Feel the Love: The February Play! by Sephora Box

Subscription boxes have become so popular over the past few years, expanding into almost every category imaginable (treats for your face, your belly, your pets, your workout bag, you name it!). It’s so easy to see why the concept is so popular – what could be better than a “surprise” box full of little goodies of brands you love, or new things to discover…from you, to you! Regardless of what category, it’s a great way to try new product without feeling wasteful, and my favorite…to have travel sized items ready for your next trip!

On the same note, it can be frustrating when the samples you do receive are way offtrack from your preferences, or so tiny that it’s borderline comical (anyone else get the mini-eyebrow pencils that are so small you can barely grip them between your fingers, much less fill in both brows with it?) I’m definitely a fan of subscription boxes, but have had my fair share of misses too.

I recently switched from Birchbox to Sephora’s new monthly program called Play!, because I honestly found myself losing or not using most of the products that Birchbox sent (a girl can only have so many mini-perfume vial’s before going insane). February was my first month with Play! and I was super happy with everything I got, and actually have used all of the items over the past month instead of trying once and never touching it again.

I was so happy with the assortment that I thought it’d be fun to review what I get in my Play! box each month and share new finds (that are actually worth buying the full size of!). I will also link the full size products in my review, along with the price point on each, to make shopping easy (yo’ welcome 😉 ) and see how much each box would cost if buying full sized products.

Before I dive in to February’s products, here is a little overview of the program for those of you who are unfamiliar. And, as all content on the blog unless otherwise stated, this is solely my opinion and not influenced by sponsorship in any way. These are just my thoughts and how things worked for me; to each their own and I’ll always give it to you guys straight! 🙂

PLAY! is a beauty subscription box that is shipped once a month to you, for $10 per month (and billed monthly). We all know Sephora’s product and line assortment is stellar, so right off the bat I felt I would be happier with this subscription box because I knew the brands would be more familiar to me. Each month you’ll receive five trial-sized samples (plus a bonus product), packaged in a cute drawstring bag that correlates with that month’s theme. I personally find the bags more practical than the boxes from Birchbox, so I liked that aspect as well. Upon signing up for Play!, you will complete a short questionnaire to identify your skin type, tone, and beauty preferences, which Sephora then uses to help customize the shades/product that are sent.

You also receive a Play! Pass with each box, which gets you 50 bonus Beauty Insider points when you bring in store…which just means more free product! There are also cute features like Play! dates, which are subscriber only events hosted in store, and exclusive video how-to’s on the product you receive. Overall it’s a really straight-forward program with some great benefits, but my favorite part so far is the quality of product you get for just $10. The idea of subscription boxes are to discover product you actually want to buy the full size of, and I can absolutely see myself doing so with Play!

February’s box was themed around Valentine’s Day/Galentine’s Day and was super cute! The bag came with a cute themed-card that had beauty inspired Valentines Day cards you can give out to your girlfriends, and had the following product inside:

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Image courtesy of Sephora.com
  1. Sephora Collection Ultra Shine Lip Gel in Perfect Nude (Full Size: $12): Described on the site as “Nude lip gloss that makes lips look fuller with its light-reflecting formula”, this gloss definitely lives up to the hype. I just recently started to wear gloss occasionally again, as I’m pretty loyal to matte lips, but that’s what’s great about subscription boxes…trying products out of your typical wheelhouse to discover things that might work great for you. This gloss isn’t sticky, would compliment a vast-array of skin tones, has a great applicator, and really does make your lips look more full and pouty. A great staple-gloss to layer over color or wear solo.
  2. Make Up For Ever Artist Rouge Lipstick in M-500 – Wine Violet (Full Size: $22): Described as a “silky, high-pigmented lipstick in a deep wine shade with a matte finish”, this Make Up For Ever lipstick is so nice! This vampy shade is actually so wearable, and feel you can tone this down by blotting for a more subtle daytime look, or amp it up with a lip liner for nighttime. While I probably won’t be reaching for this every day, the mini size is perfect to have on hand. I wore alone for a night out and even just one coat lasted through our Thai dinner date..so it’s a winner in my book.
  3. Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara (Full Size: $23): What can I say about this cult-favorite mascara that hasn’t already been said? Described as the “fan-favorite mascara that volumizes and separates lashes with its unique wand”, this mascara is definitely a classic worth a try. I love having mini-tubes of these sample mascaras on hand because I keep them everywhere (one in my desk, one in my car, one in my bag), and recommend this mascara to anyone who hasn’t tried yet. Sephora always has the mini-sized tubes towards the front of the register, which is a great option if you want to try before you buy the big tube (mini’s are $12). While this isn’t my everyday go to and I do find it tends to be a bit flaky throughout the day on me, it’s worth a try because it seems to work a little differently on everyone.
  4. First Aid Beauty Ginger & Tumeric Vitamin C Jelly Mask (Full Size: $32): A “Jelly mask packed with Ginger and Tumeric to soothe and brighten Skin”, this Jelly Mask was selected for my skin type by Play!. I was completely unfamiliar with this line and product, but absolutely LOVED it as soon as I tried it! My skin always runs hot and my face carries some redness, so the Jelly texture immediately felt so good as I applied and instantly helped to soothe my skin and brighten up my overall tone. I will definitely be buying the full size of this baby once my sample is out! (but for reference, think this sample size will get me quite a few applications, which is so nice!) This product was perfect for my specific skin concerns and I thought Sephora hit it out of the park using the info I provided.
  5. Peter Thomas Roth FIRMx Peeling Gel (Full Size: $48): Another product selected for my skin concern, this “Exfoliating gel that uses fruit enzymes to reveal bright, glowing skin” is unlike any product I have ever used before! You apply to clean, dry skin, and in circular motions the product helps to lift dead skin cells to smooth and brighten the surface of your skin. As I applied I was so surprised at how quickly the peel was lifting and was honestly a little freaked out at first (is this stuff taking off my skin? Am I going to have a face when this bad-boy is over with??), but after finishing and rinsing I was blown away at how clear and fresh my face looked. I did originally think a lot of what was “peeling” was the product itself…remember in grade school when you would put glue in your hands just to rub it off? That’s honestly what this reminded me of. However, after trying several more times and reading other reviews online, I realized it really is exfoliating your skin and not just balling up on itself. I think this would be a great product for mature skin as well – and read that men love this product to help with shaving/ingrown hairs on their face! (Hubs – if you’ve made it this far into reading this, be ready to try this tonight).

Monthly Bonus:

Philosophy Amazing Grace Fragrance (Rollerball: $20): Fragrance is such a personalized thing to me, so it’s pretty rare when I really click with a sample I receive. I’ve used other Amazing Grace products by Philosophy and while I like this scent in bath/body products, I’m personally not a fan of this as a perfume. I am so insanely loyal to Chanel Chance (which I’ve been wearing since High School), and am still awaiting the day when I find something that suits me better. Sorry Philosophy, Amazing Grace just ain’t it!

February Total: $157!

Granted, that would be for full size of each product, but most of these samples are sized for a few applications at minimum, rather than just one-time trial sizes. So far, I’m super impressed with the value of Play! and can’t wait to share my future boxes! Going forward, I’ll be sure to include some photos as well…so be on the look out for my March review coming soon.

 Do any of you have Play!, and if so what do you think? Anyone prefer Birchbox, ipsy, or another Beauty box? Drop a comment below to let me know, or if you have questions on any of the February items above!

xo,

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In Her Suitcase: Hawaii Honeymoon

I am so excited to be writing the first of hopefully many in the new series I’m rolling out called In her Suitcase! I always love packing for a trip…outfitting and seeing everything together is so fun and gets me so excited for all the fun things ahead! Whether it is bright, fun prints and accessories for somewhere tropical, sleek black staples with moody pops of color or texture for a big apple trip, or the cutest tailgating outfits for a weekend in Tallahassee or Athens – I’ll be sharing what I’m bringing and recap you on what I actually used or wished I brought. From clothes, to accessories, to products and the random things that end up being lifesavers, I’ll cover it all in In her Suitcase.

Our latest trip was to Oahu and Maui to celebrate our one year anniversary, and have the real honeymoon of our dreams. While our mini-moon through the Florida Keys was amazing, it really was our “Farewell to Florida” trip because we had our eyes locked in on Atlanta, and wanted to move here more than anything after we were officially Mr. & Mrs. Our priority was to move and start putting down our roots in the state and city we love rather than take a big honeymoon right off the bat. Fast forward one year, and we felt we had earned that Hawaii sun on our shoulders!

Things can get out of hand fast while packing for a trip, and it is so hard not to over pack. Anyone else reach for a top/dress/shoes that you haven’t worn in months, but for some reason think you’re going to wear for a weekend trip? Yeah, no, of course you aren’t going to wear them.  This trip essentially slapped me in the face with that fact, because I inevitably packed way too much, and so drastically that I couldn’t wait to get back to share my big learn with you all:

Even the fanciest of places in Hawaii are WAY more casual than what you’d think. Time exploring beats time primping – embrace it!

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Anniversary Dinner at Mama’s Fish House, in Paia, Maui. The best drinks & meal of the entire trip!

Whether for a night out or vacation, I typically do full hair and makeup, jewelry, heels, the works…and that is not necessary in Hawaii. It’s about so much more than just not wanting to be overdressed (if you’re in the mood to get dressed up, who cares if you’re overdressed right?), it’s about how you’ll feel once you’re there. Of course speaking for myself, but the last thing I wanted to spend time on is fully blow drying and curling my hair or fully contouring my face. An extra hour spent getting ready in a hotel room is an extra hour you could be paddle boarding the pacific, diving in a crater that you can hear whales in underwater, sipping an original mai-tai poolside, dance barefoot at sunset (all real examples too here)…catch my drift? Even during our stays at some of the really high end resorts or reservations at formal restaurants, the most I ever did was wear a nice dress and heels, but with pretty minimal makeup and air-dried beachy waves – like in this photo. There’s me – being as Hawaii fancy as it got 🙂 Keep scrollin’ for the items I definitely could have lived without, the essentials, and the go-to outfits.

The Overpacked

Before I dive into all of the items I packed, I want to cover the items that I packed but did. not. touch. I couldn’t wait to share this, because on a regular trip I absolutely would have used these items, but for a tropical, adventurous, naturally beautiful destination like the Hawaiian Islands, all they did was crowd my suitcase (which means less Kona coffee I was able to bring back). As with everything I have a “you do you” attitude, but if I could hit rewind these items would stay on my vanity and not catch the free ride to HI.

As far as hair goes, I packed my CHI and never once used it…I went heat free for my hair the entire time and never once felt the need to do anything different to it. Between the heat, wind, and all the time you’ll spend in the water, it honestly is a waste to put a bunch of time and energy into your hair. Keep reading below to see my go-to, heat free styles and products I did use while letting my inner Moana shine 🙂

Makeup wise, I could have reduced my kit down to just a few pieces. As I do with every trip, I packed the works…Anastasia cream contour kit, all my brushes, multiple urban decay pallets, tarte pallets, more lipsticks and glosses than any one person should even own, you get the idea. Scale it back to light coverage, breathable items that you know you can trust on your skin, and leave the full-glam looks for back home. I did wear a bright lip a few nights out because I love how it looks with a deep tan, and while I got a bunch of compliments, I also was the only gal with noticeable makeup. Again, not that I care about that kind of thing, but believe me when I say everyone is going natural and focused on what really matters…the outdoors, the food, the drinks, and each other. Do what makes you feel best!

As far as everything else, I majorly over packed on shoes. I ended up wearing this pair of sandals I spontaneously ordered from Lulu’s almost every single day…I even hiked a few trails while wearing them and a sundress – another “only in Hawaii” moment. They were perfectly lightweight, comfortable, cushioned, and super cute on (especially with a tan!). I packed 2 pairs of running shoes, 2 pairs of sneakers, and countless sandals, wedges, and heels. I ended up using 1 pair of running shoes, the lifesaver Lulu’s sandals mentioned above, 1 other pair of sandals, and one pair of heels. I bought so many cute jewelry pieces for the trip that I never ended up wearing (but will for summer here or on another trip, no doubt), simply because I didn’t feel the need to dress up my outfits.

The Lifesavers

I found myself reaching back for the same products and pieces  over and over on our trip, and these would be perfect for any tropical/beachy getaway. Linked below, here are the items I used and loved most:

 

Pictured top left to bottom right: Lush R&B Hair Moisturizer, Moroccan Oil Treatment, Moroccan Oil Dry Texture Spray, Not Your Mothers Beach Babe Dry ShampooNot Your Mothers Beach Babe Texturizing Sea Salt SprayMaui Babe Browning LotionMario Badescu Facial Spray (Purple + Pink),   Limited Edition Tartiest Contour Palette III, EOS Vanilla Bean Lip Balm Stick, Light Wash Denim MiniWhite Crochet Cover Up,  Embroidered Mini, Neutral Studded Block Heels, Camel Sandals, Black Studded Gladiator Sandals, Cupshe Leaf Bikini, Cupshe Cutout One Piece 

Many of these products are great year round, but man are they perfect for the beach & sunshine. My first “real” winter has made me SO ready for Summer!!

The Outfits

Dressy Dinners

 

Both this Tart dress & En Creme jumper are from Atlanta boutique Boogaloos & paired with the Studded Lulu’s heels and sandals above. I ended up using an over sized cork clutch every day of the trip, and while mine is from Mud Pie and no longer available, this one is similar!

Beach Days

 

I lived in swim, shorts, and cute cover up tops! From left to right: My exact beach hat is no longer available, but this one is similar, H&M Cotton Button-Up, Shorts are Express but no longer available – I adore how all of their shorts fit though!, Merona Kimono Jacket, Aerie White One Piece, Topshop “Mom” Denim Shorts (my bleached-dipped are out of stock, but a ton of washes are available here).

Out and About

 

Left to right: Forever 21 Floppy Hat – similar here, Free People Sundress (no longer available in stores, similar here), Madewell bandana in Vintage Gold, Plain white off the shoulder tee (have had forever, but this would also be perfect), Light Wash Denim MiniCamel Sandals

The Everyday

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All referenced above, my go-to’s were easy, breezy pieces, shorts, and sandals with swim underneath. The White Crochet Cover Up mentioned above was my favorite for this and I wore it multiple times on the trip. It’s still a little chilly here in ATL, and I love pairing this cover up with my favorite pair of Rolla’s black skinny’s and the Lulu’s studded heels linked above. And how gorgeous is the Royal Hawaiian?

The only other additions to my suitcase that I’d highly recommend can be found in my Amazon Favorites: Travel list – definitely some must-have’s there that all ended up holding up so well on this trip (the go-pro accessories kit is still blowing my mind).

And there you have it! A little snippet of my favorites – I would love to know your travel go-to products and what you have to pack for any trip! Share in the comments below & make sure to use #inhersuitcase for your next packing session!

Until the next trip,

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Hawaii Hiatus

Insert monkey-covering-eyes emoji because OMG – it’s going on a month since I’ve posted! While I had no plans to write while in Hawaii, I left with the best intentions to just work on the flight over…9.5 hours direct from ATL –> Honolulu seemed like the best possible way to work uninterrupted before letting things go for a couple of weeks. Well, the unreliable in-flight WiFi had other plans…After a solid 2 hours writing a new segment I’m rolling out, titled In Her Suitcase, somewhere between my iPad and Notes and WiFi and I guess some bad karma looming or something that day, I lost all of my work. I spent another good hour of the flight pouting & trying not to yell expletives to the full-flight and make them ground the plane, so I sulked into my in-flight cran-apple and He’s Just Not That Into You and tried to let it go. Once I landed and got that beautiful Hawaii sun on my shoulders, you can guarantee it was out of sight and out of mind…hence the unintentional almost 4 weeks of crickets over here on the site.

Hawaii was phenomenal. One of those trips that I know we’ll look back on, for life. For so many different reasons. It really is one of those magical places that gets deep into your soul and stays with you forever. It broke any kind of comfort zone I had, opened my eyes to how insanely beautiful the world is (and how amazing it is that it is part of the US!), strengthened our marriage and trust in each other (Road to Hana, ENOUGH SAID), not to mentioned spoiled us beyond belief with the best food, drinks, beaches, etc. We stayed in Oahu first and stayed at a few of my wish list hotels in Waikiki & North Shore. After 5 days in Oahu, we hopped the seemingly instant flight to Maui, and I AM SO GLAD WE DID. Our time in Maui made the trip, and when we go back (not if…when), we’ll go straight to Maui. Everyone says it, and everyone is right…it is heaven on earth and truly paradise.

Our time away was so special and coming back to reality, work, and our daily routine has been exhausting (#strugglebuspartyof2). It’s been super important to me to come back and try my best to get back into the really awesome routine I was in before we left. To be brutally honest, between jet lag, catching up, and now Daylight Savings, it’s taken every ounce of my energy and time just to get through the day and my to-do list. The past week has been so taxing and every morning has been a struggle to just feel awake enough to function, but after a week of being back I’m finally starting to feel a little more on track..even if that means just a few loads of laundry done and finally a trip to the grocery store. #smallwins

Our getaway was amazing and full of what felt like once-in-a-lifetime moments, but I’m trying to be mindful of the fact that I’m being really hard on myself with getting back into the momentum I had prior to leaving. Starting New Year’s Day up until when we left, I was really on top of my game with Keto, the blog, our place, jobs, working out, friends & fam, everything. I had gotten into a routine that was working for me and felt so much better mentally, physically, and emotionally because of it. I know things will be back to where I want them to be soon enough, but getting back into that frame of mind has been challenging and I’m trying to find that balance of working hard at it, without putting myself down or feeling guilty for taking time to just regroup and rest.

This trip was the first time in my life that I realized just how much I love and appreciate my day to day life and everything in it. I’ve always loved to travel and don’t think that will ever change, but I’m really getting to that point where I love being home and am so happy with the seemingly ordinary things and moments, too. It’s a good feeling that I’m fully embracing and running towards, instead of away from. I feel so thankful to have done all of the special things we did, but feel even more thankful to have a life that I’m genuinely just as excited to come back to after such a great trip.

With all that said, I have a TON of content from our Hawaii trip that I’ll be bringing your way this month. I used so many of my go-to travel tips in planning this trip, like my Travel Planning Guide: An Easy, Fun, and FREE Digital Download, but learned SO much more and can’t wait to share that with you all. Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve got new segments coming to you like In Her Suitcase, along with hotel and restaurant reviews, and a ton of recommendations for those of you planning your own Island escape! Aside from the trip, I’ve been working hard on our apartment to really use the most of the space for what we both need, so keep an eye out for a new segment called Rental Revival. Somewhere buried in completely-vague IKEA instructions, my pink craftsman toolbox, and Riverdale playing in the background, I’ll be updating you all on the projects I’ve taken on to transform our spaces into functional everyday-use areas.

I’m super happy to be back and finally somewhat rested enough to share with you..so thanks for being patient as I get things back together. If you have any questions about the trip or requests, as always send them my way – and make sure to subscribe to get the latest sent straight to your inbox.

More to come soon! ❤

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Travel Planning Guide: An Easy, Fun, and FREE Digital Download

Whether for work or play, planning a travel itinerary can go from being fun and exciting to feeling overwhelming…fast. Add in multiple destinations, a big group, or an extra lengthy trip, and it can feel downright impossible to keep straight or within budget. Luckily, throughout the years I’ve learned what tools, information, and preparation works best for me to make the most of any vacation or trip!

There are so many ways to plan out a trip – I’ve used everything from calendar apps, a hard-copy daily/monthly planner, Pinterest, an excel spreadsheet for budgeting, yelp for restaurants, google maps for mapping out spots, and a hefty combination of all of these to feel like I was prepared. I’ve streamlined the process significantly with a tool I’ve used so heavily in a personal and professional setting – Google Sheets! Google sheets are invaluable to me, whether for travel, budgets, event planning, or project management.  Fun fact: I completely planned our wedding, and yep, you guessed it, did it on a google sheet.

For me, the combination of the google sheet I’ve created and will share with you, and google maps act as everything I need to budget and plan for any kind of trip I am taking.

To access my go-to travel planning template, simply chick the link below!

Travel Planning Template | by Kristen Harbin

Once you open the travel template, you can save to your own google account, or export if you prefer. From there, simply follow the guidelines on the first tab to add in your own information, like your trip dates, location, and activities. On the second tab, you will find an example of a completed sheet. Using this sheet, you have easy access to all of your travel details, and from there the only other tool I like to use is google maps. I like to plug in all of my locations on google maps as I build my travel sheet, which helps me plan what activities to do on certain days.

While there are a lot of fields on this sheet, it’s important to note you should customize to fit what works best for you! Adding, deleting, or changing certain fields is so easy on google sheets, and I encourage you to change this so it makes the most sense to you. Also, it’s okay to leave some fields blank! By leaving some days lighter on activities than others, it allows you to keep your trip spontaneous and laid back. You mainly want to use this to keep your stay, transportation, and dates in check.

This travel planning sheet is a guide, which you can also use to easily change up your schedule if needed. Tired and want to relax instead of follow what was originally a busy, active day? Cut and paste the activities you missed into another day, and grab another drink poolside…always take care of yourself and don’t let an overly ambitious itinerary wear you out!

Disclaimer: All of the information provided in this template is solely a sample itinerary with fictitious information and is not a reflection of any actual plans, locations, or bookings. 

I hope you all enjoy and find this super helpful! Let me know what you think and if this works for you. Safe travels!!<3

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Amazon Favorites: Home

As the last of my planned Amazon Favorites series, I wanted to feature (IMO) the best category of all: Home! My big rule while we are renting is to avoid buying large, statement furniture pieces. Our current apartment is tiny compared to what we will most likely end up in with a home, and the last thing I want to do is spend a ton of money curating furniture that fits our current place, but looks tiny in our future house. Amazon is a great resource to fit both style and your budget + practical needs.

Out of everything available on Amazon, I really encourage you to look for home accents, furniture, and those little touches – not only will you save a ton of money to achieve the look you are going for, but you will also be able to quickly (and if you’re like me, frequently) change up your space with minimal effort & maximum personalization. I am constantly rearranging our place, swapping colorful rugs for monotone neutrals, mixing up accent chairs between rooms, and refreshing our artwork with things I’ve made recently or purchased. Amazon is a great resource for all things big + small to create your ideal space.

Improvements

Self Adhesive Film – Grey Marble

This self adhesive contact paper comes in a glossy, realistic white-grey marble pattern that looks (and feels) extra luxe. I love to add this to just about any plain surface I can find, and often have a couple rolls on hand just in case. My favorite project to use this for thusfar is revamping Ikea Furniture, like the gorgeous minimalist MALM white dressers or glass coffee tables. Stay on the lookout for a few DIY’s I’ve done with this contact paper – including the furniture pieces above + some great rental friendly re-do’s!

Gold Metal Screw-In Cup Hooks

When I first purchased screw-in hooks, it was actually an impulse buy in the hardware section of target. Target usually carries two different sizes, and I figured – hmm..this may be a good thing to just keep on hand. Little did I know I constantly found myself reaching for them – to hang my cute copper colander/measuring spoons/measuring cups in my kitchen, to hang accessories in my closet, to keep dustpans + brooms off the floor in the living room, even as invisible curtain hooks for when I want the windows open. I’ve since started ordering these on Amazon and constantly find new ways to use around the house.

White Chalk Furniture + Craft Paint

I always keep various colors of chalk paint on hand in case I want to impulse change up furniture! Hey – impulse changing is better than always impulse buying, right? Folk Art paint is always consistent and reliable and this formula is so good. It comes in so many colors so you can most certainly find a few in your color scheme! I love painting furniture white because it just looks so clean and fresh every time, regardless of the style of furniture. It’s also a great way to mix classic pieces, with more modern shapes, and different wood grains while still achieving a cohesive look. Plus, if you change your mind and want to add some color, you can use another color of chalk paint over this and sand down any spots you want to distress, which will expose the white underneath.

Accents

Faux Sheepskin Chair Cover/Rug 2×3

This super chic faux sheepskin throw is a perfect small area rug, can be used draped over furniture (not as a blanket – it has a faux sheepskin backing), and I love to use for a cute flatlay background to have product really stand out. It’s relatively longer faux fur than most rugs I’ve seen, which is super luxe and feels much more expensive than the price tag on this. I’ve also had to wash this (thanks to my dog deciding to cuddle with this while he was nice and dirty from the dog park), and it fluffed just fine while air drying. I washed by hand with mild detergent, let hang, then ran my fingers through it once it was dry – perfectly back to normal. Currently fighting the temptation to buy a few more of these to drape all over the house (and at this price point, why not?)

kate spade new york: all in good taste

I LOVE coffee table books and brightly bound books for our shelves. Sadly my teething pup is in the bad habit of getting these from the bottom of our coffee table and chewing on the corners, so I’ve since had to stash them away and really don’t like to spend a ton on them (until we can get him trained so I can finally add to the collection). This kate spade book is a super cute size and color, and looks good stacked or on a shelf. Such a great classic to have – with a guilt free price tag!

The Little Dictionary of Fashion: A Guide to Dress Sense for Every Woman

Another great coffee table book find, with the same appeal as the kate spade. I love the color of this and love stacking them together. And again, a price tag I can appreciate for a fashion book.

Himalayan Glow Salt Lamp

I’ll admit, i’m just now really starting to realize the important of good lighting. While I love the look of pendant lights, big statement floor lamps, and of course chandeliers, I personally haven’t started purchasing any for our place because I’d rather wait until we own a home and I can get exactly what we need for that space. I do love the gold brushed floor lamps from Ikea, and use salt lamps throughout the house for a cozy, warm glow and touch of boho. I love that they look good off as well as on, and I prefer the salt lamps that are more pink tinted than orange. The above salt lamp is one of the first I got and definitely one that makes our place feel like home!

Furniture

Mid Century Modern Accent Chair .

Guys, I can’t rave enough about this next find. I stumbled upon this chair while looking for a comfortable, want-to-sit-and-watch-the-game-in accent chair, without buying one that looked like a grandpa recliner. This chair is the perfect combination and just looks so good! And to find for under $200 – I just can’t get over it. I paired this with a white faux fur ottoman and layered area rugs for my living room, and it constantly catches my eye with how stylish it is. I love it and can totally see us using this in a bedroom/office once we get new living room furniture for a house. I also want to mention – this shipped almost fully assembled and just needed the legs to be screwed in. It was so easy and is really good quality! One more point – this is a really comfortable wide seat, and just gets more comfortable as you break it in. Once you first set it up, don’t fret if it’s a little stiff. The fabric is really nice and thick (durable) so it takes a few days to soften up and get cozy.

Nailhead Upholstered Linen Headboard

One of our “treat yo-self” purchases when we got married is getting a King size bed. We are constantly talking about how it is one of the best purchases we’ve ever made, especially since both our dog and cat like to cuddle up with us at night. We luckily got a top of the line, amazing king size for WAY less than we were planning (Atlanta friends, drop a comment if you’re looking for new mattresses and I’ll let you know where we went). One big surprise is that for big, statement headboards and foot boards for King mattresses, we were looking at paying more than what we paid for the mattress itself. We also don’t have a ton of length in our master bedroom, so I wanted to avoid a foot board to keep the room open. This Nail-head upholstered headboard was exactly what I was looking for: slim, sleek design with minimal footprint, no foot board needed, matches our white/grey bedroom color scheme, and SO affordable. For a king headboard it is only $112!! I honestly was skeptical of the quality with that price, but after reading reviews decided to go for it and I am so glad I did! Multiple color options and sizes are available in this one as well.

Velvet Cushion Chairs (Set of 2)

As I’m writing this piece, I’m honestly realizing just how much I love the pieces I’ve found on amazon. These chairs are (again) one of my favorite things in our home and I constantly get compliments on them! Multiple colors are available in these velvet chairs, and they’re all pretty gorgeous! I went with this muted dusty rose, because I currently have a few pink touches but with all of the neutrals it almost acts as a neutral. They are so cute together, or I’ve recently separated and have one as an accent (with the faux fur throw underneath as a rug in the living room) and one for my vanity chair in our bedroom. The quality is great on these; the legs are actually metal but in a pretty wood grain finish, so they are super durable, and the velvet even has quilted backing for a super cute touch. I can’t wait to get a bigger place so I can buy these in more colors and incorporate throughout the house!

Bedding

Premium Cotton Bed-Skirt

Another big price tag that goes along with getting a King mattress are your linens – I had never paid attention to the price jump you see from going to a King and was pretty shocked when I first started purchasing for our bed. Amazon has been such a lifesaver with this – this bed skirt is so affordable and a really nice, crisp cotton in a more modern silhouette than the traditional ruffled skirts (that honestly make me cringe, sorry…). I love the white and it makes our bed look like a luxe hotel bed.

Zen Bamboo Luxury Bed Sheets

Following suit in the affordable & amazing quality king size bedding is this bamboo sheet set! I am IN LOVE with these sheets. They are so lightweight and breathable, and have almost a silk feel. They come in multiple colors, but I love all white bedding + sets (if you can’t already tell). Plus, where in the world can you find King size bed sheets (that are amazing quality) for $30.95? Not even your local Homegoods, Marshalls, etc. can beat that. I also purchased these for our guest room bed because they’re just that good.

Zen Bamboo Ultra Plush Gel Pillow (2 Pack)

Right down to the pillows, I found every piece of the new bedding we needed through Amazon. These Bamboo Ultra Plush Gel Pillows are just as good if not better than my favorite gel pillows (that I can’t remember the name of for the life of me, but they were a pretty penny and definitely an investment). It’s kind of amazing – you get two king size pillows for $37.49. The bamboo is so soft, and the gel helps regulate temperature so these pillows always feel cool to the touch. I have always slept with 2 pillows, but these are so plush and the perfect size that my husband and I just use 1 each. I have had them for going on 1 year and our sleep has improved drastically. Can’t recommend them enough! Also – these are available in a Queen size as well and are only $29.99 for 2. Cant. Beat. It.

Have you all ordered any of the above items and do you love them just as much as me? Let me know if you give any a try or want to share any of your Amazon home favorites below! Be sure to stay on the lookout for plenty of DIY’s of our rental with many of the items listed above and subscribe!

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Amazon Favorites: Beauty

Going along with my Amazon Favorites series (you can check out my Amazon Favorites: Travel here), I wanted to share my tried and true Beauty favorites from Amazon. Beauty products are really the first product category I branched out into purchasing on Amazon years and years ago, with of course the exception of getting my college textbooks for way cheaper than the bookstore. All these years later, I still rely on Amazon to bring me the best of the best in my daily routine, and plenty of new favorites to discover. Here are some of my very favorites! Just a quick note – these are the items I exclusively found and buy on Amazon and can’t buy in my regular go-to’s of Target/Ulta/Sephora, etc.

Interested in seeing my Beauty Favorites as a whole, not just amazon? Leave a comment and let me know!

Skincare

Micro Needle Derma Roller/0.25 mm

I am a complete newbie when it comes to Dermarolling/Micro-Needling, but with co-workers and friends alike raving about theirs, I had to try. You can buy high quality dermarollers on amazon for just $14.99-$20, in varying needle sizes. I chose the smallest needle size at a 0.25mm because (luckily) I do not have issues with fine lines/wrinkles right now. I began dermarolling to even my skin tone, shrink my pore size, and to prevent wrinkles. Always make sure to deeply sanitize before and after each use, and use on a clean face. Apply your favorite skin serum on top for deep penetration and max absorption! Please note: I LOVE the Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum, however I do not recommend applying this after Dermarolling. I found it entirely too strong and my face burned to the point where I had to rinse off and I was red through the next morning. I use Vitamin E oil right now and will be trying a few different serums to see what works best for my skin. If you have questions or want more information on Dermarolling, drop a comment below and I will elaborate further (and I encourage you to do plenty of your own research before starting).

Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

Out of everything on this list, this is my holy-grail, changed my life product. I discovered this going on 4 years ago and have at least every other week since! This clay makes by far the best Facial mask I have ever used. I have oily, acne prone skin (hence the no-wrinkles thing) and get very oily in my t-zone by the end of the day. I use so many products to try to reduce this, and this mask really helps balance my skin out and literally feels like a pore-vacuum. For oily skin, mix with Raw, Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar. I also sometimes will add a capsule of Activated Charcoal and 2-3 drops of Tea Tree Oil to the mask if I’m having a breakout. Make sure to read the instructions and never use a metal spoon or bowl to mix your mask, as this will deactivate the properties in the Bentonite Clay.

Tools

BS-MALL(TM) Premium 14 Pcs Synthetic Foundation Powder Concealers Eye Shadows Silver Black Makeup Brush Sets(Rose Golden)
BS-Mall Premium Synthetic Brushes

These brushes are so impressive. Not only do you get 14 pieces for foundation, powder, concealer, eye shadows, brows, contour and eyeliners, but they are a fantastic quality that rival most all of my high end brushes. I ordered these almost 2 years ago, and through daily use and thorough washes at least once a week, they are still going strong! They are so soft and feel good on your face while applying, and have thick nice handles. The face brushes are by far my favorite out of the bunch, as they handle both powders and liquid foundation so well. Over the years I’ve lost a few of the eye brushes and will be reordering this set again – it’s amazing because these are only $11.99! I would happily pay double or more for this set, but shh…don’t tell amazon.

Hair

Fanola No Yellow Shampoo Large 1000ml Bottle
Fanola No Yellow Shampoo

After 4 rounds of balayage to lift my almost-black Aveda hair color, my hair is finally noticeably lighter. I’ve been battling brassy ends since starting the process, and lifting my dark color has been no easy feat. I’ve tried several purple shampoos to maintain my toner, and although I love the Not Your Mothers Purple Shampoo, it just wasn’t as strong as I needed for my bleached ends. I do highly recommend the NYM for Natural blondes or subtly bleached hair, but for my black-to-ash-blonde dreams I needed something powerful. This Fanola No Yellow Shampoo was recommended by a co-worker and WOW – this is magic in a bottle. After just one use my hair was noticeably less fiery – with just 3 minutes of leaving it on in the shower. Read the instructions when applying and be careful how long you leave it in – I would not go past the recommended max of 5 minutes, unless you are intentionally trying to achieve an ashy ultra-violet or grey. I have only used once a week since getting (2 weeks ago) and am so excited to continue using to tone my hair.

Misc.

Teeth

Active Wow Teeth Whitening Charcoal Powder Natural
Active Wow Natural Teeth Whitening Charcoal Powder

I have bleached my teeth on and off for years, with really heavy bleaching done last year in prep for our wedding day. I do love the results of the at-home Crest Whitestrips line, but they made my teeth so painfully sensitive, and after years of buying were really costly. I began using Activated Charcoal tablets for my teeth and to add into Natural face-masks, but this Teeth Whitening powder is so much more powerful than the Activated Charcoal alone. After just one use, this gives you noticeably whiter teeth and such a clean feeling mouth & gums. I recommend applying as instructed and brushing and flossing your teeth as normal after, to remove any trace of the charcoal. This has absolutely no taste, so don’t let the rich black color scare you when applying (it is pretty jarring to look at the first time, fair warning). Make sure to keep your mouth completely sealed closed as you are brushing, as this will make a mess in your bathroom if not. I like to use in the shower so I can easily rinse away any mess I make, and don’t worry, this won’t stain your bathroom tile if you rinse off right away. Also, use a spare toothbrush designated just for this – it will stain your toothbrush and I wanted to spare my Sonicare 🙂

Lashes & Brows

Organys Lash & Brow Booster Serum Gives You Longer Fuller Thicker Looking Eyelashes & Eyebrows 100% Yours. Best Seller Conditioner Enhances The Appearance Of Natural Lush Eyelash Growth & Regrowth
Organys Lash & Brow Booster Serum

If you can’t tell, the Amazon “Best Seller” category is my favorite place to hunt for new products. The reviews on Amazon are so helpful and let me know exactly what i’m getting, and this Lash & Brow booster deserves every bit of the 4.5 stars out of 7,529 reviews. This is not an instant lash & brow booster like a mascara or gel; this helps your lashes regrow and strengthen over time providing you with your real lashes & brows. I have been fighting off the temptation of lash extensions for over a year now because I know I naturally have long lashes, and don’t want to completely ruin them. I just love the look of extremely long and thick lashes and good eyebrows, so this natural serum is perfect! This does not have the side effects listed with some leading prescription eyelash serums. You do need to apply to clean, bare lashes at least once a day for results (which come slow, different for everyone but don’t expect instant results). Always test eye products prior to applying as some people may have severe reactions; I test on the inside of my elbow and if fine, test on a small portion of one eye. If all good, then feel free to incorporate this into your night time routine.

Essentials

Nature's Way Activated Charcoal; 560 mg Charcoal per serving; 100 Capsules
Activated Charcoal Tablets

These activated charcoal tablets are great to have on hand, not just for bloating or stomach pain, but for your skin and teeth! As mentioned above, you can break a capsule into your face masks for deep pore cleansing, or in a cup with some water for a natural teeth whitener. Along with essential oils, vitamin E, Jojoba Oil, and Castor oil, activated charcoal is on my must-have list.

Vanity

Lighted Vanity Mirror with Touch Screen

While this last recommendation isn’t a product, it is one of my favorite things I’ve ever purchased on Amazon and part of my everyday routine! This lighted vanity mirror is about the size of an iPad and fits perfectly on my vanity. The lighting ensures your makeup is always true to tone and flawless, and the detachable close up mirror is perfect to use for tweezing or spot treating. There are several models on Amazon that come in black, white, etc, so you can really customize to what you need.

Have any Amazon Favorites of your own you’d like to share? Drop a comment below!

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Stuffed Zucchini

Growing up, my mom always made these delicious zucchini boats stuffed with ground beef, feta, and yummy breadcrumbs on top. They’re so delicious and obviously a super easy recipe to make keto-friendly! Tonight I made more of an Italian style stuffed Zucchini, with hearty tomato meat sauce and mozzarella. This meal was perfect for dinner, and left us with lunches for the next couple of days!

You’ll need

1 lb ground beef1/4 small vidalia onion (diced)3 medium to large zucchini 2oz Mozzarella 2oz Tomato sauceCrumbled feta to taste 2 cloves garlic (diced)

To make

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and begin browning ground beef in a large sauté pan
  • Drain excess fat and add onions and garlic until they begin to be translucent.
  • Add tomato sauce, more or less to your preference. I added just enough to combine the meat and veggies, but you can add more if you prefer!
  • Cut tops and bottoms off zucchini and sliced lengthwise

  • Using a small spoon, carve out the inside of the zucchini over your sauce pan, mixing the inside of the zucchini into your meat sauce

  • The smaller the spoon, the easier to scoop the inside! Make sure not to get too close to the edge and leave a bit of room at the top and bottom. If you scoop too much, these will fall apart so you want to be sure they are sturdy!
  • Add your zucchini boats to a nonstick baking pan. To prevent these from tipping over, rest edge to edge in the pan.
  • Continue mixing your zucchini into your meat sauce and cook on low/medium heat until incorporated.

  • Add small amount of shredded mozzarella to the inside of your zucchini boats. This helps to keep your filling inside of the zucchini (and mo’ cheese is not mo’ problems, right?)

  • Stuff the zucchini with your meat sauce, trying to get equal parts meat and zucchini chunks per each boat

  • Sprinkle remaining mozzarella on top and add crumbled feta

  • Bake at 375 for 25-30 mins or until golden

Yum! That’s all there is to it – these also make great leftovers so they’re perfect for lunch!

Hope y’all enjoy!

Spinach & Ricotta Spaghetti Squash Bake

Pasta. A big, bad word in the world of Ketogenic Dieting (and most any diet out there). I LOVE pasta dishes, so I am always trying to find a good low carb substitute to some of my favorites. I’m not here to tell you it will taste like the real deal, but there are some tasty veggie based substitutes that won’t make you feel terrible after eating.

I’ve always been a big fan of white pizzas/spinach & ricotta based dishes, and the combination with roasted spaghetti squash is divine! We also added some sliced chicken breast in this mix, however you can sub for any added protein you want (a carb friendly Italian sausage would be good here), or leave out completely and add some artichokes instead if you want a vegetarian dish. This could also be made into a red sauce based dish just as easily – it’s so versatile and requires minimal work to get your “spaghetti”.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 Medium to Large Spaghetti Squash

1 bag fresh spinach

1-2 cloves of fresh garlic

16 oz whole milk Ricotta (1 container from TJ’s)

1 egg

1 tbsp oil (I used Avocado, you can also use olive oil)

4 oz shredded mozzarella (half of your regular sized bag, or more…no one’s judging here)

Salt and Pepper to taste

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  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Slice your spaghetti squash in half lengthwise, and use a metal spoon to scrape out the seeds and stringy insides.
  • Drizzle Avocado oil in both cut halves and place face down (hollow side down) in a nonstick baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes until tender.
  • While your squash is baking, rough chop your fresh spinach, and add your ricotta, egg, garlic, and S+P. Combine to make this delicious filling that you’ll want to put on everything

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  • Once your squash is cooked, let cool slightly so it is comfortable to touch, and use a fork to scrape the inside of the squash. (leave your oven on, you’ll be using it later). This will make long strands of “spaghetti”. For this first time making this dish, I chose to layer all of the spaghetti squash in the bottom of my baking dish, and put my ricotta mixture on top along with some chicken. Next time, I’ll be mixing it all together to bake. If you like the taste of spaghetti squash, i’d layer the dish. It makes for a nice change in texture and keeps the veggie taste front and center.  If you’re trying to mask the taste and do your best to pretend like it’s real pasta, Mix it together.
  •  Once your squash and filling are together in your baking dish, top with Mozzarella and bake for 25 min until your cheese is nice and golden.

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  • I know this next part isn’t a “step”, but TELL ME THAT DOESN’T LOOK GOOD. Let this cool a bit before slicing, but it cuts and portions just like a lasagna would.

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This made around 6 hearty portions and was PERFECT for dinner + lunch prep for a couple days for the two of us! This mixture would also be so good on Keto Pizza. 

Hope you guys enjoy!

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(Almost) too good to be true Keto Pizza

Happy February!! Today marks 1 month on Keto and I’m feeling so good. It’s safe to say I’ve made cauliflower into most any type of grain based dish there is, and become BFF’s with kerrygold. The energy you get from a low carb, high fat diet is like no other, and I love how Keto shapes your body. You don’t just lose weight on Keto, you lose fat and can see and feel yourself getting leaner without losing muscle. So far, so good!

To celebrate our first month (and let’s be real – to make a dish that didn’t have cauliflower or spaghetti squash), I took on one of the dishes most all diets will tell you absolutely not to have…Pizza! Thanks to this awesome recipe I found on Pinterest from Wholesome Yum, I made one of the easiest and totally real tasting keto meals I’ve ever had. Hands down.

I’ll admit I didn’t have the highest of expectations for a Keto Pizza, only because how do you beat the real thing? I mean it when I say this Fathead Pizza Crust is the real deal. So much so that when I pulled our pizza out of the oven, I said “I don’t know what kind of black magic I just used, but we’ve got pizza!!” Which was shortly followed with a “are you kidding me?” as soon as we took our first bite. It’s that good – i’m not just hyping you up here.

I followed Wholesome Yum’s recipe for the dough and added my own toppings. I can’t wait to make this again.

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You’ll need:

1 1/2 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese

2 tbsp Cream Cheese (cut into cubes)

2 Eggs (beaten)

1/3 cup Coconut Flour

Make your Crust

  • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees, and line a baking sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper
  • Combine your mozzarella & cubed cream cheese in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 45 seconds, give it a stir, and microwave another 45 seconds. Stir again until well incorporated.
  • Next, stir in the 2 beaten eggs and your coconut flour. Knead together with your hands until the dough forms. Don’t try to skip using your hands; this is key to making the dough’s texture and taste super authentic to grain based dough.
  • Spread the dough onto your lined pan to a 1/4″ or 1/3″ thickness. Use a toothpick or fork to poke a lot of holes throughout the dough, as it will bubble up if you don’tIMG_1389
  • Bake for 6 mins at 425. After 6 minutes, pull it out and poke holes into any bubbling areas you see (mine still had a lot despite poking holes initially, so don’t forget to check it!). Pop it back into the oven and bake for another 3/7 minutes until golden. Keep a close eye, as the final time depends on the thickness.IMG_1390
  • Remove your crust from the oven (and try not to be amazed at how you magically have pizza dough). From here, top with your favorite sauce, toppings, and more mozzarella. I went with tomato sauce, organic pepperoni, mozzarella and feta cheese.

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  • Pop it back into the oven for about 10 minutes until everything is heated through and melted. Remove from oven and let cool for a few minutes before you slice!

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Maybe it’s from not having real pizza in well over a month, or just being amazed by this recipe, but I couldn’t believe it when I pulled this out of the oven. The thing even cuts just like real dough, and you can eat it with your hands (and fold it!). It’s “real” pizza in my book.

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And there you have it! Total prep + cook time was around 30-40 mins, with net carbs per slice coming in at around 2g. Another huge thanks to Wholesome Yum for not only a great recipe but even better post loaded with good information for those of you who may be new to Keto and still mind-blown that you can actually lose weight + improve your overall health by eating a fat based diet. I definitely encourage you to give it a read, and expect a post from me soon explaining the basics of Keto and why it works for me.

Let me know how your Keto pizza turns out – because this is one recipe I know you’ll be making!

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Amazon Favorites: Travel

This morning while sitting in rush hour morning traffic, in 30 degree weather, with both my heat & old Luke Bryan songs full blast, it became pretty clear…I’m ready for a vacation. So, until we leave for our next trip, I’ll be gridlocked on I-85 day dreaming about saltwater and sunshine.

We have less than a month before we leave for Oahu & Maui, so I wanted to share how I’m preparing for the trip. I am a complete Amazon Prime fanatic and can’t rave enough about how Amazon feels like my secret weapon or friend some days. Those days where work or traffic or the gym or whatever it may be keeps you late, and the last thing you have time for is to go run around the mall, or target, or best buy, or REI, to look for the one specific thing you need (and hope to god they have it in stock). I still love to shop in person, but it’s more experiential and inspiration based rather than for when I need something specific.

So, let’s bring in the real MVP here – Amazon. I’ll be writing a few separate segments on my Amazon Favorites for home, beauty, etc. going forward, because some of my essential products have been as easy as opening my front door and voila, I’ve got what I need. Keep in mind the list below is geared more towards an outdoor, tropical environment, so maybe skip the bikini’s if you’re planning an Alaskan cruise 🙂

My favorite Amazon finds for Traveling:

Techie

GoPro Hero 5 Session

My iPhone 8+ really satisfies all my photography needs (HELLO portrait mode!!), but strapping it to the front of an ATV through the mountains or using deep in the ocean obviously ain’t gonna happen. I LOVE underwater photography and the ocean in general, so I knew I couldn’t step foot on the plane until I had a GoPro in tow. I love the aesthetic of GoPro photography, but also didn’t find myself needing the biggest and baddest model for what we’re using it for. The Hero 5 Session is an amazingly compact model with all the features of the larger models, other than there is no viewing screen. However, the GoPro app allows you to sync your GoPro to your phone and use your phone to view, which I almost prefer. Every other feature that the GoPro Hero 5 Black has is in this tiny little session – for $100 cheaper. Currently these are $100 off and only $199.99! The battery life isn’t amazing, but it’s easy enough to charge up and I plan to do so while driving from location to location in Hawaii.

SanDisk Extreme 64GB microSDXC Card with Adapter

To support your new GoPro, you will need to buy a microSD card (no internal memory comes with the GoPro). SanDisk is the recommended brand by GoPro, and the Extreme edition is temperature, water, and shock proof. I wanted to be sure to get a memory card that can hang with my GoPro, and this find is only $36.89 on amazon for 64GB! They also have a 32GB for $20.89, but the extra storage is so worth it.

Neewer 50-In-1 Accessory Kit

You’ll also need accessories for your GoPro, and I found this 50-in-1 Kit for only $20.99! It comes with all of your basics – Chest Strap, Head Strap, Tripods, Suction Cup Mounts, etc. My big tip for shopping on Amazon is to read. the. reviews! I found this kit based on the many positive reviews, and will be testing out a lot of the components before our trip. For the price, it’s a great starter kit to help me assess what I may want to buy directly from the GoPro brand and save me a lot of $$$ in the process.

Outdoor Gear

Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag

Again, positive reviews led me to this lifesaver. With over 2,200 5 star reviews, the Earth Pak Waterproof Dry Bag is a roll top dry compression bag that is perfect for Hiking, Kayaking, Beach Trips, Boating, Camping, Fishing, etc. It also comes with a surprisingly high quality waterproof phone case. While I’m not going to use for any deep diving, this works perfectly fine for boat trips where you may get wet and want the extra phone protection. Be prepared to see this bag in most all of our Hawaii hiking trips (Comes in 7 different colors!)

JOTO Waterproof Phone Dry Case

Because the Earth Pak only comes with 1 Waterproof phone case, I ordered this so both my husband and I are covered. The price point is great, and with nearly a 5 star rating from almost 23,000 people, I feel comfortable using this for the added protection and light water use. Amazon has 8 different colors and I of course went with this cute bright Turquoise!

BATTOP Pop Up Beach Tent

While I probably wont bring this for our Hawaii trip, this pop up beach tent is the perfect addition for long beach days or added shelter for camping. It comfortably fits both my husband and I and our (big) dog, although I suggest the low profile beach chairs. It will fit regular height beach chairs, but you’ll need to be short like us to have enough head room 🙂 It is impressively wind resistant, provides UPF 50+ sun protection, and has a mesh backing that allows for it to still stay breezy and cool. We love using this for road trips to keep our cooler and pup in the shade no matter where we end up.

Apparel

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CUPSHE Cut Out One Piece

If you haven’t ordered from Cupshe before, you may have heard of it or seen on Instagram. These swimsuits are super on trend with both cut and prints, and are great quality for such a good price. This one piece is $26.99! One super important thing to note with Cupshe – the sizing is NOT accurate to what you’d see from a typical line. Their items run extremely small, and may have different rises or cuts than you’d expect. Also, if you order directly from their website, it can take a long time to ship, as they’re shipping from overseas. However, our good friend Amazon has plenty of styles available all on Prime, so I got mine in a day and a half! Also, Amazon supports free returns on most of their suits, so if you order the wrong size or hate it you can return. I ended up loving both styles I ordered and am so happy I gave it a shot! For reference in this suit, I am a 36D & M/L in bottoms and I ordered the XL – it fits just like the L Aerie one piece I purchased this year. How cute are the other colors and prints on this one piece too??

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CUPSHE Cross Bikini Set

This suit is the cutest! Another great Cupshe Amazon find, at just $23.99. Same goes for this suit as what I mentioned above as far as fit – I ordered the XL and it’s great. The chest support isn’t necessarily one I would trust while surfing or swimming in big waves, so keep that in mind if you have a larger chest. Overall super happy with it and the tie back is so easy to adjust to make your waist look teeny tiny! Also, want to note that the print is slightly more aqua tinted on the leaves rather than green, but I actually love that and think it’s so pretty!

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Hanes Men’s Long Sleeve Cool Dri T-Shirt

This pack of 2 UPF 50+ dry fit long sleeve is perfect for long days in the sun hiking or kayaking! My husband has fair skin and burns easily, so these do a great job at keeping him cool while also covered. Plenty of colors to choose from, and at $17.74 for 2, it’s a great deal. They’re pretty comparable to the Columbia PFG shirts and a great basic to have on hand in case you get a little too much sun and want to stay protected! I’ve got a feeling I’ll steal one to wear for comfy paddle boarding days.

StashBandz Travel Money Belt

This to-size running belt is perfect for keeping your cards, cash, and phone safe while hiking, running, or just going through town! This really fits a ton of your personal items and comes in cute colors. While I’m planning on using a cross body for shopping/in town trips, I love using this for more active plans where I want to be hands free. Perks – It’ll fit your GoPro Hero 5 Session!! This would be great for trips overseas to prevent pick pocketing and depending on your outfit you can’t see it at all.

For the Flight

You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

My book choice for the long flight is one I’ve been recommended by countless friends and I’m so glad I’ll finally be reading! The Amazon paperback is only $9.59 and Amazon frequently has deals on purchasing books (I love buying my coffee table books here, but more on that in my Amazon Favorites: Home piece later)

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life

Ral’s book choice for the flight is again a book recommended by so many of our friends. We both struggle with giving way too much of our energy on things, events, or people that just don’t deserve it. Worst of all, we both tend to not be able to let it go and struggle with not letting it ruin the whole day/experience. I can’t wait to dig into this and continue learning how to handle adversity and quite frankly better handle the parts of life that just kind of suck.

All of our other trip essentials like luggage, locks, neck pillows, etc we luckily already have on hand, so this should do it for our trip! My Hawaii Packing List is coming soon, so make sure you’re subscribed so you don’t miss it. I’d love to hear your Amazon travel essentials – drop a comment below to share your must have’s!

 

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