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February 11, 2014

My FabFitFun Subscription Box

Hello blogger friends,

I have been thinking about a way to start blogging more, and there are so many things I wanted to blog about.  I want to blog about fitness and fashion and crafting and subscription boxes and wedding details.  However, then I decided I have so much to say that maybe i'll just continue to blog about all of it.  Maybe one day I'll narrow it down more, but for now I am made up of all these random different things and thoughts.  So, I want to write about it all!

So let's start with my first entry I will actually write officially being back blogging!  

Today I want to review and discuss a subscription box service I just joined.  The box is called FabFitFun and is a quarterly box, which I love the idea of because 1.) you get more stuff (and more expensive stuff) in each box and 2.) the husband doesn't raise his eyebrow at me getting so many boxes in the mail while we are trying to "live like we're poor".  So this quarterly box seemed like such a good idea, I signed up for a whole year to save money (individual boxes are $49.99 and the year was $179.99, a $20 discount!)

Here is my referral link to check out the box yourself: http://vip.fff.me/NDpl or stick around and see my take on the winter quarter's fabulous box!

Let me start off with a disclaimer:  I paid for the box on my own and these are my opinions of the items.  I was not paid to review this and received no form of compensation.  I just truly love subscription boxes and blogging, so there ya go.

The packaging was great.  There was enough filler that the products didn't shift or break in the mail, and everything was nicely laid out and wrapped up together. 

The first item I opened were these truenergy headphones.  

Approximately $20-30.
Other than being beautiful and sounding crisp, they have a built-in headphone jack which comes in handy!  While on a recent camping trip, the husband and I were watching episodes of Downton (because you know, we were roughing it..) And we could both use our headphones while on the ferry to the camp site, instead of having to share one set!  It was wonderful.  And, come on, they are bright pink and purple.  How fun is that??

The next item was a gift card to MeUndies, a website that sells, well, undies!  The gift card was for $20, which seems like a lot, but really only bought one nice pair of underwear for me.  However, with free shipping and everything, it was an amazing addition to the box.

Underwear is something people always need, so it was a great item to include.  The fact that it was a gift card was best, so you can choose your favorite style, color, size, etc.  More thoughtful than it being a pre-decided style and color.  Plus, MeUndies are so comfortable that I am tempted to convert to buying all my underwear from this site.

Next up is this pink Lorna Jane bracelet. 

Approximately worth $30
Lorna Jane is an active wear company with adorable clothes and accessories.  Their company is passionate about sisterhood and helping woman feel strong and inspired.  The clothing on their site is very cute and fun (I may have to purchase some, since I love sites like Ellie and Lululemon)

In addition to the pink Lorna Jane bracelet,
it came with a 20% off coupon for online orders!

The next item is the thing I was most excited for in the box before opening it: The Giving Keys necklace!  

The Giving Keys is a product that you are supposed to buy and wear until you find someone you think needs the message. 

So for instance, this key has the message "inspire" so whenever I find someone needing inspiration I will pass it on. Then I would write to the company to tell them the story of why I passed on the key. The company also employs people who are homeless, looking to gain independence and stability. All around, this company is very inspiring, so I've been wanting this product a few years now (ever since Zachary Levi plugged the product on twitter--he is a huge supporter of the product)! 

This style necklace runs around $55.
5 free online web-workouts!
In addition to physical items in the box was this wonderful fitness pack from physique 57.  I have been familiar with Physique 57 and always admired their gym, however never tried any classes or anything! So this gift card for 5 free online fitness classes is pretty nice.  Especially receiving it early in the New Year when resolutions are fresh on everyone's mind :)
Next up, there were TONS of beauty products.

Approximately $20

The Bioxidea Miracle 24 face mask I have seen reviewed before and they are supposedly amazing for anti-aging and moisturizing.  I am excited to have a little spa day at home with this face mask!

This item runs around $45 dollars online.
Skyn is a product I've been wanting to try for the longest time, but I always feel guilty about spending so much money on a product without trying it first.  I immediately tried this product and I am in love with it!  It is cooling (without the chemical/minty cooling effect) and moisturizing, and when I wake up after using it my eyes are seriously less puffy and more refreshed looking.  At the ripe ol' age of 27, products like this are a godsend due to helping prevent any fine lines. 

Approximately $8-12 retail.
Also in the box was a full sized bottle of Simple foaming cleanser.  The only simple products I have tried are the makeup remover wipes, which are great.  I have super sensitive skin, and if I were to buy a drugstore beauty product it would definitely be an organic, sensitive skin type like Say Yes or Simple.  This foaming cleanser is truly luxe feeling despite it being a drugstore buy.  It has a rich moisturizing feeling afer you use it, not like some products that strip your skin dry and make your skin tight.  I will definitely be using this whole product and buying Simple in the future since it works well with my skin!

Approximately $8.

Next item in the box: a NYX set of eye shadow.  I have been using these shadows nearly every day for the past month.  I really like them.  They are a bit deeper than I would have bought for daily wear (it doesn't stop me from wearing it to work though!  I just use a light hand while applying), however the colors are perfect for a night out.  I love purples and nudes in eye makeup, those are just about the only shades I buy myself, so this was great for me!  

$22 is the retail price at most stores
Beauty For Real lip gloss is the last item I opened up.  This lip gloss is a great brand.  I tried it on and liked the consistency and the "cool plumping" action (it wasn't too intense, which was good).  I am not 100% in love with the color (I am more of a bright/quirky colored lip gloss gal) but it is a gloss I will still wear.  The cool thing about this product is the side has a mirror on it and you can click a button on the top to illuminate the case so you could essentially do touch ups during a late night date ;)

So, the important stuff, how much exactly were all the items in the box?

The Giving Keys Necklace: $55
Truenergy headphones: $20
Lorna Jane bracelet:$30
Beauty for real lipgloss: $22
Skyn icelandic eye cream: $45
NYX Love in Florence eye shadow: $8
MeUndies gift card: $20
Simple Foaming Cleanser: $8
Bioxidea Miracle 24 face mask: $20
Physique 57 Classes: $25

Total: $ 253

What an amazing set of products!  The thing I loved about this box is that even though it is one of the pricier subscription boxes, the products in it were incredible and the total retail cost.. wow!  After seeing everything, I still think The Giving Keys necklace is one of my favorite items, but I was really impressed with the Truenergy headphones, the Skyn icelandic eye cream, and the MeUndies.  I love both the "drug store" items too: Simple facewash and NYX eye shadow!  I was truly blown away by this box and am so excited for the spring box to arrive!  

Again, if you are interested in signing up for their next box or a year, etc.. please use my referral link: http://vip.fff.me/NDpl If you know someone who loves subscription boxes or you have to buy a gift for someone that is hard to please, FabFitFun is simply amazing.

That's all for now!

-Amanda Banana

February 24, 2013

Recap of the past few months/wedding planning

Here is a laterblog--which is a word I possibly just now invented based on the term/hashtag latergram where you post a picture days after taking it. Only in this case it is a blog entry and it is about a year after I wrote it! Enjoy Amanda in February of 2013!

Hey all,

So I haven't really updated my blog in a few months.  It's not that I've been overly busy, moreso I've just been lazy and neglectful. 

We booked our wedding venue, and since then have had a meeting with most of our vendors.  We took a day off work, drove to Tampa, and met with the wedding planner, florist, baker, and caterer.  We also met up with our lovely photographers for a huge lunch in between vendor meetings. 

Our wedding designer was amazing.  I had sketched an idea of table lay-outs and centerpieces but forgot to bring it, but after discussing and deigning with her she sketched up the tables and centerpieces and created a sketch that looked almost exactly like the one I had done!  We are going for a vintage, circus atmosphere (Gatsby meets water for elephants).  We have lots of burlap, bunting, and glitz.  I am stoked for our next design meeting in several more months. 

Our florist was also wonderful.  I wish I was the kind of person who loved flowers more, but I truly don't care tons about bouquets in our wedding.  I am not going to be carrying a bouquet or tossing a bouquet.  However, I figured my maids need something in their arms so they don't, as my matron of honor put it, walk down the aisle "arms-a-swingin'".  I want a natural, went-to-the-fields-and-picked-a-bouquet type look.  Same goes for boutonnieres.  I don't care tons about the flowers.  I don't want tons of flowers everywhere.  However, the florist was understanding and was super nice about making the flowers low-key.  I just wish I could have had a better idea in my head of what I wanted, but since I don't really have a preference of flowers it was a difficult meeting full of difficult decisions that I was not too passionate about.

We had lunch with our photographers and chatted.  This was Kevin's first time meeting them, and my first time seeing them since I graduated from undergrad!  They are truly a couple of the coolest and most talented people.  Not to mention just an adorable couple.  We ate way too much food, which in hind-sight was not one of our better decisions being as how our tastings were following this in the afternoon. We also planned our engagement session. If you are looking for photographers in the Florida area please check them out: http://www.sarahben.com they are super sweet, funny, and amazing people, not to mention the most genuinely talented, natural, and romantic photographers! 

Next we went to our baker, who presented us with six different slices of cake.  Now, I have never been to a cake tasting, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  But I was not expecting SO MUCH cake.  We very easily made our minds up (although I am not passionate about flowers I think I am overly passionate about all things dessert) and settled on three small cakes--a groom's, bride's, and couple's cake!  I am so excited to have a table full of three cakes, lots of cupcakes, and various other sweets at our wedding.  I think the dessert table will be one of my favorite parts of the wedding!

Next we went to our caterer.  Again, I have never done a wedding caterer tasting, at least not like this.  This guy brought out courses of food.  I mean, we got more food than we would have if we each ordered four courses at a restaurant.  It was TONS.  The caterer also went above-and-beyond when it came to our theme.  We wanted fancy carnival/circus inspired faire.  He executed the theme to a tee. We started with a salad, then appetizers of cajun corn dog bites, prezel bites with beer-cheese sauce, crudites and fruit on sticks.  Then we had main courses of a "three-ring" slider trio, fish tacos, and fancy flatbread "pizza".  And then finished with a passed dessert of deep fried snickers and doughnuts.  

Every bite was delicious.  I have been to many-a-wedding and the food is usually okay.  However, this guy.. this food.... incredible!  I can't even explain how good this food was.  I know the day of our wedding he will be cooking larger quantities, so maybe it won't have quite the same exquisite-ness as it did on the day of our tasting.  But even if it isn't quite as fabulous, I still dare to say it'll be some pretty gosh darn excellent food.  

Overall, it was a super busy, food-filled, and exciting day. Needless to say, after today I am feeling more confident with our wedding planning and can finally fully visualize it being executed!

-Amanda Banana 

September 09, 2012

Wedding posts

So, it has been a crazy few days.

Kevin and I went with my mother to Tampa this weekend, we were going to see a venue that Kevin and I already saw with his parents about a month ago.  The one thing about the venue that we were unsure of was that the date we had wanted had already been booked (and nearly 2 years ahead of time!  Gosh!)  However, upon reflecting on the venue, we decided the perfect place was worth changing our date. 

My mom has been super excited about all the wedding planning, but because I am her baby, she wants everything to be perfect. So, I knew that she would be the hardest person to win over on some of the details (although, in the end she wants me to be happy and have the perfect day).  However, I was super excited to show her Cross Creek Ranch, because I had a feeling she would fall in love with it just as much as we had.

Blowing bubbles
We arrived late, due to a longer drive than expected and some bad weather, but the staff was super welcoming and excited we made it from so far.  We walked around the grounds and my mom kept saying "this is so beautiful" or some variation of that phrase.  I knew she was loving the venue.

Also, when Kevin and I had seen it before it was during their "off-season," but this time it was in the process of being decorated for a wedding, so we got to see some of the incredible decor and how the place looks when it is all jazzed up for someone's Big Day.  It was still being put together, yet it wa breath-taking regardless. 

The venue is basically all-inclusive, meaning all the decorating and flowers and food will be taken care of through them.  The decorations that they provide are incredible, but I will definitely add a few of my own touches.  ;) 

We decided to save our new date, which happens to also be Kevin's parents' anniversary: December 21st, 2013. 

We are thrilled to have a wedding during the holiday season, although it was a hard call to make due to it being so near Christmas.  But in the end, we loved the place and the idea of a holiday-time wedding as well as being honored to share the lucky date with Kevin's parents who are such an inspiration to us both. 

In other news, today I was able to show my ceremony dress to The Pams, which was super exciting.  A little work will have to be done before it goes down the aisle, but it is a dress I never want to take off.  I would wear it all the time if I could, and be completely happy. 

So, many of the details are falling together perfectly.  I am beyond excited that all of it is actually happening.  Kevin is my very best friend, and sharing this exciting time in our lives has been such a blessing and an adventure!  I am excited to share more details as they arise!

-Amanda Banana
Me and Kevin's Grammie at a babyshower this past weekend

Challenging challenge!

So, bloggites.  I've committed to this 30 Day Yoga Challenge and man is it tough!  I mean, I love yoga and want it to become part of my every day life, but man if some days I don't want to just go to bed at the end of the day. 

I think the main problem is the weekends that are super busy and we don't get home till late (since I am basically a lame-o, I consider getting home any later than 8:00pm late).  These past two weekends there have been days we had to get up and leave early (like the same time we would leave for work, kind of early) and we don't get home till about midnight.  Mix in some not sleeping well recently, and you've got an exhausted and sleep-wanting Amanda.  However, I still try to squeeze in that yoga.  So far I have done yoga EVERY day, just like I challenged myself to do.  However, I will be honest, I don't feel as though I am dedicating as much energy and effort into it as I should.  I have been trying to do at least 20 minutes a day, and apart from one lame day (yesterday) I have done at least that.  However, I really had wanted to try for 30 minutes a day, so cheating myself out of 10 wonderful minutes of yoga a day is not a great way to spend my challenge.

Maybe The Force will help my balance?
I also wanted to try to spend some time researching yoga more, but I haven't done much of that this month either.  However, I did research recipes for organic yoga mat cleaners, and made my own!  That was something I was proud of myself for doing.  The great things about it are that it smells delicious and can also double as a bug repellent!  I hate regular bug spray, so having a repellent made of essential oils and natural ingredients is much more pleasant! 

So, here is the basic recipe for my yoga mat cleaner:
Fill a bottle most of the way with half distilled water and half witch hazel
Add about 20 drops of lavender oil
Add 10-15 drops of eucalyptus oil
Add a few drops of tea tree oil

These ingredients are natural germ, bacteria, and smell killers.  They also make a wonderful smelling cleaner that I love catching whiffs of during my down dogs :)

Also, Kevin has been doing yoga every day with me.  He is already a headstand champion!  He is able to go up into a headstand without touching the wall and then hold it for a while.  I still require some support when I go up, and I am trying to work towards finding my balance (or strengthen my arms, which I think is a lot of it).

Kevin is close to the wall, but didn't touch it this whole time!

Hopefully the next 21 days go better than these first 9, and I find time to really soak up some more yoga and fully bask in the mindfulness and relaxation it brings.

Amanda Banana

September 03, 2012

Busy September

So, it is three days into September;  day three of my 30 Day Yoga challenge.

So far this month has been insanely busy.  Saturday, a good friend of ours got married to a beautiful, sweet girl.  The ceremony was beautiful (yeah, I may have cried). It was amazing seeing these two people, who are both brilliant, kind, amazing individuals so happy with being with the other person and marrying the other person.  And the reception was a blast!  There were tons of our friends from high school that came down for his wedding.  It was great just hanging out, dancing, and acting like old times. 
Carl and Jody's first dance, they looked beautiful!
(Photo by Andy!)

 We partied late and danced lots.  The tables were all named after movie tables and we got put at the "Real Genius" table, which is amazing.  Our table was Kevin and myself, three of my wonderful friends who were also three of the groomsmen--Adam, Andy, and Sean--and their dates, Sarah, Rusty, and Ally, respectively.  The three of us ladies at the table were totally rocking some amazing bangs and looked fabulous in beautiful dresses!

We stole the boys' prop glasses, and, let's face it, we rocked them.
(Photo by Sean! But edited in instagram by SaRuff)
After we left the wedding, Kevin and I pretended like we were old people and went home, since we had a bit of a drive (we were taking care of his parent's animals about 45 minutes away from the wedding and festivities).

However, the next day we were able to meet up with a big group for brunch, and then head to the beach to spend more time with Sean and Ally and the rest of the Sullivan clan, since we don't often see any of them! Adam and Sarah came out to meet us there as well.

We got to go swimming at the beach for a bit.  The weather and water were both amazing!  We didn't get much time to lay out, because it was so late when we got there, however we had a good short trip and then had to head up for dinner!
After we went swimming!
(Photo by Sean)
We had a ton of dinner and hung out a bit with the family a couple blocks from the beach.  After dinner we decided to take a walk on the beach.  We went for quite a ways and had lots of fun.  The highlight, of course was when the boys ditched their respective girls and instead held each other's hands, the three of them, and skipped and twirled off into the sunset.

The gang :)
(Photo by some random person we asked on the beach!)
After our walk we went back to the condo and played Monty Python Fluxx (a recently discovered card game that quickly became one of our favorites!) Although Sean and Ally had never played before, Ally ended up winning! We hung out with the family some, and didn't end up leaving till WAY later than we had thought! But it was totally worth being tired and not being home all day, because it was such an amazing day!

And... in really amazing and exciting news: I will be one of Ally's bridesmaids next year!  I am super stoked, because she is such an amazing person and I love having her in my life!  I am also super excited, because Sean and Ally are just such a wonderful couple, and their wedding theme/concept is phenomenal.  I am excited to be able to help her out with any decorations.

Since we got home so late, we just did a simple night time yoga routine, some basic, calm moves.  Twists, light inversions, hip openers, etc.

This morning we finally came back home and decided we should clean our house, which was looking a bit like a disaster.  We cleaned tons for a few hours, watched some Doctor Who, and took a nap.

I set up a jewelry table in our room! 
Although, I am going to make one more hanging jewelry rack to clear up the necklace holder on the wall.
 Now we are hanging out with Adam and Sarah and watching movies and playing games.  Sarah and I both decided to make brownies tonight without communicating with the other person, so we have two batches of brownies!  Hers are amazing: chewy, white chocolate and caramel chips in them.  Yum!  Mine were made from a box, but I made the mix without adding eggs, oil, or water, and instead I just added a packet of applesauce and a banana.  Then I topped it with a peanut butter and chocolate ganache.  Yum part deux!

-Amanda Banana
Kevin and I got to be silly in a photobooth at the wedding! 
Always our favorite!

August 30, 2012

The 30 Days of September

So Blogzillas,

I love setting goals.  Recently, on Pinterest, I stumbled across several types of 30-Day challenges, and one in particular caught my eye: The 30-Day Yoga Challenge!  I reached out to my best gal pal, Lindsey of Sunnyshine Studios, and we decided that we would support, encourage, and check in with each other during this challenge. 

Lindsey immediately got into the idea and sparked the details: the 30 days of September can be the 30 days we challenge ourselves, we should have a end-of-challenge goal or goals to aim for, and to have weekly check-ins with one another so that we are certain we keep on track.  I loved these ideas and had been thinking similar thoughts without having given voices to them.

So, my goals:
  •  I want to be able to do inversions- Salamba Sirsasana (headstands) without my yoga wall, and Adho Mukha Vrksasana (a handstand) even with my yoga wall.
  • I want to be able to successfully do chaturangas.
  • To be able to do splits again.
  • To find the time to do yoga for at least 30 minutes every day and make it part of my daily routine.

My expectations:
  • To tone- I will be supplementing my yoga challenge with a 300 Ab workout as well as some light running training for 5 ks and possibly working up to a half marathon training.  However, yoga has always been a part of my exercise routine that fully allows me to tone and stretch my muscles, helping me become fitter than if I simply workout without yoga.
  • To help reduce my neck and back pain- I have chronic back and neck pains, often resulting in migraines.  Pain has become something I live with most every day.  10 years ago I was in an accident where my truck flipped and spun, and since then my back has been pretty bad.  However, when I practice yoga regularly I notice my pain to be eased.   The past half a year has been excruciating pain-wise, having many pinched-nerves and resulting in many migraines and restless nights of sleep I am hoping that 30 days of yoga will help me heal.
  • To sleep better- As I already mentioned, pain sometimes keeps me awake and I believe yoga can ease that.  However, I have anxiety that often results in trouble getting to sleep and staying asleep.  I am hoping that yoga will ease all that and help me sleep like a baby.  I will be doing some specific night-time routines for this point in particular!
  • To reduce stress and anxiety- I am hoping to simply use my yoga time as a time to meditate and work on my mindfulness, which in turn will hopefully help with the previous points I mentioned as well as help me feel rejuvenated.

Yoga has been a huge part of my life for the past 6 years.  I never got into the habit of doing it as often and as consistent as I would like, I would do it for a semester three days a week and then take summer off, or not do it for half a year then do it every day for two months.  So, on this challenge I am hoping I can get into the habit of finding time every day to do some yoga, and figuring out how to make it part of my daily life. 

Years down the road I hope I can get certified to be a yoga instructor, and use yoga as therapy within hospitals or therapy sessions.

I will blog throughout my process, post pictures of poses that I am working on and allow you all to see my journey and progress!  I am excited to share this adventure with you :)

-Amanda Banana

August 29, 2012

Long time no blogging!

So, blogiverse, I am dreadfully sorry that I have neglected you as of recent. 

I got engaged (as mentioned in one of my last blog entries), quit nannying full-time so I could apply for Child Life jobs, got two Child Life job offers (one PT Specialist through a hospice close to my area and one FT aide at a great hospital in my area) and took the wonderful Child Life Aide job, and have just been so busy trying to shape up my life and plan for my future!

Otherwise, I have no real excuses for not posting recently.  Uninspired, consumed, busy, lazy.. the usual! 

Also, since updating last, my phone has decided to go berserk and delete all my photos, contacts, apps, music, etc since about February (when I say my phone went berserk I may mean I neglected it ALSO (what is it with me neglected technology?) and so it retaliated during an update).  So, this entry will be lacking in photos.  However, I will promptly get back to documenting my every day adventures to share with you, blogians.

We have been planning our wedding lots (by that I mean I've been on pinterest a lot).  We are securing a venue in the next couple weeks.  I also may have JUST purchased my ceremony dress, despite the wedding being 15 months away.  Otherwise, we have little details all planned out and ready to go.  I think venue and invitations are the two things we will take the longest deciding on, because the other details are pretty set!  I am excited, guys!

Also in my life I have been trying to work out and get in shape (in fact my next blog entry will let you know about what I'll be doing the month of September!)  I'm going to sign up for some 5ks and maybe a half marathon, and if I can swing it, a full marathon!  I've been getting into cycling a lot, and even had my first "accident" a couple weeks ago that I am still all bruised up from (and my bike still needs to be straightened out a bit too).  While I was looking for jobs I would go out a few times a week and try to do 70-100 miles on my bike.  I am hoping soon I can start that back up again. 

I suppose those are some of the big highlights right now.  I will update soon.  Promise!

Amanda Banana