60 Things to Toss Out in the Next 60 Days

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Hello, Magnolias.

I have a love/hate relationship with spring cleaning. I love getting organized and feeling like my space is refreshed, ready for the start of a new season but I hate the whole process. Let’s face it, trying to tackle everything in a matter of a weekend or a single day is rough. That’s why I’ve complied this awesome list of 60 things to toss out (or donate, sell, giveaway, recycle, etc.) in the next 60 days. That’ll take us right through to April 9th, just in time for Spring to be in full swing.

The list ranges from tossing out old Cosmo magazines you’ve got collecting dust (I’m totally guilty), chucking worn out bras (you know, the ones that poke you in the side or with the strap that always slip off your shoulder), donating all those knick-knacks crowding your bookcase (the perfect formula is maybe 75% books, 25% tchotchkes), even deleting all those random screenshots of Kate Spade bags you send your best friend (or is that just me?).

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Wanna take the challenge? I definitely am! It’s all about refreshing and renewing. So if you’re up for the challenge use the hashtag #Toss60 on Instagram and Twitter so we all can follow along. Don’t forget, you can mix and match. Do #1 then #59 or do all the odd numbered items in one day, it’s all up to you!

I’m ready to get this started. In fact, all the wrapping paper littering my closet floor is tossed in the bin so watch out, broken lights, you’re next!

How do you spring clean? Are you going to try the challenge? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me!

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xx

Merisa

 

Valentine’s Day Gift Guide for Her

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Hello, Magnolias.

Does Valentine’s Day seem to sneak up on anyone else? I feel like I try to turn a blind eye to all the holographic cupids & glitter hearts in the stores until February 1st but by then there’s only 2 weeks until the big day. Thank goodness for 2-day shipping, right?

So this gift guide is for your girlfriend, your best friend, your sister, your mom…pretty much anyone you wanna splurge on this Valentine’s Day. I especially love the limited edition Lonchamp tote & YSL Touche Éclat.

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Elle Earrings | Love Flush Blush | Monogrammed Necklace | Blushing Emoji Bag Charm | Longchamp Valentine Tote | I’ve Got My Love Mug | Chocolate Bon Bons Eye Shadow Palette | YSL Touche Eclat Kiss & Love Edition

What are your plans for this Valentine’s Day? Let me know in the comments or tweet me!

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xx

Merisa

 

February Goals

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Hello, Magnolias.

Holy cow…it’s February. Wow.

A lot is going on this month. First of all, it was my sister’s 21st birthday yesterday! Woo! Unfortunately, she’s in Florida still, which is weird because I never imagined in a million years that I would be missing out on her 21st birthday like this. I’m totally bummed but that’s okay because it just motivates me more to get my crap together so that I can visit her during her internship!

Also, today is Groundhog Day and I have a confession…I’m pulling for Phil to see his shadow because I’m just not over snow yet. I know, I know, unpopular opinion and whatnot but I just want a little bit more, maybe not the whole six weeks. We’ll see though.

Oh, this Thursday is my best friend Danielle’s 23rd birthday so, now that I think about it, there’s a lot going on this week let alone this month. I’m already feeling a little tired just thinking of it all so why not add to it with all the stuff I’m hoping to accomplish in between all that jazz.

Blogging

More content upgrades || This is my top goal for the month! I’ve been blogging for almost 4 years (insert big eyed surprised face emoji here please, because that is insane) and I have a huge amount of content I want to revisit and upgrade in new and exciting ways. So let’s hope that happens because it’ll be great for all of us! 

Fix links on old posts || This one was sort of brought on by the whole “holy cow, I’ve been blogging for almost 4 years” thing because during those early years I was actually on two different platforms so I’ve got some serious broken links going on in early content. That’s never good. 

Fix broken link on blog Pinterest board || Same goes for content over on Pinterest. What’s the point in having pins on a blog board when they don’t actually bring readers to your blog?

Grow Instagram following by at least 50 || I had such a big jump in followers last month so I would love to see that sort of growth continue but I’m keeping my expectations grounded.

Incorporate Radical Self Love into my blog more || Self-love is such a huge passion of mine and I would love to be able to incorporate that passion into my blog more. Plus, what better time to do so than the month that holds Valentine’s Day, right?

Personal

Journal more || Plain & simple here, I just want to continue my 2016 goal to write more by journaling more personally.

29 day squat challenge || Taking full advantage of February’s shortness here (thanks a lot, Leap Day) and committing to a squat challenge for the first time since the summer. Proud to say Day One is donzo! 

Follow 60 Things to Throw Out in the Next 60 Days || This will make much more sense very, very soon so if you’re feeling ready for a refresh but don’t want to dive into the treacherous world of spring cleaning too soon check back here this time next week to find out what I’m talking about.

Finish reading Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht || I freaking love this book and I’ve been gushing about it for so long, so why have I not finished it? Well, there’s about a million excuses, however, the but stops here! I’m determined to finish it this month because it’s holding me back from other great reads and that’s just not fair.

Start up the Inspiration Folder again || When I was in middle school I had this killer inspiration wall. It was covered in everything from CD pullouts (I vividly remember Jesse McCartney’s Beautiful Soul having a very prominent spot), magazine cutouts, pink & purple polaroid strips of me & my friends, there was even random lists & post-it notes. I loved that wall. Then sometime in high school I decided to be more serious so I took it all down and started an Inspiration Folder instead. So while I’m not willing to commit to the whole wall deal again, I really want to get back into collecting things that inspire me like that so I’m hoping set aside a little time every Sunday in February to add things to the folder. 

What are your goals for the month? I love seeing what everyone hopes to accomplish in a month, it’s inspirational and motivating so share in the comments or tweet me!

Also, I’ll be linking up to Stay Gold Autumn’s #MonthlyGold linkup as well as Breakfast at Lilly’s & Southern Soul’s #TheRoadToABetterMe linkup (the 1st Wed. of every month) so be sure to check out those posts too.

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xx

Merisa

My 1st RocksBox Experience

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Hello, Magnolias.

Have you heard about RocksBox?

I’d seen girls talking about it here and there but wasn’t convinced, that is until @brightonabudget on Instagram (check out her blog too!)told me how RocksBox fuels her Kendra Scott addiction. Suddenly, I wanted it to fuel mine too. So I signed up!

Upon signing up I was asked to take a style survey which is usually expected when using subscription services like this one. Next up, I was given the chance to add pieces to my wish list. This was definitely the fun part!

I was so surprised to see just how much jewelry there was to choose from, plus it was pretty much Kendra Scott city. I was on Cloud 9!

After adding the pieces to my wish list, I waited (im)patiently for my first box to arrive. I’m pretty sure it took about a week give or take. If you follow me on Snapchat (angelmerisa23) then you probably saw my struggle unboxing everything. I was so surprised to find everything tucked inside such an adorable little box, all tied up with a bow! Looking back, I shouldn’t have been so surprised. I mean, it is called RocksBox, after all.

I opened the little box to find a card with my name and for some reason I always get giddy when something is personalized. Blame it on the 90s kid in me who never found anything fun with my name spelled correctly. Oh well, it was wonderful either way especially considering that the entire box was filled with personalized touches, including the jewelry.

Speaking of jewelry, let’s get on with the best part of the box. The pieces are specifically curated for you by your own personal stylist who gets a sense of what you’re looking for through both the style survey and your wish list. I was amazed at how perfect the pieces were for me. So without further ado, let’s check ’em out.

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Gorgeous! Aren’t they? I’m completely in love and could not have asked for a better first RocksBox.

Let’s take it one by one…

Necklace

Kendra Scott – Elisa Necklace in Iridescent Drusy. The drusy necklaces are what first drew me toward Kendra Scott jewelry way back when so I was most excited about trying this piece out. In the note from my stylist she mentioned that this necklace was short and she wasn’t lying. It’s almost a choker on me which makes me even more grateful for Rocksbox because now I know, while I love this style, I don’t like the length. This piece retails for $65 but RocksBox Insiders can snag it for $52.

Bracelet

Loren Hope – Alex Cuff in Lilac. I’m not normally a bracelet girl but after getting a few bracelet sets for Christmas and a new watch recently, I’m getting there. So I really enjoyed finding this piece in my box. Purple is my favorite ever and the metal cuff is adjustable, so it was pretty much perfect. The Alex Cuff retails for $68 with the Insiders’ Price bringing it to $44.

Earrings

Kendra Scott – Lee Earrings in Iridescent Drusy. When I think of Kendra Scott earrings, I think of the larger Danielle earrings. In fact, I didn’t even know KS earrings came in such a dainty size. They’re absolutely perfect! I’m so happy I was able to try these out. I’m usually a studs or nothing type of girl but these earrings are so small that they don’t feel like drop earrings at all. It’s definitely going to be hard to send these little guys back but I’m way too excited to see what comes in my next box. These earrings retails for $65 with the Insiders’ Price being $52.

Overall, I am completely over the moon with this first box and cannot wait to see what other goodies RocksBox has in store for me. By the way, I haven’t mentioned this yet, but RocksBox is $19 a month, you get 3 stylist picked jewelry pieces to keep as long as you want (you can even buy the pieces at a discount!) then return with FREE shipping both ways to receive your next box. Whew, that’s some very important info there. If I’ve left anything out feel free to ask questions in the comments.

Now here’s the extra fun part…the first 3 people to use code: MERISABFF1 when signing up for RocksBox here will get their first month FREE! That’s a killer deal so go, go, go!

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xx

Merisa

 

 

 

 

 

Blog Planning Tips & Tricks + FREE Worksheet

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Hello, Magnolias

At the risk of sounding cliche…where the hell did January go? Holy cow. I still feel like it’s New Year’s Eve when it’s more like Valentine’s Day Eve now.

Oh well, we’ve still got a little bit of January left to go but that really gets me thinking about what’s to come. Planning ahead and being more productive was a huge goal for me this year and I’ve really tried to tackle it head on this month. Part of that productivity was getting my blog in order, while I still have a long way to go (like I somehow lost my mini-bio under my picture during a layout change, so please, just ignore that for now), I thought I could at least share with you all how I plan out content for my blog and maybe even share my newly designed Blog Planning Worksheet! Eek!

Brainstorming

First things first, obviously you can’t plan out your content without knowing what that content is going to be. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but I’m not exactly a niche blogger. Although I consider myself a creative lifestyle blogger, Monogrammed Magnolias doesn’t really fit into a super specific category and that’s okay. I like it better that way! I like to think I can keep things cohesive without being bogged down by restraints which, in turn, opens brainstorming up to a wide range of topics.

During the day, I run an antiques shop so I find random moments of downtime surrounded by all the fun collectibles a great time for brainstorming. I like to focus on a broad topic at first. For example, I try to sprinkle in beauty related posts through out the month including one or two reviews here and there (like this new foundation review you should totally check out). So I’ll start by thinking about my own beauty routine. Are there any new products I’m interested in? Skin issues? New tips or tricks I’ve discovered? It’s pretty much a snowball effect from there and I do that with any topic I want to write about. That’s not the only way I brainstorm either. Sometimes I get inspiration from Pinterest, Twitter, magazines, Instagram, YouTube videos, a conversation with my mom…the possibilities are endless. Just make sure you’re open to inspiration and ready to lock that idea down.

Speaking of which, I don’t always have pen & paper on hand (which is probably considered high crimes of treason for a writer) so I utilize the notes feature in my phone quite often. However, I love keeping all those random ideas in one place. That’s where the Blog Planning Worksheet comes into play. When I get home, I pull out my worksheet for the week and write down all those ideas I came up with at work. This way, they’re on hand and I’m continuously looking at them, ready for inspiration to strike.

Get Started

Usually if I come across an idea I immediately know I want to turn into a post I try to come up with some headings under the topic to keep myself organized. That’s not all a post needs though, there’s the issue of graphics, links, and dreaded SEO. I’m not an expert at dealing with any of those topics so I like to make a list to keep track of when I’ve completed each step. I’ve created my graphic and taken/edited photos to go along…check! All my links are bolded and where they need to be…check! I’ve implemented SEO as best I know how…check! 

After You’ve Hit Publish

I always get this frantic feeling after I publish a post. Does that happen to anyone else? I feel like I can’t just let it chill…I’ve got to do a million and one things to get it out there. That’s a little exhausting but it sort of helps when I can at least make a system out of the chaos. Ideally, I like to tweet about a post as much as I can. That can mean anywhere from 2-4 tweets a day depending on how early I’ve published. Then I like to tweet again through out the week. The same goes for Pinterest. I’ll post my graphic or any accompanying photos to my blog board, blogging group boards, and anything other relative boards I have. I’ll do that multiple times through out the week too.

I’m new to utilizing Instagram, Facebook, and Bloglovin’ for my blog…actually, that’s probably the root of that franticness I feel when publishing a post. I just haven’t gotten the hang of sharing blog relative content there. My Instagram aesthetic brings a whole new meaning to distraught, Facebook is exhausting in it’s own right, and I don’t see much traffic from Bloglovin’ (which has got to be the laziest excuse ever considering my content automatically shows up, I just have to share it more. Moving on). Now that I’ve gotten that mini rant out of the way let me say that I’m not giving up on those platforms. I just feel like I haven’t found my sweet spot yet, I’m working on it and I’m sure I’ll get there. Keeping them on my planning worksheet helps a lot. I don’t like empty bubbles on my list so usually that’s enough of a motivator to get me to share my content on those platforms too.

Now for the actual worksheet:

You can click here to download the worksheet then you’re welcome to print it out and use it for all your blog planning needs!

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Click here to download Blog Planning Worksheet

What do y’all think? Is this design something you could find helpful in planning your blog posts? Is there anything you’d add or take away? Will you be using this worksheet to plan your next blog post? Let me know in the comments or tweet me!

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xx

Merisa

Beauty Review: Maybelline Dream Velvet Hydrating Foundation

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Hello, Magnolias.

How’s everyone handling the aftermath of #Snowzilla? It’s been days and this side of the Bluegrass state is still under about eight inches of snow. Let’s just say snow shovels are sold out everywhere.

The monster snowstorm is actually what sparked this review. I went out before the storm to stock up on food and hot chocolate when I got a little distracted by the makeup aisle. By distracted I mean I deliberately went in through the door closest to the makeup…you know, the one on the opposite side of the groceries.

I was then bombarded by “new” this, “new” that…it was insane. I managed to filter through it a bit and grabbed this little guy, Maybelline’s Dream Velvet Soft Matte Hydrating Foundation, right before three girls with purple hair decided to just sit on the floor in the middle of the aisle to inspect some eyeliner. I know it can be a bit agonizing searching through products on the bottom rung but don’t be like those girls. Bend down, grab a few products off the rack, then have a closer look while standing at your full height. No one wants to talk about a blacklight and Walmart in the same sentence so I’ll just leave it at that.

Weathering the storm, with my groceries in tow mind you, had its fair share of boredom so it was a great time to try out this foundation and give you a full spectrum of my thoughts on it.

Packaging & Pricing

All foundation should come in a squeezy tube! There, I said it. Tubes are just so “no-hassle.” I can squeeze out the perfect amount of product on the back of my hand, right onto my brush or sponge, even directly onto my face (which I’m totally guilty of). I also like the fact that there’s no need to worry about glass breaking or product making a mess of things as long as I keep track of the lid. I think it’s fun that the packaging actually has a matte feel to it too. I see what you did there, Maybelline. As far as price goes, this product ranges anyway from around $8 (Fairly certain I paid less than 8 bucks at Walmart but they don’t have it online yet) to almost $11 at Ulta. So my advice is to compare prices at your local drugstores or use a coupon when you can.

Consistency & Wear

The actual product has a moussey texture which fits in perfectly with Maybelline’s signature whipped products. Now let’s touch on that whole hydrating but matte deal. As a dry skin girl, I am all about hydrating products but the idea of matte, especially in the winter, sort of scares me a bit so putting the two of them together is oddly intriguing. Definitely worth a try, right?

I’ve tried applying this product with both a brush and a sponge and I have to say the brush is where it’s at. Which is odd, considering that Maybelline is marketing their new Dream Blender Sponge and this foundation as the perfect pairing. Maybe it was just my sponge (though I doubt it) but the product seemed to just gunk up when I attempted to blend it out. Using a brush was a different story entirely. I could really feel the hydrating effect of the foundation when blending it into my skin with the brush. It was almost like a cooling sensation but without the weird chemically feeling, more like a splash of natural cold spring water. That’s pretty much heaven to dry skin.

The matte texture is kinda crazy too. My skin really did feel like velvet. Even after a whole day of wear. However, one of the problems I had with the foundation is that it’s not necessarily buildable. With that being said, I do believe it’s a medium to full coverage foundation without feeling too heavy but I like my foundation leaning more on the full coverage side so I went in with my usual concealer. That didn’t go so well. Things started moving around and bunching up as I was blending. I don’t want to sound like I’m making excuses but I really want to take the blame for that one. See, I sorta got distracted by my Netflix binge of Reign while doing my makeup and went straight into my normal “concealer all over” routine. That wasn’t really necessary. Sure, those under eye bags (the Netflix binge can take the blame for that one too) needed to be covered but I didn’t really need the whole center of the forehead, down the nose, chin, and jawline deal.

I eventually got things under control but that brings me to another issue. The color selection. What is the deal with all the pink? Every shade from Nude to Porcelain came off as a hue meant for a Steel Magnolias wedding. I understand that there are some fair skinned girls out there with pink undertones but not enough that the five lightest shades have to be Valentine’s ready. So, shade matching is a little hard, especially in the drugstore when there are no testers and you don’t want to ruin products for the next gal by opening five different tubes. I grabbed one I thought was close and it was just that, close enough to work with.

Overall

With all that being said, I enjoy using this foundation especially considering that it’s a texture I’m comfortable with but not used to wearing. It’s nice to mix things up every once in a while. Also, it doesn’t hurt that it’s the same amount of product for about 1/4 of the price of some of my favorite high-end foundations. You can’t really complain there. If you’re curious about this whole soft-matte yet hydrating deal then I say you should definitely give this foundation a try. I’d skip the sponge if I were you but to each her own.

What are your thoughts? Have you tried out this product? Got a foundation recommendation? Let me know in the comments or tweet me!

Also, I just started a Valentine’s Day themed group board on Pinterest. You should go follow me there, check out the board, and you can follow the directions in the board’s description if you’d like to contribute.

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xx

Merisa

Tuesday Ramblings + Life Update

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Hello, Magnolias.

I’ve been a bit MIA lately and that’s because this has been a big week in my family…my little sister came in from Florida!

I don’t think I’ve mentioned this before but she’s been down there since August as a part of the Disney College Program. She absolutely loves working at Disney World but she doesn’t get the opportunity to come home that often so her coming in for the weekend was huge!

Monday

Actually, it’s been a pretty big week for other reasons too. If you’re a college football fan then you probably watched the CFB National Championship game last Monday between Clemson & Alabama. That certainly set my week off to a good start seeing as the Tide rolled the Tigers! However, staying up well past midnight on a weekday is a young girl’s game and I was not up to it.

Tuesday

That meant Tuesday was a doozy to get started. I woke up late AND it was snowing! That’s just begging for me to stay in bed all day but I resisted. There was too much to do…like finish Making a Murderer for instance. Still not completely satisfied with how that all went down but that conversation is for another day. President Obama’s final State of the Union address was also on Tuesday night and I was just a big ball of emotions. I’m a political gal so it was an exciting night but it also made the fact that we’re flying head first into another election season all too real. Don’t get me wrong, election season is an exciting time for me but this time around is a little scary. Sometimes I feel like I understand the consequences of being elected to the Executive Office more than the majority of the candidates. Oh, let’s not forget, my Buddha Bowl Recipe went live on Tuesday as well.

Wednesday & Thursday

I went back to the grindstone on Wednesday and to be perfectly honest, I don’t remember much else happening that day so let’s just move on to Thursday. The one thing that stood out to me about Thursday was my Skincare Routine Must Haves post. I don’t know what it was but I received the sweetest comments on that post & on Instagram that day. They just warmed my heart and completely reenergized me. The response was just wonderful and I hope I can continue to garner that sort of reaction in the future.

Friday

The BIG day! My mom and I headed out to pick up my sister from the airport on Friday. We were both so excited to see her and wanted to make sure we made it to the airport with plenty of time to spare so of course her flight was delayed. We ended up exploring the area around the airport and found the most incredible little antiques district. For those of you that don’t know, my mom and I actually run an antiques shop in our little town so we were in heaven. We were just about to go into this adorable little vintage toy shop when we got the call that her plane had landed so we vowed to return when it was a bit warmer & we had more time to explore. We picked up Mady from the airport without a hitch then went right into the tradition of Target & Chick-fil-a. It was a great night and I got some awesome goodies from Target. (Like stuff for my blog planner…y’all wouldn’t be interested in hearing more about that in a separate post, would ya? If so let me know in the comments!)

Saturday & Sunday

This marked the first full day we had with Mady as well as our Jack Russell, Snoopie’s 10th birthday! If you follow me on Snapchat (angelmerisa23) then you probably saw Snoopie loving life & showing off his little heart-shaped spot. He’s precious. Mady & I also ended up volunteering for a bit at a local charity shop she used to work at before going shopping. I’m pretty sure we went to every store in the area, it was kinda ridiculous but I picked up tons of goodies. Sunday was a chill day, we just went out for Mexican with our mom then watched the NBC & YouTube Democratic Debate but that got old fast.

Monday 

Martin Luther King Day! Sidenote: Was there an official notice that the Jr. part was excused because I did not get the memo but that’s not really the point so, moving on. We tried to make MLK Day a day of service to our community but it decided to snow like crazy and felt like the frozen tundra outside so we decided to help our mom with her store and just spread some kindness around. I think Dr. King would like that too.

Tuesday

Mady left this morning…at 6 am! She’s driving back on her own for the first time and she should be hitting the Florida state line any minute now so prayers and good thoughts are welcome. I’m so proud of all the work she’s done and how brave she’s being through this whole experience. It was great to have her here for even the weekend but I’m ready to get back into the swing of things. Oh, I almost forgot! My studio lights arrived today too so expect fun things popping up on the blog soon.

What have y’all been up to this week? Let me know in the comments or tweet me! Oh, follow me on Snapchat (angelmerisa23) too! I’m trying to get better at updating so tagalong for the ride.

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xx 

Merisa