Friday, September 18, 2015

Friday's Fab Finds

Between work, preschool, music class, trips to Costco, the Please Touch Museum, and physical therapy (for both of us - don't ask) this week has flown by. Now it's time for Friday Finds!

Kristin's picks:

Formula X The System

I've had two different friends rave about this nail system and how it kept your manicure chip-free for more than a week, so I decided to treat myself. For $32 you get a 'nail cleaner,' basecoat, topcoat, and color of your choice (they have LOADS so it was hard to choose - I got a bright plum). I was slightly skeptical going into it, but painted my nails last Thursday night and went about my day. The polishes went on easily and I liked the color, but by Saturday I saw some minor chips. To be fair, I did some scrubbing in the bathrooms with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser because we had people over that night, but I wouldn't say I was doing hardcore cleaning. My nails looked a little better than they usually do after a week, but not $32 better. What's weird is they seem to be growing out from the bottom, almost like when someone gets a gel mani, which is a little hard to tell in the picture. Here's what my nails looked like the day after one week:

In the end I wish I'd bought the mini system (which was about half the price) to try and see if I liked it, but the mini kits are pre-packaged meaning you can't choose your own color. I'll try again and see what happens...apparently you can use the system with a different brand of polish, so I'm wondering if that will make a difference.

Caramel Apple Sangria 

My cousin shared the recipe for this on Facebook and it looked amazing, so I decided to try it out for the party I had last weekend. This sangria was definitely a hit and a huge F-yeah! To make it, you just need to pour a bottle of white wine (I used Pinot Grigio), a bottle of sparkling apple cider, and 1/4 cup of caramel syrup (it was in the coffee aisle) in a pitcher, and then chop up a few apples and drop them in. The apples we bought were massive, so I actually only cut up one, even though the recipe called for four. Cheers!

Yes, that's a Blair Waldorf wine charm.

Lori's picks:

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Spice K-Cups
If you've been in Trader Joe's recently you'd think you were in The Pumpkin Store, not Trader Joe's. They make everything from pumpkin Cheerios to pumpkin crackers. It's great if you love pumpkin but I think they've gone a tad overboard. One pumpkin thing I do look forward to every fall is pumpkin coffee. When I saw TJ's had Pumpkin Spice K-Cups I had to get them. My husband and I had a cup this morning and gave them a collective F-Yeah. My only complaint is that I wish they came with more in the box than 12.

Trader Joe's Alstroemerias
I love having fresh flowers at home, but it's a rarity because I usually forget. I was at my cousin's house a few weeks ago and saw a vase with the most beautiful flowers that were so perfect that I had to ask her if they were real. She then told me they were alstroemerias from Trader Joe's, last 2 weeks, and are only $3.99. As I walked into Trader Joe's yesterday I made a mental note to make sure to grab a bouquet.  I'll let you know how long they last, but for now they look beautiful and make me happy and it looks like I know how to arrange flowers (which couldn't be further from the truth).

Friday, September 11, 2015

Friday's Fab Finds

Hope everyone had a great Labor Day! Now that the unofficial end of summer has come and gone, we're trying to get back into our usual routine - so you'll be seeing more frequent posts from us (F-yeah!) It's always sad when beach days and flip flops become a thing of the past, but with today being 9/11, we're focusing on the positive - it's time to hug your families a little tighter today.

As usual, these are some of our favorites for the week:

Kristin's picks:

Trader Joe's Sweet Potato Gnocchi 

This is another winner in the TJ's frozen foods section. Just throw them in a pan with 2 TBSP of water and heat them for a few minutes...voila! Even my picky kid, who ate approximately half a bite of dinner the night before, devoured these. F yeah! The portion size isn't huge, and there's really only enough for only two adults if you're using it as a side, which is kind of a bummer if you have a larger family. Fortunately toddler portions are so small that we were able to split it three ways and serve it with chicken breasts.

Lilly Pulitzer Agenda

Something about September makes me want to go out and buy tons of school supplies (even if I don't need to use them). The next best thing is a planner. Lilly releases theirs every August, and I've always found this to be annoying because they run from August - December the following year, so you have to go and buy one when your old one still has months left. I just found out today they're releasing 12-month planners starting with January 2016 - F yeah! The only annoying thing is the 12-month ones aren't spiral bound like the regular agendas ... not sure why they're changing the design/format. I'm wondering if it will be annoying to use since it probably won't lay flat, but I'll have to investigate when this one runs out in December. And as of now, they only come in two colors instead of a bunch like the Aug-Dec agendas.

Lori's picks:

Homewood Suites

If you have a child, travel with people who have children, or just want some extra room to spread out when you're traveling, check out Homewood Suites if you haven't stayed in one yet. A few weeks ago I traveled with my parents (hubby was traveling for work) to visit Thomas Land (stay tuned for a post about this in the near future!) and we stayed in a Homewood Suites. This chain is geared towards people who are staying somewhere long-term for business but they are the perfect solution for families. We got a 2 bedroom suite and it was perfect. Each bedroom had their own full bathroom and was separated by a spacious living room/kitchen. It even had a fireplace. There was a pool that my son loved and a fairly extensive breakfast buffet that is included in your stay. I loved it so much that I booked another stay next week when we go to Hershey Park.

Shutterfly's 16 Square Collage Photo Frame

I'm as obsessed with Instagram as I am with having pictures around my house. Sometimes these obsessions don't see eye to eye when I'm too f-ing lazy to print pictures out, go to a store to buy a frame, arrange them in the frame, and then actually hang the frame on the wall. Shutterfly has this magical power to connect your Instagram account so you can pick and choose pictures from there and put them on just about any product they sell. I wanted to pick out some of my favorite Instagrams and this collage frame is perfect. I was a little worried that the frames would look weird if my original Instagram had one (or didn't) but the finished product turned out great and doesn't look weird that the pictures have different filters on them. I love looking at it whenever I pass it. And the best part was I did it right on my computer and Shutterfly did all the work. Shutterfly participates in Ebates (only 1% but better than nothing!) so if you're not a member sign up here. Shutterfly usually has coupons and even has free items so like them on Facebook and/or google for a coupon code before you order. Coupon codes and Ebates can be combined.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Fab Fiction: Summer 2015

These past two months have been crazy, crazy, crazy. With my first novel now out and the weeks of planning for my release date and launch party behind me, I feel like I'm finally coming up for air. Somehow I managed to get around to some reading in between all of the book launch madness, and I'm excited to share five of my favorite books from this summer:

Tiny Little Thing by Beatriz Williams. I'm a big fan of Beatriz Williams, especially her first book, Overseas, so I was excited to pick this one up. It follows Tiny, the wife of an up-and-coming politician, seemingly living a perfect life. But you find out Tiny's hiding a huge secret  - and so is her husband - and his powerful Boston family will stop at nothing to keep their pristine image. Imagine getting an inside glimpse into the Kennedy family in the 60s. The sequel, which follows Tiny's sister, Pepper, comes out this fall. 

Lady Be Good by Meredith Duran. I met Meredith at the RWA conference and happened to be last in line at her signing, so she ran out of books. We got to talking and she was nice enough to mail me the novel she was signing (Fool Me Twice) along with an extra one, which was this book. I flew through it and can't wait to read the follow-up, Luck Be a Lady. I'm really into unusual heroines, and the heroine in this one is a former thief, which adds an interesting element. If you like Regency romances, you need to read this! 

The Milliner's Secret by Natalie Meg Evans. If you can't tell, I was on a historical fiction kick lately! This book was on my TBR list for a while, and since I got to know Natalie a bit on social media recently, I was really looking forward to The Milliner's Secret. I LOVED this book. It's billed as an "epic and heart-wrenching love story set in wartime Paris" and I don't think I could describe it any better. I didn't know much about the German occupation of Paris during WWII, but the author includes enough information to let you know what's going on without it getting to be historical facts overload. This story will break your heart and make you want to buy a really fantastic hat at the same time. 

Shelter Us by Laura Nicole Diamond. I received an advance reader copy of this book, and to be honest, I thought a book about a grieving mother who sets out to save a homeless woman and her baby would be depressing. Typically, it's not a topic I'd choose to read about, but I'm glad I gave it a shot. This book manages to be both heartbreaking and inspiring as the main character sets out to change her life after her infant dies. There are some topics that are hard to handle well in fiction, and I thought Diamond did a great job at painting an honest picture of a woman dealing with loss as she tries to save her marriage and herself.

The Knockoff by Lucy Sykes and Jo Piazza. To break up the more serious reads, I listened to this one on Audible, and oh my God, it was HILARIOUS. I highly suggest you all buy this book immediately. It's about a fashion magazine editor who returns to work from sick leave only to find her former assistant has taken over ... and made the magazine into an app. The UK title is "Techbitch" which I think is way better suited (you'll see after you read it). Very The Devil Wears Prada, but in reverse.

What were your favorite books of the summer?