Get ready for the holidays with Sparkle and Shine & my ULTIMATE gift guide

Hey everyone!

Every time I get to write a blog post anymore, I am over-the-moon ecstatic.But when I’m surrounded by Christmas lights while listening to Jessie James Decker’s Christmas album, I don’t think I could be happier.

And with Christmas lights and Christmas decorations surrounding me, that means it’s time to Sparkle and Shine’s gift guide!!

This year, I’m not going to do my gift guide a little bit differently. As you know, life has been crazy since I started my full-time job (and I promise I’m working on a post about it!) – leaving me little time to review a bunch of different products for you.

SO, I’ve compiled some of my favorite posts and gift guides together to give you the ULTIMATE Sparkle and Shine gift guide! Check it out –

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For your sorority family…

Letters from Greek Streak

Dirty Rush novel

Reasons Why I Love You mason jar craft

Make your own canvas

New letters from Designs by Di

Jewelry from College Standard

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For your best friend…

DIY bejeweled photo collage letters

Concert tickets

Monogram sweatshirt from Gone Greek

DIY Sharpie Mug

Photo collage frame

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For your on the go friend…

A Vera Bradley duffle bag

An at home iced coffee machine

Wearsafe

On Location tours

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For your favorite fashionista…

A collection of trendy chokers

Skinny Coffee subscription

Rocksbox Subscription

A Lilly Pulitzer dress in her favorite print

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Don’t forget these perfect drug store beauty finds – perfect for stocking stuffers and white elephant grab bags!

Make sure to follow me on Pinterest, so you can pin some of your favorite crafts to your DIY board or pin your favorite gift to your wishlist board!

Happy shopping & happy holidays! 

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WHAT’S IN MY BAG?! {NEWEST VIDEO BLOG}

Happy Saturday, everyone!

So I know on Twitter, I keep mentioning that I’m going to do a video blog. Every time I planned to film, something ended up happening. BUT this week, I made sure that nothing stopped me from filming and editing a vlog for you.

To start my kick back (is that a term?) into vlogging, I decided to do one of my favorite videos to watch other vloggers do….

So head on over, subscribe to my channel, and find out WHAT’S IN MY BAG?!

 

Comment below with what some videos you want to me! I’m thinking about doing a “Chit Chat Get Ready With Me (#GRWM)” video about some exciting news. Let me know if you would want to see that!

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Head into the weekend with my current playlist

My weekend playlist

So confession time… I usually mooch off of two of my best friends’ Spotify playlists. Why make my own when Paul has the perfect country and going out playlists and Lo has everything I need when I want to drive with the windows down or cry over a boy with a giant container of chocolate icing?

However, I finally decided to make my own playlist for going out in the summer and I can’t.stop.listening.to.it. Even if I’m not going out, whether it’s in the car, the shower, or going for a run, I’m blasting this playlist!

I’ve added and adjusted to it, making it the perfect playlist for you to jam out to this weekend when you’re getting ready to go out with all of your friends (shoutout to everyone who’s back at school with their friends, I’m having serious graduate FOMO).

Here are some of my top picks for your pre-game playlist this weekend:

Closer by The Chainsmokers and Halsey // Girls Like by Tinie Tempah // My PYT by Wale //

How I Want Ya – Dawin Remix by Hudson Thomas // Bad Intentions by Niykee Heaton //

Does Ya Mama Know? (Dance Like That) #HEYNOW by 99 Percent // Sex by Cheat Codes 

Grove St. Party by Waka Flocka Flame // Say My Name by ODESZA //

R U Crazy – Radio Edit by Conor Maynard // Cold Water by Major Lazer and Justin Bieber //

I Can’t Stop Drinking About You – Chainsmokers Remix by Bebe Rexha //

Don’t Mind by Kent Jones // Mamacita by Travi$ Scott // White Girl by Shy Glizzy //

And of course my go-to jams that I’ve talked about in the past.

Check out the rest of the playlist here.

What songs can you not stop listening to this right now? Comment below and let me know!

 

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Lose weight and never step foot inside the gym…

So like every college kid this summer, I came home and realized that all those nights of drunk eating, sugar-filled drinks, and easy-to-grab chicken finger meals from the cafe really added to my waistline. And like every other college kid, I decided I wanted to make a change.

Except, I wanted to do more than just lose the weight I gained, then fall back into the old habits. I was now a college graduate and had my whole life staring back at me (which is like, really freakin scary). I ultimately won’t be going back to two AM diner trips after all night studying, tour de Franzias, or living life without a full kitchen. So much was going to change about my lifestyle, why not make fitness more of a priority?

At school, I would go to the gym a few times a week (well, I’d try to), but was always guaranteed one day a week because of a set Tuesday spin class with my GG-little, Taylor (who is now teaching! Go Tay!). I was never a fan of the gym because whether it was true or not, I feel like everyone always stared at you, peek over at how fast you were going on your machine, or judged you. In spin class, I liked how everyone seemed to be so focused on getting the most out of their own 45 minutes and listening to the instructor, that everyone was pretty much in their own little world with the instructor.

But now that I graduated, spin classes aren’t free….. unless you have a gym membership. I was always self-conscious at the gym, so why waste money on a gym membership? Or even worse, drop ten dollars per spin class? No, thank you! There had to be free, fun ways to work towards being healthier and avoid the gym.

So, I spent my summer rounding up great ways to get fit, lose weight, and avoid a gym! And after months, and weight loss and muscle gained, I’m sharing with you my fun ways to workout and never step foot inside a gym…

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Get off the couch and go for a run! // Trust me, I know it’s easier said then done. But I’m not talking easy, I’m talking free and easy right now.

The fall season is quickly approaching (buh-bye humidity, my hair can’t wait to see you leave), so the weather will be perfect for a morning run or after dinner to relieve stress from work. Put your earbuds in, relieve some stress, and get some fresh air!

If you aren’t currently a runner, there are tons of different apps to help you change your ways. If this past sentence described you more than you would like to admit, then the C25K app is definitely for you! All it takes is 3 days a week, 30 minutes each day, and in 8 weeks, the app will have you ready to run in your first 5k.

But if you are going to start running, you will need to download the free Nike+ Running app. It will monitor the distance you ran, how far you ran, and your average pace rate. Plus, another great feature is that the app will let you sync up your Spotify playlist! You can’t workout with a good playlist, am I right?

Count your steps // This one goes hand-in-hand with the last tip, but you don’t need to run to count your steps. Even better, you don’t need any fancy technology to do so, either. Before I bought my FitBit, I had the Pacer app (free, of course- can you tell I don’t get an app unless it’s free?). My entire family had it and we were able to add each other as friends and make a group, where we could all see who had the most steps per day. It created a competition between us- who had the most, who could reach their goal the fastest, etc. It added fuel to my fire to help me find ways to get extra steps – taking the stairs instead of the elevator at the mall, parking my car farther away when doing errands, and even marching in place when I would brush my teeth. I never realized I was supposed to be aiming for 10,000 steps a day. Before I started counting my steps, I wasn’t even close to getting this number. Now, I make sure I hit 10,000 steps every night before I go to bed. It was such a great step in kicking off my fitness journey.

Free fitness videos on YouTube // In high school, once I quit swimming, I would do Zumba Fitness on the Wii to stay in shape (despite my lack of rhythm..thanks mom and dad). However, as four years has now gone by, I knew most of the songs and dances already. I figured to take to YouTube one day to try to find routines. There were tons of videos and playlists put together for different levels of workout, different time lengths, and more. There were so many options!

After a few days of this, I got to thinking that there had to be some dances out there to some of the Billboard Top 100 songs. I searched “Cardio Fitness” and came across two fitness vloggers that I now do everyday…

The Fitness Marshall

As soon as I found Caleb on YouTube, I was obsessed with his channel. His personality comes through in each video, leaving me laughing as I work up a sweat. Caleb has dances to not only current hits, but as well as some of Britney Spears’ greatest hits – which can always get anyone dancing!

 

Dance Fitness with Jessica

One day in the car, an Ariana Grande song came on and I found myself moving along to The Fitness Marshall’s moves. I decided I wanted to switch it up and found Jessica, by going through my recommended stations. Jessica always kicks my butt, whether it’s a workout at home with her kids, a class routine, or a cell-phone recorded video (like my personal fave down below!)

Lastly // To kick off my fitness journey, after hearing a ton of positive reviews from many of my sorority sisters and vloggers, I decided to take the 28-day Advocare challenge. Though this wasn’t free, it definitely helped put me in a better mindset to start this journey. It helped rid my body of the different toxins that would weigh me down, help me feel more energized, and helped me learn more about what I should and should not be eating. For an extra jumpstart, I highly recommend Advocare!

I’d love to hear how you workout without the gym! Comment below and let me know. PLUS, if you decide to try any of these methods, I want to hear! I promise to respond back to all comments on this post and Instagram!

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Red Solo Cup, I fill you up! {Toby Keith Concert}

Happy Tuesday, babes!

This past weekend, I got to head back to my college stomping grounds (4o days post grad and I feel like it’s been forever) to see some of my best friends and then go to the Toby Keith concert at the Xfinity center in Hartford, CT.

After creating my first ever vlog of our annual country concert last year, I wanted to try again this year…..and in the excitement of seeing all of them since my graduation, I completely forgot to even record. I barely even posted a snap story of the concert cause I was just so excited to see them and be back together with them.

However, thanks to my little’s unlimited use of phone storage, we managed to take tons of pictures! Check them out below: 

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Make sure to go and check out the pictures on my Instagram – here’s the silly group shot and here’s my favorite of me and Paul! I’ll be commenting back on YOUR pictures if you stop by my Instagram TODAY!

Time to look into tickets for another concert – who do you recommend seeing live?

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My latest Netflix binge…

T.G.I.F, am I right?

What better way to relax this weekend by laying by the pool watching Netflix OR for those of you are #indoorsy, lay in bed with the A.C. blasting while watching the good ole ‘flix.

We all know I’m addicted to Netflix, so here’s some of the shows that I have binge watched in the past few months…..

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Wow wow wow…babes, I haven’t done a Netflix binge post in years! Heck, the graphic still has .wordpress.com on it!

Parks and RecreationThe hilarious seven season show, known as Parks and Rec, revolves around Leslie Knope and her team at an Indiana Parks and Recreation Department. Leslie has big dreams for furthering herself in the political world, but as for the rest of her team…..they would prefer to be anywhere but there. The show begins with Knope helping local nurse, Ann Perkins, turn the abandoned construction site that injured her boyfriend Andy Dwyer, into a community park. Leslie hopes that her team, including  her underachieving co-worker Tom Haverford, her government – opposing boss Ron Swanson, and the uninterested department intern, Aubrey Plaza. With the show using the same filming style as The Office, with the same implication of a documentary crew filming everything, the cast’s side commentary is as hilarious as the show’s actual hijinx.

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 New Girl: Quirky teacher Jessica Day returns to her boyfriends’ home one day to find him with another women. She immediately breaks up with him, leaves and begins to look for a new place to live. She answers an ad on Craigslist and moves in with three single men: Nick, a grumpy law school drop-out, Schmidt, an uptight womanizer who used to be overweight, and Coach, a former professional athlete turned personal trainer. (However, for anyone who starts to watch the show from this post, I feel it is important to note that Coach moves out after the pilot and the loft’s former roommate, Winston, moves back in.) The men, Jess, and Jess’ childhood best friend and fashion model, CeCe, form a bond to create a dysfunctional family. Together, the group discovers more about themselves, their careers, love, and more. Not all seasons of New Girl are on Netflix, since the show is currently airing on Fox.
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Orange is the New Black:  Like any true OITNB fan, I began to watch the newest season, season four, as soon as it premiered last month. As the most watched Netflix series, most of you know by now that the show follows Piper Chapman, who is sentenced to 15 months in Litchfield Penitentiary, a minimum-security women’s federal prison. The show also allows for viewers to get to know more about the other inmates, both through flashbacks and their current lives at Litchfield. This shocking season (no spoilers, don’t worry!) shows many characters in more-detail, has a surprising death, includes one character being released early, and so, so much more!
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Image via Giphy

Gossip Girl:  High school just got a lot more dramatic for a group of privileged Upper East Siders. Gossip Girl, an anonymous blogger, sends text-message blasts with the group’s deepest secrets and scandals. Once the group, featuring frenemies Blair and Serena, Nate, Dan, and Chuck, graduate from high school, they hope Gossip Girl’s reign will end. But as the scandals continue and hearts continue to break, Gossip Girl continues to share all of their secrets.
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Image via WiffleGif.com

Currently, my mom and I just started the Netflix-original Between, about a town that has been struck with a mysterious disease that has killed anybody over the age of 22. While under quarantine, the 21-year-olds and younger are now left to fend for themselves.
However, I am looking for something to watch when I am at the gym! So if you have any recommendations, let me know!

What are you currently binge watching on Netflix? Let me know by commenting below!

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Why I don’t have a blog-only Instagram and I don’t want one…

Why I don't have a blog Instagram - and why I don't want one

Hey loves!

Recently, I’ve been asked a lot about my social media habits and how they are any different because of having a blog. This may just be the communications major in me, but social media is at outlet used to brand yourself and who you are. I am Sparkle and Shine Sami, a 22-year-old who loves to sparkles and to make life shine. I believe life won’t sparkle unless you do and through every tweet and Instagram, I am doing just that. I’ll mix in my sass and humor into my tweets and what you are seeing is the real me.

Many bloggers I know seem to be okay with only having one Twitter account- used for both their personal tweets and promotional tweets for their blog. However, not many seem to have a combined Instagram and that is where I seem to stray from the rest.

My Instagram account features me and my friends out on the weekend to posts promoting a blog post, from sorority family pictures to sponsored ads. And the thing is, I wouldn’t change anything about it.

My Instagram is a look into who I really am. As a blogger you put a lot of yourself out there for the world to see and often open up about personal struggles, what’s going on in your life,  and insecurities. So why not continue to be transparent and show what you’re doing when you aren’t behind on a computer screen typing or filming a new video blog?

I also love it when people who follow Sparkle and Shine will recognize my best friends, such as my sorority family, Paul, and Brandon. These faces you recognize often from pictures and posts on the blog, so why not see more about their personalities, whether its a retweet from them or a picture from an adventure not blogged about. Just like me, as the author of Sparkle and Shine, they are more than just faces on the screen.

So, follow me on Instagram to learn more about how I make sure to add some sparkle to my life, even if I don’t post about it!

Make sure to add me on Snapchat because I will be talking more about Katy Perry’s matte lipstick from Walmart, Katy Kat matte, that I’ve been rocking!

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AND make sure to interact with me on social media! I love when followers send me snaps, tweet at me, and more! Just yesterday, I got a snap about Sparkle and Shine inspired them to buy the Primula iced coffee brewer. So awesome!

 

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