Friday, May 29, 2015

can't live without it - my dobermans

I mean honestly...just look at these faces...

I can't describe the amount of love and happiness adding dogs to our family has brought. Sure, they are tons of work and some days it feels like I'm taking care of two giant toddlers, but I wouldn't change it for anything. These two rescue pups ended up rescuing us in the best way <3

Aaron and I got Deedee (black - female) in July of 2013 from a humane society rescue in the middle of nowhere, Ohio. We both love Dobermans, but it is hard to find ones that need rescued...but I knew I didn't want to by from a breeder - it had to be a rescue... so I was willing to wait until we were able to find one. 

Within a few weeks of searching, I found Deeds on Petfinder and went to visit her that weekend...and when we got there she was cowering in the back of a cage, so scared - looking at us with big puppy eyes. Heart-melted instantly and knew instantly that she belonged home with us.

Her first picture, on the day we brought her home!

About a year and a half later - in October of 2014, we decided it was time to get a second dog. Deedee spent a lot of time at home alone during the day since Aaron and I both work, and I hated that. I wanted her to have a friend to play and snuggle I took up browsing Petfinder again in search of another Doberman. 

One day at work I stumbled upon this picture (below) - he was ready to be adopted and only a 3 hour drive away! I emailed them right away, but didn't hear back. I just knew that this was my second dog, so I bugged the shit out of them for the next 24 hours...emailing and calling...and finally got a hold of his foster mom. 

She told me there were over 50 people contacting her regarding her posting (turns out there were 4 identical looking puppies in a litter she rescued)...but since I kept reaching out, she said I was getting bumped up the list and could have one! So see? Sometimes it pays off to be persistent ;) 

These two are my heart - they are so loving, goofy, and fun! 
They make me laugh every day, are sweet to everyone they meet, and are my #1 cuddle buddies!

Even when they've done something naughty...who could even get or stay mad?

Deedee just turned 2 years old and is 60 lbs.
She loves her Dad (Aaron) more than anything - her butt almost falls off from wiggling so hard when he comes home!
She will only eat off the floor - no bowl, no plate, no mat...only the bare floor.
She is very skittish and scared of a lot things, but we are working on building her confidence!
Despite being a scaredy-cat, she sounds like a 100lb guard dog with a crazy deep growl and bark.
She loves to run - she is all legs and looks like a baby deer when she can just haul ass outside at the park.
She loves to curl up in a ball and snuggle on the big zebra blanket.

Dexter is 8 months old and already bigger than his sister. He's almost 70 lbs - gonna be a BIG boy!
He LOVES food. Little Mr. Greedy will eat anything you want to give food, cheese, watermelon, sweet potato, peanut name it, he will eat it!
 He is a big baby, he loves to snuggle on you like he's a tiny puppy and will cry and whine if you aren't sitting with him or petting him.
He's this mischievous one - stealing shoes, hording toys, chewing up socks, eating the TV remote, etc!

What is something you can't live without?? 
Join the fun with Laura, Stephanie, and Caitlin - link up and share!!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

can't live without it - dance

I tried to dig deep this week to come up with something that I need in my life...that I absolutely couldn't live without :)

And one of the answers is dance. 

I started dance as a young girl and continued taking lessons up until college. Then, I decided to minor in dance while attending university - not planning on doing anything with it career-wise, but just to do it for me, because I loved it. I've taken it all...ballet, jazz, hip hop, tap, belly dance, modern, contemporary...but my favorites, still to this day, are ballet and modern.

While in college, I also started teaching at the studio where I grew up taking lessons...and I have to say, those were some of the best times of my life. I have lifelong friends (who are more like family) from my studio and the most amazing memories from those years. 

I love everything about dance - the emotion and release I feel, the endless hours of choreography, the creativity, the performing, the long hours and hard work needed...all of it. I remember going through an awful breakup when I was in college - my relationship ended with my high school boyfriend of 5 1/2 years and I was devastated, but I would go to dance class and literally forget about all of it - my mind would be crystal clear while I was dancing and in a way it was like therapy for me. That's one of the reasons I love it so can do amazing things for people. 

I haven't been able to take regular dance classes for awhile now, mainly because of grad school taking up most of my evening time during the week (and sucking the life out of me)...but I honestly miss it every single day. Once I graduate, I will absolutely be back in class regularly because it is a part of me, part of my soul. It's hard to explain and put into words, but if you have ever found something you connect with so deeply, I'm sure you understand what I am talking about ;)

What is something you can't live without?? 
Join the fun with Laura, Stephanie, and Caitlin - link up and share!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

cruelty free series: cosmetics // eyes

Happy Wednesday! Half way to the weekend ;)

Continuing on with my blog series on cruelty free products - here are some great cosmetics for your eyes - including products I currently love and products that I want to try in replacement of the brands that I will no longer buy...

Eye Shadow - Urban Decay (I love the Naked palettes) and Bare Minerals (the loose pigments are my favorite!)

Liquid Liner - Physician's Formula makes an awesome eye liner marker that has lash boosting serum included in it

Brows - after years of dedicated use of Rimmel's brown pencil, I am disappointed to learn they test on animals in foreign countries...but I have heard amazing things about Anastasia brow products, so I'll be picking up one of her pencils next time I'm at Ulta!

Base / Primer - Urban Decay is always a good choice, but if you are looking for a more cost-effective option, NYX makes a great jumbo pencil that acts as a great eyeshadow base. I use the white "Milk" color every day

Eyeliner - I've used Prestige Total Intensity for probably 5+ years now and I'm happy to find out they are a cruelty free brand! You can pick this jet black liner up at Ulta and many drug comes in a variety of colors and has great pigmentation and staying power!

The biggest bummer in this transition was finding out my beloved L'oreal mascaras were not cruelty free. I had finally found my favorite combo - but oh well, not worth it! The hunt begins for a great new cruelty free mascara.

I've done some searching online, and here are some options I will be trying over the next few months - all with good reviews from those who have used them...

Tarte - Lights, Camera, Lashes
Physician's Formula - Organic Wear (lash boosting)
NYX - Doll Eye Long Lash
Younique - 3D Fiber Lashes 

Finally, here are some great eye brushes that are cruelty free - ranging from affordable to higher end.

Ecotools - Essential Eye Set, found at Target, Ulta, and many drugstores
Sonia Kashuk - found at Target
Real Techniques - Eyes/Enhanced Starter Set, found online or at Ulta 
Too Faced - found at Sephora and Ulta
Urban Decay - found at Sephora and Ulta

Remember to look for the following logos to identify cruelty free products...and do your research online and with the Leaping Bunny app!

Friday, May 15, 2015

can't live without it - lavender

One thing I can't live without in my life is lavender. It all started when we bought our house and went to pick out plants for the garden the first spring. I had no idea what I wanted, so I just trolled around the garden store just looking at and smelling everything - then I found it and fell in love. I remember telling Aaron we should just buy hundreds of lavender plants a fill the whole yard with them and I would be content ;) (for the record - we only ended up getting three, but they are my three favorite plants in the entire garden)

Over time I realized all the uses and ways I could incorporate lavender into my life...

Lavender oil
     Used for soothing aromatherapy
     Spritzed on a pillow to help you sleep (diluted with water)
     Great cruelty-free perfume option 
     (check out my other cruelty-free product posts here and here

Dried lavender
     In cooking and baking to enhance flavors and recipes
     Steeped in hot water for tea
     Mixed with baking soda for a natural carpet deodorizer

Health and Wellness
     Mixed with aloe to soothe burns
     Dabbed on you (and your pets) as a natural bug repellant
     Mixed with epsom salts in a bath to soothe sore muscles

     Mix with vinegar for an organic skin toner
     Use topically for skin irritations/acne
     Promoting hair growth and a healthy scalp, or for conditioning 

This is just a short list, but there are tons of great websites out there that share even more ways to use lavender! What are ways that you use lavender or other essential oils?

Join the fun with Laura, Stephanie, and Caitlin - link up and share your "Can't Live Without It"!!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

loving lately...

// Major girl crush on miss Kelly Brook - gorgeous "plus size" model (ridiculous because just look at her) and hilarious actress on the new series One Big Happy

// Anyone have $2k sitting around so I can scoop up one of these amazing L Skye double banded moonstone rings?

// Ain't that the truth ;)

// Love this smoky makeup looks this Instagram beauty comes up with!

// I need to get my hands on some white pants this summer - and recreate this look from Cella Jane <3

Monday, May 11, 2015

cruelty free series: cosmetics // face

As promised, I'm starting off a series of posts on cruelty free products!
First up...cosmetics....specifically, face products.

I'm not going to lie, when I realized I would have to stop buying my Revlon Colorstay Foundation, it was upsetting. I've been using this foundation consistently for the past 4 years, so the thought of finding something new that I like just as much was daunting, to say the least.

But I was able to find some GREAT alternatives! One of which I already use for my summer foundation!

Much to my surprise, I also was already using quite a few cruelty free items in my regular makeup routine.

cruelty free face cosmetics

bareMinerals Bare Skin foundation / Wet n Wild Fergie Shimmer Palette / NYX Concealer in a Jar / elf Blush and Bronzer Duo

There are also quite a few items that I have heard about that I haven't had the chance to purchase yet, but am looking forward to trying out once I need to pick up some new makeup!

cruelty free makeup

Sonia Kashuk 
California Tan
Physician's Formula (right top bronzer and bottom highlighter)

Finally, there are many options out there for high quality brushes as well! I thought I would include some of my favorites in with each cosmetics post based on the products I'm sharing - so here are some awesome cruelty free face brushes!

cruelty free makeup

Sonia Kashuk / beauty blender / Real Techniques / ecoTools
Please share any items you may know of! xx

Check out this site for more cruelty free cosmetics! 
This site has good info on drug store brands!

Friday, May 1, 2015

making the switch to cruelty-free

Hi ladies!

Taking a step away from the typical Friday Favorites posts to share something that has been going on in my house over the past couple of weeks that I feel very strongly about. Aaron and I made the decision to take the pledge to only purchase cruelty free products for our household. It's something that we have been meaning to do for a long while, but honestly - it got put off, partly because of the time and effort needed and the worry that the extra cost would spiral out of control.

no animal testing

I am happy to say that once we finally sat down and did the research, this is not the case at all. It was not hard, products are much more available than I ever imagined (almost all can be purchased at Target or the grocery store!), and the cost is not much different. And honestly, at the end of the day, I am absolutely willing to spend more to make sure no innocent creatures were harmed or tortured in order for me to have a mascara or laundry detergent.

So here is what I did - after my research, I went out and bought a pack of neon stickers and went around the house, marking every product that would not be repurchased once it was used up (because it comes from a company that tests or has ties to testing overseas). 

I am very excited about this, so I wanted to do a blog post series to share all that I have found with you! Over the next couple of weeks I'm going to cover...
- Cosmetics
- Cleaning products (kitchen, laundry, etc)
- Bath & Body products
- Baby products

I'm not going to lie - it was shocking to see some of my favorite brands show up on the "bad" list - and there are products I am going to miss, but I am at the point where I refuse to use them's just not worth it to me. Time to say buh-bye to almost every single major name brand item I use (like I said - honestly it's shocking how many companies still do this!!).

On the other hand...I can't wait to share with you the great products and brands I have found!

cruelty free logos

companies that do not animal test

If you are interested in starting this switch yourself...

Do your research: I used the following sites for research, and if you are wondering about any products or brands you use, these are a great place to start:
Peta - Very comprehensive and descriptive list 
Leaping Bunny 
More Leaping Bunny Lists 
Cruelty Free Kitty (Cosmetics Info)

Download the App: There is an amazing app you can download to your phones called the Cruelty Cutter. Learn more about it HERE! 
With this app you can look up brands while you shop and even scan bar codes to make sure items are cruelty free!

Be careful! So many companies actually CLAIM to be cruelty free - and they may be here in the US, but NOT overseas. I came to find this out about many companies I used, such as Revlon and Victoria's Secret / Bath & Body Works. Their statements on animal testing will read something like this..."Our policy prohibits the testing of our branded products, formulations and ingredients on animals except in rare cases when required by government regulations." 

That underlined part at the end is the key - meaning that in countries overseas where they require animal testing (such as in China) the company still allows it to happen. And - at least in my opinion - a bunny in China is the same as a bunny here, so I don't want to support those companies either.

Remember to look for the leaping bunny logo! <3 

cruelty free