The Best Products from Sephora’s Beauty Insider Sale

Make room on your vanity because Sephora’s Beauty Insider Sale is back and the deals are so freaking good!

Like everyone else without an unlimited amount of disposable income, I try my hardest to get the best deals and save money—which is why I’m so strategic with cosmetics sales. While Sephora has its Beauty Insider Sale a few times a year, this one is the best value because the holidays kits offer the best bang for your buck plus you save an additional 10-20 percent off depending on what tier you’re in.

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I don’t play when it comes to Sephora sales. I’ve done the legwork and I want to pass my knowledge along to you. And when I say legwork, I mean I’ve been to multiple Sephora’s across the state (I wish I was kidding lol),  turned off Netflix and put my phone on airplane mode to scour the website and check out the best deals and the products I truly believe you’ll be happy spending your hard-earned money on. You’re welcome!

Here they are:

GIFT SETS

Charlotte Tilbury – Gift of Pillow Talk Lips – $35

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The ultimate “your lips but better” color for a large swath of the population, this lip set features Charlotte’s iconic, bestselling Matte Revolution Lipstick and mini Lip Cheat Pencil for a dreamy nude-pink, kissable pout. 

Olaplex Holiday Hair Fix Set – $58

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Olaplex is the best of the best. I stock up on Olaplex products whenever Sephora has a sale and this cute little set, is an incredible offer. You get the complete four-piece Olaplex hair repair system (in-shower treatment, shampoo and conditioner and No. 6 bond repair treatment) for $58, a value of $84. I use all of these products on a regular basis and cannot recommend them enough. I bleach my hair a few times a year, and blow dry and style every single day (I know, I know, that’s not good) and my hair is incredibly healthy thanks to these products.

Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer Gift Edition with Stand – $399

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I know, I know. The price tag is insane, but it’s a Dyson and it comes with a stand. These do not go on sale. Sephora is the only retailer that includes Dyson in their coupons, and not only are you going to get this for between 10-20 percent off, you also get a free stand. This is the best value you’re going to find on Dyson, hands down. I currently have this in my cart and am waiting to pull the trigger later this afternoon. The only question is do I gift it to my mom or keep it for myself?

Sephora Favorites Superstars – $48

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This is such a steal!  This is a collection of nine bestselling makeup essentials, including a full-size highlighter, brow gel, and lipstick. If you asked me to put together a collection of nine of my favorite makeup products ever, it would look very similar to this collection. I own—and genuinely love—every single product in this kit. If you have a makeup lover on your Christmas list, or if you just want to try these for yourself, this is such an amazing, cost-effective way to do so. Plus you get an additional percentage off the $48. Add this to your cart now. Just do it!

Sephora Favorites- Give Me More Lip – $42

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Sephora has really outdone themselves with their holiday kits this year. I love lip products. I have so many, I can’t keep track of them. This holiday kit won’t remedy that issue, in fact, it will only add to it, but I’m willing to live with that and you should be too. This kit is a collection of lip products in different formulas, shades, and finishes—including two full-size and six deluxe products. Two full size products. I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. The only product that I have not used in here is the Roller Baby lip gloss. Everything I have used and love, including two products that I swear by: the cult classic Charlotte Tilbury lipstick in Very Victoria (my absolute favorite lipstick of all time) and the Laniege Lip Sleeping Mask.

Anastasia Beverly Hills Meltproof Brow Kit – $30

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Anastasia Beverly Hills is the queen of brows. She makes the absolute best brow products on the market and they are priced accordingly (aka they are pretty damn pricey). This kit comes with a full size Dipbrow pomade, a full size Dipbrow gel brush and a double ended slanted brush— all for less than $30 with the discount code. You cannot beat that value! I find that the Pomade is a little more difficult to work with (and very, very easy to be heavy handed with) so I would recommend this for someone who has a lot of experience filling in their brows or prefers a bold brow look. 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Best Brows Ever Kit – $30

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Another incredible value. This kit contains a full size Brow Wiz brow pencil, a travel size Dipbrow gel and a travel size clear brow gel. This kit is perfect for anyone who fills in their brows! Brow Wiz is my favorite brow pencil of all time, and when you lock it in with the Dipbrow gel (or the clear gel if you prefer a more natural look) you’ll have perfectly polished, natural looking brows all day long.

GREAT VALUES

Charlotte Tilbury Luxe Eyeshadow Pallete in Pillow Talk – $53

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I didn’t want to love this because of the price tag, but I do. It’s the perfect size for throwing in your purse and getting ready on the go and the colors are stunning. It’s casual enough for everyday use but you can definitely zhuzh it up for an evening look in no time flat. I’m obsessed. 10/10 recommend but only when it’s on sale, so hurry!

Patrick Ta Monochrome Moment Velvet Blush –  $32

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I didn’t plan on purchasing this, but I’m so glad I did. Patrick Ta is a celebrity makeup artist who beats the faces of the Hadid sisters among others and now has his own gorgeous makeup line. I got the shade “She’s Seductive” which is a mauve plum color that I believe would be universally flattering on almost all skin tones. The packaging is gorgeous and chic, and you get a gigantic mirror, which is always a bonus. Patrick Ta himself responded to my IG story and said this was his favorite shade. Does this mean we’re best friends now? I’ll let you know what Bella and Gigi are like. 😉 

Dior Backstage Face & Body Foundation – $40

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I have used full coverage foundation for my entire life because I’ve always struggled with acne and acne scarring. Jennifer Edwards at Aesthetics Med Spa has changed my skin and my life and for the first time ever I was in the market for a foundation that didn’t resemble spackle. I bought this Dior foundation on a whim because it has a natural, matte finish and medium (but buildable) coverage. I love it, and it might just be making its way into my “top foundations of all time” list. At $40, the price tag isn’t much more than any other “high-end” foundation AND you actually get a lot of product. This bad boy comes with 1.6 fluid ounces, whereas most foundations only have 1 oz. 

Hourglass Mineral Veil Primer – $75

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This is my favorite primer of all time. It works well on any skin type, from dry to the oil slick that is my face, and makes your makeup apply beautifully and last all day long. If I could only use 5 makeup products for the rest of my life, this would be one of them. I got the largest size they offer because it’s the best value (allegedy the largest size is a $104 value for only $74). More expensive in the short term, but will last me until the next Sephora sale. You only need a tiny bit!

Rouge Volupté Shine Oil-In-Stick Lipstick – $38

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I got this because I have new lips and I’m obsessed with lipcolor now (lol, I am nothing if not honest) and because I am a sucker for some luxe, over-the-top packaging. Emily, why are you like this?! I got the shade nude because it’s a beautiful pinkish brown. This looks pretty glossy on the lips (it is a oil-in-stick lipstick, after all), but in a sexy grown up way, not like a Lip Smacker chic way. 

Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Color – $29

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If you put a gun to my head and asked me, “what is the best lipstick on the market?” I would say this and Charlotte Tilbury. I got the shade “Sazan Nude” which is the perfect soft pink nude that doesn’t look orange on my lips and stays put all day (especially when you line your lips with Charlotte Tilbury’s Iconic Nude lip liner first). I will still live and die by Very Victoria, but this is a close second. 

Olaplex No. 7 Bonding Oil – $28

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I am extremely brand loyal, especially when something is amazing as Olaplex. I wasn’t entirely sure what this was, but it had some pretty big claims and it was on sale (which is rare) so I went for it. This is a first-of-its-kind, highly concentrated, ultra-lightweight, reparative styling oil that works on all hair types and textures to repair, strengthen, and hydrate. I’ve been mixing it in with my No. 6 creme and have been loving how smooth, silky and frizz-free my hair has been all week.

Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder – $39

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This is the OG loose setting powder. I cannot find a powder that I like more than this one and I have tried. Hourglass, Fenty, Too Faced, you name it. They’re not as good. I use this all over my face and to set my under eye concealer. It’s the best there is and I always stock up during the sale. Get it for your mom, your aunt, yourself. Just get one!

Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer – $30

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You can’t go wrong with this concealer. It’s medium coverage concealer with a natural finish that will keep your secrets by covering your dark circles and bags all while looking natural. If you’re looking to stock up on products, I suggest adding this to your cart while you can save a few bucks.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Bronzer in Luminous Bronze Light – $52

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This bronzer will definitely give you sticker shock, but it’s my absolute favorite and it doubles as a highlight. Bronzer can be tricky. It can look muddy, it can look orange—it can be difficult to get right. This takes the guesswork out of bronzer and makes you look like a sun-kissed angel all year round. Like a lot of these products, I only purchase when it’s on sale. It’s expensive, but it’s worth it. 

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Opal – $38 

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This is probably the first highlighter that I ever purchased and it holds a special place in my heart—and for good reason. It’s so pretty. It has the most buttery texture that melts into your skin for the ultimate high-impact glow. Some pressed pigments can sit on the skin and look cakey, but this one never does. It applies seamlessly and never cakes and has a high-impact, elegant finish that doesn’t look glittery.

I want to know! What products have do you stock up on during sales and what’s sitting in your cart right now?

Top Five Size-Inclusive Target Sweaters for Under $25

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! We’re almost halfway through November, it gets dark at 4:30 p.m. and every day feels less like fall and more like winter. Hello, seasonal depression! 

 

If you’re like me and hate winter and everything about it, these awesome (and super affordable!) sweaters might help you produce the tiny little bit of serotonin needed to get through the day.

Dolman Sleeve Turtleneck Tunic Sweater – A New Day — $20

I’ve never really been a big fan of turtlenecks until this year and now I can’t stop buying them. In fact, this is my favorite sweater of all time. I now own it in 4 colors. I can’t stop buying them.  It’s super comfortable and very flattering and it’s on sale right now for only $20. Bonus: this sweater comes in both straight and plus sizes. Yay for size inclusivity! You can purchase the plus option here.

Long Sleeve Rib-Knit Cuff Chenille Open Cardigan – A New Day — $19.59

We love a gorgeous chenille moment! (I just saw JVN last night and have been referring to things as moments, it’s fine. Just go with it.) I actually purchased this cardigan last year and I wear it around my apartment all the time. I love the color options for this because I’m very into jewel tones. This is also on sale for less than $20 right now, you better get to Target ASAP. A New Day typically has pretty generous sizing, and I can normally comfortably wear their straight sizes. However, here is a very similar plus-size option.

Leopard Print Long Sleeve Open Cardigan – Knox Rose — $24.49

My friend Andrea of Blonde Bedhead has this cardigan and it is so cute. I love a good long-line cardigan because I’m a huge fan of clothing that feels like a bathrobe but is socially acceptable to wear in public. Bonus points that it’s leopard print! Fun fact about me: I was in 5th grade when my parents bought a new house and let me choose how to decorate my new room. I went with all leopard everything. Like, literally everything. Bed spread, wall art, throw pillows. It was truly a sight to behold. 

Striped Long Sleeve Crewneck Pullover Sweater – Ava & Viv — $20.99

This sweater was an impulse purchase that was way out of my comfort zone. I’m typically all about neutrals. I like black, camel, olive green and leopard print. As a plus size person, I typically shy away from horizontal stripes but, you know, the “rules” about what’s flattering and what isn’t, but I decided that that’s bullshit and I will wear whatever I want to. So, I bought this sweater and I love it. (I did spill ramen on it, so it’s currently being stain treated lol). Here’s a similar non-plus size version.

Long Sleeve V-Neck Pullover Sweater – Prologue — $24.99

I love this sweater because it’s so basic but it’s also very chic. Plus, I’m getting some very serious Yeezy vibes from this? Maybe I’ve just been watching too much Keeping Up With the Kardashians. It could also be that I fell into a very deep Kanye rabbit hole earlier when I learned he wants to change his name to Christian Genius Billionaire before he runs for President in 2024. Anyway, I feel like everyone needs a basic black sweater and a basic camel sweater and this is a great, affordable option. Here’s a similar plus size option.

For full transparency this post contains affiliate links, meaning, I may earn a small commission if you happen to click on a link and make a purchase (at no cost to you).  It also allows me to see what things you are interested in and helps me create future relevant posts.

Your Lips but Better: Six Perfect Nude Lip Colors

A swipe of nude lipstick is arguably one of the quickest ways to look slightly more put together. When done right, nude lipsticks offer that your-lips-but-better look that appears entirely natural (just slightly enhanced). However, if you choose a shade that’s too dark, too light or the wrong undertone, you can end up looking washed out (or like a zombie).  I rounded up six of the best nude lipsticks in every finish and for all budgets.

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Bobbi Brown Crushed Lip Color in Bare

This is one of my favorite nude lip colors. It has the look of a blotted down, almost stain like lipstick, but feels like a balm. While it’s more opaque than some of the other lipsticks on the list, it makes you look (and feel!) more put together without feeling over-the-top.

Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Very Victoria

I’ve talked about this lipstick approximately one million times, but for good reason.  Of all the lipsticks on the list, Very Victoria is my go-to, my-lips-but-better shade. It’s a soft, medium-dark rosy brown with subtle, warm-to-neutral undertones and a semi-matte finish. I tend to wear it slightly more on the sheer side, but it can be applied so it’s opaque. It lasts for about four hours for me before I end up needing a touch-up, but I haven’t found it to be clingy or drying. It’s pricy but worth every penny IMO.

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Chanel Rouge Coco Flash in Chicness

My friend and aesthetician Jennifer loves Chanel makeup. After showing me some of her eyeshadow palettes, I found myself doing some mindless online window shopping (you know, where you don’t really intend to purchase anything but you look anyway) and decided to mosey my way onto the Chanel website where I found this product and knew I needed to buy it. A few days later, I serendipitously found myself at a Nordstrom with a Chanel counter and decided that it was meant to be. Probably the least opaque of all the products on the list, this transforms into an oil once applied on the lips and offers just the faintest hint of pinkish-brown.

KKW Nude Creme Lipstick in 3.5

While I love the color of this lipstick, I find that it’s a little too opaque for me. To remedy that,  I either a) blot it with a tissue after applying it or b) apply it with a lipstick brush or my finger for a more diffused look. Either of those methods gives me more of the look that I’m going for (which is my lips but better). Unfortunate side note: this lipstick smells absolutely disgusting. Do you remember the lipsticks you would play with as a child? It’s like that—or like it came from Dollar General. It’s pretty, I like the color and I appreciate the modern, avant-garde packaging, but I’m pretty certain that it probably contains lead or asbestos or something.

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Glossier Generation G in Cake

This was one of the first lip colors that I ever started wearing regularly. The matte formula is buildable, but upon first swipe, it’s like “am I wearing lipstick or was I born like this?” They’ll never know! I’m not a huge fan of the scent (if you haven’t figured out by now, I am really sensitive to smells), but I can tolerate this because the formula is so good.

ColourPop Lippie Stix in Cookie

The least expensive product on the list, this lipstick can hold it’s own amongst the boujier, more glamorous products.  A matte, warm pink-y brown nude, this product offers insane pigmentation with just one swipe. It’s matte, but still feels comfortable on the lips due to moisturizing ingredients like shea butter and Vitamin E.

TL;DR

Finding the perfect nude lipstick is hard—but it doesn’t have to be! Let me know if you’ve tried any of these, or if you have any other go-to’s that I didn’t include on my list.

Buy or Bye: Charlotte Tilbury Products That are Worth the Investment

There are few things in life that I love more than a good glam—and no one does glam quite like Charlotte Tilbury. The legendary makeup artist launched her namesake beauty line in 2013 so that mere mortals like myself could replicate the signature bombshell looks she’s known for: glowing skin, smoky eyes and glossy lips.

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The brand is known for some of its cult-classics, like Pillowtalk lipstick and the luxury eyeshadow palettes. As much as I love her line, Charlotte Tilbury products are not cheap. I’ve done the legwork to let you know what’s worth the investment and what isn’t.

Matte Revolution Lipstick in Very Victoria

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I know, I know—you thought I was going to say Pillowtalk because it has such a cult following. Don’t get me wrong, Pillowtalk is a good lipstick. However, like most lipsticks, it skews a little too pink for my liking on my skin tone. Very Victoria, on the other hand, is a perfect muted cool-tone nude. It’s like my lips, but better.

Lip Cheat Lip Liner in Iconic Nude

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I’ve honestly never been a big lip liner person but felt personally obligated to try this one, you know, for research. I opted for Iconic Nude instead of Pillowtalk because of the aforementioned reasons and I’m so glad that I did. I use this with all my nude lipsticks and also like to use it alone as an overall lip color. 

Cheek to Chic Blush

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I love this blush. I got it in the shade Ecstasy and every time I wear it I’m reminded of what a beautiful, peachy sheen that this gives. It’s definitely buildable, so if you’re looking for a subtle flush or a more intense flush of color, you can customize it to your liking. I mentioned this in the blog post that I did about the products I picked up in Chicago and in the six months since then, I have reached for this almost every single day. It’s worth noting that after six months of use, it looks like I’ve barely touched it!

Magic Foundation

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I am extremely picky about my foundation and I have very specific requirements for what I want my foundation to do. I like a medium to full, buildable coverage with either a matte or satin finish. I need a foundation that checks all those boxes and also controls my oil—and it can’t look cakey. For the sake of full transparency, I will be honest that this isn’t my favorite foundation, but it does meet my laundry list of requirements while also maintaining a somewhat skin-like look. My downfall is that it tends to break up throughout the day, especially around the corners of my nose. I also start looking pretty shiny a few hours in, so it requires more maintenance than I like (i.e., having to powder my face every few hours to keep from looking like an oil slick.).

Hollywood Flawless Filter

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I bought this at Nordstrom and the saleswoman told me that I could use this as a highlighter, a primer or as a standalone foundation. As someone with very oily skin, I definitely cannot wear this as a primer or as a foundation. As a highlighter, it’s more muted than I would prefer, but if you’re into a more natural, lit-from-within look, this would be right up your alley.

Beauty Highlighter Wand

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I own a million different highlighters—liquids, powders, creams, etc. I have tried them all. This is one of my favorites. 

Magic Away Concealer

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I swore by the Too Faced Shape Tape concealer for years. A few months ago I started wearing less makeup and found that Shape Tape was just too intense for the look I was going for. I picked this up on a whim when my friend Andrea and I were at the Sephora at Somerset and I have used it every day since. It has a decent amount of coverage (read: enough to cover dark circles) but still looks natural and skin-like. 

Clearly, there are a lot of Charlotte Tilbury products that I like and feel are worth the investment (which, it really is because the price point is pretty steep). Unfortunately, there have been a few CT products that I’ve tried that I have found are not worth the money.

Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder

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This is one product that I have found to be not worth the money. As I’ve mentioned before, I have very oily skin. This setting powder does nothing for me. It doesn’t keep my oil controlled, it doesn’t look good under my eyes if I use it to set concealer. For the $45 price tag, they are definitely better products out there.

Color Chameleon Eye Shadow Pencil

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I tried to love this product, I really did. It just didn’t work for me. The color is gorgeous and it really brought out the green in my eyes, but it creased terribly and the staying power was nearly nonexistent. If you don’t have greasy eyelids, this might work for you. However, there are way better products out there for a fraction of the cost.

Like with any brand, Charlotte Tilbury certainly has some hits and misses. I think that overall the brand is worth the money—especially if you’re wanting to splurge and #TreatYoSelf a little bit.

I’ll Be There for You: 25 Years of Friends

Could 1993 BE any better? The answer is no, because it produced two of the greatest things to ever grace this planet: Friends and me.

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OH.MY.GOD.

In all seriousness, Friends is my favorite TV show. The first time I ever watched it was with my best friend Jenna in the 5th grade. Her family had the complete box set and we would watch it all the time, including in the car on the way to Kalahari because they had a DVD player in their backseat (!). Jenna and her family introduced me to a lot of things (grilled ring bologna, 50 Cent, my first college football game), but I’m mostly thankful that her older siblings loved that classic 90’s sitcom as much as I eventually would.

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My friend Jenna and I. This was taken circa 2010 when we were in high school, definitely not fifth grade. I was also definitely tanning too much. Yikes.

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I immediately became obsessed with Friends, which likely had to do with the fact that it a) took place in NYC (I was obsessed with big cities and getting out of the small town I lived in) b) focused on cool young adults making it on their own and c) covered a variety of topics I knew full and well I had no business knowing about as a 12-year-old.

 

Fun Friends Fact (FFF) 1: Friends was actually one of my first introductions to sex-ed because it taught me that condoms are “only like 97 percent effective.” So, thank you.

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MY LOBSTER

My love for Friends didn’t end after middle school (clearly). When I was in college,  I would come back from class or work and watch reruns of friends on TBS (and sometimes on Nick at Nite). Then, the syndicated show came to Netflix and I could watch it whenever and wherever my internet connection would allow. Above anything else, Friends is my go-to, show. It’s really hard for me to be in a bad mood when Friends comes on. How can you resist clapping along during the intro? And, of course, it’s even better when you have someone to clap along with.

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I’ve seen a lot of freezing-cold takes about Friends recently, about how the show is offensive, or Ross is problematic, but to me the show is just a feel-good comedy about six friends who are there for each other regardless of whatever happens. At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want?

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Fun Friends Fact (FFF) 2: In my middle school diary, I wrote, in painstaking detail, about how one of my so-called friends hit on my “boyfriend.” I referred to it as “kick-you-in-the-neck, spit-on-your-crotch fantastic.” It’s honestly a shame that Twitter didn’t exist back then. 

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In case you love Friends as much as I do and are wanting to celebrate the shows 25th anniversary by buying a bunch of Friends themed stuff you probably don’t need, look no further!

THE COMPLETE BOX SERIES

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The show is leaving Netflix at the end of the year, so if you’re anything like me and wondering how you’re going to occupy your time/fall asleep at night when it’s no longer there for you, then look no further. OR, if you’re not into DVDs or Blu-Rays (which I mean, it’s 2019, who wants to mess with discs) you can purchase each season digitally on Amazon for 9.99 each.

THE YELLOW PEEPHOLE PICTURE FRAME

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I just purchased this for my apartment because I have wanted one forever and I decided that I deserve nice things and wanted to treat myself. Classic.

HOW YOU’ DOIN’?

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Joey’s iconic catchphrase has been immortalized on a mug—and you need it! I actually really want this, so if any of my friends and family read this and want to buy me an early Christmas/birthday gift, look no further.

CENTRAL PERK COFFEE

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No, really. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of the show, you can buy a bag of ground medium roast ‘Central Perk’ coffee. I mean, need.

THE WHERE IT’S YOUR BIRTHDAY

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My 26th birthday is coming up on December 9, if anyone wants to send me this card. Just saying.

COULD I BE WEARIN’ ANY MORE CLOTHES?

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If your lobster is a man (or any person who enojys a good pair of branded boxer briefs) look no further. If I had seen these like 4 months ago, I would have gotten them for someone. I digress.

A SWEATER THAT’S BETTER THAN LEATHER PANTS

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They’re no leather pants, but this Friends crew neck is super cute. It’s on back order at Urban Outfitters because, apparently, it’s what all the cool kids are wearing. BRB, gonna go order it right now.

I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU

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If you’re a sucker for coffee table books (and clearly, Friends) like I am, you’re going to want this. This book is full of quotes from the gang. The version from Urban Outfitters is slightly more expensive but comes with stickers. If you’re in the Grand Rapids area, Rebel Reclaimed has this in-store (and you should also shop local!).

APOTHECARY TABLE FROM THE DAYS OF YORE

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If you’re a Friends fan with some available living room real estate and a large disposable income, this is the Friends-themed product for you. It’s the Pottery Barn apothecary table that Rachel (and Ross) both have in season six. It’s going to cost you more than one and fifty dollars, though.

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Another gem from the PB collection. If you’re a Friends fan and also a hopeless romantic (like myself), you’ll probably enjoy this mug. If you’re those things and also all alone in this world (like myself) you should probably just get it for yourself as a gift because you deserve it!

FRIENDS LEGOS

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Lego sets are all fun and games until they’re put together and you have nowhere to display them—however, I think I could make an exception for this Central Perk set. Unfortunately, it’s all sold out.

THE CHICK AND THE DUCK

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Forget Lassie—the chick and the duck are two of the most popular pets to ever grace the silver screen. While I’m not entirely sure why one would need cups specifically designed to hold eggs, if you found yourself in need of one of those, I would choose this pair.

CRAP BAG

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Ahh, Phoebe. As much as I love Crap Bag Mike (Paul Rudd), I’ve always felt that Phoebe should’ve ended up with David the scientist. Even if you don’t like Friends or get the joke, I think most people who carry purses can relate to having a crap bag so win/win.

JOEY DOESN’T SHARE FOOD

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The sky is blue, grass is green and Joey doesn’t share food—it’s just a fact of life. BRB, ordering this spoon ASAP.

CENTRAL PERK ORNAMENT

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My mom got me this for Christmas last year and it’s one of my favorite ornaments ever. If you have a friend/family member/coworker who loves the show as much as I do, you really can’t go wrong with this gift.

THANKSGIVING CARD

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FFF 3: Season three is the only season that doesn’t have a Thanksgiving episode! This is one of my favorite Thanksgiving episodes, followed closely by “The one with all the Thanksgivings” because I love flashbacks and “The One Where Ross Gets High,” because Rachel messing up the trifle is just classic.

THE POSTER FROM MONICA’S APARTMENT

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I honestly always thought that this poster was kind of ugly, but I didn’t realize that you could buy it on Amazon! If you’re trying to recreate that classic purple living room look, you’re in luck! Also, it says “buttes” so LOL.

TL;DR

Friends is the best show to ever air and we should celebrate it all the time.

Happy Adoption Day: Celebrating Two Years with Kramer

Somehow, Kramer and I just celebrated our second anniversary together. In the two years we’ve been together, we’ve had some really good times and some pretty bad ones. We’ve lived in two different apartments (he also lived with my parents while I moved!), gone through countless bags of treats and seen lots of plants come and go (RIP).

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He has made me incredibly angry by eating my plants, knocking things off any surface he can find and keeping me up at night—and he has also kept me company, entertained me with his adorable antics and acted as my emotional support animal when things have fallen apart.

STARTING THE SEARCH

Pretty much as soon as I got my first apartment alone, sans roommates, I knew I wanted to get a pet. At first, I really had my heart set on getting a dog, but after some serious thought and consideration, I realized that I wasn’t ready for that level of commitment.

When I decided that I wanted to adopt a cat, the Capital Area Humane Society was the first place I looked. I knew that I wanted to adopt a cat, instead of getting one from a breeder (or from somewhere like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace.)

One thing that I was really looking for was a cat without claws. I’ve paid a lot to furnish my apartment, and I didn’t want my new pet ruining it. I also think that declawing cats is kind of cruel, so I didn’t want to I would routinely look for pets online using the sea

LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT

I continued to stalk the CAHS website and Facebook each day, waiting for the right fit. One day as I was perusing the website, I found a cat names Lunar (who was front declawed!). He was black with a white patch on his chest and he looked both adorable and naughty. I fell in love with him.

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Kramer (née Lunar) was living in a cage at Soldan’s in West Lansing. I convinced my friend Jodi to go with me to look at him during our lunch break at work, and when I saw him in his cage, my heart melted. He looked scared and kind of pathetic and small in his big cage, but he was still in good enough spirits to swat at my fingers through the bars.

I talked with one of the employees about what the adoption process entailed and, as usual, was too indecisive to make a final decision during my short hour-long lunch break.

WHAT’S THE CATCH

I went back to work and spent the entire day trying to decide whether or not I was ready to adopt a cat. I decided that figuring out why Kramer was surrendered was important, so I called CAHS to find out. They told me that Kramer’s family brought him to the humane society because he was a) not using his litter box b) chewing on drywall and being generally destructive c) meowing incessantly at all hours of the day/night.

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WHY NOT?

Armed with the knowledge that Kramer was an absolute terror, I sought the advice of a few friends and coworkers who collectively told me I should definitely find another feline friend, I did what any rational person would do and went back to Soldan’s to see him again. An employee told me if I wanted to adopt Kramer, I was going to have to call CAHS to get approved, and do so within the hour because adoptions were ending for the day. I have never been an impulsive person, but I decided to go for it. In less than an hour, I was approved to become a cat mom.

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HERE WE GO

As I was waiting for my approval to go through, I went through the store and picked up all the things that I would need for my new cat. That included a litter box, litter, a scooper, wet food, dry food (grain-free because only the best for my cat son), treats and, of course, toys. One of the toys I got him was a taco stuffed with catnip, which remains one of his favorites to this day. Like mother like son, what can I say?

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I also had to get something to take him home in. Rather than spring for the expensive plastic carrier, I opted for the cheap cardboard one. Joke was on me though, because Kramer is so freakishly strong that once the Soldan employee and I collectively stuffed him inside the box, he broke the cardboard and escaped.

Once Kramer was inside his sturdy plastic carrier, it was smooth sailing. He didn’t make a peep the entire way home. I was a different story entirely. I called my mom on the verge of the tears because I was worried that I was biting off more than I could chew, you know, caring for another living thing and all. She told me I would be fine, and reminded me of the fact that I had been kind of lonely and had been wanting a cat for years. Pretty much from that point forward, it’s been me and Kramer against the world.

HOME SWEET HOME

Kramer was really scared when we first got home. He camped out between the wall and refrigerator for the first few hours and didn’t want to come out. I lured him with many different types of food and treats, but he wasn’t budging. I finally admitted defeat and decided to sit on the kitchen floor and talk to him.

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THE FIRST NIGHT

Once Kramer came out from behind the fridge he quickly asserted his dominance. Everything in my apartment became a toy, including my plants.

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I tried to keep Kramer out of my room at first but quickly realized that wasn’t going to fly. Kramer is king of the castle and he likes to sleep in my bed. Another thing to adjust to was the fact that my body became a jungle gym, especially when it was time to sleep.

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. It took some time to adjust to being woken up to loud sounds and seeing something looming over my head.

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It also took some time adjusting to seeing Kramer sitting on top of my kitchen cabinets. I don’t want to jinx it, but he doesn’t climb on the cabinets at this apartment.

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CRAZY CAT LADY

I got Kramer when I was single and I was kind of afraid of becoming a weird, crazy cat lady spinster. At this point, I’ve just accepted it. Plus, you can’t die alone if you’re surrounded by cats and plants!

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Kramer and I have been through a lot together in two years. We’ve spent hours (more like days) curled up on the couch watching Friends. We’ve gone through countless cans of cat food, bags of treats, and cans of catnip spray. Sure, I have to keep my plants up high (especially the ones that are dangerous for pets) and I’m constantly covered in hair, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

TL;DR

Having a cat is the best. 10/10 definitely recommend.

Making the case for medical-grade skincare

I’ve written blog post after blog post about my skincare, ranging from products I recommend to in-office procedures that I’ve had done. I’ve learned a thing or two on the journey to skin free of acne and acne scars. After years of trial and error, and after spending thousands of dollars, I’m no longer purchasing luxury skincare. 

SKINCARE 101

There are different levels of skincare: drugstore, luxury and medical-grade (also referred to as pharmaceutical grade or “cosmeceuticals”). As someone who has had bad skin for the better part of their life, I’ve purchased my fair share of the first two. I pick up random masks, scrubs and treatments on almost every single Target run, and I strategically stock up on luxury skincare during Ulta sales, Sephora sales, and Nordstrom’s semi-annual sale.

I always assumed that luxury skincare was better than drugstore. For one, luxury skincare costs more (like, a lot more). Between the price tag and the packaging (I hate myself for how easily influenced I am by sleek, chic packaging), it seemed like a no brainer to me that it was better in quality. It turns out that probably isn’t the case.

WHY AM I LIKE THIS

Despite the fact that I have poured thousands of dollars into drugstore and luxury skincare, I have consistently still had issues with skin. For a long time, I struggled with cystic acne. Even after that cleared up, I still found myself struggling with regular, run-of-the-mill acne, severe redness, and lots and lots of scarring. I was religiously using a concoction of drugstore and luxury products last November when I finally bit the bullet and scheduled a microneedling appointment with Jennifer Edwards at Aesthetic Med Spa to help get my scarring under control.

CHAMPAGNE TASTE, BEER BUDGET

I was amazed by the results of the microneedling, but was still pretty stuck in my ways when it comes to skincare. I didn’t really matter to me, because my skin was looking amazing thanks to the microneedling. Then, a few months ago, I randomly started breaking out really badly (probably due to the stress of my life falling apart, but that’s really a story for a different day). I went in and saw Jennifer and she asked about the products that I was using. Let’s see: Dove bar soap, Meijer 10% benzoyl peroxide lotion and Cetaphil moisturizer. I also used a Tula toner (which is actually good), and had a whole rotation of masks in my line-up.

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I thought that poor Jennifer was going to have a heart attack. Here’s someone (me) willing to spend money on in-office procedures, but not willing to spend a little extra money on products to sustain and enhance those results.

Here’s the thing: medical-grade skincare is an investment. It might cost more upfront (depending on what products you currently use, it might not cost much more than luxury skincare), but it’s going to a) last longer b) be more effective and c) produce actual results.

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LUXURY SKINCARE VS MEDICAL-GRADE

So what’s the difference? Here are a few important ones.

  1. Medical grade products have a higher concentration of active ingredients.

    All active ingredients in medical grade skincare must be 99.9% pure. A higher concentration of ingredients means products penetrate deeper into the skin. Drugstore and luxury products are full of fillers and preservatives, (non-active ingredients) that sit on top of the skin and don’t produce any kind of real results.

  2. Medical grade skincare is subject to FDA-regulation and is backed by clinical trials.

    Luxury skincare—and even drugstore skincare—feel nice on your skin, and often smells really good. That’s because it’s designed to—it’s designed to be a sensory experience and not offer much more than that. Medical-grade skincare is backed by clinical research to guarantee that products effective.

  3. Each product is developed for a certain skin type or skin issue and is made to give visible results.

    Because medical-grade products have a higher concentration of active ingredients, you need less product—and the product is able to penetrate deeper into your skin, giving you more effective results.

  4. Medical grade skincare must be sold under a doctor and prescribed by a trained medical professional/licensed skincare nurse or aesthetician.

    Because of their potent formulas, medical-grade products can only be sold under the supervision of professionals. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not knocking the employees at Ulta/Sephora/high-end beauty counters, but they certainly don’t have the same expertise and training as a doctor, nurse or aesthetician. Your skincare professional will be able to give you advice on the products that will work best for your skin.

WHAT I’M USING

After my come-to-Jesus  intervention, Jennifer got me started on a really good regimen that is working wonders on my skin. I use the skinbetter science Oxygen Infusion Wash both morning and night.  In the morning, I follow with the skinbetter science Alto Defense Serum, and at night I follow with skinbetter AlphaRet Overnight Cream. At least once a week, I’ll use the AlphaRet Exfoliating Peel Pads, which are arguably my favorite skincare product of all time.

TL;DR

Medical-grade skincare is expensive—and it can produce some serious sticker shock when you first start testing the waters. Like pretty much anything in like, you get what you pay for. Yes, drugstore and even luxury skincare products are less expensive, but medical-grade skincare is worth every penny when you break down what you get for the price.

 

 

Plant Parenthood: Easy to Care for Houseplants

It’s National Indoor Plant Week! If you know me at all, you’ll know that I love plants. I couldn’t pass up an excuse opportunity to make a trip to one of my favorite local greenhouses and celebrate by buying plants.

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There’s a theory that millennials love houseplants because we’re not having children and need something to nurture (LOL). While I’d love to talk about my deep-seated and unmet needs on the internet, I’m not sure that it’s that serious. I primarily like houseplants because they’re pretty and fun to grow and take care of. 

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I started collecting (?) plants during my senior year of college. My aunt gave me something she called “hens and chicks” which I later learned were succulents. From there, I started accumulating plants at an alarming rate, which was only accelerated when I learned about the Michigan Cactus and Succulent Society and attended their annual show at the University of Michigan. Basically, the rest is history. 

For a while, I primarily just loved the way that plants looked but did a terrible job of taking care of them. Then I met Wajid, an actual plant scientist (!) and he taught me how to properly care for my plants and showed me how therapeutic and enjoyable it can be. Since then, taking care of my plants has become a point of pride and my plants are nearly as spoiled as my cat.

If you’re considering dipping your toes into the plant parenthood, and in honor of this special week, I decided to put together a list of my favorite easy-to-care-for houseplants.

Monstera

My monstera plant was the first plant that I got that wasn’t a succulent or cactus. I saw one on Instagram (lol) and started calling around to local greenhouses to see if they had any in stock. Luckily for me, Van Atta’s did, and I made my first trip there to pick it up. It was much, much larger than I was anticipating. 

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How to care: From what I can tell, Monstera plants are happy pretty anywhere with indirect sunlight, but will do best if they have If they don’t get enough light, they’ll start reaching toward the sun. 

Snake plant

If you have a black thumb, a snake plant is your best friend. I think I have three or four different snake plants (aka sansevieria) scattered around my apartment because they add a touch of greenery to any room and are almost impossible to kill. We also have snake plants at the office that get literally no natural light and have maybe been watered a handful of times in the year and a half since we bought them and they’re still alive and kicking. Bonus: NASA research has shown that these bad boys purify and clean indoor areas.

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How to care:  Snake plants will survive almost anything and are known for their adaptability. They can withstand full sun and handle low light—though they do best in indirect sunlight. When it comes to watering them, easy does it. They really don’t require much water, and prefer to completely dry out before watering again. Depending on the amount of light they’re getting and the humidity in your house, they really only need to be watered every 2-6 weeks. 

Toxic to pets? Yes.

Pothos

To me, there’s nothing as aesthetically pleasing as a trailing plant. I have three different pothos plants: two marble queens and a golden pothos. Like the two earlier plants that I mentioned, pothos are pretty easy to care for. In fact, they’re often referred to as “the devil’s ivy” because they can survive without light and are nearly impossible to kill (not to be confused with the devil’s lettuce. I have no experience in growing that). 

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Photo courtesy of @crazyplantguy

How to care: It’s true that pothos can survive in low light, but they grow faster in medium to bright indirect light. They don’t do well in direct sunlight because the sun burns the foliage and results in brown burnt spots (I learned this the hard way, RIP plant friend). They like their soil to be kept on the drier side, so water enough to keep the soil slightly damp, but let the top 50% of the soil dry out before watering again.

Toxic to pets? Yes.

Succulents

Ahh, succulents. My gateway drug. In the time since I became a hobby horticulturist (lol, I’m joking) succulents have become as popular among millennials as avocado toast or craft beer. A lot of people purport that succulents are super easy to care for, but I don’t like to make generalizations like that. A lot of it is going to depend on a) what kind of succulent you have b) the state the plant was in when you got it and c) the environment that you keep it in. 

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How to care: Succulents need to drain well. If you purchase one from a greenhouse, they’re going to be potted properly and in the right soil. If you get one from Meijer, probably not so much. Whatever pot you keep them in, it absolutely needs a drainage hole. If you overwater them, they will rot and die. With that said, they liked to be soaked and then completely dry out before being watered again. They also need A LOT of sunlight. If your succulents start to look weird and “leggy” it’s because they’re not getting enough sun. They do best in bright, indirect sunlight. I tend to keep mine on my windowsills, but they also do well on my bookshelf (with grow lights).

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Toxic to pets? Depends on the kind. 

Cacti

There are thousands of different varieties of cacti—and they’re all beautiful. I have a number of different cacti in my home (and my office!) and just bought one more yesterday because why not? While I love all plants, I will always have a special place in my heart for cacti and succulents. My personal favorite cactus is my euphorbia (which is actually technically a succulent, but looks like a cactus) for sentimental reasons.

How to care: When it comes to how to care for cacti (and succulents), there are three main factors that affect their rate of survival: light, water and temperature. Too dim or too bright light, too little or too much water, or too cool or too hot temperatures (and often a combination of all three) will make your succulents and cacti unhappy and start behaving strangely. Depending on the type of succulent or cactus, symptoms of mistreatment vary dramatically.

Much like its cousin, the succulent, cacti need soil that is well aerated and fast draining. For me, what that translates to is only watering once in a while, so they end up being pretty low maintenance. (Which is a huge bonus if you’re forgetful or lazy like me). They also like a lot of sunlight (I mean, duh, they come from the desert). Pro tip: don’t mist! Cacti like to be soaked, just like succulents.

TL;DR

It’s National Indoor Plant Week! Go buy some plants and circle back here if you need tips on how to care for them.

In Good Company: Andrea Kerbuski

I’m fortunate enough to be surrounded by amazing people who wear many different hats. About a month ago, I decided that I wanted to highlight those people in a blog series called “In Good Company.”  No one embodies community over competition or brings people together quite like my friend and coworker Andrea Kerbuski.  As I put together a list of people who inspire me, it only felt natural that she would be my first feature.

I’ve known Andrea for just shy of three years and during that time we’ve become good friends. My kindred introverted spirit, she has shown me that it’s possible to be successful and remain true to your authentic self in a world that favors extroverts. She is always down to take Instagrams, gives me great advice (my favorite of all time being, “stop doing things you hate”), inspires me to step outside my comfort zone, and has taught me how to perfect the Irish exit.

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Kerbuski works harder than almost anyone than I know and her drive and determination are unparalleled. She is constantly juggling a million projects and somehow manages to knock it out of the park on all of them—and on top of all that, she’s always willing to help and support other people. She is one of the most positive influences in my life and I couldn’t ask for a better role model or friend.

Keep reading to get to know Andrea of Blonde Bedhead!

In addition to having a full-time job as a PR pro, you have a number of side hustles. What other hats do you wear?

I’m also a photographer–I shoot family sessions, senior sessions, and even weddings! I also do freelance social media and communications work for small businesses. And lastly, I run a style blog! I’ve had the blog for almost 10 years, documenting my personal style.

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Wow, that’s a lot. What does an average day look like for you?

I work 8:30-5 at PR firm Martin Waymire and I’m usually working on some project—whether it’s editing photos or working on a blog post—before I head in, and usually the first thing I work on when I get home. I spend at least four hours a day working on my side hustles, and I typically work all hours of the day to keep up with my client work at Martin Waymire. I try my best to make no social plans after work during the week since I have a lot to do when I get home and I’m tired!

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What inspired you to start Blonde Bedhead and how has it evolved since its inception ~10 years ago?

10 years ago I was a timid 23-year-old with no personal style. I’ve always been more of a wallflower, wishing to blend in than ever catch someone’s attention, but having the blog gave me a boost confidence and a reason to try new trends and explore my personal style–and finally not be afraid to stand out. It gave me confidence in every aspect of my life–it taught me how to negotiate, speak up for myself and to not take everything so personally, and to let things go. Today, I share more than just my personal style but my life–my home, dogs, work and the experiences and lessons I’ve learned in life. My blog has grown up with me and will continue to evolve as I enter new phases of life!

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From sponsored posts to paid brand trips, you’re a bonafide influencer. What’s the hardest part and what’s the best part?

Best part is the opportunities–opportunities to travel, be challenged with fun projects and get paid for something I truly love and enjoy. The hardest part is keeping up with it all especially when I work full time. I feel like most of the time I don’t have the capacity to take on the projects I do because they’re so much fun and I’m burnt out constantly. No work/life balance.

As a self-professed introvert with a jam-packed to-do list, how do you stay present and unplug when you need to?

I usually reserve my evenings for “me” time. I don’t go out to bars or participate in many weeknight events because I’m burnt out and I need time to myself to re-energize. I also prioritize fitness and exercise. This forces me to unplug and do something healthy for myself.

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In a creative industry where you’re constantly producing work like writing blog posts, taking photographs and creating content, how do you stay inspired and avoid burnout?

That’s something I’m still trying to figure out. I usually stay inspired and motivated, but when I don’t, I don’t force it. I’m learning to take more breaks whether it’s not posting on Instagram or skipping a couple blog posts. I have a pretty rigid schedule I stick to and I love consistency and routine, but I find breaks from it all help me feel motivated again and inspired. I also love to read other blogs like Fit Mitten Kitchen, Andee Layne and Cheetah is the New Black, all blogs that I find inspiration from one way or another.

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If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Keep putting yourself out there–go that event you’re nervous to attend, reach out to people or employers you want to get to know. This is something I still struggle with, but getting yourself out of your comfort zone and expanding your network and meeting new people will only do positive things for your future.

I started this series because I wanted to highlight women who inspire me. Who are some people that inspire you?

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My friend Merl Kinzie who owns the SHUDIO in Chicago. She’s always top of my list for strong women who inspire me. She has more integrity than anyone I know, not only speaks on what she believes in, but puts it into action AND she’s incredibly creative and I want just 1 percent of that creativity in my brain!

Follow Andrea on Instagram and like her on Facebook.

 

Fostering Community Through Coffee

Yesterday I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek of the new Foster Coffee Company opening in East Lansing later this month. While I was blown away by the physical space itself—it’s gorgeous—and of course their coffee—it’s delicious—what has stayed with me long after the event ended is how passionate they are about their mission to foster genuine community right here in #LoveLansing. 

SNEAK PEEK

Foster Coffee has two other locations—their flagship location in Owosso and a second one in Flint. Their East Lansing location will open to the public next weekend (mark your calendars!) and is gorgeous inside. It’s extremely spacious, meaning there is ample seating, it’s beautifully decorated (including some gorgeous greenery!) and it’s filled with the most wonderful natural light—which will be ideal for anyone working, studying, or snapping photos. 

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They have a ton of merch for sale, ranging from clothing to drinkware and it took a lot of self-control for me to walk out without any branded items. (I already have three of four Foster mugs in rotation and have found them to be perfect for gifts, too!). 

THEIR MISSION + VISION

I love the aesthetics of Foster. From their physical locations to their brand designs and social presence, they knock it out of the park—but more than anything, I love their mission.

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Foster’s mission is simple but poignant: to “foster communities through coffee.” They do this by partnering with other local businesses, non-profit organizations, and civic entities in order to create overlapping networks that serve people and build stronger relationships within the community.  In short, they’re great people doing wonderful things to bring others together in a meaningful way.

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That mission is more than just a tagline. It’s intrinsically baked into every aspect of their business. From the intentionality of the communities they choose to open locations in, to where they source their ingredients from, to the employees they hire, cultivating community and giving back reign supreme—and it shows. 

THE SECRET INGREDIENT IS LOVE

Foster takes a hands-on approach to everything they do. Every small-batch roast of coffee, every shot of espresso, every coffee they brew, and every latte they pour is done by hand. All of their syrups are made in-house from real ingredients—they even make their own almond milk and chai from scratch because, to them, every little detail matters.

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They source high-quality coffees from all over the world and roast them in Owosso, Michigan in small batches. Each coffee is unique and their methodology and roast profiles are designed to showcase the enjoyable and distinguishing characteristics each regional coffee has to offer.

Foster offers more than just drinks, though. At the VIP event, they showcased a number of different food options, including their simple green and berry blend smoothie—which can also be made with coconut yogurt for anyone who prefers or requires a vegan option. They sampled Foster’s version of avocado toast which features tomato, mashed avocado, fresh cracked pepper, sea salt, with a dark green garnish on Stone Circle bread, and last, but certainly not least, they offered a number of different baked goods including pumpkin and blueberry muffins, raspberry scones, and vegan coconut cookies.

UPCOMING EVENTS

Foster Coffee Company’s East Lansing location opens next Saturday on Sept. 20, but they’ll be celebrating all weekend. The schedule for opening weekend is as follows:

9/20 – Grand Opening Weekend (8am – 8pm)

9/21 – Grand Opening Weekend (9am – 8pm)

9/22 – Grand Opening Weekend (9am – 6pm)

COFFEE BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER

Foster’s mission is to bring people together and, based on last night, I can tell that they’re going to achieve that goal with no problem. I can’t wait to visit their EL location for client meetings, brainstorming sessions, remote workdays or simply just meeting friends. 

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TL;DR

Foster Coffee Company is opening a beautiful new space in East Lansing and you should check it out!