Thursday, August 3, 2017

Galveston Island Travel Guide

My family and I spent last week in Galveston, Texas. It was my first time on Galveston Island, and I really enjoyed the trip. We were only there for about three full days, but managed to fit a lot in that time. Today I'm sharing some of the highlights of our trip, including where to stay, eat, and what to do while you're there.

Galveston Island Travel Guide

|| Where To Stay ||

There are plenty of hotels along the seawall, but because of frequent hurricanes there aren't any hotels or houses on the beach. We stayed in an AirBnB and I would highly recommend going that route. Our house was only a couple blocks from the beach and it was an easy walk each day. We also had a kitchen and plenty of space for the six of us, which would not have been the case in a hotel. It was all decorated in blue, beachy decor which I appreciated, I wish I had gotten pictures.

|| Where to Eat ||

The Spot : Located along the seawall, The Spot is a fun place to grab dinner or drinks. Made up of five locations in one, there are plenty of choices for everyone. The food was really good, I would recommend trying one of their burgers and my mom loved the shrimp tacos. It's definitely a touristy place, but I enjoyed it. Their variety of bars and cocktails also made it a fun place to order my first drink as a 21 year old.


Gaido's : Another restaurant along the seawall, Gaido's is a Galveston institution. Their specialty was more upscale seafood. Our waiter was extremely knowledgable and offered lots of suggestions about the various menu items. I had soft shell crab, which wasn't my favorite because I didn't realize it came fried, but it was good. They also do non-seafood well too, my sister enjoyed their pork chop.

Black Pearl : More of a bar, the Black Pearl is a small seafood place in The Strand area of town. Embracing Galveston's Mardi Gras celebrations, Black Pearl offered cajun items in addition to seafood. I had the crab cakes and they were very good, but as a main menu item, I was disappointed that they didn't come with anything in addition to the cakes and still felt hungry after I finished my dinner. The food was good and we liked it, but it's not a must eat in my opinion.

We go together like cupcakes and frosting

Mosquito Cafe : This was by far my favorite place I ate in Galveston. My mom and I went for lunch one day and loved it. The Mosquito Cafe is located in between some of Galveston's beautiful historic homes and they specialize in lunch food, but are open for breakfast and dinner also. It was a busy lunch spot, but the staff were extremely kind and dealt with the chaos very well. My mom and I both tried one of their lunch special that day, I had the southwestern wrap and my mom had fish with fresh mango salsa, and both came with sides. After lunch, we stopped by Mosquito Cafe's sister bakery, Patty Cakes, across the street. Their lemon bombs are delicious, but very sweet.


|| What To Do ||

Go to the beach : This is obvious of course, but we enjoyed our time on the Galveston beach. We were on the east end of the island and it was relatively empty during our late morning trips.


Pleasure Pier : Galveston's Historic Pleasure Pier is a lot like any pier in any beach town, but we had fun going to it. My younger brother and I got ride all day ride pass, where as the rest of our family just did the regular walk on pass. My brother and I had a great time trying out the different rides along the pier, but be warned they're only a few steps up from your average carnival rides. My favorite was the Texas Sky Flier that went 200 feet up above the pier. I would recommend going to the pier at night when it's cooler and you can't see the ocean below you while you're going on the rides.


The Strand : The Strand is Galveston's main shopping area and it's filled with lots of touristy type shops. We spent an afternoon walking around and going into the shops. It's not a must do, in my opinion. But I would recommend stopping into La King's Confectionary for some ice cream, so good!


Tree Sculpture Tour : This is a very uniquely Galveston thing. Following Hurricane Ike in 2008, artists came to Galveston and carved beautiful sculptures out of some of the destroyed trees in the city. There's even a map you can get that tells you where to see them. Some are more visible than others, but they're really fun to see. If you're there when it's a little cooler out, you could get out and walk around the neighborhoods, but since it was pretty hot we decided to stay in the car and drive up and down the streets to see the sculptures.

House Shop : Instead of window shopping, house shop! There is no shortage of gorgeous old homes in Galveston. My mom and I loved looking at all the colorful houses and picking out our favorite ones. If you want to kill two birds with one stone, a lot of these houses are in the same area as the tree sculptures so you can check both out at the same time!


Tour Moody Mansion : The Moody Mansion was once owned by the Moody family, one of the 10 wealthiest families in America. The daughter of Mr. Moody set up a foundation to keep the house running as a museum and it is beautiful! As part of the admission to the house, you are given a small audio device and each room has a recording to listen to that explains the purpose of the room, decor, and even stories from living Moody family members. It reminded me a bit of The Biltmore in Asheville, NC (but smaller) since they were built around the same time. Through the tour we learned a lot about the history of Galveston Island and the Moody family. There is another historic home called the Bishop's Palace in Galveston, but I would recommend the Moody Mansion over it if you only have time for one.


My first trip to Galveston was really nice, we managed to fit a lot in a few days, and I would like to go back again some time. Have you been to Galveston? What did you enjoy doing there?

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

July Highlights! (And Birthday Post)

I sound like such a broken record, but when the heck did it get to be August?!!!! I leave for Tigertown a week from tomorrow. As always, I'm recapping my month, but with a little twist because I'm also including what I intended to post on my birthday last week (oops).

July Highlights + 21 Facts About Me

|| TURNING 21 ||

 So this was definitely the biggest thing to happen this month, even if it did just happen at the end. I'm finally 21! I've always been the baby of all of my friends, so I feel like I'm finally caught up with the big kids. I celebrated my birthday at the beach with my family on the day, then my first barhopping experience with my best friends this past weekend. It was so much fun, especially going out with my friends since we will all be in different places this year.

|| READING ||

At the end of June, I finally got myself together and went to the new public library in my town to renew my library card and check out some books. Since then, I've been reading a ton! This month alone, I read American Wife by Curtis Sittenfield, The Last Anniversary and The Husband's Secret by Liane Moriarty, Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter by Lisa Patton, and Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. Our library has an app where you can check out e-books, so that's how I read Red Queen while I was on vacation - look into whether your library offers something similar. I liked everything I read, but Whistlin' Dixie in a Nor'easter was a definite favorite - check out the recommendation from Nell on Prep in Your Step. I also love a good Young Adult series, so Red Queen was another favorite - it has a lot of twists and turns and wasn't what I expected, I'm itching to start the next in the series.

|| STATS ||

Y'all! The craziest thing happened about two weeks ago, I had a blog post take off on Pinterest. Like over 1,000 views on that post alone. To some people that may seem like nothing, but it's HUGE to me. And I hit a huge goal of mine with the help of that post and reached over 10,000 total views! I'm super close to 11,000 so feel free to share with your friends and family! Also, don't forget to follow me on social media (did you notice my fancy new social buttons in the sidebar? Check em out ;)

Now for the second part of this post, I intended to put it up on my birthday, but I was enjoying vacation. So better late than never, here are 21 facts about me.

1. I am the third of four siblings. My mom calls me her "well adjusted middle child," but I'm not entirely sure what that means.

2. I don't have a good reason for why I chose the college I did. Clemson just felt right in the end, so I acted on my gut feeling and haven't looked back.

 3. Texas country music is the best music in the world and what I will choose to listen to above all else. (if you like country and are looking for something new, check out Aaron Watson, Casey Donahew, or Josh Abbott Band, they're my faves).

4. When I was in the fourth grade, I modeled in a magazine called Discovery Girls. Each month they chose a state and chose girls from that state to feature. We all met in Houston and got to spend a weekend shooting for the magazine, luckily those photos do no still exist online.

5. If I could live anywhere (besides TX, of course), I would live in Savannah, Georgia. It's the prettiest city I've ever been to. 

6. I would love to adopt a child one day.

7. I'm extremely type A, but also a major procrastinator. I have a perfectly color coded agenda, but wait until the last second to cross of those to-dos.

8. If I had to read one book for the rest of my life, it would be Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (the third). It's my favorite of the series, but I'm a huge Harry Potter nerd in general.

9. I would have been born on my grandma's birthday if it wasn't for Gloria Estafan. The doctor had tickets to her show on July 23rd and didn't want to miss it if I took too long.

10. I had my first job at 14 bussing tables at restaurant on the lake nearby.

11. I started this blog with the intention of it being a fashion blog, because I was so frustrated by other bloggers' opinion about what is "reasonably priced." I hope to eventually reach that goal.

12. While I went into college wanting to becoming a psychiatrist, I now plan to go into marketing research, but I never changed my major from psychology.

13. For the majority of my life, I was a cheerleader - either through competitive teams or school. I was even captain of my high school team my junior and senior years.

14. You've probably read about him on here before, but I have a wonderfully sweet boyfriend that I will have been dating for 3 years this November.

15. The most perfect meal, in my opinion, is a grilled cheese and tomato basil soup.

16. While I have grown to appreciate neutral colored clothing as I've gotten older, 9 times out of 10 I will choose to wear something bright colored over a neutral.

17. I have an obsession with all things pineapple - I love the fruit, but mostly my obsession is with pineapple decor or embellishments. I'm not sure where it came from but I don't think it's going anywhere anytime soon. I got a lamp with sequined pineapples on the shade (for my apartment) for my birthday.

18. I have an irrational nervousness (I wouldn't call it a fear) of people overhearing me talk on the phone. I won't have a long conversation with someone on the phone if there is someone else who may overhear, it feels like an invasion of privacy.

19. I'm extraordinarily fair skinned. It seems almost impossible for me to tan. I used to hate it, but it's grown on me as I've gotten older. If only I could find foundation the right shade.

20. I rarely go a day without wearing makeup, but only because I really enjoy applying makeup and it's a relaxing part of my morning routine.

21. I'm extremely introverted and shy to start off with, but once I get to know someone I can chatter on forever.

So there you have it. Some of the highlights of my July and 21 facts about me! What were some of the favorite parts of your month?

Monday, July 17, 2017

5 Tips for Having a Job in College

Going into college, my parents told me (and my siblings when they started) that we did not have to have a job while we were in school, our job was to be students and to work hard in our classes. I am very fortunate to not have to work through school, but I started an on campus job this past year and I highly recommend to anyone. Here's what you need to know about having a job in college.

Job Tips for College Students


I'll start off by explaining a little bit about my job and why I started working. About a year ago, I got an email saying I was eligible to apply to be a tutor with athletic academic services. I had considered having a job in college, but didn't want something that would be too stressful on my schedule. The email advertised that it was flexible hours and we could work around our schedules while being paid above minimum wage, so it sounded like a great deal to me. I applied, had a skype interview, and was hired on before I got back to school in the fall. I spent both semesters junior year working as a tutor to student athletes and I loved it. There are definitely trying times, but I really enjoyed working with these athletes and getting to know them, while helping them understand their particular subject. There are a lot of specifics related to my job that I won't get into, but I have had a great experience as a tutor and highly recommend it to anyone. Of course there a ton of different jobs you can have in college so here are my tips and advice so that having a job can be the most beneficial experience for you.

| Find a job you're interested in |

Now there are a ton of on and off campus jobs around any university, but they are not all created equally. If you can, find a job that works with your career plans. My best friend is an elementary education major and spent the past two years as a preschool teacher aide. My boyfriend works an engineering internship part time during the school year. There are tons of opportunities out there that will add to your career experience and make you excited to go to work. While I don't have plans to do any sort of teaching in the future, I liked the idea of working with fellow students and helping them. If you're not interested or excited about your job, you're going to dread going and it'll just be more of a strain on your schedule.

| Make sure they'll work with your schedule |

This is essential. As a college student, you are a student first and foremost. That's something that my boss reminds us of continually, our classes and well being come first. If you're having to duck out of class early or stay up all night to study because of your work schedule, consider finding something else or talking to your boss. You and your school work are more important than a job. If it's adding too much stress to work so many hours, talk to your boss about scaling back.

| Look into on campus opportunities |

I don't know about every school, but Clemson has a million on campus part time jobs or internships. It's worth looking into. I have friends that work in the dean's office, do research internships, tutor in the academic support center, work at the campus Starbucks (don't necessarily recommend this one though), and numerous other campus jobs. Being able to duck into work before, after, or between classes is so much easier when the job is on campus. I would regularly have tutoring sessions during a class break or before classes in the morning. It helped me stay on top of my work and be more productive during the day.

| Talk to your boss |

This one applies more once you have a job, but it doesn't hurt to be very transparent during your interview. I remember my coordinator asked during my interview if I had any questions and I did. There are lots of rumors about working with athletes and how much we're supposed to help them get through classes so I was nervous about what would be expected of me and she explained how important academic integrity is and that I would never be asked to compromise my integrity, and if I ever felt as if I was being put in such a situation to come tell her immediately. Through that conversation, she made me feel so much more comfortable about doing the job. Another great thing my boss does (honestly I could sing her praises forever, she's the best) is end of semester check ins where she meets with all the tutors to do a performance review and see how we feel. During this meeting in the fall, I discussed how many hours I was working and that it was pretty stressful and she encouraged me to take on fewer hours in the spring. Your boss isn't going to know if you're stressed or having issues if you don't tell them. Chances are there are other students working there and they will totally understand.

| Don't forfeit your social life |

I was majorly guilty of this in the fall. I worked usually 15 hours per week, mostly at night, so I was at the tutor center 5 nights a week, usually until 9 or 10pm. Since I was mostly working at night, I could get all my school work done during the day, but I sacrificed a lot of time with my friends and boyfriend. Working those hours made it almost impossible to get dinner in general, let alone with friends, and by the time I got off at 10pm, I would be too tired to go or stay very long at sorority events on week nights. Like I've said, make sure you're putting yourself before your job. While college is meant for higher education, the social aspects are huge and you don't want to miss out on anything because of your work schedule. This spring I had a class until 6pm twice a week so I put down that I wouldn't work those nights, this majorly helped with my work-life-school balance.

So those are my tips for having a job in college! Do you have any expert advice to share? I would love to hear it in the comments.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Changing Perspective

Hey there, sweet friend!

Lately, I've had a lot of thoughts running through my head about this blogging world, followers, comparison, motivation (or the lack thereof), but I couldn't seem to get them all straight until I was thinking about these topics again while in the shower - the birthplace of all major breakthroughs right? And it all clicked, so here is what I realized.

comparison_is_the_thief_of_joy

So let's start off, coming off of this holiday weekend there is something we are all so guilty of, and no I don't mean indulging in one too many patriotic treats, I mean comparison. At any point in the past few days, did you scroll through some form of social media and think "wow! Look at that vacation they're on, I've never even heard of that place, I wish I could be somewhere like that," what about "oh...they're all at that party together, I wasn't invited to the party, they must not like me very much."  I can guarantee you that I had some very similar thoughts, and I absolutely love the way my family spends the Fourth of July every year. Comparison is at the root of these thoughts, and we all know that comparison is the thief of all joy. Want to know why?

These thoughts of comparison, of not being good enough, of not being wanted, are not thoughts from God. They are thoughts planted by a very real enemy that we face every single day. This is what clicked for me in the shower. It might not seem very groundbreaking, but man that realization just about rocked my world. The enemy uses comparison to make you feel less than, unloved, unwanted. But sweet girl, that is not true!!!! I can't even stress that enough. You are so incredibly loved by a man who loved you so much He was willing to die so that you may live. That's some pretty incredible love. And don't you think it would break His heart that some pictures on social media are enough to make you forget you are made perfect in His image? It breaks my heart, and I'm guilty of having those thoughts so often.

It's hard to not fall into this trap of comparison when it is constantly pushing on us, like I said, this is a battle we have to fight each and every day, especially in this digital age, and especially if you're like me and have decided to immerse yourself further in the digital world by creating a blog, social media accounts for said blog, and following other blogs. I'm just kind of asking to be crushed by the weight of comparison, aren't I? But even if you're not neck deep in digital media, you face this every day too. Whether you're comparing yourself to some celebrity, a blogger you admire, your sorority sister, or your best friend's cousin's girlfriend that you secretly creep on Instagram because she seems so perfect (don't even pretend like you haven't done this, we've all been there), comparison is comparison and it hurts no matter what. But it only hurts if we let it hurt us.

At youth camp one year, the camp pastor talked about seeing people through "Jesus Goggles" - meaning we need to love others and see the positives in them even if others can't, the same way Jesus did when he encountered those that usually wouldn't be treated very well. I think we need to put our Jesus Goggles on when we get on social media, because it's all about perspective. Instead of being jealous that your sorority sister spent the summer jet-setting around Europe with her study abroad program, think of how amazing of an experience she's having and make a mental note - or even a real note - to ask her about it when you see her at your recruitment workshop because she probably has some cool stories and she's going to think it's really special that you made a point to ask about her trip. Or instead of getting upset when you see how many more followers another blogger has than you and that you must not be doing something right with your social media, think "wow! It's so amazing that she has such a large platform to share God's love" - this is what I've started to think when I start to envy bloggers like Kate, Rachel, Katey, or Dani, they truly let His love shine through their platforms. Can you even imagine how wonderful and positive social media would be if we approached it with our Jesus Goggles on?  

We get so wrapped up in numbers of followers, hits, and page views, and comparing our numbers to someone else that we forget to appreciate those we do have. Someone I follow tweeted that she could get upset that she has 57 followers, a small number when compared to others who have thousands or millions, but instead she was so excited by the 57 people that care about what she has to say. Wow! Talk about amazing perspective, that's what got the wheels turning on this whole post. After reading those tweets I realized how unappreciative I am. I have over 400 twitter followers, and this week I hit a major milestone of 9000 views of this blog. Now I don't give these stats to brag, but to help you understand the perspective I had. Because I saw those numbers and to me they weren't good enough, weren't high enough. I bet you can guess why by now, comparison. (I can honestly keep beating this drum all day because it's just that true and prevalent) Instead of being frustrated that I don't have thousands of followers, I should be thankful that there are 400 people that care about what I have to say, that may even find me entertaining. 400 people that I have the ability to minister to EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. All because they follow me on social media. And 9000 page views? That's 9000 times I could've shared the love of Christ with someone. That's huge! HUGE! But the massiveness of those numbers and the platform I have created for myself where I can speak truth and light into the world is entirely lost on me, because of the seeds of comparison that have been planted by the enemy.

Well no more, my dear - at least that's the end goal, this is a major life perspective to change over night, it's going to take work. But if you have read through all of my late night ramblings about a not so radical thought that popped into my head, I want to take this opportunity to thank you. Thank you so much for reading my words and caring what I have to say. This comparison trap is a dangerous thing and I truly pray that you're not falling victim to it, but if you are feel free to email me (alittleashley18@gmail.com) and we can chat about it. After all, if we're not spending all of our time comparing ourselves, we can invest that time in building a strong community. 

Just remember, you are so incredibly loved, by our Savior and by this crazy girl in Texas with a laptop who is tired of girls telling ourselves that we are not good enough, because you are more than enough.

Friday, June 30, 2017

June Top 10!

Hello there friends! I can't believe we're already moving into the last full month of summer, where has the time gone??? June seemed to go very quickly and I'm really not sure why, but here we are the weekend before the Fourth of July. While June didn't have a whole lot going on, there were definitely some things I have loved during this month!

Blogs, clothes, and experiences I loved in June


1 // At the start of the month, I got to spend a full week with my adorable boyfriend. We live the long distance life during the summer, so getting to spend uninterrupted time together this time of year is rare. We didn't have any big plans for the week, just soaking up time together before he left for ROTC training, but we had a good time together. I'm looking forward to him coming back from training in less than 2 weeks (!!!) and we're planning to fit in a couple day trips before he goes back to South Carolina.

2 // With all the free time I've had since Mike left, I've been trying to read a little more. I picked up Uninvited by Lysa TerKeurst at the end of May, but really dove into it this month. Y'all! Everyone needs to read this book. The message is so unbelievably powerful and it really resonated with me and some of the things I've gone through in the past year. The book is centered around dealing with rejection - whether from friends, a boy, jobs, etc - by finding peace in the promises God has for you. It's an extremely moving book and I think it really helped me take a step towards moving on from past hurts, highly recommend!

3 // My other free time has also been spent watching Netflix, not the most productive, but hey, it's summer time. I prefer to find some sort of sitcom to have as background noise while I'm doing other things and lately that has been That 70's Show. Just a forewarning, it's rather inappropriate. But it's very funny and easy to have playing without having to pay full attention. I've gone through it faster than anticipated (oops), so if you have any recommendations of fun, lighthearted shows to watch, let me know.

4 // I did some shopping this month because I just can't resist a good Old Navy sale. So far, I've only worn a couple of the things I bought, but I think I have a new favorite item of clothing. A black, t shirt, swing dress. Now I'm not a girl who wears black, ever. I'm convinced I'm too pale to wear it. But I bought this black dress because it seems like a good basic to have, and now I want it in every color available! It's so comfy and you look super put together, even though you're really just wearing glorified pjs. So it's pretty much the best thing ever. And it's on sale right now for $15!!!! Some of the other swing dresses are as low as $8! I'm really having to resist the temptation to buy them all.

5 // Summertime is always when I find new bloggers and social media accounts to follow. This summer, I found another Clemson blogger! And there will be another blogger coming in as a freshman in the fall, we have discussed a blogger brunch and I'm all about it. But seriously, Elizabeth's blog - Life of Me, Queen B. - is so relatable! Her outfit posts are always adorable and I love how she shares her faith on her blog. Go check her out!

6 // As for me, all has been rather quiet on the blogging front. It's so easy to get caught in the comparison trap! I constantly think, "well why should I bother writing anything when there are probably a million other things like this out there written by people who are professional bloggers?" That is not a good mindset to have! It seems like so many people in this blog bubble are in it to eventually make money, and sure that would be nice, but that's not what I'm about. This blog has always been my passion project and I've spent some time really reflecting on that and thinking about why I started this blog and brainstorming ideas for my little corner of the internet. Self reflection is always a good idea and I need to do it more often.

7 // I've been writing more this summer, just not here lol. But with Mike being off at army training, letters have been an important form of communication. Y'all it is so much fun to write and receive letters. Everything these days is digital and instant, but knowing there's a handwritten note coming in the mail for you is so exciting. We've exchanged quite a few letters at this point and I know they're something I'll always keep - I also always keep everything, but that's beside the point. I've also been writing in some journals and just putting ideas on paper. It's unbelievably therapeutic and something I should really do more often. Do you have a pen pal you write to?

8 // Summer for me is all about country music! Blasting country jams with the windows down in a car with friends is the most stereotypical summer image in my mind. I've also spent most summers going to country concerts with friends. I took some time putting together a playlist of my favorite summer country jams on Spotify - it has a little bit of Texas Red Dirt country, some new pop-country, and some old classics. Am I missing any good summer songs?



9 // I've also been doing a lot of online browsing in search of the perfect outfit for my birthday at the end of July!!! And the great thing about social media (there definitely quite a few downsides) is that it is so easy to discover small businesses. Since I'm from a tiny town, I tend to have soft spot for small, local businesses. There are tons of adorable online boutiques that have great selections of trendy clothing at really reasonable prices. The newest boutique I've discovered is Hazel and Olive, which is actually based out of Texas. I haven't ordered anything from them yet, but I might soon! This gingham romper would be perfect for the 4th. And this palm print one would be great for your next beach trip.

10 // I am so excited for July to begin! It's definitely my favorite month of the year, probably because it's my birth month. But this year it will be especially good since we'll be starting off with lots of 4th of July (my favorite holiday) festivities, the next week Mike will be back and we're planning some fun summer adventures. And then I'll end July at the beach celebrating my 21st birthday with my family. What are your plans for the upcoming month?

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Best Planner for College Students

Hi friends! Today I'm back and talking about one of my favorite things - planners! I have talked about planners a few different times on the blog, from all of the good contenders for students to how I organize my planner. And today I'm sharing the planner I will be using for my senior (!!!) year of college.

Best-Planner-for-College-Students

My first three years of college, I used different planners each year. Freshman year started with the classic Lilly Agenda, sophomore year I opted for the sleeker Kate Spade agenda, and with a crazy schedule looming for junior year, I decided on the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley (which I actually got as a gift). After using the Simplified Planner for the last year, I don't think I'll ever be able to go back to a normal planner. In my opinion, it's the best one on the market, which is why I decided to use it again for senior year.

Happy-Stripe-Simplified-Planner

After receiving my planner in the mail, I realized there were some differences between the 2016 and 2017 versions, so I thought I would share those and my opinions about why this planner is the best for college students.
Happy-Stripe-Planner

One of the best things about the Simplified Planner are the little details involved. Each planner arrives in a gorgeous keepsake box with a note from Emily inside and a little pamphlet on the story of the SP and how to start getting it set up. The attention to the little things is what sets this company apart and what keeps me coming back a loyal customer.

Planner-with-Monogram
I decided on the "Happy Stripe" pattern for senior year. I just love the bright colors. There was also a deal on launch day for free monogramming, so obviously I took advantage of that, because if it's not moving, monogram it.

Simplified-Planners

I loved seeing the two planners next to each other. Last year my boyfriend chose the gold pineapple print for me, and I absolutely adored it - I'm obsessed with pineapples - but the white cover got a little worse for wear after being hauled around every day in my backpack. However, the cover is the only part that showed wear! The binding stayed perfectly in tact and no pages ever ripped - it is not easy to find planner that fit those criteria.

The biggest difference cover wise between 2016 and 2017 is the binding. How pretty is the new gold binding? Not that the brassier binding from last year was bad, but I just love how the gold looks.

Inside-Simplified-Planner

Inside the cover is a small pocket. I'm planning to get a coordinating Maybook to stay on top of blog things this year. A new feature this year is this page of stickers! They remind me of the stickers in the Lilly planner, and they're just so cute. I can't wait to use them throughout the year.



Year-at-a-glance

The beginning of the planner has stayed largely the same. There is a letter from Emily, tips on simplifying and small calendars for each month of 2017 and 2018, and there is page for a yearly bucket list that I didn't get a picture of. I didn't utilize the bucket list this past year, but since I am going into senior year I plan to use it to make note of all the things I want to do before graduating next spring.

Planner-Monthly-Spread

I prefer academic planners - running August through July - because I love the idea of each school year having it's own planner, is that weird? I keep all my planners and I think it's fun to remember oh this was from freshman year, and these were all the things I did that year.

Anyway, the monthly view has remained largely the same, with the exception of the top of the page. In previous years, each month had a longer quote at the top, this year they swapped the quotes for a tip on simplifying.

Planner-Daily-Layout

The daily pages are really what makes this planner perfect for the busy college student. Each day has its own page with space for a schedule, to do list, meal tracker, and notes. Being able to separate my schedule and to do list was crucial during junior year. In college, no two days are ever the same between classes, meetings, work, social events, etc. Some may find it tedious to write down your schedule every day, but it really helped me keep track of all of my obligations. I used the to do list to keep track of what things I needed to get accomplished each day, and the notes to keep track of upcoming assignments that I needed to remember, but not necessarily work on yet.

In the past, when I used smaller planners, my schedule always ended up jumbled with my assignments, and it wasn't unusual for important things to get lost in the clutter. With this format, that doesn't happen.

Similar to the change in the monthly view, the daily pages used to have a quote at the top of each one, and now that is just open space. It's being referred to as the "headline space." While I wasn't sure at first about not having the quotes - they're sweet and inspirational - the blank space has grown on me. I can see myself making note of important things like tests, presentations, or friends' birthdays, etc. I previously would mark those down in the notes section, but I like the idea of having it at the top of the page instead.

Planner-Weekend-Layout

This is the weekend view. Another tiny change is the color shift on Friday from yellow to orange, which I'm so excited about! Every Friday at Clemson is Solid Orange Friday and everyone wears orange to show support for the Tigers in their game that weekend. I think it's so cute that now even my planner will be participating, and maybe the color will remind me to wear orange that day.

weekend-view

The weekend schedule isn't marked by time and has a smaller to do list, since the weekends aren't usually as busy. In all honesty, my planner doesn't see much use on the weekends, so I'm perfectly happy with having small spaces for them. And I love the space to record a happy memory from the week.

Monogrammed-Planner

Colorful-Monogrammed-Planner

I just had to include a couple more pictures, because I can't get over how pretty it is! And I love that my initials are on it.

What planner will you be using for the upcoming year?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

College Expectations

College isn't the best four years of your life.

There.

I said it.

I spent the summer before I started college, three years ago, forming all these grand expectations of what college would be like, the experiences I would have, the friends and memories I would make. Oh how silly I was that summer. I would love to go back and give myself a dose of reality and not make so many expectations, because college hasn't turned out to be what I expected. 


Of course there have been great times, amazing even. But all of college is not like that. I've felt sad, lonely, anxious, and friendless a lot my past three years - and these are the best years of my life? That's depressing.

High school wasn't great for me (socially, I had an amazing high school education), and any time I was upset about it, family and friends would tell me "oh don't worry, college is going to be better." I looked to the experiences my older siblings were having in college - meeting their best friends, having the times of their life, taking on these huge roles within their university - and got excited for how awesome college was going to be. Imagine my disappointment when college didn't turn out to be like that for me. And that's just what I've been - disappointed. When sorority recruitment wasn't picture perfect - disappointed. When I didn't become best friends with the girls on my hall - disappointed. When the friends I did make didn't turn out to be the people I thought they were - disappointed. When I didn't get some big leadership opportunities I desperately wanted - disappointed.

Now I don't say this to be a Debbie Downer. I say all of this so that those of you who are starting college this fall won't do what I did. Don't fall in the trap of creating expectations for the next four years, because college won't live up to those grand imaginings of Pinterest-perfect dorms, being best friends with your roommate, acing every class you take, meeting your bridesmaids, having the time of your life. Think of how much pressure those expectations are putting on the next four years, on you. The reality of college can't possibly live up to that.

A professor showed a great Ted Talk this semester that explains expectations and why they lead to so much unhappiness and I think no matter what stage of life you're in, you should watch it, because we all constantly form expectations of everything - such is the burden of the tech age. 


Pretty powerful stuff, huh? So now you get it. When you have all of these expectations, your reality can't possibly live up to it. It's been said a million times, but social media is just the highlight reel not the outtakes. And most of life, of college, is the stuff that doesn't end up perfectly cropped and edited in a square on your Instagram.

So I beg of you, go into college - whether it be your first year or your last semester - your new job, your next vacation without expectations. Take it from someone who has been there, you'll only end up disappointed. But maybe, without all those expectations, you'll be spontaneous and surprised at the joy that comes out of it. Remember, college is just four years of higher education, not the best four years of your life.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Clear Your Skin Naturally


I've shared a few times now that I made a big change in my skincare this year. For the first time since I started getting acne, probably around 14, I am using products that are all natural. Most acne products are full of harsh chemicals that may help the problem, but can also negatively impact your skin. After not noticing much of a change in my skin while on Proactiv, I started to get really frustrated - which didn't make the situation any better. Then I stumbled upon a list of natural, ~inexpensive~ products on the blog Lemon Stripes. I went for it, it couldn't make things worse.


Now I've been using the products for about four months and my skin has changed dramatically. The dryness along with major breakouts I experienced before are completely gone. I'll get occasional flare ups, but with these products they clear up quickly. So here is the skin care routine I've been using for the past few months that has given me the best skin I think I've ever had.


Step 1 // Remove Makeup

This is only my first step at night, of course. I am a big fan of makeup remover wipes and have tried out many options. My favorites are the Walmart Equate brand sensitive wipes. They come in a package of 40 with a secure lid so they don't dry out. One wipe gets off a full face of going out makeup. They also don't burn my eyes ever, which is my main issue with most wipes.

 
Step 2 // Cleanse Skin

The first product recommended by Julia was this cleanser by Desert Essence. All the ingredients are natural, which I love. It lathers really nicely and completely cleans off any makeup leftover without making my skin feel dry. I recently ran out of soap, and when I went on Amazon to reorder, I discovered that Desert Essence sells a refill bottle that is only $2 more than the bottle with a pump and you get 23.5 oz more! This will probably last me the next year and a half, at least.


Step 3 // Tone

So I had never even heard of witch hazel before buying this product, but it's awesome. It's a great toner without having any alcohol and other ingredients that dry out skin. I originally bought the Original version, but for the second round, I got the Rose Petal version. They work exactly the same, this one just has a slight rose scent. The one down side to it is that the cap doesn't stay closed very well and it easily leaks out. I've lost a lot of product because the faultiness of the cap. I recommend putting it into another bottle if you're going to be traveling with it.


Step 4 // Spot Treatment

This product is a big part of what has helped my skin. I didn't buy it at first, but after not really seeing a change for a few weeks I decided to add it to my Amazon cart. Y'all it WORKS! So well! I'll put it on any spots at night and they've drastically improved by the next morning. If you're going to get anything, get this. It works so much better than any spot treatment I've ever used and it's just natural oils.


Step 5 // Moisturize

I'm kinda iffy on this Acure moisturizer. It's light and absorbs really nicely. It also doesn't make my oily skin more oily, which is pretty difficult for me to find. My main issue with it is that it's advertised as oil control. While it doesn't make it worse, I wouldn't say it's oil controlling, at least not all day oil control. I do like it overall though and repurchased it.

I picked up another product from Julia's recommendations, the Aztec Secret Indian Clay Mask. I was pretty surprised to find out that it's just the clay powder and you have to mix it with water to make the mask. I've used it a couple times and it's alright, but I haven't really used it properly to know whether it really works or not.

All in all, I am so happy that I made this change in my skin care. I've realized how bad all those chemicals and harsh products were on my skin over the years. I'm still searching for a good, natural exfoliating scrub, so if you have any recommendations I would love to hear them. Let me know if you decide to try any of these products. I've loved them all.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

A Little Guide: Moving Out

Holy moly it's the last week of classes here at Clemson! In less than two weeks, I will officially be a senior in college. Ugh that just gave me chills. I feel so old and I'm not ready for that. Anyway, the end of the semester brings lots of stress - term papers and projects, final exams, and leaving your beloved college town :'(. With so much going on, being prepared to leave the space that has served as your home for the last nine months can be extraordinarily difficult! But have no fear! I am here to help. This year is my third year moving out of a dorm,  so I guess you could say I'm a bit of a pro at this point. Here are my tips to help you from losing your mind as you move out!


 // Know How You're Getting Home (And Coming Back in the Fall) //

DUH! Right? Well it makes a big difference! My freshman year, my mom came and picked me up, so I had the luxury of her SUV to carry my stuff home. What I didn't plan for was flying back in the fall, so I had WAY too much stuff for two suitcases and had to pay those expensive overweight fees (Dad was not happy, I don't recommend). Last year, I flew home so I was limited to two suitcases, my carryon duffle and a tote - PTL for Southwest's free two suitcases. Knowing I had limited space definitely influenced what I brought home - clothes and necessities only. If you go to school closer to home, this may not be as big of a concern to you, but it's still good to think about.

// Figure Out Storage //

Personally, even if I didn't live half way across the country, I wouldn't want to lug all my stuff back home - I can pack a lot into a dorm room. I highly recommend getting a storage unit or using a moving/storage company (my campus has a university endorsed option) to keep all of your items safe over the summer. To reduce the cost, look into storing your stuff with your froomies so all of y'all have your stuff in the same place when it's time to move into your new digs in the fall. I've also used the generosity of my sweet boyfriend who let me keep all of my stuff at his apartment last summer so I didn't have to pay for storage. Either way, find an option that works for you and your budget.

// Plan Packing Around Exams //

Trust me, you do not want to realize after your Friday night exam that you have to be checked out by 10am Saturday. If you're busy all during exam week, plan breaks in your studying to start packing up. Fifteen minutes to take things off the walls, thirty minutes to start packing up suitcases. Not only will you have a productive way to get your mind off of studying for a few minutes, but by the time you're worn out at the end of the week, you won't be freaking out that you have to pack, you'll have time to relax and say goodbye to friends.
 // Lighten Your Load //

Those 15 ratty old t shirts you told yourself you'd wear, the 10 notebooks from gen ed classes that will never cross your mind again, that big stack of textbooks - those things don't need to keep making the trip back and forth with you. Donate or sell clothes you didn't end up wearing this year. Sell textbooks back to the university, or through a buy back program, or on your university class Facebook page. Take pictures of notes to add to a study bank, but then recycle those notebooks. Do as much as you can to reduce your load, especially if it's things you don't need. Just make sure you're doing it in a sustainable way - donating and recycling are always better than just throwing things out. 

// Get Creative //

No I don't mean spending your packing (or studying) time painting canvases. I mean get creative with your packing! Big boxes are expensive, take up a lot of space, and will just get thrown out, consider packing in items you already have. Hampers are great for storing bedding and towels. Have a storage ottoman in your room? Use it as a safe spot to put photos, items on your walls, and any breakable items. If you only need one suitcase to take home, use the other to hold your off season clothing and shoes. Not only will you get everything packed up, but it'll be easier on your wallet - win, win.

// Consider Space Bags //

I've had space bags in my rooms for the past three years. They're great for storing winter clothes, but they can also help your pillows, duvet cover, and any other fluffy items taking up less of your precious storage space. They can be a little delicate, and despite what I thought, are not capable of being stuffed full and still being useful, so get 3 or 4 (they're pretty inexpensive) and get packing.

// Label or Make Note of Where Things Are Packed //

This one is especially true if you're using a moving service, you'll want to have everything labeled with your name. If you're moving yourself out, it's still a good idea to know where things are packed. You won't want to start off the next year by spending twenty minutes trying to figure out where the heck you put your pillow cases. Make a note on your phone, label boxes, or put sticky notes on your items of what is inside so that moving in in August goes smoother.

// Clean Everything //

Of course you have to leave your room clean when you move out, but consider cleaning everything else before it goes into storage. Wash all your sheets and towels before packing them away. Wipe down Keurigs, other appliances, tables, chairs, etc. Dust items before packing them up. Do your laundry before you pack it - this may seem weird considering you're about to go home and have parents who can (if you're lucky) do your laundry, but it's kinda gross to pack dirty clothes - especially if you're packing the week before you leave - and it'll make unpacking so much easier, because if there is anything worse than packing, it's unpacking.

// Give Yourself A Break //

Just like with studying, sometimes you'll need a break from packing. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed with how much you have to do and not having enough time to do it, take a break. Go walk around campus for a bit, grab a quick coffee with your friend before they leave, enjoy spring time. In the end, you will get moved out of your dorm on time and you don't need to stress yourself out over it.

// Enjoy Your Last Few Days //

You are in college after all. You won't be back for a few months and this may be the last time you see your friends before you all set off on your summer adventures. Pat yourself on the back for surviving the semester and final exams and treat yo' self to dinner with friends. I always get nostalgic at the end of the school year - even if the semester has been tough. We're only in college once and it is so much more than just academics. Appreciate the beauty of your campus and the fun memories you've made over the course of the year. But don't be sad, in a few months, you'll get to do it all again. 

Do you have any other tips for moving out? I would love to hear!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Sustainable Blogging?

Have you ever walked out of a class with a holy-crap-my-whole-world-view-and-perspective-just-changed feeling? Because I just did.
alittleashley.blogspot.com

Last semester, I decided that I wanted to go into marketing and marketing research after graduation next year. In order to pursue that goal, I decided to take a class on consumer behavior this semester. Throughout the past three months, sitting in lecture has only reaffirmed that this is the area I am interested in and want to pursue, but today it rocked my world. 

Our professor has us read articles before each day and today's got the ball rolling for me. (Read it here!) The article gives the background of what really goes into producing products for the fashion industry and how much your $8 shirt from Forever 21 really costs in terms of labor and our environment. I can hear the groans. Yet another privileged millennial blaming the previous generations for killing our environment without any real intentions of fixing it. And maybe that's true. 

But get this, I don't really give much concern to the environment, as horrible as that is. I'm a Southerner born and raised, who has identified as conservative for as long as I can remember. I don't take the stance that the EPA is horrible, but the safety and longevity of our planet isn't something that crosses my mind on a regular basis, does it cross yours? If so, kudos to you. I'm not saying that one class has made me change all my political beliefs (not going to get into that one), but it has got my wheels turning. 

The biggest thing that kept coming into my head while my professor lectured was "what would sustainability look like for blogging?" As a blog-lover and attempting blogger myself, I read at least twenty blog posts every single day. You know what they all center on? Consumption. Bloggers make money by getting others to consume and by consuming themselves. Companies send out products to digital influencers with the hopes that they'll share them with their following and all of us who look to these influencers for what's "on trend" will buy those products too. 

This isn't a new concept at all. How long have celebrities appeared in ads so consumers would associate the product with their favorite celebrity and buy it? But this marketing strategy is continuing this notion that materialism makes you happy and you need the newest, coolest, trendiest thing in order to fit in with society. Now there is nothing wrong with trends and the cycle of what is popular in fashion, but what would it look like if we only encouraged NECESSARY consumption? What would blogging look like?

Would we see fewer bloggers? Or would we see bloggers encourage re-wearing and re-styling items? Of course we don't see bloggers' real lives through the internet, they may wear the same piece a hundred times. But what does that matter if they're not telling those they influence that they do wear an item until it's completely worn out or until it's out grown, then pass it on? What gets portrayed is constant frivolous consumption and it encourages other to do the same. 

The articles I liked at the top suggested investing in pieces and then wearing them until they're completely worn out. That doesn't always seem realistic, speaking as a poor college student who can't afford to drop $100 on jeans, but I think it could be possible. And I would really like to see it happen. Yes seeing all of the pretty, new, trendy fashions on beautiful bloggers is fun, but I think it also drives this perception that you need to have those things and always be getting more new things, especially if you're someone who wants to be a blogger. I would love to see blogs about minimalistic buying and capsule closets and how to creatively style pieces you already have. I think it could make a huge difference. If bloggers change how they encourage consumption, maybe it would change how companies approach producing and marketing their products, and in turn encourage them to produce in a more sustainable way. 

These are just my long, post-paradigm-shifting-class thoughts, but I would love to hear your thoughts. What do you think? Could blogging as an industry become more sustainable?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

March Top 10!

Happy April friends! Where has the time gone?! I can't believe we're already a quarter of the way into 2017. This year is flying by! I only have a month left until I'm a senior in college...what? Crazy! March was a fun, busy month so I wanted to share some of my favorites from the last few weeks. 


Here is what I've loved this month!

1 // Spring Break was the week before last and tbh I'm still trying to get back into school mode - easier said than done. I didn't have a wild spring break, but I got to spend a relaxing few days at the beach with my boyfriend and some good friends. We had gorgeous weather and a ton of fun. Somehow I also managed to come away from it without a sunburn, which is basically a miracle for me! 

2 // The next best thing of the month happened when I got back from spring break. I got my Clemson ring!!!! For those of you who don't know, the Clemson ring is iconic. There is a ton of tradition wrapped up in the ring and ring ceremony, and receiving my ring was one of the biggest accomplishments of my college career. My mom flew in the weekend before and I got enjoy the end of my break with her, shopping around town and venturing into adorable downtown Greenville. Then on Monday I got my ring! I keep staring at my hand. I can't believe that I've already completed 3/4 of my degree and the countdown to graduation next year is seeming so short.

3 // In preparation for spring break, I picked up some fun spring items from Old Navy. I got this one piece swimsuit - love the ruffle. I also finally jumped on the off the shoulder trend train with this cute chambray top. I wore it when my mom was in town and it was so comfortable and really cute.

4 // I mentioned in my Proactiv+ Experience post that I was switching to more natural skincare that was recommended by Julia of Lemon Stripes. I've now been using these products for about two months and I have seen amazing changes in my skin, it has never been this consistently clear! I'm planning to do a skincare routine on the blog soon, so keep an eye out for that.

5 // With the improvement in my skin, I've been wearing foundation a lot less. Instead, I've been reverting to my junior high days and relying on concealer and powder to cover any little spots that come up. This concealer and this one are my favorites and I love this powder.

6 // Before spring break, I wanted to get a pair of cute, comfy, beach friendly sandals. I picked up this pair from Target for $15. I wore them all through spring break and nonstop since. They go with everything and are so cute!

7 // Like everyone else, I saw Beauty and the Beast this month. If you haven't seen it yet, run don't walk! Belle was always may favorite princess when I was little because she was brunette and liked to read - I could relate to her - so I was super excited to see Emma Watson's portrayal of her. The whole film was stunning. The costumes and music, even the digital effects, were perfectly done. I liked it way more than the live-action Cinderella that came out a while back and it makes me super excited for the other recreations Disney has planned in the coming years.

8 // I don't know if I should be proud or embarrassed of this, but in the last six weeks, I have watched all nine seasons of The Office. I never watched it before and wanted to see what all the hype was about. Well I got sucked in, fast. It's really fun to see the character development over the seasons and Jim and Pam are all of the #relationshipgoals. It probably wasn't the most productive use of time, but I used it as background noise while I was doing other things.

9 // Over spring break I finally had a chance to do some reading for fun. I love to read and decided to pick up a few books to read on the beach. So far I haven't even finished one, but I am nearly done with The Shack by William Paul Young. It's really amazing and I highly recommend it - even though I'm not done with it yet. It's added a new perspective for me and changed the way I look at certain things. Definitely worth a read!

10 // I'm still in denial that within the next month I will be finishing my junior year of college. It gives me chills. I am excited to wrap up the year and all that comes with it - lake days, the spring game, Mike's formal, military ball. There are exciting days to come, I can feel it.

What are you looking forward to in April?

Friday, February 17, 2017

Proactiv+ Experience

Like most girls my age, I have struggled with acne for the past few years. I've tried out what seems like every acne product from the drug store. Last year, I moved onto using a skincare line from a department store and still saw no improvement in my skin. Over the summer, after talking with my mom about my frustration with my skin, I decided to try out Proactiv after seeing tons of commercials and hearing good things from friends. Today I wanted to share my experience with Proactiv+. 

// What's my skin type and the acne issues have I dealt with? //

I've always had normal to oily, acne prone skin. I've never had cystic (really deep and difficult to get rid of) acne, but frequently would have pimples on my cheeks, chin and forehead. One of my biggest frustrations was the bumps I had covering my forehead. I'm not sure what exactly caused them and try as I might I could not get rid of them. I definitely don't have the worst skin issues, but being a 20-year-old girl it was frustrating and I was tired of dealing with it.

// What's Proactiv+ compared to regular Proactiv? //

So basically Proactiv+ is the more hopped up version of Proactiv. It's for more intense, difficult acne. I probably didn't need the more aggressive version, but you live and learn.

// What are the products and cost? //

Each set of Proactiv+ comes with a three step system. Step 1 is the skin smoothing exfoliator, which like the name suggests is a semi intense exfoliator with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide to help fight acne. Step 2 is the Pore Targeting Treatment, which is a clear gel also with 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide. Step 3 is the Complexion Perfection Hydrator, which is the moisturizer of the bunch with 0.5% Salicylic Acid. The cost is the real kicker that I didn't realize at the time. The first set is $39.95, not bad right? Well that's only for the the 30-day sample size and two "bonus items". If you keep the sample and your account over 30 days, they automatically send you a full size 90-day supply to the tune of $39.95 per month. So if you do the math, these 3 little bottles will end up costing you about $120!

// How did my skin react? //

I started Proactiv+ in August just as I was starting school. At first, I thought it was magical. It got rid of the bumps on my forehead and acne seemed to be stopped in its tracks. It did a lot to clear up my skin from where it was this summer. I tried to rigorously stick to the system, twice a day every day. For the most part I did, but on days I slipped up, my skin paid for it. Proactiv+ seemed helpful with the prevention of acne, but I don't know how much it helped once I was already broken out - it didn't seem to make much of a difference. At some points early on, my skin seemed much more oily than normal. I think this was part of my skin adjusting to using a harsh exfoliant twice a day, but it wasn't a fun side effect. Everything went okay until the weather cooled down. Skin naturally gets drier in the cooler weather do to the dry air - and since it hardly rained in Clemson this fall, the air was quite dry. Normally during the winter months, my skin will get a little dry - only getting bad if the weather is particularly harsh. But on Proactiv+ my skin dried out horribly, like flaking off dry. Everyday it was a battle with my makeup to see if it would stay on or crack because of my dry skin. It cracked. It was awful and I felt so self conscious about how horrible my skin looked. If we had warmer days, things would get better then immediately turn around once it was cool again.

// What did I do next? // 

I had heard horrible things about going off Proactiv+. People's skin totally freaks out and breaks out like crazy until they go back to the Proactiv. I had been contemplating going off of it but I didn't know what I would use instead. I looked into some other options, but didn't find anything I liked. I was really tired of the harshness of the Proactiv products and wanted something that would help keep acne at bay without making my skin flake. Enter this glorious post from Julia of Lemon Stripes. Julia posted about her favorite natural products for acne with splurge and save options, and when I say save I mean everything was under $12 each on Amazon Prime. I waffled a bit, but the cheapness sold me. I placed my Amazon order than cancelled the Proactiv+ subscription.

// How has my skin reacted since going off? //

Now I can't attest to the new products I have been using since I have only been using them for a couple weeks. However, my skin didn't react badly to going off of Proactiv. I've had a couple breakouts, but nothing out of the ordinary. I've noticed a huge, positive change in my skin and the dryness issue is totally gone. I am so, so happy that I decided to stop using it.

// So would I recommend Proactiv+? //

The short answer: no. While it worked to a degree, I didn't notice a sustained improvement in my skin. Someone with more severe acne may like this system better than I did, but I firmly believe there are similar, if not better, products out there for considerably cheaper.

What skincare products do you swear by or stay away from? I would love to hear!