saturday, my Family and I all went to a wedding for my cousin Shaun. Of course, things were very stressful given the condition of my Grandpa. But, we all still were together to witness love and life.

It was a very nice wedding and I had way too much food (as usual). And in true Emily fashion, I dropped my vodka and orange juice all over the dance floor, shattering my glass.

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One of my favorite highlights of the night was the photo booth. I am a sucker for them and of course me and Tom took complete advantage.

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So, through everything, we made the best of the wedding and continued to think about my Grandpa, as did the rest of the family.

In all of the tragedy, I’m blessed to know that there will also be a new life coming into our family in May! My brother Tim and his girlfriend Ashley are expecting a beautiful baby girl and my family and I couldn’t be more excited.

She will be very spoiled, and you can expect to see a whole lot of her when she arrives in the spring.

Until next time,

Emily

 

January Favorites

So I technically got some of these things on Christmas, but because I didn’t do a December favorites post.. here I am.

January has gone by incredibly fast for me. I started school on the 4th after taking a semester off and getting back into the swing of things has made it fly by. I’m heading into midterm week next week (I’m on trimesters so things move pretty quickly) which has taken up a lot of my time.

But, that hasn’t hindered my ability to still enjoy my new things that I’ve acquired over the last month or so.

iPhone 6s (regular, not plus)

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This is the most recent item that I’ve gotten. I realize this iPhone isn’t like a brand new item, but it’s brand new to me and after having an android for a long time IT’S EXCITING! I’ve been finally able to get a lot of the apps I’ve been wanting to try on iOS.

I got mine in rose gold (of course) and I chose not to get the plus since I was so sick of how big my other phone was.

Since I have a Macbook, having this phone helps me connect easily to my iCloud and ultimately makes my life quite a bit easier in terms of photo sharing, etc.

It runs super quickly and is a beautiful upgrade. HAPPY WITH MY CHOICE.

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Floral Birdy Makeup Bag

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I am obsessed with this makeup bag for several reasons. First of all, it’s so adorable. I have an obsession with florals and woodland creatures; so really, this is a win-win for me. Secondly, my boyfriend’s mom got this for me for Christmas which is the sweetest thing ever because she picks out the most unique and personal gifts. Also, this thing is pretty big for a makeup bag, which is PERFECT for me.. because I have virtually no makeup storage.

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I believe it is from Etsy, but I couldn’t find the particular shop since it was gifted.

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Aquamarine Earrings

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These earrings are gorgeous and I am in love with them. My boyfriend Tom got these for me for Christmas and it was the sweetest thing to receive. At first glance, I thought they were just normal studs, but then I realized they were my birthstone and the fact that he thought of that is so cute to me. I’m terrified to lose them since they’re so nice, but I will be wearing them tonight at a wedding I’m going to!

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Too Faced Chocolate Bon Bon Palette

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Alright, this is an actual January purchase!

I had received some gift cards to Sephora for Christmas and couldn’t decide what I wanted to get. I looked at tons of palettes, read a lot of reviews, watched a lot of tutorials and landed upon this one: Too Faced Chocolate Bon Bon. I had heard amazing things about the  OG Chocolate palette and I heard they actually smell LIKE CHOCOLATE. How could I say no to that?

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From the few times I’ve used it, I really love it. The colors are beautiful.

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UD Gwen Stefani Palette

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This palette is my absolute favorite. I received this from my best friend Zac for Christmas (completely unexpectedly, he is the sweetest) and I was beyond ecstatic. I immediately began messing around and fell.. in…. LOVE.

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I mean, you can’t really go wrong with an Urban Decay palette, can you? I would definitely suggest trying this palette out if you haven’t yet. The shade ‘Punk’ is literally too good.

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Elizabeth and James – Nirvana Black Perfume

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I feel like I just can’t ever escape Mary-Kate and Ashley. I was a super fan as a kid, and now I’m obsessing over this fragrance they created as an adult. This is probably my favorite perfume of all time. It has a vanilla, sandalwood and violet scent.

Apparently, it’s a unisex fragrance, and I had my boyfriend try this out to be sure. I think it 100% works for both sexes. If you’re into dark, sultry shades.. definitely go give this a sniff-sniff.

Available at Sephora

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Book: Hunger Makes Me A Modern GirlIMG_3296.JPG

I started reading this at the beginning of January and I am very into it. It’s written very nicely and if you’re into personal memoir books, this is one to check out. I love Carrie from Portlandia (one of my favorite shows) and still totally want her and Fred to date. I am not finished with this book yet, but so far it’s pretty great.

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WoodWick – Marshmallow Fireside Candle

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I received a jumbo size of this candle for Christmas after running out of my smaller sized one over the summer. If I was trapped in a room forever and could only have one candle to continuously burn, this would be it. It is my absolute favorite scent. It is calm, relaxing and subdued.

Also, WoodWick candles are super amazing. They last forever and they crackle when they burn, which adds to the relaxation factor (especially while reading a book).

I suggest trying out this specific candle or one by the same brand.

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That’s all of my current favorites to feature for January. I hope you guys enjoyed.

Let me know down below what your favorite products, things and books have been this year so far.

As always,

Thank you all so much for reading and following!

-Emily

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How To Survive Christmas Shopping As A Poor College Student

This one is for you skipping-laundry-day-because-I-spent-all-my-money-on-Chipotle girl. Tis the season to be poor enough already because our student loan money is just about out. AS IF GIFT-BUYING ISN’T ALREADY STRESSFUL ENOUGH.

As a struggling, poor college student, I have been in your shoes and I somehow still pull through as a pretty decent gift giver.. if I do say so myself. So, as my gift to you all for this special holiday season, I’m going to give you my how-to give some decently nice gifts on a BUDGET (a serious budget).

Stretch that penny. Stretch it real good.

  1. Do Not Buy Gifts for all Your Friends (Only the ones you like a lot).

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This is a pretty obvious explanation. The less people you buy for, the less you spend.. which in turn is GOOD. Select just a few of your closest friends and  buy them one thing that they would enjoy. They aren’t relying on you to make this the best Christmas ever with your gift to them. Don’t overthink it. Cheap.. easy.. quick.. done.

Friend Gift Suggestions: Candles, A Single Clothing Item, A Cactus in a Cute Pot, A Liptstick or other Makeup Product

2. Pay Attention TO ALL SALES

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After working retail for a combined amount of 3 years, I can tell you this: there is alwaaaays some kind of sale.. and if you wait another few days there will probably be a better one. Christmas is the time for retailers to DRAG YOU IN by offering some deal that you can’t resist. Some of them are bullshit, but some of them are really great and can check quite a few things of your list. Grab the AD section of the paper from your parents house and go to town.

*Don’t be afraid to ask a store if they have any upcoming deals. The worst that can happen is they tell you “oh we don’t know what is to come” (lie) and you just move on*

3. Black Friday is too much work. Stick to Cyber Monday.

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If running through parking lots, lines and stores that are jam-packed with crazed deal-seekers all while being way too full of Thanksgiving dinner sounds unappealing to you……try Cyber Monday instead. You still get all the excitement of getting a deal without having to shove caffeine-kooky-Carol out of the way. Clothing sites usually do some pretty great things and almost every site gives free shipping *cheers*.

If you’re looking for the big buys.. head over to Amazon.

Also, don’t feel ashamed to maybe grab a few things for yourself.. it is Christmas after all.

4. Don’t Be Afraid of DIY

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It’s the age of Pinterest which has opened the door to handmade being acceptable as a gift and not “cheap”. There are THOUSANDS of how-to’s online for things like bath bombs, candles, ornaments (my DIY for this coming next week), scarves and just about everything else. Package whatever you make in a cute way and BOOM.. easy, cheap and thoughtful gifts.

5. Set Limits For How Much You Plan To Spend 

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Your parents, siblings and significant other are really the top priorities when it comes to gift buying.. so work on those first. None of these people want you going broke to buy them a gift, unless you have a lot of awful people in your life, so don’t stress about how much you’re spending. Get a decent gift and don’t go crazy.

When it comes to a relationship, it’s okay to get a little overboard (since I am always guilty of this). But, still respect (kinda) the price limit you set. It’s okay to discuss with each other how much you both want to spend before hand.. saves both of you from overspending or one person getting more.

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I hope this helps any of you sad, stressed college students out there.

As always, thanks for reading.

-Emily

 

 

 

DIY Painted Polka Dot Pumpkin

A few days ago, Tom and I decided to go to a local pumpkin patch to grab a few of our own from the fields. It was a wonderful thing to do together and really brought us into the fall spirit. We picked about 6 total pumpkins and some mini pumpkins all for the low price of $15. When the friendly farmer lady told us the price we almost laughed cause we thought she was joking. Even Home Depot charges about $10 for an awful pumpkin.

My advice: always choose the pumpkin patch over large retailers.

The price made us super happy about the pumpkin adventure and we went back to my house to carve them up. We didn’t make any real design plans.. instead we grabbed some knives and cut into them hoping for the best. To the tune of Monster Mash on repeat, Tom chose a simple design: a very simple design. He went with your typical small-faced jack-o-lantern, but it was still adorable because everything he does is adorable to me. I went with a slightly more complex idea.. JACK SKELLINGTON (from Nightmare Before Christmas). I think both of ours turned out perfectly and they now sit proudly outside of my house. They might be rotted out by the time Halloween actually comes, but that’s okay.

It’s really the simple things that bring me so much joy.

Yesterday, I wanted to get a bit crafty with one of my leftover pumpkins. I had heard of “painting pumpkins” and thought it would be an awesome thing to try. I came up with a simple idea: gold paint with black dots. It is so adorable and perfect to add a little bit of flair to your average pumpkin display.

Just in time for pumpkin carving, follow my DIY below if you want to try something new and make your very own PAINTED pumpkin:


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What You’ll Need:

  • Pumpkin of your choice (any size will work)
  • Acrylic Paint
  • Acrylic Paint Brush
  • Cup of Water
  • Paper Plate
  • Old T-Shirt or Newspapers to work on top of

Directions:

  1. First, make sure your pumpkin is rinsed or wiped clean of any dirt (you will run into more if you actually pick it from the field). Working with a clean surface is very important or you will run into problems with the paint sticking. If your pumpkin has a super long stem, cut it shorter before you start. Here’s mine all cleaned up and stem trimmed:

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2. Pick the first color you want to be your “base coat”. I used metallic gold acrylic paint that I found at Michael’s. Squeeze some paint onto your paper plate and begin to paint a thin layer onto the surface of the pumpkin. After it’s evenly coated (it will look very transparent) let it dry for about 20-30 minutes. Here it is with one coat:

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3. If your pumpkin is dry to the touch, you’re ready to apply a second coat. This will probably be ALL YOU NEED. Repeat step 2 by applying an even layer all over the pumpkin. It should look opaque enough, but if it doesn’t you may need to wait another 20 minutes and apply one more coat. Here is how mine looked after the 2nd and final layer:

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4. After waiting 30 minutes for the color to dry.. it’s time to add the polka dots! I used metallic black for my dots, but any color would do the trick. This step takes a little bit of patience and artistic ability since it is KINDA difficult to freehand circles. I drew two different sized dots. Some about the size of a quarter and the others about the size of a nickel. I tried to do an even mix of both for a cool effect. If you use a dark color like black.. you will only need one coat of paint for the dots. Here it is in the beginning after just a few:

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Then I added even more:

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5. Wait for it to fully dry. Clean up all your paint and make sure you rinse the brush for future projects! Use to decorate an indoor area or put it outdoors to add to the jack-o-lanters! It adds a unique, handmade flair to your front step.

Here it is next to my carved pumpkin:

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Thanks for reading and I hope you all try this before the big day which is coming up very soon!

-Emily