My First Birchbox: Unboxing & Review

WOW WOW WOW, Happy Monday!

I’m super excited to be back on Sparkle and Shine and even more excited to share that my first post back is all about my first ever Birchbox! For my 23rd birthday, three of my best friends got me a three-month subscription to  the monthly service. Thanks to Amber, Julia, and Hope, each month I receive 4 or 5 samples of high-end beauty, haircare, and skincare products- delivered right to my front door!

I was like a little kid on Christmas morning the first time my Birchbox came. I always love trying new beauty products after watching other bloggers and vloggers rave about them or finding new products on my own. With commuting into the big apple for work, the amount of time that I have to go shopping and spend hours browsing through Sephora, Ulta, and even a local drug stores, are very limited. Now, I don’t need to worry about finding new products – they are delivered right to my door!

Check out below to see what I had received in my box and my ~honest~ opinion on what I thought about it all!

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  1. Catherine Malandrino’s Romance de Provence Eau de Parfum: An ode to Provence, the timeless scent mixes fruity and floral nuances with vanilla and patchouli. If there’s one makeup product I am always nervous to try new of – it’s perfume. I’m not a fan of super strong scents. Clinique’s Happy is my go-to because of it’s super light scent. This perfume was a little stronger than my liking. With hot summer days coming up, where I spend my mornings underground on the NYC subways, a strong sample size of this perfume will be perfect in my bag. Quick spritz and the oh so fabulous (not) smell of the subway will be gone. 
  2. Beauty Protector’s Protect & Detangle: This best-selling elixir locks in color, protects from heat damage, and adds silkiness to each stand. During my freshman year of college, I became obsessed with straightening my hair. Later classes, compared to early morning for high school, meant more time to get ready and I would spend each of those extra minutes frying- yes frying- my hair away. Four years later and I am still trying to fix the damage I caused to my hair. I only straighten my hair in certain situations and when I do, I make sure to use heat protector. This is by far my new favorite heat protectant! I usually only straighten my hair once a month, so April was the first time I got to use this product and I loved it. It didn’t have a lingering scent and did not need to use a lot of the protect for it to work. Plus, my hair looked so smooth and silky. If only I had a selfie to show it off! 
  3. Real Chemistry’s Luminous 3-Minute Peel: Apply this acid-free peel to clean, dry skin for luminous results. Massage in a circular motion to exfoliate, then wash skin with a mild cleanser to remove. I always love trying to find new face masks and exfoliants – it’s my favorite. I love how fresh and clean I feel after deeply exfoliating and cleaning my face. As I’ve mentioned, commuting in and out of the city for work takes a lot of my time. By the time I get home, from 15+ hour days, I just want to shower and go right to sleep. I love that this exfoliant didn’t add extra time- no need to wait for it to dry then wash it off. I just simply scrubbed the peel on and it three minutes – I could clean it off. I’m able to use it right in the shower, not waste time, and get super clean skin. Winner, winner!
  4. Manna Kadar Cosmetics’ Lip Locked in Sienna: A primer, lip stain, and gloss in one, this innovative product ensures that your lips stay lusciously hydrated and smooth all day while delivering rich, long lasting pigment. I am OBSESSED – not just with the color, but with how long this lasted. I used this ultimate lip product when going out for Paul’s birthday in Hamden- knowing between sweat, drinks, singing, and who knows what else, my makeup look would take a beaten. At the end of the night, for post-going out Dominos, my lip color was still in tact as if I had just put the lip stain on. From now, if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll be sure to see this lip color quite often!
  5. Dr. Lipp’s Miracle Balm: The natural formula completely rehydrates skin and lips, soothes sunburn, tames unruly brows, and nourishes thirsty cuticles. Apply to dry lips and other areas of the body as needed. Not going to lie, I haven’t used this one yet. Since I do PR for Aquaphor and Eucerin (#client), I have plenty of products to rehydrate my skin and lips at my fingertips. I was super excited when I read that the product helps soothe sunburn. Summer is right around the corner and if you know me in real life, you know that I have a bad tendency of getting sunburnt. I’m excited to use this balm when that day rolls around – which will be soon. Sorry, Gram!

Do you have a subscription to Birchbox? Thinking about it? Comment below and let me know! 

 

Full-time big girl, part-time blogger & am ready for 2017!

Happy Thursday, babes! It’s time to add a little Sparkle and Shine to the start of your holiday weekend and find out more about my blog hiatus.

I mean helllllllo, my blog presence is a present!

In the past few weeks, I’ve posted about College Fashion Week and shared my Ultimate Holiday Gift Guide, but those were my first posts since September. I disappeared. Call me Carmen Sandiego because where in the world did I go?

I know it’s only a little over a month, but it feels like an ETERNITY. I have never, EVER taken a break that long from blogging or from Total Sorority Move once I started contributing for them. Yes, life got stressful when I was at school – tons of school work and extracurriculars, but never to the point that I just completely stopped. Dropped down to only a few posts a month? Yes. Absolutely. But to just disappear out of the blue – never.

And the reason? Because I’m now working in the real world!!

If you don’t know, I graduated in May from Quinnipiac University. Since then, I’ve become an Account Coordinator at the PR firm Access Emanante. I’ve been doing PR for Philips Zoom, Philips Norelco, Philips Sonicare and assisting with a few other beauty consumer brands. I’ll be continuing to expand my consumer beauty/grooming niche in 2017 by adding NIVEA Men to my list of clients.

A little fun fact I wanted to share – I got interested in PR because of Sparkle and Shine. Over the years, tons of different companies and influencer programs have reached out to me. I love getting to know the brands that I am working with, finding out their goals, and helping them achieve their goal. It absolutely I’ve always seen one side of the realm, but wanted to see the other – see the decisions behind working with certain influencers, crafting the program, and activating it. After interning, I was hooked and knew that this was what I wanted to continue to do for the rest of my life. And now, here I am, living out my dream!

I’ve always dreamed of working in the city – that Sex in the City magic in the air, the lights, the people, the hustle and bustle. So landing a gig here was a dream come true. Except, the wonderful hour-fifteen minute commute was not something that got factored into the dream. I’ve traded in my noon classes for 5:30 AM alarms, yoga pants for business casual, and am on NJ Transit more than I am in my own car.

And in all these changes and getting accustomed to my new lifestyle, I had to put Sparkle and Shine on a little hold. I had to focus on myself and my future in the PR world- making sure I’m eating right and sleeping enough hours, finishing and starting tasks on the train to the office, and so much more. Many mornings, I would wake up and say I would start a blog post on the train or would say that I am going to answer blog e-mails. Then after showing the conductor my monthly train pass, I would shut my eyes, open my Nook app, or start answering all the text messages from my friends I was too tired to respond to the night before. Before I know it, I would by at Penn Station and ready for the work day. No blog work done and another promise to push it off later. Later, later, later – but wouldn’t happen.

So here I am now – December 22, 2016. A full-time PR professional, a part-time blogger, and ready to revamp myself as a blogger, re-finding myself in the blogging world, in 2017.

This is more than just an update on where I have been and it is definitely not a PSA about less posts coming in 2017. Instead, this is my promise to you for 2017. I’ve begun thinking about my content calendar, channeling in work strategies to Sparkle and Shine, been in touch with brands, and drafting posts.

Sparkle and Shine may have gotten but on the back burner, but for 2017 it’s the full course Thanksgiving style meal on the front burner.

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Hey! Remember when I went to College Fashion Week? Find out more about the event!

This post is sponsored by Her Campus Media and its College Fashion Week brand partners. All opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Sparkle and Shine possible!

Hey babes, miss me?

Let’s be honest, I know you have.

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Source: Jezebel

Life has been so totally crazy cause I started my big girl job as an Account Coordinator for the PR firm Access Emanate in NYC! (Post coming soon to tell you all about it – don’t worry!  As well as many other posts as I get my footing as a full-time working gal and part-time blogger) Because this post isn’t about that, it’s about my incredible experience at New York College Fashion.

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So for the longest time, during my commute to and from the city, I would try to put into words how much of an amazing time I had at New York College Fashion Week with my mom. Each time, I struggled – there are no worries to describe one of the most fabulous nights of my life with fellow bloggers, fashionistas, and some amazing brands!

If many of you know me, you know I’ll probably be late to my wedding (is the phrase wedding? Or is it funeral? If it is- that’s rather depressing. Either way, I’ll probably be late to both tbh), but my always early mom came with me. This meant I had plenty of time to stop by the different booth of the fabulous sponsors (Thanks, mom!)

If you followed along on SnapChat or Instagram, you were able to see so many of the awesome sponsor booths – such as MaidenformEuropean Wax Center, Boxed Water, Hanes, and Bertha Watches. There was so much time to interact with the vendors, learn more about their products, meet other bloggers, and eat some yummy Insomnia Cookies and candy!

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And when I did not think I could be enjoying the night anymore, it was time to kick off the show – where I got to sit front row as a VIP Press AKA coolest moment in my twenty-two years of life!

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The show itself was absolutely incredible! The models were all real college girls and they absolutely nailed it  – they looked so gorgeous and so confident. I love working with Her Campus because of how much they always empower women to be proud of themselves, love themselves, and be confident. In a room full of bloggers and Influencers who took opportunities upon themselves, real-girl college models, and upcoming-and-coming fashion designers, this empowerment was an incredible force!

The girls modeled in  four different shows (Study Chic ft. My Social CanvasFestival ft. Foray CollectiveGirl’s Night Out ft. Bow & Drap, and Rush ft. Ali & Ariel and Frill Clothing), which represented the many different moments in a college girls’ life. Just another way Her Campus keeps it real with us- they get what life is like!

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And of course my favorite look that repped Alpha Delta Pi!

Completing the looks were accessories from Rebecca Minkoff, shoes from Vince Camuto, perfume from Perfumania, and the perfect blowout from DryBar. No need to be Gigi or Kendall for that sound like a dream. And let me tell you, readers, those finishing touches all made the looks absolutely perfect. Just look at the pictures – they were stunning!

Hope you don’t think the fun is over…. Because it isn’t! What does every press get at events? Swag bags!!

I was so excited to get my first ever press swag bag, and let me tell you, Her Campus sure did not disappoint! Some of my personal favorites are pictured below – including  a FitBit Flex 2, Vince Camuto perfume, a free blowout from Drybar, and this super cute Rebecca Minkoff makeup bag!

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Here’s to this press event and many more experiences, thanks to Sparkle and Shine, now that I am back on my blogging grind! Hope you’re as excited as I am because I am back, baby!

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Story time with Sami: That time I ran a match-making service for my sisters

Happy Thursday, babes!

I don’t know if it’s because I am a blogger or because I’m addicted to social media, but I love when bloggers are transparent – whether this means on their Twitter, Instagram, or sharing personal stories for their readers. Some of my favorite YouTubers often post “story time” videos about crazy events that happen to them or weird memories they made with their friends.

And if you know me in real life, then you know that I have a tooooon of stories. This is why I decided to create a series called “Story time with Sami” where I share some funny stories about things that I’ve done. So for the first edition, I decided to share about Sami’s Sexy Singles, my match making service.

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Now, Sami’s Sexy Singles originally started as a joke my sophomore year at Quinnipiac. One of our sisters, Tammy, was the sweetheart of SigEp and would always try to match make sisters with her brother – I mean, she made Google spreadsheets and PowerPoints. I would have a lot to live up to! When she graduated, that left someone to try and arrange sisters with dates for all of our events. Somehow, I don’t even know how, the position fell into my lap. I joked about Sami’s Sexy Singles but nothing ever came of it.

All of a sudden, for a grab-a-date last semester, Sami’s Sexy Singles re-appeared. I’m friends with a lot of affiliated men who wanted to come to our grab-a-date, so I thought I would jokingly bring back Sami’s Sexy Singles. Unknowing to me, a lot of my sisters were interested in being matched. So in true senioritis/lack of motivation fashion, I decided to pour my all into Sami’s Sexy Singles – even staying up until 3 AM one night to make a professional Google Drive through the official Sami’s Sexy Singles e-mail account!

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I even had my friends Kristina, Courtney, and Dale get involved! We would send out e-mails to those who were matched and even to our entire chapter reminding them to e-mail us if they wanted dates and the “rules” for the match-making service (including no liability and about customer satisfaction). We would try to keep the e-mails as professional as possible, to add to the humor of the entire situation. Our dates also received e-mails, to help them realize how serious we took our match0making responsibilities that night.

We weren’t the only people taking Sami’s Sexy Singles serious…. We had people tweeting about us with the hashtag “#samissexysingles” and e-mailing us about getting matched. Guys were coming up to us and e-mailing us asking to be added to the list of eligible bachelors! We were a hit.

One day I was getting lunch in a Greek-life populated area and I had some fraternity men that I wasn’t friends with come ask to me and ask if I could match them for their formal. People that Kristina, Courtney, Dale, and I weren’t friends with even knew about Sami’s Sexy Singles and were interested. I bet that’s like what Kim K. felt the first time someone recognized her as more than just Paris’ BFF….

The day the grab-a-date rolled around, we had over 15 couples – that’s more than 30 people who were coming to the event because of Sami’s Sexy Singles. Our phones were blowing up with questions and e-mails, I felt like a real life C.E.O!

In the end, I had a blast at the event, Kristina, Courtney, Dale and their dates had fun, and so did our sisters and their dates!

Here’s my date and I at the event. His little was one of our eligible bachelors who came to the event! Gotta keep it in the family, you know? –

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Here is me and my date, Justin, from the event. All the seniors celebrated the event in a duck-hunting themed (aka my dream theme due to my “Duck Dynasty” obsession). Recognize this picture? If you follow me on Instagram, it’s the picture I posted that night!

Now, I’m not saying Sami’s Sexy Singles was extremely successful (I haven’t finished our customer satisfaction survey yet, but I’ll say it was pretty dang successful), but I am saying that many sisters asked what would happen to it once I graduated. Since Kristina is a year younger, I passed down Sami’s Sexy Singles to her in my senior will, so my legacy will live on.

I would love to know how you feel about Story time with Sami!! Comment below & tell me some different types of stories you would want to hear or tweet them to me @sparkleshinesam!

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I graduated…..now what?

Well, I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Quinnipiac University on Sunday (despite being scared out of my mind to do so).

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And what has post grad life given me so far? A lot primetime The Price is Right specials, naps, and trying to get a hold of this adult thing.

To save some breathe for when everyone asks “what are you ACTUALLY doing post grad?” I decided to just share it with the whole wide world on Sparkle and Shine. 

Starting on Monday, I began my online Master’s courses for Interactive Digital Design from Quinnipiac. I’m excited to dive more into learning coding, Adobe programs, and different multimedia techniques. It’s definitely going to be harder than any of my other classes from my Undergrad years at QU, but I’m very excited to get started. Plus, I’m lucky to have my mom, grandparents, aunts, and best friends as an amazing support system for whenever the going gets tough.

I’ve been in love for the past three years – with Sparkle and Shine. I’ve loved coming up with what I want to write about, putting the piece together by creating graphics and typing the story, sharing it on social media, and watching everything come together. I’m hoping that with my Master’s in IDD and my undergrad degree, I will be able to further my professional career and Sparkle and Shine.

More importantly, since I will be living at home, I will not have as many responsibilities on my plate. As you readers know, I was constantly boggled down with Res Life, my sorority, my school television station, a full-time course load, and so much more. Now, I will have so much more spare time to focus on the Sparkle and Shine blog and video blog. I’m hoping that with my spare time and my new Master’s courses, I will be able to continue Sparkle and Shine and all of its contents.

In the meantime, here’s to sparkling through the next few months as I begin this post-grad journey!!

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Sami’s Holiday Gift Guide: An On Location Tour

This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions are my own. 

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It’s beginning to look a lot like Blogmas, readers!

So, it seems that all my professors have gotten together and decided that they were going to make the week BEFORE finals week when everything would be due. Of course, that would be successful if not every one of my professors decided to do that, but well, we can’t change some stuff in life, now can we?

In the meantime, I have been holiday shopping for all of the special people in my life. After last year’s successful holiday guide, I decided to bring it back this year! So if you’re looking for a craft, a new phone case, or more, last year’s gift guide has got you covered.

And for all you little elves this year, we’re kicking off with something for your favorite movie buffs or someone who loves an experience rather than an item.

On Location Tours offers just that!

My mom and I went on the New York City TV & movie tour earlier this month and had such an amazing time! For only $43 a ticket, you can travel all around NYC for 2.5 – 3 hours checking out where some of your favorite TV shows and movies have filmed. We even got to see where they were going to be filming an upcoming CBS show, how cool?!

During that time, my mom, myself, and the others on our tour bus were taken all over New York City to see the sights of where some of the best movies have filmed. Throughout the trip, our tour guide will tell us about the films that have taken place at the locations, show us clips, and tell us insider secrets about the different locations.

Check out the pictures from the trip. Do you recognize them from some of your favorite movies and TV shows? Hint, hint you should recognize some of them from Gossip Girl, Friends, Sex and the CityGhostbusters, and New Year’s Eve!

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For big fans of Seinfield, Gossip Girl (a.k.a. my current Netflix obsession), or Sex and the City, On Location Tours offers tours specifically geared to those shows. Other speciality options include Turner Classic Movies, Central Park, and the Holiday Lights & Movie sights.

Not in the NYC area? Boston and Washington D.C. also offer tours geared to their areas.

Tickets can be purchased online or at  (212) 913-9780.

Stay tuned for what will be next in my holiday guide! If you end up purchasing tickets, comment below and let me know.

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Thanks Square Cash for making going out so much easier!

This is a sponsored post. However, all opinions are my own.

Thank you Her Campus Media, Inc. and SquareCash for the opportunity and compensation for this post.

I’ve got to admit something to you, readers. Sometimes, going out is hard.

No, I’m not talking about the hours you spend doing your hair and makeup, the dozens of pictures you send of potential outfits in a GroupMe to your best friends (only to wear the first outfit, of course), or deciding whose house is going to be the first stop of the night before even heading out.

I’m talking about figuring out the monetary aspects.

Whose going to pay for the Uber this time? Who paid last time? And of course, Jackie forgot cash for the cash-only club’s entrance fee, so now what?

Why would I not just pay for everyone’s drinks since I got to the bartender first and we are totally on a first name basis, right? Or the fact that Dominoes is so not about to break up a $100 dollar order for your drunk pizza onto ten different debit cards, so who just got paid last and can throw it on their card?

Sound familiar? Yeah, I thought so.

And want to know what else is familiar, when all of the calculations for who was going to pay who and how much really goes out the window when the third margarita is served and the newest Nicki Minaj jam is bumping through the bass.

Now you don’t need to worry because Square Cash has made it easy for you!

ACTUAL USE

Square Cash is a free app that allows anyone to quickly send money between their friends or even get paid for doing business. There’s no “cashing out” which means that the money gets deposited right into your bank account. This means that if the mom of the kid you are babysitting for wants to just send you your payment over the app, she will deposit it directly into your bank account from her bank account. No need to stop at the ATM! Plus, it is free to use between friends!

Not only is it super simple to use and works exactly how it should, it’s safe and secure. Plus, in a world where we want to get everything done quick, using this app is the quickest way to pay your friends! All you need to do is download the Square Cash app, link up your debit card, then start sending money to your friends. You can even request them to send you the funds.

So how do I know that this is all this super easy? Because my friends and I use the app! We all downloaded it because as I mentioned above, we got tired of always trying to figure out who owed who what and then trying to backtrack ourselves during breakfast the next morning to figure out who owed who what. Sometimes there is just not enough coffee in the world to help you do math! So now, we would have someone put it on their card, quickly divide the amount spent on our phone’s calculators by the amount of people it was split between, and then send the money right on over to whoever it belonged to. It was so quick and easy we were able to do it in while waiting on line for the bars, waiting on the bathroom line, or even on the dance floor after we checked our text messages. Going into my senior year, I know that this app will definitely be a necessity on my phone and should be on yours, too!

To find out more, check out the app‘s Twitter and Facebook page!

And to see exactly what it’s like to go out with my friends and I, stay tuned for another video blog coming very soon! This one will detail our recent trip to Atlantic City for our friend Jamie’s 21st birthday. Catch a preview from the pic I posted on my Instagram.

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