Life Update | August 2017

– C O F F E E –

This is a very important update so listen up: I rarely go to Starbucks anymore. G A S P ! ! The reason comes in individual serving size packets and pairs nicely with almond milk & ice. Have you guessed? I still drink Starbucks coffee but in the comfort of my own home thanks to Via Instant. I know that most people know about this product, but it has been unbelievably easy to enjoy frappuccinos on days when I can’t make it to my neighborhood Starbucks. In fact, I have become so obsessed that even when I’m presented with the option to go to an actual Starbucks, I choose my “homemade” frappuccino. How crazy is that??! My favorite flavor at the moment is Sweetened Iced Coffee.

– B E D R O O M –

My room is small so the arrangement requires a lot of creativity. I recently had an epiphany at work regarding how I could make it feel more spacious and homey. I am happy to report that my idea worked, and I vlogged the whole process. The three-day project was exhausting but worth the effort because I feel like I have officially settled in.

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PbC6KS9yYNc

– B L O G G I N G –

I’ve been trying really hard to post consistently on both my blogs. The balance was off earlier this year because I got a paying job helping a photographer maintain her blog. I have since settled in, and I think everything is back to normal. Here are my recent blog posts:

• Misadventures in Babysitting

• Dance of the Paints | Thomas Blanchard

– F I N A N C I A L  S U P P O R T –

I love blogging & vlogging, but it does require money which I don’t have a lot of at the moment due to my status as a sales associate. I’m not exactly breaking the bank with my checks! I recently discovered a brand new website that makes it fun & easy for subscribers to support their favorite bloggers, business, vloggers, etc. Here is my Ko-fi ( pronounced like “coffee” ) link ➡️ https://ko-fi.com/A3023728

– R E A D I N G –

Good news: I took part in BookTube-A-Thon 2017, my very first time doing so. Even though my camera broke on day 6 and I couldn’t continue vlogging, I did continue to participate by reading & interacting on social media. I had so much fun and can’t wait for next year! Bad news: I am in a terrible reading slump A G A I N ! ! I was in one before BTAT, and here I am right back at square one. I have the desire, but every time I attempt to read, I have to force myself to keep going. Reading is the ultimate getaway for me, and I hate being in this mood. I need to pull up my big girl pants and just do it. I’m in the middle of 6 books ( yes, SIX ), and I need to finish all of them because I have exciting books to read in October & November. I also need to make serious progress on my Goodreads reading challenge because I have only completed 26 of my 50-book challenge. Not bad but still not great. Cheer me on!!

– R E T A I L –

I still hate retail. That’s pretty much it. 😂

– V A C A T I O N –

I am counting down the seconds, minutes, hours, days, & months until my autumn vacation. I know I echo the rest of my family when I say we desperately NEED this trip.

⏰ Current Countdown: 1 month, 12 days ⏰

– W E A T H E R –

If you’re a loyal follower of my blog, you know my visceral hatred for the summer months. I love cold foods & swimming, but this season is the absolute worst. I do nothing but sweat and feel gross and uncomfortable. I would much rather be cold & snuggle up in blankets while wearing a sweater. Whether you like it or not, autumn is upon us. Even though it’s my favorite season, I am hesitant to get excited. California disappointed me last year by remaining unbearably hot until the end of the year. Please please please don’t let me down this year!! 🍂 😭 🎃

– Y O U T U B E –

Lots of exciting news! Since my Charmed Aroma review video, I’ve been contacted by two more companies for reviews. I also have a major project in the works, something I’ve been planning for several months. I am slowly compiling products for a Bookish Gift Guide, a list of gift ideas for the bibliophiles in your life. I’ve already purchased two Jane Austen pillows and five candles inspired by A Game of Thrones, Edgar Allen Poe, Harry Potter, Romeo and Juliet, & The Princess Bride respectively. Before this video comes out later next year, there will be 1-2 review videos for various book-inspired candles; I plan to make this an ongoing series on my channel so suggestions are welcome. Last but not least, I mentioned earlier that my camera broke; thankfully I was able to replace it. The Canon Powershot G7 X Mark II has amazing quality, and I feel refreshed and excited for all the new content coming soon to my channel. Things are happening, and I’m going with flow. 🎉

| • I hope all of you have had a great summer. 🌞 I will be back soon with another post. 😘 • |

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Anthology Candles

Today I am reviewing products from Anthology Candles, a company owned by Rheney Williams and her husband Stephen.  Their soy products are whimsically inspired by music, movies, & books.  Keep reading for information on their candles, mini candles, & wax tarts.  My Youtube review video will be posted at the end for those of you who want to see the products in action.

Candles | $16.00

The top white layer is clean river water; the middle lavender layer is a floral blend; and the bottom purple layer is a mixture of flowers & water.  There is no need to burn the candle down to smell each layer; it immediately smells clean and floral.  If you like strongly scented candles that fill a room within minutes, this is not the product for you.  It took an hour for me to smell the scent, and even then I had to remain within a foot or two to enjoy it.  Once it is burnt, the candle’s scent is hidden by the smell of burnt wick.  As time goes on, the scent comes back and gets stronger.  The draw of this candle is definitely the aesthetic.  The design, inspired by the lantern scene in the Disney film Tangled, is spot on.  The white wax becomes transparent when burning and makes the candle appear as though it is a lantern.  The effect is mesmerizing!  If you are planning a Tangled party, think about investing in these candles and creating your very own “Floating Lanterns” scene.

• Find the candles here: https://anthologycandles.com/collections/candles

Mini Candles | $14 per sampler pack

Instead of purchasing more big candles, I got a sampler pack of four mini candles.  Belle’s Library is aged library books, hint of leather, & wild roses.  To me, it smells nutty with a hint of rose.  My nose is obviously confusing the smell of old books for nuts.  I don’t know of any other way to describe it.  It just smells nutty!  Mad Hatter’s Tea Party is bakery cakes with vanilla icing, chamomile tea, and a twist of cinnamon.  I do smell cinnamon and occasionally vanilla but mostly an icee.  I know that sounds crazy but it’s true!  Part of Your World is crisp coastal breeze & warm golden sand.  I smell a blend of vanilla & flowers, and the strength of the scent reminds me of Bath & Body Works products.  Tink’s Flight is fresh verbena, sweet coconut, & tangy lime.  I smell every single one of those notes.  The scent is sweet & sour just like Tinker Bell.  Time for the bad news.  The wicks are folded down in the packaging so when it comes time to light them, zip zilch NADA!  I had to trim the wicks a little bit and wipe them gently with a paper towel; I wasted a lot of matches before finally getting flames.  Once lit, the candles look pretty but don’t smell at all.  These sampler candles are fine if you plan on testing the scents without flame.  It might be a better investment to know what scents you like and buy a few big candles.

• Find the mini candles here: https://anthologycandles.com/collections/sample-packs

Wax Tarts | $25 for 4 different scents

* Note: Wax tarts are cubes of scent-infused wax.  Once placed in a warmer (e.g. Scentsy), the heat melts the wax and releases the scent.

I bought one sampler and received four different wax tarts.  Rivendell is amber, oakmoss, twilight woods, & woodland foliage.  I wish I could tell you that my dream of being a Middle Earth elf was fulfilled by this product.  Alas, it smells like play-doh, and the warmer is no help at all.  However, due to circumstances I cannot explain, the scent is improving.  There is hope yet!  Soaring Over is orange blossoms, orange groves, and salty sea breeze.  The scent is inspired by the Disney park ride Soaring Over California.  It smells of oranges and takes me right back to my childhood in Orange County.  The Black Pearl is cannonball smoke, mildewy wood, musty “pirates” water, & salty sea breeze.  I did not like this funky scent at first.  All you smell is must, mildew, and smoke.  Surprise of the year, it smells much more pleasant in the warmer.  If you aren’t into scents that are clean, floral, and/or sweet, this scent might float your boat (get it?!).  Wilderness Lodge is campfire and a forest tree mix of juniper, pine, & spruce.  This spicy forest scent will be p-e-r-f-e-c-t for Christmastime.  Overall, I am very happy with the scents I purchased.  However, much like the candles, it takes an hour or more for the scent to be recognizable, and it does not fill the room; you have to be within a few feet of the warmer to enjoy the scent.

* Rivendell scent description courtesy of http://ritareviews.net/2015/11/anthology-candles-spotlight-lord-of-the-rings/ *

• Find the wax tarts here: https://anthologycandles.com/collections/wax-tarts

Conclusion:

The novelty of Anthology Candles is attractive.  I would recommend their products for two things:

1. The candles and wax tarts are best enjoyed in close proximity (e.g. bedside table or living room side table).

2. I have seen the candles used as decor all over Instagram, especially on bookshelves.

My overall experience was good.  There are only a few changes I would suggest.

1. There are descriptions on the website for the candles but not the wax tarts.  This works out fine if the wax tart happens to have a candle, but if it doesn’t, there is no way of knowing what the scent is.  Also, the packaging gives no indication of the scent.

2. The mini candle sampler packs are not customizable.  There are three packs available, each with a set group of candles.  I am not sure of the possible complications, but it would be nice to have a customization option in the future.

3. The wax tarts can only be purchased in groups of four.  Once again, a customization option would be nice in the future.

4. These products would be much more enjoyable and worth the money if the scents were stronger.

• My review video:

• If you’re interested in more information on Anthology Candles, here are some links to get you started:

Article – http://ritareviews.net/2015/10/the-craft-behind-the-candles-by-rheney-williams/

Etsy – https://www.etsy.com/shop/AnthologyCandles

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/anthologycandles/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/anthologycandles/?hl=en

Twitter – https://twitter.com/anthologycandle

Website – https://anthologycandles.com

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– Lauren Michele <3

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Take a peek at my channel:

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I sincerely appreciate your support of my blog and hope we can continue to be online friends on Youtube.  If my videos do not suit your tastes, I completely understand.  We can still be blog friends. ;)

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– Lauren Michele

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Tips For a Better Holiday Shopping Experience

(Image Source: http://www.metro.us/news/black-friday-don-t-forget-about-small-business-saturday/tmWmkx—efUBgYqtPMYDk/)

Happy faces??  I think not!!  I am sure I’m not the only one who hates crowds, especially around Christmastime.  I love shopping, but holiday crowds are in a league of their own.  I want to share the tips I have learned from my experiences in hopes that your stress level will decrease and your holiday spirit increase.  Let us proceed with the merriment!

1.  It is never too early to start Christmas shopping.  Sometimes the best deals show up after Christmas.  Why not get a head start?  The only thing you will have to worry about is a good hiding spot.  ;)

2.  Make a budget.  Know what you have to spend and shop accordingly.  Keep track of your money every step of the way.  Before shopping, I make a list of anticipated prices; I round up each price (e.g. $15.35 would be  $16) and add fifteen dollars for tax and shipping.  Always overestimate and expect the unexpected.  Bonus: It feels good to finish shopping and have money left over.

3.  Have your loved ones write down what they need/want.  A list will eliminate guesswork which takes precious time away from shopping and other holiday tasks.

4.  Adding to #3, make a list of what gift(s) you are getting for each person.  This way, you only have to spend time finding the best deal for specific items instead of wandering the internet with no light at the end of the tunnel.

5.  Do not be afraid of the interweb!  The internet is your best friend if you want to avoid crowds.  Also, you get to shop in pajamas and sip hot chocolate from the comfort of your home.  Nothing wrong with that!

6.  If you are concerned that an online store is sketchy, use a website like scamadviser.com or consumeraffairs.com.  You can also type the name of the business and the term “legitimate” into your web browser’s search engine for results containing reviews.

7.  If you are worried about online shopping costing more due to shipping, fear not!  You will be pleasantly surprised at how many online stores offer low shipping prices or free shipping, especially during the holiday season.

8.  The websites I visit first are Amazon and eBay.  Those are two good places to start if you want to dig and find good deals.

9.  My main tips for handling an eBay auction are as follows: Be online for at least the last five minutes of the auction, continuously refresh the page, wait until the last few seconds to bid, and bid at least one dollar above the price (e.g. if the price is $30, bid $31).  This isn’t a surefire way to win, but you will have a better chance of avoiding being outbid and winning.  And yes, I have won an auction with this plan.

10.  The Google Shopping tab is a good tool to use for finding the lowest prices for products.

11.  If you find coupon codes, use them!  I know this sounds like an obvious tip, but I am 100% certain there are people who have made purchases without realizing that there was a great coupon code available.  Not all coupon codes are valid so some trial and error may be involved, but it is worth it.  At least try!  One way to get coupon codes is to make a free account with the website you are shopping on; most online stores send a discount to new members.  Another way is typing the name of the store and the term “coupon code” into your web browser’s search engine.  The first few results are usually the most reliable (e.g. RetailMeNot or Groupon).

12.  Adding to #11, coupon codes and discounts are great, but make sure you do some math before checking out.  Discounted products could allude to higher tax and shipping cost.  Full price is not always the enemy.

13.  Another good way to compare prices is “checking out.”  Basically, I start to check out on two or more websites with the same item but only go to a certain point.  I do this in an attempt to find out the exact tax and shipping costs and calculate the cheapest total.

14.  I know there is a rush that comes with shopping for loved ones during Christmastime, but be patient.  If you rush, you might miss out on some great deals and/or accidentally go over budget.  Do not give in to impatience and accept the first price you see for the sake of feeding your excitement.

15.  On the flip side, if you find a ridiculous deal and your gut says act fast, do it.  Certain deals come once and only once.  Experience is the best tool for gauging if a deal is good or not.  That’s right!  The more you shop, the more you know.  ;)

16.  When in doubt, remember why you are shopping.  You want to put a smile on the faces of your loved ones and show them how much you care.  That is all the motivation you need to complete your mission shoppers.

My 2015 budget was $266, and I had three people to shop for.  I bought my first two presents and felt pretty good about where my budget was at.  Then, a shopper’s worst nightmare came true for me: I realized that I had accounted for $40 I did not have.  DUN DUN DUUUN!!!  That number may seem insignificant, but when your piggy bank is a source of income and a budget your lifeline, $40 is a make or break amount.  I had a complete meltdown: tears, screaming, the works.  After my less than stellar adult moment, I regained composure, put on my thinking cap, and did some more research.  Currently I have all but one gift purchased and am well under budget.  A Christmas miracle in November!!  Once I purchase my last gift, I will have spent $194 total for six gifts, received $80 for outside contribution, and be $152 under budget.  Keep in mind that the six gifts I bought for three people could easily be six gifts for six people.  I hope this gives you a visual of how the 16 tips listed above are effective, especially when money is tight.  Also, they are functional year-round.  Happy shopping!

(Image Source: http://giphy.com/gifs/christmas-lights-tree-jPVMA8hVPEl6E)

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– Lauren Michele <3

Previous Post: May the Odds be Ever in Your Favor

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Moving On

Moving On

On Monday I left Texas, my home of 13 years. My family’s 6-bedroom house provided shelter to 26 people, not including me, my parents, and my brother; I always had extended family around me. On Tuesday I arrived in California, my new home; my family currently lives in a one-bedroom apartment above a garage. Quite the adventure we are on!! The picture you see above is my room, an empty room bursting at the seams full of memories. It is amazing to recall all the things that took place in that space: Babysitting, beauty transformations, concerts, counseling, dance practice, dreams, doll shenanigans, dramatic dress up, DVD viewings, emotional breakdowns, exercise sessions, fashion shows, fights, hide-and-seek, 2+ hour phone calls, illness rehabilitation, internet browsing, late night reading, outfit planning, schoolwork, and sleepovers. One last thing: Me and my best friend Gabby officially became friends in that room thanks to “Lord of the Beans.” I moved to Texas when I was 8, and I am now 21. My middle school, junior high, high school, and college years took place in that state. Many different struggles and transitions took place in that house; perhaps now you have a better idea of why it is so special to me. It is bittersweet to move on, but I will always carry the memories with me in my heart.

Treasure each moment readers! You never know when you will be uprooted and replanted.

– Lauren Michele :)

Previous Post: https://laurenmichelelifestyle.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/dont-forget-me/

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