Sunday, February 28, 2016

February Favorites

Well, hello there! Can you hardly believe that February is rapidly coming to an end? I sure can't. However, it's actually not a bad thing because if you follow me on social media, you'll know how much I absolutely hate the cold weather. Bring on sunshine and warmth, baby!
My school weeks have been so crammed lately with work that I barely have time to plan out what to shoot for blog posts, which is totally not okay. This blog is my child so I will definitely be squeezing in some blog post brainstorming in there.
Nevertheless, today I bring you my first ever monthly favorites blog post! I love watching monthly favorites on YouTube so I figured let's bring it to the world of blogging as well! Now, I'll admit it. I've been kind of stuck in a rut in terms of beauty products and the like, so there's not much in this post. However, I'm sure once the warmer weather comes and brings me back my motivation, I'll have much more to share. (Please tell me I'm not the only one who crawls into a shell in the winter. Let me know in the comments if you do, too!)
My favorites for this month are a pretty accurate reflection of those cold, windy, dark winter days. Hot tea, warm scarves, and dry shampoo because you're too unmotivated to wash your hair in the shower. Am I right? Or am I just the Scrooge of the winter season?
My first February favorite has got to be the one thing I cannot live without during this season. Tea. See as I am not a coffee drinker (although I really want to be! Any recommendations?) tea is my go-to. I prefer black teas as opposed to herbal teas, so my favorite is definitely English Breakfast Tea by Twinings of London. I love sipping on cup of this after my breakfast in the morning as well as right before bed. I buy the decaf one, so I'm not bouncing off the walls at ten at night. My favorite way to prepare this tea is with a little bit of natural Stevia sweetener and a dash of cashew milk. So. Good.
Dry shampoo has completely changed us girls' lives. In addition to the damaging effects of washing your hair every day, it can also be a huge pain in the booty. Thanks the hair gods for dry shampoo! I use the TRESemme Fresh Start Volumizing Dry Shampoo and I can honestly say this stuff works wonders for soaking up those extra oils in your scalp.
My skin could never survive the harsh winter without the help of lotion. I love the scents from Bath and Body Works. My favorites have got to be both the fruity ones and the vanilla scented ones. Currently I'm using the Mango Mandarin scent as it reminds me of the summer season to come.
For accessories, I've also been loving my tartan scarf from Forever 21 as it's extremely warm while still stylish. Have you ever walked outside after it's snowed and you feel like you could go blind because it's so white and bright? That's why I've been loving my gold-rimmed sunglasses from Forever 21 to shield my eyes.
As for beauty products, I've been loving these two lipsticks from Ulta. I have the shades 256 and 224. They don't have names on the packaging, which is odd; but 256 is a pink-y nude color and 224 is more of a brown-y nude color. Shade 224 resembles Kylie Jenner's Dolce K, so I highly recommend this product if you're dying to get your hands on Kylie's Lip Kit but just don't have the money.
I'm not big on perfumes because a lot of them are just too expensive, but I really love this one from Charlotte Russe. I know it's a clothing store, but their scents are quite amazing! This scent is called "Refuge" and if I could describe it, I would say it is sophisticated, yet sweet. And the best part? It was only $13! It's a win-win situation; you get to smell like a queen without breaking the bank.
There we have it! I hope you enjoyed reading about everything I've been loving this month. Let me know in the comments if you would like to continue to see more monthly favorite posts! Thanks to everyone who leaves such lovely comments on my posts. They truly do mean the world to me.
Much love,
Gabriella xx

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Making a Statement: Necklace Collection


Hi, my name is Gabriella and I am a statement necklace hoarder.  It all started about four years ago when I started to care more about what I was wearing and began to accessorize properly.  Ever since then, any statement necklace I lay my eyes on sure enough ended up in my jewelry box.  It came to the point where my goal was to have a statement necklace for every day of the year. Insanity.
Okay, well maybe that is an exaggeration.  But seriously guys, I am totally obsessed with statement necklaces.  I love how they can just pull an entire outfit together or add that extra "oomph" to a simple outfit.
The other day, I was sat in my room pondering what the heck to shoot for a blog post as I've completely run out of clothes to shoot (shopping trip, anyone?).  I took a glance around my room and found myself staring at my collection of necklaces and thought, hey, there's an idea.
I decided to show you all just how (crazy) obsessed I am with statement necklaces and do a necklace collection blog post.  Grab a cup of tea and a snack because this is going to be a long one!
Colored Necklaces
First up are my colored necklaces.  I always wear these necklaces with my more neutral toned outfits such as all black and black/white as I love how they add a nice pop of color.
From top to bottom:
1. Forever 21
2. Francesca's
3. Forever 21
4. Forever 21
5. Forever 21
Black/White Necklaces
Just the opposite of the colored necklaces, I would typically wear these necklaces with a colored top to add something to an outfit without clashing colors.
6. H&M
7. Forever 21
Gold Necklaces
These are my most worn necklaces.  I've always preferred gold over silver so that explains why the majority of my jewelry collection is gold rather than silver. 
8. Mirina Collections (USE CODE "GABI20" FOR 20% OFF)
9. Forever 21
10. Forever 21
11. H&M
12. Forever 21
13. Forever 21
Silver Necklaces
Quite a disappointment that I only have one silver necklaces out of my entire collection, but like I said, I'm a gold-chained girl at heart.
14. Forever 21
While I'm pretty far off from having statement necklaces for every day of the year, fourteen necklaces is still quite a lot for a seventeen year old girl.  I guess now I know where all my birthday and Christmas money went!
I do apologize for the repetition of Forever 21 products in both this post and my entire blog, but they have such nice products for a very good price which is something I just cannot pass up on.  However, I will try to expand my horizon and shop elsewhere for more of a variety as I know having products from the same store can get boring for you guys.
I hope you enjoyed this different post.  A shopping trip is 100% needed as I have truly run out of clothes to shoot a.k.a. a fashion blogger's worst nightmare.
Thanks for reading.  Make sure you check out my latest blog posts about my favorite products and tips for soft, healthy hair and meal prepping for the week!
Much love,
Gabriella xx

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Products and Tips for Soft, Healthy Hair

If you've been reading my blog since I started a few months ago, you'll know that I used to have hair past my belly button. (Oh, those were the days!) However, I decided to take the plunge before the new year and chop it all off. Now, some of you may be thinking, "Why would you ever do that?!" Allow me to explain. 
While my long hair seemed like a dream, it was totally unhealthy. I had split ends that traveled all the way up my head and my hair fell out like crazy.  Would you believe me if I told you that my last hair cut had been over two years ago? Well, it's true.  I was so focused on growing my hair out as fast as possible that I never kept up with getting it trimmed every so often to rid those nasty split ends. That mistake ultimately led me to today; a girl who adores long hair but had to cut it off due to how unhealthy it was.
After I decided that cutting my hair was what I would have to resort to, I made a promise to myself that I would do my absolute best to keep my new shorter hair as healthy as possible.  In today's post, I will be sharing with you the haircare products I use to maintain soft, shiny, silky, healthy hair.
Let's start with the basics.  Shampoo and conditioner are the foundation of healthy hair.  Since cutting my hair, I've switched to the Garnier Fructis Damage Eraser shampoo and conditioner duo.  These products are designed for "distressed, damaged hair," which is exactly what I needed.  Garnier Fructis claims that this duo will "reconstruct and preserve strength for strong, rejuvenated hair," and I can tell you first hand that this claim holds true.  Since switching to these products, I have noticed a significant difference in how soft my hair looks and feels.  When I get out of the shower, I have hardly any knots and my hair remains smooth even after it dries.
Tip #1: Condition before Shampoo 
There has been a lot of talk about the positive effects of conditioning before shampooing from some of my favorite YouTubers and bloggers such as Emily Canham and Anouska.  And I can promise you that these claims are not a myth.  The reasoning behind this theory is that you will be washing out the weight of the conditioner from your hair, leaving you with bouncy, soft locks.  Say goodbye to flat and stiff hair and say hello to hair that is bouncy and full of life.
 Another of my holy grail products for soft, healthy hair are hair oils and serums.  Our hair needs necessary oils to stay healthy and if you're washing your hair too frequently, those oils are being stripped from your scalp.  I've been using the Garnier Fructis Sleek and Shine Moroccan oil treatment for years now and I totally swear by it. I usually run this through the ends of my hair when it's still slightly damp and when my hair is completely dry, it is unbelievably smooth.  If I'm applying heat to my hair, I'll use this oil just before I style my hair in addition and it makes my hair look and feel insanely smooth.  The next product is one that I've just started using recently and it's the Carols Daughter Monoi Oil Repairing and Strengthening Serum.  I'll simply pump a dime sized amount on my hand and run it through my hair for added softness and protection.
Tip #2: Use Oil Treatments Regularly
There are so many different types of oil treatments out there from coconut oil to olive oil to Moroccan oil.  Give your hair some TLC at least once a week and do an oil treatment to ensure that your hair isn't missing out on essential oils for strong and healthy hair.
Back in middle school, I would straighten my hair every. single. day.  On top of that, I never applied any type of heat protectant.  Combine those two mistakes together and you've got yourself a recipe for disaster and destruction.  Once I did my research, I realized that if using heat is necessary, you have to use heat protectant.  Think about it; you're putting 300 degrees Fahrenheit (or more!) of heat to your precious hair.  My favorite heat protectant has been the TRESemme Keratin Smooth Heat Protectant spray.  Spray this stuff all over your hair, especially to the ends to keep your hair safe.  Don't make the mistake like I did by skimping out on heat protectant.  Save your hair the damage!
Tip #3: Reduce Heat as Much as Possible
I know, I know.  You're probably sick of people telling you that heat is the devil for your hair and you need to eliminate it completely.  However, I know that eliminating it completely is just not possible for many people.  Whether you shower before work and don't have time to let it air dry or you've got hair like a lion's mane, (I know how you feel) applying heat is a part of your daily routine.  Do yourself and your hair a favor by reducing the amount of heat you put on your hair to just a few times a week. There are so many heatless hairstyles you can do to achieve a similar look. Check out my blog post about my everyday heatless waves tutorial for some ideas! 
Thanks for reading and be sure to let me know you're favorite products and tips for healthy hair!
Much love,
Gabriella xx

Sunday, February 14, 2016

A Week of Meals in Less than 2 Hours

You wake up way past your alarm in the morning and don't have time to whip something up for lunch later.  Or, maybe you've had along day at work or school.  You're tired, hungry, and the last thing you want to do is cook dinner. You have to eat something; and Domino's is just a phone call away.  A whole pizza pie later and you feel even more sluggish than before and you know you shouldn't have ate that pizza...especially after the Chinese food last night. Yikes. 
But what if I told you that you can avoid that entire situation by dedicating just 2 hours (or less!) of your time to cook a week's of lunches and dinners.  Yeah, you heard me right.  Put on some music, put on your apron, and get cooking.
In this post, I will be sharing with you my top tips for meal prepping as well as what I cook for my typical week of lunch and dinner.  These recipes are very simple and you can literally just pop them in the microwave and you've got yourself lunch and dinner in minutes.  Keep in mind that you don't have to follow my recipes exactly, especially because I know most people don't enjoy eating the same meals every day.  But I'm weird and I actually don't mind.  I usually meal prep on Sunday nights and it takes me between 1 to 2 hours depending on what's on the menu for that week in particular. 
Before diving into these recipes, I wanted to share with you my top tips for a successful and quick meal prep.
1. Buy Pre-Cut Vegetables
    If you've ever cut up a week's worth of vegetables (especially bigger ones like butternut squash or spaghetti squash) it can take up a huge chunk of time.  When I make roasted butternut squash for the week, the cutting process takes more time than the cooking itself! If you're tight on time, spend the few extra cents and buy pre-cut vegetables.  However, if you're frugal like me, go ahead and cut them yourself.
2. Frozen Pre-Cooked Meat is a Time Saver
     Again, cutting up and cooking meats like chicken or pork take extremely long.  Plus, raw chicken really grosses me out.  That's why I typically buy pre-cooked chicken that is frozen from places like Costco, BJ's, or Sam's Club.  All you have to do is defrost the meat for a few hours and heat it up in the microwave.  This tip is a huge time saver (and I don't have to cringe when cutting up the meat!).
3. 90 Second Rice is Your Best Friend
    Those 90 second packets of rice are probably one of the best time-saving inventions ever created.  Just pop them in the microwave and you've got cooked rice in a fraction of the time.
4. Skip the Washing and Chopping and Buy Bagged Lettuce
    At my grocery store, there is almost always a sale on bagged lettuce.  They are either two for $5 or if I'm lucky; buy one get one free.  Don't waste your time on washing and chopping your salad leaves; go for the more efficient bagged option.
On the menu for this week is:
-Lunch: Grilled Chicken, Butternut Squash, and Feta Cheese salad with Poppyseed dressing
-Dinner: Spaghetti Squash, Butternut Squash, Grilled Chicken and Sauteed Zucchini
Ingredients for 5 Lunches and 5 Dinners:
  • Butternut Squash (2)
  • Spaghetti Squash (1)
  • Chicken Breast (1 pound)
  • Zucchini
  • Salad Bags (2 bags)
  • Salad toppings of choice
  • Dressing of choice
  • Seasonings of choice
  • Cooking Spray/Cooking Oil
  • An Hour+ of Your Time and a bit of patience

Before anything, pre-heat your oven to 400 Degrees Fahrenheit. This way, the oven will be ready when it's time to cook your butternut and spaghetti squash. Go ahead and chop up your zucchini.

Onto the spaghetti squash, use those muscles to cut this tough vegetable long-ways and scoop out the seeds in the center.  Place the squash center down on an oven tray and chuck it in the oven to cook for 45 minutes. 

 I have an in-depth post on my roasted butternut squash recipe, so head on over there for detailed instructions on how to make these healthy French fry alternatives!  Once you've got the squash peeled, chopped, and seasoned to your liking, go ahead and pop them in the oven as well for 1 hour.
I debated whether or not to photograph the process of cutting the raw chicken breast, and I'm happy with my decision to skip out on that one.  However, it's pretty straightforward so go ahead and cut up your chicken or protein of choice. 
By the time you've cut your chicken and began grilling it, the spaghetti squash should be all done.  To mimic the spaghetti look, take a fork and gently scrape the squash until you've got yourself a huge bowl of thin, spaghetti-like strands.

Next, you'll want to sautée the zucchini and season it to your liking.  I used pepper and a garlic and herb seasoning.  Don't forge to check on your butternut squash and move them around so that they can cook evenly!

Once the hour is up for the butternut squash and your protein of choice is fully cooked, it's time to start portioning out your meals. I use a combination of Tupperware and old Chinese food containers for my meals as they are both microwave safe.  Go ahead and portion out the spaghetti squash, butternut squash, chicken, and zucchini into five of the containers for dinner.  Use the remaining chicken and butternut squash for the salads.  I recommend keeping the lettuce in their bags until you assemble your salad with the toppings and dressing to maintain freshness.

Congratulations, you now have a full work week's worth of lunches and dinners in less than 2 hours.  No longer will you settle for unhealthy fast food when you are tired and hungry after work and the donuts in the office won't seem so tempting when you've got yourself a healthy and satisfying salad for lunch.  "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."  Dedicate just over an hour of your time to whip up a week's worth of meals so that you can just pop them in the microwave when your stomach gives you the heads up.  I guarantee you will not regret jumping on the meal prep bandwagon. If you do decide to try meal prepping, do be sure to tag me on Instagram or tweet me a picture so I can see what you whip up for the week!  I hope this post will inspire and help you all to create nutritious and healthy meals that will be ready in minutes.  Thanks for reading!
Much love,
Gabriella xx


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Leather Jackets and Gold Sunnies

I could spend hours creating different outfits to pair with a leather jacket.  In fact, that's exactly what I did before going to bed last night. (Oh, the joys of having an active mind when you're supposed to be snoozing away.)  That being said, I wanted to do this post to show you guys just how versatile a leather jacket can actually be. And to take it a step further, I created three completely different styles of outfits: sporty, edgy, and classy. It's inevitable that we all have completely different senses of style; so I wanted to make sure I created outfits that we suit a variety of people. Let's dive in, shall we?


First up: sporty.  Now, I am one of those girls who can rock sneakers and a snap-back one day and heels and a dress the next; so this is definitely an outfit I would wear to a trip to the mall or to grab a coffee with some friends.  Our feet need a break from those heels so I paired this outfit with my all time favorite sneakers...Adidas Superstars.  I could so go on and on about these shoes (but I won't!). They are just so comfortable while still looking put together and, without a doubt, fabulous.  For all my sporty girls out there, there's nothing better than a pair of stretchy jeans.  I'm wearing these stretchy cropped jeans from Forever 21.  Seriously guys, these jeans are so comfortable I feel like I am wearing leggings.  And we all know there is no better feeling in the world than that! To add a pop of color to my typical black and white color scheme, I opted for my favorite red patent leather purse from Forever 21.  It was oddly sunny today despite the cold weather, so I'm wearing these stunning gold rimmed sunglasses from Forever 21 as well. I cannot wait to rock these sunnies in the spring and summer time!

There's just something about an edgy outfit that makes me feel totally bad*ss. Anyone else?  I'm not going to lie, but I felt completely out of my comfort zone when I purchased this dress. But that's the point of fashion; to step outside of the box and try new things. And I can honestly say that once I put this dress on, I felt awesome.  This midi dress is (shocker) from Forever 21 and the best part? It was only $10 when I bought it.  You just can't beat that!


Last on the list is classy. When in doubt, go classy.  A classy outfit is super simple to put together. Just add a pair of pretty flats or nude pumps with some sleek skinny jeans and a statement necklace and you've got yourself the most perfect feminine, classy outfit.  If you're feeling a bit daring, throw on that leather jacket to put a twist on your typical classical attire. Here, I'm wearing my favorite pair of high-waisted skinny jeans, with this stunning glittery blush top.  As for shoes, I'm throwing it back to 2014 with my favorite patent leather, pointed toe oxfords and I'm wearing this eye-catching statement necklace from Charlotte Russe.  My purse is my usual nude Celine look-a-like and to put it all together... my leather jacket. 
I hope this post has inspired someone to step out of their comfort zones and branch out into different types of style.  If you're a night and day heel girl, try rocking a pair of Nike's or Adidas one day.  Trust me, you'll love it (and so will you're feet).  On the other hand, if all you typically wear is combat boots and jeans, go out on a limb and rock a midi dress with a pair of ankle boots.  That's the beauty of fashion; you aren't limited to just one style.  There's a world of clothes, shoes, and accessories out there and we are fortunate enough to have access to them.  So go out and try something new.  I promise you won't regret it.  Thanks for reading.
Much love,
Gabriella xx
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