Some of my Favorites ~ Two New Fave Experiences and One Oldie-But-Goodie Forever Fave
Hi there, lovelies!
I sincerely hope you’re having a good evening! I know I am! My mind is pretty slooshy (yes I just made that up) and my belly full of ice cream, Taco Bell, and wine, so I feel like letting loose some of this creative energy that has built up from catching up on some of my favorite blogs and Instagram accounts. I’ve been practicing some pretty heavy self-care tonight (even though it isn’t Sunday)… I’m talking face masks, teeth whitening, hair masks, the whole she-bang, complete with great tunes. So I’d feel so much better if I worked a little, too. So here we are.
With July being almost over already, (and summer right along with it), I am starting to feel the heat, and yes I mean that literally, these WI summers are no friggin’ joke. But I also mean that I’ve been feeling the pressure to adhere to my goals and smash them. Y’know, the goals I outlined in my July goals post a few days ago.
Honestly, it’s been going okay! Not bad at all, and I still am on track to be successful, so I’m happy. I decided to outline a few of my favorites that I’ve become infatuated with over the past few weeks in this summer so far. These will be favorites that I have discovered in summer, and they span a number of categories, from food to music to video games to makeup to… well, you get the idea.
The fun part is that I’m gonna specify 2 new favorites that I just discovered recently… alongside one oldie goldie timeless fave that’s been on my radar for a while… if not years. Got it? Alright, good. Here we go!
Unforgettable – French Montana (ft. Swae Lee)
I am more than obsessed with this song! You can even ask my boyfriend, every time it comes on in the car, I’m dancing and jamming out like crazy. That beat is infectious, the lyrics are fun, and the overall song is catchy and danceable. Words can’t really describe how much I love this song. It just… It’s good. Okay?
XO Tour Llif3 – Lil Uzi Vert
This is a fantastic song! So catchy, great beats and raps, and lyrics I can totally relate to (lol). I’ve been hearing this song a lot on the radio and it comes on Pandora pretty much every day, which I am thankful for. Words can’t even begin to describe how obsessed I am with this song. I could honestly listen to it on repeat like 6 times before even beginning to get sick of it.
Anne – Santigold
I love Santigold’s music, although I haven’t heard a lot of it in the mainstream, (I’ve heard one song loop through periodically on the Ulta radio when I worked there, and a few on the show Gossip Girl). I was happy when she made a guest appearance in The Office towards the end of the series, because that meant that I wasn’t the only person in the universe who was a fan. Wildly talented with amazing music that’s perfect to relax and vibe to, or take a walk to, which I do often. “Anne” is one of my favorite songs of hers, as it is beautiful and haunting and, well, all the reasons I stated above. I discovered this song, and her music in general, about 3 years ago, and it didn’t take long for Santigold to be cemented as one of my top favorite music artists, ever. “Anne” isn’t the best Santigold song, nor is it even my top #1 favorite (although it may be tied for 1st, I’d have to put more thought and research into it before making that decision), but it is my favorite summer song for relaxing, vibing, or taking walks, which is why it is on this here list.
I’ve watched my boyfriend play Fallout 3, 4, and New Vegas, and I’ve always been both thoroughly entertained, as well as highly intrigued by the gameplay and the lore (especially the lore). I knew that this would be one RPG that would take massive amounts of time, energy, and attention, which is why I’ve been putting off starting it for myself for… well, a couple of years, really. I finally said “enough is enough” and started a save file. Currently, I’m not very far. I think just a few hours of gameplay into it. But I’m loving it! It is way more fun to play than it is to watch, and I’m hyped to get into this, as well as New Vegas and 4. I’m expecting and ready to put at least 60+ hours into each game, easily, if not far more (especially since I have like 80+ hours in each Mass Effect game, and those are wayyyy less extensive RPGs than the Fallout games are).
Grand Theft Auto V Online
Take what I said about Fallout 3 and copy-paste it right down here. GTA V Online is also something I’ve watched my bf play for a long time, but never wanted to pick it up. To be completely honest, I was guarding my more delicate sensibilities and trying to avoid being offended by the gratuitous violence and lewd atmosphere of the entire game, but I was so, so wrong. I am not only not offended by it, I am positively invigorated by it! GTA V Online is a fun-filled game absolutely stuffed to the brim with content and activities and stuff to do! The sheer scale of the game is a bit overwhelming, but every time I start it up, I spend the entire lengthy load times with anticipation and excitement coursing through my veins, hyping me up for the crime-filled, probably explosive, shenanigans awaiting me. To say I’m now addicted to this game would be an understatement.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning
An oldie-goodie, I’ve loved this game for like 4 or 5 years. It’s a perfect little RPG, great content and lots of gameplay, but nowhere near as large, long, or extensive as Fallout or Skyrim (I’ve read this game described as “Baby’s First Skyrim”, I forgot where, but it’s not a negative or inaccurate description…Definitely one I agree with 100%). This game didn’t get the love and recognition it deserved when it had its time, but I believe it has a pretty decent cult following. This is an RPG for people who just don’t have time for RPGs, but it is hella fun and actually unique in its story and gameplay, without being too out-there or kitcshy. I’ve only beaten the main storyline once, because irreversible glitches late in the game have plagued me twice now, forcing me to start completely from scratch. Has this kept me from starting over and diving right back in? Hell no. It’s just taught me to save more frequently. I won’t fault this game for its save-ruining glitches, because it’s just a good game and pure fun. I have put it down recently so I can play Fallout 3 and GTA V Online (because I finally actually have time to invest in them!), but you can bet your bottom dollar I will be coming back to Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning, and keep coming back until I finally beat it all the way through, 200+ hours of game play/side quests and all.
Sweet potato toast
If you follow me on Instagram, then you know that I have a newfound love for sweet potato toast. I regret that it took me so long to finally jump on this sweet potato toast trend. It is amazing! I think I was hesitant to try it because I thought it’d take longer or be more difficult to prepare than it was. Boy, was I wrong! Simply slice a sweet potato into quarter-inch thick slices, then toast like you would a piece of bread in the toaster until it meets your desired toastiness (for me this is about 10 minutes of toasting, give or take a minute). So far, my favorite way to top it is with a sliced hard-boiled egg with a bit of salt and pepper, although I have tried it with peanut butter, too. The texture of the sweet potato toast is just so chewy and delicious, not dry at all. The slightly sweet taste pairs well with the peppered, salty egg. You wouldn’t think it would, but it does. Further, sweet potatoes are packed with nutrients, and the whole meal is tasty, filling, and healthy, which, you guys know is my favorite combination in food.
BBQ (grilling out)
What is summer without firing up that grill? The boyfriend and I have been grilling fiends lately. Burgers, hot dogs, chicken, ribs, steak, potatoes… Grilling is so good and delicious and amazing and just a fun summer activity that I plan on doing at least a dozen more times before it gets too cold to grill. I also plan on cooking out while camping, at the beach, at the park… I’m full-on committed to preparing meat over hot coals while outside. Nothing beats it.
And the classic, I’ve been hooked on smoothie bowls for something like two years, ever since I got entranced by the beautiful, fruity concoctions all up and down my Instagram feed. Now I’m something of a smoothie bowl princess, and I couldn’t be happier. This is on this list because smoothie bowls are the perfect healthy summer breakfast, lunch, or snack, as they keep you cool as you eat them! They are also on this list because lately I’ve been experimenting with all new flavors and varieties of ingredients for my smoothie bowls, and I have no plans on stopping churning out new ones all summer long!
Neutrogena Microdermabrasion Kit
By far my top favorite way to exfoliate my skin, I purchased the Neutrogena Microdermabrasion Kit for around $30 when I worked at Ulta Beauty (so I got a discount on it) in the spring. Since then, I’ve used up all 12 of the pads that came with the kit, and loved every single scrubbing second of it. I read about microdermabrasion in a magazine or something like that, and it intrigued me. If you know me, you know that I’m obsessed with skin care. Any tool, mask, cream, scrub, etc. is welcome in my house, and I love obscure, unique, out-there, or otherwise “fun” beauty gadgets and products. This, along with the Neutrogena Light Therapy Mask (which narrowly missed a place on this list, but it was a toss-up!), are two hard-hitters from Neutrogena, and they don’t disappoint. Well, they don’t disappoint me, and that’s all that matters. When I use the microdermabrasion kit, my skin is the softest and smoothest I’ve ever felt. It really ups my skin care game, big time. Any masks, treatments, and creams I put on afterwards just sink in and are more effective, meaning that I wake up with my breakouts cleared and my skin looking better than ever. Would recommend.
Vichy IDÉALIA Skin Sleep
I got 2 small sample sizes of these for free when I worked at Ulta, and let me tell you, I am so glad I picked these out. I still haven’t finished either completely, btw, because you only need a dab of it for your whole face. The packaging is lovely, the cream itself is a pretty pink color that smells divine, and it is honestly the best nighttime moisturizer I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting on my face. I wake up with baby-soft skin, radiating with the help of this pretty pink cream. I am definitely going to re-up on this when my little samples run out. Totally worth the money.
Elizabeth Arden Refining Toner Lotion (Normal Skin)
I wasn’t even sure I needed to use toner, nor was I entirely sure what it was, when I spotted this at T.J. Maxx with a cool $7 price tag. I couldn’t pass it up. The packaging was elegant and I figured at least it’d look nice in my bathroom if it didn’t work. It works very well, and although I’ve only used a few toners in my life, this Elizabeth Arden stuff is amazing. To me, the smell is intoxicating, although I’m well aware that it has kind of an alcohol-y scent. I don’t mind that smell at all. If I forget to use my toner, my skin definitely notices. This stuff works wonders keeping my acne breakouts in check, especially on my forehead which gets breakouts the worst.
Ouidad Curl Recovery Melt-Down Extreme Repair Mask
I got three of these decent-sized tubs of Ouidad hair repair mask for free when I worked at Ulta (valued at $15 each!). I got 3 uses out of each of them. That’s 9 whole hair treatments over the course of a few months! I definitely enjoyed using this mask. Unlike most curly hair products I’ve run in to over the course of my life (I’d say about 80% of them), this one actually seemed to do something for my curly hair. It made my hair very soft and bouncy and just feel overall conditioned. I definitely loved the scent. It’s a great deal, getting $45 worth and 9 uses of this salon-quality hair repair mask for free, and it worked well. Definitely a treat for the hair once a week or so, and I probably would buy this with my own money.
Natural Plant-Based Hair Treatments
I started using natural, plant-based, and food-based treatments on my hair, and I must say, I am quite pleased with the results. I definitely plan on writing more in-depth about the different treatments I’ve been experimenting with, and all the ingredients I’ve been slathering all over my head, but for now I’ll simply outline them quickly.
First, I’ve been trying an egg yolk and olive oil treatment. The fat of the egg along with the oilyness of the, well, the oil, work in unison to restore moisture, strength, and shine to your hair. At least, that’s my understanding of the desired results, as well as the actual results that I have seen in my hair after using this mask a few times. I have read that some people use egg whites, because the egg yolk ends up being too heavy, but I have thick curly hair, and the egg yolks work great for me.
The next thing I’ve been using on my hair is a mixture of coconut oil and Jamaican black castor oil. I use just a bit of each at night, usually when my hair is still damp after a treatment or mask has just been rinsed out, and I slather it in my hair. Then, I divide my hair in to 3 parts and loosely braid or twist them, securing them to my scalp with bobby pins. Then I’ll usually use a head scarf. In the morning when I take my hair down, it is super curly, moisturized, and with lots of frizz-free definition, shine, and volume. I love doing this to my hair, and it make it so healthy for at least two or three days after I do this routine. I can definitely write about it in more detail at a later date.
The last natural hair treatment I’ve been experimenting with lately is using pure aloe vera gel in my hair. You may remember just a little while back, I shared with you all a blog post about my DIY Aloe Gel & Matcha Powder Face Detox Mask. Well, I’ve definitely been researching a bit about more uses for the miracle gel, and I did come across using it in hair. I have so far only used a bit of gel in my hair overnight a few times (perhaps 2 or 3 times), and I’ve always used it in conjunction with my aforementioned coconut oil and black castor oil blend. So, I’m not sure if the gel actually helped my hair be hydrated and soft, but it sure did feel that way. I will definitely have to try using the gel in my hair by itself with no other additives, and see how it looks in the morning. I will say that it absorbed very nicely, and any fears I had of waking up to caked-on gel stickiness were quickly proven to be unfounded.
Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Moroccan Sleek Oil Treatment
It was a toss-up between this Moroccan Sleek Oil Treatment, any number of their conditioners, and the good ol’ trusty leave-in conditioner. Can you tell I love Garnier Fructis hair products? It’s because they all smell amazing, they are all cheap, and literally everything that I use of theirs works THE BEST for my hair. Their conditioner is the ONLY one I’ve found so far that, in my many, many years of using conditioner nearly every day, softens, detangles, and actually, well, conditions my hair. The leave-in conditioner is the same deal, only one I’ve found that is lightweight enough to not bog down my hair, but still conditions and keeps it hydrated and soft as it dries. This Moroccan Oil is good stuff, as it helps add shine and moisture to my hair while helping to fight frizz. I now use a dab every day. I know that “Sleek” isn’t the word you’d expect to find on any of my hair products (my curls are the furthest thing from sleek) but I’m so glad I didn’t judge a product by its label. This stuff is good!
“Synthetica” on the left. “Crushed Bloom” on the right.
NYX Duo Chromatic Illuminating Powder in “Synthetica”
I did a pretty raving review on this Illuminating Powder, but that’s because I simply love the product. It’s perfectly pigmented, with unique, color-changing effects that you just don’t see everywhere. This “Synthetica” color is perhaps one of the most beautiful and flattering shades I’ve ever seen. It’s something like gold on top of hot, Creamsicle orange, and it is just fetching. Perfectly bright and sexy for summer, it works as a highlighter and blush all in one. I’m always complimented on my fleek highlight whenever I wear this shade out in the world.
Buxom Full-On Lip Polish in “Dolly”
Anyone who knows me knows that I have a serious love-hate relationship with lip gloss. Perhaps “love-hate relationship” isn’t exactly the right phrase, but I’m not sure what is right now so we will go with it. I think lip gloss has its place, certainly, but I also find it highly annoying (which is weird because I like lip oil!). With my curls going every which way and that whenever I so much as move my head the tiniest bit, I end up with massive amounts of hair stuck in my lip gloss, smearing it all over and getting my hair sticky. This is not the case with this lip gloss. Sure, it’ll still stick if my hair gets in it, but not that badly! Is that even possible? Who knew?! Also, I find this shade a very flattering, natural mauve-nude that would look good on anyone. It has sparkly-shimmers in it, meaning it avoids that unappealing “wet” look while not sacrificing shine. This lip gloss made the list because it is perfect to throw on effortlessly for summer, with zero hassle or effort.
Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara
I know this is a cult favorite, and you either love it or you hate it. I love it and I always have. I loved it before I knew that it was so popular. I was asking a Sephora sales associate what they thought of the DiorShow mascara, when she honestly said that the cheaper Better Than Sex was way better. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked. This stuff makes my already long and thick lashes longer and thicker than ever. It is honestly the best mascara I have ever used. I’ve even been asked if I was wearing false lashes while wearing this mascara, and that’s not something everyone can say! Plus, the pretty pink packaging and saucy name means I’m always happy to keep it on my vanity.
Me and the bf have been slowly slogging our way through this show, but please don’t take my use of the word “slogging” to mean that it is in any way unpleasant. The only unpleasant part about this show is that the episodes are longer than I care to stare at a screen, and sometimes the sappiness is just enough to make me choke. Other than that, this show is entertaining, artful, and progressive. It definitely deserves the hype it gets, but I, unlike most of its fans it seems, don’t particularly mind that it’s been canceled. As long as the 2-hour special Netflix is putting out wraps up the story of our many heroes, I’m fine with not feeling guilty every time I tell my boyfriend that I literally can’t imagine sitting through a 2-hour long episode tonight, thank you very much.
How to Get Away with Murder (Netflix)
I’m actually really enjoying this show! The drama! The intrigue! The plot twists! The sexy times! Lol, it is quite entertaining, and a guilty-pleasure binge show for when I just feel like doing nothing at all and eating Doritos.
BoJack Horseman (Netflix)
This is my favorite show, and I’ll tell it to anyone who will listen. This show is amazing. It’s so funny. So smart. So poignant. I’ve seen it through like 5 times and just watched it again with my boyfriend, who was seeing it for the first time and loved it. We devoured it in less than two weeks, and I can’t wait for some time to pass so I can watch it again!
Working out Outside
I’ve got a newfound love for doing my workout outside in my backyard or around the block. There’s plenty of grassy area for use in the backyard, plus woods for privacy, there are steep hills all around the block, and a quick 30 second walk down the street will reveal a long bike path that goes all the way through town! I’m enjoying being able to workout outdoors when it isn’t too ungodly hot and humid outside… which unfortunately… is all the time in summer here, it would seem.
From 25 minute HIIT kettlebell workouts to 60-minute beginner’s yoga, Youtube workouts are gloriously easy, cheap, and simple. Just power up your t.v., clear some room, and knock out that workout. Perfect for days when the drive to the gym just isn’t gonna happen.
I’ve been practicing yoga pretty steadily for a year and some change, and I am loving every pose, stretch, and breath. It helps me feel more calm, centered, balanced, athletic (I can hold a plank for longer than ever before, now!), and of course, flexible… Ever surprise yourself by accidentally doing the splits and then realizing that you can suddenly do the splits and you’ve never in your life been able to do the splits but now you can do the splits and it is the happiest day of your life? Yeah… that just happened to me a few days ago.
Ah yes! Blogging! The whole reason I’m here writing this and you’re here reading this. I talk a lot about blogging, so I won’t draw it out here today. Just know that I started blogging in spring, and I’m still loving it.
Taking walks around the block
Especially when I can walk with my boyfriend, even if it’s just to the woods or the top of the hill behind our house, I’m enjoying getting that fresh air, sunshine, and exercise. It really improves your mood and can make you feel tons better! We just started taking these walks and I definitely won’t stop doing it. I’m thinking of taking early morning walks to watch the sunrise, or walks in the park, so I definitely don’t see this activity ending any time soon.
I’ve been writing practically all my life, and now that I’m finally barreling full speed ahead towards the completion of my first book, I don’t see it stopping any time soon.
So guys, what did you think of my favorites? Kind of all over the place in terms of the categories but eh, you know me, I like to be varied in my interests. Can you relate to any of these? Did this interest you? Let me know your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear from you, as always!
♥¹image from pexels.com♥
♥All other images belong to me♥