As I sit here reflecting on 2013 it’s hard to believe how much life happened for me in this one little span of 365 days. 2013 was, without a doubt, the best, most exciting year of my life. I grew exponentially mostly in thanks to being Miss Tennessee USA, and was also blessed with the best year career wise of my life. I was fortunate to see new places and experience new things, make new friends, and have history-making times with old ones. This year also completely sucked the wind out of my sails a couple of times. I am so thankful for the supportive friends and family who helped me get through those hard times and am also thankful for the stronger more resilient woman I have become because of it. Those hard times have made the good times all the sweeter, so I am thankful for it all.
I have already started thinking about new goals for 2014 and I encourage you to do the same. New Year’s resolutions often times get a bad rap and I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard statements like, “you should be doing those things all year ’round!” – while I agree with that sentiment, I think there is something to be said for starting anew with a blank canvas. 2014 can be whatever you want it to be! Here are a few studied reasons on why you should set and write down your goals:
Studies have shown that people who write down specific goals for their future are far more likely to be successful than those who do not write down their goals.
Writing your goals helps you to clarify what the goal is. The more specific the better – what? How? When?
Writing your goal down helps make it more concrete to YOU, rather than it being a thought floating around your head.
You can review them and track your progress
There are many more reasons to set and write down your goal, but those are a few of my favorites! For more great guidance about setting goals for the new year, I highly recommend this article!Here is a little scrapbook of some of my favorite moments from 2013 – thanks to any and all who have been a part of this amazing life changing year and here’s to a great 2014!
…and I end 2013 in this spot, no complaints here! Happy New Year to all of you!
I have been a product junkie since the first day my mom allowed me to wear lip gloss (it was lip smackers in a frosting flavor FYI) – that being said, I know there’s a lot of you out there who may not be professional makeup artists, but who still have a TON of product – and that can take up lots of space and be hard to organize. I have tried caboodles, tackle boxes, bags, and rolling storage organizers in an attempt to be more orderly and organized but nothing has helped like the Z Palette!
I like to sort my palettes by product, but you can make any kind of combination your heart desires! Create your own custom palettes!
One of my favorite makeup artists (and people!) Delaney Henry introduced me to these while she was doing my makeup at Miss USA. Her kit always looks so organized and clean and I knew I had to have some!
Pop the product out of the containers (there are tons of tutorials online if it doesn’t come out easily) and put them in the z palette. They make magnetic stickers in case your product isn’t magnetic, but most of them are!
Z Palettes are magnetic cases that hold more of your makeup than what meets the eye. In my first Z Palette I was able to fit my entire naked eyeshadow kit, 13 MAC eyeshadows, 7 large Tarte shadows, and 4 mini Lancome eyeshadows. Thank about that. That’s a lot of packaging I was able to throw away to replace with one smooth slim palette! I immediately got hooked and have been de-potting every piece of eyeshadow, blush, bronzer, and powder I own and melting down lipsticks like no one’s business! It saves me a ton of space and I am able to see ALL of my products at once rather than going through each compact, etc. Because of this, I utilize more of of my product and am able to be more creative in combining colors, etc. I’m in love! They come in a variety of sizes and colors – so get creative! What are your favorite ways to store and organize your products?
I found this photo online, but it’s what my table at home looked like when I was done making my palette! Imagine being able to get rid of all of that extra junk!
If any of you out there are still Christmas shopping and looking for the perfect gift for your own hipster beauty queen, look no further! My Spend and Save Christmas 2014 gift guides are here and yes, in the midst of all of those luxe items is a food dehydrator… a girl’s gotta have her kale chips and raw granola!
If you’re looking for a fun and festive hair style to wear to holiday parties or on New Year’s, you’ve come to the right place! I’ve been sporting this look for a few years now because a.) I love it and b.) it will turn around even the worst hair day (I do this a lot when I don’t have time to wash my hair… or don’t feel like it…) It looks so elegant and immediately adds a lot of sass to your look! It is SO easy to do and in my opinion looks way better than those sock buns that I think are so overdone.
I was inspired to create this by two great women:
I was so distracted by this fab hair-do that I almost forgot to feel sad that Carrie was ending things with the most perfect man to ever grace the small screen. (Aiden… swooooon)
Ok, enough chit chat, let’s get to it!
Step 1: (This isn’t really a step, it’s more of a before photo… but you know, brush it out…) If you don’t have long hair, but long for this look, get some clip in extensions at Sally Beauty Supply (I think they’re around $100) and you’ll be ready to go! This style doesn’t require particularly thick hair since there’s some good teasing involved. Step 2: Gather hair into a ponytail at the desired height on your head. I like mine high. (This same technique could be used to create a really beautiful low bun as well, I’ve done this for several brides!)
You can do this awkward half smile if you want, but that’s optional.
Step 3: Tease the underside of the ponytail for extra volume, but be sure to leave the top side smooth. If your hair is really clean and smooth, I would suggest using hairspray once you’ve teased. Step 4: Admire your handywork Step 5: Grab the ponytail and wrap hair into a bun putting the smooth side forward, teased side in. You can make it as small or giant (more is more in my book!) as you want!
This is where you can start shaping it as well. I don’t mind if mine ends up being a little messy or unsymmetrical, but you can make the style your own!
Step 6: Pin into place – I typically only have to use 4-5 pins, one on each side, maybe adding a few more for extra security depending on the thickness and texture of your hair. You can also use hairspray for a little extra hold. Step 7: Do your most demure Audrey Hepburn face Ta-dahhhhh you’re a classic lady now! If you have any questions, leave them in the comment box and I’ll be happy to help! This tutorial was requested from my friend Melanie – let me know if you have any looks you’d like to learn!
It seems that the one city I can’t escape is Las Vegas. In the past 6 years I’ve been there 8 times for stays ranging from 3 days to 18 days. That’s a LOT of Vegas for anyone, let alone a girl like me.
However, I must say that this past trip might be my favorite yet. Although I’m not big into clubs or gambling, there are certain things I really enjoy about Las Vegas such as: awesome hotels, shopping, pools, shows, and restaurants. I’ve been lucky enough to experience a whole lot of those things in my many trips there and on this past trip, I was treated to a first class experience from one of my favorite clients, US Didactic. (Yep, you can get all of your engineering educational equipment from them!) I stayed at a new hotel, ate at new restaurants, and had new experiences aka I was in heaven – even in Vegas!
I stayed at the Mandarin Oriental which is such a stunning hotel. Beautiful, clean, no casino, great restaurants and lounges, and lots of gourmet touches and excellent customer service!
This statement wall is the first thing you see when you get off the elevator in the sky lobby. It’s gorgeous/looks like a magic eye… any 90’s kids remember those?
Vegas hotels never spare any detail – so much ambiance and so seeeeexy!
This is the view from the sky lounge at the Mandarin where you can have great drinks or gourmet loose leaf tea (so good!) – notice the Planet Hollywood hotel in the window… I can’t escape that place either! Photo courtesy of the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas
The rooms have amazing bathtubs with wait for it… a tv hidden in the mirror at the foot of the tub. Too good to be true! Oh, and they also have a selection of gourmet teas and a tea kettle in the room. I took full advantage of that little luxury after a long day at work and felt like a new woman afterwards. Totally getting that setup installed in my next home! 😉 After checking in the first day we were whisked off to a helicopter tour of the strip. INCREDIBLE!
With my sweet coworker Rita making sure we got seated in the front of the helicopter! :)
Our male coworkers Steve, Oliver, and Andreas who are so sweet, polite, and always put up with our incessant chatter… and let us sit in the front of the helicopter to get the best views!
Tip: When doing something cool, ALWAYS make time for a selfie. haha
Unfortunately, right after the flight my phone died so I missed out on taking any photos while having dinner at Lavo that night. However, I would highly recommend it – delicious Italian food in a gorgeous restaurant with a club upstairs.
The next night we ate at Twist by Pierre Gagnaire which is a fine dining “classic French restaurant with a contemporary twist.” The restaurant has received the coveted Forbes Five Star award and we had so much fun eating an elaborate dinner there! Twist has an awesome menu – you can order 4-6 course meals or do everything À la carte. The menu even caters to those who are vegan/vegetarian, gluten free, etc. I opted for the vegetarian/gluten free 4 course dinner and it blew my mind!
I was obsessed with those hanging lights! The lights combined with the floor to ceiling windows overlooking the strip make the dining experience at Twist pretty magical. Photo courtesy of vegasnews.com
Canapes which included mini grilled cheeses, Jack Daniels/Guiness jello shots, almond shortbread, and tuna dip. Fun! Pretty! Love this place already!
The CEO and owner of US Didactic also happens to be a wine expert and always spoils us with the good stuff! Cheers to coworkers who feel more like friends!
First Course: endive and grapefruit fondue with mild curry apple salad and sorbet. I pictured this dish looking completely different, but it was fabulous!
Second Course: grilled vegetables, arugula puree, shaved cheddar. This dish also surprised me – I had expected some sort of salad, but was really pleasantly surprised with what I got. Lots of different textures and flavor! The presentation was gorgeous and creatively done. This was my favorite course!
Third Course: truffle risotto – yep those are shaved white truffles on top! Decadent! I know these babies have over-saturated every restaurant, but I never get sick of them – keep ’em coming restaurants of America!
Being adventurous and trying someone else’s foie gras… it. was. sooooo. gross. I had to try really hard not to make a scene. To each their own, but I thought this was disgusting! …at least I can say I tried it!
Fourth Course: Some kind of fancy fruit salad. Loved it!
But why not bring out more desserts?! They referred to these as petits fours, but this isn’t what I would typically think of as petits fours, but they were beautiful and so tasty!
Most beautiful china in the world!
The meal lasted probably 3 hours and yet I never tired of the lights… or the food, or the company! One of my favorite dinners to date! (I would recommend not making firm plans for after dinner if you are going to Twist – you’ll want to enjoy every course and not have to rush!)
After dinner we attended the Cirque du Soleil show Ka. It was my first Cirque show and it absolutely blew me away! The sets! The physicality of the performers! The fact that someone could die at any moment! The theater! The music! You get the idea! haha Unfortunately cameras are not allowed inside the theater so I wasn’t able to take any photos or video, but enjoy the trailer here. (After the show, others told me that although Ka is GREAT, that it’s not even their best show! I can’t wait to see another!)
All in all, I had a fabulous trip and was thoroughly exhausted by the end, which is a tell-tale sign you’ve done Vegas right! Big thanks to US Didactic for spoiling me rotten! What are some of your favorite Vegas spots?