beauty, health, makeup

Simple Tips for Improving Your Skin

September 20, 2015

Trust me, staring into the mirror can feel like a Herculean task when you’ve had a rough morning. Baggy eyes, dry skin, a ghost-like pallor – it’s hardly the finest way to start the day.

Improving your appearance doesn’t have to take hours out of your day. What you need are a few simple tips for improving your skin. With the right beauty and fitness techniques your appearance doesn’t have to look ragged. In fact, with a sustained healthy diet, you’ll be ready to face the day in no time!

Here are three things you can implement ASAP for clear, beautiful skin:

A majestic mask
Your skin is at its most tired when you first wake – unless you can put a stop to that irritating dryness. What you need is a deep clean. Like a car being serviced every six months, your skin requires a tune-up with the right products.

The Proactiv refining mask is one such product. A deep-cleaning wash designed specifically to remove acne and pimples, the mask is the perfect addition to your skincare regimen.

Initially, you’ll want to use it as regularly as possible, to cleanse your pores of all dirt and bacteria. This will provide your skin with a clean and clear base, a ground zero on which you can rebuild good health.

The sweatier the better
You might think you’ve got to avoid any and all chemical mixtures with your pores if you want to maintain healthy skin. But your skin texture will actually benefit from a touch of exercise, even if that does mean working up a sweat.

A decent workout will increase your blood flow, giving you rosier cheeks and a thick layer of sweat to wash off. Many of the toxins in your body are rejected through the sweat glands, so working them out will make them more efficient.

Struggling to find your get up and go? Then make your initial workouts as brief as possible. Begin with a simple 15-minute workout to build up a sweat. Add five minutes to your routine in increments until you’ve got a full fitness plan that you won’t want to avoid. Your skin will look all the better for it.

The H2O effect
Are you guzzling Diet Coke as though every other liquid has been stolen from the planet? Then the symptom of your poor skin is clear. Literally!

With an average of eight glasses of water a day, your blood flow will speed up, giving you cleaner skin.

Really, often the problems of poor skin are symptomatic of a poor diet. Replacing soda with water is a good place to start. With simple improvements you’ll finally be able to enjoy a glance in the mirror.

Written by Kevin Fullerton.

daily outfit, denim

But First Coffee – weekend wear

September 19, 2015


Shirt: Kohls
Denim: Rag and Bone (via ShopBop)
Shoes: RocketDog (via DSW)
Earrings: Claire’s


The weekends for me are just as busy as the weekdays. I work on lesson plans, grade tests, volunteer at a number of different leadership programs throughout the city, clean my place, do laundry, etc… But the one thing that is different on the weekends is what I wear. I don’t have to be dressy. And while I love feminine skirts and dresses. And I love heels and perfectly selected accessories; I also love not having to think about those things on the weekends.


So, more often than not I’m sporting a look like this on the weekends… Comfortable denim and, now that the weather is a little chilly, a comfy but still semi-fitted long-sleeved shirt. I couldn’t resist this thin sweatshirt that pretty much sums up my life at the moment… “Ok, but first coffee’ Actually it should probably say, ‘Ok, but first MORE coffee’ since I pretty much survive these days only thanks to copious amounts of caffeine.


For some this is probably still dressier than their weekend attire, but I don’t like being sloppy in sweatpants, oversized tops, and the same shoes I run in. I like to be relaxed, having still put a little bit of thought and effort into what I’m wearing.

What’s your weekend wear like?


daily outfit, dress, life

Birthday Dress – Floral Betsy Johnson

September 17, 2015


I got this dress over the summer with the plan to wear it to my cousin’s wedding in Atlanta this August. But I ended up going with the blue geo-patterned dress instead (a decision I don’t regret), which meant this dress was still waiting for a fun reason to be worn for the first time.

What better reason than a birthday celebration?


Dress: Betsy Johnson
Shoes: DSW
Earrings: Stella & Dot
Watch: SteinMart
Rings: ???


I wore this pretty little number yesterday to celebrate turning 32! Ahh… some years it is harder to believe my age than other years. Lately, I feel like I’m 90 years old, so 32 seemed young and sprightly. But at the same time when I compare that to the students who are more than half my age, 32 is a little daunting.

But, as I heard all day yesterday ‘You don’t act 32.’ And while I’m not sure what 32 acts like – I would have to agree I don’t tend to act my age very often.



Initially, I thought to wear the dress with a simple black heel, but the more I thought about it as a birthday dress the more I realized I wanted something fun and a little funky – hence the pink shoes. For class I did wear a little hunter green jacket since the classrooms are cold, but after school I ditched the jacket for the birthday dinner with family and dessert festivities with friends.



Chicago, daily outfit, dress, food

Dresses that Brunch at Over Easy Cafe

September 14, 2015


Last weekend I took my little brother out to brunch in order to catch-up on his first year at Loyola University. Do you remember that first year? Mine was rough. Really, really rough. Luckily, he seems to be doing really well and running into none of the problems and drama I was ‘privileged’ enough to experience.

Since I was treating, we went to a restaurant that I have been hearing a lot of buzz about – Over Easy Cafe in Ravenswood. This place is small – I mean really small for a popular breakfast spot. A table for two meant a 40-minute wait at 10am on a Sunday. The wait, at least in nice weather, was no big deal on a lazy Sunday morning and they have little cups of free coffee available for those waiting outside.



Honestly, the wait was totally worth the food. Over Easy Cafe has a traditional brunch menu but also a weekly specialty menu. We both ordered off that. I opted with the chilaquiles, which were delicious and with only a slight spicy kick. Joe got Over Easy’s holiday version of Eggs Benedict. Apparently, that dish is only served on the Labor Day and Memorial Day weekends. Yum! I will admit, both Joe and I found the coffee bitter – adding sugar when we usually go without. Our waitress was adorable and super knowledgeable, especially about the specials.  Our coffee cups and water glasses never even reached the half-empty stage.


This dress is one I have had in my closet for years, but have worn maybe once. It had a weird snap at the bust area that was just funky and non-functional. Luckily, I have a mom who is an amazing seamstress and she was able to remove the snap without ruining the dress. I figured that fix called for a prompt wearing.


daily outfit, dress, scarf, school

First Day of School Outfit – Teacher Edition

September 9, 2015

While I never went to a school that didn’t require students to be in uniform, I remember the angst of friends who had to pick the perfect first day of school outfit. They went shopping for just the right look, they had images in their heads about the perfect combination of laid-back summer style with attractive but comfortable to wear all day clothing. It was an art form. Heck, even the first day of college classes took some consideration.


Dress: c/o Karina Dresses
Scarf: Target
Shoes: DSW
Watch: Kohls
Earrings: Claire’s

Now as a teacher, the first day of school outfit is just as crucial – perhaps even more. This is the first opportunity my students have to form an opinion about me. They will look at the outfit I picked to wear and immediately draw conclusions about my class, my ability to teach, their interest in learning, etc… I mentioned this fact to some friends, who laughed and said I might be one of the only high school teachers they know who actually truly cares about her clothing choices daily. While, I don’t believe that to be the case, I do think (just like in all professions) there are women who care and women who couldn’t care less.


Some might argue, students don’t make these sudden decisions about a teacher, but I disagree. Last year for my first day as a teacher I wore a little black dress and a pair of floral heels. It was simple, but very me. I was nervous so I wanted to be in something that made me comfortable and confident without me needing to worry about the outfit. Mid-way through the year a couple students asked me when I was going to wear those heels again. I had only worn them that first day, and they remembered. One of the bolder girls told me she was excited for my class based on those shoes alone. No, seriously!


So this year, since it’s my second year at the school and the majority of the students know me or have at least seen me around school before, I went with an outfit that was much more bold than last year’s, but also one that was much more me. This blue and white polka dot dress is a favorite because of the fit and feel. But I also really love it paired with a different bold-colored pattern, like this scarf. It’s a nice contrast and helps add that bit of finality to complete the look. Plus, this scarf is just plain awesome!

home, life

Packed Lunch Scavenger Hunt – Box Tops for Education

September 8, 2015


One year I was in a bind before camp. I had a list of supplies that needed to be purchased and the high school-aged counselors began arriving before I had time to do the shopping. The counselors needed to be driven to the camp ground. The supplies need to be bought. There weren’t enough hours in the day and I have yet to figure out the talent of bi-location.

Before panic set in, I had to think on my feet and I came up with a WalMart scavenger hunt to get all the needed supplies. I divided the list in two, created two teams of counselors and let them lose in the store. The first team to come back with all the supplies, exactly as indicated on the shopping list, got to pick the snack for that night from anything in the store. Genius moment of inspiration, right?!

The supply hunt became a tradition that we did year after year. And now, I find other reasons to create a little scavenger hunt, even it is just between family or friends doing a shopping trip together. A scavenger hunt for Box Tops items is the perfect game for this time of the year, especially if the school your kids or siblings, or friend’s kids attend collects Box Tops for Education. The General Mills products are some of the classic go-to items for before-school breakfasts and school box lunches. Creating a scavenger hunt around lunch items is simple and can be fun.



What items have Box Tops? All sorts! All Ziploc products, Bisquick (for amazing morning pancakes), loads of different cereals (Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Wheaties, Lucky Charms, Chex, Cheerios), Larabars and Nature Valley granola bars, and Green Giant veggies (snap peas, lettuce).

Possible Items for Your Scavenger Hunt List:

  • Green Giant snap peas
  • Ziploc snack bags
  • Nature Valley granola bar variety pack
  • Larabars
  • Juice boxes
  • Motts Medleys fruit snacks
  • Sandwich bread
  • Lunchmeat
  • Green Giant iceberg lettuce
  • Food Should Taste Good sweet potato chips
  • Totino’s Pizza Rolls
  • Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls
  • Ziploc sandwich bags
  • Old El Paso Bold Taco Shells
  • Fiber One Streusel Bars blueberry
  • Fiber One 90 Calorie Brownies
  • Cheerios

Screen Shot 2015-09-07 at 8.28.00 PM

Learn more about Box Tops for Education at WalMart. Don’t have a school to share your Box Tops with? Share them with me. (LOL No, but seriously.)

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of General Mills®. The opinions and text are all mine.

accessory, product review, review, sunglasses

Nectar Sunglasses – simple sunnies with style

September 7, 2015


This is a review post. I was sent a product in order to share my honest opinion about the item. As usual, all thoughts are my own. #NectarShades

Earlier in the summer I got my hands on my first pair of Nectar Sunglasses. If you read this blog even infrequently, or follow along on Instagram, you know I’m a little bit of a sunglasses collector. I like the classic styles, the modern trends, and everything in between. So naturally, I was thrilled to give this new brand a go-around.



These are the Epic Wayfarers!

A couple things I love about these Nectar sunnies:

  • I’ve thrown them in my purse without a case and have yet to scratch or hurt them in any way. (Must be the durable polycarbonate frames and lenses.)
  • The color is unique, while still being subtle. Unlike some other really bold-colored lenses these are easy to wear with every outfit.
  • They are lightweight. But really, super lightweight. Which I love, for full days in the sun. There is nothing worse than feeling weighed down my your glasses.
  • They are made to reduce glare and have 100% UV protection.
  • They are super inexpensive. These frames retail for $20.



Nectar sells a wide variety of frames, colors, and styles. Not sure what frame fits your face shape? No worries. There’s a video for that. Check out the Mode video below to get the low-down on which frame is perfect for your face.

daily outfit, dress

Black and White, without Red all over

September 6, 2015


This summer one of my travel companions was this black and white dress. Of course, being one of the Karina Dresses means it didn’t need to be ironed, it never wrinkled and could easily be thrown into the wash – so how was it not going to be a go-to when packing? Add to that the fact that the simple black and white pattern means this dress can be paired with pretty much anything in my closet, and the fact that the style made it appropriate for a variety of occasions – this was a summer must.


Dress: c/o Karina Dresses
Sweater: Ann Taylor LOFT
Shoes: Steve Madden (from DSW)


Unfortunately the Karina Dresses giveaways seem to be over for the time being, but I’m telling you the company’s dresses are awesome in so many ways. But you’ve heard me gush about them before so I won’t bore you will all the details. Suffice to say, this Rita-style dress is one of my favorites.



family, gifts, life

Creative College Care Packages

September 3, 2015


It’s the start of September, so for many of us we have a sibling, child or good friend who has headed off to college. Whether it’s the first time of the fourth time they are moving in that direction, it’s always great to let your loved one know they are missed.

And especially for the first timers, those first weeks can be some of the most difficult. Everything is new and a little scary. New roommates, new teachers, new school, new classes, new (not so appetizing) meal options, new routine, new everything.

That’s where the creative college care packages comes in! Sending the college student a little love in the form of a box of goodies is always a simple and easy way to brighten their day.



The Essentials College Care Package:

(Perfect for that first timer who you isn’t sure will remember to buy the essentials, or who might not know where to find them on campus)

  • Box of tissues – the little square boxes are a good size for those tiny dorm rooms
  • Disposable razor – the Schick Quattro would be my preference since it gives a great shave but is still economical and disposable.
  • Sticky notes – these are perfect for reminder notes, messages to the roommate and holding a place in their books.
  • Pack of pens – go with something a couple steps up from the basic bulk black pen. Something with some color or a little flair.
  • Granola bars – a snack on the go can be crucial those first weeks when students are still learning their schedules and the locations of the dining halls.
  • Caffeine – absolutely essential, in whatever form the student prefers… soda, coffee, energy drinks… this will keep them moving when they suddenly realize staying up till 3am wasn’t the smartest idea on a Tuesday night.
  • Reusable water bottle – great for staying hydrated while running from class to class, and with all the different designs and brands out there it’s easy to find one that fits the personality of your loved one.
  • Notecards – studying all those pesky new vocab terms can be overwhelming. Notecards makes it simple.
  • Headphones – I can’t even begin to tell you the number of headphones I went through those years in college. They were always getting shoved to the bottom of my bag and then ripped apart. Oops.


The Nostalgic College Care Package:

(Perfect for the super sappy sender or receiver – a great way to remember the good times and look forward to making new ones.)

  • Self-addressed, stamped envelopes – You want them to write you, help them out. I didn’t know where to find stamps on campus for months when I first got up to Milwaukee.
  • Framed picture of you and the student – Frames are super inexpensive and it’s always great to have an image of the people who mean the most to you.
  • Gratitude journal – sure, it’s a new trend but in those first weeks sometimes things look a little overwhelming and bleak. It’s awesome to take a moment and think of things to be grateful for.
  • Inside joke – maybe it’s a favorite movie, a quote, a magazine, something that will get the college kid laughing.
  • Handwritten note – a typed letter or email is great, but a handwritten note goes a lot further in impacting another. Share a favorite memory or a piece of advice. Get personal.
  • Favorite food – it’s always great to get food that you didn’t have to buy, but when someone remembers your favorite candy or soft drink that’s even better.
  • List of to-dos for the next time you’re together – a detailed, fun, or artistic list of the things you will do the next time you are getting face-to-face time can be a great little connector.





The Shower Caddie Care Package:

(Since this is pretty much the most essential item for dorm living, beyond the bedding, this is a great way to upgrade what they may have taken and keep them supplied for the semester.)

  • Shower caddie – it needs to be large enough to hold all the shower supplies, but small enough to transport back and forth from the student’s room to the showers.
  • Favorite shampoo and conditioner – everyone has a favorite brand and scent, something that has become a little like their signature scent. Go with that.
  • A loofah – these things are easier to hang in the shower and easier to transport than the traditional washcloth. Plus, they come in fun colors.
  • Body wash – try something a little unique or different, a brand or scent that the college student wouldn’t thing to splurge on with their limited monthly resources.
  • Waterproof speakers – maybe this isn’t for the public bathroom, but if they are lucky enough to have an in-room bathroom, these little beauties are awesome.
  • Shower flip-flops – no one, and I literally mean NO ONE, should step barefoot into those tubs or showers. Who knows what came before. UGH. Flip-flops are the answer.
  • Disposable razor – as essential as the soap, I also go with the Schick brand disposable razors. My latest favorite is the Schick Quattro; plus it comes with a handy little suction cup to hold it in place in the shower, that makes it perfect for dorm living.



The Movie-Themed Care Package:

(Perfect for the movie buff, or really anyone who loves to kick-back and catch a good flick as a way of relaxing.)

  • Movie – (duh) one, multiples around a theme, a whole series, how ever you decide to start this care package a movie is the key.
  • Microwave popcorn – the dorms have microwaves, but not much else, so a great box of microwave popcorn can go a long way.
  • Candy – and lots of it! The classic movie-theater style candy boxes are inexpensive and easy to come by.
  • Comfy pajamas – let’s be honest, movies are watched at any time of the day or night in college but most often they are a middle of the night event. Comfy pajamas to lounge in are essential while catching a favorite flick.
  • Theater tickets – what’s even better than lounging in your room to a movie, catching one on the big screen with surround sound.

The best part?? All of these things, especially the Schick Quattro disposable razors, can be purchased at your local Wal-Mart.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Schick®. The opinions and text are all mine.


lessons, life, teacher

Box Tops and Bright Futures

September 1, 2015

Let’s be honest, I don’t blog too often about being a teacher but it is the thing that takes up the majority of my day and the majority of my mental space. This year, as a new part of my teaching routine, I’m the 8th grade homeroom teacher. With that added role I get to spur the 8th graders on during Spirit Week and Field Day (we came in first last week, just sayin’). I get to come up with a design for the coveted 8th grade sweatshirt. I am ‘lucky’ enough to staff the class’s overnight. And I get to collect the Box Tops for Education!


So many parts of this role are new to me, but the Box Tops are by far the newest and most foreign to me. You’ve probably seen or heard of them, at least generically. In a nutshell, select boxes of the things we buy weekly, or daily, come with a little square that says ‘Box Tops for Education.’ These little squares get clipped off the box and brought in to the school. The school then gets $0.10 per Box Top.

Pretty basic. And pretty awesome. It’s pretty awesome, especially since mos schools have no where near the funds they wish they had. And let’s be honest, every little bit helps. Oh, and if you are like me and do almost ALL your shopping from the comfort of your living room and a computer screen, you can boost your earnings when you shop online, which is why Box Tops for Education at WalMart is such an awesome thing!


What items have a Box Top? Well, to name a few of the things I purchase most frequently:

  • All Ziploc products
  • Betty Crocker Brownie Mix
  • Bisquick (Best pancakes ever from this box!)
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch
  • Wheaties
  • Cheerios
  • Land O’ Lakes Butter
  • Kleenex Tissues
  • Larabars
  • Hefty Cups
  • Green Giant vegetables (like iceberg lettuce, snap peas, asparagus)

Need more facts about the Box Tops for Education program? How about this… Box Tops is one of America’s largest school earnings loyalty programs with more than 80,000 K-8 schools participating. These schools can use the cash from Box Tops to buy whatever they need. Since it began in 1996, Box Tops for Education has contributed over $525 million to participating schools. Yeah, you read that right. $525 MILLION!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of General Mills®. The opinions and text are all mine.