Favorites: November 2019!

Good Morning and Happy (Black) Friday, everyone!

I had wanted to get this post up yesterday morning before making the journey to my family’s home back East for Thanksgiving- but as most of you know- the holidays can get pretty crazy. Blogging had to temporarily be put on the back burner so I could focus on retrieving a pre-ordered chocolate pie and packing up some presents to get on the road in time!

But I’ve since made it back to the Valley and slept in nice and late this morning to dream away the stuffing and mashed potatoes I over-indulged in last night- and avoid the Black Friday crowds in the early A.M. hours!

I’m going to be heading out in a little while to grab a much-needed coffee and try to get a jump on my holiday shopping- but before I do- I wanted to share some of my favorite things from this past month as we enter the final couple of days of November and the end of 2019 is officially upon us!

This month’s list is short and sweet- since a lot of my Fall favorites from September and October carried over into these past weeks as well- but some new things made the list that I’m excited to talk about!

Let’s take a look!

Earlier this month, I revisited my PS4 since colder/snowier weather is on the way and in the event I should be confined to my apartment- I’m going to need something to keep me entertained until the roads are clear (and there’s only so much Netflix a person can watch.) Troy, who appeared to be in the same mindset- surprised me with these wireless surround sound headphones from Turtle Beach a few weeks ago to take our online gaming to the next level.

They work awesome, and I’ve been having so much fun with late night GTA and “Resident Evil” sessions with some help from these. I haven’t tried them with a game that will be making an appearance a little later on in the post- but I should- since surround sound might help me understand the story a bit better!

To save myself time and money in the mornings before work, I’ve been living the K-Cup life. The problem is- sometimes they can taste really, really gross and you have to liven them up with some flavored creamer or sugar in order to get your caffeine fix without gagging.

I finally found a good (albeit limited time only!) creamer from International Delights that actually tastes like what it’s supposed to- French Toast!

As part of their Holiday 2019 flavors- I should really consider stocking up on this before it’s gone. It tastes really good, and just a splash of it in my coffee can make even the most stale K-Cup bearable.

One of my stops today- and probably not until much later on this evening- may be Kohl’s so that I can try and stock up on more of these knee-high wool socks- which have gotten me through the rainier, colder days this past November!

Thick without making my boots feel tight/uncomfortable, and high enough to wear over or under my jeans or leggings- these socks keep my legs and feet dry and warm regardless of how much time I spend outdoors. They’re super soft, too- which is always nice this time of year when my skin tends to get on the dry side.

Here’s hoping the Black Friday crowds left some for me!

As I prepare to decorate my apartment for the holidays- I’m also focused on making it a bit warmer and cozier for myself and guests who stop by when it’s frigid out. For myself when I go to bed- I want to be toasty and cozy- and I have been loving (and living in) these flannel sheets from Cuddl Duds throughout November.

With a very cute, cabin-inspired patchwork print- these sheets have made my bedroom look like a rustic little Christmastime getaway. I’m thinking I might try to stock up on more of these tonight, too!

And I think that’s it for the photogenic favorites- but I’ve got a few more things that made the list, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

Living the Hozier Life – Where October was all about Bon Iver and experiencing their Boston show from the front row- November was all about going on a mini-Hozier tour with people I adore and enjoying a few days off from work to celebrate good music, beautiful venues, and a weekend of firsts.

My VIP passes are proudly on display in my apartment right now.

– GAMES/TECH/APPS –

“Death Stranding” – Okay, so I have *no* idea what is even happening right now- but I love this game and I love listening to Mads Mikkelsen say “bee-bee” over and over. So, although I haven’t beaten it yet- I’m on the side of the fence of a very divided nation that thinks this is a pretty good, compelling, and odd video game to pass the time with!

And that just about does it for my November faves, everyone! Tomorrow morning on the blog I’ll have my full recap of this past month that was before it’s time to dive headfirst into Christmas, wrapping up this decade, and New Year’s Eve!

The next few weeks are going to be insanely busy- but fun and reflective- so I’m looking forward to a little downtime this coming weekend before we get into the thick of the seasonal spirit!

Before that, though- enjoy your Friday! Be safe out there- and more importantly- be good to one another!

xx

– Ashley –

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.”

Good Morning and Happy Friday, everyone!

We did it! We made it through the week and it’s time to kick back and enjoy the weekend- unless you live in New England, that is- in which case you’re probably getting ready to start shoveling yourself out of whatever the incoming Winter Storm Riley has in store for us.

It’s been rather lovely outside these past few days- albeit a little chilly- so to suddenly have about a foot of snow dropped back on us is a little disheartening, to say the least.

Regardless, I’m determined to enjoy my weekend- and have set aside a little “me” time to get my hair and my nails touched up for the Saint Patrick’s Day festivities and the First *official* day of Spring in a couple of weeks. I’m also looking forward to cooking up a couple of new dishes- provided that the storm doesn’t knock out my power since we’re expecting to get some pretty high winds where I am.

Now that it’s March, I’m getting an early start on my Spring cleaning. Old mail/bills are being shredded, bedsheets and pillow cases are being washed and refreshed, odds & ends that have been laying around all Winter and collecting dust are being rounded up and discarded- and I’m starting to rotate out my Winter wardrobe to donate the things I don’t wear anymore while simultaneously clearing up some space to fit my Spring/Summer clothing and accessories.

I have taken some time to enjoy the little things this past week, though. On Wednesday night I had a friend-date in Western Massachusetts with a guy I’ve known for a long time that included a pretty good blue cheese burger at a local brewery, followed by a late-night Sega Genesis game session at said friend’s apartment. He dug out Maximum Carnage (one of my favorites from when I was a kid!) and I honestly needed a minute to compose myself from the excitement.

Last night, after I’d run some errands and returned home- I enjoyed a long, hot soak in my tub while I flipped through the Spring issue of InStyle Magazine and enjoyed a glass of wine while a Lush Bath Bomb fizzed around me. I slept like a baby last night once I’d dried off and gone to lay down- that’s how relaxing it was!

Weather permitting, I have a luncheon scheduled with some friends from work a little later on this afternoon- and from there- I’m hoping it’s smooth sailing as I wrap up this work week (which was unbelievably productive for me!) and jump right into my Saturday plans.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone! I’ll see you on Monday!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: February 2018!

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! What a wild weekend I had- which I’ll be talking about in a couple of days when I share my month’s-end “In a Nutshell” post- but for now it’s back to work for me, while simultaneously grieving over last night’s mid-season premiere of ‘The Walking Dead’ (for real- I cried so much that it was actually kind of gross.)

But before I dive into my morning meetings, e-mails and phone calls- I wanted to share some of my favorite things from this past month. Admittedly, there isn’t a lot of products/items since I did a pretty significant amount of traveling throughout February and many of my favorites from January carried over as a result- but there were a few things that stood out and even more odds and ends that I couldn’t photograph that made the list!

Let’s get right into it, shall we?

Despite fluctuating temperatures here in Massachusetts, it’s still pretty cold at night, and this mermaid tail blanket- a gift from my Aunt and Uncle earlier this year- has definitely come in handy on the nights I’ve spent throughout this month lounging on the couch and watching TV or getting some late night work done from the comfort of my dining room table.  This blanket is really warm and really fun- and has made more than one appearance in a selfie or on my Snapchat throughout the past couple of weeks.

Oddly enough, I recently read an article where someone said the mermaid and unicorn-themed clothing and accessories for adults are “juvenile”- which to that, I say- awesome. I’m warm, and that’s all that matters!

I’ve been wearing a lot of turtleneck sweaters lately, which makes accessorizing my neck a little difficult unless I go for statement pieces that are big and bold. I recently rediscovered this peacock necklace that my mother had given to me a couple of Christmases ago and I’ve been rocking it to work and out on the town nearly every day/night ever since.

I love the teal and purple colors- which stand out against my usual Winter-neutral shades of black, tan, and grey- and matching my eye shadow or eye liner to them proves for a fun, pre-Spring look without getting overly light and bright too prematurely.

With plans to potentially move out West later on this Fall, I’ve been revisiting something I’ve had on my ‘Bucket List’ for quite a few years but have never had the opportunity to complete until now. I’m talking about traveling cross-country on the remnants of what was formerly Route 66- complete with cheesy roadside attractions, cheap motels, diner food, and an amazing classic rock playlist.

I picked up this book a while back to see what this journey had to offer- and although it’s a little outdated- a lot of the attractions are still very much in existence (The Blue Whale of Catoosa! Cadillac Ranch! Prada Marfa!) I’ve been enjoying researching the must-sees and marking them down along my personal route map now and then over the past few weeks. It’s going to be an adventure!

And finally, one skin care product I’ve been obsessed with as of late. When I returned from my trip to Vegas earlier this month, my skin needed some serious TLC. The dryness of the desert, followed up by the harsh cold here in New England when I came back home- did a number on my complexion. I turned to this gel textured, 10-minute mask from First Aid Beauty to even out my face- restoring moisture, softening rough areas, and brightening any dull spots that appeared along the way.

I swear by this mask- which I use 2x a week- and achieve fantastic results every single time!

And I think that’s it for the photogenic stuff! Moving on, however-

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

‘Far Out\Thaw Out’ – I had shared my most recent, Spring-inspired playlist on 8Tracks a few days ago here on the blog, but it’s worth mentioning again because I truly love each song I hand selected for it and have been listening to them on a rotation (typically on my way to and from work) and thought it was worth posting again!

‘Black Panther’ – WAKANDA FOREVER. Not since ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ have I been so thoroughly in love with a MCU movie as I am with ‘Black Panther’ right now. It was perfect from start to finish- and I have to give a standing ovation to my Queen, Danai Gurira (who rules on ‘The Walking Dead’, too!) I practically shrieked with joy when she showed up on my screen.

I’m actually planning on seeing it again this week with friends who haven’t had the privilege of watching it yet- and I’m just as excited as I was the first time around!

– GAMES/APPS –

Overcooked – I can’t remember the last time a video game caused my friends and I to frantically scream burger ingredients to each other, but here we are. My BFF Sean discovered this game and wasted no time in getting the rest of us on board- but we’ve been obsessively playing it at get togethers all month and we’re showing no signs of stopping any time soon.

The premise seems simple, but the execution can get complicated REAL quick. You play as little cartoon chefs and have to prepare, cook, and serve recipes in the order that they come in. Once the recipes become more complicated and the orders start coming in faster and faster- things turn into an absolute shit show. Our group’s friendship has been tested- more than once- with this game. Over cartoon cheeseburgers, of all things.

And I think that’s it for my February Favorites! I’m off to get some work done- and I hope you all have a great start to your week! Here’s hoping your Monday goes by quickly and painlessly!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: January 2018!

Good Morning and Happy Monday, everyone! I am officially in “Countdown to Vegas and The Super Bowl” mode right now- frantically finishing up some work at my office and attempting to re-pack my suitcase in preparation for my (second) departure to the West Coast within a month. I head out bright and early Saturday morning- having only recently fully recovered from my birthday trip to San Diego just this past weekend when I had the chance to sleep in and late for the first time since I’ve been back home.

Before I dive back into my e-mails and itinerary, though- I wanted to share some of the odds and ends that have made January 2018 one for the books. Fashion? Cosmetics? Cozy and warm Winter essentials? Incredible music and compelling television? I can’t think of better things to kick off the first month of a brand new year with!

As is tradition, I’ll be sharing the things that were able to be laid out and photographed with ease before I dive into some of the other miscellaneous things that I couldn’t quite capture with my camera.

Let’s take a look at what has been giving me serious heart-eyes for the past few weeks!

Kicking things off with my wardrobe- January was all about statement pieces that have withstood the test of time and were easy to match with pretty much anything in my closet. Keeping me warm in the frigid New England temperatures (and numerous snowstorms we’ve had since New Year’s) was important, too- so this leopard print faux-fur coat from Primark was both a lifesaver and a head turner whenever I wore it out and about with high heeled boots or sequined dresses and chandelier earrings. This is just one of those universally chic items that you can keep forever and still wear it- and look good- anytime you put it on.

And on those cold mornings where my hair isn’t quite dry or my roots aren’t looking on point to my liking- I toss on this millennial pink knitted beret (with a fun little poof ball) from Bed Bath & Beyond to keep my scalp warm and/or hidden from the general public. This is another accessory that matches pretty much anything and can be worn with anything- like a fancier pantsuit on my way into work or with jeans and a chunky sweater on the weekends while I’m running errands.

I particularly love the color of the beret, too- and I hope it stays on trend for a long time!

January has been all about protecting my skin and hair until Winter finally gives up and retreats for a few months- but with frequent travel over these past few weeks (including flying to warmer climates)– it was easy for things to get thrown off-balance a bit. Luckily, I had some help along the way to keep everything exfoliated, smooth, conditioned and hydrated.

First and foremost, I have been using this vegan facial scrub from Garnier every morning in the shower and it sets the stage for my serums and moisturizers. The formula- which is 96% vegan and infused with green tea- gently buffs away pore-clogging dirt and excess oil without stripping my skin of it’s natural hydrating components the way some other scrubs (particularly the ones with apricot seeds or whatever) do. My skin is left smooth and soft and ready for the rest of my regimen.

Last week I had talked about what was packed in my carry-on bag at the airport- and the biggest essential was Caudalie’s spray-on beauty elixir. This stuff has single-handedly saved my complexion this past month. So much, in fact- that I’ve felt completely comfortable stepping out into the world without any makeup on more than once (I spent a good portion of my time in San Diego makeup-free- which is huge for me!) It shrinks my pores, tightens my skin, refreshes any dry spots on my face- and lasts all day.

Of course, that’s not to say I’ve simply stopped moisturizing- because that’s really important, too- and for the past few weeks I’ve turned to an old favorite and an overall classic in Clinique’s ‘Dramatically Different’ Lotion. Lightweight and non-greasy- I’ve just been slathering this on in the mornings and then again at night to even out my combination skin. This tube is travel-sized (naturally) and comes in handy if I feel like I’m starting to have a dry spell mid-flight.

Naturally, I can’t neglect my hair. Since I’ve gone blonde, I have to make sure my curls get as much hydration as possible to keep them from looking frizzy or damaged. Throughout this month, prior to applying my regular styling products- I’ve applied generous amounts of this argan oil from OGX from root to tip. This formula deeply penetrates my hair to soften my curls and give them a healthy shine that may have otherwise not been possible given the current climate in Massachusetts that is essentially sucking the moisture out of everything. I rely on this product- and I don’t know what I’d do without it!

For makeup this month, two products really stood out for me- and I’ve been using them daily. The first, a minty green eye shadow from Make Up For Ever– has become my go-to eye look at work and on nights out.  When splashed against the usual dark and neutral hues in my Winter wardrobe and accessories- this makes my eyes pop and gives me a bit of much-needed color. I typically brush on some shimmery highlighter over the shadow, too- just to lighten it a bit and enhance the green more- but it’s a simple one-step color that makes my morning makeup routine so much easier.

By now, we know that I am fully committed to Fenty Beauty– so another one of their products popping up in my monthly “Favorites” collection shouldn’t be a surprise. For January, it was the MATTEMOISELLE matte lipstick in ‘Single’. Soft, long-lasting, and super-flattering- I wore this everywhere in San Diego- where it remained drink-proof, taco-proof AND kiss-proof for days on end. I cannot wait for Spring so I can grab the lilac-version of this formula- because I know it’s going to look amazing paired with floral prints and lots of pinks!

Another one of my “Carry-On Essentials” items that also made my Favorites list in January? My nautical-themed weekly planner for 2018- which I take with me everywhere in my bag. I jot down my work schedule, meetings, trips/destinations, appointments and blog-related to-dos in this book every other day and it helps me stay on top of everything.

A lot of my friends use electronic planners on their phones/tablets- which I know is probably more convenient- but I’ve seen their phones break or glitch out on them multiple times. Having a good ol’ fashioned paper planner I can rely on all the time is just so much less stressful for me. Plus- how cute is the design?

And finally- let’s give it up for cozy socks- AKA what I’m wearing inside of my snow boots 99.9% of the time this month. I’ve been coveting the aloe-infused pairs lately since the cold weather is murder on my heels- and not only do these keep my toes toasty and warm even when I’m out shoveling for hours on end- but my skin stays soft and smooth, too! There’s no need for an emergency pedicure after every blizzard when I have these things within reach!

When I was a kid, getting socks for the holidays was unthinkable- but now that I’m an adult- I’ll happily accept more of these, thanks.

And there are just some of my favorites for the month of January, 2018- the things that I could take photos of, anyway. But there’s still a few more things I really loved this month!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

“The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story” – I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Ryan Murphy. While shows like “American Horror Story” or “Scream Queens” never quite did it for me (too many characters  to follow in a limited amount of time = sloppy writing)– he’s pulled off some incredible dramas ala “Feud: Bette & Joan” and his most recent installment of American Crime Story which follows the events leading up to and following the murder of fashion icon Gianni Versace outside of his home in Miami Beach.

Unlike it’s O.J. Simpson ‘Crime Story’ predecessor- the casting in the Versace version is spot-on and it’s been so incredibly interesting to watch. I’m hooked!

The Redwoods Music – My friend Daniel in San Diego is an incredibly gifted, unbelievably talented musician and singer/songwriter who is an active member of some of the most fantastic local acts in Southern California. I absolutely adore him- and was finally able to catch up with him during my recent visit (after just missing each other around various gigs and venues for the past few months!) where he was kind enough to play me some of the things he’s been working on lately. With acts signed onto The Redwoods Music Label like The Midnight Pine and Birdy Bardot- the doors have been opened for me to discover more incredible acts and expand my current playlists substantially. You gotta’ go give these artists a listen!

– GAMES/APPS –

“Oxenfree” – Released in 2016, I was actually unaware of Oxenfree’s existence until earlier this month when a friend rigged up Steam at a party to show a group of us who had gathered for a night of pizza and board games. With a graphic novel-esque design and a sci-fi/mystery-inspired story that felt reminiscent to teen movies from the 80s- it didn’t take long at all for those of us who took turns playing it to become fully invested in the characters and the plot. It was a really fun and really unique gaming experience- and one that I highly recommend if you love a good, supernatural trip!

– MISCELLANEOUS –

Flannel Sheets – Perhaps the one comfort from home that I missed the most (apart from my dog) while I was away last week were my flannel sheets. I’ve stockpiled a few sets to get me through the Winter since it’s always freezing at night- and I’ve grown so accustomed to nodding off in them that I actually had a bit of trouble getting rest on the West Coast because anything else just felt weird by comparison. Now that I’m back and bundled up again- I’ve been sleeping like a rock (on dachshund printed ones at the moment, FYI!)

And I think that’s everything for January 2018. I’ll be talking about my trip to San Diego, the month in review, etc. a little later on this week in my “In a Nutshell” post- but these were my favorites and I’m sticking to them!

xx

– Ashley –

Favorites: October 2017!

Is it Monday again already? Ew. This past weekend sure flew by quickly! The bright side (there’s always a bright side) is that tomorrow is Halloween, of course- which means we all still have a couple of days left to squeeze in some last minute scares and sweets before we hang up our costumes and usher in November and the impending Holiday Season. I’m a bit overwhelmed just thinking about it already!

Before that, though- I wanted to share some of my favorite products/items/miscellaneous odds and ends that helped to make October the fabulous fright-fest that it was. Most of the things that made the list are silly finds I picked up along the way these past few weeks, while others are some my favorite kinds of entertainment- but all of it holds a special place in my heart when I look back on October of 2017.

Up first are the things I was able to photograph in one place!

A couple of weeks ago, while at the Rock and Shock Horror Convention in my hometown- I picked up one of these ‘Stranger Things’-inspired natural soaps from the booth that had been set up for Fiona’s Fright Soap. This bar in particular smells like a pretty amazing combination of pancakes and maple syrup- and with the second season of ‘Stranger Things’ premiering on Netflix a few days ago (spoiler alert: it’s awesome so far)– it felt like an appropriate time to start using it.

The soap not only makes me smell like a delicious breakfast- but it makes my skin feel really soft and smooth, too. I know this was a limited edition product but I’m hoping Fiona’s eventually makes it a regular item so I can order more of them!

One of my girlfriends, Stef, recently got into canning goods/food with her fiancé- and she’s been kind enough to give me enough food to get me through the zombie apocalypse every time we hang out. Her most recent concoction- and probably my favorite- is this vanilla & whiskey infused apple sauce. She makes it from scratch, air-seals it so it doesn’t go bad- and passes it around like Halloween candy- and it’s AMAZING. It tastes like apple pie filling with a little bit of a boozy kick.

I’ve been hounding Stef for the recipe so I can put it up here for everyone to enjoy. That’s a foodie post I’m really, really going to like putting together!

Speaking of food and sweets- one of my favorite things about Halloween is cooking/baking some seriously macabre snacks for my friends and co-workers. I’ve been loving these edible cupcake/cake toppers from Wilton. They make everything so much more funny- and I REALLY love seeing people’s reactions when they realize that they’re edible and bite into them for the first time. It’s priceless.

I’ll be turning to them when I start baking for next Halloween, too! (Side Note: I love the little edible hatchets you can buy as cupcake toppers. A little bit of red icing and you’ve got a sweet, delicious murder-themed dessert!)

With all of my Halloween stuff going on this past month, it was easy to neglect my nails sometimes. Thankfully, Saks Fifth Avenue had my back- and were nice enough to ship this milk chocolate-inspired shade of nail lacquer from Smith and Cult to me. The color (called “Tenderoni”)– which has quickly become my signature hue on my nails, eyes and lips- is going to be perfect for the remainder of the Fall through the Winter.

It’s smooth, long-lasting, and I’ll be posting a swatch of it soon on Instagram!

Finally, this was another find at the Rock and Shock Convention that I’m completely in love with! I’ve been wearing this Ouija pendant necklace non-stop since I got it- since it’s not only seasonally appropriate- but it looks pretty damned cool, too. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments from people who have leaned in close enough to get a good look at it- and I’m thinking I may keep on wearing it even after Halloween is over!

And that is everything I was able to photograph for my October favorites.

Of course, some other things made the list, too!

– MUSIC/MOVIES/TELEVISION –

“The Walking Dead” – OOOOOH, IT’S BACK, BABY- AND IT FEELS SO GOOD. Although we’re only a couple of episodes into the eighth season of my number one obsession- the pace of the show has been incredible. Rick Grimes is straight up murdering people. Daryl looks like he actually showered for once. Carol remains my flawless Queen- and Ezekiel still won’t break character. It’s everything I hoped for and more and I’m praying this season makes up for all the heartbreak viewers experienced around this time last year!

“Broad City” – On the opposite end of the spectrum, one of my favorite comedies is back and I couldn’t be happier. One of the things I love most (and there’s a lot I love about it) about “Broad City” is that it focuses on common issues for women everywhere- but it does it in a funny, and often touching or poignant way. The most recent episode, where Ilana admits she’s having trouble finding sexual gratification since Election Night while Abbi comes to terms with aging after finding her first grey hair- was some of the best writing I’ve ever seen on the show. I want to be BFFs with those girls.

– GAMES/APPS –

“South Park: The Fractured, But Whole” – I’m a longtime ‘South Park’ fan (it’s social commentary is spot. on.) and the last game that came out, “The Stick of Truth” is one of my favorites. While “Stick of Truth” was like a ‘Lord of The Rings’ parody- “The Fractured, But Whole” is geared towards making fun of the successful string of superhero movies that have come out in recent years. Featuring more predominant characters in the latest seasons- my friends and I have been pretty much dying laughing while we take turns playing this at get-togethers. It’s a riot- and really, really fun!

And I think that’s everything for the month of October. Most of it was Halloween and Horror-related, sure- but it’s the one time of year where it’s universally appropriate! I’m sure I’ll come back around to less gory and scary things come November.

Try to enjoy your Monday, everyone! I’ll be back tomorrow to talk about October 2017 overall before we pass out some candy and kiss this month goodbye!

xx

– Ashley –