Friday, August 18, 2017

14 Cool Things You Need To Click On Today

heart float
Photo by Alisha Johns
As I mentioned yesterday, we are heading out soon to go on vacation! Be sure to follow me on Instagram for lots of photos and videos of beaches, ice cream cones, and some super cute kids. :)

Whatever you're up to this weekend, I hope you make it a great one. Here's a few fun links to check out in the meantime.

• I had to do a doubletake at this one: This maxi dress looks super flattering, comes in so many different colors, and costs $68!

• I recently mentioned a beautiful, flowy rainbow skirt as one of my August favorites. Well, now it's on sale!

• I already told you that the next book on my list is In A Dark, Dark Wood (recommended by Reese Witherspoon!), but I just downloaded a few more for my trip that look really good: The Good Daughter (sounds spooky and suspenseful!) and The Breakdown (it's the new book by the woman who wrote Behind Closed Doors, which I just finished and loved).

• Speaking of books, Grace always gives great recommendations, so I loved her August reading list!

• I really want these sneakers.

• It's a lipgloss and a fidget spinner, in one. (I actually thought this was a joke when I first saw it, but nope--it exists!)

• Ilana has an amazing list of 21 children's books that teach kids to be kind and inclusive. (Let's all load up on these so our kids turn out better than those idiots carrying tiki torches in Charlottesville.)

• "The currents of family life hit me hard on the beach every summer. Watching people with their babies, their toddlers, their school age children, their adolescents. Watching the groups of adolescents on their own, without their parents. It’s like being a part of everyone else’s stage of life, while at the same time being neatly sorted into your own category (empty nester parents here with no children, actually reading the books they brought to the beach)." >> I loved this beautiful essay about the beach, and it will make me think about it so differently now when I'm on it in a few days!

I've talked about a few of my favorite podcasts previously. Just found this list recommending several more podcasts and there are so many on there that sound great. I've already downloaded a bunch of them.

• This Game of Thrones-themed baby shower is so awesome.

• To stay married, embrace change.

And in case you missed it, I...

• Shared my beach vacation packing list.

• Threw a cool Spider-Man birthday party for my son.

• Gushed about my favorite things for August: clothes, beauty products, the best thing that ever happened to smoothies, and lots more.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Packing List: Beach Vacation

vacation packing list
dress // bikini (on sale!) // sun hat // rash guard // pineapple towel // shorts // cooler bag // sandals (on sale!) // deodorant // sunglasses // straw bag // book
We're heading out for vacation soon! We'll be hitting the Delaware/Maryland beaches, then flying out to my brother in law's lakehouse in Michigan, then heading back to Delaware! It's going to be a lot of beach time, pool time, ice-cream-cone-eating time, and just hanging out and (hopefully) relaxing. It's not one of the super glamorous blogger vacations that we all drool over on Instagram, but it's basically exactly what I need right now. 

Here's a quick look at a few things I'm bringing, and a few things I'd love to bring--and just might be ordering soon.

Kate Spade Sundress - I've had my eye on this dress for months. It's a fun, more structured twist on the traditional embroidered Mexican style, and it looks like it's really flattering.

J.Crew Bikini - Seersucker for the win! (And the top is on sale!)

Eric Javits Sun Hat - I try to always wear a hat for sun protection when I'm outside, but bucket hats/fedoras aren't really big enough to provide adequate shade, and I would feel like a crazy person walking around the city with the same ginormous straw hat that I would wear by the pool. This is the perfect, happy medium! The brim is smaller than a traditional sun hat, but quite a bit wider than your basic bucket. My friend Dawn has one and I've admired it forever. Now, I'm finally going to spring for one for myself! (Bonus: It's made of a squishy, straw-like material that allows you to stuff it in your bag without destroying its shape.)

J.Crew Tropical Stripe Rash guard - I no longer go anywhere near a pool without a rash guard. It's just not worth it; the ultra-UV-sensitive skin on your shoulders and chest really needs that extra protection. And how fun is this one??

Pineapple Beach Blanket - Who wouldn't love a giant, plush, and oh-so-cheery pineapple towel? And unlike similar towels, which can run around $50, this one is under $20!

J.Crew Ruffle Chambray Shorts - Am I the only one who thinks it's really hard to find good shorts? That's why I love these: The ruffles add a cute, interesting detail, and they're not too, too short. "Beach Please" Cooler Bag - Cooler bags are one of those things you don't really think to bring to the beach, but once they're there, you're so glad you have them. (Cold water, juice, or--let's be honest--rosé, anyone?) This one also gets big bonus points for being adorable.

Dolce Vita sandals - When I'm going on a lazy trip like this, I leave the heels at home. (I always think heels look out of place anywhere near a beach, anyway, am I right?) Instead, if I go out to a slightly more fancy-ish dinner, I wear gold flat sandals, which can also double as a nicer shoe for day. These are really pretty, comfy, and on sale for just $62!

Schmidt's deodorant - You guys, I have tried to wean myself off antiperspirant and switch to natural deodorant for years, but I've never been able to do it. I'm probably going to do a longer post on this product soon, but let's just say, it's the only natural deo I've ever found that actually works. (And as a longtime beauty editor, I've pretty much tried them all). It's really amazing. It comes in lots of different scents, but I love this lime one. So refreshing!

Kate Spade sunglasses - I always love Kate Spade sunglasses and this shape works really well for my face. I'm never brave enough to wear crazy glasses, so I love that these look normal from the outside, but have a fun, colorful stripe-y pattern on the inside.

Permanently Poolside straw bag - So fun, and--since "permanently poolside" is what I hope to be--totally accurate.

In a Dark, Dark Wood book - My goal is to get a ton of reading done on this trip. (I mean, is there anything better than sitting next to a pool reading? NO.) I just finished a really great page turner called Behind Closed Doors (get it!), so I wanted to read something really good next. This one is supposed to be awesome, and since Reese Witherspoon just bought the rights to turn it into a movie, so you know it has to be good. (Also, if you've read any good books lately, please let me know. I am always looking for recs!)

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

How to Throw A Cool Spider-Man Birthday Party

spiderman party
spiderman party
spiderman party
spiderman party
spiderman party
spiderman party
spiderman party
spiderman party
spiderman party
spiderman party
spiderman party
spiderman birthday party 
spiderman party
seth dale magician
spiderman partyspiderman partyspiderman partyspiderman partyalyssa hertzigspiderman birthday partyspiderman partyspiderman piñataspiderman party
spiderman favors
Jaye Kogut Photography

Similar to many four year old boys, my little guy is into superheroes. But with him, it's mostly one particular superhero: Spider-Man. He has Spider-Man pjs, Spider-Man bathing suits, Spider-Man underwear, Spider-Man dishes, and Spider-Man socks. He was Spider-Man for Halloween last year, and every night he even asks for a "Spider-Man story" before bed, which can be a mundane story about pretty much anything, the only requirement being that one of the characters in the story must be named Spider-Man. So, basically, when it came time to plan his 4th birthday party, we knew just what the theme had to be.

Per usual, we decided to have the party at home, and I went all out with the decor. I hung wall art that I printed out from digital files I bought on Etsy (as I've mentioned before, this is one of my favorite party-decorating tricks, because it's easy and you can repurpose the art as bedroom decor later), plus big word signs (Kapow! Smash! and so on), a banner, and balloons, which we blew up ourselves. (Because we were having the party earlier than we usually do, our usual balloon-blowing place wasn't going to be open, so I bought this home helium tank, and it was so easy and convenient!).

The two biggest hits though were probably the life-size Spider-Man balloon, which we perched on a china cabinet (the kids loved discovering him up there), and the ginormous cupcake tower. I hadn't checked the measurements when I bought it online, and this thing was huge! But so awesome--it was such a great focal point for the party!

When the kids and their parents arrived, everyone had some snacks (which included this spider-shaped goat cheese dip--it's one of my go-tos for Halloween parties and it also happens to work really well for Spider-Man parties, too!). Since it was a morning party, parents got indulge in Grady's Cold Brew (our favorite!) and a Bloody Mary bar. This was actually my husband's idea and it was such a hit! We put out a pitcher of Bloody Mary mix, vodka, and lots of fun toppings like pickles, bacon strips, hot sauce, fancy olives, and more.

Once everyone was settled, our favorite magician, Seth Dale, made balloon animals for the kids and put on a hilarious magic show. (FYI, if you live in the tristate area and need a magician, Seth is amazing for little kids. As you can see from the photos, my son was cracking up!)

Then it was time for pizza and Kool-Aid, followed by Spider-Man cupcakes. For the kid's cupcakes, I had had the idea to have our baker dye the vanilla cake blue and top them with bright red frosting. Each one also got a fun Spider-Man fondant topper. They looked amazing!

Next, because we hadn't injected enough sugar into these kids yet, we busted out a Spider-Man pinata! There was definitely a ton of candy in there, but because these were younger kids, I also added fun little trinkets like Spider-Man erasers, Spider-Man pencils, and mini coloring book sets, and healthy-ish food like mini bags of Goldfish.

When it was time to go, the kids left with Spider-Man-themed frosted sugar cookies (once again, homemade by my mom!) and this cute (and surprisingly-not-at-all-ugly!) Spider-Man t-shirt rolled up and tied with a ribbon and a custom favor tag. (Only three girls, including my daughter, attended, and I gave them shirts that said "Girls are superheroes" instead of the Spidey ones.) Then, all the little heroes headed home.

All in all, it was a super party. (Sorry. Had to...) ;)

If you'd like to check out my son's past parties, here is his Nautical First Birthday (one of my favorite parties ever!) and the Sesame Street party we threw for his second birthday. 


Skyscraper cupcake tower: Amazon
Word cutout signs: Amazon
Spider-Man banner: Amazon
City tablecloth: Amazon
Favor/cupcake/food tent/etc printables: CupcakeExpress2
Spider-Man plates: Amazon
Spider-Man masks: Amazon
Spider-Man blowers: Amazon
Spider-Man pinata: Walmart
Spider-Man candles: Amazon
Giant Spider-Man balloon: Amazon
Spider-Man head balloons: Amazon
Home helium machine: Target
Birthday-boy t-shirt: LilEmeraldBoutique
Girls' Spider-Man t-shirt: Amazon
Spider-Man (favor) t-shirts: Target

Friday, August 4, 2017

10 Things I'm Loving For August

rachel parcell APL daily harvest drunk elephant

As we head into the last month of the summer (ughhh), I thought it would be fun to round up a few things I am using and loving right now--and a couple of things I have my eye on. They run the gamut from clothes to beauty products to food, and I'm totally obsessed with all of them. I have a feeling you will be, too. 

But before you scroll down! Have you entered my giveaways yet? (Yes, giveaways, plural.) I'm giving away four big summer beauty packages, two on my blog and two on my Instagram. 

Click here to enter my blog giveaway (it ends Sunday night). 

Click here to enter my Instagram giveaway (it ends TONIGHT). Good luck! 

rainbow skirt

Rachel Parcell skirt: I love following Rach Parcell's blog, Pink Peonies, because she has the cutest outfits and her house is insane. I haven't tried her clothing line yet, but I totally have my eye on this skirt. The length looks perfect, I love the flowiness of it, and that rainbow watercolor pattern is amazing. (It actually reminds me of Chanel's painterly collection from a few years back.) Love!

we're no doctors podcast

We're No Doctors podcast: First, do you guys follow Busy Philipps on Instagram Stories? If not, do that now. She is SO funny, so real, so great. So when I heard that she had a new podcast, I couldn't download it fast enough. And it did not disappoint. Busy and her co-host Steve discuss a myriad of health issues from the perspective of their hypochrondriac, anxiety-ridden, constantly-sick selves. If you have ever had a headache and then convinced yourself you have brain cancer after consulting Dr. Google, this podcast is for you. There are three episodes so far, and I have cracked up laughing at all of them.

Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Sukari Babyfacial: I had been hearing raves about this for awhile with people saying it basically transformed their skin. So, of course, I had to try it. And after trying it, I can's awesome! It's a super potent peel with 25 percent AHAs and 2 percent BHAs, so it's strong. I was actually a little nervous when I first put it on, because it definitely tingles for a few minutes  (Like, in an intense way.) But I kind of loved that, because you could definitely tell it was doing something. After 20 minutes, you rinse it off, and true to the name, your skin feels like baby skin: ridiculously soft and It's awesome. I love it. You'll love it. (Bonus: It comes with a cute little bottle of their cult-favorite Luxury Oil, which you apply afterwards to lock in your newfound softness.)
rainbow beach bag

Las Bayadas bag: Emily of Cupcakes & Cashmere fame just posted about this bag on her blog the other day, which means it's now sold out, but I'm happy to say I was an OG who bought it at the start of the summer. And Emily is right: It is so, so good. First, it's gigantic. I mostly use mine as a "suitcase" when we go to our lakehouse on the weekends and it holds three days worth of clothes for me and my two kids. Second, even though it's huge, it folds into practically nothing, so it's great for travel. Third, it's adorable! I have the (currently sold out) rainbow one, shown above, but it comes in a bunch of other stripe colors that are still available. I really like this one, too. (Oh wait! It's also under $60!)
jergens lotion

Jergens Nourishing Honey Lotion: I almost never wear body lotion, mostly because I'm too lazy to be bothered. But when this new one arrived at my house the other day, I gave it a try, and now I'm hooked. The texture is great--really light, but still moisturizing--and I love the soft honey scent. Plus, it's cheap and you get a jumbo bottle. Love that!
pink rose gold toothbrush

Philips Sonicare Diamond Clean Toothbrush: This toothbrush has totally changed my teeth! Not only does it force me to brush for a full two minutes, but your teeth feel so clean afterwards--like so smooth they're almost slippery. Plus, hello--it's rose-gold!  

How Not to Die book

How Not to Die book: I spotted this book on my friend Jenna's Insta Stories and was instantly intrigued, so I bought it. It's about all of the diseases and health conditions that supposedly can be avoided or possibly even cured by avoiding animal products. I'm only about a quarter of the way through it now, but let's just say: I've already become a vegetarian. (I haven't gotten to any detailed info on milk and eggs yet, so I'm still eating those, but stay tuned.) It's a really interesting book--whether or not you give up meat after reading it--and let's just say, my friend Jenna totally converted and became a vegan after reading it, promptly lost like 15 pounds from her already-skinny frame, and looks amaaaaazing.
flour tortillas

La Torilla Factory Tortillas: It is impossible to find good tortillas outside of a restaurant here. So I usually just buy whatever they have in the grocery store and they always suck. WELL. I recently stumbled on these tortillas (I buy them on Fresh Direct, but supposedly they're sold other places, too), and they are AMAZING. Like, I eat them by themselves. Plain. And cold. It's a problem. They are that good and they have ruined me for other tortillas forever. 
pink sneakers

APL Techloom Phantom Sneakers: Millennial pink sneakers? Yes, please! These pretty little guys look so comfy and so chic, and that blush-pink color is beyond amazing. WANT.

watermelon cucumber smoothie

Daily Harvest: I plan to do a larger post on this soon, but if you follow along on my Instagram Stories, you know that I'm obsessed with Daily Harvest smoothies right now. I make one nearly every day! Daily Harvest is a delivery service where they send you frozen smoothie ingredients ready to go in a cup. You add your choice of liquid, blend, then pour back into the cup and drink. They couldn't be easier--or more delicious. 

So that's what I'm into right now! What are you guys loving these days? And which one of my picks is your favorite? Talk to me!

Monday, July 31, 2017

{GIVEAWAY} Enter to Win A Summer Sunscreen Package From Avène!

avene sunscreens
avene sunscreens

I have a fun giveaway for you guys today! Since we're about halfway through summer (wahh!), and I know you guys are almost out of sunscreen since you've been reapplying it like crazy (right?), I'd like to go ahead and restock your stash!  

I've partnered with Avène to give away TWO prize boxes worth $140 each. Each box contains: 

• Avène Ultra-Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion Spray SPF 50+
• Avène Mineral Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50+
• Avène Hydrating Sunscreen Balm SPF 50+
• Avène After Sun Repair Creamy Gel
• Avène Thermal Spring Water Spray
• ...and a (really soft) beach towel!

I'm not sure how familar you are with Avène, but they are an amazing French skincare line that used to be the kind of thing that Americans could only get in French pharmacies while on vacation. But now it's available here!

All of the products in this giveaway are awesome, but two of them are major favorites of mine: the Mineral Light Hydrating Sunscreen Lotion (the texture is incredible--perfect under makeup!), and the Hydrating Sunscreen Balm (a truly clear stick that I love for myself and for my kids--they don't fight me when I put it on them!).

To win one of the two prize boxes, please enter via the Rafflecopter widget below.

Also: As a bonus, I am running another, separate giveaway for two more boxes over on my Instagram. You can click here (and follow the instructions in that post) if you'd like to increase your chances of winning and enter that giveway, too. (U.S. residents only!)

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, July 27, 2017

My Favorite Summer Beauty Products

Trying beauty products has been a part of my job for the past 15 or so years. But to be totally honest, I haven't always been great at that part of the job. My problem has always been that when I find things I like, I tend to stick with them, and then I'm hesitant to switch. But lately, I've been much better about trying new things, and lo and behold, I've found some really great stuff! 

So, say hello to nine beauty products I'm absolutely loving right now. Most are new, a few are tried-and-true faves, but all are pretty much guaranteed to make your summer just a little more beautiful. 

Bath & Body Works Shower Jelly - This one is actually on here because my kids are obsessed with it. I use it to bribe them to take showers on days when they're not in the mood, because they love it that much. It smells fantastic, it feels like Jello, and it cleanses. What's not to love? 

Oribe Straight Away Smoothing Blowout Cream - You know I love me a good blowout, right? Well, this is a beautiful blowout cream for days I want my hair a bit on the straighter side. It de-frizzes, shortens your blowdrying time, and doesn't feel heavy or greasy. Plus, it has that heavenly Oribe smell, which at the end of the day, is really what it's all about.

eos Lemon Drop Lip Balm - I am very, very good about applying sunscreen, but I often forget to protect my lips. (Which is dumb. Lips are skin. And they can get skin cancers.) So I've recently gotten in the habit of using this SPF 15 balm, which isn't hard to do since a) the ball shape is fun and addicting to use, and b) it smells, deliciously, like lemonade.

Supergoop Everyday Sunscreen SPF 50 - I just realized that I wrote about this last month, but honestly, it's that good. It has the lightest, most perfect texture, it sinks in immediately, and it has a yummy licorice smell. I use this every single day on my face, neck, and ears, then follow-up with the Neutrogena below. 

Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Dry Touch Sunscreen SPF 50 - This is the second sunscreen I use ever day on my face, and yes, I use two separate sunscreens there. (I learned that genius tip from this interview I did with beauty expert Courtney Dunlop.) I apply two--one chemical and one physical--to get maximum protection. The Supergoop (which is chemical) goes all over first. Then, I apply the Neutrogena, which is a physical blocker, on my nose (which burns very quickly--even with sunscreen--in the sun), my forehead, and the tops of my cheeks where I have a bit of melasma on one side, since it's super important to protect melasma, because it WILL get worse with sun exposure. And regardless of my elaborate two-step process, I love this sunscreen! The name is very appropriate. It has a high level of zinc, but goes transparent, fast. You look white for a second or two, then it disappears almost immediately when you rub it. It's my favorite zinc sunscreen I have ever used. (Also: Cool deal alert! If you order two of these--or $20 worth of any Neutrogena products--on right now, you get a free gift.)

Wander Beauty Exquisite Eye Liquid Shadow - I've actually mentioned this one before, too, but it's really so good. Cream shadows look so much better than powders in the summer (they go with the whole dewy vibe of the season; powders can look dry and cakey), and I love these colors! I've been wearing Bronze for awhile now. Dove Grey is a more recent find. Both are perfect for day. For night, I apply them a little heavier and then add a darker shade along the lashlines and at the outer corners.

Benefit Hoola Lite Bronzer - I have long loved Benefit Hoola theory. But it's really too dark for my pale skin. Hoola Lite is perfect! It's like a barely-there bronzer for people who want to look a little healthier, a little less washed out, but not TAN. (Also, in case you missed it, my daughter hilariously tried it--and a few other beauty products--in this video!)

The Body Shop Coconut Hair Shine - Ok, this is one of my all-time favorite beauty products, and not a new find, but it's incredible. My hair can get really poufy in the summer, and just a dab of this waxy balm gets rid of any frizz or puffiness. And one tin lasts (literally) years. It's the best thing ever! 

It Cosmetics Confidence in a Compact SPF 50+ - I'm so into this right now! It's a buildable, medium-coverage compact foundation that also has anti-aging ingredients and SPF 50. It is sooo easy to apply and makes me look like I have good skin--when I really don't, actually. Just keep in mind: It's not a great idea to rely on the SPF in any foundation as your only sunscreen. People almost never apply enough to get the SPF listed, so I think of SPF in makeup as an awesome bonus, not my primary protection.

So, tell me: What are some beauty products you guys are loving right now? I'd love to hear your recommendations below.

Oh! And just a heads up: In a few days, I'll be running a fun giveaway that contains another one of my favorite summer beauty products. Stay tuned! (And be sure to follow me on Facebook, because I'll be announcing the giveaway there once it's up.)