Destination: Nashville

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My husband and I traveled to Nashville this past weekend in honor of our 1st anniversary! We did a lot of sightseeing and a good amount of walking around the city and just enjoying the atmosphere. If you’re interested in traveling there, here are the top 8 things I would recommend!

1. Visit The Hermitage, home of Andrew Jackson

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This was one of our favorite things about Nashville. When I first pitched the idea to visit The Hermitage to my husband, he was less than pleased. While we were there, he said it was one of his favorite parts of the trip. It is about a half hour drive from downtown Nashville Upon arriving at the estate, you purchase tickets which include access to the grounds, mansion, museum, and store. The general admission includes a guided tour of the mansion and a self-guided audio tour of everywhere else. I wouldn’t recommend this without the audio tour. One would miss so many stories and details that make the visit worthwhile. The grounds and garden are so beautiful!

2. Visit The Parthenon

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The Parthenon in Centennial Park is the world’s only full-scale replica of the original Parthenon located in Athens, Greece. It was so cool get a taste of what it would have been like to be able to visit the Parthenon when it was complete in Athens.  There is a museum inside that costs $6 for adults to enter. I would save the money and skip going inside. There are only a few paintings, history of the construction of the structure, and a somewhat strange looking Athena statue. I did get a cute t-shirt from their gift shop though! (No admission fee needed to enter gift shop)

3. Stay at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel

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I could literally spend a few days here, and never leave. This is the most GORGEOUS hotel I’ve seen! We didn’t stay at this hotel, we only visited for about 30 minutes. I was super reluctant to go in because I thought it would just be a big hotel with a river in it. I said, ok a river in a hotel isn’t that special and rattled a list to my husband of other hotels with water ways in them. I was so wrong. This hotel is amazing. Next time we come to Nashville, this is the only place I will stay.

4. Take a tour of Nashville

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Being a tourist and taking a guided tour around the city sounds so cliché I know. However it is a good way to get a quick feel of the city before you start walking around and exploring on your own. We took The Sound of Nashville Tour that we found on Groupon. It’s a relatively new tour and we had a great time! With the help of the tourists, the musician tour guide writes a song during the ride. The main tour guides also tell a lot of stories about different local celebrities, history, and happenings of the area.

5. Go to a rooftop bar

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My favorite way of viewing any city, is on a rooftop. There are a few rooftop options like the view from the George Jones museum (pictured above) to my recommendation, UP a rooftop lounge, in the up and coming trendy area called The Gulch. It is a little outside the main downtown area which provides a great view of the skyline. We went at night and loved it!

6. Tennessee State Museum

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Free yes, you read correctly, FREE museum right in the downtown area! We were just walking around and happened to stumble upon the Tennessee state museum and walked in! The museum, though a little dated, had a few cool exhibits! There were parts about how the land was formed, pioneer life, how Nashville was established, and more.  They even have a REAL MUMMY. Not a cast or a replica. 100% REAL. It was really neat. I once went to a King Tut special traveling exhibit in downtown Seattle and they didn’t have a real mummy and one is laying to see for free in this museum! If there is extra time in the schedule, I would recommend seeing this museum.

7. Walk up and down Broadway

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Nashville is famous for their honky tonk. Luckily, there is one street that is filled with food, music as well as these bars and establishments. There’s no better way to hear some potentially up and coming artists, or just local artists play some popular country music. Even if you’re not a fan, like me, it’s worth the time just for the experience.

8. Walk the streets

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Walk around the city! There’s no better way to get to know a city than to leave it’s tourist trap areas. You never know what cute shop or coffee stop you could run into. You may even run into a celebrity like Taylor Swift who lives in Nashville, or a famous country music star there for work!

While you’re around town, see if you can find my favorite “secret” speak easy spot.😉

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Wine Box Tray

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Our finished product! (Color is darker in person)

While searching our local garage sales, I stumbled upon this wood wine box and had to have it! Chateau Ste. Michelle is a very popular local winery in Woodinville, WA. I had an idea to stain it lightly, add handles and turn it into a serving tray!

We used:
  • Wine box
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood stain
  • 2 handles
  • Wood glue
  • Sand paper
  • Wood clamps

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Original condition

First we sanded the surfaces down to prep for wood stand. Then used wood glue and a wood clamp on any cracks to seal them up to prevent them from getting larger in the future.

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A large crack we were able to fix!


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Sanded the surface down to prep for staining

After waiting for the glue to dry overnight, we applied our cherry colored stain and let it dry for about 3-4 hours. We then stained the last side and let it dry for 3-4 hours.

 

After the stain dried, we attached the two handles.

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With the handles attached, it is finished!

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What item(s) have you repurposed? Let me know in the comments!

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DIY Ottoman Tray.

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Furnishing our first apartment is one of the things I have been looking forward to! We got an ottoman to use as a coffee table and we needed a tray for it! As I did research online, I found that large table trays are super expensive! We couldn’t find a tray that we both liked and was in our budget so we decided to make one ourselves!

We used:
  • Pressed wood
  • 2×4 wood board
  • 2 handles
  • 2 pieces of marble looking laminate
  • Wood Stain
  • Polyurethane Indoor Spray
  • Map
  • Sand paper
  • Table saw
  • Wood glue
  • Tension strap
  • Mod Podge
  • Glass top
Here’s how we did it:

First we used the table saw, and cut the 2×4 into 4 equal pieces for each side and cut a 45 degree angle to make the corners look like a picture frame’s corner. We sanded down all the edges so they would be smooth and remove any loose pieces from cutting.

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Next we stained the frame with wood stain and left it to dry overnight.

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We then stuck the 2 laminate pieces on one side of the frame to make it smooth against the ottoman. The next morning this is how they looked.

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The next morning we sprayed the frame with a semi-gloss polyurethane spray to seal the color. We then used mod podge and stuck the map on the side without the marble pattern. After leaving them both to dry overnight.

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We put the frame around the board and were happy with the results so far! We used wood glue to seal the sides of the frame and the base together as well as the corners of the frame. The tension strap kept pressure to ensure the glue stuck well and we left it to dry overnight.

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To ensure that the frame and base were going to stay attached, we used 3- 2.5 in. screws on each side. Pilot holes were drilled in the spots and then screws were put in.

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1 of 3 pilot holes on each side

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Putting in the screw into the pilot hole

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Left the screw out a little until all 12 were done

 

After screwing in all 12 screws, we then created markings for where we wanted the pilot holes for the handles.

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Our very unconventional way of making the marks for the holes

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Holes for the handle

Handle attachment:

We put in the glass and here is the finished product!!

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Our total cost: $55 + tax + about 2.5 hours of labor

  • Pressed wood $0 (left over from our headboard project)
  • 2×4 wood board $3
  • 2 Martha Stewart Living handles from Home Depot $10
  • 2 pieces of marble looking laminate $10
  • Wood stain $7
  • Polyurethane indoor spray $7
  • Nails $3
  • Mod Podge $4
  • Glass top from Lowes $11
  • Power drill $0 (Parents had it)
  • 90’s Seattle area map $0 (Parents had it)
  • Sand paper $0 (Parents had it)
  • Wood glue $0 (Parents had it)
  • Tension strap $0 (Parents had it)
  • Table saw $0 (Parents had it)
How would you do your own ottoman tray? Let me know in the comments!

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5 Things I wish I knew about apartment hunting + tips!

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My husband and I are in the midst of moving out of my parent’s home and into our first apartment! We found the apartment after a few months of searching and my was it an experience! As first timers, we learned a lot about the process of renting. Since we are moving out of state, we had to look at listings online. We used sites like Craigslist, Zillow, Apartments.com, and many more in our search. Here are some things I wish we knew before searching for our first place and some tips of my own!

5 Things I wish I knew about apartment hunting before renting my first place
1) Application Fees

When looking for apartments, landlords generally will charge an application fee, which can vary from $10 to $100. These fees usually cover any background checks or credit checks. The fee applies to each person who is looking to move in. Generally, a fee is paid to each landlord either before the viewing or after if the tenant is interested in renting the property depending on each landlord’s preference. Sometimes, if approved, the landlord will take the application fees you paid and take it off from the first months rent.

2) Timely responses

Responding in a timely manner is key, and it works both ways. Landlords will sometimes take a few days to reply, which can be frustrating but it is their property and therefore their business. Their response time can be a reflection of how communication will be in the future with them. Tenants have an equal responsibility to reply relatively quickly. Landlords may have more than one interested party and if a potential renter doesn’t reply soon enough, they can loose the place. This happened to us, we lost the chance to rent a great place because we didn’t make the effort to reply quick enough.

3) Photos are everything

It is a toss up if there will be sufficient photos, if any at all in some listings. Don’t shy away from the listings without photos though! Ask for them, you never know what you will get! However, if the photos don’t look good, chances are the place isn’t good either. Use your best judgment when choosing an apartment; you have to live there after all. After you choose your apartment, take photos of everything! It will help with any planning and can also protect you down the road if there is existing damage.

4) The advertised, square footage isn’t always what it seems

Sometimes, the square footage that is listed online isn’t the reality. It can be smaller or larger. The layout can really maximize the square footage, or can make the place feel much smaller. Sometimes landlords don’t really know the actual size, just make an estimation from looking at it, and post that size. That is what happened to us! We were looking at a 900 sq. ft. apartment and the place we chose was much smaller, but was advertised at 900.

5) Read the lease

Reading the lease is one of the most important things to do before moving in! The lease should state how much rent is, when rent is due, how to pay rent, who is responsible for repairs in the apartment, pet policy, who is responsible for utilities, the policy on modifications and much more. I can’t stress it enough, it is so important to take your time to read the lease thoroughly and carefully. Once you sign, the terms are legally binding for both you and the landlord. If you don’t understand a something in the lease, ask for clarification. If you want to make a change to the lease, do so as soon as you can so that there is plenty of time for both you and the landlord to talk it over before move in day.

Tips!
1) Tenant Rights

As a tenant, you have rights! If you ever need to access the Tenants’ Rights Handbook, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website has it available online by each state. They are pretty lengthy but can be a good resource if you get in a sticky situation.

2) Check where your outlets are located

Outlets are essential in planning what you want your layout to be. If there is no outlet where you want your entertainment system or right by your bed to charge your phone, you have to run extension cords, which aren’t very cute. Even though you can’t change how many outlets or where they are located but its good to keep in mind as you’re looking at your future apartment!

3) Don’t put money down until you’ve seen the apartment

As much as pictures help and make the place look good, they could be deceiving. We have looked at a few apartments online that looked great online, but weren’t good in person. No matter how good the photos look, it is vital to see the space in person. Photos can’t tell you if the place smells of animal urine (yes, that happened to us!).

4) Read up on your landlord and talk to current tenants if you can

How close do they live? Do they seem like they’ll be stopping by often? Good landlords will check your credit score. It shows they care about who lives there and usually they will show the same care into the property. Landlords may not know the actual cost of utilities or other details about actually living in the space. If you can, talk to current tenants. They will(hopefully) be honest and upfront with you, they have nothing to lose.

5) Make sure your furniture will fit

There is nothing worse than having the perfect piece for your home, bringing it there, and finding that it won’t fit…  Since this was our first place, we didn’t have much furniture. So when we found our place, we measured every room and made a layout on the computer. We measured the furniture we had and put it in our layout. It made planning the furniture very easy!

6) Rental Management Company vs. Individual Landlord

We found there are two ways rental properties are managed, one is by a company and another is by an individual landlord. There are pros and cons to both. There is a benefit to companies that manage multiple properties, they should only charge application fees once to view multiple units. However maintenance can be slow with a company who is managing many properties. Individual landlord whom lives nearby could provide more personal and faster service. A property management company may stick to the rules and procedures more and be less emotionally invested than an individual landlord. However, they are usually better at businesslike compromises. An individual landlord may be more flexible to your needs and interests.

Any tips or experiences you want to share? Leave a comment below!

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Which Hairbrush Should I Use?

I have been stuck using the same brush for a few years now and have been unhappy with my blowout results for a while. I decided to research some alternative brush options for the application I was looking for, as well as other brushes and what their benefits are. There are an overwhelming amount of options when it comes to buying a hairbrush and it is best to get one (or two) that suit your needs best!

Paddle

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Paddle brushes make your hair cuticles lie flat, making this is great for smoothing and detangling hair. It can also help boost shine and sleekness. Typically, paddle brushes are wide and rectangular in shape, and made of plastic. Most often, they are sitting on an air cushion allowing the brush to contour with the shape of the head when brushing.

Boar Bristle

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There are many that claim that boar bristle has some unique benefits such as promoting hair growth, conditioning hair, cleans hair, prevents hair breakage and frizz. I used one of these brushes for years and there are some benefits that I found to be true, and some that are not. From my experience, I found that this brush is great for adding volume, smooth brushing and removes some excess oil. However, these get dirty easily and need to be cleaned regularly. It can be difficult for people with curly hair to use this brush, however some have found success.

To be clear, this brush is what got me onto looking into different brushes. I did not stop using a boar bristle bush, just less frequently and for less applications such as blowdrying.

Vented

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Vented brushes are a great brush for blowouts. These brushes are literally vented, or have spaces between the bristles for high air flow to allow hair to dry quickly. They are usually made of nylon or plastic and the vent styles can vary. I use this brush to give a great flat and smooth blowout.

 

Round

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A round brush has bristles all around the barrel of the brush. These brushes are great if you have a lot of hair or are trying to curl your hair with a blowdryer. The bigger the diameter of the bush, the larger curl you are going to get. The holes in the barrel allow the heat from the blowdryer to circulate and creates more volume. This brush is not just for curling, it can be used to smooth out the hair as well.

Metal or Wire

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Metal brushes are recommended for wigs and other synthetic hair. Unless you have those, it is better to choose another type of brush. They are not very flexible and will do more damage on natural hair.

Teasing

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A teasing comb is a designed to tease or backcomb hair to get high volume and lift on most hair types. It is used as a styling brush only and not for regular brushing.

Rat Tail

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This brush is also primarily used for styling. It is used for parting hair, lighter backcombing/teasing, as well as for post-styling (i.e. after hairspray, smooth fly-away hairs, etc).

Tangle Ease

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Tangle ease brushes are becoming wildly popular. These brushes are the quickest route to gently getting knots out of curly, coarse or thick hair.

Please note I am not a cosmetologist or beauty expert and the information here has been found online and through personal experience. 

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Disclaimer: None of these images are my own.

March Beauty Products.

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1) Ulta Demi Matte Foundation

I love this foundation! It is new my go-to daily foundation. I don’t like to use my more high-end makeup regularly so I am usually on the lookout for a good less expensive alternative to use daily. This has great coverage and combined with concealer and pressed or loose powder gives me the perfect everyday base look! Another great thing is they have SO many color options! I have rarely seen this many options that also cater to the skin undertones. This product can be purchased at Ulta.

2) Ulta Fabulous Face Pressed Powder

This is a pretty good pressed powder. Product lifts to the brush easily and in small amounts, provides decent coverage and removes shine. I prefer loose powder to pressed but wanted to try this in conjunction with the Ulta foundation. I will be sticking to loose powder in the future simply based on preference. This product can be purchased at Ulta.

3) e.l.f. Contouring Brush

I had my doubts about this e.l.f. Contouring Brush and they blew me away. It picks up pressed powder so well and provides great results. I would highly recommend this brush for those on a tighter budget! This product can be purchased at Target.

4) CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM

This lotion is a good middle of the road moisturizer. I have found decent results with it thus far. It is a little more on watery side but is lightweight,  has very little scent. not greasy. It should be great for those with sensitive skin as well! This product can be purchased at Ulta, Amazon, and other retailers.

5) Oils of Life Intensely Revitalizing Facial Oil

I love combining this oil with a thicker moisturizer  (Hope In A Jar by Philosophy is my favorite!) This oil has given me great results. It has a nice smell and makes my skin feel so smooth and moisturized. The only downside is the price. I have been using a sample not as regularly as I would like, but I intend to purchase this when I have run out. This product can be purchased at The Body Shop and Ulta.

DIY Nailhead Headboard.

My husband and I did our first big DIY project together. We made a nailhead headboard for our bed! We were stuck with a headboard that we found uncomfortable to lean back on and I needed a change.

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This was our inspiration. A headboard that is neutral & simple yet functional and a little stylish.

We needed:
  • 2-2.5 yards of fabric
  • 2-2.5 yards of batting
  • 2 packages of nailhead (by Dritz home)
  • Wood (for base and legs)
  • Hammer
  • Power drill and bits
  • Yard stick
  • Pliers (to pull our crooked nailhead)
  • Staple gun & staples
How we made it:

First we measured our bed to see how long and how tall we wanted it to be and decided on 60 x 34 for our queen size bed.

We went to our local fabric store and found the fabric we wanted for 50% off, batting for 30% off, and nailhead for 15% off! (Yay coupons and sales!!)

We visited our local Home Depot and purchased wood for the legs and base. We used a standard 2×4 for the legs that was cut in half for two legs and purchased a 1/2 in. thick fiberboard that was cut to our chosen size.

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We laid our batting down and stapled it to our board using cardboard pieces to keep the staple from tearing the batting when we lean on the headboard.

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We stapled down our corners, cut them down and stapled them again to reinforce the edges to ensure they did not come apart.

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We then laid our fabric choice down and stapled it to the back with longer staples and cardboard to give it a strong hold.

thumb_IMG_4031_1024Here is the finished fabric covering!

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With our nailhead we had an unknown length between the edge and the line but we did it on the top side as well as the left and right sides. Since the bottom was going to be against the mattress, we did not put nailhead on there. The nailhead we purchased came in a continuous link with holes to secure with tack like nails. The difference between the chain of nails and the individual nails are a bit obvious up close but from afar they are hardly noticeable.

After the first row, we separated the second by about 2.5 inches and went around the three sides like the first row.

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We measured how high we wanted the headboard to be from the ground and measured the legs to be that length and began attaching them. The pencil line on the 2×4 is how far we wanted it to be from the ground and drilled 3 pilot holes on each board for the 3 screws that would hold the legs onto the base and drilled in the nails with a power drill.

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Here is one of the legs screwed tightly on.

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*drum roll* ta da! The finished product!!

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It cost us $120 for all our supplies and about 3 hours of labor!                                                (Some of the supplies were free since my awesome parents had them at home for us to use!!)

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A Local’s Top 10 Seattle Spots.

Seattle sits on Puget Sound in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. It is surrounded by water, mountains and evergreen forests, and has many parks. Seattle is called the “Emerald City” for its year-round greenery. There is even a forest in the middle of the city in Discovery Park. Growing up here, I have always loved and appreciated all the nature that is surrounding us here in Seattle, but people primarily come here to see the city. A friend asked me to share my favorite spots in Seattle since I live here. From a local’s perspective, here is a photo set that features my favorite tourist spots that my friends and I visit.

1. Space Needle

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2. Pike Place Market / Gum Wall

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3. Fremont Troll

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4. Gas Works Park

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5. EMP

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6. Seattle Great Wheel

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7. Kerry Park

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8. Washington Park Arboretum

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9. Starbucks (First Location)

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10. Columbia Tower Observation Deck

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February Beauty Products.

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1) Stretch Marks & Scars Defense Cream by Body Merry

THIS ACTUALLY WORKS! I have a scar on my right hand from touching the oven by mistake a few months ago and I haven’t been applying it as regularly as I should, but when I do, I really see the difference! I haven’t seen much progress on stretch marks that I have from my growing teen years because I have been horrible at putting it on those spots. The cream contains so many natural oils and ingredients like Organic Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, Vitamins E + C + B3 + B5, Sunflower Seed Oil, Plant Stem Cells, Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Jojoba Oil, Evening Primrose Oil, Raspberry Seed Oil, Avocado Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Algae Extract and Japanese Green Tea Leaf Extract. I would certainly recommend this to anyone looking for a good scar removal cream! This product was purchased from Amazon.com.

2) NIVEA Skin Firming & Smoothing Concentrated Serum

As many people do, I have my least favorite place on my body, my thighs. Since I was in my early to mid-teen years, I have always felt body conscious about them. Part of that reason is the cellulite I have had on them. I am trying this serum in part with exercise and have seen small progress so far. I am holding judgement on this product until I am regularly exercising and applying the serum on a consistent basis. This product was purchased from Amazon.com.

3) Ion Curved Square Vent Brush

I have been using the same boar bristle & synthetic bristle brush for a few years and had never been able to achieve a blowout that would keep me from having to use the flat iron a lot. With this brush, my dreams have come ver close to coming true. With my thick and long layered hair, I have been able to get my hair to dry faster, and achieve a more straight styled blowout and have needed to use my flat iron only to flatten fly-aways and smooth out overall. The damage from the hot tools on my hair is much less than before and the drying time is less.  I got this brush from Sally’s Beauty Supply, but brushes very similar to this can be found

4) Sebastian Shaper Original Shaper

This hairspray is a great alternative to the hairspray I usually use (Kenra). It has good hold, it is lightweight, it doesn’t make hair feel greasy or crunchy and it doesn’t have a bad odor.I know it is great for applying and then brushing out, that is how I use it! I was happy with the amount of hold I got but I would be interested to try the stronger formula when I finish this bottle. I purchased the sample size and is available at Ulta, Sally’s Beauty Supply, and many other retailers.

5) Lady Like by Essie

Essie is one of my favorite polish brands. The color is always so pretty and is a really good quality. I purchased Lady Like (or Ladylike) when in the airport in San Francisco headed to Orange County. I love nudes, especially ones with hints of pink or purple and this has become one of my favorite shades ever. The best way to describe the color is a pink-toned neutral lilac. This color and many other Essie colors are available at Target, CVS, Ulta, and many other retailers.

Feeling Fresh with the Flu.

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Being sick with the flu, as well as stuck in bed for 3 days, sucks. I seem to be getting sick more than usual this winter.. To keep myself from feeling gross and groggy, here is what I do!

1. Take a shower-Taking a hot shower is one of my favorite ways to relax. Especially when I am sick, it is a great way to relieve some symptoms temporarily! It helps relieve muscle soreness, and when there is enough steam, it will (temporarily) release any congestion. The steam also helps open the pores of your skin, which is why I bring my facial cleanser with me and wash my face in the shower.

2. Manicure and pedicure– I hardly ever spend the money on getting a professional manicure or pedicure. I save it for special occasions, but this isn’t one of them. Painting my nails makes me feel feminine, well taken care of, and put together. I chose to do Manicurist of Seville by OPI on all my nails. It is a classic red color with a hint of wine.

3. Face Mask– Since I have given my skin a makeup break these few days, I wanted to give my skin a treatment! There are so many different types of face masks and one of my favorites is the Mint Julep Masque by Queen Helene. It absorbs excess oil, helps minimize appearance of pores, and leaves my face feeling so fresh! I put some moisturizer on after removing my mask and my skin feels so refreshed and clean!

4. Clean the room you spend your time in– There is nothing that can stress me out as easily as seeing my room messy! Since I choose to stay in my room and binge watch Netflix all day, I like the space I am in to be clean. It also makes me feel productive during a day that would otherwise not be and makes me seem less lazy to my family members.😉

5. Drink lots of water– The doctor always says to rest and drink lots of fluids when recovering from an illness, and he/she is so right. There are so many benefits to drinking lots of water aside from staying hydrated. Water can help energize muscles, help keep skin looking good, help with kidney function, and much more! One of my ways to make sure I am drinking plenty of water is to try to finish a 1 liter water bottle every day.

6. Light a fresh candle– I love candles!! If my clear sinuses allow it, the scent can be so calming. One of my favorites is the French Cade & Lavender by Voluspa. Pretty much anything by Voluspa is golden.

I hope that you are all staying happy and healthy this winter and I personally can’t wait for Spring to come!

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