Alternative Engagement Rings

When most people think of engagement rings, the classic round diamond solitaire probably comes to mind. But I’ve really been loving the trend of simpler rings and alternative stones (including black/gray/brown diamonds, pearls and gemstones) in recent years. When a friend showed us her black diamond engagement ring a couple years ago, we all gasped because it was so beautiful, untraditional and it suited her so perfectly (she was never a diamond solitaire kinda gal).

Now that I’m older (married almost 10 years + 2 kids), a simpler ring would better suit my lifestyle because to be honest, I don’t wear my engagement ring anymore. Unfortunately rings tend to get in the way when you’re constantly using your hands, picking kids up, and washing your hands. I also have a problem with it snagging on my gloves in the winter, so I worry about the stone falling out, or even getting mugged!

If I were to pick an engagement ring today, I’d definitely go the more dainty/alternative route. The trend of smaller rings has been around for a while, and I love them as engagement rings because they can be stacked and styled many different ways, dressed up and dressed down. And of course because they use smaller stones and alternative stones, they cost much less than traditional diamond engagement rings.

Here is an assortment of beautiful rings from some of my favorite jewelry designers: Jennie Kwon, Blanca Monros Gomez, Mociun, and Satomi Kawakita.

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Buying a DSLR: What You Should Know

via Flickr

After spending years debating whether to buy a DSLR, I finally pulled the trigger and bought a Canon Rebel T3i. It’s probably one of my biggest purchases to date, but it was also completely worth it. Although I am over the moon about my DSLR, the process to actually buying it wasn’t as great. Since these cameras tend to be on the expensive side, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of models, companies, and options that are out there. To top it off, I felt that all my photography-obsessed friends each had their own opinion about certain brands. I spent hours researching the best type of camera for me to purchase. So, to help anyone who also might be considering buying a DSLR, I summarized my research below!

 1. Consider if you really need one.

In a world where so much of social media revolves around photos, a camera capable of taking high-quality photos is on anyone’s wishlist. But that doesn’t mean you need one.

Keep in mind that digital cameras (otherwise known as point-and-shoots) and your iPhone are capable of taking great pictures too without the heavy price tag, as long as you know how to shoot and edit a good picture (I like Elsie’s tips for iPhone pictures here). Fantastic photos unfortunately don’t come in the box with the DSLR. There’s a learning curve with using these cameras, not to mention different accessories you’ll need to purchase for high quality pictures like additional lenses which are typically hundreds of dollars. If you’re only looking to take shots of your family, friends, or pets, a point-and-shoot might be a good option. If you’re looking to take a lot of action shots, underwater shots, or just crazy in shots in general, a Go-Pro might be a better option for you. That isn’t to say a DSLR can’t take pictures of your family or friends, but it may not be a smart investment when there are much more affordable options out there.

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Amy’s End Of Summer Favorites

Fall is right around the corner which means summer is finally coming to a close. Students are heading off to school and leaves will soon begin to fall. Before I start my back to school shopping, I decided to figure out which products I love and which I am going to stop using in the upcoming months. Summer is the best time to try out a beauty product to test their longevity, color, and overall performance. It is also a great time to experiment with new skin care and of course, wear your favorite summer clothes. These products are the standouts of my summer and the things that kept me looking fresh, tanned, and entertained from June until September.

1. Netflix

This summer I spent my days working on school, working on blog posts or working out. Then my favorite part of the day would roll around where I tuck myself into bed and I push play on my favorite show. At the beginning of summer I binge watched every episode of Desperate Housewives in a whopping 27 days. If you have any recommendations for shows that are a must see I would love to hear them; I’m still trying to fill my DH void.

2. Miss Manga Mascara

I have never been a huge fan applying mascara over any other product. When I do wear mascara, I have been reaching for this one by L’Oreal. It gives my lashes nice long looking curl without clumps. After one coat of this mascara I like to apply a coat of another L’Oreal mascara to add extra length. For the summer I particular enjoy this mascara because it is nearly impossible to get off. There is no flaking or smudging throughout the day and it is a great summertime mascara for those who are sweating or outside a lot.

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Allison’s Skincare Routine For Combination-Oily Skin

I’ve been dealing with combination-oily skin since I was a pre-teen. Every product that I’ve ever tried has either made my skin incredibly oily and clogged my pores, or left me with flaky, dry skin. As if that wasn’t bad enough, I’ve always managed to break out in my t-zone area, along with enlarged pores and unwanted shine. So over the years, I’ve tried a ton of products that have made the cut, or have been pawned off to my friends with different skin types.

Since a culprit of oily skin can be dehydration, I make sure to drink two tall glasses of water before I start using any products. To be honest, this little step has helped more than any other product I’ve tried. It’s also a great step to take before I begin my morning ritual of drinking copious amounts of coffee. So after drinking my morning water, here’s what I currently use to assist with my problematic skin…

1. Ole Henriksen’s African Red Tea Cleanser | 2. Liz Earle’s Instant Boost Skin Tonic | 3. Ole Henriksen’s Grease Relief Face Tonic | 4. Argan Oil | 5. Origins GinZing Eye Cream | 6. Origins’ Modern Friction | 7. Caudalie’s Beauty Elixir | 8. Tea Tree Oil | 9. Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay

1. I can’t stand to use eye makeup removers because they seem to make my skin even more oily, so I always opt for a cleanser that can remove dirt, grime and makeup. I’m using Ole Henriksen’s African Red Tea Cleanser and I’ve been loving the results. It does a terrific job of removing my makeup at the end of the day, and it doesn’t contain parabens, sulfates or phthalates. I’m also in love with the scent—if you love citrusy smells, you’ll fall in love with this cleanser.

2 & 3. I’ve been a little neglectful with using a toner in the past, but now that I’m noticing some acne scarring and discoloration, I’ve been making sure to apply toner once in the morning and before bed. Right now, I’m using Ole Henriksen’s Grease Relief Face Tonic in the morning, and Liz Earle’s Instant Boost Skin Tonic at night. I find that Ole Henriksen’s tonic does a great job of reducing any oil and shine before makeup application for the day, and Liz Earle’s tonic is more of a floral, pampering night tonic before bed. It helps to reduce any irritation or redness after I wash my makeup off.

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Remembering Our Heroes

image via sweatengine instagram

If you ask any New Yorker to describe what happened On September 11th, 2001, they will be able to tell you exactly where they were, who they were with, what they felt and the dreadful journey they had to take back home.

I was in my third grade classroom. A teacher ran into our class with concern and pulled my teacher aside. The look of horror is something I will never forget. We were young so the teachers and administration proceeded throughout the day with caution. My friends were called out of class one by one as their parents picked them up. Being the 8 year old that I was, I was excited to go home until I finally understood the magnitude of the situation. A car ride which was normally 30 min became 8 hours long, with 7 other kids in the car.

I got home and started watching news channel after news channel; my family tried to shield me from the horrific videos, but I had to watch. Although I did not personally lose someone to the 911 attacks, we were all united through an unspeakable tragedy. That day and always I have been a proud New Yorker.

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DIY: Cross-Stitch | The Basics

Cross stitch is one of my favorite crafts to do because it can be so personalized and the supplies are very, very cheap. You can cross stitch anything you want as long as it’s on a grid pattern, even your favorite lyrics to that Beyonce song or an emoji. Lately, subversive patterns and quotes have been really trendy (search Etsy if you really want to see some) and Taylor Swift made everyone aware of the embroidery world when she made Ed Sheeran this bad boy. Framed cross stitch patterns make wonderful, unique housewarming presents.

Supplies You’ll Need

  • A pair of scissors
  • Cross-stitch fabric – I like Aida, 14 count (can be purchased here but I got probably around four times as much for that price at my local craft store). Aida is great because the fabric is thick, meaning you don’t need an embroidery hoop—although I’ve found a hoop really helps me with larger projects for spacing purposes. But hoops are really cheap at craft stores. A 9″ hoop cost me $1.99.
  • Embroidery floss in your colors of choice – Unless your project is really big, one or two skeins will be more than enough.
  • A sewing needle – I’m not picky when it comes to the size. The holes in the fabric are pretty large and it can be difficult threading the floss, so I would go for a thicker needle. That being said, don’t buy such a thick needle that it will enlarge the holes of the fabric.

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10 Desserts To Perfect Before Fall Arrives

via Katie At The Kitchen Door

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but as soon as the weather cool down, I am a sucker for seasonal treats. Here are a few recipes that I’ve bookmarked for some serious time in the kitchen, like this apple cider doughnut cake above…

via My Baking Addiction, Chilitonka

I remember trying homemade apple butter for the first time as a child and absolutely loving it! Every fall, I get really nostalgic for that country cooking, so what better way to recreate those memories than to try and make it myself? I’m also a sucker for crunchy seasonal treats too—these apple chips look like a great crunchy treat to take to the office!

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