Swooning | February Favorites

Hello, lovelies!

I hope everyone has had an enjoyable week thus far! For my first order of business, I wanted to give a shout out to Elizabeth (Instagram name: elisabetaana) for being the blogiversary giveaway winner! She will be receiving a beautiful Volcano candle soon! Congratulations, sweet girl!

This week’s blog post encompasses the things that I am currently swooning over. With Valentine’s Day coming up this weekend, I wanted to share with you the things that I heart. Take a peek at my February Favorites List below (two of which are local to Charlotte, NC). Enjoy!

February Favorites

1. { Hop Cakes from NoDa Brewing Company } If you’ve read my blog before, you will notice that I’ve mentioned NoDa Brewing Company in previous posts. It is a craft brewery located in Charlotte, NC and two of their beers made my top ten favorite beers of all time list (check out that post here). However, I would like to revise the list and add Hop Cakes because NoDa has done it again! I can quite honestly say that I have not had a beer of theirs that I disliked…they nail it every time. But let me tell you about Hop Cakes. It started off as a “NoDable Release”, which is a special, small-batch brew that they change out and feature each Tuesday. However, the popularity of Hop Cakes was significant and rightfully so. Imagine a delicious, double IPA combined with the taste of pancakes. Yeah, I said it. Pancakes. NoDa Brewing Company just released Hop Cakes in cans this month and they’re being snagged up like “hop cakes” (see what I did there?). This will be the 4th beer that they’ve released and distributed in four-pack cans (also check out Coco Loco, Hop, Drop N’ Roll and Jam Session). If you live in the Charlotte area, you can pick up Hop Cakes at your local Harris Teeter.

2. { Shadow/Blush in Hot Mama from The Balm } The first product I purchased from The Balm was the Mary Lou Manizer highlighting powder, which was recommended to me by a friend. I instantly became a fan for life – I loved the product, the packaging and the company mission. Their makeup is certainly not easy to find (it’s not something you can pick up in Sephora or Ulta), but if you have some faith and order online, you will not be sorry! I discovered the shadow/blush merely by accident while I was in Barcelona. My luggage was lost at JFK (fiasco) and I had to purchase clothes, toiletries and makeup since I would be without my own for a few days. I went into a makeup store at the mall in Barcelona and noticed there was a whole display of makeup and skincare from The Balm – bingo! I ended up picking up quite a few products but this shadow/blush – I cannot stress how GORG it is. The peachy/blush color is super pigmented and has a slight shimmer that will make your skin look simply radiant. It is one of those universal colors that looks fantastic on every skin tone.

3. { Rectangle Hand Painted Floral Tray in Yellow from The Little Market } So let me start out by saying, The Little Market is a gem that you must know about if you do not aleady. I’m a avid Lauren Conrad blog reader and discovered this company through her posts. I’ve got to hand it to Lauren Conrad, she is a marketing/branding genius and as someone in the industry, I admire her immensely. Lauren Conrad is actually the co-founder of The Little Market, which is a company that was created to build partnerships with female artisans from around the world and connecting them to customers in an online marketplace. It was cultivated to not only empower women but to provide them with the opportunity to support their families as many of them are in less fortunate situations. The mission itself is so heartfelt and touching and the products? Equally as beautiful. From baby gifts to handbags to home decor – there is truly a little bit of everything. I personally love this dainty, hand painted, pale yellow tray (as well as practically everything else on the site).

4. { Lean In – Women, Work, & the Will to Lead from Amazon } Who doesn’t love a good book? I’ve been blowing through them lately and the one that I just finished up is truly life changing. If you are a female professional, it is seriously your right of passage to read this book by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. It was informative, fascinating and I could not put it down for the life of me. I would even be bold enough to say it was probably one of the best books I’ve ever read. Download it on your tablet or pick up a hard copy from Amazon or your local bookstore!

5. { Jewelry from Melvin from Shop Melvin } I came across this company on Instagram and coincidentally, discovered that they are based out of Charlotte, NC — go figure! All of their accessories are swoon-worthy but I happen to have a soft spot for their necklaces. Some of their products have even been featured on the hit HBO series, Girls. The designers get their inspiration from art, culture and travel and its definitely translated in their lines. I tend to get a very tribal and boho vibe from their designs – love, love, love!

6. { Embellished Armhole Scuba Skater Dress in Nude from ASOSI’m a sucker for a. embellishments, b. a feminine frock, and c. anything and everything from ASOS. Therefore, this dress is a home run! For those of you who are looking for something a little more valiant, it also comes in black.

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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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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.