Jen’s Knit Nook: October 2014

Welcome back to my monthly Knit Nook update where I share a look at my completed knitting projects from the last month, any yarn/supplies hauls, and new projects on the horizon, as well as the contents of this month’s KnitCrate (a knitting monthly subscription service).

Recently Completed Projects

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As you may already know, Don and I spent 12 glorious days in Italy during the second half of September.  That meant quite a bit of plane and train travel.  I was happy to bring along my Beekeeper’s Quilt project.  It’s the quintessential travel-friendly knitting project, in my opinion, since knitting each hexipuff only requires about 15 yards of sock weight yarn, a few DPNS, a crochet hook, and some polyfil.  Not only is this stuff light to travel with, it packs small, and I keep everything I need to make about half a dozen hexipuffs in a small Orla Kiely for Target cosmetic case.  Any extra mini hanks and polyfil are also small and light enough to not make a dent in my suitcase, and I am very particular about what I pack when weight restrictions are in play.  I ended up knitting 15 hexipuffs over the course of our journey, which has doubled by current lot.  Yes, I need several hundred to make anything from them, but I’m in no particular rush and this is a great project to turn to when I’m in between things and want something I know I can knit easily and well.

Yarn & Supplies Haul

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I’ve been really good about not hauling yarn (despite finding a few yarn shops in Italy as well as a wonderful LYS close to my home) since I get so much with my KnitCrate subscription.  I did, however, make a rather significant knitting related purchase just last week and ordered the addi Click Turbo Basics Interchangeable Needle Set.  I’ve been contemplating buying a circular needle set for awhile, since I do seem to chose projects that require circulars and it would be nice to be able to size up for my bind-offs since I have a tendency to do that too tightly no matter how hard I try not to.  This set was highly recommended to me by a knitting friend whose opinion I trust, and I found a really great price on Amazon, so I went for it.  I’m actually using them already with the project I am currently working on.  So far, so good!  If I am being very nitpicky I will say I wish they were a tiny bit sharper and that the cord was a bit less stiff, but I’m thinking I will get used to both of these things in time.

Upcoming Projects / What I’m Currently Working On

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Since we’ve been home, I’ve moved on to a bigger project, the Faraway, So Close shawl pattern by Carina Spencer.  This lovely pattern, as well as the vibrant targhee worsted yarn from Blue Moon Fiber Arts, came with my June 2014 KnitCrate.  The pattern includes several kinds of stitches that give the shawl a beautiful, lace like effect without being terribly difficult.  That being said, I am so happy to have help with this one as my very kind friends at KnitCrate gifted me access to the coordinating videos that accompany their Newbies KnitCrate subscription for this pattern in particular.  Knitting video tutorials are such a big help!  I’m excited to continue working on this pattern as I take on the drop stitch sections.

October 2014 KnitCrate

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I absolutely love KnitCrate, which is a monthly (or bi-monthly if that seems like a bit too much yarn coming at you) subscription service geared towards knitters.  There are eight different subscription options, which you can see here if you’re interested.  I subscribe to the Beginner’s KnitCrate, which includes a pattern suitable to that level, enough yarn to complete that project, a couple of bonus items (ranging from soothing to sweet to fun), and promo codes for knitting related products.  It’s basically the most awesome care package a knitter could ever dream of!

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What’s in my October KnitCrate?

Big Bad Wool Weepaca – This soft and cozy yarn is made from 50% fine washable merino and 50% baby alpaca.  I love the vibrant shades of green!  Even though the leaves are changing all around, I always think of green as a color well suited for both spring and fall.  They included one hank of tree frog, one of leaf, and two of beach white.

Ombre Mosaic Cowl and Chambray Headband by Pam Powers – Two gorgeous patterns came in this KnitCrate.  I love the cute ruffle and fun twist in the headband and the cowl is stunning with the gradiant-style pattern.  Just looking at that one makes me wish I had a video tutorial, though!

Lilly Brush – “Let the sweater rescue begin!”  The fun extra this month is a brush designed to remove pills, lint, and pet hair without damaging delicate items knit with natural fibers.  What a useful tool to send to knitters!

Talbott Tea – The soothing extra this month is a couple of tea sachets from Talbott Tea, a brand I am not yet familiar with.  I love trying out new teas!  I am also known to knit with a cup at the ready.  Knitting and tea go together so well!

✻ Promo codes also included for discounts on Pam Powers patterns as well as orders from Ancient Arts Fibre and KnitCrate.

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I also subscribe to the 5 Mini Add-Ons package available through KnitCrate.  Each month I  receive five 30-yard mini hanks in hand painted/indie dyed yarns.  It’s a nice way to try out a variety of  hand-dyed yarns from different providers.  I use the mini hanks I receive through this subscription for my Beekeeper’s Quilt.  This month’s selections includes five natural shades from the Meow Yarn Collection by Ancient Arts Yarn.  This hand-dyed yarn is made from 100% bluefaced leicester wool.  The colors are inspired by cats and a portion of the proceeds of the sale of all Meow Yarns will be donated to The Meow Foundation to benefit stray and abandoned cats.  Yarn with a cause!  Love it!

If you’re interested in purchasing the Beekeeper’s Quilt Kit or other items from KnitCrate you can receive 10% off your first KnitCrate purchase (not including monthly or bi monthly subscriptions) by clicking here!

Check out my coordinating Knit Nook video below for musings on my knitting journey and a closer look at my KnitCrate goodies:

I am happy to announce that KnitCrate has very generously offered a Beginner’s October KnitCrate or a Newbies Series 1 (winner’s choice!) as a prize for one of you!  The October 2014 KnitCrate Giveaway will run until Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 6 PM CT.  The giveaway is open internationally.  All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter. You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below  (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways).   I’ll announce the winner on THIS blog post and KnitCrate will contact them directly through email.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties.  If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

Don’t forget to check out my group on Ravelry called Bliss Knits where we share current projects, knitting stories, and tips and tricks with each other!
Happy Knitting!

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* Some of the products mentioned are part of the KnitCrate monthly subscription program, for which I pay for my own membership.  I was gifted the Beekeeper’s Quilt pattern and access to the video tutorials for the Faraway, So Close pattern.  KnitCrate is generously providing the giveaway prize.  Post contains affiliate & referral links.  This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Italy Trip Haul (September 2014)

I’ve received some requests to share the souvenirs I purchased on our recent trip to Italy, so I thought I’d share my picks with you.  We split our trip between Venice and Lake Como and I did buy a few things in each place.

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Venice is well known for its glass, specifically items made by artisans in Murano, a small island just north of Venice proper.  I bought a few small glass bead jewelry items from Murano, including a pair of light blue glass earrings and two dark blue and bronze charms.  I also bought a cut glass bud vase to replace one I purchased in Milan as a teenager traveling in Europe with a friend back when I was still in college that I recently broke.  I also bought a book with beautiful color photographs of Giotto’s frescoes in the Scrovegni Chapel, which we were fortunate to visit in Padua as a side trip one day.  My big purchase on the trip was an 18k gold necklace with topaz stones that I bought in a shop on the Rialto bridge.

We also did a little shopping in Bellagio when we were staying at Lake Como.  We found a cute strawberry blond sewn doll for our niece Grace there.  I also bought a beautiful summery scarf from the Frey outlet shop.  Lastly, we picked up a darling wooden musical Christmas tree.

Check out my coordinating video if you’d like a closer look at each item I purchased and my story behind it:

Please note – I do plan on putting up a proper trip recap post from our Italy adventure, it’s just taking me awhile to sort through all of the photos I took.

I hope you enjoyed seeing the treasures I brought back from Italy.  I’d love to hear what your favorite souvenir from a past trip has been, if you care to share!

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* All items shown were purchased by me.  This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Simplified Planner vs Day Designer: Planner Comparison & Review

When I reached out a couple of months ago asking what planners you were interested in seeing me review, a lot of people mentioned both the Day Designer by Whitney English and the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley.  I’ve been hearing a lot about these two planners over the past year, so I picked up the 2015 releases of each to have a look.  They’re quite similar in terms of design, size, and style, so I thought they would be perfect to not only review but also compare.

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From first glance, both the Day Designer and Simplified Planner look very similar.  They are both practically the same size and are constructed the same way with a heavy duty cardboard cover and an almost identical double brass coil.  They even both share matching gold corner protectors.  Both planners include two-page monthly spreads and day on a page calendars for 2015 with monthly tabs on the side.  The calendars themselves are structured similarly with minor organizational differences, which I will explore more thoroughly in each planner.  They also cost roughly the same.  Let’s take a look at each planner separately to see what each design offers.

Day Designer by Whitney English

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The Day Designer is designed by Whitney English, a creative entrepreneur who closed a successful wholesale stationary business back in 2012 to dedicate her attention to Day Designer and helping people organize their time and realize their goals with her Authenticate process.  The 2015 Day Designer is her third edition.  I picked out the limited edition gold stripe back in August when the planners first went on sale.  While this cover is no longer available, there are eight other beautiful designs available right now.  The Day Designer is primarily sold through Etsy and costs $59 plus shipping.  The planner ships internationally, but be sure to check out their shipping policies about customs and import taxes before placing an international order.

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The Day Designer arrived on my doorstep approximately one week after ordering.  It came in a plastic overwrap and was also wrapped in decorative tissue with a velvet bow.  The planner measures 9″wide (from the coil to the edge) x 9.25″ long x 1.25″ thick (at the coil).  It weighs in at just over two pounds.  It is constructed with a heavy duty cardboard cover that is coated to wipe clean.  It is bound with a brass “Wire-O” binding.  There are gold corner protectors for reinforcement.  The interior of the planner is lined in a teal coated paper.  There is a horizontal slip pocket on the interior of the front cover.

The planner pages are printed on 50 pound white paper.  The Gold Stripe (shown) and Black Stripe January 2015 editions are printed on off-white French Paper Co. stock.  There are eight worksheets included in the front of the planner, which are designed to “challenge the user to dig deep and uncover the important elements that are core to their personal brand.”  Beyond that there is a two-page spread 2015 year-at-a-glance calendar for planning.  There is also a 2016 planning calendar located in the back of the planner.  The Day Designer is made in the USA.

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The bulk of the planner is dedicated to twelve months of dated pages.  The planner is divided by month, and includes monthly dividers on card stock with gold laminated tabs that stick out slightly along the long edge of the planner for easy reference.  Each month begins with the two page monthly spread calendar, which is designed with minimal decoration to maximize space.  The monthly calendar is clear and provides a lot of room to write.  There is a small section on the top righthand side for monthly goal planning, as well as the Whitney English Authenticate Challenge on the bottom left to help guide you through the process.  Purchase of this planner allows you access to monthly Authenticate Challenge worksheets and a year-long subscription to the exclusive private Day Designer planning community.  Please note that holidays are not notated in the calendar.

The daily pages follow the monthly spreads.  A page is dedicated for each weekday while weekends share a page.  There is quite a bit of time management guidelines built into the design of the daily pages.  The top of each weekday page includes a checklist for Today’s Top Three and smaller sections for Due, Dinner, Dollars, and Don’t Forget.  The bulk of the page is for the daily schedule broken down into two columns: the left column is a timed schedule from 5 AM to 9 PM and the right is for Other To-Do’s.  There is a large margin on the bottom left of the weekday page for Download, which I am assuming is a place to brainstorm, and a smaller section just to the right of it for Daily Gratitude.  The weekend page is split down the middle between the Saturday and Sunday schedule from 5 AM to 9 PM.  The top margin of the weekend page differs slightly from the weekday design with a space for Fun Things To Do, What Worked, What Didn’t, Next Week, and Don’t Forget.  There is still a large Download space in the bottom margin and a Weekly Gratitude box instead of a Daily one.  The only decoration on all of the pages is an inspirational quote in small type on the very top of each page under the date.

Simplified Planner by Emily Ley

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The Simplified Planner is designed buy Emily Ley, a self-taught designer who created her stationary and product brand to “help women focus on what matters most by building simplicity and joy intentionally into their lives.”  Her business also includes specialized coaching and mentoring for designers.  I believe the 2015 Simplified Planner is her fifth edition (although I couldn’t find anything to verify that).  The evolution of Emily Ley’s design and concept for this planner is very interesting to follow on her blog.  The current edition is available on her website in three designers, including Happy Stripe (shown), Navy Dot, and Pink Key and costs $58 plus shipping.  All three designs are available in the daily format.  She also offers a weekly edition in the Navy Dot design ($42).  The planners are available internationally, but buyers are responsible for any customs or import taxes, which you can read more about here.  Emily Ley also offers great free printables on her website.

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My Simplified Planner arrived within a week of ordering.  The planner comes packed in a plastic overwrap.  It measures 8.75″ wide (from the coil to the edge) x 10″ long x 1.25″ thick (at the coil) and weighs in just shy of two pounds.  Like the Day Designer, it is constructed from a heavy duty cardboard cover with protective gold corners.  The design is vibrant with gold foil detailing.  The surface is smooth but is not coated like the Day Designer.  The planner is similarly bound with a double brass coil.  The interior of the planner is lined in the brand’s signature navy and the front interior includes a slanted reinforced slip pocket.

The planner pages are printed on thick white paper (I don’t know the exact weight of the paper although it feels thicker than the Day Designer pages and I can use my felt tip pens on it without bleed through).  The Simplified Planner is a bit simpler in design and organizational structure than the Day Designer.  There are two worksheets in the front of the planner with guidelines for time management.  It also includes a 2015 at a glance calendar, although there is no room to write.  There is also a 2015 Bucket List checklist included.  One of the most notable differences between this and the Day Designer is that the Simplified Planner comes with a built in gold elastic band.  It is printed and bound in China.

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Just like with the Day Designer, the bulk of the Simplified Planner is dedicated to twelve months of dated pages, starting in January 2015.  Unlike the Day Designer, however, the Simplified Planner does not include monthly divides.  The colorful monthly tabs are laminated and popped right onto the monthly spread calendar pages.  The month on two pages spread is large, clear, and easy to navigate.  There is a section for notes on the lefthand margin.  A previous month and next month at a glance calendar is included on the top right margin as well as a small inspirational quote.  Major US holidays are printed on the monthly calendar pages in a light grey banner.  There is no 2016 planning or at a glance calendar included.

The daily pages follow a slightly simpler layout than the Day Designer as well with a few less bells and whistles in the layout.  Each weekday is given a full page and the weekends share a page.  The weekday pages are broken down into two major columns, with a large timed schedule section from 7 AM to 7 PM on the left.  The right column is split between a checklist To Do section and smaller boxes for Notes and Dinner.  There is a small inspirational quote included on the top right margin.  The weekend page is split horizontally between Saturday and Sunday.  Each day is given a Today scheduler with lined spaces for am, lunch, and pm as well as a smaller To Do checklist area.  Saturday includes a Notes section and Sunday has a Weekly Prep checklist.  There is space to write A Happy Memory From This Week as well as a small inspirational quote on the top left margin.

A Note About the Coil Binding

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I find both of these planners to be beautiful, functional, and easy to use between their aesthetic and organizational designs.  One thing to note, however, is that the brass coil binding that is almost identical on each planner is not extremely durable in my experience.  Both planners came to me packaged well without visible damage to the shipping packages, and yet both planners exhibited signs of wear on the coil almost immediately after opening before actual use.  The top and bottom coil seem particularly vulnerable.  The state of the coil impacts how easy it is to open the planner and turn the pages.  If I were carrying this planner around in a bag on a daily basis I would be very careful of how I pack and place it to protect the delicate coil.  The only suggestion I have for each company to enhance their planners is to use a sturdier coil.  For example, the spiral coil of my Erin Condren Life Planner is the most sturdy, durable, and well made one I have ever seen on a notebook style planner.  If the Day Designer and Simplified Planner were constructed with something as sturdy, they would be flawlessly designed, in my opinion.

Check out my coordinating video if you’d like a closer look and to hear my thoughts on each planner:

I wanted to share the joy of these gorgeous planners, so I picked up two of each to give away to four of you.  That’s right, there will be FOUR winners!  The Day Designer vs Simplified Planner Giveaway will run until Friday, October 24, 2014 at 6 PM CT.  The giveaway is open internationally.  All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter.  Two winners will receive a Gold Stripe Day Designer and two winners will receive a Happy Stripe Simplified Planner.  You chose which planner you would like in the event that you win when you enter the giveaway.

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You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways).   I’ll announce the winners on THIS blog and post contact the winners directly through email.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties.  If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

Both the Day Designer and Simplified Planner are gorgeous agendas expertly designed to help with time management.  Even though they are quite similar in design, layout, and price, their differences lie in the details and it’s a personal preference that is the deciding factor in choosing between the two.  I am so happy I was able to learn a bit more about the two amazing women who created these lovelies and look forward to seeing where their journeys take them and their brands.  Check back next week for another planner comparison style review!

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* All items shown, included the giveaway prizes, were purchased by me.  This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Bath & Body Works Haul (Fall 2014)

It’s been awhile since I did a proper Bath & Body Works haul and with all of the amazing coupons and awesome in-store deals this fall I decided to stock up.  Here’s what I picked up:

Candles

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My favorite Bath & Body Works products are their candles.  I am particularly fond of their fall and winter lines.  I like to purchase the 3-Wick candles when they are on sale (usually 2 for $22) and when I have a coupon for 20% off my entire purchase for the best deal.  Sometimes I will pop into the store if I happen to be close to it before they go on sale just to smell all of the new candles and make a list on my iPhone for what I want so I am ready when the sale rolls around.  For fall this year I decided on Spiced Pumpkin Cider and Pumpkin Cupcake as my pumpkin sweet scents.  I also got two of the Warm Caramel Cider candles for our bedside tables.  I love the pretty leaf detail on the bronze lids.  I also picked out Autumn Mums, which is an unusual fall floral scent.  I had a coupon for a free mini candle, as well, and settled on Harvest Gathering, which has a quintessential autumn scent combination with notes of apples, cinnamon, and cranberry.

Wallflower Fragrance Refills

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I knew I needed new fall and winter plugin refills for my Wallflowers and was happy to find them on sale for $3 (and extra savings with my 20% off coupon of course!).  I use plugins in three of the bathrooms in our house, including the guest bathroom in the basement, the powder room on the main floor, and the bathroom in my office on the second floor.  My Wallflowers plugins for fall and winter are still functioning well, so I took this opportunity to stock up on refills for the rest of the year.  For fall, I picked out Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin, Leaves, Pumpkin Cupcake, Sweater Weather, and Spiced Pumpkin Cider.  My winter picks include Spiced Apple Toddy, Frosted Cranberry, Cranberry Woods, and Winter.  This lot should cover all three of my plugin spots in our house through the holidays.

Bath & Body Products

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I feel like it’s been awhile since I purchased bath & body products from Bath & Body works.  I took advantage of a sale and a couple of coupons to pick up some new things.  I fell in love with the Apple Blossom & Lavender scent when I first spotted it back in late summer, but decided to hold off since I didn’t need any shower products at that time.  The scent is described as “a hand-picked bouquet of apple blossoms, fresh-cut lavender and jasmine petals, dotted with passionfruit and sparkling quince.”  It’s mildly sweet with a nice fruity/floral background.  When I went back last month for the candle deal and saw that they were Buy 2, Get 1 free I decided to go for it.  Plus, my trusty 20% off coupon sweetened the deal.  I picked up the shower gel, triple moisture body cream, and body scrub.  Sadly, it looks like these have been phased out online, probably since they were marketed as late summer/early fall scents.  I’m actually thinking of saving mine to use in spring.

Like I mentioned, I had a few more coupons (BBW has the best coupons!), one which entitled me to a free travel size product.  I picked out the Wild Madagascar Vanilla shower gel, which is one of their newest scent lines.  It’s vanilla with a pear, jasmine, and sandalwood twist.  I also had a coupon to try one of their new Ultra Shea Body Creams for $5 instead of the usual $12.50.  I picked out the Wild Madagascar Vanilla scent, because it seems seasonally appropriate and goes along with my mini shower gel.  I’m excited to try this new body cream formula.

 I share a closer look as well as my initial thoughts about each item in the coordinating video below:

I couldn’t resist picking up some cute things from Bath & Body Works for two of you.  The Fall Bath & Body Works Giveaway will run until Thursday, October 23, 2014 at 6 PM CT.  The giveaway is open internationally.  All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter.  There will be TWO winners!  Each winner will receive a Fall Bucket List Gift Set and a Fox Pocketbac Holder with a Pumpkin Spice Latte Pocketbac Hand Gel:

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 You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways). I’ll announce the winners on THIS blog post and contact them directly through email, as always. Good luck!

*** GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED ***

Congrats to the winners of theFall Bath & Body Works Giveaway!

The Poll Results for *What’s your favorite fall scent??* out of 2191 entries:

Pumpkin (924) 42%
Apple (586) 27%
Spice (441) 20%
Fire (120) 5%
Musk (87) 4%
Something else (33) 2%

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties. If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

Have you hauled anything from Bath & Body Works or another similar store lately?  I’d love to know what you picked out for fall or what your fall bath & body favorites are.  Leave a comment if you care to share!

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* This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

October Eco Emi Beauty Box (2014)

I was an Eco Emi subscriber for a couple of years before I decided to cancel my subscription to try something different, not because I didn’t enjoy their service.  The box I subscribed to was their original variety box, which includes 7 to 8 samples of eco-friendly and all natural products ranging from health and beauty to food and home goods.  When the lovely folks at Eco Emi reached out to me a couple of months ago and asked if I’d be interested in seeing their new deluxe beauty box, I jumped at the chance.  Today I am excited to share a look at their new monthly subscription beauty box.

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The Eco Emi Beauty Box includes 4 to 5 deluxe or full sized natural and cruelty-free products ranging from bath and body to beauty and cosmetics.  It costs $22 per month for US customers, which includes shipping.  The box is available internationally at $34 a month.  It’s not clear to me yet if the beauty box revolves around a theme.  The card’s title, “Pumpkin Perfection,” is fitting for this month, although I don’t see pumpkin in connection to the products.  Regardless, the box includes five products that seem appropriate for the season in my opinion and I can’t wait to dig into them.

What’s in my October box?

OJ_TBBB_10-15-2014_02Dancing Goat Jive Jive “Bye Bye Cellulite” Scrub – I do love scrubs and this one is formulated to help reduce the appearance of cellulite.  It smells strongly of coffee and the caffeine helps stimulate metabolism.  I’ve never been into trying anti-cellulite products because they are usually ridden with chemical ingredients.  I am excited to try this all natural version with ingredients I can not only read, but understand.  Suggested Retail: $17.99

Authority Cosmetics Nail Polish in Emerald Sky – I’m a bit of a polish fiend and am always super excited to try out new brands.  “Authority’s nail polish is always 5-FREE (free of Formaldehyde, DBP, Toluene, Camphor, and Formaldehyde Resin), VEGAN FRIENDLY (never made with any animal by-products), and CRUELTY FREE (never tested on animals).”  That sounds pretty awesome to me!  I love the shade I got, which is a gorgeous jewel-toned deep green.  Suggested Retail: $14

Balanced Guru Energy Mist in Intuition – This certified organic blend of essential oils is formulated to help “create balance through dreams and symbols.”  Simply spritz away from the face and inhale for an energy boost.  It smells refreshing and calming.  I’m really interested in this concept and am considering buying the mini travel set to try out all of the different formulas.  Suggested Retail: $10

Icon Products India Shampoo & Conditioner – I’ve been switching up my hair care lately so the inclusion of this duo in my box is very timely!  The India line “incorporates ancient practices with the restorative oils of Moringa and Arga…. to transform hair from dull & lifeless to silky, manageable and full of shine with an Amber fragrance.”  Both the shampoo and conditioner have a rich, spicy scent and are pH balanced, paraben-free, and vegan. Suggested Retail $8 each

Check out my coordinating video for a closer look at each product and to see my reactions as I open this box:

The nice people at Eco Emi have very kindly offered an October Deluxe Beauty box as a prize for one of you!  The October Eco Emi Beauty Box Giveaway will run until Wednesday, October 29, 2014 at 6 PM CT. The giveaway is open internationally.  All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter.  One person will win the the October Eco Emi Beauty Box which includes all of the items I shared in this post.

You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways).   I’ll announce the  winner on THIS blog post and contact them directly through email, as always.  Eco Emi will ship the prize directly to the winner.  Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties.  If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

I really enjoyed this box and am considering subscribing.  What do you think, should I give it a try?  I’d love to know if you’re an Eco Emi subscriber and how you like the new beauty box.

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* The box shown was sent to me by Eco Emi for consideration.  Eco Emi is also kindly providing the giveaway prize.  This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

The Beauty Buzz: September 2014

Hi beauties and Happy October!  Ok, so I know it’s technically mid-October now and September is a fading memory, but I still wanted to share my September picks all the same.  My husband and I spent the last half of the month traveling between Venice and Lake Como in Italy.  I’m excited to share my favorite beauty products from the past month, which I particularly enjoyed on that trip, with you.

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Makeup

✻ It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream in Medium – I’ve been using this CC cream as my “face base” of choice for the better part of the year now and still love it.  It provides a natural looking light-medium coverage while allowing my skin to breathe.  The built-in SPF is a nice bonus so I don’t have to apply sunscreen to my face in the morning.

✻ Too Faced Cocoa Powder Foundation in Light Medium – I often take tips from my favorite beauty guru on YouTube, MakeupByTiffanyD, and generally enjoy the products she suggests.  This powder foundation is another great recommendation I picked up because of her review.  My skin has been particularly acne-prone lately and I’ve needed a little more coverage than just the CC cream alone.  This powder is light and looks very natural but provides a nice medium coverage.  It does have a light cocoa scent in the pan, but I don’t smell it once I apply it to my face.

✻ bareMinerals 5-in-1 BB Advanced Performance Cream Eye Shadow in Barely Nude – I know I talked about this product (albeit in a different shade) last month, and while I normally try not to share repeats two months in a row, this product continues to wow my socks off.  That’s right, socks off!  It’s by far the nicest cream eye shadow I have ever used.  I haven’t had an issue with creasing since I started using this product, which is huge for me since my oily lids are super prone to it.  It’s now a part of my everyday beauty staples!

✻ Lorac Unzipped Eye Shadow Palette – I’ve had this palette in my vanity for awhile and never really dipped into it until now.  I thought it would be the perfect travel eye shadow palette for warm neutral looks and it is!  Lorac shadows are beautifully pigmented and plush.  These lovely rose-toned shades are perfect year-round colors for my complexion.

✻ Tarte Rain Forest After Dark Colored Clay Eye & Cheek Palette – I so loved the special limited edition Aqualillies palette Tarte released in the summer of 2013 that I thought I’d give this year’s edition a try.  The shades are much more fall-friendly.  While I haven’t played too much with the shadows yet, I very much enjoyed the three face products all month, especially the gorgeous blush in Unleashed.  I have a feeling I will be wearing the lovely purple toned eye shadows later this fall.

✻ It Cosmetics Flawless Blush Brush – I love testing out different makeup brushes and couldn’t pass up this beautiful blush brush from Ulta.  It has quickly become my favorite blush brush.  It’s the perfect shape, size, and density for my tastes to effectively apply blush without over or under doing it.

✻ Dior Diorshow Waterproof Mascara in #698 Catwalk Brown – I think it’s safe to say that this is my favorite mascara of all time.  While they changed the color name, the product remains the same I have used and loved over the years.  I personally prefer drier mascara formulas that lengthen and volumize with a very natural look.  I always come back to this mascara with renewed passion after trying out other brands.

✻ It Cosmetics Vitality Lip Flush Butters in Pillow & Darling – I’ve been on an It Cosmetics kick lately if you couldn’t tell.  I picked up a couple of their lip butters since that kind of formula seems to be my current favorite for a no fuss no muss application.  These lip butters provide nice pigmentation given their balm-like consistency.  They are moisturizing and super easy to apply.

Nails & hair

✻ OPI A Butterfly Moment – The Mariah Carey for OPI collection came out in early 2013 and I remember picking up this shade thinking it would make for the perfect travel polish.  For me, that means it’s easy to apply (even formula) in a neutral color that goes with everything and that doesn’t require a lot of cleanup should I paint over my cuticles a bit.  In short, easy to polish, easy to wear.  This peachy shade with a golden sheen fits the bill perfectly!

✻ Self-Grip Rollers – I’ve never had great luck with velcro rollers until I had my hair cut short earlier last month.  Now I pop these babies in my damp hair, blow dry, then allow to cool completely before removing for extra volume.  I’m amazed they actually work!  They’re also super easy to travel with, specially overseas, since they don’t require a special plug or power converter and are small and light.

✻ Oribe Superfine Hairspray – I received this deluxe hairspray in my September 2014 PopSugar Must Have Box (love this subscription, btw!) and thought I’d bring it on our trip to give it a whirl.  I was blown away by how nice this hairspray is!  I’m usually not a big hairspray fan, especially because the scents of most kinds I’ve tried bother me.  Not this one!  I actually think it smells nice!  The fine mist is great for a light yet effective hold.

I share more about my September beauty favorites in my coordinating video:

It’s giveaway time! I wanted to share one of my favorite products from the past month with two of you. The September Beauty Buzz Giveaway will run until Monday, October 20, 2014 at 6 PM CT. The giveaway is open internationally. All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter. There will be TWO winners! Each winner will receive a Tarte Rain Forest After Dark Colored Clay Eye & Cheek Palette:

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 You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways). I’ll announce the winners on THIS blog post and contact them directly through email, as always. Good luck!

*** GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED ***

Congrats to the winners of theSeptember Beauty Buzz Giveaway!

The Poll Results for *Do you like all-in-one palettes that provide more than one type of beauty product?* out of 1495 entries:

Yes (1429) 96%
No (66) 4%

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties. If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

I would love to know what beauty products you’ve been loving recently if you care to share!

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

kikki.K 2015 Planner Lineup

I’m super excited to be kicking off a new Planner Review series on OLJ with a look at kikki.K‘s 2015 planner lineup.  I became a fan of this Australian-based home goods and accessories company late last year after seeing their gorgeous 2014 mint Time Planners on Instagram through some of the fellow #PlannerEnthusiasts I follow.  The company’s look is based on Swedish design principles.  Shops can be found in Australia as well as New Zealand and Singapore.  They offer most of their products on their website as well, which is well organized and easy to navigate.   I just love the simple and straightforward yet whimsical designs of kikki.K’s products, particularly their planners and thought I would share a look at the 2015 range with you.

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The 2015 Time Planners come in a lovely lilac-colored leather with dainty gold diamonds that is similar in style to the much loved 2014 mint edition.  The leather is of similar quality as well, which is smooth and has a slight sheen, as well as a noticeable grain.  There is an elastic band closure, an elastic pen loop, an included notepad slipped into the back inside cover, and built-in slip pockets on the front inside cover on all three sizes (the large size also has a zip pocket here).  Both the outer and inner covers of the planners are lined completely in leather.

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The planners are comparable to the most popular Filofax sizes and are compatible with other inserts thanks to the binder design.  The large planner is comparable to an A5 size, the medium, a personal size, and the small, a pocket size.  The “hardware” of the planners color coordinates in gold, which is a nice touch.  I find that the binder rings in the kikki.K planners are generally slightly larger and can hold more inserts than other similarly sized planners from other brands.

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The interior shots in the collage above are from the large sized Time Planner.  

Each Time Planner comes stocked with 2015 month and week on two-pages spread style calendars as well as dividers and a snap-out ruler.  The small planner includes an address section.  Both the medium and large planners also include sections for Birthdays & Anniversaries, Shops & Restaurants, To Do, and Expenses.  The paper is smooth and easy to write on, although you do get minor bleed through with some felt tip style pens and markers.  I like how streamlined the inserts are, particularly the calendars, which allow you to fill them in as you see fit without a lot of fluff.  The weekly spread calendar pages are lightly lined, which provides helpful guides without taking over the look of the page.  The dividers are laminated card stock for a bit of reinforcement in a lovely pale pink that compliments the lilac leather nicely.  The included ruler has pink markings as well to match the color scheme and is translucent so that you can still see your calendar through it.

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Here you can see the slight design differences in the two smaller size planners.  The medium planner (top half of the collage) has the exact same inserts as the ones pictured in the large size.  The small planner (bottom half of the collage) only includes the two calendars and an address section.

The large Time Planner retails for $79.95, the medium $59.95, and the small $39.95.  These are reasonable prices, in my opinion, relative to other brands with similar offerings for planners of such quality.  There is a flat rate shipping of $19.95 on all international orders and they offer free worldwide shipping on orders totaling over $150, which is very reasonable compared to other international companies I have ordered from.

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I also ordered a few of the Leather Personal Planners that kikki.K offers to see what they are like.  These only come in one size, which is comparable to the large Time Planner or an A5 planner.  The lilac and gold editions are made from the same quality leather that is smooth with a slight sheen and visible grain.  The black option is a textured leather.  The interior of the planners are lined in a black fabric with small white diamonds like the pattern on the Time Planners.  The Personal Planners include a snap closure.

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The interior layout is practically identical to the large Time Planner with the same built in organization slip and zip pockets on the front inner flap and the slide-in notepad in the back.  The Personal Planner also comes stocked with a smaller “Today” notepad that’s tucked into the front flap.    There are seven dividers included just like the Time Planner but with different categories, with one for the calendar, another for meetings and To Do, and then four blank sections.  The planners come with three sheets of stickers to create custom tabs and to use in the calendar.  Notably there is no included snap-out ruler in the Personal Planner, which in my opinion is sorely missing.  The included month on two pages calendar is left blank so you can customize it yourself.  There is special notepaper for the meetings and to do sections, and then blank lightly lined pages for the other sections.  The Personal Planners come packaged in a beautiful gift box, as opposed to the Time Planners which come in plastic sleeves.  The Personal Planner retails for $79.95 and is also available in a pink textured leather.  They are handsome, well made planners that are not only stylish but extremely versatile in functionality.

OJ_OLJ_10-10-2014_07kikki.K also offers a wide selection of stationary items that are perfect to use with your planner or separately.  I have a few items from their Live Bright collection, which matches the color scheme of both the 2015 Time Planners and Personal Planners:

Every Day Gel Pen: Live Bright

DIY Sticker Book: Live Bright

Adhesive Note Gem: Live Bright

Sticker Sheet: Live Bright

I also picked up a few different accessories that are a bit more on the whimsical side:

Adhesive Notes Set: Cute 2015

Magnetic Page Markers: Cute 2015

Life’s Little Stickers 2015

Travel Notebook 3Pk: Adventure Waits

Check out my coordinating video if you’d like a closer look and to hear my thoughts on each product:

kikki.K was very kind to provide me with four medium size planners to give away.  That’s right, the will be FOUR winners!  The kikki. K 2015 Time Planner Giveaway will run until Friday, October 17, 2014 at 6 PM CT.  The giveaway is open internationally.  All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter.  Each of the four winners will win one of the brand new medium Time Planners pictured below as well as a limited edition tote bag:

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You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways).   I’ll announce the winners on THIS blog and post contact the winners directly through email.  Good luck!

*** GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED ***

Congrats to the winners of the kikki. K 2015 Time Planner Giveaway!

The Poll Results for *How likely are you to place an international shopping order for stationery items?* out of 2795 entries:

Somewhat Likely (1274) 46%
Highly Likely (1073) 38%
Not Likely (448) 16%

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties.  If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

Many thanks to the lovely folks at kikki.K who sent me the small Time Planner and Live Bright accessories for consideration as well as the very generous giveaway prizes.  Please let me know if there are other planner brands you are interested in seeing me review.  I have much more up my sleeve for this planner review series and can’t wait to share with you!

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* kikki.K n sent me the small Time Planner, Live Bright accessories, and the giveaway prizes.  All other items shown were purchased by me.  This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Miscellaneous Monthlies: September 2014

I realize I’m a bit late for my monthly favorites on TBBB, but I figured it’s better late than never!  I actually filmed my accompanying video (see below) when we were still in Italy on the very last day of September, so it’s a true September favorites.  You’ll see that most of my picks I thoroughly enjoyed throughout our Italian adventure (trip recap posts coming up next week!).

Clothes & Accessories

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✻ Prana Halle Pants – I purchased these pants specifically with this trip in mind and am so glad that I did.  They were the perfect travel pants for trekking around Venice all day.  I love the lightweight material that resisted wrinkles, stains, and even water for the duration of our trip.

✻ Splendid Very Light Jersey Drape Cardigan – I hauled this sweater from Zappos a few months ago thinking it’d make the perfect neutral three-season lightweight layer.  I used it practically every day we were in Italy!  It was small and light enough to pack in my day bag and perfect for cooler mornings or for popping into churches to cover my bare shoulders.  The fabric doesn’t really hold onto wrinkles either, which is always a bonus when traveling.

✻ Weston Wear Olvera Tank – One of my absolute favorites to wear on our trip, this easy breezy tank is comfortable and cute.  What more could a girl ask for, especially for long days out and about catching the sights.

✻ Keen Presidio Shoes – I waxed poetic about these shoes in my Pre-Travel / Fall Haul and for good reason.  They are. That. Good.  I have very picky, troublesome feet (we’re talking bunions, arch cramping, etc), and have to be extremely selective about my footwear, especially anything I know I need to wear for more than an hour or so.  I am so thankful I found these shoes in time for our trip as they really made all the difference in how my feet fared.  The roomy toe box, great arch and heel support, and removable footbed (so I could put my own orthotics in) all contribute to one heck of a great walking shoe.  A+!

✻ Born Belinda Sandals – While having supportive day shoes was certainly my priority, these sandals which I paired with all of my evening outfits were wonderful as well.  I have never owned such comfortable sandals with a heel before!  Comfy and cute?  Winner!

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✻ Pacsafe CitySafe™ 350 GII Anti-Theft Backpack – I was hesitant to bring a backpack as my day bag to Italy, especially since I know pickpocketing can be a problem, but I really wanted the style for comfort and was excited when I stumbled across this anti-theft one.  The bag is designed with thieves in mind, from it’s slash-proof fabric and straps, to the locking zipper and strap option and RFID secure pocket.  I wore this with complete peace of mind throughout the entirety of our trip.  I will most likely dedicate a whole post to this bag, because it is so awesome!

✻ Marchesa Voyage for Shopstyle Printed Scarf – Scarves are such a useful accessory, especially when traveling.  I brought two lightweight options with me that I could pair with all of my outfits (the bright one from BCBG is no longer available sadly).  They’re small enough to easily carry around, but can add extra warmth or coverage when needed.

✻ Elsa Peretti Diamonds by the Yard Necklace – I didn’t want to fuss with a lot of jewelry while we were away so I brought a few staple pieces.  My husband, Don, gave me this beautiful necklace as an anniversary gift earlier this month.  It is dainty and versatile, but a beautiful statement.  I’ve been wearing it constantly ever since!

✻ Elsa Peretti Open Heart Earrings – These gold studs are the perfect compliment to my necklace and also easy to wear and go with everything.  I like the Tiffany studs because the backs click securely into place, so I never worry about losing them.

Multi-Media

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✻ Fodor’s Venice – What is a trip to Europe without a trusty travel guide?  Out of the few we bought, this one was our favorite.  Although by no means all-encompassing or perfect, it provides great information in a reasonably well organized fashion that is easy to follow.  The reinforced foldout map that is included is a nice bonus.

✻ Streetwise Venice MapStreetwise Italian Lake District Map – If a guidebook is important when traveling to an unfamiliar place, a map is essential.  I love these maps by Streetwise because they are clear and easy to follow thanks to the handy index.  They’re also sturdy due to laminating, but compact enough to easily tuck into a back pocket or a small bag.  The Venice one was super helpful during our trip since the city is quite easy to get lost in!

✻ Kindle – I’ll admit it, I’m a bit of a book snob in that I prefer reading from actual books, and even then the hardback editions, as opposed to digital readers.  That is, of course, with the exception of travel.  It is much easier to travel with an e-reader than a stack of heavy books and I do love my Kindle for this very reason.  I have the basic one with no bells and whistles and it suits me just fine.  I keep a Belkin Verve Tab Folio Kindle Cover on it for protection (and also I find it makes the Kindle easier to hold).  The battery lasts for quite some time and the screen doesn’t hurt my eyes like reading off of a backlit device will do after some time.

The Book of Life by Deborah Harkness – I was so excited when the third and final installment of the All Souls Trilogy came out and downloaded it onto my Kindle with my trip in mind.  What a great read!  I found all three books to flow nicely from one to the other without losing any of the intrigue or integrity of the storyline.  It is a fantastical story revolving around witches and vampires, but one certainly geared towards adults with a very sophisticated writing style and intricate plotline.  I highly recommend the series!

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✻ Sex and the City Season 1 & Season 2 – I’m the kind of person who can re-watch a favorite television series over and over again.  I downloaded the first two seasons of Sex and the City, one of my all time favorite shows, onto my iPad for the trip.  It was nice to relax in the tub after a whirlwind day of sightseeing with an old favorite.

Game of Thrones Season 3 – Earlier in the month before we left, Don & I whizzed through the latest season of GOT to come out on DVD.  This show is so amazing!  The production quality alone is worth a watch.  I do find it easier to follow having read the books (and am currently halfway through the third in the series, A Storm of Swords).  Don started reading the series on his Kindle during our trip, as well.

Sam Smith – In the Lonely Hour – How did I not know this wonderful artist existed until now?  I have become obsessed with this album, which is hauntingly beautiful at times.  Consider me a Sam Smith fan!

Counting Crows – Somewhere Under Wonderland – I’ve been a Counting Crows fan since college when I saw them in concert (my first ever!).  They’ve definitely been around awhile but their new album fits right in with their old sound.  I always think of Counting Crows as more moody music, but this album has a few more upbeat melodies and tempos for a well-rounded sound.

Sonia’s Travels – I stumbled across this awesome channel when searching for videos about Venice.  Sonia makes amazing travel-related videos, including actual destination vlogs as well as travel and packing advice.  Her videos are short but sweet and well edited to pack a lot of punch into just a few minutes.

Tasty Treats

OJ_TBBB_10-09-2014_07Yes, Italy is a great place to visit if you’re a foodie, and while I did partake in and thoroughly enjoy all of the amazing pastas, local fish specialties, and scrumptious gelato we encountered, my absolute favorite treat from the trip was the hot chocolate.  I had at least one cup of this delightfully rich and creamy chocolatey goodness every single day.  You could say I’m a bit of a hot chocolate fiend and thought I’d experience the crème de la crème before, but I was wrong.  I don’t know quite how the Italians make it, but it’s basically molten chocolate whipped into a frenzy with creamy milk.  I’ve got one word for you: YUM.

If you’d like to hear more about my thoughts about my September favorites, check out this video:

I would love to know what some of your September favorites were so if you care to share, please do! I hope you’re having a wonderful day, wherever you are! :o)

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* Post contains affiliate and referral links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Pre-Travel/Fall Haul (2014)

As you may already know, my husband and I just returned home from a wonderful vacation in Italy.  Before we left on our adventure, I purchased some things specifically with the trip in mind and thought I’d share my haul with you!

Shoes

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I did a major clean out of my shoes this year and knew I wanted to add a few supportive, neutral-toned (read: brown) shoes where there were some holes in my collection.

✻ Keen Presidio Shoes – I wore the treads of my previous walking shoes completely out over the spring and summer.  I wanted something very supportive with a bit more going on in the sole especially since I walk so much on a daily basis with my dog, and particularly for our time in Italy.  Keen’s to the rescue!  I absolutely love these babies!  They are super supportive with a roomy toe box to accommodate my pesky feet.  Plus, I can slip my own orthotics in, which is a must for me when it comes to sneakers.  They really stood to the test in Italy and I foresee myself enjoying them for a long time.

✻ Born Belinda Sandals – The hunt for comfortable dressy-ish shoes is tough, but I struck gold with these lovelies by Born.  I wore them most every night we went out to dinner in Italy and walked on the cobblestone streets with nary a wobble.  The classic design goes with everything.

✻ Dansko Janice Dress Sandals – I purchased these to replace an old pair of brown sandals that my feet never really got used to.  While I ultimately decided not to pack them for Italy because the weather wasn’t super hot, I am happy to have them in my collection.  I can’t walk for long in sandals without a strap, so it’s nice to have a sturdy pair that are neutral enough to wear with a lot of different clothing items in my collection.  These have great arch support, as well, which is a nice bonus.

✻ Tieks Chestnut Flats – I deliberated for a long time on Tieks due to their price point, but I finally took the plunge and am so happy that I did!  Not only are they super conveniently small for travel and can fold up for easy packing, they’re actually comfortable and have a solid sole.  There’s no arch support to speak of, but they’re surprisingly easy to wear and this brown is a great three season color.  I had also purchased the Sam Edelman Felicia Flats, which are similar in color and shape, but the Tieks won out in comfort, so I returned the Edelman’s.

Socks

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What good are new shoes without comfortable socks?  I really needed to overhaul my collection of socks, most of which I’ve had for a decade.  It was high time to refresh my sock drawer!

✻ Asics No Show Athletic Socks – Back in August I hauled some Champion Women’s Athletic Socks I picked up from Target to leave at the family vacation home in Utah.  Well, as it turned out, I really didn’t like those socks and found they always slipped down my foot while walking.  I knew I needed similar style new socks for our main home in Illinois so I decided to try out a different brand.  I brought these on our trip and they never rode down once!  I love the extra cushioning in the footbed.

✻ Forever 21 Ankle Socks – I popped into Forever 21 before we left for a quick look around, and while I had no luck with the clothing (I don’t think I have enough shopping patience for that store), I did find a bunch of super cute ankle socks.  They’re pretty nice quality for the price, with a bit of cushioning in the footbed.  I picked up a few different pairs with lions, guitars, and cats.  I like that these are low cut, which is my general preference in socks.  Plus, they’re super cute!

✻ Forever 21 Fuzzy Bear Face Ankle Socks – My feet are usually cold unless I have socks on and I swear by slipper socks when I am home or on vacation just bumming around the hotel room.  I thought these sweet bear ones would make easy to pack slipper substitutes for travel.  I wore them in Italy usually when I was getting ready for dinner and was glad to have them!

✻ Earth Therapeutics Aloe Socks – I’ve talked about my love for these lighter weight slipper socks before.  In fact, I tend to wear them in place of regular socks on very cold winter days.  I needed some new airplane socks, since the ones I’ve been using for the past decade finally gave out on me.  I like to take my shoes off on the plane, and these are great to slip on over my other socks to keep my tootsies warm and happy.

Pants

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Pants are the most difficult item of clothing for me to buy and have been ever since I hit puberty.  My body shape is curvy with a small waist relative to my hips and derrière.  This means that when I find jeans that fit my thighs they’re almost always gaping at the waist.  I am happy to report that I found pants that actually fit my curvy figure that are not only comfortable but nice looking as well.  Huzzah!

✻ AG Prima Cigarette Mid-Rise Jeans – I’ve heard about the wonder of AG jeans before, but never tried them due to the high price tag.  I finally decided to bite the bullet and give them a go and I am in love!  I have never owned a pair of skinny jeans that not only fit my figure perfectly, but are actually comfortable to wear.  Win!

✻ AG Tomboy Relaxed Straight Jeans – I was hoping that my good fortune with the AG skinnies would spill over into a more relaxed fit style, which I tend to wear more often.  These tomboys are my new favorite pair of jeans ever, hands down.  I didn’t bring these to Italy, because I figured just the skinnies would do, but I know I will live in these for years!

✻ Prana Halle Pants – If jeans are tough for me to find, khaki pants are practically impossible.  I think it’s usually because they don’t have stretch, which my figure needs at least a little of.  Well, I have found the answer and it’s these easy to pack, easy to wear travel pants.  They look put together like classic khakis but with that lightweight, water resistant fabric you find in more traditional cargo-style hiking pants.  These were my favorite pants to wear on our trip for their comfort and versatility.  I see myself wearing them in everyday life as well and am considering picking up the dark gray pair.  I did size up in these based on reviews.

✻ Zella Live In Reversible Leggings – For some reason I got it in my head that I wanted to wear leggings for our long travel days to Italy and back.  As much as I love my long-owned Lululemon ones, I wanted something a bit thicker and more substantial for travel.  I decided on these great leggings from Nordstrom based on their amazing reviews.  They worked perfectly and I can see myself pairing them with long sweaters and boots in the winter for cozy day-to-day outfits.  I sized down in these as I found they ran a bit large.

Tops & Dresses

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I bought a few more summery pieces specifically with our trip in mind.  I see myself wearing the tops in other seasons with layers.

✻ Left of Center Cutwork Tank – I knew I needed a longer shirt to pull off wearing leggings out and about and I went on the hunt for an airy tank top.  This one from Anthropologie suits the bill perfectly!  I bought it in a beautiful periwinkle blue color.  I like to layer on the airplane, because in my experience it’s either roasting or freezing.  True to form, the long flight going out was toasty and the flight back was brisk.  I was happy to have this layer in both cases.

✻ Weston Wear Olvera Tank – This is the kind of shirt I would normally pass up because super blousey styles can make me look really frumpy thanks to my super short torso and aforementioned curviness.  I was delighted to find this is not the case with this super cute print.  It was the perfect comfy and cute day time top in Italy.

✻ Baraschi Sweetwater Dress – Ok, so I know this is not fall-ish at all, but when I saw it on sale at Anthropologie I just couldn’t resist.  I have so enjoyed the other dresses I’ve picked up there this year and this one is a great addition to that collection.  I was able to fold and pack it easily.  The design is beautiful!  I generally size down in Anthropologie dresses and this one is no exception.

Jackets & Sweaters

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What’s fall without some sweater weather?  I picked up a few cardigan style options that are as cozy as they are cute.

✻ The North Face Crescent Sunset Full Zip Jacket – I knew this lighter style sweatshirt jacket would be the perfect warmer layering option for our trip.  I brought it on the place in case of chilliness and was happy to have it for a couple of brisk mornings towards the end of our vacation.  I’ve also been wearing it nonstop since we got home.

✻ Willow & Clay Cable Back Cardigan – As soon as I saw this sweater on the hanger I knew it was just what I’ve been searching for.  I’ve been on the lookout for a non-wool cream colored chunky long open cardigan for years and this one is just perfect.  The gorgeous cable back is the icing on the cake!

✻ Matty M Knit Open Cardi – Right after I snagged the cream cardigan, I saw this beauty on the hanger and knew  it would also be coming home with me.  It’s an easy to wear jersey knit type of fabric in an interesting tribal print.  The most unique part of the sweater is the empire waist ruching.

I share a closer look as well as my initial thoughts about each item in the coordinating video below (I filmed the video before we left for our trip):

Have you picked up any new clothes and/or accessories for fall?  I’d love to know if you care to share!  Happy Autumn!

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* Post contains affiliate links. This is not a sponsored post.  All opinions are genuinely my own. *

Erin Condren Spiral Notebook: Unboxing & First Impressions

When the nice folks at Erin Condren reached out to me a few weeks ago and asked if I’d be interested in one of their new personalized spiral notebooks, I said, “yes, please!”  I never turn down an offer to receive one of their gorgeous products, especially when they also offer gifts to my viewers/readers (more on that in a bit).  At first I wasn’t sure what I would use an 8.5″ x 11″ notebook for, as I haven’t used that size in many years, but after watching the amazing video showcasing the new product, I knew it would be perfect as a project management notebook to help me brainstorm and plan for my YouTube channels and blog categories.

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I literally squealed with delight when I opened the front door and saw this gorgeous box on my porch.  Even their boxes are pretty!  I love the new design with the cutout.   Let’s take a peek inside, shall we?

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Opening an Erin Condren box is like Christmas and my birthday rolled into one.  Everything is so beautiful and colorful, right down to the tissue paper and sticker seal they use to keep everything together.  I love how they included one of their gorgeous color catalogues with a $15 gift card good towards my next order.  Sweet!  They sure know how to encourage return customers.

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The notebook itself is stunning.  I chose the Zen Gems cover, which is one of my favorite EC designs that I actually had for my last Life Planner.  It’s the same quality I’ve come to know and love with my Life Planner, only bigger!  I added my own touches with some Martha Stewart Sticky Tabs (sadly no longer available) and a Coleto Multi Pen, as well as some of the accessories that were gifted to me along with the notebook.

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What fun accessories came with my order?

Classic & Summer Edition Designer Sticker Sheets – These repositionable sticker sheets are great for personalizing your planner and notebooks!  Inspired by washi, they include twelve designs (two sheets of each) with helpful grids on the back for easy cutting.

Keep It Together Elastic Bands – These large bands are just like the smaller ones I use on my Life Planner, but these fit the 8.5″ x 11″ notebooks.  This is a great way to keep everything secure in your notebook.

✻ Colorful Markers – Gorgeous felt tip pens that won’t bleed through the pages are perfect for color coding your calendar or notes.

Coil Clips – An innovative little doodad that allows you to further customize your planner and notebooks with an adhesive backing so you can attach important cards, notes, and more and snap them right into the coil.  Then, you can move them around between pages and notebooks as you like.  Brilliant!

Pen Holder – Sometime the smallest and simplest things are the most useful.  The pen holder sticks right to the back or your notebook or planner or wherever you stick it so you can always have your favorite pen or pencil at the ready.

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Now, back to the notebook itself.  The interior is designed with the same Erin Condren look in cheery colors and simple, eye-catching designs like the Life Planner.  The spiral notebook, however, is a bit more streamlined with simple lined pages.  The only decorations on the pages themselves are alternating colorful bands at the top of each page and a small flower on the bottom corner.  There are two label sticker sheets included in the back as well as a full size Keep It Together folder to stow loose documents and a vinyl zip pouch.  They’ve even popped in some gift labels.  The front and back covers are interchanegable, just like the updated Life Planner.

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What I love most about this notebook is the customizable dividers, which is a unique and fun concept.  I picked out four dividers to split up my notebook into four main categories.  I chose the Paisley design for the OrganizedJen.com section, Sequins for OrganizedLikeJen, Party Pops for TheBusyBeeBuzz, and Jolly Jester for MyHousewifeLife.  Each divider is punched just like the interchangeable covers so that you can pop it in wherever you’d like and even use it in new notebooks after you’ve filled all of the pages.

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I love how they designed the back of each divider with a space that acts like a dry erase board.  I took Erin’s suggestions from her video and use a Sharpie to write on this area to avoid transferring that you get with a dry erase marker.  To erase, I pop a little rubbing alcohol on a paper towel and it comes right off.  The ink won’t budge until you want it to, which is nice.

If you’d like a closer look, I open the box on camera and go through the notebook and accessories in more detail in my coordinating video:

As I mentioned above, the nice folks over at Erin Condren have very kindly offered to give away $75 ErinCondren.com Gift Cards to FIVE of you to share the notebook love.  That’s right, there will be FIVE winners!  The Erin Condren Spiral Notebook Giveaway will run until Friday, October 3, 2014 at 6 PM CT.  The giveaway is open internationally (you can find information about Erin Condren international shipping costs here).  All entrants under the age of 18 must have parental permission to enter.  Five people will win a $75 electronic gift card good for use on Spiral Notebook and coordinating accessories only.   You can enter by following the directions in the Rafflecopter widget posted below (check out this blog post for more information on entering Rafflecopter giveaways).   I’ll announce the winners on THIS blog and post contact the winners directly through email.  Good luck!

*** GIVEAWAY NOW CLOSED ***

Congrats to the winners of the Erin Condren Spiral Notebook Giveaway!

The Poll Results for *If you use a monthly wall calendar, what style do you prefer?* out of 2888 entries:

Spiral style that flips over (1921) 67%
I don’t use a monthly wall calendar (433) 15%
Tear off monthly pages (411) 14%
Something else (123) 4%

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sometimes Rafflecopter experiences technical difficulties.  If you can’t enter for some reason, try again later and it will probably work.

I want to send a BIG *THANK YOU* to the lovely folks at Erin Condren for their generosity in providing these awesome prizes as well as sending me this gorgeous notebook to try.  I can’t wait to put it to work!   You can receive $10 off your first purchase when you sign up for the Erin Condren newsletter (which means you receive the occasional email on current promotions and new products from them) by clicking here.  

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* Erin Condren sent me the notebook and all accessories shown for consideration and is very kindly offering the giveaway prizes.  Post contains referral links. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are genuinely my own. *

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