My Skincare Must-Haves

Very few things stress me out and make me feel self-conscious more than having bad skin. That’s why I take great pride in taking good care of my skin, as we all should. My skin is by no means perfect, but I am lucky to feel comfortable going out with no makeup on.

Fresh outta the shower. Zero make-up, zero filter.

Fresh outta the shower. Zero make-up, zero filter.

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Back-to-School Workout Challenge

Although I still have a week left of my winter break, I know many of you have already started your second semester, which totally sucks I’m so sorry. But going back to school also means getting back to working out, because like many of you, I know I have been slacking in that department this past month. I didn’t have time to get to the gym the other night so I came up with this 35 minute cardio and strength workout routine inspired by a bootcamp class I take at my university’s recreational center and Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred that incorporates some of my favorite exercises. It switches back and forth from 6 minutes of strength training to 3 minutes of cardio exercises. I’m a huge fan of interval-based workouts because you can fit in your cardio and strength exercises in a short routine and it doesn’t leave you dying from long periods of high intensity cardio (such as in Insanity, god I hated those videos). Also, it’s been proven that interval-training fitness systems actually burn more calories than traditional fitness systems with no varying levels of intensity, so i’ll take it.

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So here is my Back-to-School Workout that you can do straight from your room, 3 times a week to help you tone up and get your Spring Break body.  All you need is a pair of free weights (I suggest 5-8 lbs.), a mat, a timer, and lots of water. Do each exercise for 1 minute.

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Shopping Style Steals: Goodwill Decoration Finds

I checked out Goodwill the other day in search of a cheap frame to do a DIY mirror project but I was lucky enough to find a TO-DIE-FOR vintage-esque gold mirror that I didn’t have to anything to in order to make it better.

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New Years Eve Blinged Out Nails

New Years Eve is tomorrow which gives us girls all the excuse to wear tight dresses and sparkly jewelry. I’m going to Chicago for NYE and because my dress will be pretty tame… I decided to have a little fun with my nails.

Unfortunately, I spent a lot of my money buying Christmas presents for my family so I couldn’t afford to get them done professionally at a nail salon. But no worries, blinging out your nails from home is an easy and cheaper alternative!

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All you need is a standout nail polish color, top coat, a nail diamonds kit (you can buy them at a beauty supply store like Sally’s), and a toothpick.

1. Paint your nails with two coats of your nail polish except for the finger you want to bedazzle (I did my ring finger) only paint one coat.

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2. Pour out a little blob of top coat on a piece of paper.

3. Paint the second layer on your chosen fingernail.

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4. Dip one end of your toothpick into the topcoat. Then use your toothpick to pick up a diamond…you want to pick it up from the diamond side so the flat surface of the diamond is at the bottom.

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5. Stick the diamond on your wet nail.

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6. Repeat to fill the entire nail. Or you can make a design using the diamonds. Finish off with a layer of top coat.

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I covered my ring finger with different colored diamonds but you could also do a line of diamonds in the middle or in a diagonal, make a flower, or anything really, just experiment and have fun with it. It may take a bit of patience and practice but you’ll get the hang of it and stand out on NYE with your at home blinged out manicure when you go out that no one will know you didn’t spend lots of money for.

Shopping Style Steals: Von Maur

My biggest weakness will always, always be cute shoes. But they can be so expensive, especially when you always want more like me. Even though it sucks to be patient, waiting for shoes to go on sale can have a huge payoff in the end. Department stores like Von Maur and Dillard’s have the best deals on shoes if you’re lucky enough to catch them before all the good shoes are gone. A great time of year for shoe sales is after the holidays.

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I got these HOT Jessica Simpson studded booties the day after Christmas. Originally $129 I got them for $32 🙂

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Wrapping Presents 101

I know this may have been a better post to have before Christmas, but of course my procrastinator self didn’t wrap my presents until Christmas Eve, a few hours before our family dinner party. Although wrapping presents yourself is much more difficult, it saves you money and is a good skill to learn for the rest of your life. After seeing some tweets and pictures of people struggling I decided to help a sista out and share how I have learned to wrap presents, with a special appearance from my favorite boys of One Direction.

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Restaurant Style Grilled Chicken Quesadilla

So I just started serving at the Vine in Iowa City and I have become obsessed with their Buffalo Chicken Quesadilla. Although I didn’t have all the ingredients I wanted to make that, I did make a scrumptious, restaurant-style chicken quesadilla that was way better than Panchero’s or Chipotle (although I still love them).

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I used frozen chicken breasts (defrost by placing frozen bag of chicken in bowl of hot water), shredded cheese, tomatoes, onions, and minced garlic  that I already had in my apartment and didn’t want to just throw away (wasting precious money) before I left for break for this quesadilla. The trick to homemade quesadillas is cooking your vegetables and chicken separately before you put them in your tortilla so they are thoroughly cooked and warm. Also, spray Pam in your pan and heat both sides of your tortilla before you add your cheese and other ingredients to get your tortilla nice and crispy like the restaurants.

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End of Semester Fiesta: Brown Sugar Bacon Wrapped Smokies

Sorry I haven’t posted in a while but I just finished my fall semester finals and I am back home in Des Moines with my family for the rest of break.

To celebrate the end of the semester, instead of going to a popular Mexican restaurant on campus to drink margaritas and eat, I decided to save money and do something special for my roommates.

My sister loves to make brown sugar bacon wrapped smokies for our family dinner parties so I thought I would give it a try because they are incredible! Even though it gets messy to make, it’s simple to make and really impresses everyone when they’re done. These would work as yummy hors d’ oeuvres for a holiday dinner party or appetizers for watching a sports game.

Brown Sugar Bacon Wrapped Smokies

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Ingredients: One package of bacon, 13-16 oz. of little beef smokies, and a cup of brown sugar. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

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Shopping Style Steals: Tanger Outlet

So if you’re like me, you have been spending the last two weeks working on final projects, papers, and studying for finals. I HATE FINALS WEEK! Ugh, it’s the most stressful time of the school semester but don’t worry, you’re almost done! Anyway, yesterday I needed a little study break and what did I choose to do? Shopping, of course!

Instead of going to the mall close to my school in Iowa City, I drove about 20 minutes to a town called Williamsburg, IA where there is a Tanger Outlet Center. If you have never been to an outlet center before, it’s basically a little plaza with discount outlets for brand name stores. While the plan was to get some Christmas shopping done for my family, I may or may not have bought a few items for myself. I can never say no to a good sale…sigh.

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College Cribs and DIY Decoration Projects

            The best part about moving away from home or even moving into a new apartment during college is being able to personalize your living space. While decorating can be really expensive if you go out and buy everything new, there are a lot of ways to save money and to make things yourself with DIY projects. In this very special multimedia post, I’ve included an audio slideshow I like to call “College Cribs” which is a play on the MTV show where celebrities give you a tour of their homes. But instead of celebrities, two female students from the University of Iowa will be giving you a tour of their apartments. In addition, I made my first DIY tutorial on how to make a glitter vase out of an empty wine bottle. Finally, I have put together my list of “Best DIY Projects for College Homes” with the use of Storify. I have worked really hard on this post so I hope you all like it! And if you don’t, just tell me you do anyway.

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