Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Favorites

I love watching vlogs, especially on the topic of monthly favorite things (see example here).  I thought that it would be fun to bring this idea to my blog and share some of my favorites from this month with you.  Here is a recap of the things that have made my life a little bit brighter this January.

Husband found these while shopping at Orchard Supply Hardware.  Best. Keys. Ever.  We had to run back to the store to buy C-3PO with R2-D2.  Those were the droids I was looking for.  

I just love Wen cleansing conditioner and discovered this mango coconut scent on amazon.  It smells incredible, and I love how well it works with my hair.

Have you tried Wen yet?

I found this Poolside candle from Bath and BodyWorks.  It smells exactly like Bobbi Brown's Beach perfume (which I love).  It reminds me of suntan lotion and salt water.  Note:  If you do not find these smells charming, you will NOT enjoy the scent of this candle.  It is definitely something you will either love or hate.  

 If you have smelled this, I would love to hear your opinion.

I have a new favorite ice cream flavor.  Well done ,Willie Nelson.  If you are a fan of peaches and shortbread, this is worth trying.  I ate an embarrassing amount directly out of the carton the other night.  

I bought this infinity scarf from Ana at Ma Cherie on Etsy (also of the fantastic blog Our House In The Valley).  I am in love with the deep green color and how easy it is to wear.  I have been sporting it every day this week.  

I was a huge Friends junkie back in the day, and Happy Endings reminds me of my love for that show.  I adore the witty humor and the dynamic of the six main characters.  The plot lines are a little twisted, but they make me laugh out loud.  Are any of you fans?

Note:  This is not a sponsored post.  The ideas expressed here are solely my own.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Influenster Box: Palmolive Fresh Infusions

My latest Influenster box contained three bottles of Palmolive Fresh Infusions dish washing liquid (also sold at Walmart).  Not the usual food and beauty product mix, but I am a sucker for clean dishes and fruity soaps, so I was pretty stoked to receive this.  Plus, I liked the way the three bottles looked on my counter.  I am so ready for spring (but I digress).

If you are unfamiliar with Influenster, it is a service where you create an account and fill out questionnaires to receive badges.  The goal is to unlock as many badges as you can, which makes you eligible to receive different types of boxes.  Once in a while, you will be selected to try out a few products for free and talk about them.  Although I did not pay a dime for the items I received, my reviews here reflect my honest opinions.  

The scents I received were lemon thyme, lime basil, and ginger white tea.  The first thing husband and I did was unscrew each cap and smell them.  Being a lover of fruit scented things, we enjoyed what we were smelling.  We chose to go with the lime basil for our first trail, which was our favorite scent of the bunch, and let a friend have the lemon thyme (per Influenster's instructions).  It seemed to bust up grease as well as any other dish soap I have tried.  I was happy with its cleaning performance.

Pleasant Scent, check
Grease Busting Power, check
Clean Dishes, check

Would I purchase this on my own?  Only if my first choice dish soap by Method was unavailable.  Although I was happy with Palmolive's overall performance, what sets Method apart is the creative and unusual scents it comes in, along with the pump style bottle which makes dispensing the soap super easy.  I can squirt the soap directly onto a brush, and there is no mess.  I don't ever have to rinse the excess soap off of the slippery bottle itself (and I know you know exactly what I am talking about).  That is a huge plus.

Do you Influenster?  Have you received any boxes yet?  Most importantly, what do you look for in a good dish soap?

You can check out other reviewers thoughts on this product here.  

Monday, January 28, 2013

Gone Girl

I am going to come right out and say that this will be a hard book review to do without giving away any spoilers.  I am going to try my hardest.  This book was intense and amazing.  Definitely one of the best books I have ever read.  Every time I thought I knew what was happening, I was wrong.  The first part of the book led me in one direction.  The second part, a total 180.  It left my head spinning, and I couldn't stop reading listening.  

On the day of their fifth anniversary, Amy mysteriously disappears, leaving husband Nick with a lot of unanswered questions.  We hear the story from their individual points of view, Amy's starting on the day they met, and Nick's starting on the day Amy disappeared.  Nick isn't acting like the concerned husband he should be.  What is he hiding?  Who took Amy?  Was Nick involved?  Why is Nick smiling for the tv cameras?  Then I realized that they were both unreliable narrators. They both seemed to have personality disorders and secrets they were hiding.  I was so taken in, I had to keep reading to see how it all ended.  It didn't disappoint.  

Overall, I would give this book five out of five stars.  I loved the whole story, beginning to end.  When it was over, I missed Nick and Amy.  I felt like I lost some interesting, albeit psychotic friends.  

 I also just finished The Carrie Diaries, and will be doing a review soon.  Next up, Mommywood, by Tori Spelling.    I read her first book, Stori Telling a while back, and I loved it.  I was never a Tori Spellling fan until her first book. Also, after the intensity of Gone Girl, I needed something a little fluffier.  So far, this is doing the trick.  

Have you read Gone Girl?  I would love to hear your thoughts.  What are you currently reading?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Happier at Home: 21 Day Relationship Challenge (Days 2-8)

I recently told you about Gretchen Rubin's 21 Day Relationship Challenge.  Every day, for 21 days, she is sending out an email with a specific resolution that I am supposed to follow.  I wanted to participate because I am a huge fan of her books and found that they have made a positive influence on my life.  I am applying these resolutions to my husband, but they can just as easily be applied to friends and family (for the most part).  Here are the resolutions from the last week (day 1 was mentioned in my original post):

Day 2- Give Gold Stars:  This resolution basically asks for you to give daily positive affirmations to those around you .  Aside from making sure I tell my husband that I love him on a daily basis, I have found myself expressing gratitude to him for doing "routine" things around the house, like taking out the trash or cooking dinner.  Even though a lot of these things are part of our normal rituals, I like the idea of showing my husband appreciation for his contributions to our daily life.  It is always nice to feel appreciated.

Day 3- Make The Positive Argument:  This resolution is a reminder to not be so critical of others.  It states that a person can argue for either side of an argument and find evidence to back it up.  Once you argue for a particular side, you stop, not looking at the other side.  If you think that your husband is selfish, you can find a lot of examples in your head of times he had demonstrated that behavior.  However, if you make the positive argument, that your husband is considerate, you can also think of many examples of that being so.  So when you think something negative, try to take the opposite approach .  As odd as the sounds, I have tried it out a few times this week, and it has helped me see things in a different light.

Day 4- Under-React to a Problem:  This one I had to think about.  I have a typical Type-A personality, and am not always as laid back as I want to be.  The purpose of this resolution is to help cultivate a calm attitude and help you feel more in control.  I really appreciate the spirit of this, and I hope to not sweat so much of the small stuff in the future.  

Day 5- Give Warm Greetings and Farewells:  The resolution basically asked me to make sure I acknowledge my husband's coming and goings, and vice versa.  This came naturally, especially after the first resolution to kiss in the morning and at night came into play.  My husband now reminds me if I ever forget.

Day 6- Dig Deep:  This resolution hasn't come as easily to me as some of the others.  Dig deep means to look inside of yourself to find extra patience and control your emotions.  We'll call this one a work in progress.

Day 7-  Abandon Your Self-Control: There are two ways people avoid temptation (and do not have to exhibit extreme self-control): some people do things in moderation, others abstain from those activities all together.  If you are trying to drink less soda, a moderator would limit themselves to one can a day, where an abstainer would not keep soda in the house.  The point of this resolution is to  recognize which category my husband and I individually fell into a and not interfere with what worked for each of us.  This of course, also applies to other people in your life.  

Day 8- Control the Cubicle In Your Pocket:  As a blogger with a full-time job, this resolution is really hard for me to follow.  It states that I need to make time in the day to be away from my cell phone and off the internet. I spend all day at work on the phone and on the computer.  I often come home and get sucked into the vortex of blogging, reading blogs, surfing the internet, posting on Instagram, checking Facebook, etc.  Next thing I know, my husband is talking to me and I am grunting in response (much to his annoyance).  I go to bed and I have to check one last thing on my smartphone.  It never ends.  I do need to remember my priorities and unplug regularly.  I am not doing this well yet.

Are you participating in the 21 Days of Resolutions?  Do any of these resonate with you?  Are any of these things a part of your regular routine?  I would love to hear how you integrate these things into your life.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In Search of a White Watch

I have recently taken notice of white watches.  I see them popping up on websites I frequent and on bloggers I admire.  It was just a matter of time before I realized that I was missing a white watch in my little collection.  Being that I am a daily watch wearer, I though I might just do a little window shopping and see the different styles that were out.  These are my current favorites, although I haven't really decided how much I would spend on a piece that I consider trendy.

What do you think, is this a passing trend?  Do you own a white watch?  Which is your favorite piece?  

In Search of a White Watch

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Birchbox Vs. Ipsy (January 2013)

I haven't done one of these posts in a while.  They tend not to get a lot of comments, so I wasn't sure people were enjoying them.  However, they seem to be one of the most searched topics on my blog, so I thought I would get back to reviewing these monthly.  I received two vastly different shipments this month.  I was greatly impressed with one, while the other left me ready to end my subscription.

In My Birchbox:

Eyeko Skinny Liquid Eyeliner -  I can't review this product because although it was mentioned on my card, it was not included in my box.  Considering this is a service for which I pay a monthly fee, this kind of oversight is not really acceptable.  However, I have been receiving these for a year now and this is my first missing piece.  Thin ice Birchbox.  Thin ice.

Juicy Couture Viva La Juicy Perfume - This is a nice floral perfume which I seem to have a bunch of samples of from other stores.  I look to Birchbox to introduce me to products that I haven't heard of before, so this was not an exciting inclusion.

My Multi-Purpose Mattifying Moisturizer -  I have been using this moisturizer under my Urban Decay BB Cream.  So far, I love it.  It has a very mattifying effect on my face and I have not had any problem with shine during the day.  It also didn't irritate my sensitive skin, which is a must for me.  I would buy this.

Ojon Damage Reverse Instant Restorative Hair Serum -  To be honest, I have owned Ojon products in the past that I have liked, but had a hard time with their smell.  I was a little reluctant to open the bottle at first.  I haven't tried this on my hair yet, but I can say that unlike my previous Ojon experience, this does not have a cloying floral odor to it.  

Nuxe Body Fondant Firming Cream -  I do not like this product.  I have tried it a few times, and I cannot get past the smell.  It is so strong that I wanted to wipe it off my face after I applied it.  It smells like stinky perfume.

The Ipsy bag this month was adorable, and the perfect size for storing items in my purse.  I really adore the star lining.

In My Ipsy Bag:

Nailtini Straight Up Color Nail Lacquer in Bloody Mary - I love this color and the application was very smooth.  I was impressed with this product and would buy it in the future.  I checked out their website and Nailtini has a nice selection of colors.

Josie Marin 100% Pure Argan Oil - I tried this and didn't really get what it was supposed to do.  I have been slow to catch on to the whole Argan Oil movement, even though I know it is very popular.  If you are a fan of this product  let me know how you use it and what it does for you.  I am definitely missing something.

Pacifica Tuscon Blood Orange Mini Body Butter - I love Pacifica products and the blood orange smell is delightful.  I also love how moisturizing this feels when I apply it.  The scent is faint and not overpowering.  

Sexy Hair Spray and Play Volumizing Hairspray - I have only used this a few times, but I liked it.  It has great hold without making my hair stiff.  It doesn't have a noticeable scent either, which I appreciate.

SOHO "Get A Grip" Eyeliner Brush - I haven't tried this yet, but was excited to receive it.  

Overall, I give Birchbox a solid F this month.  I haven't received a box this bad since last year, when I was getting close to stopping this service.  I am there once again, so hopefully February will be a redeeming month.  There really is no comparison to what I received in my Ipsy bag, which was a solid A.  I feel I got a lot more than $10 worth  (the nail polish alone was worth $13), and found more products I will be using in the future.  

Monday, January 21, 2013

My So-Called Instagram Life

Petunia getting her beauty sleep.

I am not exactly sure why this is true.  Has anyone ever tried it?

She really likes to be snuggled in there. 

Husband makes the best cocktails.  I love the weekend.

Apple flavored desserts are my favorite.  I made a Dutch crumble apple pie, mostly because I am not a huge fan of pie crust.

Watching football in front of a roaring fire with Harriet.

Have you tried this?  It is scrumptious (and a really good idea).   

More beauty rest. 

Hanging out with the porkie and catching up on my never-ending stack of magazines.

Someone got a little big for her britches and dove head first into the bag.

A beautiful, clear January day by Mt. Diablo.

Petunia finally learned to love her snuggle bed.


My Christmas cactus, blooming for the first time ever.

I hope you have a fantastic week.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Happier at Home: 21 Day Relationship Challenge (I'm Taking It)

I am a huge fan of Gretchen Rubin's books, Happier at Home and The Happiness Project.  They had such an impact on me that I have been doing my own monthly resolutions since reading the first book.  Side note: I need to get back to blogging about them again.  I am such a fan that I subscribe to her newsletter.  Last month, a call went out for people interested in participating in a 21 day relationship challenge.  I accepted.


The challenge started today.  The first resolution, kiss in the morning, kiss at night.  Simple enough to follow; make sure I kiss my husband first thing in the morning and when we come home from work.  A way to help us stay connected and to quote Gretchen Rubin, "By acting more loving, we make ourselves feel more loving, and at the same time, make our sweethearts feel more loved."  I really liked this idea, so I am going to work on making it a habit for the next 21 days.  

I can't wait to see what resolution is in store for me tomorrow.  Anyone else participating or interested in taking the challenge too?  If you want to hear more, check out Gretchen's blog here (joining is free). 

Have you read either of these books yet?  What resolutions are you working on this month?

*Note:  This is not a sponsored post and I am in no way affiliated.

Monday, January 14, 2013

I Love the Playoffs

I grew up in a family that was very into football.  Cowboys fans to be precise.  I had the biggest crush on Troy Aikman when I was in middle school.  Then I went to the University of Florida, where life revolved around football.  Best five years of my life.  So when I moved to the Bay Area, I had to pick a team.  It was a simple choice, the 49ers or the Raiders.  I became a Raiders fan, which was wonderful for a few years, until it wasn't anymore.  Don't get me wrong, I am still a die hard fan, but it would be amazeballs to have a season where we won at least 50% of our games.  Needless to say, I will be rooting for the 49ers next weekend.  Gotta stay local.

Way back in 2002, I was in New York City, and I stopped by the NFL Today on CBS stage.  They were about to film a live show and I asked how to get tickets.  They told me to just have a seat.  It was a freezing cold November day, yet somehow I was warm.  After the show there was a meet and greet, and I got pictures.  

First off, with Dan Marino.  Being from South Florida, the Miami Dolphins were a big part of growing up (we even learned their fight song in elementary school).  

I also got to meet Jim Nantz and his daughter.  Both men were so nice and gracious about taking photos with fans.  It was a fantastic experience.  I just wish I was more into makeup then:)  

Are you watching the playoffs or are you anti-football?  Who are you rooting for?  

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

This was a beautiful book.  That was the first thing that came to mind when I tried to describe the feelings I had after reading it. The characters were likable and the story so relatable.  You knew these kids when you were in high school.  You understood their pain.  When it was all over, I was emotionally invested.  I wanted more.  

 This is a coming of age story that captures teenage angst perfectly.  It takes place in a high school in the early 90's (coincidentally, the same time yours truly attended).  The story is told via letters that the main character "Charlie" writes to an unknown person.  Each letter details recent events in Charlie's life: drugs, first kisses, first loves, domestic violence, and growing up.   Charlie also shares his love of music, movies and and books, many of which I had to look for on You Tube and add to my reading list (If you are interested, you can find Charlie's lists here).  

Overall, I would give this book 5 out of 5 stars.  It is an easy read, and the story is engrossing.  If you are a fan of young adult fiction (and don't mind a heavy story), this should definitely be on your short list.  Next up, Gone Girl and The Carrie Diaries (at the same time).  

Have you read the book or seen the movie?  What are you reading now?  I am always looking for my NEXT next book.  

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

The Best Laid Plans

I love to decorate for the holidays.  If you read my blog often, you probably just nodded in agreement.  From October through December, our house takes on a festive tone, both inside and out.  My husband has a train table that he built and likes to display for Christmas.  I have a Department 56 village I have been collecting for about 12 years.  Because our living room isn't big enough to display both, we usually rotate years.  This year we had a great idea.  Put my village on the train table.  It was not a great idea. 

So we started unpacking my porcelain masterpiece, box by box.  Our first problem was that we had originally planned for a grassy scene, but my village is the North Pole.  So we started laying down fake sheets of snow.  We also had to cut holes into the table so the electrical cords from the village could be plugged in.  It was a painstaking process.  December was also a month of working long hours.  We didn't get a whole lot accomplished.

Our second problem was Petunia.  To fit the train table in our living room, it had to but up against our sectional couch.  Petunia kept jumping from the couch onto the table (with all of the delicate pieces on it).  We had to have a barrier made.  It is clear, but we never got around to taking off the protective plastic.  I am sure it will be awesome next year.  

You will also notice the spray bottle on the table.  Yep, that was for Petunia too.  

Before we knew it, Christmas Eve was upon us, and our table looked like this (plus a really cool train that had since been put away).  We ran out of steam.  

Our village also extended to the top of our mantle, which also remained unfinished.  You can also see the pups new buddies Ham and Justin Beaver (yes, we think we are really funny in our house) hanging out (they were too big for their stockings).

This was a first for us.  We had never started a holiday project and not finished it before.  Sometimes the best laid plans simply fail.  This year the plan is to start the table in November.  That gives us ten months to change the grass paper to snow paper and rearrange our living room to make our table more Petunia-proof.  

For now, I am enjoying having everything put away.  As much as I love to decorate for the season, I love having my house back in order just as much.  

Do you have any good "best laid plans" stories to share with me?

Monday, January 7, 2013

Christmas Aftermath

Hello everyone, and happy new year!  I hope your 2013 is off to a great start.  My last week of work leading up to Christmas was chaotic at best, and by the time my holiday vacation came, I was exhausted.  I took two weeks off and spent time relaxing.  It was hard to not photograph every moment, but in the end it was a necessary two weeks of rest for me.  I am going back to work today refreshed.  We'll see how long my staycation glow will last.  

Here is a quick recap of a few Christmas gift highlights.

This is a bracelet made for me by my mother-in-law, who is a jewelry designer.  It is so beautiful, I cannot wait wear it.

My sister took some of my favorite pictures of the dogs and had the blanket made for us.  I am so touched, I want to preserve it forever.  

I can't talk about the fiasco that was the Sugar Bowl, but husband got me a new UF gnome to add to my collection.  

We cheered the Gators on together.  It was not a good game (unless you are a Louisville fan).

Gifts from my husband, my sister, and one of my best friends.  I am really excited to start my Pandora bracelet (and honestly a little obsessed).  I am also very into anything rose gold.  I have never been one to mix metals in the past, but 2013 Erin is going to start.  We'll call it a resolution.

I wanted to share this stocking stuffer I found for my husband.  If you are a Star Wars fan, then you will recognize it as Han Solo frozen in (chocolate) carbonite.  It was a big hit.

As you can see, Meatball really enjoyed all of the toys that Santa Pug brought.  

Tomorrow, I have a post coming up about our train table, and how the best laid plans don't always pan out.  

I'm Erin

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Hi, I'm Erin. I am living back on the east coast after 15 years out west. Currently readjusting to humidity and mosquitos. I love to take pictures and read fashion magazines.... and to talk about nothing in particular (ok, and my dogs).

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