the sparkly life

Friday, January 18, 2019

17 Cool Things You Need to Click On Today

How was your week? Mine was busy, but fun. On Wednesday, I went with my friends at PureWow's The Coterie to go see Mean Girls on Broadway. As much as I loved the movie, I kind of had low expectations for the show, but it was so good! A great adaptation of the movie and so funny. I laughed out loud throughout! And the actors were amazing--especially Regina George, Damien, Karen, and Gretchen. I loved it! 

And now, the weekend is here, and so is winter. it seems. It's flurrying here right now, and we're supposed to get a bunch more snow this week. I'm not happy about that, but at least it will present a good excuse to stay inside and do some reading. (If that's you, too, I have some great book recs below!) Whatever you're up to this weekend, I hope it's a great one. Here's a few fun links to check out in the meantime. 

• J.Crew rollneck sweaters were huge when I was in college. I had a navy one back in the day. I love that they're back now! I'm wearing this pink one today and I really like it. (They modernized the style with a more flattering, less oversized fit, thank god.)

• I had heard great things about the book Lilac Girls and finally read it last week. Wow. I loved it so much! It's an amazing, heartbreaking story and one of my favorite books that I've read in a long time. Highly recommend picking it up. Right before that I read A Spark of Light by Jodi Picoult, which I also recommend. I thought it was okay/pretty good throughout, but then was totally wowed by a couple of great twists towards the end. Really good and a fairly quick read. And I just finished One Day in December, which was a Reese Witherspoon book club pick (and I really have always loved Reese's recommendations). I don't usually go for relationship/dating fiction (this is very much in the vein of a Love Actually type of story), so I wasn't sure about this for awhile in the beginning, but I ended up really liking it a lot. And I actually had tears in my eyes at one point, which really surprised me! Also totally recommend this one, because it's a good read and it's definitely going to be turned into a movie and you'll want to have read the book first!

• Love Grace's guide to buying your first Chanel bag.

• As a beauty editor, who has spent over a decade hearing (and then drumming into the heads of readers) that wearing SPF very single day is an absolute must, reading this article, which basically says the opposite, pretty much blew my mind. Let me add that I am not going to be convinced by one article--and I'm not slowing down my sunscreen use (especially because the article only addressed skin cancer, not the wrinkles/aging that are cauased by the sun!). But it's a very interesting read, and I'll be curious to see follow-up pieces about it.

• How pretty is this braided, beribboned bun

• Super inspired by my friend Meghan's outfit here. How cute does she look?!

• Here's the beauty secret no one wants to tell you: The best skincare trick is being rich.

• I love this piece by Ali from Inspiralized on that point when living healthy becomes unhealthy

• This story of a stolen bikini design reads like a mystery novel. So good!

• About a year ago, a woman in my industry (who I had met and worked with a few times but did not know well) died sudddenly when she was pregnant with her second child. It was, obviously, a very, very sad story. Now her widowed husband has penned an incredibly beautiful, heart-wrenching essay on leaving New York City after his wife's death. Do not miss it. 

• If you're looking for a new jarred pasta sauce, don't miss this thorough review of 129 different sauces--every single one sold in the state of New Jersey! (most are sold nationally, though). You won't believe what scored #1. 

• This made me LOL: "I'm Running In 2020, But I Must Admit, Even I Don't Know Which White Guy I Am."

And in case you missed it, I...

• Listed my 2019 health resolutions.

• Shared how I'm going green this year. (Hint: It includes a great deal for free stuff!)

• Named the best beauty products of 2018.

• Gave some blowout inspiration.

• Announced my Favorite Things.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

My 2019 Health Resolutions

Since many of my resolutions always seem to revolve around health, I decided they deserved their own dedicated post this year! Here's what I've got planned to (hopefully!) make 2019 my healthiest year ever.

Work out (at least) three times a week. For the past several years, I've been incredibly disciplined about doing Pilates twice a week, every week. Unfortunately, more often than not, that's all I do. I'm not going to kid myself and vow to start exercising every single day, but I know that I can and should add at least one more workout session each week. It can be an hour of strength-training, it can be Spinning, whatever--but it has to be something. If I work out more than three times a week, great. If it's just three, great. But I do want to make that third time a must this year.

Eat better. I've never been a super healthy eater. I will almost always take a bowl of pasta over one filled with salad. But I also know I need to make some changes. I'm not planning on dieting my way through the year, and I'm not trying to lose a ton of weight or anything. But I do want to make healthier choices, focusing on a few main areas: eating more veggies, eating less sugar, and eating fewer complex carbs. If I follow those few rules, I'll be much better off. I did Whole 30 last February, and I'm planning on doing that again next month (somehow I'm never mentally ready to take it on in January--ha!) as a kind of reset for my eating. After that, I'll focus mainly on the veggies/sugar/carb thing. Seriously, if I just make those three changes, it should make a big difference for me.

Take my vitamins. I'm so bad about this. I'll get on a kick and take vitamins for awhile, but then I'll start to forget, or I'll run out, and suddenly I realize it's been months since I've downed one. But I really want to start up again. Vitamins are probably the easiest way to improve your health. Whenever I interview dermatologists for my stories, they almost always recommend taking multivitamins since the healthier your entire body is, the healthier your skin will be (and the better it will look!). And obviously it goes beyond skin. Vitamins can help everything from your heart to your immune system to your brain. So, this year, I'm getting on a regimen! Last week, I went to BJ's Wholesale Club and stocked up on a bunch of them including NatureMade Multi for Her (for general health), Culturelle Probiotics (to improve digestion and gut health!), and NatureMade Vitamin C Adult Gummies (especially important in the winter--and as a mom--when you are surrounded by germs!)While there, I also grabbed L'il Critters Gummy Vites Complete Multivitamins for my kids. (I've made a resolution to have my kids take their vitamins regularly, too.) As I move forward, I'd love to start adding some additional options like turmeric and vitamin D, but I'm trying to start simple! Best parts about buying vitamins at a wholesale club are 1) the value, and 2) they come in jumbo-sized jars, so it will take me much longer to run out--and then fall off the vitamin wagon!  

Get more sleep. I've always prided myself on being one of those people who "doesn't need a lot of sleep." But lately, I'm starting to reconsider that. I mean, I'm tired a lot of the time! And I think the lack of sleep has been taking a toll on my skin. (Like many other organs in your body, your skin really needs you to sleep so it can repair itself.) My problem is that I stay up really late (usually between midnight and 1am) for no good reason, and then I wake up early--usually between 5:30 and 6:30am--because of my kids. I can't do much about my mornings, so I want to start going to bed earlier (ideally around 10pm) at least a couple of times each week.

Floss regularly. This has been on my resolutions list since I was a teenager. I go through spurts when I'm great about it, flossing every single night like a champ, and then I go through stretches where nothing seems harder than taking sixty seconds to run a piece of string through my teeth before bed.  But this is my year, baby. In 2019, I will become an every-night-without-exception flosser! Mark my words. 

Drink more water. Sigh. This is another perennial list lurker for me. Frustrating because I actually love water! It's the only thing I drink besides coffee (and the very occasional glass of wine). But I have just never gotten in the habit of drinking enough of it. May 2019 be the year that I finally start chugging H2O like a boss. 

Do you guys have health resolutions for 2019? If so, I'd love to hear them!

Thank you to BJ's for sponsoring this post. Are you a BJ's member? If not, click here to join.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Here's How I'm Going Green For 2019 (Plus, FREE Stuff For You!)

alyssa hertzig
I've been slowly but surely trying to be more "green" for the last few years, and I've made some definite progress. Plastic--in particular the single-use plastic--is what really freaks me out, so that's where I've focused a lot of my efforts. I bring a resuable cup (love this one!) to the coffee shop and I use metal straws whenever possible. But after our recent trip to a turtle rescue hospital in the Florida Keys (where nearly all of the turtle patients had stomachs full of plastic garbage--so sad!), I realized I had to step up my game. 

So, one of my resolutions this year is to cut back even further on the amount of single-use plastic we use in our home. To that end, I recently purchased some resuable plastic baggies to cut back on my Ziploc habit, I'm going to make myself be better about toting my resuable bag to the grocery store, and I've also started using these new refillable glass hand soap dispensers from Grove.  (Spoiler alert: I'm going to tell you how to get one for FREE. Details below...)

how to reduce single-use plastic
The dispensers themselves are beautiful--very chic, mimimalist, and appropriate for any decor, and the scents are fantastic (there's Lemon Eucalyptus & Mint and Lavender Thyme as well as Free & Clear, if you prefer unscented.) Intrigued? Well, I've partnered with Grove to give 'em to you for free!

Many of you guys have heard me talk about Grove before, but if you're new here: Grove Collaborative is a site that carries natural products for home and body, and somehow, manages to offer these high-end, normally-pricy brands at very competitive, very affordable prices. (They carry lines like Mrs. Meyer's, Method, Caldrea, Seventh Generation, Acure Organics, Burt's Bees, and many more.)

The other awesome thing about Grove is that, from time to time, they offer these amazing, limited-time free gifts just for trying out the site. And this is a really great one!

grove collaborative deal

With your first order of $20 from Grove Collaborative using this affiliate link, you will get the following items for FREE:

• Grove glass hand soap dispenser

• Grove hand soap refill pouch

• Grove Bubble Up scrub brush

• Grove Walnut Scrubber sponges

• Free shipping and VIP trial

*FYI, if you're already a Grove Collaborative customer, you aren't eligible for the deal above (sorry!). BUT *if you use this link,* you'll get a FREE set of Grove's awesome walnut scrubber sponges.

grove collaborative deal
You can cancel anytime, so honestly, it's worth at least placing one $20 order and getting all the free stuff! Then you can decide later whether or not you want to continue ordering through them. (That's what I planned to do when I got my own deal way back when, but I've totally stayed on and I order all of my cleaning products through Grove now. Since I live in a city, it's way easier to have my heavy cleaning products delivered!)

Don't forget: This offer is only available while supplies last, so grab your free products now!

And, of course, if you all have any other tips for reducing plastic use, please let me know. We need to save those turtles, guys. ;)

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

The Best Beauty Products Of The Year

A huge perk of my life for the last decade-plus has been the fact that I get sent a lot of new beauty products to try. And even though I'm a creature of habit who has a habit of sticking with products I already know and love (so maybe not always trying as much new stuff as I should), I made a very conscious effort to try more things this year. And it paid off! Here are eight new-for-2018 products that I tried--and totally fell in love with. 

Love Beauty Planet Soothing Lavender Deodorant: I've been wearing aluminum-free deodorant almost exclusively for over a year now, and I don't think I'll ever go back. Even though I know there is no "proof," there are just too many questions about aluminum for me. I'm nervous about its potential effects, and once I found a couple of very effective clean formulas, I no longer felt the need to chance it anymore. What I hadn't found until now, though, is an aluminum-free formula that works great and feels great. But this one does. I mean, this one feels insanely good. Totally smooth, totally clear, zero white residue, zero crumbliness. It glides on, really, truly works, and smells amazing. 

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Lotion Sunscreen: The texture of this sunscreen is incredible. It's a lotion-gel hybrid that feels cool to the touch, and disappears instantly. (Really.) There is zero chalkiness and no endless rubbing. I wear it on both body and face, and it comes in SPF 30 and 50. (I wear the 50, obvs.)

BareMinerals BarePro Full-Coverage Concealer: This stick concealer is the closest thing I've found to the cult-favorite Cle de Peau concealer, which is amazing, but ridiculously expensive ($70!). This one is about a third of the price ($24) and very similar. It's got that same creamy stick texture, works equally well on dark circles and pimples, and really stays put. I'm obsessed.  

Benefit Gimme Brow: Because I am constantly being sent new beauty products (or am "calling in" a refill of a favorite that I've run out of), I barely ever actually buy a beauty product anymore. (Don't hate me.) But this one I actually bought myself--and I'd do it again! I discovered it while having my brows done at the Benefit brow bar in Chelsea. The woman doing my brows (Pamela--she's amazing!) suggested this product when I explained how I wanted my brows to look full, thick, a little darker, and groomed but still natural and not too "done." She tried it on me, and I loved the results, bought it on the spot, and have been obsessed ever since. It's a tinted cream that you brush on to hold your brows in place and add the slightest bit of fullness and color. It makes a huge difference in your brows, but it's somehow subtle--they still look super natural and not at all like you're a YouTube star with super sharp, super dark, super exaggerated brows. I mean, there are people who can rock that look, but I'm not one of them--nor do I want to be. This does just enough, but makes a world of difference. I'll be buying it again and again and again.

H2O+ Coconut Verbena Body Wash: I love, love, love the scent of this product. Citrus-y body washes are my favorite, and this one has that with the verbena but also adds an undertone of creamy coconut that is just perfect. It also seems (to me) like it has a hint of musk, which I am all about. The scent is fresh-meets-beachy-meets-clean and I adore it. You can also get the scent as a body butter, a scrub, and more. (Note: Ulta is having a buy-two-get-one-free sale on the line right now!)

Lancome Skin Feel Good Skin Nourishing Foundation: This was my go-to foundation for most of 2018. In fact, it's probably my favorite formula I've ever found. It has amazing coverage, evens out your skin tone perfectly, but still manages to somehow look sheer and un-makeup-y. It also hydrates and has SPF. (FYI, I still wear sunscreen when foundations have SPF, but it does add a little extra, which I'm into.) Bonus: I apply this one with my fingers versus with a sponge or brush. It goes on like a more pigmented tinted moisturizer and is pretty much impossible to mess up. 

Nars Climax Mascara: I read one ehh review of this early on from a blogger I trust, so I kind of dismissed it. But then I had to try it for a story I was writing and found out that it was actually awesome! The formula never clumps, flakes, or runs, and the big, bushy brush leaves my lashes looking long and super thick, but in a natural (not crazy dramatic) way. I love it!

BareMinerals BarePro Liquid Foundation: Long story (which I will get more into another time), but I had to switch out a lot of products in my routine towards the end of the year after I discovered I had a mild allergy to--get this--fragrance. Since there is fragrance in pretty much every thing you put on your face, this was a problem. My derm wanted me to cut out fragrance for at least a month, so unfortunately, one of the things that had to go was my beloved Lancome Skin Feel Good Foundation since it does contain fragrance. Since I loved the BareMinerals BarePro concealer so much, I decided to try the foundation, too, since it is fragrance-free, and I'm happy to report...I love it! It's very buildable and can be sheer, medium, or full depending how much you apply. It really stays on and hides everything I need to hide. Definitely a keeper!

Have you guys tried any of these products? And did you have any 2018 favorites that didn't make my list? If so, tell me below so I can try them out!


Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Hair!

We'll talk hair in a sec, but first, can I complain? It's the first day of 2019 and this is the first time I've been on my computer in three full days. And not by choice! That's because it took me three whole days to transfer everything from my old MacBook Pro to my new one. Grueling! And the worst part: I'm writing this post on my old computer, because the new one doesn't seem to be working. The screen is just a bunch of gibberish. I can't open any files because every single letter on the computer is a question mark symbol! WTF does that mean? So Day One of 2019 was a lot of frustration and yelling at the computer. Day Two of 2019 is going to be me marching back to the Apple store. Ugh.

But let's talk happier hair! For the past several years, I've had a new year's tradition of rounding up some of my favorite blowouts from the previous year. (If you're so inclined, here's 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2013, and 2012. Hopefully you won't start crying like I did when you see the earlier years when I had so. much. more. HAIR.) 

This year's hair collage was surprisingly difficult to create though. It seemed like I had barely any pictures to choose from! At first I couldn't understand why. It wasn't that I didn't get enough blowouts this year. (I get one nearly every week, after all!) Then I realized it was because--for the first time ever--most of mine had been captured in Instagram Stories this year. So a lot of them were either videos, had writing on them, or you know, dog ears. But I persevered (LOL) and ended up with these nine fun styles. Which one is your fave? I'm kind of feeling the one in the top left corner. Note to self: Fewer waves this year, more sleek/straight lewks.

But the way I captured my good-hair selfies (oh lord) wasn't the only thing different about 2018. It was really a year of change for me, mostly subtle, but still real. My non-blog work changed a lot. (There are fewer magazines, so those assignments are slowly drying up.) There were first-world home-ownership problems that were stressful to deal with (for starters, our backyard reno and the fact that our heating system is apparently possessed.) My kids each faced new challenges in school (so, in turn, we did, too.) We said goodbye to one au pair and hello to another. Nothing major. Nothing "bad."

All in all, it was a great year, though! Politics aside (because anything related to that--with the exception of the midterms--was awful), we had a lot of good times. We went to Hawaii, I went to L.A. for a whirlwind work trip where Jessica Alba's BFF gave me a facial (!), we set out on a West Coast road trip, and we spent Christmas in Florida. It was all great--even if I forgot to blog about a lot of it! Oy.

I haven't thought much about resolutions, so I'll save those for a separate post if I do decide to make them. For now, I'll just wish you a happy new year! I hope 2019 brings you health, happiness, and many, many days of good hair.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

8 Awesome Toys You Can Still Get By Christmas

toys that arrive before christmas

If you follow me on Instastories (and if you don't, uh, get on it!), you may know that we celebrated Christmas early this year. We're going to be out of town on the big day*, and there was just no way I could get all of our presents there and back. So we did a full Christmas this past weekend with my family, and then Santa will come while we're on vacation.

As a result, I got to see which toys my kids loved the most--and I'm sharing them here now. If you still need a last-minute gift for your little ones (or for a niece, nephew, etc), this is a good place to start. My kids loved all of these, and (as of writing this post!), they are all still available and able to get to you by Christmas. Hurry!

{clockwise from top left}

Poopsie Pooey Puitton Slime Surprise: Okay this is actually the only one that I haven't seen a reaction to yet. (Though I heard Santa might be bringing it. ;) My daughter desperately wanted this after spotting it on YouTube, though, so I'm confident she'll love it. It's a big, plastic poop-shaped homage to a Louis Vuitton bag (they must be thrilled, by the way), stuffed with all sorts of sparkles and mix-ins to create a bunch of different slimes. (There are also other goodies like a keychain.) It was sold out for a long time, but they have it at Walmart at least for right now. Run!

Moj Moj Squishy Toy Claw Machine: This is an actual working claw machine where you can "win" mystery eggs filled with assorted squishy toys. It was a gift for my daughter, but both kids are already obsessed with it. (In fact, my five-year-old son has gotten so good at it that I'm actually looking forward to having him try out his skills on a "real" claw machine now!) This has been one of the hottest toys of the season, so it's sold out most places online, but there are still a few sellers on Amazon who seem to have it!

Learning Resources Beaker Creatures Liquid Reactor Super Lab: I love this, because it's a fun, "boy" twist on all of those blind bags and surprise eggs that are usually geared towards girls. The lab comes with a few pods (you can buy lots of extras) that you place into the "reactor liquid" and then it bubbles and you see what creature you got. Each one also comes with experiments, which is a nice twist. My science- (and surprise-) loving son adored it.

Kano Harry Potter Coding Kit: This thing is awesome--and a very cool gift for Potter-obsessed kids. It works with an iPad and kids can build a wand and then teach it all sorts of spells. I love that it's a more active, educational version of screen time, and that it teaches coding. My daughter was thrilled when she unwrapped this. Can't wait to see her start to code!

iLoom Deluxe Starter Pack Digital Friendship Bracelet Loom: I was SO excited when I randomly stumbled on this on Amazon, and my daughter was equally blown away when she opened it up. It's a physical loom that you hook up to your iPad. The app then tells you exactly how to create very elaborate friendship bracelets and gives you step by step instructions as you go. The patterns are complicated, but the app makes them easy because it shows you where to put every string, as you do it. My daughter was making an elaborate chevron bracelet minutes after we set it up. 

Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven Baking Star Edition: I had one as a kid and loved it, but for whatevver reason, we never bought one for my daughter. So this year, we got it for my son. He loves to cook and has already had a lot of fun making cookies with it. I also love that the price is really right with this one. Under $35! (Funny story: This edition is mostly white with a little gold and magenta, so not super girly-looking. Still, my son unwrapped it, got super excited, and then pointed to the magenta design and said--genuinely perplexed--"Why is it pink?" His reaction was cute but also kind of sad. He loved it, but was honestly confused why, in his mind, it seemed to be geared towards girls. Anyway, he loves it. Great, classic gift for any kid.)

Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow Rocket: Stomp Rockets have long been my go-to birthday gift for little boys. They love them, and they're not super pricey. I recently found this glow-in-the-dark version, and gave it to one of my son's friends. He was jealous, so I got him a set for Christmas this year. He's excited to use it.

Little Live Scruff a Luv Mystery Rescue Pet: One of the hottest toys of the season, this is a gift that is, again, probably intended for girls (pink packaging, etc), but there's really no reason boys can't play with it. This year, it was one of the top things my son was asking for. It's a cute concept: You "rescue" a sad looking ball of fur that you then have to wash and groom in order to find out what animal (cat, dog, or bunny) it actually is. Then, you dry it off and it becomes your stuffed animal. My parents bought him the blue one, and he had a lot of fun washing it in a bowl of water, and was thrilled when he learned it was a bunny. (I'm actually shocked this one is totally still in stock, because again, it was one of the biggest launches of the year, but it's there--at least for now!)

Do you guys have your shopping done yet? That is probably the biggest advantage of having "early Christmas"--I'm totally done now! (And if you need any more last-minute gift ideas, check out my favorite-things gift guide with great gifts for her, and my beauty gift guide!)

Have a wonderful holiday!

*I know it's a total internet no-no to say you're going to be out of town, but since my dog (who does NOT take kindly to strangers coming into his domain, to say the least) and my actual dog walker are staying in our house while we're away, I feel okay about it. ;)


Thursday, December 13, 2018

This Is My Go-To Teacher Gift For The Holidays

bj's holiday gifts

bj's holiday gifts 
Around this time of year, most of us are frantically buying presents for a ton of different people. And if you're a parent, that list includes teachers. And for whatever reason, teacher gifts can be easy to forget. (Maybe because you have to give them a little early?) I used to get all the way to the day before winter break and realize I had forgotten to pick something up as I was getting the kids ready for school. I'd frantically write out a note, haul the kids to a local store to buy a gift card, and then assemble it all right before walking into school. And I mean, that's..fine. But ideally, I want to put a little more thought into it! So, now I do by having a go-to gift ready. It makes the process so much easier--and the teachers love it!

For each teacher, I now typically do a combo holiday present of a little beauty gift set and then also a small gift card. (And for the gift card, I almost always do Starbucks.) The beauty part is the fun, indulgent, pampering part (everyone loves a beauty gift). The coffee card is almost a necessity. I know from experience that taking care of kids--at least mine--requires a healthy dose of caffeine. ;)

Then, I wrap them up with a pretty bow, write a heartfelt card, and boom--I'm done. Everyone is happy. (And a little bit prettier and a lot more awake!)

bj's holiday gifts

This year, I ended up grabbing my gifts at BJ's Wholesale Club, where they had tons of great, affordable options, not just for teachers, but for everyone on your list. While there, I grabbed an adorable gift set from Soho with four makeup brushes and a super cute tumbler. (This would also be amazing present for a teen, a niece, a babysitter, etc.) I also bought a pack of eight Burt's Bees lip balms, because please show me someone who does not love--and need--lip balm. (They even have Starbucks gift cards at BJ's! Just saying...)

Other great, affordable options that I noticed (all under $20!): a four-piece set of Soho cosmetic bags, an Axe men's set, and a Paw Patrol bath set that my son would love. (And yes, I may have stealthily placed some of my favorites under an in-store Christmas tree display! #diditforthegram)

What are you guys doing for teacher's gifts this year?

Thank you to BJ's for partnering with me on this post. Hey BJ's members: You can get FREE same-day delivery this month with code BJSHOLIDAY. Enjoy! If you're not a member, click here to join.