Thursday, May 11, 2017

Engagement Pictures Tips & Tricks

Rj and I just did our engagement pictures a few weeks ago and even though it rained the entire day, our pictures turned out beautiful. Our photographer, Manda Weaver was amazing and we couldn't have dreamt of a better photoshoot. Manda did an entire post on the photo shoot over on her blog, so go check that out (here) and show her some support on Instagram (here). Instead of duplicating the work she has done so beautifully over on her blog, I'm going to share tips and tricks on how to prepare for your engagement photos!


Tips:
-Get your nails done or do your own at-home mani/pedi
-Get your ring cleaned beforehand, the photographer will want some up close and personal shots
-Decide on how many outfits you'd like to wear: we did one more "formal" outfit which required some cute pumps and Rj to wear a nice dress jacket and we followed this with a more "relaxed" outfit which required a long flow dress and Rj to wear a beauty linen shirt
-Use this photo below (Courtesy of Melody Coarsey Photography (here)) to show you which colors compliment each other for photo sessions 
-I brought a bag with a mini sewing kit, a tide to go pen (honestly, this is an everyday staple for me) and wrinkle releaser spray  
-Some people like to get a spray tan beforehand, I prefer my St. Tropez One Night Only self tanner (here)


 Makeup Tips: 
-I recommend using a photo primer such as the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer (here)
-When choosing a foundation, look for one without SPF, the
SPF will cause a ghost-like flashback 
-Highlighting and contouring are great for photography just don't go overboard 
-Be careful using too much shimmer on your cheeks or eyes 
-Lashes and lipstick are strongly encouraged (if this is your thing) 
-Bring makeup to touch-up such as blush, translucent power (here), setting spray (here) and lipstick



  ***Most of all, have fun and be yourselves!
This is a once in a lifetime gig and you'll want your pictures to reflect that!***




Sunday, April 23, 2017

Bridesmaid Proposal.



I've been patiently waiting for the right time to post this and it's been killing me! I had been preparing these boxes for a little over two months and it all started with the beautiful boxes from Sugar Paper La. Those boxes inspired the entire box of goodies inside. I wanted these boxes to reflect my style....and attention to detail was number one on my list. Packaging is everything for me. 

You know that classic saying, "Diamonds are a girls best friend" well for me, it's candy.....and Chick Fil A. Lolli and Pops has everything to satisfy my "kid at heart" personality, so I knew this was first on my list. Champagne gummy bears, need I see more? I used tiny 70 mm x 60mm self-adhesive cellophane bags to separate the jar of gummies and a mini gold heart sticker to add an extra touch. 





I researched wedding bobby pins everywhere and all I found were fancy bobby pins ranging from $60-$100. I wasn't in the market to spend this kind of money on something that could possibly slip out of their hair and may only get worn once. Therefore, I went to Forever 21 and "invested" in these instead. I thought these would be perfect for the theme I'm going for. I dressed up the packaging using white card stock and a Martha Stewart hole punch. 



For this, I recruited the fiancé and I have to say he did an amazing job. It was even his idea to use the dried flowers, I couldn't believe it. I found these test tubes at Michaels for $1.50 a piece and took some epsom salt, pink Himalayan salt and dried roses to create this bath salt soak. I then shredded some white ribbon and tied it to each test tube.



This was one of my favorite pieces of the box. I needed these hair ties to complete the look and Emma did such an amazing job creating them for me. 

I love supporting small businesses; especially Etsy shops…creative entrepreneurs are my favorite! I had the pleasure of collaborating with Emma from Etsy shop Emmaflhair and I was jumping up and down about it. Honestly, where do I begin with this shop…..Emma truly has an eye for detail when it comes to her hair ties. Emma started Emmaflhair back in 2010 when she wanted a change of pace from the corporate world. Now, her shop is published on the Glamour website and she sells her items at retailers all over the United States. She also carries party signs, grab bags, bachelorette party survival kits, hair combs, personalizied bags, stickers and even champagne gummy bears! They’re over 415 different colors and patterns and so many ways to customize each listing. She is extremely helpful and quick to respond, I always recommend her work! Emma has a Spring discount running right now until the end of April, where if you spend $25 you'll get 10 free hair ties with your order. Check out her links for, Facebook Insta and Etsy and show her some support!



These light pink Essie nail polishes in "Tying the Knotie" are not only adorable but the girls now have a color to wear for the big day! I bought these in bulk off of Ebay, making sure I found a reputable seller with lots of positive feedback/reviews. A lot of the wholesale sellers on Ebay are from different countries and can easily scam you so be very careful when you're looking into buying in bulk. Read every review and contact the seller to see what type of response you receive (whether its automated or not). 



Lastly, the cards. I splurged a little on the cards because I knew these were cards that would be kept in keepsake forever. Most of the time I'll do Tj Max cards because you can't beat $1.99, but I wanted this to be a little more unique and intimate. The Matron of Honor cards are from at Etsy seller, Fairmontandgrove (here) who sells absolutely amazing material. The "will you be my bridesmaid" cards come in a pack of ten from Kate Spade (here). 





Assembling the boxes is the best part! I love using crinkle paper as a filler, I got 2 bags of it on Amazon (here). 






My two "Junior" Bridesmaids receiving their boxes, they were ecstatic! 




Monday, April 17, 2017

Spring-y Treats and Sweets

This was the first year in my 26 years of existence that we didn't take an Easter picture. It honestly just goes to show how busy our lives are nowadays. It's sad and scary how fast life moves the older we get. I know, at least for me, pictures help me remember the details. The things we couldn't possibly remember unless we had captured that moment, like my brothers bold cuts, or the dog I grew up with, or that awkward stage when I realized I had one eyebrow, or Christmas morning in our robes, or Dad's perm (or maybe we could). A picture is honestly worth a thousand words. Take pictures people, don't regret those moments you didn't capture. 

Now onto the blog post, which has absolutely nothing to do with the above statement but has everything to do with FOOD. I may not have taken pictures of people but I did capture four delicious recipes we made this year including fruity pebble and captain crunch french toast, lemon bars, bread pudding and peanut butter Easter eggs. 



Fruity Pebble and Captain Crunch French Toast 

Ingredients:
16-18 slices Texas toast
8 eggs
1 1/2 c. milk
1 T. vanilla extract
2 t. cinnamon
4 c. crushed captain crunch OR 4 c. fruity pebbles (did not crush)

Directions:
If you're doing the captain crunch french toast, pour the cereal onto a sheet pan and use a rolling pan to crush the cereal into a "dust-like" powder or tiny pieces
Combine eggs, milk, extract and cinnamon
Drench each side of the bread quickly in mixture (do not let sit)
Push each side of the bread into your desired cereal, coating each side
On medium high heat, butter your skillet and cook each side until lightly browned

This was a toss up for favorites with my family. As much as I love my fruity pebbles, captain crunch stole the show for me. You'll have to try this recipe to find out which one would be yours!!


Magnolia Bakery Bread Pudding

Ingredients:
One 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk 
1 1/2 Ice cold milk 
One 3.4 package instant vanilla pudding 
3 c. heavy cream 
One 12 oz. box Nilla Wafers 
4 c. sliced ripe bananas 

Directions:
In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat together sweetened condensed milk and water for about 1 minute
Add pudding mixture, beat well (about 3 min.)
Cover and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight 
In the bowl of a standing mixer, whisk heavy cream on medium speed until soft peaks form
Gently fold pudding mixture into heavy cream (no streaks of pudding remaining)
Use a truffle bowl or lasagna dish to assemble
First layer 1/3 Nilla Wafers, then 1/3 bananas, then 1/3 pudding mix
Repeat layer twice more, garnishing with extra bananas, Nilla wafers and wafer crumbs


Magnolia Bakery Lemon Bars
*this recipe took about 4 lemons 

Crust Ingredients:
2 c. unsalted butter softened (4 sticks)
4 c. all purpose flour 
1 c. powdered sugar 
1/2 t. salt
2 t. grated lemon zest

Topping Ingredients:
2 c. sugar 
6 eggs at room temp.
1 c. lemon juice 
6 t. grated lemon zest 

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Grease a 12x18 jelly pan 
To make crust, in standing mixer on low speed, combine all ingredients until it becomes coarse crumbs
Form the dough into a ball
Spread crust into prepared pan, using a piece of wax paper to press firmly to bottom of pan
Bake 18-20 minutes 
Remove from oven and let cool for 15-20 minutes 
To make topping, in a standing mixture on low speed, beat sugar, eggs, lemon juice and zest until combined
Pour over warm (not hot) crust
Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the topping has set (basically it has a very slight jiggle to it)
Remove from oven, let cool for 20 minutes
Dust with confectioner sugar and allow to cool to room temp, or overnight before cutting


Easter Eggs
(makes 2 1/2 lb. of candy Easter eggs)
You may be skeptical of adding mashed potatoes to your "candy" but this recipe has been in my family for over 40 years and people still beg for us to bring it every year.

Easter Egg Ingredients:
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
2 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 c. mashed potatoes
1 t. vanilla extract
This mixture makes basic vanilla eggs, if you want peanut butter add 1/4 c. peanut butter to one cup of the above mixture

Chocolate Coating Ingredients:
1 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
1/2 t. canola oil

Directions:
For peanut butter eggs, peel and then boil potatoes in salted water until soft
Drain and mash potatoes
Measure 1/2 c. mashed potatoes
Blend softened butter with potatoes and let stand until cold
Add sugar and vanilla to mixture
Add peanut butter (if you'd like to make the peanut butter version) and blend until creamy
Mold into desired shapes (Easter egg) and chill for one hour
For chocolate coating, mix 1/2 t. canola oil into chocolate chips in microwave in 10 sec. increments until melted
Dip chilled candy eggs into chocolate mixture or drizzle over top
Drain and place on waxed paper to harden and firm


Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Buying on Poshmark 101

I've bought several times on Poshmark, including these beautiful suede Steve Madden pumps below! I love Poshmark for the fact that I can still keep up with the trends but save money at the same time. I have a year full of weddings, bridal showers, baby showers, etc. and it's nice to know that I can afford to buy "new" outfits for these events without breaking the bank. Its super easy to get a great deal, here's how to do it!

Consistency:  
I look for consistency with titles, layouts, descriptions and the quality of the pictures. Consistency is something I strive for as a seller because I want my customers to feel like my shop is organized and seamless. I'm likely to click away from a shop if some of pictures are dark and some are light or the titles are chaotic.
Authenticity and Honesty:
If I'm buying an item (designer or not) I like to know everything about it. In my search, I'm looking for "authentic" in the title/description or some form of picture documenting the authenticity. Also, I'm looking for a seller that will describe or photograph any damages the item might have.
Customer Service:
This is huge to me. After working several years at gyms and hair salons, I've realized customer service is key. As a buyer, I look for someone who is quick to respond with any questions I have. I will also go through some of the recent comments from other sellers to see if their questions were answered. This sometimes answers the questions that I may have as well. To me, if the seller does not respond quick/answer questions directly that's a sure sign they will be late on shipment or the package comes "not as pictured". Most importantly, look at the reviews; quality of their service! 
Research: 
Once you've found an item you'd like to purchase, research it. Find out if you're getting a good deal, considering the quality of the item. I would research via google to see if you the item is available online but I would also check to see if their is another one on Poshmark to compare prices. 
Filters: 
Take advantage of your filters, they're tons of them! 
-Just shared 
-Just in
-Price high-low
-Price low-high
-Price recently dropped
-Brand
-Size
-Color
-Category
-Condition 
-Availability 
-Type of closet





Friday, February 17, 2017

Car Organization



Keep it minimalistic, with the mindset, "less is better". Obviously, the more junk you have the harder it is to maintain a neat area. 

Let's start with the center console...this solution will vary depending on the size of your center console, but you get the idea. I measured my area and found that two mason jars could fit perfectly at the bottom. The two mason jars hold my antibacterial and bath and body works car fresheners. I like to keep a pair of driving gloves here during the winter time and a change purse for late night Taco Bell runs...and meters. I needed flat storage to sit on top of the mason jars to maximize space which is where this photo container (here) came in handy. I keep lipgloss, lotion, anti-bacterial, lipstick and pepper spray. Pepper spray is a must ladies. 


In my glove compartment, I keep my diy car binder, diy receipt file system, a pouch full of napkins and my registration. Here's how to create my diy car binder and diy receipt file system. 

DIY Car Binder:
-Car information (year, make, model, vin, dealership info and numbers)
-Emergency Information (emergency contacts, allergies, etc.) 
-Car Trouble (how to change a tire, jump your car, put air in your tires, etc)
-Car Maintenance (section to keep track of any work done to your car)
-Notes (any other information)
-Pocket (insurance card, title, registration) 

DIY Car Receipt Binder:
-Gas
-Oil Change 
-Car Wash 
-Supplies 
-Maintenance 
-Other



The backseat houses an umbrella (similar here) and car trash can (here). The pet hammock is from Amazon (here) for $20...best purchase ever. Its easy to pop in and out and easy to wipe down. 



There are so many options for trunk organizers, but I love these from Thirty One (here). The inserts are removable if you need more space and are easy to clean. I keep a first aid kit, car emergency kit, extra car air freshener vents, microfiber towels, leather cleaning wipes, interior car wipes and more antibacterial wipes. The smaller organizer is from Target (here) which is great for organizing your reusable shopping bags. I also keep a bed sheet at the bottom of this organizer for impromptu picnics. 


What you need in your car first aid kit:
-assortment of bandages
-gauze
-safety pins
-adhesive tape
-antiseptic creams
-insect sting relief pads
-cotton balls
-vaseline
-advil
-tweezers
-a needle 
-saline solution
-hot/cold packs
-disposable gloves
-disposable masks
-Peroxide

What you need in your car and emergency kit: 
-Emergency Blanket
-Flashlight
-Water Bottles
-Non-perishable snacks
-Scissors 
-Duct Tape 
-Plastic Bags
-Hand warmers 
-Double and Triple Batteries 
-Jumper Cables 
-Swiss Army Knife
-Safety Flares 

Side note: I have a keychain in my purse where I keep this all-in-one tool that cuts your seat belt and breaks your window. A friend of ours turned me onto this after it saved her life during a freak flood. Buy it (here). 


Lastly, one tiny bulldog sticker from the company Smoosh Face United on etsy (here). 

Monday, January 9, 2017

An UNPLUGGED Vacation.

New Years Eve was spent in the boonies of Virginia. It was beautiful, quiet, no internet (with the exception of the town Walmart 40 minutes away) and no cable. It was so nice to shut off from the real world for a while. It's easy to get wrapped up with Instagram, Facebook, Youtube, Twitter....or quickly search for a recipe on Pinterest (3000 pins later). I'm extremely guilty of letting social media rule my life! This trip was a nice reminder to unplug every once in a while.....which brings me to my number one New Years resolutions.....BE MORE PRESENT.......In all aspects of my life. Give it a try, for one weekend...UNPLUG....



If you're looking for an extended weekend getaway....and when I say getaway, I mean like a no-service kind of getaway....this might be the perfect place for you. This house is called the "Riverview Plantation" located in Gladstone, VA on the James River. Perfect for all the nature lovers, hunters, fisherman...outdoorsy peeps! The owner was wonderful to work with and has a true talent for finding some amazing antiques! 


SIDE NOTE: I did get to post one, pretty important picture that weekend....and that was only because I GOT ENGAGED!! If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, I'm sure you've already seen this news. I am not going to be doing an engagement blog post because our photographer is doing that for us. You'll just have to wait and see how it all went down :)



Thanks for stopping by!! 

xx
-Lex 


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Hot Chocolate Gift Set.

Have that coworker at work that makes your Mondays a little easier? Or that mailman that sees you pull into your driveway and personally walks over your mail? Or what about the barista at Starbucks who makes an effort to ask how work is going and gets your order right every time? This is the most perfect, inexpensive way to say "thank you"!! This gift set is under $10 and can all be found at your local Michaels craft store and Target. 


You'll need:
-Crinkle Paper (Michaels)
-Cookie Tin (Michaels) 
-Test Tubes (Michaels) 
-Hot Chocolate Mix (Target)
-Dollar Section Candy (Target)

The majority of these holiday items are usually on sale at this time of year, but if not, use your coupons!! 

I was able to fit two packets of hot chocolate into the test tubes, so technically this gift set could work for two people!

Thanks for stopping by!!
xx