My North Pole elf powers have taken a serious hit in the past few years. In 2016, I had to repurchase two gifts due to damage. This year, I received two damaged gifts and was only able to successfully replace one. The other was a handmade, custom item and arrived twice in terrible condition due to measurement issues; I chose to walk away with a refund rather than risk receiving a third defective product. Seriously, what has happened to me?? Gifting used to be my cup of tea, and now I can’t seem to climb out of the funk I’m in. I carefully observe the recipients so I can pick the perfect gifts; I make an airtight budget so I can save and spoil my loved ones; and I buy from trustworthy sources (eBay has disappointed me one too many times). I’m still satisfied with my 2017 gifts, but I can’t help feeling disappointed. On top of my misery, I can’t see Star Wars: The Last Jedi until Monday night. UGH!!! On the bright side, I have a day off (from my retail job) to relax a little bit. Even though I have a to-do list of work that has to get done, I will definitely be squeezing in some baking, Christmas movies, & reading. Happy Saturday!
“Savor the first bite of crisp green apples in a sun-kissed orchard! Refresh your spirit with this juicy fragrance that combines the scent of apples with a sophisticated blend of peaches and exotic flowers.”
“Lure your imagination into a luscious field with juicy strawberries and plum blossom. The perfect blend of rich strawberry, juicy pomegranate and creamy vanilla will have you feeling ‘berry’ relaxed!”
I sat within a few feet of each soy candle while it burned. The scents smell exactly as described. They are subtle at first but grow stronger after the first hour; they don’t hit you all at once but rather in waves every few minutes. For the Green Apple candle, I changed the location to a central room in my house; after the three-hour burning time, every open room smelled like green apples. The fruit scents are my favorite because I’ve transitioned into spring/summer mode; they smell even better when the candle is lit, like grilled fruit for a summer BBQ. Sugar Kisses was a pleasant surprise because Charmed Aroma was nice enough to send it to me for free. I am happy to announce that it is not sickly sweet like candy but rather soft like vanilla.
“Ever dream of swimming with the dolphins? Take a dip into the turquoise waters and drift into a dream state. This fresh-scented bath bomb captures the pure marine notes of the sea that will have you dreaming of your next getaway!”
This bath bomb turned my bathwater into a gorgeous shade of turquoise blue but didn’t leave any stains. After one hour my skin smelled like I had spent a day at the spa. I’m not really sure how to describe the scent. It’s kind of floral but also a bit like watermelon. This is an odd thing to say, but the only thing I can compare it to is the Seabreeze Squeeze smoothie at Jamba Juice (cranberry/apple juice blend, orange sherbet, banana, raspberries, strawberries).
The first bath bomb arrived broken. I filed a complaint on March 31st and received a response on April 1st that my broken bath bomb would be replaced. I received an email on April 7th that Sea Breeze was out of stock and replied that Green Apple would be fine as a replacement, even though it isn’t what I ordered. My package shipped on April 19th and arrived on April 22nd. I wasn’t expecting it, but I did receive Sea Breeze. I am happy that the problem was resolved, and the customer service representatives were very nice. However, the process was frustrating. I initially wanted to place my first order back in February, but all the bath bombs on the website were out of stock. I waited a little over one month, and finally a new bath bomb was introduced. It arrived broken, and when I tried to get a replacement, it was out of stock. I said Green Apple would be fine, but my package took another two weeks to arrive because I was sent Sea Breeze. I ended up with what I ordered, but I wish someone had told me that was why my package took so long to ship. Due to lack of communication, I had no idea what was going on.
“Engage your senses every day with the tropical sensation of Charmed Aroma’s Acai Berry Body Scrub. Our unique sugar scrub formula contains a balance of gentle exfoliants and deep moisture that leave your skin healthy and refreshed. Massage generously onto skin with warm water.”
“Pamper your skin with an indulgence that lasts throughout the day. This rich, luxurious cream with natural coconut oils penetrate deep into the skin’s surface, infusing it with deep moisture and a silky soft feeling that lasts for 24 hours.”
The scrub isn’t chunky and abrasive but rather like a gritty silly putty. I know that’s a weird description! Basically it’s great for sensitive skin. I recommend soaking in the tub after using the scrub to let the numerous oils soak into your skin; the silky smooth results are worth it. The creamy body butter adds even more moisture, and the combination of scents are a tropical match made in heaven. The lotion did make my sensitive skin a little red, but the irritation went away within a few minutes. After nine days, I had used approximately 75% of the scrub and 15% of the lotion. Perhaps I used too much scrub at once but I would say the lotion is a better value for the price.
*Note: If you like the Mango Coconut body butter, you will like the Aloha Mango candle and vice versa.
I placed my order on March 23rd. The package shipped on March 24th and arrived on March 31st. I am very happy with the quality of each product, and the beautiful jewelry is an added bonus. The earrings don’t hurt my ears, and the rings don’t make my fingers turn green. My one complaint is the Sugar Kisses ring has some kind of yellow glue on it which cheapens the look. The products are pricey so I wouldn’t recommend Charmed Aroma for value but rather a special treat every once in awhile. They are also a great resource for gifts. Happy shopping! 🛍️
I did it! I bought a jumbo Disney pin. Call me insane if you must, but I feel good about my purchase. I know that not everybody will understand the draw of Disney pins and the desire to spend money on them. Honestly, I can’t tell you much more than “It’s just plain fun.” This particular pin holds a lot of significance with me as a Disney fan. Keep reading to find out why! My Youtube video is provided down below for those of you who want to watch the opening process and see more of the pin.
I tried my best to take a picture that did it justice because this pin is heavy, glossy, colorful, and magically beautiful. Moving on to the moment of truth. I will keep you in suspense no longer. Can you guess the significance of this pin? Drum roll please…
Tarzan, Aladdin, and Hercules are my top 3 favorite animated Disney movies!!
How cool is it that I found a pin featuring the couples from those three movies?! As long as I live, this pin will remain in my possession. I want to mention a couple more cool facts. All three of these movies feature male protagonists. Interesting! I am obviously more fascinated by heroes than princesses. ;) Tarzan, Aladdin, and Hercules had shows on Disney Channel respectively, and I watched them every week on the TV at my grandma’s house. <3
I consider myself a person with a good sense of humor. I try my best to decipher the appropriate times to let go and laugh. This is not one of those times. Recently, I noticed some jokes on social media centered around the California drought. I not only find this in bad taste but extremely offensive. I am a California girl born and raised so I am naturally protective, but I have other reasons. The drought is much more than a shortage of water. Thanks to the lack of rain and scorching temperatures, the Golden State is kindling ready to ignite. Hearing about or driving by a fire is a daily occurrence. A few weeks ago, the shopping center where I work was more crowded than usual because people were waiting for the smoke from a nearby fire to clear from the air. Of course some fires are started by people, but the dry conditions invite the flames to spread with open arms. Farmers are scrambling to protect their livelihood. Families have lost their homes. People have lost their lives. Is that funny?? NO!! Yes, there are selfish people who have not taken the drought seriously, but that is not an excuse. It doesn’t matter what your personal feelings are regarding this state. Next time you want to poke fun at the California drought, remember the people whose lives are being negatively affected. Let this be a lesson to us all: educate yourself before opening your mouth.
I have been a retail associate for two weeks and seen things that make me ill with disgust. Now I know why my mom taught me and my brother to be thoughtful shoppers. Part of my job is keeping the store clean, but that isn’t an excuse for customers to leave a mess. Don’t leave cutting boards on the sunglasses rack. Don’t spit out your gum on the floor. Don’t put candy or toys on the shoe racks. One purse per hook, not twenty. When you look at an item and decide not to buy it, please put it back where you found it rather than leaving it on the floor or in a random department. This is a season for love and joy. Let us all, myself included, think of the employees giving of their time to help others prepare for Christmas. Please be a considerate shopper this season and year-round!
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!
Prepare yourself. I’m about to vent about some not-so-happy issues. Me and my mom recently relocated to the west coast to join my dad and brother who had already been living in that area for a few years. Because of college, the move was stretched out to three years for me and for my mom who selflessly chose to stay behind and help me. Words will never be able to express my gratitude! An impending out-of-state move is not easy to deal with while going through undergraduate education. As if the stress of daily homework and sleepless nights wasn’t enough, let’s throw in living out of boxes and without furniture. Fast forward to now. My family is currently sharing a mini apartment above a garage, a space I have nicknamed “The Loft”; it has one main room (a living room, table, and kitchen with no stove), one bathroom, and one bedroom (two small beds). In case you haven’t already done the math, four adults are sharing a living space meant to comfortably accommodate two people, perhaps two adults and one small child. I can’t complain because at least my family has somewhere to live. However, living in small quarters for an extended period of time is not a comfortable situation to be in. The cherry on top is I have no job, no money, and no car.
I am an introvert therefore it is important that I force myself to go out otherwise I wont do it at all. So far I am failing miserably even though living like a hermit is sucking the life out of me. I am pale from not going outside. I have no physical energy. I have way too much time to analyze and criticize myself. I am becoming even more uncomfortable around people. I am stressed to the point of regular migraines and anxiety attacks. In a nutshell, NO BUENO!!! Why the heck am I writing all this down on my blog?? Well, Tuesday was one of those days when I was stuck in the loft working on my laptop and stressing over my current project and life in general. Also, it was really hot outside, and heat is the worst possible antagonist on a stressful day. I doubt it is too late for me to get out of this awful cycle, but in my “Debbie Downer” brain, it is. Being social has not produced positive results in my life therefore I am very cautious. I am unfortunately comfortable in this way of life, but I know it is not a healthy way to live. The moral of this story is “Don’t live like a hermit if you have the choice not to.” The black hole does not magically disappear and replace itself with sunshine and rainbows; it only gets deeper. Find a happy medium between being yourself and living without regret. I am going to close with a list of things that make me happy. Let’s end on a positive note!
This is a SUPERSIZED Spring and Summer fashion haul consisting of apparel from Kohls, Target, TJ Maxx, and V-Luxury. If you prefer not to look at pictures, you can watch my Youtube version: https://youtu.be/IqMxHfWv0sA
If you would like to look at pictures, proceed. :)
I know, I know. I am the absolute worst at Blogmas!! I have tried, I really have. I wrote a Hanukkah post on my art blog and it took two full days to research and write. It was 3 am by the time I finished, and I was not at all ready to blog again the next day. However, I am extremely proud of the finished product so if you have not yet seen it, here is the link: http://laurenmichelephotography.wordpress.com/2014/12/19/artmas-2014-joy-to-the-world/ I am sorry if this excuse is awful and unacceptable, but it is the truth. Moving on. I had a great time with my family this weekend. We did some shopping at the mall and watched lots and lots of Christmas movies. I would like to point out that they were willing, my dad and brother included, to watch both family and romance movies. That is love!! It is no secret that I have had problems getting into the Christmas spirit, but spending quality time with my family made me feel much more merry, as did watching “Blind Side.” “Blind Side” is an emotional movie, not easy to get through without crying, but it has a happy ending. I give it 5 stars. It holds a special place in the hearts of my family because ever since I was born my parents have been taking in people who needed a place to live. I have considered each and every one of them a member of my family regardless of size, shape, and color. It is a great feeling to know that my family was able to help so many people. I love my extended, colorful family and always will!!
Happy December 3rd readers! Despite the cloudy weather I experienced today, my Christmas spirit is not drenched (See what I did there??). I actually enjoy cold, rainy weather. The first half of my day was spent doing laundry. Exciting stuff. However, a mommy-daughter lunch at Coco’s made up for 3 1/2 hours of washing, drying, and folding. After that, we made a quick stop at the store for some essential groceries A.K.A. salted caramel hot chocolate and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. What is it about the holidays that makes our shopping carts so unhealthy?? One word: tradition. That one word can justify all things unhealthy, ranging from eggnog and hot chocolate to cookies and pies. Well, it doesn’t really justify, but, in the spirit of Christmas, the details are blurred. Some say “Holiday calories don’t count.” Tell that to my body when it is screaming from pain after post-Christmas workouts. Thank God Christmas only happens once a year. Oh the struggle!!
Only 22 days until Christmas. Stay merry readers!!
– Lauren Michele :)
“We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns and syrup. ” – Buddy Hobbs, “Elf”