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25 November 2014

Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1- how you annoy me, let me count the ways

So, like most the population I went and saw the first part of the third Hunger Games movie, Mockingjay Part 1, this past weekend. And don't get me wrong- it was a great movie, well done, good acting, suspenseful, exciting and dramatic,but not very funny...

That might sound weird, but compared to the books (which I will very much do because they are favorites of mine) it was completely lacking in the humor department. LIKE ALL OF MY FAVORITE SCENES WERE GONE!

I was discussing this with my friends when I walked out of the theater- that they had left out on of my favorite scenes of dialogue from the storyline. Not the scene itself, because that's still in the movie but the funny part that happened in the book. Several in fact- to the point that they basically left every funny scene in the book out. Why? Is there any legitimate reason for this? I can only reflect that it is meant for the subject matter of the story- uprising, rebellions, a society that is falling apart. Even so, isn't humor what helps make us human? That we can laugh, find the silly things in life and still carry on even in the worst times. The comedic relief here was few and far between, and completely unnecessary because it is present in the book. Is there a message to to this madness or am I just reading way too much into it. Who knows.

Either way the movie was good and I was very impressed with Josh Hutcherson. When he was first cast in the role of Peeta this is the book that scared me the most for him, would Josh be able to be third book Peeta? Could his acting push himself into that role? So far- yes, he had some excellent scenes and I'm intrigued to see how he does in the second half.

And that's my rant about the hunger games. bah-humbug.
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21 November 2014

these are a few of my favorite things...

I'm a little late to this link-up but figured it would be the perfect way to end the week. With the arrival of my new couch tomorrow (cross your fingers it fits through the door!!) I figured I'd give a list of what I would like to purchase (or receive) to help finish up decorating my living room.

 so if you need any ideas for what to get me for the holidays... here they are!

1) A new coffee table:
found here at Wayfair
      I really want a two-level coffee table to help keep some of that mail and magazine junk off the top- this is one I've found so far that I've liked, I also really need to measure my space..

2) Floor Rug: Ugh- I'm so torn about a rug. My wall is painted purple, the new couch is light gray. I was thinking of a yellow or blue rug. But this might be the hardest decision of them all- here are a few I've seen and liked..

3) Bar Cart: All the rage these days- I'd love one with a wine-rack built in!

4) Fun Wall Prints: a toughy because i really don't know what I want but I know I want something- details, details. I'm a big fan of putting up some quotes- maybe some favorites from books. obviously that means some harry potter. I like the idea of a gallery (below) with a mix of book quotes and fun ones.

 5) Shelving for Pictures: with a look like this..

Happy Friday!

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20 November 2014

What's in My Makeup Bag? + a cash giveaway!

Good question- I don't wear makeup on a daily basis but when I do wear it I have some set staples that I'm not sure I could ever replace...

make-up bag

Garnier BB Cream- this stuff is amazing, it works as a moisturizer, foundation, and so much more. It covers me up and evens me out without feeling heavy or gunky.

I usually layer a blush (from The Body Shop) and a bronzer on top.

The Clinique eye-liner is great, goes on smooth and the cap has a built in sharpener- perfect for on the go. 
And we can't forget about the eyebrows! The Anastasia Brow Wiz helps keep me looking sharp and defined.

My sister gave me this Urban Decay palette several years back and I really need to buy a new one- I've used a good chunk of it up and it never lets me down.

In a Birchbox several months ago I received a sample of Benefit's They're Real Mascara and seriously haven't turned back. Hands down the best mascara out there.

And Bite Beauty lip gloss- I discovered this at Sephora about this time last year and am in love with everything they offer. The gloss up above is a great shade of red that pops, doesn't stick and lasts forever.

Chapstick- have about 20 sticks of this laying around, in bags and pockets. Caudalie's lip conditioner is my go to especially at this time of year.

And on to the good stuff...
With the holiday's coming up faster than fast, 
this giveaway is really perfect!
145 extra dollars to buy something totally rad for your hubs, or kids, or yourself! 
Yes. Definitely spend it on yourself. 

What I am trying to say is that you HAVE to get entered to win this money.
Because when is free money a bad idea?
The answer...if it's drug money. Bad idea.
This however is clean.
Extra clean free money for you... for following these beautiful ladies:

KarliTrish | Megan | Karissa | Rebekah

Seems like a win all the way around. 
Get on it. Show them some love.

The Grits Blog - Little Friday Linkup

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19 November 2014

iPhone 5 vs. Samsung Galaxy

Today I have a great post for you from the lovely Ash over at The Grits Blog. She's hanging out on my sidebar this month and she wanted to share with you the biggest differences between the iPhone 5 and the Samsung Galaxy. If you haven't checked out her space yet, you need to ASAP. She has some great tutorials, some tasty recipes and is an excellent designer (for example- she did my newest layout!) Go say hello!

Hey! I am Ash from The Grits Blog. Today, Rebekah is letting me take over her awesome space. I thought it might be fun to talk about the ten biggest differences I noticed when I made my switch from an iPhone to a Galaxy (a choice that I am still glad I made). If I am missing anything get at me on twitter! I would love to hear from you!
The Grits Blog

Not sure if you know this - BUT I made the big switch from an iPhone to a Samsung Galaxy S5 a few weeks ago. I am sure that some of you are like - TRAITOR but I had to make the switch. My iPhone was dying at 50% and there was no way I was going back to one after that crappy experience I had with my iPhone5. Do I plan on going to back to an iPhone ever? Yeah, probably - I miss the picture editing apps and the iTunes.

That being said, I really do love my Galaxy. There are a lot more things that I can do on my Galaxy that I couldn't do on my for one video editing, scheduled night mode. So today, I am here to layout out the ten biggest differences that I noticed right away between my iPhone and Galaxy s5.

(1) Night mode

I used night mode all the time with my iPhone so when I switched to a Galaxy that was one of the first things that I searched for. The problem was, I couldn't find it - that's when my good friend google came into play.

Night mode on the galaxy is called blocking mode. Blocking mode is actually found under settings, then personalization.

What makes blocking mode so unique is that I can set it to only run during certain times, only allow certain people (contacts) to break through blocking mode, and that I have the option to block incoming calls, turn off notifications, and turn off alarm and timer. I like having these options - options that weren't available on my iPhone (and if they were I didn't know about it).

(2) No FaceTime

This is a feature that I really miss and am learning to get over. Helllloooo more snapchatting and gliding. Have you heard of the Glide app? It's video text messaging - it's pretty awesome, check it out if you haven't already. My Uncle Mark thinks it's lame but whatevs, I like it.

(3) Fast menu from top instead of bottom

All I have to do is swipe down from the top and I instantly have access to wi-fi, location, volume options, screen rotation, bluetooth, and settings. I also have an ear phone jack at the top - I like that a lot more too.

If I remember correctly, there was a fast menu at the bottom on the iPhone. Just wanted to point out that there was a fast menu on the Galaxy too.

(4) Water Resistant

Do I even need to write anything here? I mean water resistant says it all.

(5) Swipe Messaging

Sacrificing face-time was well worth it when I figured out I could swipe text. This means that I don't actually have to type anymore, I literally just glide my finger across the letters I am wanting to type and voila text is written.



To be honest, I am amazed at what it translates. For example, I will be trying to swipe dog food but will start my swipe on a s and just kind of run my thumb all over the keyboard and it magically knows exactly what I am wanting.


Harry Potter style magic.

(6) Led light indicator for new activity or messages

I love, love, love, love this little feature. Every time I had my iPhone on silent I never knew, without clicking the round button, if I had text or not. Now, I can tell by just my looking at the front of the phone. There is a different color light for different kind of alerts - text, email, etc.

(7) Free Ringtones

I like to have songs for my ringtones. When I had my iPhone I was limited to whatever came on the phone unless I wanted to pay for a custom ringtone. Wellllll with my Galaxy I don't have to deal with that anymore. I downloaded this free music app called Ocean Music Pro, download whatever song I want, and set it as my free ringtone (I will be posting a tutorial on how to do this).

In case you are wondering, my current tone is sitting on the dock of the bay by Otis Redding.

(8) SD Card

This is my all time most favorite feature of my Galaxy.

I can add storage space to my phone.


When I had my iPhone I was ALWAYS running out space - whether it be due to pictures, apps, music - what have you. Now, that's no longer a problem. I just install a little micro SD card and wabam! MORE STORAGE!! Yes, you guys it's as simple as that. 

Another cool feature that I like is that I can move storage from my phone storage to my SD card storage. I can do this with pictures, apps, whatever. Cool right?

(9) Photo Apps

I see all of these posts by bloggers about these amazing apps but when I go to download them, I find out that I can't use them on a Galaxy. #DEPRESSED

(10) No podcast on Samsung Galaxy

I love to listen to Podcasts but I can't figure out how to do that on a Galaxy. My favorite were Fresh Air (an NPR interview type podcast, it's awesome0 and Dave Ramsey.

Have you switched your phone lately? 
If so, what's been your favorite feature?

Do you know of any podcasting apps that are available for the Galaxy?

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And on a different note I'm participating in a pretty awesome giveaway that you all should enter!
 With the holiday's coming up faster than fast, 
this giveaway is really perfect!
145 extra dollars to buy something totally rad for your hubs, or kids, or yourself! 
Yes. Definitely spend it on yourself. 

What I am trying to say is that you HAVE to get entered to win this money.
Because when is free money a bad idea?
The answer...if it's drug money. Bad idea.
This however is clean.
Extra clean free money for you... for following these beautiful ladies:

KarliTrish | Megan | Karissa | Rebekah

Seems like a win all the way around. 
Get on it. Show them some love.

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18 November 2014

Mustard Chicken- Sheet Pan Super

I made this dinner a few weeks ago and it was fantastic for so many different reasons- one it tasted great, which is always helpful. It was also wonderful because everything came out of the over at the same time- your starch, protein, and veggie all in the oven together and ready together to eat immediately. Can't get better than that...

1.5 pounds sweet potatoes (2 medium)
2 teaspoons chopped thyme leaves, plus a small bunch of thyme sprigs
1/4 C whole-grain mustard
4 garlic cloves
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
3 pounds bone-in chicken thighs or drumsticks (or a mix), patted dry
2 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2/3 cup plain dried bread crumbs
2 tablespoons of EVOO, more for drizzling
1 pound broccoli rabe, trimmed
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/3 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt

1. Prepare the sweet potatoes: Heat over to 425 degrees. Cut potatoes into 1-in thick slices. Reassemble the slices so the look like intact potatoes, inserting a sprig of thyme between each slice. Wrap each potato in 2 layers of foil and place on a pie tin or directly on over rack. Back until very tender, 60-75 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, make the mustard butter for the chicken. In a small bowl combine the whole-grain mustard and chopped thyme leaves. Mince 2 garlic cloves and stir into bowl. Remove 1 tablespoon of mixture and set aside for future use. Add the butter and dijon mustard to remaining mixture in bowl and stir to combine.

3. Prepare the chicken- season the chicken with 2 teaspoons of salt and 1 teaspoon of pepper. Then rub the mustard butter all over the chicken. Place the bread crumbs in a shallow bowl. Coat the chicken evenly with bread crumbs. Transfer to a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil.

4. Once the potatoes have baked for a half-hour, add the pan with chicken to the over and bake until the chicken is golden and no longer pink, 35-40 minutes.

5. As the chicken cooks, prepare the broccoli rabe. Toss the rabe with olive oil, remaining salt and red pepper flakes. Smash remaining garlic cloves and toss into rabe. Spread onto a sheet pan. Add to the over with the potatoes and chicken for the last 10 minutes of cooking time. The rabe is cooked when the stems are tender and the leaves are crisp at the edge. All items (chicken, sweet potatoes, and rabe) should come out of the oven around the same time.

6. To serve combine the reserved tablespoon of the mustard mixture with the sour cream or greek yogurt. Serve chicken with broccoli rabe and sweet potatoes on the side, dolloping the potatoes with the sour cream-mustard mixture.

Martinis & Bikinis
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17 November 2014

This Weekend I...

- played with some super adorable kittens

- moved into watching the third season of Gilmore Girls (I restarted the series a few weeks ago)

- met up with some family friends for breakfast at an amazing bagel place and then walked around central park

- bought a couch!! remember back in like February when I started blogging, and I went couch "shopping"? Well I finally made a purchase. Now we just cross our fingers that it actually fits through my apartment door.

If all is well then my next purchase will be a new coffee table, rug, maybe a bar cart? and I would love some new prints for my walls..

- tasted my Club W wine selections, haven't heard of Club W yet? It's a pretty amazing monthly wine service that helps you choose new wines based on your taste preferences. I used an Influenster perk to sign up which gave me a free bottle of wine and free shipping- with it I choose the 2013 Wonderful Wine Co. Rosé, 2013 The Independent Zinfandel, and 2013 Alcalá Monastrell. I tried the Zinfandel, which I really liked, and the Monsatrell, not my favorite but good, with my friends this weekend but still haven't tried the Rose yet. If you are interested in in signing up go ahead and use my referral link to receive $13 in credits!

- organized some of my room. This was kind of serious. I threw out a good deal of old make-up, papers, expired meds, put a bunch of clothes in the goodwill pile and more. Not too shabby.

And that's that, pretty productive, and yet relaxing as well. Now if only it was Saturday again!

p.s can we talk about how cute this monkey was this morning-..
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14 November 2014

The ClearProof Acne System from Mary Kay

I received this set complimentary (i.e free) from Influenster and Mary Kay to use and review after a 30 day period. All thoughts and opinions are of my own.

I had the privilege over the past several weeks to test out the new ClearProof Acne System from Mary Kay. I received this set after applying and qualifying for the ClearProof VoxBox from Influenster. If you haven't heard of Influenster, you should definitely check them out- it's a really great site for finding out about new products, trends and occasionally you get to try out some new things for yourself. Yay free stuff! 

 Anyways- my skin isn't fantastic, so when this opportunity presented itself, I said why not? it doesn't hurt to try something new... Beforehand I knew it would be an acne-related product but did not know the brand it was coming from so it was definitely a surprise when the box showed up at my door and it was from Mary Kay. Back in the day, in middle-school and high-school, I used a lot of Mary Kay products including their cleansing system at the time. ClearProof is a new and improved system and I've been pretty happy with it. 

The product claims to do several things
  • Clears up blemishes without irritation and helps maintain a clear complexion.
  • Unclogs pores, removes excess oil and leaves skin feeling healthier.
  • Fades the look of lingering acne spots.
  • Attacks multiple factors that can contribute to acne breakouts.*
*as described on the Mary-Kay website

My box came with 4 items for 4 steps. A cleanser, toner, acne medication and moisturizer. I went ahead and took some before pictures and dived right in. Not to be gross, but I typically only wash my face once day, sometimes every other depending on how dry my skin feels. But for the first few days I made sure I did it at least once, if not twice as recommended. 

and now for some pictures that I can't believe I'm actually showing.. 

The pictures on the left are the before- on the right, were taken last night. I do have 2 small spots on my face right now that are disappearing quickly so ignore them. 

Just in the first week I noticed a change- the redness in my face and chest started to go down and some of my scarring was already starting to fade. And I wasn't breaking out- at all.

Not going to lie though, after that first week I went back to my of my normal face-washing schedule, but still saw improvements! I really like the cleanser, toner and acne medication but I'm so-so on the moisturizer. Partially because the weather is becoming much cooler and dryer so my face needs just a little more oomph at night. I would love to see a night cream/serum/heavier formula from them for the winter months. 

In the course of the 4 weeks I think I had about 3 white-head pimples (TMI- I don't care). This is remarkable for me, I've battled cystic acne on my jawline for the past few years and didn't have one appear in the past month. The pores on my nose look smaller, my face looks better in the mornings when I wake up, it doesn't get as greasy during the day. As you can see from the pictures above, some scarring and spotting went away, the redness has been significantly reduced and my skin just looks healthier.

Overall I was very happy with the system and am going to continue using what product I have left. The system really needs a full 12-weeks to see the most change and I want to see how great my skin can look after those full 12-weeks. I've  already seen a dramatic decrease in my breakouts, my chest is nowhere near as red as it typically can be and after 4 weeks of use I can see the difference in the mirror at first glance. All things you want to see when you make a change. 

 So Thank you Influenster and Mary-Kay! I'm very excited to have been able to try this and would recommend it to others who may battle the same issues to also give it a try- I think it is definitely worth your while.

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13 November 2014

5 Travel Tips for NYC (and my favorite apps to use!)

I've now lived in NYC for just a bit over 5 years and love the place to pieces. It was quite a whirlwind when I moved but each day I learn more tricks, tips and helpful hints. I will now bestow some of that wisdom on to you...

1) Public transportation is your very best friend- and Google maps (my favorite trip app). In other places it might seem a nuisance to take the bus, or not worth the time to climb on a train - but in NYC it's a necessity. Depending on the length of your stay it even be worth it to purchase an unlimited bus/subway pass. Many stations have self-service kiosks as well as an attendant to talk to- one who  might be able to give you your best options.

2) IF you do need to take a cab- which yes, you may want/need to at some point- always flag a yellow cab. the black/gypsy cabs can grossly overcharge you and they are sometimes super sketchy. Also note- a green cab (new to these parts) are the same as yellow cabs- they can only be hailed though in outlying areas though (Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn, Upper Manhattan). Don't expect a green cab to stop in the middle of Times Square- he cannot.

A cab is available if the yellow light is lit (see wonderful picture below). I can't tell you how many angry/disappointed tourist faces I see each day when they stick their arms out and can't figure out why a car isn't stopping. A super useful app for this is Uber. I love Uber in NYC because one of the options is getting a yellow cab (uberT).

3) Don't eat near the touristy places!! Time Square can be lots of fun and an exciting place to see but all the food in that area is super super overpriced and doesn't taste that good- besides the fact that is mostly chains you can probably find down the street from your house. Your best bet is to use another great app- Yelp. Yelp can help search the best or most reviewed places nearby, how much the location costs and give you the distance to them. I've found many gems on Yelp, places I still go back to with friends and family.

4) Ask for help. Besides the reputation we have, New Yorkers are actually pretty friendly and very helpful. Now, this doesn't mean you try and ask the businessman hauling butt down 5th Ave to stop and give you directions- he is going somewhere and needs to be there now, but there are plenty of other locals walking about leisurely that you should be able to spot, stop and ask.

5) Go to the Museums! Both the MET and the Natural History Museum you can pay what you want to get in- they are also almost exactly across from each other (with Central Park as a separator) Make a day of the two- start at one, walk through the park then go to the other! It makes for some great sights, a nice walk, and is light on the bank. And by walking from the east side to the west side (or vice versa) you experience a completely different view of the city.

One of my favorite things about NYC is that everything is so different. There is a neighborhood for everyone, from the Bronx to Brooklyn you can always find something new, unique, and beautiful. Spring/Fall are great times to visit because the weather is typically mild and that makes the subways, and walking about much more enjoyable. And if you have the time- do walk. The subway is convenient and can be quicker but walking gets you the best experience of all.

Hit me up when you come for a visit! I love sharing places to eat, visit, and meeting with new people for a drink/chat.

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