New Years Resolutions + Goals | 2015

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Deuces 2014, Hello 2015!

It’s been a wild year but a lot of good came from it. I launched my blog (which was my new years resolution last year), finished grad school, had my first wedding anniversary with the hubs, moved to a different part of town, developed new friendships, rekindled old ones, overcame obstacles, and grew in so many ways as an individual. At this juncture, I am in one of those places where deep reflection is necessary. It’s time to re-shift my focus and prepare for 2015 — many wonderful things on the horizon. Check out my personal and business resolutions + goals for 2015 below!

LIFE | PERSONAL.

1. I would like to dedicate more time to yoga. It’s something that keeps me centered through all of the chaos. I can honestly say that I love it, I really do.

2. Paint once a week. This is another thing that keeps my mind at ease while allowing my creative juices to flow. There is something about a blank canvas that is so invigorating.

3. Start a supper club. This was actually a new years resolution from last year that I just never got around to organizing. Given that I have a lot more time on my hands, I’ll be able to dedicate my efforts on this.

4. Saying “no” (more). This is probably my biggest issue in life. I am a “yes” person. But sometimes, you just have to say no. For your own sanity, to save money, to not overly commit, etc.

5. Travel, travel, travel. Traveling is one of my favorite past times and they say to do it while you’re young (which I am). Plus it’s one of my favorite things to blog about. I’m looking forward to the few trips we already have planned for 2015: Barcelona — Bryson City — Nashville — Asheville  — Charleston. Let’s do this.

6. Positivity. I want positivity in all aspects of life. Internally and externally. I want to be positive and only want to surround myself with positive people. Period.

7. Make more traditions, like Sunday breakfast. I love, love, love traditions. I also love breakfast. On Sundays. I want to listen to Jack Johnson’s “Banana Pancakes” on a rainy Sunday morning in a large, comfy t-shirt and enjoy some of those banana pancakes on the couch with my husband. Is that weird? Oh well, if it is!

LIFE | BUSINESS.

1. Network with other marketing/creative professionals. I really need to do a better job of networking with the people in my industry. It’s always a good idea to build business relationships.

2. Network with other local bloggers. I recently joined a Facebook group for local, Charlotte bloggers and I intend on attending the various events they put on to connect with other people like me!

3. Put myself out there. I need to get out of my comfort zone, put myself out there and level the playing field. My goal is to become a new level of proactive and seek out new and exciting opportunities.

4. YouTube channel collaboration / blog extension. Yep, you read that right. Many exciting things happening for wander + bloom next year – including a YouTube Channel partnership with someone very special to be somewhat of a “product line extension” of the blog, for lack of a better term. Mind you, I am frightened to death of being on camera, but it will be rewarding. I would be doing you a disservice if I filled you in on all of the details, so bear with me and stay tuned!

And there you have it. My personal and business goals/resolutions for 2015. Let’s see what what I can make happen, I’m certainly up for the challenge! Wishing you all a beautiful and safe New Years Eve!

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Beauty Buy | Marsala { Pantone Color of the Year }

Hello lovelies and welcome to my very first beauty-related post!

In the past, I’ve been the kind of person that purchases beauty products I love…which mainly consists of Mac Cosmetics as I’ve been wearing the brand since high school. What can I say? I’m a woman that knows what I like. However, a couple of my best friends are really into cosmetics and one recently got me a little more involved in the world of beauty. As mentioned in a previous post, there is a whole subculture of makeup bloggers with YouTube channels, and I’ll admit, I was a little skeptical at first. Not because I doubted the credibility of these people, but because I just could not wrap my head around why I needed to read lipstick reviews or watch makeup application tutorials.

Fast forward a couple of months and I am officially hooked. I look at this makeup craze as another form of art. In fashion, what we wear expresses the mood we are in or who we are as a person and makeup essentially accomplishes the same thing. I can dig it.

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{ My new favorite makeup blogger, Jaclyn Hill (thank you, Heather) – her YouTube channel can be found here }

Over the holiday, I decided to hit the mall to find a new blush. I have three Mac blushes that I regularly use but felt the need to add to my collection…first world problems, right? I was absolutely convinced that I was going pop into Sephora and purchase a Nars blush (which I had tirelessly researched prior to my visit). I had several colors jotted down that I wanted to swatch and as I stood there testing them, an adorable little guy working at the store basically stopped me dead in my tracks and asked if I had seen the Pantone + Sephora makeup collaboration. “No?” “Ummm, then you need to.”

If you did not already know, Pantone chooses a “color of the year”…and it’s a big. freaking. deal. It is essentially the industry standard and connects people from all over the globe with one seamless color system. It is what companies use to develop their logos and is also utilized for design, fashion, paint colors, and pretty much everything in the world. In 2013, the color of the year was Emerald, 2014 was Radiant Orchid but 2015 is Marsala. Although I was not Radiant Orchid’s biggest fan, it certainly had a heavy influence this past year. However, I am head over heels in love with Marsala. It’s such a deep, rich, full-bodied color that universally looks good on everyone.

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Sephora had a large display at the front of the store consisting of various products that they collaborated with Pantone on…all Marsala related. From eyeshadow palettes to lipstick…and of course, a blush palette that was beyond words. This is what my new Sephora friend decided to show me. He took out the sample and swatched it on his hand – Wowza.

{ Sephora + Pantone Universe Shimmering Marsala Cheek Trio }

This palette has three components: a highlighter and two shades of blush – one being a true Marsala color. What was recommended to me was to apply the highlighter to your cheekbones, followed by the deep Marsala color underneath to give it a little depth and dimension, followed by the lighter blush color that can then be used to blend everything out. The outcome is truly unreal and it gives your cheeks a gorgeous glow. The blushes are rich, super pigmented and easy to build on. I was originally going to spend $30 on a single Nars blush but instead, spent $28 on three.

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{ The outcome = amaze }

Y’all, the highlighter alone is everything. If you are looking for something new and different to add to your cosmetic collection, I would highly recommend this blush trio. It is definitely transitional through the seasons as it is perfect for Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall. All hail Marsala!

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A Very Merry Playlist | Happy Holidays

547efda456f0eMerry Christmas Eve, friends!

It’s such a beautiful time of year — so many hearts are filled with love and joy this season. This is one of my favorite times of the year because I’ve had so many wistful memories during the holidays. Growing up, my parents, brother and I would drive up to New York to visit our family as most of them lived there. Of course, we would frequent Rockefeller Center to gaze at the gigantic, gleaming Christmas tree, people watch those who were ice skating in Time Square, and pay a visit to F.A.O. Schwartz to pick out a toy with my Uncle Don.

Each annual visit to New York, we would stay at my late grandmother’s place in Queens. I can picture it like it was just yesterday – stomping around in mounds of snow outside of her apartment complex in Kew Gardens, her warm, cozy home, walking around barefoot on the plush carpet, sneaking those little jelly Sunkist Fruit Gems out of her candy dish before dinner, admiring her sparkling Swarovski crystal figurines she collected and of course, listening to Frank Sinatra on the retro radio.

As many of you already know, I am music’s biggest fan. Okay, maybe not biggest but I can say with the utmost certainty that music plays a vital role in my life. It’s amazing when you hear a song and it immediately takes you to a place you once were or brings back feelings you once had. It may be the closest thing we have to time travel – there’s just something nostalgic about it. With that said, I’ve cultivated a Christmas Playlist below that will surely put you in the holiday spirit. It may even compel you to begin setting up your playlist on Spotify or iTunes — and do not fret, you’ll see that Mr. Sinatra made the list too. Cheers!

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  1. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Michael Bublé (his spin on Mariah Carey’s classic)
  2. Blue Christmas – Elvis Presley
  3. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas – Sam Smith
  4. Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree – Brenda Lee
  5. Baby It’s Cold Outside – She & Him
  6. Peace – Norah Jones
  7. Sleigh Ride – Ella Fitzgerald
  8. O Tannenbaum – Andrea Bocelli
  9. White Christmas – Bing Crosby
  10. Little Drummer Boy – Johnny Cash
  11. Where Are You Christmas? – Faith Hill
  12. I’ll Be Home For Christmas – Frank Sinatra
  13. Winter Wonderland / Don’t Worry Be Happy – Pentatonix
  14. Deck The Halls – Manheim Steamroller
  15. The Christmas Waltz – She & Him
  16. O Holy Night – Tracy Chapman
  17. Joy to the World – Nat King Cole
  18. Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Rod Stewart
  19. Merry Christmas Baby – B.B. King
  20. Silver Bells – Tony Bennett
  21. Do You Hear What I Hear? – Bob Dylan
  22. Let it Snow – Dean Martin
  23. Winter Song – The Head And The Heart
  24. Someday at Christmas – Jack Johnson
  25. 7 O’clock News / Silent Night – Simon & Garfunkel
  26. White Winter Hymnal – Fleet Foxes
  27. Christmas Lights – Coldplay
  28. Hallelujah – Leonard Cohen
  29. It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – Michael Bublé
  30. Ave Maria – Josh Groban
  31. It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year – Harry Connick, Jr.
  32. This Christmas – Cee-Lo Green
  33. Christmas – Rogue Wave
  34. Wonderful Christmastime – The Shins
  35. Boots – The Killers
  36. Winter Wonderland – Jason Mraz
  37. Little Saint Nick – Beach Boys
  38. Winter Winds – Mumford & Sons
  39. Happy Christmas (War is Over) – Maroon 5
  40. I Thank God – The Avett Brothers

MBA…Check! | My Journey Through Grad School

It’s here. It’s finally here.

After four long years of taking one class a semester in conjunction with a full-time career, planning a wedding, participating in charitable organizations, moving, spending time with my husband, pups, family and friends, starting a blog all while “doing life” in between, I can finally say that I have completed graduate school with honors. It was certainly one of the more challenging things I’ve gone head-to-head with in life…particularly the nights I wanted to go out with friends but decided against it, when I had to force myself to take my laptop with me on practically every vacation, or when I literally thought I had hit my breaking point with extracurricular activities when I took on wedding planning and Blondes vs. Brunettes (*whew*, what a year that was).  But when you want something, I mean, really, really want something…perseverance sets in and you become an unstoppable force.

Yes, graduate school enriched my life and has allowed me to expand on the knowledge I’ve previously obtained, but this process has done much more for me than that. Who I was when I entered graduate school four years ago is not at all who I am now.

Here are a few things it has done for me:

1. It’s shown me strength I never knew I possessed. The countless hours of studying, paper writing, exams, discussion boards and projects. Knowing that I had to leave my 8+ hour work day to come to home to…guess what? More work. The times I so badly wanted to quit, but pushed through. I never knew I had any of this within me until I was tested. Sometimes that is what it’s about though, right? Getting back up after being kicked down? Proving to yourself that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to? Finding inner strength and fortitude? It’s amazing what we can actually achieve if we put in the effort it so merits.

2. It’s given me more confidence and self awareness. Let’s be real here, I’m the “nice” girl. I’ve been the “nice girl” my whole life. “You’re so cute”, “you’re so nice”, “I wouldn’t have let that happen, you’re way too nice”. These are things I have heard on a fairly regular basis. Call it being a pushover or call it being compassionate…I’m not actually sure how you would classify it. But what I do know is that I will never be a doormat again. Unfortunately, sometimes people will take advantage of others, mistake their kindness for weakness. Going through graduate school has given me a boost in confidence. Not because I was doing it to prove someone wrong, but because it made me value myself a little more. I will never stop being the “nice girl” because that is how I am programmed. I was raised to do well unto others and to treat people the way I would want to be treated. But this self awareness and new found confidence I now possess will never allow me to be walked all over again in any scenario.

3. It’s made me more resilient. I’ve always been an intuitive and emotional person. It’s taken many years to develop “thick skin” in both my personal and professional life. Graduate school has contributed to this immensely. I’ve listened to professors rip my work apart (and I’ve nearly been in tears over it), but it was all in the name of constructive criticism. In turn, it’s made me stronger and given me a degree of tenacity that I never knew existed.

Although my journey through the MBA process has come to an end, what it has given me is much more than a decorated degree. I now know just how important a support system is as I would have never survived school without the support of my husband, family and friends. I am also much more confident and strong-willed than ever before. I am a 29-year-old woman who believes hard work pays off. I enjoy a challenge and view every opportunity as a learning experience. I think change is inevitable and necessary for growth. I believe in being kind. I am comfortable in my own skin and a force to be reckoned with. I am excited for new adventures, new challenges, and the next chapter of life. But more importantly, I am ready for you, world!

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Gift Guide | Stocking Stuffers for Everyone

It’s glorious December and the time has finally come — the holidays! Bring on the hot cocoa, the perpetual (and shameless) display of Christmas music on my Pandora station, the hunt for the “perfect tree”, the warm glow of twinkling Christmas lights, flannel shirts, holiday cheer, snuggling up with a good book by a cozy fire, Christmas movie marathons on ABC Family, and of course, the chaotic mayhem of gift purchasing that we all secretly adore. But whether you enjoy the pandemonium of Black Friday sales (or just being in a 1 mile radius of the mall during the month of December) or not, picking out the “right” present for someone can be difficult in itself. So why stress over the smaller things, like Secret Santa gifts or stocking stuffers?

Below is something I cultivated with some fantastic stocking stuffer/gift ideas that will please just about everyone – depending on their area of interest. Hopefully it can at least help you get inspired – it’s definitely made my wheels turn! Everything in the gift guide below is priced under $100. Enjoy!

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Pages from Stocking Stuffers

1. For the Work Out Queen. For those who enjoy hitting the gym or going for runs, a water bottle is very much a necessity. The ones I’m seeing right now from Victoria Secret are seriously AMAZE because they all have clever phrases and sayings, like the one pictured (“I Just Can’t”) which I actually say on a fairly regular basis. { Water Bottles, $14.95 from Victoria’s Secret }

2. For the Business Gal. I cannot think of too many girls who do not love Kate Spade – and these monogrammed business card holders are so lovely. This gift would be perfect for the busy business chick who is always on the go and attending networking events. { One in a Million Business Card Holders, $30 from Nordstrom }

3. For Host with the Most. Okay, if you have not already invested in Cards Against Humanity, it is about time you do. They are hilarious, fun and…okay, yeah they’re definitely inappropriate, but they make for a great time! This gift would be perfect for the friend who has a sense of humor and enjoys hosting parties and events. { Cards Against Humanity, $25 from Amazon }

4. For the Outdoorsman. So there are actually people out there who absolutely love camping and didn’t just go for their very first time in 29 years like I did. But all joking aside – there are so many outdoor enthusiasts or just people who enjoy gadgets (like my husband, who is a little bit of both). This LED Pen Light is one of the hottest on the market right now and has received rave reviews. It’s compact, lightweight and conveniently clips anywhere. { Streamlight MicroStream LED Pen Light, $24.99 from Cabela’s }

5. For the Style Savvy Guy. If there is one thing I love on a man, it’s plaid and flannel. It also happens to be a very trendy/fashion-forward look this season. This knit scarf from The Rail is extremely well priced for the excellent quality you are receiving and would pair perfectly with a structured military jacket or peacoat this Winter. { Red Check Knit Scarf, $20 from Nordstrom }

6. For the Tween or Teen. Do you have someone a little younger in the family and have no idea what to get them? I run into this problem time and time again. This Essie nail polish collection is seriously adorable and perfect for a small gift or stocking stuffer! { Essie Winter 2014 Mini Four-Pack, $17 from Nordstrom }

7. For the Man Who Enjoys the Finer Things. Do you have a father, brother, friend or significant other than enjoys grooming products? There is no shame in the game because any man that takes care of himself gets an A in my book! The Art of Shaving is a prestigious mens grooming retailer and they have some of the best products out there. This starter kit contains pre-shave oil, shaving cream, after-shave balm and a shaving brush. Aside from unscented, it also comes in an array of different smells such as Sandalwood, Lemon, Lavender, Ocean and more. This would make the perfect stocking stuffer for him. { Starter Kit, $25 from The Art Of Shaving }

8. For the Whiskey Drinker. To me, this seems like the best gift ever for those who enjoy a glass of whiskey. These whiskey stones bring a new meaning to “serving your drink on the rocks” because instead of using ice which will ultimately water down your beverage, the stones will stay cold and allow you to enjoy the flavor of your whiskey without diluting it. { Whiskey Stones & Gift Set, $20-$58 from Uncommon Goods }

9. For the Beauty Aficionado. One of my best friends has gotten super into makeup and has been learning various application techniques via YouTube Channels and bloggers – apparently it’s this whole subculture that I was completely unaware of. At any rate, I credit her to getting me into things I never even knew I needed or wanted! I just got my first eyeshadow palette and it was pretty much the best decision ever. Eyeshadow palettes are a great gift or stocking stuffer because you get a lot of bang for your buck. These Urban Decay Naked Palettes have been getting a lot of positive attention – they’re so pigmented and pretty!  { Urban Decay Naked Palette, Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette, Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette – $54/each from Sephora }

10. For the Fashionista. Hellooo – I am obsessed with this (first and foremost). How adorable is this Kate Spade iPad folio? Great for the fashionista – just pair with some killer heels and bright red lips – you’ll be a force to be reckoned with. { Kate Spade New York Speak of the Devil iPad Case, $85 from Nordstrom }

11. For the Newlywed. Who doesn’t love a sweet, little trinket dish? Particularly if you are a newlywed (or soon-to-be Mrs.) so you have a safe place to put your ring and other jewelry when you are not wearing them. There are so many trinket/ring dishes out there but I just love this one – which one of my bests just so happened to purchase for me when I got married.  And may I add, it looks fantastic on a vanity! { Mr. & Mrs. Ring Dish, $12.95 from Crate & Barrel }

12. For the Pups. Come on, we could not possibly forget our beloved fur babies, right? If your pups are practically your children and have stockings like mine do, they deserve a little something special as well. If you’ve grown tired of just giving them treats and toys, how about a swanky new collar? I am so in love with these bow tie and flower ones from the SillyBuddy Etsy shop! There are literally over 200 choices available and they seriously the sweetest things I’ve ever seen! { Bow Tie and Floral Dog Collars, $45-$57 from SillyBuddy Etsy Shop }

13.  For the Vintage Lover. If you are looking for something special and unique for someone with a kindred spirit, how about a special, vintage item? You can hit any antique store, but I do also enjoy scouring Etsy for my handmade and vintage gifts. I’m not sure where my random brass pineapple trinket obsession recently came from, but goodness – they are pretty! { Vintage Brass Pineapple, $76 from OrchidandUrchin Etsy Shop }

14.  For the Sports Fanatic. Purchasing a gift for someone that eats, sleeps and breathes sports? Getting them something related to their favorite team is always a safe bet. I mean after all, one cannot have too much sports memorabilia! This knit hat is very suiting for the Winter – ’tis the season, right? { Mens Dallas Cowboy New Era Black Sport Cuffed Knit Hat, $24.95 from NFL Shop }

15.  For the Sugar Junkie. Wanting to stuff someone’s stocking with candy? Maybe you want to purchase something a little different or more sophisticated than what you would typically find at a store? One of my girlfriends recently shared this site with me and everything looks AMAZING – particularly the champagne gummy bears. YES, you heard me. Champagne. Gummy. Bears. No further explanation needed. { Champagne Gummy Bears, $20 for a 12.05 oz box from Sugarfina }

16.  For the Chef. If you know someone that really loves to cook, a custom meat or cheese cutting board would make an excellent gift choice! You can find custom cutting boards on Etsy but I just happen to know a guy named Andy (owner and operator of Handy Andy of Charlotte) that does the most beautiful and intricate work. He makes each of his one-of-a-kind cutting boards by hand and with lots of love.  He’s based out of Charlotte, NC but is able to ship all over and can be reached at alehman39@gmail.com. { Handy Andy Custom Cutting Boards, 9x12x2 board, $79.99} *Contact Andy for other size and price options as he can build made-to-order pieces but also has several that are complete and ready to ship.