Thursday, May 31, 2018

Monthly Favorites | May 2018

When the end of another month comes I'm always shocked at how fast it went by and think to myself "how is it the end of (insert month) already?!" and I know I'm not alone in this because I see it across Social Media. May was a good month of busy and laid back weekends. I got to try out a few things and these are my FAVORITE things from the month of May!

Nike Socks - yes, we're talking about socks but if you like no show socks and haven't found a pair that won't fall into your shoe, listen up. These look good with tennis shoes and Converse, come in a multitude of colors and feel light and comfy. I've been able to find these at Kohl's most successfully, but not all the time, so keep checking if you're intent on getting them and sometimes they even go on sale.

Wet N Wild Photo Focus Foundation - You guys, I do not usually turn to drugstore makeup, especially for foundation but I wanted to try out some products and this has been a standout product. I mean at $5 I wasn't expecting much, but it's done better than the two $10+ L'Oréal foundations I've tried.

Elf Lip Exfoliator - I was looking at trying out a couple lip scrubs from Lush or Mac to combat dried lips. Not that mine are bad, but when you wear matte lipstick you NEED hydrated, smooth lips. Anywho, I received this Elf one in the shape of a lipstick, no pot to stick your finger in, from the $10 Walmart Beauty Favorites Lip Box and I'm so glad I didn't waste my money on the other ones. The price point of $3 is CHEAP, the sweet flavor is nice and it gets the job done.

Walmart Beauty Box Favorites - think Sephora favorites boxes, except these are drugstore brands. You get around $30+ worth of stuff for $10. The lip box I purchased was mostly full size with maybe one travel or trial size. I have only been able to find them at Walmart Supercenters, and don't believe the online out of stock claim if you're near a Supercenter. They had several available. Six options, Lips, Eyes and Glow for beauty and Natural, Curly and Refresh/Renew for hair. I feel like this could have been it's own post, lol. The eye box has a mascara that a lot of people say is a dupe for BTS mascara. the mascara alone is $9 at Walmart ($10 most other stores), so for $1 you get 5 other items.

Jana Kramer Whine Down Podcast - I finally found a podcast that I wait for every week. I mean I can't relate to everything since I'm not married, but I just love how relatable and real Jana Kramer seems whenever I've listened to her in interviews. This podcast is no different.

Tequila by Dan + Shay
- This song has been on MAJOR repeat this month. There are several other Dan + Shay songs that have ended up on repeat in the past, so this one is no different. Their CD drops June 22nd and I can't wait to hear the other songs from this album.

I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara - Serial killers are my jam and you could definitely tell that from my reads this month. I loved the way this story read so smooth you would think it was a fiction novel and not non-fiction. With the capture of the killer around the time the book came out there was a lot of buzz and I think this lived up to the hype.

American Idol - as far as TV shows go, I'm usually all about the night time drama Chicago shows, Criminal Minds or SVU but the last few episodes of American Idol on ABC drew me in. Our family had a six degrees of separation with Maddie Poppe, so we started tuning in to see her and I just loved her sound and am so glad she won. Can't wait to see what she comes out with. Some of my favorite covers she did were Bare Necessities, Nothing Compares 2 U and If It Makes You Happy.

What things stood out to you this month?!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Dapper Day Weekend

Today is all about Dapper Day and Disney, BUUUUUUT you also need to check out the Doodle for Google contest going on and cast your vote!! So many amazing artists.

You guys, dressing up for Dapper Day at Disney World has been one of my absolute favorite things during my time as an Annual Passholder. I first heard about Dapper Day from a friend of mine that had AP passes before but never made it to Dapper Day so she told me when she bought her AP that she wanted to plan the weekend. Unfortunately I already had plans during the Fall one, so we penciled it in for Spring before I had anything else planned.

What is Dapper Day?
Back in the day when Disneyland first opened, visitors would wear their Sunday best to the parks and several years ago after seeing pictures from Disneyland in the mid 1900's decided it would be fun to recreate those looks. It's grown to include several of the parks across the world but the Disneyland one still seems like the best in my opinion because they have a convention you can attend, also.



I knew I wanted to do one day more dressy, so I figured the first day when we were doing Magic Kingdom and I could just refresh my hair for the next day. I can't tell you how many dresses I tried on, ordered from Amazon and sent back before finding this gem. Color scheme was also important since I wanted to be dapper Disney but also my own style.

Dress / Shoes / Belt (similar)

I initially planned on wearing curly hair, but I forgot my curling iron...dope. And I wanted to wear my sparkly converse but I didn't bring socks so I just wore my sandals both days and let me tell you these things have taken me all over the parks.
Top / Skirt / Shoes / Sunglasses

The cupcake was a dark chocolate and delicious!!

If you're planning on going to Dapper Day, make sure to check out their site or get on their email list because they'll email out a group reservation number for you to check on prices and book a hotel room on site for a discount. We stayed at Port Orleans Riverside. It's a moderate resort and we chose it because it had transportation via boat to Disney Springs and we knew we were going to want to do at least one night at Disney Springs.

We did a mini photo shoot around the property and I think the photos came out super cute!

Friday night we rode the ferry and met up with a friend of ours at Disney Springs Bongos Cuban Café for food, drinks and street dancing! Sarah decided to wear another dapper dress for the evening and posed with another light pole.

While the prices at Bongos were a little high, the drinks were strong and the fresh catch fish I had were well on point! I would totally eat there again, but I know there are so many places I have yet to try it'll probably be a while.

Have you ever dressed up from a different era?

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

All About the Books May 2018

Life According to Steph

Happy Book Day, friends!! I've mostly been reading through two inspirational romantic suspense series by Carol J. Post based in Florida, so I'm loving all of the places I know popping up in a story and also making plans to visit the places I haven't been that are mentioned. All of the books were good, with some more five stars than others. If you're interested, check out my ratings on Goodreads but if you like inspirational romantic suspense that's not in your face bible thumping, I definitely would check out this series from your library.

Now, onto the book that's not romance and was the standout book from this past month of reading...

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis was 5 stars, amazing! I loved seeing bits of factual history thrown in with fiction. The way it bounced back and forth between the time periods, while carrying the story could have been confusing, I think breaking it up between each chapter worked. I felt like I was immersed in the culture of the 1950's and it was a perfect story to read before Dapper Days at Disney.

Synopsis: Fiona Davis's stunning debut novel pulls readers into the lush world of New York City's glamorous Barbizon Hotel for Women, where in the 1950s a generation of aspiring models, secretaries, and editors lived side by side while attempting to claw their way to fairy-tale success, and where a present-day journalist becomes consumed with uncovering a dark secret buried deep within the Barbizon's glitzy past.

When she arrives at the famed Barbizon Hotel in 1952, secretarial school enrollment in hand, Darby McLaughlin is everything her modeling agency hall mates aren't: plain, self-conscious, homesick, and utterly convinced she doesn't belong—a notion the models do nothing to disabuse. Yet when Darby befriends Esme, a Barbizon maid, she's introduced to an entirely new side of New York City: seedy downtown jazz clubs where the music is as addictive as the heroin that's used there, the startling sounds of bebop, and even the possibility of romance.

Over half a century later, the Barbizon's gone condo and most of its long-ago guests are forgotten. But rumors of Darby's involvement in a deadly skirmish with a hotel maid back in 1952 haunt the halls of the building as surely as the melancholy music that floats from the elderly woman's rent-controlled apartment. It's a combination too intoxicating for journalist Rose Lewin, Darby's upstairs neighbor, to resist—not to mention the perfect distraction from her own imploding personal life. Yet as Rose's obsession deepens, the ethics of her investigation become increasingly murky, and neither woman will remain unchanged when the shocking truth is finally revealed.

Fast Burn by Lori Foster | 4 Stars | While this wasn't my favorite in the Body Armor series, I loved Brand and Sahara. I thought the action kept the story moving and loved that Sahara finally seemed to let herself relax and just be herself with Brand. They really made quite the match. I love that he wasn't willing to compromise and work for her, but the minute anything happens to her he's ready to be part of the team!

Synopsis: For the woman who’s his perfect match, he’s willing to break the rules…

The moment Brand Berry meets beautiful, driven Sahara Silver, the connection between them is electric. It’s also something he can’t pursue. Sahara wants him, sure—to join Body Armor, where his MMA skills, size and cocky attitude make him perfect for her elite crew of bodyguards. For Sahara, the agency always comes first, and Brand needs more. Yet when she’s kidnapped by men searching for her missing brother, he doesn’t hesitate.

Somewhere along the way, flirting with Brand for the sake of business turned very personal. Despite his refusal to join Body Armor, it’s Brand who steps up when Sahara needs him most. Now there’s no more time for games, and no point denying the hunger they both feel. They’ll escape together or not at all. But if they survive, can Sahara finally surrender control to claim this blazing passion?

ARC received for review.

Close Contact by Lori Foster | 5 Stars | I loved this! Out of the 3 fighters so far he was the gentlest and I thought the story was more realistic than the others as far as who he was guarding and the mystery behind her troubles. Love the small town life aspect of the town and that Miles and Maxi had a history.

Synopsis: MMA fighter Miles Dartman’s casual arrangement with personal shopper Maxi Nevar would be many men’s fantasy. She seeks him out, they have mindblowing sex, she leaves. Rinse, repeat. Yet lately, Miles wants more. And when Maxi requests his services via the Body Armor security agency, he’s ready to finally break through her defenses—and protect her day and night.

Receiving a large inheritance has brought chaos and uncertainty into Maxi’s life. Her ex has resurfaced, along with lots of former “friends,” and someone is making mysterious threats. Then there’s Miles, who doesn’t ask for anything…except her trust. Pleasure is easy. Now Maxi has to give her heart as well as her body…or risk losing a man who could be everything she needs.

Come Back To Me by Mila Gray | 3.5 Stars |
It was enjoyable, kept me turning the pages but not a book I'd read again. I thought the backstory between their parents was interesting but maybe a bit too much, especially with how her dad treated everybody.

Synopsis: Home on leave in sunny California, Marine and local lothario Kit Ryan finds himself dangerously drawn to his best friend's sister, Jessa - the one girl he can't have.

But Kit's not about to let a few obstacles stand in his way and soon Jessa's falling for his irresistible charms.

What starts out as a summer romance of secret hook-ups and magical first times quickly develops into a passionate love affair that turns both their worlds upside down.

When summer's over and it's time for Kit to redeploy, neither Kit nor Jessa are ready to say goodbye. Jessa's finally following her dreams and Kit's discovered there's someone he'd sacrifice everything for.

Jessa's prepared to wait for Kit no matter what. But when something more than distance and time rips them apart they're forced to decide whether what they have is really worth fighting for.

Up next:
Currently reading Stay With Me by Mila Gray aka This Is One Moment - title depends on where you live. It's about Jessa's best friend, Didi.

I only have one library book left after this and then I'm taking a break from borrowing books to read through the Harry Potter series.

Are we friends on Goodreads!!

What are you reading and loving lately?

Friday, May 4, 2018

Five on Friday + April 2018 Favorites

Happy May the 4th Be With You Day, hope you're sporting your Star Wars if that's your thang! I have my Star Wars romper on today and everybody in the house picked out a Star Wars shirt last night, so we're ready!! Here's our family photo with Chewy!!

Linking up with Amanda and Tif and Friends for High Five for Friday!

Premier Protein + Instant Coffee
This has pretty much replaced my starbucks fix. Not that I had a bad one, but I like quick and filling in the morning! I mean does Starbucks even have a protein shot option - that would be amazing! I am going to buy a tub of instant coffee to see if that's still just as amazing. This is definitely preferred for on the go.

My mom thinks it's a little chalky, but so far it's the one I've seen a lot of weight loss friends using and when I'm not having sugar it's such a treat!

Stylus Pen
If you write on your Instagram stories and don't carry one of these, you might just want to. I was always having a problem getting cute handwriting with just my finger and someone suggested this on their changer.

Cilantro + Lime + Jalapeno Steak Marinade

You guys, this was a first time recipe that was hands down, amazing right off the bat. Of course I didn't follow it to a T, and it's definitely fire-in-my-mouth spicy so only add the seeds if you dare but make this for tacos now! FYI, I did marinate it overnight, not just for 30 minutes.

Bongos Cuban Café
We had walked by this restaurant before and it always looked fun. I'm so glad we decided to eat here while we stayed at Disney at the end of April. The drinks were delicious, the food was AMAZING and the entertainment was on par, albeit a little loud.

I got my haircut!! I know this happened in May but I made the decision and scheduled the appointment a couple of weeks ago. I feel so free and flirty!

I hope you guys had a great April, a fabulous start to May and a fantastic weekend!!

Thursday, May 3, 2018

March and April 2018 Recap - What's New With Me

Since I missed March, I'll throw in what I did. The majority of it happened my Birthday weekend which I recapped here.

Scrapbook Shop Hop (formerly Treasure hunt)
I've talked about this before on the blog, but haven't done it in a couple years due to circumstances. This year we did it over two days, the "local" ones on a Saturday and all the farther away ones on Monday. Here's what I got. On Saturday we had to drop my dad off at the airport early so we started our day off at Mini Doughnut Factory and OMG if I'm ever down there and having a treat day I'm totally indulging again.

I didn't take a pic of all the stuff I bought, but I tried to keep to around $5-$10 at each store and I got some great stuff that I'll be using on my cards this year!

Primaverafest is a local fundraiser for at risk youth and each year it grows and grows. I love the mission behind Primavera and look forward to seeing where they help in the future! They had lots of alcoholic drinks, that's a majority of the money raised but they also had other vendors like this fresh fruit drink guy. This was a lime drink that definitely hit the margarita spot without the alcohol!

Homemade Pizza with my young adult group. It was delicious and I was so sad I didn't have more room in my stomach, lol!

I got to try out Besito with my sister! I've been making a list of all the Mexican places Nichole aka Casa de Crews eats at and trying them whenever I can get to Tampa on my days off. I'm such a creature of habit, but I love trying new things when someone else I trust has eaten there. Besito was definitely a place I'll be going back to.

I received my first Curology order and my doctor was impressed with the progress my face is showing in just a few weeks!!

Boomer received his first Chewy order. Since he's now 14 he wasn't eating his solid food or the solid with soft on top so we switched him to the Senior canned food and he was LOVING it until a couple weeks ago. His doggy dementia is strong...there was food in his bowl (I put it there while he was outside) and he wouldn't eat it. So we put his bowl back on the counter grabbed a fork and his container, fake scooped some in there and put it back down - he gobbled it right up.

He also celebrated 14 years!

We celebrated Easter but didn't take any pics of us in our pretty dresses!! And I finally used my letter board I got for my Birthday! I never know what to put on there and/or I forget to use it. I need to make plans!

I saw Cinderella at the Theater. We bought the tickets before Thanksgiving, so this has been in my planner for so long. It was great, so many talented individuals and I love that they keep the spirit of the theater. Where can you go now that you don't have your phone out taking pics or recording? Breath of fresh air for sure!

Dapper Day was a success! I had a great time dressing up and participating in Dapper Day at Disney World. The weather was even gorgeous for Saturday at Magic Kingdom. I'm working on a more in depth post but here are a few pics.

This month won't be nearly as busy, I'm hoping, but I'm looking forward to Memorial Day and some time off at the end of the month!!

How was your month?