Give the Gift of Good Hair: 13 Hair Products to Gift this Season

My favorite part of the winter holidays is that cold weather = great hair! I’m frequently getting questions about what I do to my hair, how I style it, and what products I use, so I thought this gift guide was much  needed! I’ve included my go-to hair products and products that are on my “want” list, ranging from hot tools and Keratin sprays. Whether it’s a stocking stuffer or a splurge item, you can’t go wrong with giving the gift of good hair! 🙂

GIFT THE GIFT OF GOOD HAIR


    1. Turbie Twist $11.99 | If you’re still trying to wrap a massive towel around your head after you shower, you are seriously missing out! Turbie Twists would make a great stocking stuffer or gift for literally anyone: mom, daughter, roommate, etc.
    2. CHI for Ulta Beauty Pink Pro Dyer $89.95 | This is a great quality hair dryer for under $100! If you’re in the market for a better quality hairdryer that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, this would be a great option!
    3. Moroccanoil Moisture Repair Shampoo & Conditioner Combo Set $38.90 | I’ve seen Moroccanoil products all over my social media for months, and I’ve wanted to give it a try so badly, but it’s a bit more expensive than what I usually pay for hair products. I will say, though, less than $40 for shampoo and conditioner isn’t bad, especially for such high-quality products. I’ve heard nothing but great reviews of this stuff, so hook a girl in your life up with some (…aka maybe me? :))
    4. Velvet Scruchies $9.00 | Scrunchies are making a come back!!! YAS. This would be the perfect stocking stuffer and would definitely guarantee that your besties stay on trend haha.
    5. Drybar Glitter Gang Limited Edition Set $172 | I got an email about this earlier and knew I had to add it to this list! I know it’s much more of a splurge than other products I typically share, but this gift would be so great for any girly-girl. I mean, a sparkly blowdryer?! So. cute. It comes with so many great products, and I’m sure any girl would be so excited to open this box of goodies!
    6. CHI Keratin Mist Leave-In Strengthening Treatment $16.00 | This stuff has been my go-to for years. It smells so, so good and makes my hair so soft. I couldn’t recommend this stuff more. It would also make such a great stocking stuffer!
    7. Drybar Brush Crush Straightening Brush $145 | Another splurge item, yes, but if you’re looking to venture out of your hairstyling-tool-comfort-zone, this would be the perfect gift for you! Got frizzy, curly, or just tons of hair? YOU NEED THIS.
    8. NuMe Curl Jam $97.30 | Okay…you actually do need this!!! AND IT’S UNDER $100! I’ve been using the NuMe Curl Jam (base + 3 curling barrels and straightener) for almost 5 years. I’ve never had any issues with these products whatsoever, which is a huge deal because most of my “high end” straighteners broke after a year. If you get anything off this list, get this! I’ve linked it to Amazon above, but you can also get it at Ulta for the same price. 
    9. Batiste Dry Shampoo Trio $9.99 | What girl doesn’t want to make their “second-day hair” last an extra day? I know I do!! Batiste dry shampoo is easily the best dry shampoo I’ve used, and this would be the perfect stocking stuffer! Give someone all three or open the box and split them up amongst your friends. 
    10. It’s A 10 Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin $20.58 | This might be the product I hear people rave the most about. Get this product and the CHI Keratin Mist in travel sizes for stocking stuffers so your friend can pick which one they like best! Both are great options. *Select It’s A 10 products are BOGO free at Ulta until Nov. 17 at 11:59! Stock up while you can!
    11. Not Your Mother’s Beach Babe Texturizing Salt Spray $3.59 | This is the most affordable item on this list and is a product I swear by. My hair doesn’t require many products to hold my curls, but I love spraying this to add texture and volume. And the best part is it actually smells like the beach!
    12. & 13. Popband London Hairtie Pack $9.00  &  Kitsch Hair Tie Bobble 4pc $6.00| I love both of these types of hairties and think they would make such fun stocking stuffers.

SHOP THE ULTA PRODUCTS HERE:

What are your favorite hair products to use in the winter? Do you use any of these products?!

XOXO,

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Tackle Holiday Shopping with these 5 Tips

Last night on Instagram, I shared that I have the opportunity to do Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University through my work, and wow…two weeks in, and I really need to make some changes in my spending habits. The course could not be starting at a better time, because I am notorious for spending too much money, especially around the holidays.

When the holidays role around, it can be so easy to over spend or splurge on items that otherwise wouldn’t be worth splurging on. I often get caught up in the “sales” and the idea of saving money and end up spending so much more than I should on gifts for people that I really don’t need to buy anything for. Sound like you too? Try incorporating some of these tips into your holiday shopping this season!

Holiday Shopping Tip #1: Make a Budget and Stick to It

By far the hardest thing about shopping on a budget is sticking to it. Each Christmas, I make a list of who I need to buy a gift for and how much I want to spend per person. For my parents or grandparents, I usually give myself a range (i.e. $100-150), whereas with friends or distant relatives, I’ll usually try to stick to $25 or less. In many cases, I don’t even end up buying gifts for everyone I’ve allocated money for. It’s so much better to over budget than under budget, amiright???

One of the most important parts of budgeting is writing it down. Keeping a mental note of how much you’ve spent is one sure way to over spend during the holidays. You should write down your budget so you can reference it when shopping, check off gifts once you’ve purchased them, and if you’ve saved money in some places, you might even be able to redistribute the money for someone else’s gift.

You also shouldn’t feel obligated to buy everyone a gift. This is something I really struggle with, because I would love to give gifts to everyone, but that’s just not financially feasible right now. When I begin writing my list of people I need to shop for, I typically create some sort of ranking (i.e. my nephews will be the top on my list, parents/grandparents, siblings, and so on). I’ll be sharing my favorite DIY/low-cost gifts to give your family and friends over the next few weeks, so stay tuned. 🙂

Holiday Shopping Tip #2: Get an Accountability Shopping Buddy

It also isn’t a bad idea to share your budget with a friend, family member, or significant other. Having someone to keep you accountable while you shop for the holidays is a great way to stay on budget! It also might add a sense of competition, and if you’re like me, might make finding deals seem even more fun (my little sister has always been great at finding deals, too, so it’s always fun to see who saved the most money haha!).

Holiday Shopping Tip #3: Don’t Use Credit Cards

It seems like every Christmas for the last few years, I’ve been sucked into charging everything to my credit card. This year, I’m only purchasing gifts using cash. In my opinion, there’s no worse feeling than buying a really nice gift for someone, only to be stuck paying it off for the next few months because you spent too much money on it. I know it can be incredibly easy to charge everything, especially during a time when money always seems to be tight, but don’t do it! It’s not worth getting into debt. If you don’t have the money for a gift, don’t get it. If you think, “Oh, I’ll just pay it off later…”, don’t get it. Buy only what you can afford. Your friends and family will still love you the same, regardless if your giving everyone a new Michael Kors bag or a simple hand-written letter.

And when you’re not using your credit cards this holiday season, I would 100% recommend getting the Target REDcard! Did you know that that was even an option?! Essentially, the Target REDcard/debit card just links to your personal checking account (so you only spend the money that you actually have), you get 5% off every purchase, free shipping, and extended return periods! It’s a win-win.

Holiday Shopping Tip #4: Use Coupons

There should be absolutely no reason to not use coupons or discount codes during the holidays. Almost every store has sales going on, and if you look hard enough, you can find them! Subscribe to your favorite stores’ email list so that you get notified of sales and discount codes. Follow bloggers who have discount codes to hand out. There’s no shame in finding the best deal and don’t buy anything until you’re absolutely sure that’s the cheapest you can get it!

Holiday Shopping Tip #5: Download Apps & Save

Similar to finding coupons, downloading your favorite stores’ apps during the holidays is a super helpful way to save money. Target and Ulta are my personal faves, and they alert you when there’s new sales and promotions going on! I would also recommend downloading the RetailMeNot app (more coupons!!!) so that you can check for sales/cash back opportunities while you’re shopping. Apps and store reward cards also offer the added benefit of allowing you rack up points to cash in at a later date. If you’re spending so much money over the holidays, why not make sure that you get rewarded for it at a later date?

While these tips aren’t meant to be a complete guide to prevent you from overspending during the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, incorporating even just one holiday shopping tip can help you stay on budget! I hope this list helps you think about how you’re going to tackle your holiday shopping this year, especially as I’m gearing up to start publishing some fun gift guides! 🙂

What are some ways that you save during the holidays? Do you have any go-to tips and tricks?

Happy shopping, friends!

XO

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My Favorite Neutral Sweaters Under $30

As much as I’m sad that my favorite month is over, November usually means that temperatures are dropping and will actually stay pretty low (!), which also means that all of my sweaters get pulled out of their space bags, and I get to be a comfy girl at work. Woohoo! When the weather finally drops, I really try to refrain from buying too many new sweaters. Most sweaters I own, I’ve had for at least three years, and I have some that I’ve had since high school! This is probably because it’s really not cold for very long in the south, and if it is, I just mix up the ones I already own and style them in different ways.

 If I do shop for sweaters, though, I always always go for neutral tones. This makes it so much easier to style them differently, and I feel like a good nude, white, or black sweater will never go out of style. I mean, those striped, distressed sweaters this season are cute and all, but ya girl will not be buying one because it probably won’t be so cute next season IMHO.

I also really try to stick to a budget when I’m shopping for sweaters. It pains me to see bloggers who think they post about “affordable” fashion, and they’re promoting $50+ sweaters. Like…no. At the most, I’ll usually spend around $30 for a sweater, and that’s really a splurge for me. If you’re ballin’ on a budget like me, check out my favorite neutral sweaters below. I’ve included a list of sweaters that are perfect for lounging, work, going out, and most importantly, keeping you warm! Enjoy!

Best Affordable Neutral Sweaters Under $30

American Eagle always has great sweaters, and I usually always watch for sales or shop their clearance section to find the best options. Typically, I buy my more casual sweaters here. I love their Aerie basics and also some of the lighter sweaters that they have that would be perfect for lounging around the house, wearing to the beach when it’s a bit chillier outside (looking out for my FL peeps ;)), or layering! Here’s my picks from AE/Aerie.

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Forever21 also never disappoints. You can always find basics, but you’re also sure to find some edgy/trendier stuff too. I’m sometimes skeptical to shop online at Forever21–mostly because I always forget to return things when they don’t fit–but these options are so cute and affordable! Here’s my picks from Forever21.

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H&M is one of my favorite places to shop for sweaters; they’re affordable, always on trend, and super cozy. I’ve had the most adorable chunky knit sweater from there for YEARS, and it still fits and looks brand new. Here’s my picks from H&M.

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Old Navy has typically always been my go-to store for affordable sweaters that are great for work. They’re good quality, usually basic yet stylish, and are always on sale. (Pro tip: You should never pay full price for anything at Old Navy… There are always sales/promos going on!). Here’s my favorites from Old Navy (I own both v-neck styles in almost every color…they’re just that good!).

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Where do you shop for your sweaters? Do you typically stick to a certain style or budget? Comment below and let me know!

XOXO,

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I GOT THE JOB

This morning a dear friend of mine texted me an inspirational quote, as she usually does most mornings,  that really made me stop and reflect. It read: “Not all storms come to disrupt your life, some come to clear your path.” Wow. 

If you’ve been following along with my posts over the last year, you’d know that I’ve been living through quite the roller coaster. The past few months have been rough. Realllllly rough. I’ve contemplated dropping out of grad school, moving back home to Florida, and whether or not I’m doing what I’m truly passionate about. I’ve been harder on myself in the last four months than I probably have my entire life. It’s sucked.

But things are finally starting to look up.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my Insta stories the other day chronicling my “traumatic” interview. (If you missed my overly dramatic, way-too-long Insta story, here’s a quick recap: the weather was cold and rainy #badhairdayaf; rushing to get to the highway, I realized I forgot my phone; I made it to the interview location just at the scheduled meeting time only to realize it was the wrong location; and I ended up being 30 minutes late.) Luckily enough, though, I got a second interview with the CEO. It went really well, and the company and position seemed honestly too good to be true. I couldn’t have been more excited about the opportunity to be in a position that allowed me to use both of my degrees and be creative.

Well, yesterday I was offered the job! And while I was fairly confident I would get it, I couldn’t help but let out a “woohoo!” when the offer was presented to me (I’m so lame, ugh). Part of me is so relieved that I don’t have to search for a job any more; I can focus solely on finishing my Master’s and teaching for the rest of the semester. But mostly, I’m just filled to the brim with gratitude. That this job literally fell into my lap without me seeking it out; that I found a company that seems to really value its employees and does whatever they can to help them succeed; that I won’t just be a number at some big corporation; that everything I’ve gone through in the past year wasn’t in vain; that my God is so, so faithful.

Over the next few weeks, I will begin working part-time until I graduate in May.  I will also be studying for my comprehensive oral exam, teaching two classes, and taking two of my own classes. I am so excited for the future I could cry (which could be because I’m partially overwhelmed already), but I know that God’s plan for my life is beyond anything I could ever imagine for myself, and for that, I know I can handle anything that is thrown my way.

Lastly, I really want to thank all of my family and friends who have given me words of wisdom and encouragement throughout the hiring process, throughout school, and throughout life. Without each of you, I am certain I would not be where I am today. And if you could remember from time to time, I would so appreciate it if you would keep me in your thoughts and prayers as I begin my career in Marketing!!!

XO —

Ashlyn

 

 

 

10 Gifts Under $35 You Need to Buy Your Twenty-Something Gal Pals for the Holidays

Y’all!!! It’s finally Thanksgiving break for me, and I cannot wait to stuff my face with all the food, spend some much needed quality time with my family, and SHOP!

But if you’re anything like me, buying your girlfriends gifts for the holidays can be freaking stressful. As a graduate assistant who has no other source of income other than my modest stipend, buying gifts for anyone is quite challenging. I also think it’s pretty hard to buy gifts for your twenty-something girlfriends when everyone is at such different stages in their lives. I have besties who are still in college, some who just graduated and are starting their careers and/or are moving in with their boyfriends (so excited for you Ayla and Kris!!!), and others who are off getting married and having babies (wuuuut). So, I’ve complied a list of ten gifts that I think would be perfect for your twenty-something-year-old besties, and they are all under $35!!!
FinalGGgals

  • Buxom Plump and Contour Lip Trio | $20 What girl doesn’t love a good lip color? I’m obsessed with Buxom products, but they’re quite expensive (a typical full tube of lipgloss is $20). This trio is the perfect color for the fall, can be worn every day, and literally lasts forever.
  • Baublebar Criselda Ball Shoulder Duster Earrings | $29 I die over these ball shoulder duster earrings and have quite a few pairs. I’ve linked Baublebar earrings, but you can also get a similar pair of them here ($13). They’re perfect for your girlfriends who love dressing up / adding fun touches to their outfits.
  • Tarte’s Maneater Mischief Eye Set | $22 I’ve used Tarte’s Maneater mascara and eyeliner for months and absolutely love them. This gift is perfect for your makeup-obsessed girlfriends, especially those who love a killer winged eyeliner.
  • 4pc Cheers Stemless Wine Glasses | $10 This gift is a steal!! This set of four stemless wine glasses is perfect for your  wine-lovin’ gal pals who just moved into their own place! Oooooor just your wine-lovin’ besties.
  • Single Image Frame Marble Finish Black & White | $15 I love anything marble, and this frame could go with anything! I think it’s so special giving friends a cute picture of you and them, especially if you’re like me and don’t get to see you friends very often. The more personalized the gift, the better!
  •  Gilligan & O’Malley Pajama Set | $20 Y’ALL!! If you don’t buy these for your bestie, at least buy them for yourself. These are the most comfortable pajamas I’ve ever worn in my life! Don’t get me wrong, I still love sleeping in bae’s t-shirts, but these pajamas are liiiiiiife. Seriously. They’re the softest and would make such a great gift! (Also, does wearing pajamas now mean I’m/we’re #adulting??)
  • Becca Lit-From-Within Kit | $20 Get ya girls this highlighter kit and their Christmas tree won’t be the only thing getting lit this year haha. This Becca highlighter is hands down my favorite and is so pigmented. It’s also a travel size (which is what I currently own), and I think it’s the perfect size. It’ll seriously last you forever.
  • She Believed She Could, So She Did MantraBand | $35 This is one of my favorite sayings, and I think it would be such a sweet gift for your bestie, especially those who are just starting their careers or are just about to graduate!
  • Prosecco Pong | $25 This is such a fun gift for your girlfriends who love to drink / play drinking games! It would also be a perfect for a girls night over the holiday break.
  • Monogrammed Porcelain Mug | $5  I love giving mugs for presents, and the monogram adds such a sweet touch. Pairing this with some of your friend’s favorite coffee blends, giving them one of your favorite blends to try, or even adding a special holiday blend is a great, affordable option for a more personal gift.

I’m so obsessed with all of these products and hope you’ve found them helpful! I’ll be posting more gift guides on the blog soon, and you’ll be able to locate/shop them all under the “Holiday” tab on my home page. Happy shoppin’!

XO,

Ashlyn

Putting Down Roots

Over the last few years, I’ve struggled with the idea of putting down roots. When will it happen? Where will I eventually settle? Am I wasting away my life moving all around or am I gaining experience?

I moved to South Carolina for undergrad and each summer I would move to a different city with my boyfriend and work your typical minimum wage summer job. We moved in with his grandma in Myrtle Beach one summer, then we went back to my home in Orlando to take classes the following summer, and finally after graduation, we moved back in with his mom for a few months in Wilmington.

Now, we’ve been living in Bowling Green, KY for the last year and have finally had the opportunity to start building our own home together. However, it’s really not our home: it’s a college apartment that’s fully furnished with things that aren’t ours. Sure, I can decorate it all I want. But it’s still hard to make it really feel like ours.

I feel like this has been our living situation for the last five years: dorm rooms, our families’ homes, and college “apartment-style” housing. We’re always moving, never staying. We can’t put down roots because we always get up and leave.

And while I genuinely feel like home is wherever I’m with Josh (and now Fitz), I think for me the most difficult part of this never-ending cycle of moving is forming relationships with other people. It’s really challenging for me to create relationships with people that I know I most likely won’t see again; I struggled with this in high school, in undergrad, and now in graduate school. I’ve always had a tight circle of friends that knew my innermost secrets, and I never felt the need to go beyond that.

It’s also often hard for me to find a reason to network professionally when I move to a new place. Josh is always encouraging me to go out into the community to meet people (especially some of the people he works with or coaches), but I don’t. I always talk myself out of it, or if I do meet someone that could potentially be a good networking opportunity, I usually don’t follow up.

I think this is one of my greatest pitfalls. I’ve been so caught up in the idea that the place I’m currently living isn’t permanent and that the relationships I form don’t really matter. I’ve been slowly growing out of this mindset, but I sometimes catch myself drifting back into my old ways. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad idea to be cautious when establishing new friendships, but I think relying on my “clique” as the only relationships I’ll ever need to form is really unhealthy.

I’ve started to realize that it isn’t about putting down roots. I’m only twenty-two and I have a lifetime ahead of me to grow and move around. I don’t have to settle yet; I can wander wherever my heart desires. I think what I’ve finally learned is that I don’t have to put down roots, I just need to plant seeds. I need to create relationships with people with the understanding that they could be some of the greatest bonds I’ve ever formed or they might not last at all. Both of which are okay. I need to be more vulnerable. I need to network. I need to put myself out there. I need to stop worrying about “settling” and enjoy the present.

It’s so easy to get caught up in societial pressures and pressure from family: When are you getting married? Where are you going to live when you graduate? Are you going back to Florida or are you going to the Carolinas? What are your career plans? What’s your five-year plan look like?

I don’t know. I really don’t. But I’m going to do my best to plant seeds and watch them grow. As cliche as this sounds, I know nothing is ever guaranteed in this life, so why not just take chances on people?


Have you ever experienced a similar feeling when you moved? How do you or did you try to overcome it? Let me know in the comments below or via email!

You’ll Regret Going to a Small College

During my last semester of high school nearly four years ago, I was dead set on attending Florida State. I had my roommate picked out, and paid my deposit for our summer dorm room. I was anxiously waiting for the time where I would be able to rush, go to all the football games/tailgates, and do the plethora of other exciting things that would be sure to happen in Tallahassee with all of my closest friends.

Then things changed.

I had an unforeseen opportunity to play lacrosse at a Division II school in a small town in South Carolina. I can still remember touring Coker College with my best friend (Hey, Dan!) and being in shock that we had driven nearly eight hours to what appeared to be a town located between two cotton fields. Nevertheless, we decided that this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, that we would try it out, and if we hated it after two years, we’d transfer.

My parents weren’t thrilled with the idea, and I still think to this day my mom believes that it wasn’t the right choice for me. I heard multiple times that I would regret going to a college that was literally half of the size of my high school. That I wouldn’t get the same experience and networking opportunities that my friends who were going to FSU, UF, or UCF would. That a school in rural South Carolina wouldn’t offer nearly the amount of diversity that I was accustomed to while living in Central Florida.

They were wrong.

While I’m no mathematician, I think being 1 out of 1,200 students is a lot better than 1 out of, say, 40,000? I was somebody at Coker. I felt like I could make a difference, and the faculty, staff, and my peers made sure that everyone felt that way. Along with being a student-athlete, I was involved with multiple organizations and often held leadership positions within them. The President of our college actually knew my name, and even gave me a shout out during our commencement ceremony (which is something I will never forget, so thanks, Dr. Wyatt!).

Diversity in rural South Carolina wasn’t an issue either. Albeit Coker College is not the most diverse higher education institution, students are required to study abroad. And even better, students are often given scholarships and funding opportunities in order to do so. So, while I was not immersed in the amount of diversity one would typically find in Orlando, I was exposed to not only a rural (read: complete opposite of what I was used to) area and a variety of international students from all over the world, but I actually had the opportunity to live in a foreign country (!!!) thanks to my small, private college.

If that isn’t enough, the small (read: roughly 5 students per class) English classes I was able to take at Coker influenced a new-found interest in writing. Such small classes led to personal relationships with professors, which in turn led to my decision to pursue a graduate degree in English. Because these close-knit relationships existed throughout my duration at Coker, I am a more confident individual, have a better grasp on both my strengths and weaknesses as a student, and know that I will always have mentors to rely on should I need it.

Like most students, I still often question whether the college I chose was the “right decision” for me; however, I am confident in the woman who graduated just a few short months ago with a fresh outlook on the world and a thirst for knowledge—all of which would not have been possible if it weren’t for Coker. So no, you won’t regret going to a small college. If anything, it will be one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll have because you’ll get the opportunity to be somebody.