Is your skin thirsty, tired, and confused?

I am declaring this my week of SKIN! Keep up with me all week on Instagram to see what products i’m posting about and come back here to read about them!

So many of us don’t know what we should be using on our skin. I’m here to tell you what I love and use on mine.

First off, ANY product you buy, wether it be for skin or hair, should be researched (at least a little bit). Sephora makes this super freaking easy. Download the app, search for a product, and you’ll find hundreds of reviews from people with different skin types. Reviews help me A LOT when I’m deciding on new products.

Another trick? Get samples! Sephora hands these out for free. Go in, ask for a sample of whatever new product you’re wanting to try and voila! Samples are a great way to test out how your skin will react to a new product. I typically give a product 3-7 days to become friends with my skin. If they aren’t bff’s by the end of the week, then byeeeeee.

So where to start? Keep up with me on Insta and look out for my next post this week!

P.S. Want to win a sample pack of my favorite products?! All you have to do is 1. Subscribe to my blog, 2. Follow me on Insta, and 3. Leave a comment on this post telling me you subscribed!

with love & gratitude,

stef

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planning Travel on a Budget

This one is for all of you who wonder so much about our travels.

Greg and I love to explore. We’re always planning our next quick trip somewhere local or far (depending on the budget). Moving to Columbus meant that we’d be closer to a few midwest cities. Living close to big cities = saving money on airfare. We drive to pretty much everywhere we go because flying gets expensive really quick. If you know us, you probably think: they’re always going somewhere, they’re always doing something. Guess what? You can too! I’m going to breakdown how we do it in a few steps.

1. Location

Pretty self explanatory. Where do you want to go? Greg and I have been to Nashville, Chicago, random parts of Ohio, Miami, Ft. Myers, San Diego, Richmond (VA), random parts of Pennsylvania, a few towns/cities in NJ, the Fingerlakes (NY), Kentucky. We’ve been to a few places and the only spots on that list we didn’t drive to were Florida and San Diego. The smaller towns are random, but we love going to wineries and vineyards, those are typically surrounded by small towns you’ve never heard of.

2. How much time can you spend there?

This is the most important aspect of traveling on a budget. The amount of time you can spend in a place will depend on your budget. Greg and I pretty much always stay in AirBnB’s when we travel. It’s typically more affordable than a hotel and if you get a place with a kitchen, you can cook a few of your meals rather than eat out for every one of them. Now that you’ve figured out how long you plan to spend at your destination, you have to figure out what you can actually spend when you’re there.

3. How much will it cost to experience this place?

This is the third question we ask ourselves. The answer to this depends on the location. When Greg and I visited Chicago, we knew we’d need a little more money than we needed when we visited Nashville. We also visited Chicago in the Winter, which helped a bit because the city gets flooded with people in the Summer and of course, touristy things are usually expensive and the warm weather tends to drive prices up.

Chicago has a mix of different cultures which usually means the food will be awesome and authentic. I knew I had to have Cuban food in Chicago; after some research, I figured out it wouldn’t be too expensive of a meal (score). We also wanted to try deep dish pizza (we hated it, btw). Sorry, midwesterners, you don’t know pizza, it’s not your fault. Anyway, my point is that we knew we’d be spending some money eating out so we factored that into our budget. Food ADDS UP. It ends up being the most expensive part of our trip 70% of the time (yes, sometimes even more than lodging… you can find some great places on airbnb for a bargain, friends).

Think hard about what you want to see when you’re in a city and what you want to do. if you can’t come up with a hard number, ball-park it (I suggest aiming a little hire than you actually plan to spend, the “buffer” budget). We try to think of three or four things we REALLY want to do in that city. Then, we decided if we can afford all of them or just one or two. Once we’ve decided on our must-do’s, we leave the rest of the trip up to chance. If we HAVE to have dinner at this one restaurant, we’ll head down to the area it’s in a just explore. Same goes for tourist attractions. We’ll put money aside for that one experience and let the rest of the day fall into place (that’s what the buffer part of the budget is for). You don’t want to drive 3-8 hours to get somewhere and miss out because you didn’t think about how much cash you’d need to have fun.

4. Enjoy it!

This is THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP. Stress the budget before your trip (not during). Plan it out! Have an idea of what you want to see or do and let the rest of the trip kind of fall into place. So, first step: pick your place. Once you’ve decided on your location check out what it will cost to stay there. Explore all of your options, Airbnb and hotels. Next, think about how much time you can spend there. What will the lodging cost for a weekend vs. four or five days? After that, think about what you want to do there. It’s a good idea to have a few key spots and experiences in mind. You can figure out how much doing those will cost and live the rest of the trip around that.

Planning a trip? I’d be happy to help! Tell me if you’re heading somewhere in the comments.

with love & gratitude,

stef

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opinions: everybody has them

True story. Sorry for the foul language in the title there. It’s true, though. Think about all of the things or “gossip” people have told you over the years, how much of it came from COLD HARD FACTS? How much of it wasn’t just their BS take on someone else’s life?

We’re surrounded by opinions, judgements, and criticism. Sometimes they can be really helpful. They can lead us toward the right decisions or help us see things from a different perspective. And other times, well, other times they could just be someone else projecting their stuff onto you. It’s important to know the difference.

Full disclosure, I’ve completely been that person. The person who says “you should do it this way because of X,Y,Z”. Instead of asking, “What do you feel is the right thing to do?” or “Let’s talk about the different options here and what feels right to you” OR the person who says things based on what I heard from someone else, from someone else, from someone else. That person SUCKS, guys! And in my opinion, that person isn’t coming from a supportive place. They’re coming from a: I’ve been through more-I know more-you’re young-you’re inexperienced-you’re emotional-you’re blah blah blah-place. And maybe you are a couple of those things, but you still have the right to make your own decisions and talk about your life with the people closest to you without being judged, right?

So here’s what I think/do when people pull this stuff on me. I think about it, really, really think about it. We are all living our lives and inexperienced in some way, at something. There isn’t one person who just knows it all and has it all figured out. So when people give me their thoughts, or opinions, or share some random gossip with me, I remind myself of that. This person is completely equal to me. There is something I know that they don’t, there is something I have more experience in than they do. And most importantly, only you know you (only you know what you truly want deep down inside/what’s true about you).

It certainly isn’t easy, but letting the opinions of others control everything you do and all of the decisions you make is not the way to live a fulfilled, happy, life. I really believe you have to make your own decisions and maybe even fail a couple of times to survive. Sure, other people may be around to help make the ride less bumpy, but don’t let those people dictate your life because when they’re gone or when they stop wanting to make all of your decisions for you (because that HAS to be exhausting, too) what will you do? You’ll be that person who was so worried about everyone’s opinion, did everything everyone else expected of them/thought was right, and now has no idea how to make decisions/form opinions for themselves.

As always, I’m just speaking my truth/from my own experiences. I don’t know everything now and I won’t when I’m 100 🙂

With love & gratitude,

stef

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WEIGHT

Apple Cider Donuts at Demarest Farms in NJ are my favorite!

Yep, we all struggle with this. I’ve had the weight loss conversation one too many times in my life. With my friends, my husband, family, etc. Growing up in a Hispanic family meant that if I hadn’t seen an aunt or uncle in awhile and I put on a few pounds, they would definitely be commenting on it. Sometimes the most subtle of comments like “oh, you’re a little thicker”. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?! Do you mean thick like the good thick or do you mean thick as in I’ve gained too much weight and shouldn’t be wearing this outfit!? (LOL). It sucks. But I think we all do it, no matter what size we are.

****BY THE WAY, your weight is actually no ones business. Lose 30 pounds, gain 10 pounds, it’s YOUR business (and your doctor’s if you want it to be). People (family, friends, whoever) don’t have the right to tell you you’ve gained too much weight and they don’t have the right to tell you you’ve lost too much weight. It’s your damn business.

Sometimes I let myself believe that if I could just get down to a size 2, I’ll be happy. Then I remind myself that the moment I zipped that size 2 dress, I’d start working towards something else like a six pack or thinner thighs or thinner arms, the list goes on and on.

Do I think it’s important to live a healthy life and be mindful of what you put in your body? of course! there’s nothing like eating well for a few weeks and noticing the positive changes in your body and your skin. At the same time, I think we all get a little too obsessed (sometimes) with looking a certain way or even being perceived by others a certain way. I’ll admit it, a few times I’ve found myself actually thinking “oh great! I haven’t seen this person in awhile, I hope they think I’m thin” I mean… crazy or what?! but I’m sure I’m not the only one who does this. Am I?!

the famous crop top…
linked here if you’re interested

So what am I doing to stop this crappy way of thinking? I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. Two years ago I would go on and on about how I’d never been caught dead in a crop top. I thought I didn’t have the body type for it (I weighed the same weight that I am right now). Guess what? I currently own TWO! Do I actually show my midriff? No, I’m 27 and haven’t gotten past thinking I’m too old for that BUT I do wear them and that’s a big deal for me! I know that’s crazy because pretty much everyone my age and under wears crop tops, but a milestone for me nonetheless.

here it is again

In a world full of self-love and body positivity, you’d think it’d be easy to get past all of this stuff and just “love the skin you’re in”. Unfortunately it’s not that simple (for me at least). I think no matter what weight we’re at we tend to tell ourselves it’s not good enough and we compare ourselves to others no matter how hard we’re working. If you don’t love every little thing about yourself right now, it’s okay and honestly I think it’s pretty normal, but at the very least, be grateful for the body you have and don’t make others feel badly about theirs!

What’s your take on weight loss, health, or struggle? Tell me in the comments!

with love & gratitude,

stef

** This is my personal experience with my weight. As always, I’m speaking from my heart and sharing how I’m dealing with this. We’re all on our own journey!

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$10 Shirt 10 Ways

Challenge accepted!

I’m extremely thoughtful when I make a purchase. I look at an item and think of all of the ways I can wear it. Can I wear it for work and play? How can I pair it with something I already own? I like to think carefully before I spend any amount of money, so when I find something REALLY affordable that can be mixed & matched with a ton of other pieces I already own, you better believe I’m buying it!

I picked up this button down tank at H&M and I am completely obsessed with it. It’s super light and great for Summer and it’s only $9.99! Check out all of the ways I’ll be wearing it this Summer.

Keeping it simple here with a pair of white slacks. I love wearing “work pants” casually and if you ask me, white slacks are a staple piece. Untie the shirt and tuck it for work, tie it up for happy hour. I paired it with these super affordable sandals from Old Navy.

Links:
Top
Skirt (last season Loft)
Shoes

Name a better color than green! I love, love, love green during any season. This skirt is from last season and almost didn’t stay in my closet this year! I couldn’t link it, but search (green eyelet skirt + loft) on google and you’ll find a few of these on PoshMark.

White shorts! I love wearing white. Growing up, I didn’t do so well with it. I’m SUPER clumsy so every white shirt I owned had some kind of stain on it. Anyway, loving these comfortable, versatile shorts with this blouse.

Let’s talk about flare jeans for a second or bell-bottoms (you know, because that’s what they really are). I’m here for them, friends. I love when the point of my heel just slightly peeks out from the bottom of my jeans. It elongates your legs and if you’re short like me, you know why I love this trend (it makes you look taller!)

Links:
Top (linked above)
Skirt
Shoes (linked above)

You guys, this wrap skirt…. enough said. I snagged this one from ShowPo aka one of my new favorite sites to shop.

Links:
Top (linked above)
Pants
Wedges

Did I say I love white? These jeans are stretchy and comfortable. Need I say more? If you watch my stories, you know I’m always posting a J.Crew Factory sale and these are on sale right now! Go snag them before they’re gone!

Links:
Top (linked above)
Pants
Hat

Ok, more green. I’m OBSESSED with these pants. I snagged them at Target for $22!

You know I had to throw in a staple work-wear look. I love this one. The second I throw a blazer on I feel powerful… is that just me?

Links:
Top (linked above)
Skirt
Shoes (linked above)

You’ve seen this skirt on here before and that’s because I adore it. The color is bright and beautiful for summer.

Links:
Top (linked above)
Jeans (last season J.Crew Factory)
Shoes (last season Vince Camuto)
Hat

Last but not least, what I would call the simplest look to throw together. Muted top, cropped jeans, and a bright shoe. I use my shoes to express myself (maybe that sounds crazy), but like many women, I love shoes. I’m all for adding a pop of color and these are one of my absolute favorite pairs to throw on.

What do you think of these looks? Drop a comment and let me know which one is your favorite!

with love & gratitude,

stef

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