the sparkly life

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Hawaii Packing List

what to bring on a beach vacation

It's snowing here today, so it seems impossible, but...I've got a trip to Hawaii coming up soon! Yep, we're heading to the island of Oahu for spring break, and I couldn't be more excited! We had toyed with the idea of renting a house, but in the end, we decided to do Disney Aulani. I've heard it's amazing for families, and it has a great kids club, which as I've said before, pretty much makes or breaks a vacation. (If you're not doing so already, definitely follow me on Instagram for lots of fun pics and Stories of my kids, fruity drinks, Mickey-shaped shave ice, countless Dole Whips, and more!)

But I have to be honest that I'm super nervous about the flight right now. We are flying direct, and from the East Coast, so that means an 11-and-a-half-hour flight (!!). We are coming with iPads (DUH), lots of activity books, and a few new toys, but I'm stressed about my kids becoming bored (or hangry or worse) after just a few hours. If you have any good tips for long-haul flights with kids, please, PLEASE share them with me!

But back to the fun stuff: With an impending vacation, the last few weeks have meant lots of shopping since the kids have outgrown most of their warm-weather stuff. And of course, even though I haven't outgrown my stuff, I still did a little shopping for me. So, check out some of the fun new pieces I've bought (or will be scooping up soon ) for those essentials that I always pack on a beach vacation.

1. Cutest Romper - I saw this in the store and thought it looked amazing on the rack, but figured it would look horrible on me. (I'm not typically a romper person.) I kept walking...but kept thinking about it, so turned around and decided to give it a go. And, you guys, it is SO cute on. The shorts aren't too short at all (that was my big fear) and it's sooo comfortable (elastic waistband FTW!). Excited to wear this in Hawaii--and then at home all summer long.

2. Insta-Ready Cover-Up - I have had the same favorite cover-up for...way too long. I haven't retired it yet, but I wanted to add a new one into the rotation, too. This rainbow pom pom cover-up dress caught my eye immediately. It's just so happy and fun!

3. Superflattering Swimsuit - I bought this Kenneth Cole one-piece online (in the burgundy shade--it comes in other colors) and held my breath. (Buying swimwear online is so risky, right?) But it fit perfectly and I love it! It sucks you in and doesn't show too much, but still manages to look pretty sexy. And even though it's about $100 bucks, the quality is great; it feels much more expensive. (I also bought this one!)

4. The Best Sunscreen - I've mentioned Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40 as one of my favorites before, but it deserves another plug here. It looks and feels completely (yes, totally) invisible. I'm obsessed! 

5. Pretty Little Dress - Well, this is a given, right? You need a bunch of great dresses for any warm-weather trip, and this Shoshanna dress is so feminine, breezy, and pretty, and would work for day or night.

6. Affordable Straw Clutch - I always bring one clutch on vacation with me, and always in a neutral shade so it goes with any outfit. I love this Mar Y Sol clutch, because the straw feels so beachy, and it's under $50. 

7. Coolest Sun Hat - I've wanted an Eric Javits sun hat forever. They're very high quality, they're super chic,  and they're squishable, so you can pack them in your suitcase without destroying them. Last week I actually bought this Squishee IV hat, which is the one I have wanted since I saw it on a friend. (It's hard to tell but the brim is slightly smaller than most, so you can totally wear it to walk around and not just for lounging by the pool.) And I love it! But then I saw this gorgeous straw bucket hat (which is giving me a Chanel-tweed vibe) and now I want it, too! 

8. Metallic Sandals - I don't do heels on vacation. Period. So I always bring a great pair of flat metallic sandals, and then I can wear them out to dinner at night or even during the day, as well. These Toms rose-gold sandals are really cool and different--and they're just $59!

9. Bathing-suit bag - At every vacation's end, there's always the dilemma of what to do with your wet swimsuit. Eliminate the issue by packing one of these little waterproof bags. It's slim, takes up barely any space, and keeps the rest of the stuff in your suitcase from getting soggy.

10. Best New Pedicure Shade - I always get a pedicure right before vacation in either a dark shade or a bright, tropical one. I've been rocking dark all winter long, so I am really, really ready for something happy. This new coral (Essie At the Helm) is perfect.

11. Giant Rainbow Beach Bag - I've mentioned this Las Bayadas El Palo tote  as one my my favorite things before because it's incredible. It's huge, but because it's made of a soft, thin fabric, it folds up completely tiny, taking up barely any room in your suitcase.

Are you guys going anywhere for spring break? And have you been to Aulani? (Or gone anywhere on a long flight with kids?) Please give me all the tips!


Thursday, March 8, 2018

My Baby Turned 8 Today

My baby--my first baby--turned eight today, and I can't believe it. Eight sounds old, right? Eight is reading chapter books and refusing to wear dresses (even though it wasn't long ago that she would only wear dresses). Eight is braving the scariest rollercoasters, but still crawling into our bed when she's frightened in the middle of the night. Eight is telling me I'm the worst mom in the world in one breath, and hugging me tightly and saying she loves me in the next. Eight is making slime. (So. Much. Slime.) 

Eight is wonderful. Eight is beautiful. Eight is here in the blink of an eye. And eight will become nine before I know it, so I'm going to hold tight and enjoy it while I can.

Happy birthday, eight-year-old Sadie. I love you.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

5 Beauty Products I'm Loving Right Now

philosophy miracle worker fix eye cream

Because of my jobs (both blogging and my "day job" as a beauty writer and editor), I get tons and tons of beauty products sent to my home. The bad news about that is that my house looks like a cluttered Sephora. And the good news about that? My house is like a Sephora! At any given time, I have a ton of products lying around just begging to be sampled, and I'm trying to be better about forcing myself to try new stuff rather than just sticking to my favorites. 

And now, I'm finding new favorites! The products here are all things I tried this month--and have already rotated into my regular routine. They're all that good! Here's why I love each one.

Fenty Beauty Pro Filt'r Instant Retouch PrimerIn my magazine-writing life, I am forever telling people to wear primer--and then I end up skipping it in my real life. D'oh. But I really love this one and have been wearing it regularly. It feels totally light (not heavy or goopy) and really does seem to make my foundation look way better, way longer.

Proenza Schouler Arizona fragrance: Proenza's first fragrance is gorgeous--and so different! It's a floral, but not your typical frou-frou romantic floral at all. I know this sounds weird, but it somehow manages to smell "cool." The main notes are white cactus flower (apparently this is the first time that has ever been used in a perfume) and orris, and the result is fresh and light, a little creamy, and really sexy. I love it. 

Philosophy Ultra Miracle Worker Fix Eye Power Treatment: I don't know if this is a placebo affect (I honestly think no!), but my eyes looked noticeably better after using this just one time! The formula creates almost like a little "film" on your skin that totally smoothes out the area, and the applicator itself is very soothing. I've now been using it for a few weeks and the lines under my eyes are much less obivous, which is no small thing.

Dr. Brandt Hydro Biotic Recovery Sleeping Mask: Until fairly recently, I used to skip night cream (god, I sound like the worst beauty editor ever in this post, huh?!?). But my skin is so much better when I use it. And a sleeping mask, like this one, is basically a a very intensive, ultra-hydrating night cream--a supersized night cream, if you will. I love this one because it provides a ton of hydration, but the gel-cream texture feels super light and refreshing on your skin, and not greasy at all.

Aveeno Positively Radiant Exfoliating Body Wash: As I've told you before, I love body wash. And this one is great for three reasons: 1) It has little grains floating in the formula, so I get a little allover exfoliation every time I shower. (This is good since I almost never remember to use a separate scrub!) 2) It smells AMAZING--so fresh! 3) It's super inexpensive! Under $10 products, FTW!

Have you guys tried any of these? What other beauty products are you loving lately? Talk to me!


Friday, February 23, 2018

How to Survive Whole 30 (I'm Halfway Through!)

alyssa hertzig
alyssa hertzig
whole 30 lunch ideas
Spinach, smashed potatoes, and a turkey patty with mustard. (Hey, does it look like an English muffin with tons of butter or am I just having hunger hallucinations? LOL)

whole 30 snack ideas
My favorite snack: apples and homemade cashew butter

whole 30 trader joe's
A few of the Whole 30 essentials I rely on. (Top two photos by Pau Loyo Fernandez.)
If you're a regular watcher of my Instagram stories, you likely know that I'm in the middle of doing Whole 30! I wasn't psycholologically ready to do it during January like the rest of the world (lol), so I started February 1st. That means, I'm in the home stretch now! I'm planning to do a full recap after I'm totally finished, but I wanted to do a little check in now to talk about how it's going, what's worked for me, etc. Here it is, broken down into a little Q&A format.

First, what's Whole 30?
Quick summary in case you've been living under a rock: Whole 30 is a 30-day clean-eating plan where you eliminate all dairy, grains, legumes, sugar (and that's all sweeteners including maple syrup, agave, artificial sweeteners, etc), alcohol, and soy, as well as any baked goods with "approved" ingredients (i.e. pancakes made with coconut flour and almond milk). I know, I know--it sounds totally crazy.

Why did you decide to do it?
Because I'm a horrendous eater. With the exception of a few months, a few years back, when I did the Paleo diet (remember that?), and of course, random stints throughout my life when I briefly decide to "be healthy," I've been a longtime crappy eater. I love carbs, and I rarely crave vegetables or meats. I'm also in a long-term torrid love affair with dairy. I would be perfectly happy spending every day eating pasta and cold cereal, drinking Starbucks lattes, and having some sour gummies for dessert. So, I wanted to challenge myself to give up all of the crap I naturally gravitate to, while at the same time forcing myself to consume more vegetables and protein. And I wanted to see if I felt--or looked--any different after eliminating the not-so-great stuff and loading up on the good-for-you stuff.

So, how hard has it been? 
Honestly? Not that hard--most of the time. If I have a stocked fridge and a plan of what I'm going to eat, it's really, truly not bad. Most of the moments that have been difficult have been 1) random times when I haven't gotten to the store and my greens have gone bad or we're out of eggs or something and I just have no clue what to cook. Then suddenly I'm starving and thinking how easy it would be to whip up a box of mac n' cheese or grab a few crackers. Whole 30 is brutal if you're not prepared, but not so bad if you are. 2) Dining out. It's a huge bummer to go to a restaurant and avert your eyes from the pasta section of the menu or from the dessert your tablemates are getting, and then order a salad without cheese and a sad piece of salmon. And don't get me started on parties! So far, I've had three small cheats, and two happened at restaurants, one at a party.

How do you feel? 
Pretty good! But not like "transformed" or anything like that. You hear a lot of people talk about how they have so much more energy on Whole 30 or how they feel like a new person. That's not my experience--at least so far. For the first three or four days on Whole 30, I was exhausted. It was horrible! I felt like I could fall asleep at any moment! That did go away though, and ever since, I've felt like I have my normal energy levels. I'm also way less bloated in my tummy area. That happens very quickly--within the first few days.

Are you hungry all the time?
No. Most of the time I'm fine, but I am definitely usually famished right before a meal (and in a way I never was with "regular" eating--I just never let myself get that hungry). I've had two days so far where I've been weirdly starving ALL DAY, basically no matter what I ate. On those days, I just ended up snacking a little more (on Whole-30-compliant stuff), and just tried to deal. Luckily that has only been two days out of over 20 so far! Most days I'm fine with three meals and small snacks after lunch and dinner.

What do you eat for breakfasts?
Eggs. It's almost always eggs. I usually make scrambled eggs and then combine those with tomatoes, spinach, or bacon. And then sometimes, I'll have a Daily Harvest* smoothie, as well, in order to get some greens in. Smoothies are Whole 30 compliant (as long as they aren't made with dairy, sugar, etc), but they are frowned upon. The Whole 30 gods prefer you to chew your food, which I get, but sometimes you're busy or you hate straight kale, and a smoothie works for you. I don't do them every day, but I do have them a few times a week. And I always do the green-veggie-heavy ones (nothing overly fruity) and then mix them with coconut water or almond milk, and Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides. On those mornings when I couldn't look at another egg, I would put dijon mustard on a slice or two of deli turkey and roll it up. (These are also one of my favorite snacks!) With Whole 30, you're supposed to get rid of the whole notion of "this is a breakfast food" or "this food is only for dinner," so this was one way I did that. 

*I'm obsessed with Daily Harvest, by the way, and will likely do a separate post about why they are so awesome. (So yummy! So healthy! Beyond easy!) But in the meantime, if you'd like to try them, you can get three free smoothies on your first order if you use this link. Definitely worth a try!

And what do you eat for lunches? 
Usually either leftovers from something I had cooked for dinner earlier in the week or a big salad. My favorite salad combo is arugula, proscuitto, sun dried tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, avocado, and pistachios. Yum! I also love eggs for lunch and one of my favorite lunch creations is two eggs over easy, served over guacamole, cherry tomatoes, sausage, and hot sauce. But lately my most frequent go-to has been a turkey burger slathered with dijon mustard (no bun--duh). 

And what about dinners?
I try to cook a couple of times of week (but I definitely don't have the bandwidth to make something fully from scratch every single night--or even most nights). I've done various forms of chicken, steak, etc. I once made a fabulous spaghetti squash dish (recipe below), and if I want something quick and easy, I love spiralized zucchini noodles with Italian sausage, and jarred spaghetti sauce (just make sure it doesn't contain sugar--most do). 

Snacking is frowned upon (though not prohibited) with Whole 30, but screw that--I get hungry between meals! My go-to snacks are unsalted cashews, dried apricots, and (my ultimate favorite) sliced apples dipped in homemade cashew butter.

Any favorite recipes? 

Yes! I've been amazed how yummy a great Whole 30 recipe can be. These are few of my favorites so far, and all of these healthy recipes are truly delicious enough to make whether or not you're doing Whole 30. This chicken-sundried-tomato-and-spaghetti-squash casserole is surprisingly yummy, this Whole 30 chicken piccata is out of this world, this cashew butter is lifechanging (it tastes like frosting! But there's zero sugar!!), and this Mexican Shakshuka with Spiralized Sweet Potato is fabulous.

So that's where I am! I'll be back with a full report once I'm done with the entire program (FYI, I'm adding a day since I had a few cheats in there, so consider this a Whole 31!). I'll give tips and suggestions at that point, but if you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to ask them here. 

And of course, if you've done Whole 30, I'd love to hear any tips you have, and I'd loooooove any suggestions for favorite recipes or snack ideas. Tell me below!

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

16 Cool Things You Need To Click On Today

heart sunglasses

This post was supposed to go up Friday, but then we went out of town for the weekend...and I forgot my computer. It was devastating! (Or, okay, maybe not devastating, but definitely very annoying.) Because of the lack of a computer, I did get more reading done, though, which was a plus! (I'm reading The Power, which is awwwwwesome.) So here we are today, and instead of reading these links over your lazy weekend, you can do so while you procrastinate on your first morning back after the long weekend. Sound good?

Quick recap: Last week was my birthday! It was pretty low key (which was fine by me), and was also marred by the horrendous tragedy that day in Parkland, Florida. (I caught the news of the shooting just as we were stepping into an Uber to go out for my birthday dinner.) As a mother--and, well, a human being--I just can't fathom how we've done nothing to make it even remotely harder for shooters to shoot people. I'm hoping this is the time. The Parkland kids are amazing, and seem to be making a big difference. That said, the only real hope for movement on this issue comes with the November elections. If the gun control issue (or any other issue) matters to you at all, you must vote. Register to vote now if you haven't, and then vote in November. It's the single biggest way you can help stop this madness.

Now, switching gears big time...! In the meantime, here's a few fun things to check out. Enjoy!

• Speaking of reading more, I'm making good on that 2018 goal! (And it wasn't just this past weekend.) So far this year I've read The Woman In The Window (a very good, suspenseful, fast read--I couldn't put it down!), The Bright Hour (beautifully written, also a fast read, and sad. If you liked When Breath Becomes Air, you'll absolutely love this),  Two Girls Down (I liked it though not as much as the others. It's very detective-y, Law & Order-ish, and is another fast read), and This Is How It Always Is (loved it--gives a new perspective and insight into a big issue I actually knew very little about).

Also: I just read a review of Red Clocks, and--ohemgee!--this book sounds amazing! It seems to be The Handmaid's Tale meets...conservative policies run amok. Just moved to the top of my reading list!

• Beauty product news: So, I have to tell you about Supergoop Unseen Sunscreen SPF 40, which is insanely awesome. It looks like a clear gel (it's pretty much the exact look and texture of a makeup primer), and it completely--I mean, completely--disappears when you rub it in. And I don't mean that it becomes "lightweight" or "barely there" (terms we, admittedly, overuse in beauty writing). No, I mean that it looks and feels like nothing. NOTHING! It's completely invisible in both look and feel, and you are going to LOVE it.

• Come the warm weather, I pretty much want to live in this easy little day dress.

• I'm like a vampire when it comes to the sun, meaning I'm often in a rash guard, hiding under an umbrella, or both (#beautyeditorproblems). That's why this flouncy, long-sleeved J.Crew one-piece is calling my name. It's so different (I mean, have you ever seen a bathing suit like it??), but I'm so into it.

• Speaking of cute suits, I'm going on a beach vacation in just a few weeks (ahhh!), so I'm definitely in the market for a couple of new ones, and Bare Necessities has a bunch of good stuff right now. (Side note: I love that much of what they carry comes in bra sizes!) Really into this burgundy one-piece, this navy, polka-dot Miraclesuit (they really suck you in!), and (if Whole 30 works its magic...!) this sexy, bandage-style bikini.

• Do you, too, own an industrial-sized jug of Elmer's glue and way too much contact-lens solution? Is your Tupperware constantly being stolen? If so, you may have a kid obsessed with making slime like I do. That's why I related to this (hilarious) "Slime After Slime" video on a very deep level.

• Target now has a subscription box for baby clothes! Damn. I would have loved this. So cute!

• Rach Martino is one of my favorite Instagram follows. I loved following along on her photogenic, doing-it-all-for-the-'gram trip to Finland, so I also really loved this recap of her trip. (That igloo hotel though!)

• Ali's recipe for spiralized Mexican Shakshuka looks so yummy. And it's Whole 30 compliant! Making it asap.

• I made these (Whole 30 compliant, but not "diet" at all) garlicky smashed potatoes last night and they were SO gapped. (And easy!)

• This made me tear up.

• And this did, too.

And in case you missed it, I...

• Wore this pretty dress (which happens to be on sale!) to meet Christie Brinkley.

• Did a "mini" photo shoot--and walked away with these adorable pictures!

• Got thicker hair...from a shampoo.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Here's How to Get FREE Beauty Products!

My name is Alyssa and I'm a body wash hoarder. I mean, given my job, I'm a hoarder of many different types of beauty products, but I'm almost undeniably the worst with body wash. Maybe it's because it's a product that I use up relatively fast. Maybe it's because there are so many different, gorgeous scents out there. Maybe (probably?) because it's one category where it's always really fun to try something new.

So, whether you, too, are a body wash hoarder, or you just love trying new (freeeee!) stuff, you will love the deal I have for you today. Read on...

You've likely heard me talk about Grove Collaborative before, but if not: Grove 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 kind of unbelievably amazing, limited-time free gifts just for trying out the site. And I have a good one for you today where you can get beauty products for FREE!

I've partnered with Grove on deals before, but they've always been for cleaning products. (Fancy, "cool" cleaning products, but still.) This is the first time I've done a beauty deal with them, so I am really, really excited! (Beauty products are a tad more thrilling than counter cleaner, no?)

So, here it is: With your first order of $20 from Grove Collaborative using this affiliate link, you will get the following (full-size!) items in your choice of scent for FREE:

• Free Mrs. Meyer’s body wash

• Free Mrs. Meyer’s body lotion

• Free loofah

• Free Shipping & 60 Day VIP Trial (VIPs get free shipping on every order, free gifts, exclusive sales, and more)

*FYI, if you're already a Grove Collaborative customer, you aren't eligble for the deal above, BUT *if you use this link,* you'll get a FREE Grove lip balm!

You can cancel anytime, so honestly, it's worth at least placing one $20 order of basics like paper towels, laundry detergent, etc, 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 stayed on and I order so many of my products through Grove now. It's so easy!)

Are you guys already Grove customers? Are going to get the deal? Are you body wash hoarders like me?? Talk to me!

Thursday, February 8, 2018

I Wore This Awesome Dress To Meet Christie Brinkley (And Now It's On Sale!)

rebecca taylor velvet dress
Dress (on sale!), Rebecca Taylor (also here and size 00 here). Booties, La Canadienne. Necklace (Tiffany--old. Similar herehere, here, and here). Lip color, Aveda Nourish-Mint Rehydrating Lip Glaze in Wineberry
rebecca taylor velvet dress

rebecca taylor velvet dress
rebecca taylor velvet dress
tiffany double heart necklace

rebecca taylor velvet dress
alyssa hertzig blowout
alyssa hertzig and christie brinkley
All photos (except for the last one) by Raquel Langworthy Photography

Back in December, I got invited to a really cool beauty event: It was the launch of Christie Brinkley's brand new makeup line (which actually just launched today!), where we'd be having dinner with Christie and then spending the night in the Mark Hotel. (As a mom who loves supermodels and is constantly woken up at 6:30am by one or both of my kids, this sounded like my kind of heaven!)

Now, I am not typically a light packer, but for some reason, this night, I really got it in my head that I was going to become one. I packed my favorite (but fairly small!) MZ Wallace camo bag with my pjs, a pair of undies and a different shirt for the next day (I'd wear the same jeans I came in), a pair of tights for that night, and a few toiletries. That's it! And then of course, I'd also be bringing my outfit for the big dinner with Christie: a favorite navy DVF dress. But I didn't want it to wrinkle, so I had it hanging on my closet door until the last possible second.

You can probably guess where this is going.

That evening,-I checked into the hotel an hour before the festivites started. As soon as I got into my room, I unzipped my bag to hang up my dress, and yep--the dress wasn't there. I had forgotten it. My fancy dinner with Christie was coming up ASAP and I was wearing a t-shirt and jeans.  

First, I panicked. Then, I ran out of the hotel to see if I could find something to wear--in record time. Luckily, the Mark is located smack in the middle of a lot of really great (albeit mostly very ritzy) stores on the Upper East Side. At this point, I had just over 30 minutes to find something, so I knew I probably only had time for one store. I noticed that Rebecca Taylor was literally across the street, so I said a quick prayer to the fashion gods and ran inside. 

I proceeded to run around the store like a mad woman, grabbing anything that might possibly work for the event, keeping in mind that whatever I bought also had to work with flat booties as they were literally the only shoes I had with me! I tried on six or so dresses, shockingly really loved four of them, and then decided on the one you see here

And you know what? I LOVE IT SO MUCH! It is really comfortable, it's super flattering, it runs true to size, and it can be worn a bunch of different ways (off-the-shoulder or on, with heels or flats, etc, etc). Best of all: Though I had to buy it full price, it's now on big-time sale right here, here, and here. (There are already limited sizes though, so run and grab yours before it sells out completely.) 

This dress was definitely the most panicked and last-minute purchase I have ever made. But it's gorgeous, and I felt great in it. Even next to Christie Brinkley. And believe me, that's no small thing!