Friday, June 12, 2015

It feels like summer!

Happy Friday to you all. It certainly has felt like summer here in RVA since April. Maybe a week or two of random chilly days, but overall we've had high 70s to low 90s and increasing humidity as the days go by. It's been a busy Spring for me, with lots of change.

After almost four years in the state government, I left the Office of the Attorney General to go into the private sector. As if that change in itself wasn't an adjustment, I also faced a major professional promotion as I went from Legal Secretary in Criminal Litigation to a Paralegal in Civil Litigation. It's been an incredible five weeks with a lot of learning, some overwhelming days, but being brought into the fold of an amazing office. Everyone in my new work is great, my commute and benefits are awesome, and the compensation makes me really really happy. A new job means new haircut and color! My childhood friend of 27 years - Marcella - is an incredibly talented hair stylist as well as one of my favorite people EVER. It's been so wonderful getting to have fun times with her both at her work and out and about. The above photo was taken after I'd left my OAG office for the last time, and she helped me start my new beginning with a literal bang! of delicious prosecco, snackies, and Begonias.

In April, I went on a road trip. It was a wonderful time and full of lots of reflection for me because the Gulf Coast did not want to give me the 'Sunny and 75' weather I was hoping for. Rain 9 out of 10 days... still cannot believe that... over around 3,000 miles of our beautiful country. I was able to celebrate a wedding, visit family, do some family history, check multiple family graves, eat seafood... all in all, those kinds of things were great. But lots of activities I would've enjoyed on a sunny day after a long day of driving was literally rained upon. Oh well!

Since the trip, I've really made the point of setting time aside for myself. Thoughtful solo time. Whether it's reading magazines and lounging in the sun to window shopping for a few hours, it does me a lot of good. My health is still always a priority for me, so I ended up running a 4 Miler with my coworkers and it went... OK! The weather that evening was the random chilly day I mentioned above, with downpour of rain and fog, but somehow, I finished the damn thing. #Winning

But having PCOS and Celiac does mean I've had to really target whatever I'm eating. I've come to realize that I do need to eat more. More frequently and higher portions. I ended up at to around 150 lbs over the winter, but I'm still over the moon over my shape/frame/body. I guess you could say those 6 pounds have redistributed themselves into places I just don't mind. The biggest thing is the energy levels I don't have. I have to eat more of the things I know I'm deficient in - a multivitamin just doesn't cut it for me. Potassium, B vitamins, D vitamins, Iron, and Calcium are things I just am working really hard at staying proactive about. Kale, whole milk, fish (certain kinds), orange juice, grapefruit juice, pork and red meat over chicken, etc. etc. eating these things while not making my blood sugar skyrocket... - it's not easy but I've been grateful that I can afford to eat such good things and keep helping my body function as best as I can without using artificial foods to do it.

More soon!


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sponsored Post: Earn loyalty points on products at Elements Beauty Shop

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a "sponsored post." The company who sponsored it compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." All photos property of In Your Element Commerce and Elements Beauty Shop, excluding my embedded social media posts. Links included in this post are not affiliate links.

You all may recall my previous post and social media posts related to Elements Beauty Shop. Some of you may wonder why I continue to share this store with you all so often (other than the sponsored post part). It is honestly because my money goes so much further with my Elements Beauty Shop purchases than many other beauty stores and websites. Unlike major department stores, there isn’t a price threshold one has to reach to get money back at Elements of Carytown. Unlike major big box beauty establishments, I don’t have to reach a tier to earn rewards, nor do I even have to make regular purchases to stay at that level – although loyalty points do expire 6 months after your last purchase at ElementsBeautyShop.com – however there are no brand exceptions!

Basically what I want to let you know is that this shop is really looking out for you, and these women have the education and experience to make the best recommendations for your skin type. I cannot recall a beauty website with all of the ingredients listed right on the page next to the Description and Review tabs. This store is about disclosure and that says so much about their position on unique, safe products that have no animal testing.

This store is about incentives and their loyalty points program shows it! They want their customers to want to return to Elements of Carytown. First, create an account on the ElementsBeautyShop.com website. (Click “Links” in the top right corner, then “Login“ and finally click “Create an Account” on the middle left of the page). Make sure you log in (using the Links -> Login) each time you are on the page to ensure you get your points! Points are earned for every online order, or phone order if you provide your username to the customer service representative placing your order. You can earn points by sharing a product to your Facebook page or writing a review on their website. When you login to your account and add items to your shopping cart, you will see the points you have being deducted from your cart’s total price.

For example, I currently have 659.70 points, which is $65.97 in loyalty points value. Some of that stems from my making the effort to leave reviews for products I’ve tried, and letting others know if I like them or not! When I'm shopping for refills, or see a neat product, I might share it on my Facebook page to point out to others (getting clarification from M on if I’m looking at the right Jack Black or Peter Thomas Roth product he needs reordered, for example). I find this loyalty program to be great, because remember, not only do you get points, you also get samples with your order and sometimes a brand has gift with purchase which equates to an even bigger (and more fun!) #ElementsBeautyHaul.

With Mother’s Day coming up, I wanted to share some great items the Moms in your life might love to have given to them – while also supporting a small, woman-owned business that is local! Some of these items are on my own wishlist, but others are ones that my own Mom (70 years young) loves and enjoys – so you’ll get a broad perspective with these suggestions:

Elements Beauty Shop Mother's Day 2015

  1. Somme Institute Neckline Neck Cream: While I've only tried this cream using several samples, I really like how it makes my neck and my bust feel. Since I had a mole removed on the top part of my bust, I've increasingly felt conscious of the need to protect the sensitive skin in this area. The vitamins & AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) in this cream helped my neck and decollete feel moisturized even on the most dry, cold winter days. I apply it after using my serum, twice a day.
  2. Somme Institute EYE Cream: A rich, Vitamin C-filled eye cream that I've only tried in several samples but am a big fan of! It helped with the light rosacia towards my nose, my dark undereye circles, and improved the texture around my eyes. I'm a big fan!
  3. Kneipp Arnica Joint & Muscle Mineral Bath Salt: I am obsessed. M is obsessed. This product is wonderful. We use these salts and/or the oils for baths frequently. I highly rec'd them for anyone with muscle or joint pains, arthritis, fibromyalgea, osteoporosis, and other ailments that cause body fatigue! Perfect to add to a basket of pampering treats for the women in your life.
  4. Malin + Goetz Vetiver Candle: While this candle is probably pricier than you'd usually go for, the 9oz lasts a really long time, and the scent is much more potent than cheaper candles. It will permeate your space with the delicious scent of fruity, grassy vetiver. Malin + Goetz candles are made from beeswax, vegetable and soy waxes, so better for the environment and your home!
  5. Lady Primrose Tryst Diamond Dusting Silk Shaker: This pretty gift is incredibly multifunctional! The Lady Primrose description of the Tryst scent is, "Tryst is opulent, mysterious and elusive. Abounding with intense green florals, jasmine and fleur d'orangery..." This dusting powder is made from Chamomile Flower, Calendula Flower, Comfrey Root, mica and other extracts. It is wonderful when applied directly to the skin, but also wonderful when dusted on sheets in the linen closet or on the bottom sheet while making a fresh bed.
  6. CV Skinlabs Restorative Skin Balm: While I've only tried this product in samples so far, I've been so pleased by it's non-greasy formula. As described by Elements, "One-hundred percent natural, non-petrolatum, cure-all balm instantly softens severely dry and chapped skin. Perfect for eczema, scars, lips and cuticles." I take a diuretic medication, which often results in my hands, feet, lips being dry - this balm works for all of these issues! It has also helped quell much of the KP on my upper arms due to my Celiac disease. Perfect for those dry elbows and knees, too!
  7. Erno Laszlo Exclusive Starter Kit: This three-item kit is a wonderful introduction to the entire Erno Laszlo line. These products lets you start with Laszlo's famous "The Ritual" - a mixture of a cleansing oil, specialized cleansing bar for face, and a light controlling lotion (aka moisturizer). The steps and the way to execute this process is key to getting the skin you deserve. These beauty products have been used for over 50 years by Hollywood's elite. These products have helped my normal/combination skin control oil, minimize pores around my nose and cheeks by the nose, and improved overall skin texture.
  8. Tocca Eau de Parfum Florence: To lift from the review I left on the Elements website myself, "I adore wearing this fragrance. To me, it embodies classic vintage scents where a heady perfume was applied in the AM and lasted all day long. The entire presentation - box and bottle - is beautiful. The scent is a pure white floral, making me think of a southern U.S. city after a rainstorm in the summertime. Magnolias, gardenias, and jasmine mixed with a slight cut of citrus. It has become my signature scent, and people ask me what I'm wearing all the time! I wear it year round and it lasts all day without being overpowering."
  9. Archipelago Botanicals Boticario de Havana Personal Fragrance: A gorgeous unisex fragrance! One of my Mom's favorite product lines ever. Scent notes: tobacco flower, orange blossom, patchouli, honeysuckle, bergamot. Fragrance families: Citrus, warm & spicy.
  10. Elements Beauty Shop of Carytown gift card: Sold and available online in denominations of $25 - $100. A great, quick gift for someone who may enjoy choosing their own treat!

Don’t forget if you haven’t placed an order with ElementsBeautyShop.com before, use my special promo code (see below) and get 10% off your first purchase (no exclusions):

Remember with your own purchases you can enter to win the #ElementsBeautyHaul contest on social media, as well as the Favorite Products Pin to Win promotion.

If you are a local reader, I hope you will try to attend our Skin is In event on May the 7th. The event will feature the newer brands recently added to Elements Beauty Shop, particularly Peter Thomas Roth.

Several of the #ElementsBeautyBloggers will be in attendance, and I’d love to meet you in person! From 5:30 – 7:30pm, Jenna Bingham will discuss, giveaway, and educate shoppers on Peter Thomas Roth, BeautyBlender, Talika MYLash & Brow Growth, and Coola Organic Suncare. Some of these may be brands you have read about in magazines but never tried in person, so now is your chance to check them out. This event will be a great opportunity to pick up fresh, new products for your Spring skincare routine (yes, your skin needs change when the weather changes), and stock up on quality suncare items for your summer travels! The Elements of Carytown team will have refreshments and giveaways, so join us for a fun night exploring the shop in person.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

February 2015 visit to Sanderling Resort

In mid-February, M and I enjoyed a lovely stay at Sanderling Resort on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We had previously stayed there six years ago during the same time of year... right before closing on our house, actually! The Sanderling was purchased by two companies in May 2012 from the resort's only previous owner. Since I had celebrated many holidays there as a kid, I definitely wanted to see the changes that had occurred thanks to the multi-million dollar renovations!

Good news: everything is still gorgeous. Even when it snows. Especially a Spa day overlooking the frozen-over Currituck Sound.

Bad news: too cold and windy for any beach walks, but nothing about the hotel for our stay was a problem.

First impressions from our stay: the logo of the Sanderling has been slightly altered and the resort utilizes the colors orange and white which definitely makes a cheerful statement! The resort is much more family-friendly now, with fire pits (nightly s'mores fixings left at your room each day), multiple outdoor pools on the ocean side, five dining establishments (some open only seasonally, varying from snack bar to formal dining), and fully renovated rooms. The spa is still a destination in itself, with luxurious spa suites, relaxation rooms, and a serene atmosphere. We had a great spa day there.

When we checked in we learned that two of the three buildings were closed for renovations, which was fine because there actually were only about 16 guests staying while we were there. We were upgraded (due to the availability being in the off-season), and happily went to check out the digs. Our room was gorgeous. It was spacious, with high-ceilings and modern touches while still feeling incredibly "homey." We had a balcony that overlooked the ocean above the dunes and the grounds below. In comparison to previous visits, I think the main issue for me was lighting. Our room this visit was brighter due to the color palette and light fixtures. Previously, rooms were a bit darker even though they were attractive and comfortable. We enjoyed being able to spend time in the room as well as the common areas (i.e. South Wing still has the fireplace downstairs and the gorgeous framed Hermes scarves).

If you're interested, the room is called a South Inn Oceanview King. We had a top level one on the corner.

Final thoughts? If you have Celiac disease, you'll be in heaven with the thoughtful touches and details... multiple dining choices on-property! Imagine someone bringing you a gluten-free roll without requesting it at the Lifesaving Station, or room service substituting said rolls in your eggs benedict order the remaining mornings of your stay. These gestures count! Celiacs know how hard that is so having ample options in one place is wonderful.

Families who live in Virginia? Make the drive to the Sanderling if you haven't been before. It's definitely an up-and-comer in the resort scene and well worth the trip with many fun sites and activities for little ones (even more so from Easter through Christmas).

Condé Nast Traveler rated Sanderling Resort #38 of the Top 50 Mainland US Hotels in their Readers' Choice Awards as well as placing the Resort on their Gold List. Travel + Leisure named it as one of the 500 Best Hotels in the World.

We certainly look forward to returning again soon!