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! 

 

Eating My Way Through Instagram: 10Below

Hey, readers!

Time for a little fun fact- one of my favorite activities in NYC, when I’m not in my cubicle at  work , is to explore NYC. There’s so much to see, so much to do, and so much to EAT.

I follow so many (probably too many) food Instagram accounts that feature all of the fun, cool food places to eat around the City. Every so often, I try to cross one of them off of my food bucket list.

The most recent destination? The ice cream shop 10Below in the East Village!

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On Sunday, some of my sorority family members and I went out about in NYC. I got to show them where I work, take Lauren to Times Square for the first time, and so much more- all of which you saw on Snapchat!

One classic trait of our family, the Bad Girls Club, is loving ice cream! We love catching up over ice cream, so I knew that trying 10Below would be perfect with Amber, Lauren, and Emily.

What makes 10Below so trendy and popular on Instagram is that it is NYC’s original hand rolled ice cream! Each person’s Thai-inspired ice cream rolls are made right in front of them, with ready-to-order ingredients. This means that the ice cream has no preservatives or stabilizers.

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 10Below turns liquid cream into ice cream in under two minutes, thanks to a cold plate that reaches temperatures below 10 degrees! Then, the ingredients start to get mixed together, flattened out, and then rolled up,. Put your toppings on and ready for you to eat. SO COOL!

 I posted tons of videos on my Snapchat, but if you didn’t get to experience them yourself, here’s a Cosmopolitan YouTube video showing the whole ice cream rolling process at 10Below:

The ice cream was so yummy! It tasted lighter than most ice creams, making it feel less heavy in my stomach after I ate it (turns out that was because it didn’t have all those extra additives).

10Below has tons of locations, besides the one in the East Village that we went to! Their original location is in Chinatown, but they are also in Flushing and the Lower East Side. Not in NYC? They’re opening locations in LA and Philadelphia soon.

Stay tuned for more posts in my new Eating My Way Through Instagram series!!

Have you been to 10Below? Seen it on Instagram? Would you go? Let me know below!

 

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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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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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