Summertime Favorites

Somehow it’s already the end of August – my Instagram is full of back to school pictures, and it’s getting dark before 9pm. Where’d the summer go!? I’m definitely not ready for pumpkin spice everything. Or shoes that aren’t Birkenstocks. But alas, it’s about that time.

In a desperate attempt to hold onto the little bit of summer we do have left, I thought it would be fun to make a list of some products I discovered and/or fell in love with over the past few months. Also, the last time I did a ‘favorites’ post was in the middle of Fall 2016. So I’d say it’s about time.


Starting off with what I’d say is legitimately my best find in recent memory – DKNY Bralettes! Every 5 or so trips to Costco Joe and I will mosey through the middle section of the store – rarely with the intention of buying anything. But a few months ago I came across 2 packs of bralettes, and my life hasn’t been the same since.

Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but over the course of multiple trips, I ended up with 6 new bralettes, and now probably only wear a real bra once a week (if that.) They’re super comfy, have just the right amount of padding, and were cheap! 2 for $15. Unfortunately they’re basically twice that price online for one, but I’d definitely consider buying more – even at full price.


Next up, in keeping with the ‘wearables’ theme – I decided I wanted a one-piece swimsuit this summer. Mostly so I could drink beer at our friend’s pool and not worry about my stomach situation if I’m being totally honest. In any case, after 3 failed attempts at buying a cheap one (from 2 of those cheap stores where everything comes from China, and 1 from Amazon,) I figured it would be okay to treat myself and splurge on a suit I knew would be high-quality, fit well, and last more than 1 season. Enter: AlbionFit.

I’ve been following their Instagram for about as long as I can remember; dutifully entering contests in hopes of winning a shop gift card, and ogling basically every outfit I saw. I guess it should also be noted that I have a weird affinity for low-V tops. What can I say, I like to show a little skin! 🙂 It was super hard for me to pass over the cute patterns, but I figured black could stand the test of time. Anyway – I’ve had the suit for about a month now and am super happy with it…maybe next year I’ll go for a cute pattern!? We’ll see.


Next up on my list, an app I actually just discovered last week called Sworkit Abs + Core. Joe has been kicking major butt at the gym lately, but between work and just general feelings of “I’d much rather go home and drink a glass of wine” – I’ve been slacking in the gym department. Oops. This app has 3 different ab-focused workouts, and allows you to set the amount of time you want to work out for. I’m hoping to get back in the habit of going to the gym after work, but for those days that just isn’t going to happen, I’ve got this app as backup.


Earlier this summer after a bunch of eye doctor shenanigans, I decided I wanted to look into starting allergy shots. Starting the shots requires an allergy test, and allergy tests require 2 full weeks off of most allergy medications. Considering I’ve taken Claritin or Zyrtec just about every day since 6th grade, this was a big deal. I’m allergic to basically everything. Molds, dusts, cats, dogs, all trees….you name it. (But not food. So I’m very thankful for that.) Anyway. I was miserable. My one saving grace (aside from Benadryl, which I could take until 3 days before the test) was en essential oil Allergy Bomb roller ball from a coworker’s wife. I’m not going to say it miraculously cured my allergies or anything like that, but I definitely would have been more miserable without it.

Bonus points: it smelled good too! Equal parts lavender, lemon, and peppermint oil + a carrier oil. So easy! (and yes, it’s still at my desk. The allergy shots will take 6 months until I start noticing a difference.)


Has anyone watched Riverdale (CW/Netflix) or The Bold Type (Freeform)? Those are my 2 new favorite shows. Joe and I binged all of Riverdale in one weekend. To be fair, there’s only one season – but it was surprisingly good! It’s a present day murder-mystery type show, but featuring characters from the Archie comic book universe. I know that sounds totally bizarre, but somehow it works. Season 2 starts soon, and I can’t wait! (Plus, look at those ratings. That’s impressively high for a CW show.)

The Bold Type was equally surprisingly impressive, and another that I have been urging my friends to watch. It follows 3 friends through their daily lives working at Scarlet – a magazine basically like Cosmo. That in itself is an interesting premise, but the show also looks at social issues, girl power, and of course relationships…but not with too heavy a hand. Usually. They work under a boss that instead of the Devil Wears Prada Glenn Close character, is strong and supportive – refreshing to see in a female CEO type character. Another plus: any drama gets resolved pretty quickly. I’m not a fan of long, drawn out, awkward drama.


Whew. It’s been a minute since I actually “blogged” vs just writing a review! I could totally keep going, but I think 5 or 6 things is plenty. Hope everyone is having a great last day of August!

iOS 10 Sticker Fun

So I’ve had iOS 10 since July, but with the official release came a bunch of stickers to use within messages…and needless to say, I’ve been enjoying them to their fullest extent. Sure, maybe it’s overkill, but LOOK HOW CUTE.2699dcc2e3e49aec6f871e811b8eb9af-sticker 72853cacce2c6a99fb12082f63f3960d-sticker-2

Okay so maybe spending $2 for a “Disney Cats & Dogs” sticker pack is a little much. That said, I’ve gotten more enjoyment out of my phone in the last 12 hours than in a while. Totally worth it.

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But really! Think of all the awkward situations that you can now get out of with the help of an Elmo shrug GIF or cute kitty! 😉 Anyone else having fun with the stickers yet?

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Review: Valentia Skin Detoxifying Clay Mask (plus an awesome discount!)

Oh, Valentia – how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Disclaimer: I was sent these products from Valentia with no compensation other than the product to test and review. The following post consists of my honest thoughts & opinions about the product!

Is that a Shakespeare quote? I think so. Okay, back on topic. Valentia reached out to me last week to see if I’d like to review their new Skin Detoxifying Clay Mask, and while my skin isn’t really that bad – usually just a pimple or two right before/during my period (thanks, hormones) – I have noticed that it’s getting less and less ‘perfect’ as I get older. Probably due to too much sugar and not enough H2O, but still. I’m always up for a new mask. Plus healthy looking skin was especially important leading up to this weekend – I had a gala to attend! (I promise it wasn’t as fancy-schmancy as it sounds, but I still wanted my skin to look as flawless as possible, because of course!)

Photo from Valentia
Photo from Valentia

I’ve used the mask 5 times so far, quickly learning not to use it two days in a row (it stung quite a bit as it started to dry and left a bit of a rash..which thankfully was gone by the morning.) The mask also has a very strong cranberry scent, so if that’s not an aroma you enjoy (or can at least tolerate,) the mask probably isn’t for you (unless you can hold your breath for 30 minutes straight.) The smell is thanks to all sorts of little cranberry fibers in the mask, which help to gently exfoliate your face as you take the mask off. I love anything exfoliating, so that’s definitely a plus in my book.

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Usually I don’t really see/notice a difference in my skin after using masks other than just feeling more moisturized or refreshed, but I’m pretty certain this detox mask helped eliminate the two pimples that appeared on my face during the week leading up to the Gala – it doesn’t get better than that! (Or does it? My skin has also been feeling smoother and brighter, and I’m hoping that in the long term it helps with the irritated skin around my nose. Fingers crossed.)

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I love that the ingredients in Valentia’s products are (mostly) things that the general population will recognize; it makes their products feel that much more accessible, while still presenting itself as a premium skincare brand. And hey, even if it’s a word/ingredient you don’t recognize, Valentia always includes a brief description to explain the benefits of each key ingredient on the side of the box:

Kaolin Clay: Clay minerals draw impurities, improve skin tone, and tighten pores for smoother firmer skin.

Plant Stem Cells: Naturally decreases the level of pro-aging toxins and works to soother the skin, reduce redness, and improve evenness.

Spirulina: A botanical stimulant full of vitamins that hydrates the skins surface and contributes to tissue regeneration of the skin.

CoQ10: Lessens the appearance of wrinkles by reducing free radical damage and stimulating health collagen production.

Hibiscus & Cranberry Fibers: Both lend their anti-aging properties to firm and reinforce the skin, helping to reduce the creation of new wrinkles.

See? Not intimidating at all. 98% natural ingredients, vegan friendly and cruelty free? I don’t think many beauty companies can even claim one of those things, much less all 3. You go, Valentia.

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My only qualm with the mask after a little over a week of use is that my skin does feel a bit dry after taking it off. Luckily I have a fantastic nighttime moisturizer that I just slather on before climbing into bed, and all is well by morning.

If you’ve made it this far, I probably know what you’re thinking: Claire, you mentioned a discount….?

You can purchase this mask right now from Amazon (with Prime/free shipping) or directly from Valentia’s website; both for $25. BUT if you wait a week, Valentia is launching an all new website – Valentia 2.0, and to celebrate they’re offering an awesome discount to all readers of my blog! From May 16th to June 1st, enter REFRESH35 during checkout and you’ll save 35% on your entire purchase through valentia.com. Check it out – it’s absolutely worth a look.

Oh, and I just Googled it – that was Shakespeare at the beginning! Sonnet 43 in case you were wondering 😉

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Music I’m Currently Enjoying…

After hearing rave reviews of Spotify from a handful of my friends, coworkers, and fellow students while I was still in school, I finally decided to try the 1 week trial of Spotify Premium. I hateee being asked what kind of music I listen to or what genre is my favorite, because I really do enjoy a little bit of everything (with a few exceptions, of course,) and after a few days of using the app

Sooo, I decided I’m going to share 5 of the playlists I’m listening to right now, because I have a feeling it may surprise some people! I’ll probably try to keep this up as time goes on, though it may be a while before I move on from this list – there’s a lot to choose from!

See? I wasn’t kidding. Incredibly inconsistent with any particular genre. I like variety, what can I say? I love that you can save playlists or songs to your phone – it makes my car rides a bit better, I’ve been sad since losing Sirius. (Though I guess lately I’ve had the country radio station playing in my car. Country makes me think of summer! <3)

I’ll probably end up paying for the Premium version of the app once my trial runs out – everything is so easy! Do you use Spotify? What are your favorite playlists? Any recommendations?

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It’s Friday and I like wine.

Welp, this post started as a wine down wednesday post, then moved into a thirsty thursday/happy national drink wine day post, buuuut life got in the way – primarily due to an 11-hour graphic design summit for work yesterday (concluding with a viewing of Zoolander 2!) annnd now it’s just Friday which is pretty great, but as far as I’m aware Friday doesn’t have any cool drinking phrase/title to go alone with it. Friday is just that awesome…it can stand alone and everyone will still love it!

Sigh, rambling. It’s been a long week. The good news, scientists say that drinking a glass of (red) wine before bed is good for your health! Shout out to you, resveratrol – the real MVP.

Anyway! Wine! A while back – maybe a year or so ago, one of my friends that lives in California mentioned to me that the drought that California has been dealing with has also been affecting the hundreds (thousands?) of wineries that exist throughout the state. Maybe they’re not using the cleanest water, or they’re adding things to the water that we just don’t want to be consuming, I don’t even remember the specifics of what he said. Whether or not this is true? I have no idea. I haven’t done much research at all, but I decided that I would stop buying wines from California if they were bottled after 2014, kind of as a challenge to myself (which yes, means sometimes I have to pay more than $8 for a bottle of wine,) but also just as a way to stay cognizant of what I may or may not be putting in to my body. If Joe and I are going through a bottle of wine in a week (hey, it happens on occasion) I’d like to feel 100% confident that what we’re drinking doesn’t have trace elements of arsenic (or poopy water. Yep, I said it.)

As some background: I used to be one of those people that would make a scrunched up face after drinking the tiny cup of wine at communion – until we visited my sister in South Africa, where we spent an entire day drinking our way through the winelands of Stellenbosch and some other towns I can’t quite remember. Well, that and realizing that if everyone else on social media drinks wine while watching the Bachelor, it can’t be that bad! (Kidding. Kind of.)

Okay back to avoiding California wines. So this challenge has in fact beenwell, challenging: almost all of the best labels (I’m suchhhhh a sucker for good labels) at Target were from California in 2015. There were a few outliers, but in varieties I didn’t like, or simply out of our budget. Enter: Club W. A few weeks ago two of my friends were talking about the wines they were going to be getting in the mail..and as soon as they mentioned I’d get a free bottle with my first order, I was sold. I’m easily convinced when it comes to things I like, what can I say?

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Club W does have a huuuge selection of California wines, but also a pretty wide variety of wines from other countries…Chile, Argentina, Spain, Italy, France…etc. – and enough of those ‘other’ wines to make good a good selection for my box. I really appreciate that there’s a small description along with where the wine is from easily accessible from the main screen – it makes choosing my 3 wines much easier…even though sometimes that requires me passing up a great label. The prices are great too – primarily $13 bottles, with an occasional higher price point for wines that would generally sell for more in a store. And I gotta say, waiting for a shipment of wine at work definitely makes the day better (they need someone 21+ to sign for the delivery, so it can’t be delivered to our house.)

My first 3 bottles of wine - One From the Quiver went to my mom for her birthday, and as far as I'm aware, she liked it! The other two are yummy too :)

My first box o’ wine included:

One from the Quiver – 2015 Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina (went to my mumsie for her bday)

Sapore Locale – 2014 Falanghina from Campania, Italy

Les Bobos – 2014 Carignane from Minervois, France

I didn’t even know Falanghina or Carignane were types of wine! They’re all yummy though, and I already have my 3 wines picked out for next month (Alma Libre 2014 Red Blend from Chile, One From the Quiver 2015 Torrontes from Argentina, and L’Atelier du Sud 2014 Sauvignon Blanc from France) 🙂 Definitely a special treat for me and Joe – it keeps the guesswork out of finding a wine we think we’ll like (and let’s be honest, saves about 10-15 minutes during any given shopping trip!)

A few details: 1) If I’ve intrigued you, and you sign up using this link, we both get a $13 credit (which means a free bottle of wine for both of us! Woohoo!) 2) It is a monthly subscription, so if you forget about it, you’ll still be charged/sent a package of 3 wines that they’ve chosen for you. So remember to either skip the month, or choose your wines if you don’t like surprises!

Whew. Who’d’ve thought I could ramble on about wine for this long? Not me! If you sign up, let me know what wines you chose – I’m curious! Also if you’re thinking to yourself “Claire, you’re crazy, California wines are just fine” feel free to let me know that too 😉

Hope everyone has super fun weekend plans – I’m highly highly looking forward to tomorrow’s 90 minute massage.

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Favorite Christmas Music

Are you sick hearing Mariah’s version of All I Want for Christmas is You?  Or really any number of other Christmas songs local radio stations seem to have on repeat that reeeeally aren’t worth repeating over and over? (No offense, Mariah.)

Well with snow once again covering the ground (it’s about time, Mother Nature!) I’m in a Christmas-y mood, blasting Christmas music while finishing the epic cleaning saga leading up to Joe’s mom’s arrival, and decided what better way to continue procrastinating (sorry, Joe) than figuring out what my favorite Christmas songs are! For now we’ll ignore the fact that it’s supposed to be 50 degrees on Christmas and all the snow will have melted.

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The Osborn Spectacle of Dancing Lights reminded me of one of my absolute favorite obscure Christmas songs, which is what initially got me thinking about other favorites (obscure, and not so obscure.) So, without further ado – here is a list of songs to get you in the Christmas spirit…in no particular order 🙂

  1. Jingle Bells – Barbra Striesand (1967) Thank you Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights for reminding me that this song exists.
  2. Winter Wonderland – Aretha Franklin (1964) Motown Christmas music is the best.
  3. Santa Claus is Coming to Town – Jackson 5 (1970)
  4. Carol of the Bells – David Foster (1993) This song always reminds me of Disney World for no reason in particular.
  5. Little Saint Nick – The Beach Boys (1964)
  6. The 12 Days of Christmas – Straight No Chaser (2009)
  7. Christmas Canon – Trans-Siberian Orchestra (1998)
  8. Mis Desos/Feliz Navidad – Michael Bublé (2011)
  9. Go Tell it on the Mountain – Little Big Town (2008)
  10. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen / We Three Kings – Barenaked Ladies (2004)
  11. Soul Cake – Sting (2009) This whole album is fab if you’ve never heard it.

Gosh, I really could keep going, I love Christmas music. But I hope you enjoy the songs on this list as much as I do (and have a great weekend preparing for Christmas if you’ll be celebrating it next week)! 🙂

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fall favorites!

Well, it’s 70 degrees out, and the 3rd of November…not very Fall-like, but you absolutely won’t find me complaining. However, despite the unseasonal weather, it is mid-Fall, which I’ve decided calls for a Fall favorites list! I’ve given myself a handful of categories that I think align nicely with my day to day life, so hopefully this is something I’ll be able to stick to on a seasonal basis! (Maybe more often than that. Who knows.) Also, sorry I’m so wordy! o_O

Movie: I’m going to go the semi-expected route here (well, maybe expected), and choose Halloweentown. One of my favorite parts about our Apple TV is that there’s a Disney Channel app that not only lets you watch the Disney Channel live, but also has a large on-demand section. This on-demand section had a huge number of halloween DCOMs throughout the month of October, and I watched the vast majority of them (including a new DCOM, Invisible Sister, which I loved) – but of course Halloweentown takes the cake. I’ve also recently enjoyed The Martian and Warm Bodies, and am super looking forward to seeing Spectre this Friday.

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Book I’ve recently finished: Sometime over the past few months I noticed my mom reading a book called The Museum of Extraordinary Things – which I subsequently borrowed from her (hooray for long check-out time frames at the library!) and really enjoyed. I ended up Googling the book after finishing it for a reason that I no longer remember, and noticed that Geek Love was highly recommended for people that enjoyed reading The Museum of Extraordinary Things…so I added it to my list! Both books revolve around family-run freak shows, and of course lots of weird…things… that one can expect when reading about that lifestyle. Geek Love flips between two time periods, past and present, which took me a few chapters to get used to, but I really liked the book overall!

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Book I’m looking forward to starting: I put 4 eBooks on hold last night – and had planned on getting a Kalamazoo Library card on my way back from hot yoga, but forgot the documentation needed, so that’ll be soon! I don’t want to have to buy books if I don’t have to at this point (yay budgeting!)

  1. What Alice Forgot – Liane Moriarty
  2. China Rich Girlfriend – Kevin Kwan
  3. Slade House – David Mitchell
  4. The Heart Goes Last – Margaret Atwood

I think I have a weird taste in books. Anyway – I’m most looking forward to Slade House, but there are 5 holds ahead of mine. I don’t really get how eBook checkouts work, but hopefully I can read it soon!

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Beauty Product: Thanks to Birchbox, I have been able to try out more than my fair share of lip colors, face creams, eye serums, peels, etc. – and I think one of my favorite finds over the last year and a half or so I’ve been getting Birchboxes, is the Marcelle Hydra-C “energizing hydrating gel”. I brought my initial sample on our family trip to Paris the day after I graduated, and I swear it kept my face looking purrrrdy despite art school exhaustion and  jet-lag! As soon as I got back home I ordered the full size version, and have been using it ever since!

Sidenote: Sometime in the near future I’m going to make a post about my everyday makeup. I’ve only started getting into the whole makeup thing (aka about a month pre-wedding) so it’s been fun getting more and more comfortable with what I’m doing!

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Music: Well other than the obvious fact that Christmas music has started, I’m loving Selena Gomez’s new album, Revival! It’s perfect to put on while cleaning the house, or even trying to get in the zone to get some freelance work done. I’m also enjoying Levels by Nick Jonas, and Cake by the Ocean by DNCE (aka Joe Jonas. Don’t judge.) – any time they come on the radio, I can’t help but dance/sing along!

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App: Plant Nanny – I actually just downloaded this app today after seeing it on Buzzfeed, and am super excited to see if it works for me! If you haven’t been able to tell from my past few posts, I’m on a mission to drink more water – so far unsuccessfully. This app takes your activity level and weight into account to tell you how much water you need to be drinking each day. As you drink water you tell the app, which subsequently waters the plant you’ve chosen on the app – the more water you drink, the better your plant grows…and it looks like you can upgrade your plant with new seeds and pot designs. Hooray for gamifying an important daily task! Here’s hoping it works for me:)

My plant doesn't even have eyeballs yet. Womp.
My plant doesn’t even have eyeballs yet. Womp.

Another sidenote: Gamifying is super interesting, VW did a whole series of videos on gamification that are worth a watch: the fun theory

TV Show: American Horror Story! Especially last week’s episode. I have a weird fascination with serial killers, and loved reading Devil in the White City (based on H.H. Holmes’ hotel built for killing during the 1893 World’s Fair…and Mr. March is loosely based on H.H. Holmes) – so everything about this season is right up my alley – especially last week’s serial killer/devil’s night dinner! I’m anxiously waiting for the Devil in the White City movie to come out, but for now AHS will have to do:) I also love the group texts that two of my friends and I send each other during each episode.

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Brand: The past week or so has been spent ogling the goddess leggings from ALO. They look SO comfy, cozy, and perfect…minus the price tag (at least until after our Disney trip.)

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Etc: I originally had 3 ‘etc.’ sections – but this post is already super long. My other/random Fall fave is going to have to be Witches Brew! If you’ve never had it, it’s a spiced red wine that is even more delicious when it’s warm! It’s also around $6 a bottle, which is even better.

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And that’s that! Yay fall! And yay for it being in the mid-70s for the next few days in November <3

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