2014 New Year’s Resolutions: A New Beginning

Every year I make [the dreaded] new year’s resolution list. While slightly short of cliche, it’s one of my favorite traditions. In fact, I keep it in a small, hidden box alongside my dresser that holds all of my previous years’ resolutions. It’s fun to look back on them and see what was important to me in previous years. Usually my lists consist of 10+ resolutions – I am not an overachiever by any means; I merely think that, if I have more, I will accomplish more over the year.

While I will continue my tradition of writing them down in my box of secrets, I thought I would share a few of them on here as well (hopefully I encourage the spirit amongst some of you!)

1. Lose 10 Pounds

Who doesn’t have this goal? I think that it has been on my list for over five years (try six or seven)! However, as I’ve grown into adult status, I’ve started becoming more realistic in the sense that I need to create “smart” goals in order to attain them. Really, ten pounds in one year is less than a pound a month. That’s 100% doable! So, this is my short-term goal: to lose one pound per month. However, I would also like to get fit; losing ten pounds means very little to me if I don’t gain some muscle along with it. My side goal for 2014 is to fit into a size 2 jeans. I’m currently about a 4 so losing one pant size will be a welcome accomplishment.

2. Obtain a Job

Vague? Yes. However, there is more to this idea than those 3 words. As I have previously mentioned, I am graduating from college in May 2014. I am searching for an entry-level recruiting position in human resources, and I would like to start making a decent salary (I have the number in my head, but I do not wish to share it with the world) with benefits (once again vague) that is preferably located somewhere without dramatic winters.

3. Find a Companion

Not a companion as in a male (or female) companion – I already have a wonderful man in my life. This resolution is referring to a pet. 2014 is the year that I will get a dog. Growing up on a farm, there were always dogs and animals running around. It’s a lifestyle that I grew fond of, and, unfortunately, I haven’t found the opportunity to get my own. The absence of a pet has been an incredible burden on my life, especially when Garrett works late or is out of town. I often get lonely, even when I’m with people, due to the fact that there is not a fuzzy friend waiting for me at home. Anyone who has grown up with pets and are animal lovers will know what I’m talking about!

4. Enjoy a Healthier Lifestyle

The days of college are soon to be ending, and I’m ready (and have been for a long time) to find a healthier style of living. While I eat relatively healthy and exercise already, there is much room for improvement. Not only would I like a constant clutter free, clean home, but I would also like to cook regularly, partake in my hobbies, and spend time with new friends. Working full-time and attending school gives me very little time for a social life or free time in general, and I need that to change in order to fully enjoy the life that I have been given. Graduating from college will finally give me this opportunity and will relieve an incredible amount of stress (can you tell I’m excited to graduate?!)

5. Lose Verbal Fillers

“Like,” “um,” and “uh” are frequent terms in my vocabulary. This needs to be something I start to monitor and stray away from, especially since I will be moving into a professional setting in the near future. This is a goal that I have already set for myself and have been trying to change, but I would like to accomplish by the end of the upcoming year.

6. Plan for a Family

Yes, another vague goal. I’m currently 23-years-old, and I am ready to start thinking about having a family. Would I like to start it in 2014? No, however, I would like to start preparing financially, emotionally, and internally. Currently, I’m a cigarette smoker, for example, and, while I don’t smoke on a regular basis, I need to cut this out completely. There is no way that I want to get pregnant (on purpose or on accident) with tobacco and other terrifying ingredients soaked inside my body. Also, I have very little money saved, as I am a college student, and, whether I want to think about getting married or having kids, financial security is a must.

I’m sure there will be plenty more to come (probably a million small, easily attainable goals), but I think this is a good head start. January 1, 2013 is right around the corner, and I’m more than ready for a change!

What are your goals for 2014?

XO Abby

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Ulta Black Friday Special – Review

Up until this time, I’ve recommended products, provided my beauty wish lists, and left some comments about things that I love. This will be my first review post on this blog, and, although I haven’t given many reviews in the past, I’d like to start sharing my experiences more often. I was inspired by my disappointment in one of my Black Friday purchases. This is my first time shopping on Black Friday, and it honestly might be one of the last. I’ve heard that companies make products in lesser quality in order to sell them at a lower cost, and, as a future business professional, that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I bought Ulta’s Starry Lights Light Up Blockbuster over the weekend for only $17 (a $200 value), thinking that it was a great price, and that I’d like to try a “starter kit” to get my collection a little bigger. I’m always weary about buying store brands, but Ulta has such a good name that I figured it was worth $17.

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There is no way that I would have bought this for anything more than the price I paid for it. I’m extremely disappointed in the quality and layout of this deal. As shown in the picture above, there are two sides to this case. Let me start out by saying that if you flip it upside down to get to the other side, all of the product immediately falls out. What a waste! They should have made it a tiered opening with shelves. Next, it includes 42 eye shadows, which is a very high number, and I was excited to get more colors in my collection. However, the colors are way too bright for my liking and there are hardly enough neutrals, darks, or lighter colors. The thing I dislike the most about this eye shadow is that you need to triple coat it in order to even see any color. Plus, there is a ton of fallout instantly, it’s not well made, and it is incredibly frustrating.

It explains that there is an interchangeable compact with 5 eye shadow pans and 3 lipstick pans, but that isn’t accurate either (or I just can’t figure it out, but that’s silly – I’m not that new to makeup). I used the brow pencils twice, and I already need to sharpen them, and the lip glosses are incredibly gooey.

I’m glad that I only spent $17 on this, but I’m appalled that Ulta sells this for $200. It is definitely not worth the price. I will probably still use this somewhat regularly since my makeup collection is a little bare, and I try not to waste the things I buy, but I’m very disappointed and would not recommend it.

Has anyone else tried this product? What do you think about it?

Did you get anything over Black Friday that you were disappointed with as well?

Holiday Wish List 2013

Abby… Where have you been?! It’s been a pretty crazy week (or two?), and I’ve kind of fallen off a cliff. I haven’t blogged, exercised, or really spent any time on myself for too long! Since it’s almost December, I thought I would put together a little wish list. I already started my Christmas shopping (just a few things here and there), and it’s difficult not to find things that sound so great for myself!

1. Coats/Jackets Living in Wisconsin, it’s best to have at least three coats: an incredibly warm jacket, a nice pea coat, and an everyday pea coat. Unfortunately, I only have one jacket and it’s a pea coat that’s in it’s second season. It’s beautiful and of great quality, but it’s seen better days and doesn’t keep me as warm as I need it to. However, I found a few that I LOVE:

Banana Republic: Fit and Flare Wool Coat

The North Face: Women’s Arctic Parka (in burgundy)

2. Women’s Chino Pants I absolutely love this fit and style. I think they are so cute and can be dressed up or dressed down!

J. Crew: Andie Chino

Ralph Lauren: Boyfriend Chinos

3. New Jeans I have two pairs of jeans that I wear on a regular basis, and I really hate them. They are so old and thin from being washed so many times… it’s time to upgrade!

Roxy: Sunburners 2 Jeans (Sugar Coral)

MJJ0SUNTRIPPERS PRINT JEANS by Roxy - FRT1

American Eagle: Skinny Jean (Black – Super Stretch or Authentic Medium)

Skinny Jean - Black - Super Stretch

Skinny Jean - Authentic Medium

J. Crew: Toothpick Jean (Classic Rinse Wash)

Toothpick jean in classic rinse wash

4. Hair and Skin Care

All of these products are going to be from Lush. I couldn’t ask for a better product for my skin and hair.

Lush: Big Shampoo

Big Shampoo

Lush: Okra Conditioner

Okra

Lush: H’Suan Wen Hua Hair Treatment

H'Suan Wen Hua

Lush: Oatfix Face Mask

Oatifix

Lush: Cosmetic Warrior Face Mask

Brazened Honey

5. Makeup

Goodness, this could go on forever. Please visit my “Needed Nine in November” for a few ideas of what I want. The list is forever growing!

Christmas is coming fast! There’s only four weekends away, and I feel like I’m running out of time to shop already! However, I’m really excited to get out the Christmas tree, decorate the apartment, and start wrapping presents. I’ll post a few pictures as well!

What is your holiday wish list looking like this year?

XO Abby

Fitness Forever

I haven’t written a post for a little while (well, I just published one, but that was started/drafted the beginning of this week), so I thought I would give a little insight as to why. As I’ve previously touched on, I love working out. It’s a great stress release, relaxing, thought-provoking, healthy, and all around fun! However, it tires. me. out. When I get home, I usually have to work on a couple hours of homework, eat, and like to spend time with Garrett before I get to go to the gym. By the time I go it’s anywhere between 8:00 – 10:00 p.m., and I’m usually ready to shower and go to bed after my workout. To sum it all up, I haven’t been as diligent on my blog as usual because I’ve worked out every day this week and am exhausted afterward.

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Anyway, I’m proud to say that I have lost eight pounds in the past two months. While eight pounds isn’t that much, I don’t weight that much either so it does make a huge difference (notice picture above). I gained about 10-15 pounds between July and the beginning of September (as I said in my last fitness post, I would rather not explain why, but it was a necessary and uncontrollable weight gain), and it’s time for me to lose it as it’s not necessary anymore. I bought a membership to a gym by my apartment, about 2 city blocks away, and I started working out on a regular basis – about 3-4 times a week for about 20-60 minutes. While it’s incredibly important to have a healthy diet if you’re trying to lose weight, I decided to keep a similar diet since I’m already a pretty healthy person. However, I decided to change the way I ate. For example, instead of waiting until I get home (around 5:30 p.m.) to eat, I started bringing snacks to graze on throughout the day and then eat a small to normal size meal for dinner (see more helpful tricks below!)

A few people have noticed my weight loss and have asked what my secret is. My immediate response is “diet and exercise.” I mean, I haven’t started meth – what else is there?! Really, though, it’s not just about the exercise and change in eating habits. I’ll share some of my “secrets” with you below, but please be sure you note that I am not a dietician or a fitness professional:

Diet

Let me start off by saying that I am already a vegetarian and a pretty healthy one at that. I try to eat my veggies, fruits, and whole grains as often as I can.

  • Instead of eating one large meal a day, I started bringing a couple snacks with me to school or work. Even a few carrots, celery pieces, granola bars, oranges, apples, or other healthy snack is a great way to start. This not only kept my my tummy happy, but it also raised my metabolism.
  • Drinking more water was my first and foremast plan of action. I know that’s what everybody says, but I don’t think you truly understand how little water I drank. Instead of drinking the recommended eight glass a day, I usually had a maximum of two, even if I was working out. At first, the water made me gain a little bit of weight (“water weight”), but that eventually went away. I’m surprised to say that the extra water is actually encouraging the extra weight to melt away. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t go from two glasses to eight glasses, but I am drinking a minimum of four, which is double what I was before!
  • I made a pledge not to eat after 8:00 p.m. This may sound silly, but I believe in the theory that says late night eating turns into fat as you sleep. Plus, when I eat after 8:00 at night, it’s usually snacking on unhealthy foods like ice cream or chips. Of course, I make exceptions, but I try to stick to that time on a regular basis.
  • Substituting healthy sweets for unhealthy sweets was probably the hardest change I had to make. There were many times that I would go for the ice cream, chocolate, or other dessert when I wanted something sweet to eat at night. I’ve tried forcing myself not to eat anything for fear that I’d binge, but restricting yourself usually never ends up well. Instead, I tried eating fruit, like strawberries or blueberries to curve that craving. Sometimes, if I couldn’t control myself, I’d have a jolly rancher. Those are great because it gives you the satisfaction and lasts a long time.
  • One of the more important decisions that I made was to stop drinking. While I wasn’t drinking during the period that I gained weight, I knew that if I started having more fun, the alcohol would keep me stagnant or make me gain weight. I have gone out a few times, as I am 23 and like to have fun, but, if I do go out, it’s only once a week.

Exercise

I have a plan for my fitness habits. When I first started working out on a regular basis, I decided from the middle of September – Thanksgiving, I would only do cardio. If I did any sort of strength training, it would only be crunches or core exercises. Why? I wanted to start developing strength in my muscles before actually focusing on them. I was extremely out of shape, even though I ran once or twice a week, and I needed to at least start to get used to working my body like that. Also, I do stretch before and after my workouts!

  • Monday: Garrett usually goes to the bar for trivia. I used to go with him, but, as I explained above, I’ve stopped drinking except for the rare Friday or Saturday night. Now, I go to the gym for about an hour!  Monday’s I try to push myself since it’s the beginning of the week. I usually do the weight loss function on the elliptical for 40 minutes. Usually the lower level I do on incline – 9, resistance -7 and the higher level I do on incline – 11, resistance – 9. It’s not very high, but I try to challenge myself to work as hard as I can. After 40 minutes, I switch over to the treadmill and run an 8-minute mile  on a level 3 incline.

  • Tuesday: Day off. This week I worked out on Tuesday, but I usually take this day to relax.
  • Wednesday: I usually run on the treadmill for about 40 minutes. I used to run marathons when I was younger, but now I can barely run for an hour (how embarrassing!) Wednesdays are usually spent on the fat burn function on the treadmill. I only go at a speed 6 (about 10-11 minute mile) on an incline of about 5.

  • Thursday: Believe it or not, I usually work out for 1-2 hours on Thursday’s. I love the show Project Runway, and I watch it on the elliptical every week! I do the same routine levels on the elliptical as I do on Monday, but I usually do it twice as long! Thursdays usually wear me out the most!
  • Friday: I usually switch up my treadmill and elliptical training and move on to a stationary bicycle. This I switch up every week, but I don’t usually work too hard. I mean, it’s Friday! It’s time to celebrate.
  • Saturday: Day off
  • Sunday: This is my wild card. I try to go for about 30 minutes, but I can do whatever I want. This not only gives me the option of having some fun, but it ensures that I don’t get sick of my routine. Sometimes I decide to jump rope, do the stairs, or other cardiovascular work out.

Let me know if you have any questions about this. I do occasionally do some strength training and have a lot of core exercises too! I think my explanation died around the fitness part!

What are your favorite diet and fitness techniques? I’d love to hear your ideas!

xoxo Abby

I Finally Found My Look

As previously mentioned, I’ve become a little “obsessed” with makeup. I use that term lightly as I’ve only become interested in it recently. I never used to wear any makeup on my face except the occasional mascara, eye liner, and eye shadow, but I’ve come a long ways since then. Playing with different beauty supplies and finding different ways to accentuate my features is so much fun! It’s like playing dress up every single day. What more could a girl ask for (besides world peace, a healthy Earth, a cure for all diseases, and food for all)? Right now, my collection of makeup supplies is pretty low compared to most beauty gurus, but it’s about 10 times the amount that I had about 2 months ago. The majority of my paychecks have gone to nice, expensive makeup, but, you know what, it’s totally worth it! I’d much rather be broke for a couple weeks than buy cheap makeup that’s not worth a penny. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely have a few drug store brands, but they usually never work out for me – especially foundation. That’s a big no-no, at least for me.

Anyway, earlier this past week I went on a little shopping spree. I knocked some things off of my Needed Nine in November list.

I tried to take a few pictures, but the lighting in my apartment is terrible, so I grabbed some pictures from the Internet:

Tarte BB Tinted Treatment 12-Hour Primer

It has honestly made my face look flawless. I don’t use it everyday since it can sometimes be too much on my face, as I have incredibly fair skin and freckles, but it gives me a great finish and lasts all day. I think I got a shade darker than I should have, but I try to mix it with other tinted primers that I have to tone it down a little. I’ll definitely buy it again (but in a shade lighter)!

bareMinerals Stroke of Light Eye Brightener

This is my new favorite beauty accessory. I will not leave the house without it! It’s incredibly light, brightening, and beautiful. I usually use a highlighting concealer under my eyes, but the ones I’ve tried have made my eyes feel a little heavy. bareMinerals products are to die for, and this one is a must have!

bareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lip Liner

I actually haven’t tried this yet – I usually don’t wear lip liner unless I’m going out. I’ll definitely keep you updated with how this turns out, but I have no doubt it will be marvelous.

What kind of products are you loving right now?

xo Abby

Behind the Blog

I haven’t really included any personal posts or photos yet, so I thought I would dedicate a full post to a “get to know me” sort of idea. I just downloaded the WordPress app, which is incredibly user-friendly, and it’ll give me a better opportunity to include photos. Let’s get started:

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My name’s Abby, and I’m 23-years-old. I’m currently in college as a Business Management major, and I’m interested in extending my career in Human Resources. I’ve been through a couple different majors and will be graduating May 2014 with 170 credits (50 more than I need to graduate!) It’s been an incredibly long ride as I’ve been in college for almost six years, but I’m finally almost done!

I currently live with my boyfriend, Garrett, and we have been together for a little over 2 years (October 2011). It’s been an interesting ride so far, but it’s been completely indescribable (in a beautiful way). We are looking to move out of Wisconsin when we graduate, and I’m looking forward to the opportunity to move into the next chapter of our lives.

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While I’ve expressed a few of my interests on my blog already, there will probably be plenty more categories to come. As previously shown, I’m into makeup, fitness, and some arts & crafts/DIY projects. You can see below for some pictures!

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I don’t have a picture of all of my makeup – or even a cute picture of some of my makeup – so I’ll have to take one soon. This picture was taken while I was getting ready for Halloween. Usually I’m more organized and sit in front of a small vanity mirror in my bedroom, but my friends and I decided to just bring some into the bathroom where we would have more space. There was probably three times as many beauty supplies piled in the bathroom, but this is the only picture I took. More pictures coming soon!

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Excuse the half naked, awkward picture of me, but it’s the only one I have to represent fitness. My body is not where I want it to be, but I won’t complain. It could (and has been) worse, and I’m back on my way to a happy, healthy body. I workout about 4 times a week (sometimes more but rarely any less). I will be posting my fitness routine and tips soon!

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Have I mentioned that I love cooking?! I don’t think that I have, but I do love to cook! I’d like to note that I am a vegetarian and have been for almost six years. Maybe I’ll add a few recipes soon!

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This is a DIY gift to Garrett. It was the infamous “Date Night in a Jar.” This was definitely a stolen idea (I’m sorry, I don’t remember who from. I think from the blog, The Green House), but it was so easy and fun to do!

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As the name of my blog indicates, I’m a Wisconsin girl. I was born and raised in Wisconsin, and I have never lived anywhere else. This was my house growing up, a big, white farm house in the middle of no where. How stereotypical!

I think that gives a decent overview of some of my life. I’m sure I’ll post a few more posts like this in the future as well – updates and such.

XO Abby

Fitness is Fabulous

My past few posts have been about beauty products and skin care. While these things interest me, I think that my blog is strongly going in that direction, and I need to switch it up before that’s the entire content! One of my (almost) daily activities is working out. I have a membership to a local gym about two blocks away from my apartment. It’s more expensive than I can really afford, but it’s a necessity for a fitness guru living in a state where winter is half the year.

Unfortunately, I gained quite a bit of weight in the past six months (14 pounds total, but I’m I’m down to 9). I don’t want to get into how I gained so much weight so I will just say that it was for a good reason that I couldn’t actually control. Anyway, I have nine pounds to get back to my original weight, and a total of 11 pounds to get down to my goal weight.

Anyway, I’m trying to get into a regular routine, which is difficult when going to school and working full-time. I usually end up just going straight to the treadmill since I’ve always been a runner, but I need to start mixing in more strength training to my cardio like I used to. One of my new favorite things to do after a good run is to use my Nike Training App.

There are so many great work outs on this app, and they have completely kicked my butt. There are four different categories – get lean, get toned, get strong, and get focused – and you can choose easy, intermediate, or advanced levels within each category. My first time using it, I thought that I would start on intermediate; I mean, I’m a pretty athletic person and worked out consistently over the summer… Wrong!!! I could barely finish and was so sore the next day that I could barely move. If you’re looking for a good workout, check out the Nike Training App! The best part is, they have videos for every move. So helpful!

I also use My Fitness Pal to keep track of my progress. It’s so easy to use, and it’s so handy to have right on my phone. I love being able to see how much weight I’ve lost. It’s incredibly motivating and makes me more confident. Five pounds in one month is a lot of weight to lose, and I know that my progress will slow down after my extra weight has melted off, but it’s nice to see that my hard work has paid off so well.

I’ll make another post soon with my weekly fitness routine, but, for now, I’d like to hear what you guys do to stay fit! Leave a comment with your favorite exercises or even a routine if you have one!

xo Abby