Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Mini-Trip Packing Essentials

Hello all!
 I can't believe the Fourth of July is this weekend and we are over halfway done with this year, I mean summer can slow down! Since it is the 4th, I would be guessing many of you are on your way somewhere fun, after all we are approaching one of the biggest travel weekends of the year. I may not be heading anywhere but that doesn't mean I can't help you pack!
I travel frequently on weekends and lots of people ask what I pack since I only and always take a carry-on, I find it much easier to take on a plane or throw in the car plus it forces me not to overpack for a 2-3 day trip. Here are a few of my tips and picks!
1. Choose the Right Carry-On
Obviously this is an important one, it is crucial to pick a carry-on that has enough room plus can fit in the overhead bins. I have and love the classic feel of this Diane von Furstenberg spinner suitcase (it is on sale plus an additional 15% off with the code 'FOURTH' right now) and I also love this Vera Bradley rolling luggage, I got one of these in a different print a couple of years ago and it has been great! It can even expand via zippers if you come home with a few too many souvenirs. 
Take a rolling/spinning carry-on! Duffle bags hardly can carry the essentials plus it can be heavy on your shoulders. A roller is also much easier to navigate in an airport especially if you are changing planes or have a long distance to walk between flights.
2. Choosing Your Clothing Options
Ok, so now you have your carry-on and it's time to fill it! First off, my go-to for any trip are easy dresses. They take up less room since it's just one article of clothing. Now this also depends on where you are going and what time of the year, thankfully dresses are in style year round. My all time favorite travel dress is this off the shoulder number, I own it in black and wear it almost every time I fly! I also really like dresses from Show Me Your MuMu, the best part? They NEVER wrinkle! I love this one (so tropical), this one (fun print) and this one (the colors!). Choose basics like jeans (I love a good skinny jean) paired with a basic tee and a statement necklace or lightweight scarf always looks good together and can easily go from plane to sightseeing. I am also a big fan of the t-shirt dress.
3. Shoes, Shoes, Shoes
Now depending on where you are going, shoes can make or break the trip. Don't believe me? Think of going out to a theme park in Orlando or taking a walking tour of Chicago and you have 5 inch stilettos on. Will they look cute? Yes. Will your feet hurt? Definitely. Nothing can bring a trip down faster than complaining and it becomes extra annoying when people complain about blisters and uncomfortable shoes. This is where you can be a pro! Do not wear shoes you have never worn before to do tons of walking. It will most likely not end well. I should know.
Instead break out tried and true flip-flops (I swear by Havianas) but be careful and make sure they are comfortable enough to walk the distances you are covering. I also really love wearing my classic Converse sneakers. Oh and wearing a dress with converse or converse type (under $20) sneakers? Totally in style! I wore this look in New York and San Diego and fit right in. Cute and comfy!
If you are planning to go out to a nice restaurant, show, dancing, etc. then I would recommend taking a pair of flirty shoes, maybe your favorite heels if you have some!
4. Bring a Hat!
I am a crazy hat lady. I love hats and always take at least one with me on every trip. Why do I love them? The can cover up a bad hair day (or if you don't have the time to wash your hair) and in hot and humid (or rainy) climates they are a downright lifesaver. Hats can also make even the basic of outfits more chic and fashionable plus if you don't have a ton of room left in your carry-on for hair products, this is a must! This basic black fedora is a great piece for anytime of the year, I also love this straw fedora perfect for summer and this Extra-Wide Floppy Hat would be fantastic on the beach! I would also wear this hat on and off the plane!
5. Make-Up, Skincare, Bags and Hair
When it comes to packing make-up and skin care be sure all products meet the TSA regulations and to always pack liquids such as mouthwash and shampoo (buy the minis!) in a clear container! With make-up, only pack what you need meaning the essentials like you can find in this post here! Also, another good tip is to pack a large purse such as this fun Mar Y Sol bag (it's like having an extra carry-on!) and a crossbody is always good to tuck into your larger bag for you to carry around once you reach your final destination!
I hope you guys enjoyed my tips! Now go travel!

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Summer Skincare and Beauty Essentials

Happy Tuesday!
Hope everyone is surviving the heat, my a/c keeps going out so it's like my own personal sauna at home haha! In these summer months, skin care (especially those with oily skin like mine) is crucial and make-up is often involved in many of your daily routines, I personally love a strong lip color that can brighten anyone's look! Here are a few of my favorites for summer that will keep you looking fresh all season.
Neutrogena Pink Grapefruit Oil Free Acne Wash //  Ok, if you have oily skin this is a secret weapon! I have used this wash since my senior year of high school and now into my grad school years. My skin has a (big) tendency to break out and this keeps a lot of my acne at bay and if you are currently breaking out, give this a try! It may be too harsh on those who don't have acne and/or oily skin so if that's you, only use 2-3 times a week. It always makes my skin feel fresh and gives the prettiest glow after use.
Clinique Pep Start Sampler Set //  I have always really liked Clinique's brand of make-up and skin care, it is often the first "designer" brand we are introduced to (hello 12th birthday makeover parties!) and sometimes gets overlooked. Their skin care has been a staple of mine since I first started wearing make-up, my mom gave me a set in my teens and told me how important skin is and to start taking care of it early. As always, mom was right!
Clinique Pep-Start Eye Cream //  This eye cream might be on the newer side but it has already found its way into my bag of must-haves! It reduces wrinkles and de-puffs around the eyes, for an extra spark put the tube in your refrigerator to have a real pop once you apply.
Clarisonic //  I love, love, love my Clarisonic! It is the perfect high-tech cleanser, it's like a spa day, everyday, but without the spa prices. There are various options as well as different brush heads for everything from anti-aging to acne to wrinkle reverse. Also, you can use lots of your everyday washes on the Clarisonic so you aren't bound to just their products!
Earth Science Herbal Tonic Mist //  You still need to moisturize in the summer but with it being so hot, heavy creams tend to weigh down and cause greasy skin and breakouts. A mist is something that is much more lightweight and still provides you with the essentials ingredients to give your face what it needs!
Aveeno Protect + Hydrate Skin Lotion //  The most important skin rule of all, especially in the summer...wear sunscreen! This is crucial, some sun is great for your skin, even recommended but laying out for hours and getting burned is the biggest beauty no-no of all. It will cause early signs of aging including wrinkles and crows feet and the most concerning? Skin cancer. It is no joke, wear your sunscreen!
EOS Passion Fruit Moisturizing Lip Balm //  These little lip balms are budget friendly and come in the yummiest flavors! I always start my lip color with this balm as a base!
Revlon Lacquer Balm //  Dramatic lips have always been my favorite beauty trend and these are the best lip colors HANDS DOWN! I have been trying out lipsticks and glosses for years and none of them really compare to these and I always get compliments whenever I'm wearing one of the bright colors. My favorites are Provocateur, Flirtatious, and Vivacious!
Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion //  Another must-have for summer? Primer! Shadows can disappear on lids faster than ice cream melting so primer, especially this one by Urban Decay makes sure you stay flawless all day and night. How strong is it? I used to coat this potion on my eyes in the southern days of summer for outdoor cheerleading camp as well as beauty pageants under bright lights and Sorority recruitment in the prime of August. My shadow never even budged!
Urban Decay Eye Shadows // Speaking of eyes, I have been a fan of these sparkly shadows with interesting names for years. The touch of sparkle adds just the right amount to make any look pop, I especially love Midnight Cowboy, Midnight Cowgirl, Toasted, Smog and Sin.
bareMinerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Gel //  I love a good tinted moisturizer in the summer, it has coverage but still feels lightweight and not heavy on your face. If you do get acne like I do, the worst thing you can do is pile on foundations and powders, it will just clog your pores more and powder will cake on and make acne more visible. A lightweight foundation like this is perfect! If you desire more coverage, I also recommend this foundation!
Benefit Erase Paste Brightening Concealer // This brand has the cutest packaging and best products around. If you have to wake up super early like me, their under eye concealer is a miracle worker! Soft, creamy and complete coverage, you can't go wrong!
Nars Blushes //  The brand known for it's umm, rather intense names have become a cult classic and their blushes are a staple of many make-up artists and Hollywood elites. Can you honestly say you have never heard of their famed blush, Orgasm? The pinky-peach blush with a hint of sparkle literally looks flattering on EVERYONE, seriously, it is a must-have beauty product not just for summer but forever and ever! I also really like their bronzer, Laguna, which can give you a golden glow without the harmful UV rays!
Dinoplatz Blotting Tissues // These blotting papers not only look trendy, they make sure you stay shine free all day in the summer sun and heat. Being from the south, humidity kicks in at 6am and stays all day, my skin can look like an oil slick by 8am. The tissues which are made from a natural Hanji (a Korean handmade paper from a mulberry tree) soak up oil and leave you looking fresh faced!
Essie Nail Polishes // I run a lot so my toes are always needing another coat of polish, these super budget friendly polishes pack in a fun punch of color and can be a great way to brighten up. Another plus? They are in small bottles which allows you to throw them in your bag and if you ever need a touch up, just take the tiny container and polish up!
Beauties, I hope you enjoyed all my summer skin and make-up picks!
Stay cool!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

What to Do? San Diego Weekend Edition

Hello all!

I just came back from the best little mini-vacation to wonderful, sunny San Diego, California! San Diego has been on my bucket list for a while now, I love the state of California and have now crossed L.A., Anaheim and San Diego off the list. California is great because there is so much to see and do plus the weather is fantastic year round. Back to this past weekend though! Let's start off my tips so you can plan your own weekend getaway.

1. Stay Close to the Action

San Diego quickly became one of my favorites when we soon after arriving it was evident how close together everything was. We chose to stay at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego since we knew the hotel would be nice and it was right next to the Gaslamp Quarter. Gaslamp is essentially tons of restaurants, shops, boutiques, bars, etc. If you plan on going out and having a really good time, say a bachelor/bachelorette party, girls weekend, group couples weekend and so on this is the perfect option. You are right in the middle of all the action and it is within walking distance to everything in the Gaslamp district.

Checking in was a breeze and all Hard Rock Hotels have such great d├ęcor! This specific one even has the famous sushi restaurant, Nobu, inside. There is also a really cool Roof Top Pool and Lounge that you can beat the heat at. I've stayed at several Hard Rock locations and they are always top notch in service and good prices, they normally have a good discount to offer as well!

2. Visit the Gaslamp Quarter

As I mentioned above, the Gaslamp Quarter is filled with shops, cute boutiques, fantastic restaurants and fun bars. The area can be a bit "touristy" so you will see a mix of everything from families, singles, couples, college kids, pretty much every age you can think of! If you are traveling with little ones, I will say it looks like it could get a little rowdy after hours in certain locations, think a lower scale Bourbon Street (found in New Orleans) so keep that in mind. You can walk everything in the quarter which is a good time saver and better for your wallet! However, there are plenty of cabs and rickshaws if your feet can't handle anymore walking.
The Quarter has some really great food options including my picks Lou and Mickey's , Ocean Room, Chocolat (amazing crepes and gelato), The Blind Burro, and Cafe LuLu. If you want more after 10pm fun (and over 21), look at the huge selection of bars, lots feature live music on the weekend so have a drink, listen to some tunes and relax. For my fashionistas out there, be sure to check out all the cool boutiques along the district!

Lots of fun to be had in this area but as always be safe and careful. You will be around large throngs of people especially after dark, ladies I suggest wearing a crossbody bag so you can have your hands free. In any case where you feel uncomfortable, always go with your gut feeling. Also, avoid looking like a tourist meaning wear normal clothes and don't stare at guide maps or look confused at your phone. Just mind your surroundings like you would in any situation and have a good time!

3. Visit the Donut Bar

When one of my West Coast friends mentioned we had to try the Donut Bar, which has recently be awarded numerous times for having the best donuts in San Diego and even the country, I knew we had to try it! My biggest piece of advice is to ARRIVE EARLY! Y'all I say this a lot on my travel posts but this is a key one. We had finished a 5k race and decided to walk over since it was so close, at 8:15am, 15 minutes after opening, it was an hour wait. Yes, my jaw dropped like yours just did. The line extends to crazy lengths especially on weekends.

Everyone looked at me like do we really have to wait in line for donuts? I made the point that what else would we really be doing for the next hour and we were only like 10 mins away from the hotel. So we took on the wait. Quickly we made friends in line with others awaiting the treats (and even became Facebook friends with several of our new buddies), it was like we were all in this thing together (yes, let's break out into a Disney song) and the closer we got, the longer the back of the line seemed to expand. Something cool that is done on Saturdays is the owner of the bakery will come out to greet everyone and even hand out free donuts to the kids! Check him out and the adorable angry birds donuts!

After making friends, laughing, and an impromptu Starbucks run (thanks to our new friends) it was finally our turn. There was a lot of hype with these donuts so we were ready to be impressed. They did not disappoint! Flavors ranging from Harry Potter themed Butter Beer to Strawberry Pop-Tart to a Homer Simpson inspired pink donut, so many choices. Scan the row, decided which ones you want then keep moving, those in back of you will thank you! The menu changes daily so there is always something new as well as old favorites. 

4. Visit the San Diego Zoo

We knew we had to visit the world famous San Diego Zoo, which is currently celebrating its 100th year! This zoo is huge, it straight up looks like a Jurassic Park type theme park, so wear your walking shoes! There are tons of animals, walking tours, bus tours, IMAX movies, Pandas, yes Pandas! Plus, my personal favorite the cute and sleepy Koalas. You can find out info on ticket options and how to plan your day here!

5. Sightsee on a Guided Trolley or Take the Tram to Explore Like a Local

Transportation is easy to navigate in San Diego and it doesn't hurt that everything is so close together! For a fun treat, take a trolley tour via the Old Town Trolley, if you are short on time, this is the best option. The tour is guided and you will get to see all the famous landmarks and then some! Find out all about the tours and how to get your tickets online right here! If you want to explore more independently, use one of the cities numerous trams, just be sure you remember where to exit and what line you are using!

There is so much to see and do in San Diego, you might not be able to see it all but you can see a lot! Everything from beaches, nightlife, dining, zoos, theme parks, and shopping are all to be found here. We loved that everything was a hop, skip and jump away from each other which made it easy to navigate and there was never a dull moment. Even on the way to the airport, we noticed the Unconditional Surrender Sculpture as we passed by and yes, since we had left early enough we kindly asked our driver to make the turn so we could see it up close! The iconic statue is located by a park near the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum and is around lots of cute fish markets, ships and ocean!
If you are thinking about going to the Golden State to visit San Diego go ahead and make a weekend of it!

Happy Travels!